Nectar of Devotion
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Table of Contents
1. Characteristics of Pure Devotional Service
2. The First Stages of Devotion
3. Eligibility of the Candidate for Accepting Devotional Service
4. Devotional Service Surpasses All Liberation
5. The Purity of Devotional Service
6. How to Discharge Devotional Service
7. Evidence Regarding Devotional Principles
8. Offenses to Be Avoided
9. Further Considerations of Devotional Principles
10. Techniques of Hearing and Remembering
11. Aspects of Transcendental Service
12. Further Aspects of Transcendental Service
13. Five Potent Forms of Devotional Service
14. Devotional Qualifications
15. Spontaneous Devotional Service
16. Spontaneous Devotion Further Described
17. Ecstatic Love
18. Character of One in Ecstatic Love
19. Devotional Service in Pure Love of God
20. Transcendental Mellow
21. Qualities of Sri Krsna
22. Qualities of Krsna Further Explained
23. Krsna’s Personality
24. Further Traits of Sri Krsna
25. Devotees of Krsna
26. Stimulation for Ecstatic Love
27. Symptoms of Ecstatic Love
28. Existential Ecstatic Love
29. Expressions of Love for Krsna
30. Further Features of Ecstatic Love for Krsna
31. Additional Symptoms
32. Symptoms of Continuous Love
33. Indirect Expressions of Ecstatic Love
34. The Nectar of Devotion
35. Neutral Love of God
36. Transcendental Affection (Servitude)
37. Impetuses for Krsna’s Service
38. Indifference and Separation
39. Ways of Meeting Krsna
40. Reverential Devotion of Sons And other Subordinates
41. Fraternal Devotion
42. Fraternal Loving Affairs
44. Devotional Service in Conjugal Love
45. Laughing Ecstasy
46. Astonishment and Chivalry
47. Compassion and Anger
48. Dread and Ghastliness
49. Mixing of Rasas
50. Further Analysis of Mixed Rasas
51. Perverted Expression of Mellows
The Nectar of Devotion is a summary study of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, which was written in Sanskrit by Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada. He was the chief of the six Gosvamis, who were the direct disciples of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. When he first met Lord Caitanya, Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada was engaged as a minister in the Muhammadan government of Bengal. He and his brother Sanatana were then named Dabira Khasa and Sakara Mallika respectively, and they held responsible posts as ministers of Nawab Hussain Shah. At that time, five hundred years ago, the Hindu society was very rigid, and if a member of the brahmana caste accepted the service of a Muhammadan ruler he was at once rejected from brahmana society. That was the position of the two brothers, Dabira Khasa and Sakara Mallika. They belonged to the highly situated sarasvata-brahmana community, but they were ostracized due to their acceptance of ministerial posts in the government of Hussain Shah. It is the grace of Lord Caitanya that He accepted these two exalted personalities as His disciples and raised them to the position of gosvamis, the highest position of brahminical culture. Similarly, Lord Caitanya accepted Haridasa Thakura as His disciple, although Haridasa happened to be born of a Muhammadan family, and Lord Caitanya later on made him the acarya of the chanting of the holy name of the Lord: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Lord Caitanya’s principle is universal. Anyone who knows the science of Krsna and is engaged in the service of the Lord is accepted as being in a higher position than a person born in the family of a brahmana. That is the original principle accepted by all Vedic literatures, especially by Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. The principle of Lord Caitanya’s movement in educating and elevating everyone to the exalted post of a gosvami is taught in The Nectar of Devotion.
Lord Caitanya met the two brothers Dabira Khasa and Sakara Mallika in a village known as Ramakeli in the district of Maldah, and after that meeting the brothers decided to retire from government service and join Lord Caitanya. Dabira Khasa, who was later to become Rupa Gosvami, retired from his post and collected all the money he had accumulated during his service. It is described in the Caitanya-caritamrta that his accumulated savings in gold coins equaled millions of dollars and filled a large boat. He divided the money in a very exemplary manner, which should be followed by devotees in particular and by humanity in general. Fifty percent of his accumulated wealth was distributed to the Krsna conscious persons, namely the brahmanas and the Vaisnavas; twenty-five percent was distributed to relatives; and twenty-five percent was kept against emergency expenditures and personal difficulties. Later on, when Sakara Mallika also proposed to retire, the Nawab was very much agitated and put him into jail. But Sakara Mallika, who was later to become Srila Sanatana Gosvami, took advantage of his brother’s personal money, which had been deposited with a village banker, and escaped from the prison of Hussain Shah. In this way both brothers joined Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Rupa Gosvami first met Lord Caitanya at Prayaga (Allahabad, India), and on the Dasasvamedha bathing ghata of that holy city the Lord instructed him continually for ten days. The Lord particularly instructed Rupa Gosvami on the science of Krsna consciousness. These teachings of Lord Caitanya to Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada are narrated in our book Teachings of Lord Caitanya.
