A devotee’s transcendental position within this material world is maintained in the association of pure devotees, simply by hearing the glorious activities enacted by the Lord in different ages and in different incarnations. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is based on this principle. Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has sung, “My dear Lord, let me be engaged in Your transcendental loving service, as indicated by the previous ācāryas, and let me live in the association of pure devotees. That is my desire, life after life.” In other words, a devotee does not much care whether or not he is liberated; he is eager only for devotional service. Devotional service means that one does not do anything independently of the sanction of the ācāryas. The actions of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement are directed by the previous ācāryas, headed by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī; in the association of devotees following these principles, a devotee is able to perfectly maintain his transcendental position.
In the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says that a devotee who knows Him perfectly is very dear to Him. Four kinds of pious men take to devotional service. If a pious man is in distress, he approaches the Lord for mitigation of his distress. If a pious man is in need of material help, he prays to the Lord for such help. If a pious man is actually inquisitive about the science of God, he approaches the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa. Similarly, a pious man who is simply eager to know the science of Kṛṣṇa also approaches the Supreme Lord. Out of these four classes of men, the last is praised by Kṛṣṇa Himself in the Bhagavad-gītā. A person who tries to understand Kṛṣṇa with full knowledge and devotion by following in the footsteps of previous ācāryas conversant with scientific knowledge of the Supreme Lord is praiseworthy. Such a devotee can understand that all conditions of life, favorable and unfavorable, are created by the supreme will of the Lord. And when he has fully surrendered unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, he does not care whether his condition of life is favorable or unfavorable. A devotee takes even an unfavorable condition to be the special favor of the Personality of Godhead. Actually, there are no unfavorable conditions for a devotee. Knowing that everything is coming by the will of the Lord, he sees every condition as favorable, and in any condition of life he is simply enthusiastic to discharge his devotional service. This devotional attitude is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā: a devotee is never distressed in reverse conditions of life, nor is he overjoyed in favorable conditions. In the higher stages of devotional service, a devotee is not even concerned with the list of do’s and do not’s. Such a position can be maintained only by following in the footsteps of the ācāryas. Because a pure devotee follows in the footsteps of the ācāryas, any action he performs to discharge devotional service should be understood to be on the transcendental platform. Lord Kṛṣṇa therefore instructs us that an ācārya is above criticism. A neophyte devotee should not consider himself to be on the same plane as the ācārya. It should be accepted that the ācāryas are on the same platform as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and as such neither Kṛṣṇa nor His representative ācārya should be subjected to any adverse criticism by the neophyte devotees.
The personified Vedas thus worshiped the Supreme Personality of Godhead in different ways. Offering worship to the Supreme Lord by praying means remembering His transcendental qualities, pastimes and activities. But the Lord’s pastimes and qualities are unlimited. It is not possible for us to remember all the qualities of the Lord. Therefore, the personified Vedas worshiped to the best of their ability, and at the end they spoke as follows.
“Dear Lord, although Lord Brahmā, the predominating deity of the highest planet, Brahmaloka, and King Indra, the predominating demigod of the heavenly planets, as well as the predominating deities of such planets as the sun and the moon, are all very confidential directors of this material world, they have very little knowledge about You. Then what can ordinary human beings and mental speculators know of You? It is not possible for anyone to enumerate the unlimited transcendental qualities of Your Lordship. No one, not even the mental speculators and the demigods in higher planetary systems, is actually able to estimate the length and breadth of Your form and characteristics. We think that even Your Lordship does not have complete knowledge of Your transcendental qualities. The reason is that You are unlimited. Although it is not befitting to say that You do not know Yourself, it is practical to understand that because You have unlimited qualities and energies and because Your knowledge is also unlimited, there is unlimited competition between Your knowledge and Your expansion of energies.”