Everyone is after success in religion, economic development, sense gratification and ultimately merging into the existence of Brahman. These are the general practices of the common man, but according to the strict principles of the Vedas, the highest attainment is to rise to the platform of śravaṇaṁ kīrtanam (SB 7.5.23), hearing and chanting about the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 1.1.2):
- dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavo ’tra paramo nirmatsarāṇāṁ satāṁ
- vedyaṁ vāstavam atra vastu śiva-daṁ tāpa-trayonmūlanam
- śrīmad-bhāgavate mahā-muni-kṛte kiṁ vā parair īśvaraḥ
- sadyo hṛdy avarudhyate ’tra kṛtibhiḥ śuśrūṣubhis tat-kṣaṇāt
“Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhāgavata Purāṇa propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are fully pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. This beautiful Bhāgavatam, compiled by the great sage Śrī Vyāsadeva, is sufficient in itself for God realization. What is the need of any other scripture? As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhāgavatam, by this culture of knowledge the Supreme Lord is established within his heart.” This verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam rejects as cheating processes all religious activities that aim at achieving materialistic goals, including dharma, artha, kāma and even mokṣa, or liberation.
According to Śrīdhara Svāmī, the material conception of success (mokṣa, or liberation) is desired by those in material existence. Devotees, however, not being situated in material existence, have no desire for liberation.
A devotee is always liberated in all stages of life because he is always engaged in the nine items of devotional service (śravaṇam, kīrtanam, etc.). Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s philosophy holds that devotional service to Kṛṣṇa always exists in everyone’s heart. It simply has to be awakened by the process of śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ (SB 7.5.23). Śravaṇādi śuddha-citte karaye udaya (CC Madhya 22.107). When a person is actually engaged in devotional service, his eternal relationship with the Lord, the servant-master relationship, is awakened.