Later, Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada elaborated the teachings of the Lord with profound knowledge of revealed scriptures and authoritative references from various Vedic literatures. Srila Srinivasa Acarya describes in his prayers to the six Gosvamis that they were all highly learned scholars, not only in Sanskrit but also in foreign languages such as Persian and Arabic. They very scrutinizingly studied all the Vedic scriptures in order to establish the cult of Caitanya Mahaprabhu on the authorized principles of Vedic knowledge. The present Krsna consciousness movement is also based on the authority of Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada. We are therefore generally known as rupanugas, or followers in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada. It is only for our guidance that Srila Rupa Gosvami prepared his book Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, which is now presented in the form of The Nectar of Devotion. Persons engaged in the Krsna consciousness movement may take advantage of this great literature and be very solidly situated in Krsna consciousness.
Bhakti means “devotional service.” Every service has some attractive feature which drives the servitor progressively on and on. Every one of us within this world is perpetually engaged in some sort of service, and the impetus for such service is the pleasure we derive from it. Driven by affection for his wife and children, a family man works day and night. A philanthropist works in the same way for love of the greater family, and a nationalist for the cause of his country and countrymen. That force which drives the philanthropist, the householder and the nationalist is called rasa, or a kind of mellow (relationship) whose taste is very sweet. Bhakti-rasa is a mellow different from the ordinary rasa enjoyed by mundane workers. Mundane workers labor very hard day and night in order to relish a certain kind of rasa which is understood as sense gratification. The relish or taste of the mundane rasa does not long endure, and therefore mundane workers are always apt to change their position of enjoyment. A businessman is not satisfied by working the whole week; therefore, wanting a change for the weekend, he goes to a place where he tries to forget his business activities. Then, after the weekend is spent in forgetfulness, he again changes his position and resumes his actual business activities. Material engagement means accepting a particular status for some time and then changing it. This position of changing back and forth is technically known as bhoga-tyaga, which means a position of alternating sense enjoyment and renunciation. A living entity cannot steadily remain either in sense enjoyment or in renunciation. Change is going on perpetually, and we cannot be happy in either state, because of our eternal constitutional position. Sense gratification does not endure for long, and it is therefore called capala-sukha, or flickering happiness. For example, an ordinary family man who works very hard day and night and is successful in giving comforts to the members of his family thereby relishes a kind of mellow, but his whole advancement of material happiness immediately terminates along with his body as soon as his life is over. Death is therefore taken as the representative of God for the atheistic class of men. The devotee realizes the presence of God by devotional service, whereas the atheist realizes the presence of God in the shape of death. At death everything is finished, and one has to begin a new chapter of life in a new situation, perhaps higher or lower than the last one. In any field of activity—political, social, national or international—the result of our actions will be finished with the end of life. That is sure.
Bhakti-rasa, however, the mellow relished in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, does not finish with the end of life. It continues perpetually and is therefore called amrta, that which does not die but exists eternally. This is confirmed in all Vedic literatures. Bhagavad-gita says that a little advancement in bhakti-rasa can save the devotee from the greatest danger—that of missing the opportunity for human life. The rasas derived from our feelings in social life, in family life or in the greater family life of altruism, philanthropy, nationalism, socialism, communism, etc., do not guarantee that one’s next life will be as a human being. We prepare our next life by our actual activities in the present life. A living entity is offered a particular type of body as a result of his action in the present body. These activities are taken into account by a superior authority known as daiva, or the authority of God. This daiva is explained in Bhagavad-gita as the prime cause of everything, and in Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated that a man takes his next body by daiva-netrena, which means by the supervision of the authority of the Supreme. In an ordinary sense, daiva is explained as forms; the choice does not depend on our selection, but is awarded to us according to our destiny. If our body at present is engaged in the activities of Krsna consciousness, then it is guaranteed that we will have at least a human body in our next life. A human being engaged in Krsna consciousness, even if unable to complete the course of bhakti-yoga, takes birth in the higher divisions of human society so that he can automatically further his advancement in Krsna consciousness. Therefore, all bona fide activities in Krsna consciousness are amrta, or permanent. This is the subject matter of The Nectar of Devotion.
This eternal engagement in bhakti-rasa can be understood by a serious student upon studying The Nectar of Devotion. Adoption of bhakti-rasa, or Krsna consciousness, will immediately bring one to an auspicious life free from anxieties and will bless one with transcendental existence, thus minimizing the value of liberation. Bhakti-rasa itself is sufficient to produce a feeling of liberation, because it attracts the attention of the Supreme Lord, Krsna. Generally, neophyte devotees are anxious to see Krsna, or God, but God cannot be seen or known by our present materially blunt senses. The process of devotional service as it is recommended in The Nectar of Devotion will gradually elevate one from the material condition of life to the spiritual status, wherein the devotee becomes purified of all designations. The senses can then become uncontaminated, being constantly in touch with bhakti-rasa. When the purified senses are employed in the service of the Lord, one becomes situated in bhakti-rasa life, and any action performed for the satisfaction of Krsna in this transcendental bhakti-rasa stage of life can be relished perpetually. When one is thus engaged in devotional service, all varieties of rasas, or mellows, turn into eternity. In the beginning one is trained according to the principles of regulation under the guidance of the acarya, or spiritual master, and gradually, when one is elevated, devotional service becomes automatic and spontaneous eagerness to serve Krsna. There are twelve kinds of rasas, as will be explained in this book, and by renovating our relationship with Krsna in five primary rasas we can live eternally in full knowledge and bliss.
The basic principle of the living condition is that we have a general propensity to love someone. No one can live without loving someone else. This propensity is present in every living being. Even an animal like a tiger has this loving propensity at least in a dormant stage, and it is certainly present in the human beings. The missing point, however, is where to repose our love so that everyone can become happy. At the present moment the human society teaches one to love his country or family or his personal self, but there is no information where to repose the loving propensity so that everyone can become happy. That missing point is Krsna, and The Nectar of Devotion teaches us how to stimulate our original love for Krsna and how to be situated in that position where we can enjoy our blissful life.
In the primary stage a child loves his parents, then his brothers and sisters, and as he daily grows up he begins to love his family, society, community, country, nation, or even the whole human society. But the loving propensity is not satisfied even by loving all human society; that loving propensity remains imperfectly fulfilled until we know who is the supreme beloved. Our love can be fully satisfied only when it is reposed in Krsna. This theme is the sum and substance of The Nectar of Devotion, which teaches us how to love Krsna in five different transcendental mellows.
Our loving propensity expands just as a vibration of light or air expands, but we do not know where it ends. The Nectar of Devotion teaches us the science of loving every one of the living entities perfectly by the easy method of loving Krsna. We have failed to create peace and harmony in human society, even by such great attempts as the United Nations, because we do not know the right method. The method is very simple, but one has to understand it with a cool head. The Nectar of Devotion teaches all men how to perform the simple and natural method of loving Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If we learn how to love Krsna, then it is very easy to immediately and simultaneously love every living being. It is like pouring water on the root of a tree or supplying food to one’s stomach. The method of pouring water on the root of a tree or supplying foodstuffs to the stomach is universally scientific and practical, as every one of us has experienced. Everyone knows well that when we eat something, or in other words, when we put foodstuffs in the stomach, the energy created by such action is immediately distributed throughout the whole body. Similarly, when we pour water on the root, the energy thus created is immediately distributed throughout the entirety of even the largest tree. It is not possible to water the tree part by part, nor is it possible to feed the different parts of the body separately. The Nectar of Devotion will teach us how to turn the one switch that will immediately brighten everything, everywhere. One who does not know this method is missing the point of life.
As far as material necessities are concerned, the human civilization at the present moment is very much advanced in living comfortably, but still we are not happy, because we are missing the point. The material comforts of life alone are not sufficient to make us happy. The vivid example is America: the richest nation of the world, having all facilities for material comfort, is producing a class of men completely confused and frustrated in life. I am appealing herewith to such confused men to learn the art of devotional service as directed in The Nectar of Devotion, and I am sure that the fire of material existence burning within their hearts will be immediately extinguished. The root cause of our dissatisfaction is that our dormant loving propensity has not been fulfilled despite our great advancement in the materialistic way of life. The Nectar of Devotion will give us practical hints how we can live in this material world perfectly engaged in devotional service and thus fulfill all our desires in this life and the next. The Nectar of Devotion is not presented to condemn any way of materialistic life, but the attempt is to give information to religionists, philosophers and people in general how to love Krsna. One may live without material discomfiture, but at the same time he should learn the art of loving Krsna. At the present moment we are inventing so many ways to utilize our propensity to love, but factually we are missing the real point: Krsna. We are watering all parts of the tree, but missing the tree’s root. We are trying to keep our body fit by all means, but we are neglecting to supply foodstuffs to the stomach. Missing Krsna means missing one’s self also. Real self-realization and realization of Krsna go together simultaneously. For example, seeing oneself in the morning means seeing the sunrise also; without seeing the sunshine no one can see himself. Similarly, unless one has realized Krsna there is no question of self-realization.
The Nectar of Devotion is specifically presented for persons who are now engaged in the Krsna consciousness movement. I beg to offer my sincere thanks to all my friends and disciples who are helping me to push forward the Krsna consciousness movement in the Western countries, and I beg to acknowledge, with thanks, the contribution made by my beloved disciple Sriman Jayananda brahmacari. My thanks are due as well to the directors of ISKCON Press, who have taken so much care in publishing this great literature. Hare Krsna.
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Los Angeles, California
Invoking auspiciousness: Lord Sri Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the cause of all causes, the reservoir of all rasas, or relationships, which are called neutrality (passive adoration), servitorship, friendship, parenthood, conjugal love, comedy, compassion, fear, chivalry, ghastliness, wonder and devastation. He is the supreme attractive form, and by His universal and transcendental attractive features He has captivated all the gopis, headed by Taraka, Palika, Syama, Lalita, and ultimately Srimati Radharani. Let His Lordship’s grace be on us so that there may not be any hindrance in the execution of this duty of writing The Nectar of Devotion, impelled by His Divine Grace Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada.
Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada and of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada, by whose inspiration I have been engaged in the matter of compiling this summary study of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. This is the sublime science of devotional service as propounded by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who appeared five hundred years ago in West Bengal, India, to propagate the movement of Krsna consciousness.
Srila Rupa Gosvami begins his great book by offering his respectful obeisances unto Sri Sanatana Gosvami, who is his elder brother and spiritual master, and he prays that Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu may be very pleasing to him. He further prays that by residing in that ocean of nectar, Sri Sanatana Gosvami may always feel transcendental pleasure in the service of Radha and Krsna.
Let us offer our respectful obeisances to all the great devotees and acaryas (holy teachers), who are compared to sharks in the great ocean of nectar and who do not care for the various rivers of liberation. Impersonalists are very fond of merging into the Supreme, like rivers that come down and merge into the ocean. The ocean can be compared to liberation, and the rivers to all the different paths of liberation. The impersonalists are dwelling in the river water, which eventually comes to mix with the ocean. They have no information, however, that within the ocean, as within the river, there are innumerable aquatic living entities. The sharks who dwell in the ocean do not care for the rivers which are gliding down into it. The devotees eternally live in the ocean of devotional service, and they do not care for the rivers. In other words, those who are pure devotees always remain in the ocean of transcendental loving service to the Lord and have no business with the other processes, which are compared to the rivers that only gradually come to the ocean.
Srila Rupa Gosvami prays to his spiritual master, Srila Sanatana Gosvami, for the protection of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu—“The Ocean of the Pure Nectar of Devotional Service”—from the argumentative logicians who unnecessarily meddle in the science of service to the Lord. He compares their arguments and logic to volcanic eruptions in the midst of the ocean. In the midst of the ocean, volcanic eruptions can do very little harm, and similarly, those who are against devotional service to the Lord and who put forward many philosophical theses about the ultimate transcendental realization cannot disturb this great ocean of devotional service.
The author of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami, very humbly submits that he is just trying to spread Krsna consciousness all over the world, although he humbly thinks himself unfit for this work. That should be the attitude of all preachers of the Krsna consciousness movement, following in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami. We should never think of ourselves as great preachers, but should always consider that we are simply instrumental to the previous acaryas, and simply by following in their footsteps we may be able to do something for the benefit of suffering humanity.
Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu is divided into four parts, just as the ocean is sometimes divided into four parts, and there are different sections within each of these four divisions. Originally, in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, the ocean is divided like the watery ocean into east, south, west and north, while the subsections within these different divisions are called waves. As in the ocean there are always different waves, either on the eastern side, the southern side, the western side or the northern side, Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu similarly has different waves. In the first part there are four waves, the first being a general description of devotional service. The second concerns the regulative principles for executing devotional service, and the third wave, devotional service in ecstasy. In the fourth is the ultimate goal, love of God. These will be explicitly described along with their different symptoms.
The authorized descriptions of bhakti, or devotional service, following in the footsteps of previous acaryas, can be summarized in the following statement by Srila Rupa Gosvami: “First-class devotional service is known by one’s tendency to be fully engaged in Krsna consciousness, serving the Lord favorably.” The purport is that one may also be in Krsna consciousness unfavorably, but that cannot be counted as pure devotional service. Pure devotional service should be free from the desire for any material benefit or for sense gratification, as these desires are cultivated through fruitive activities and philosophical speculation. Generally, people are engaged in different activities to get some material profit, while most philosophers are engaged in proposing transcendental realization through volumes of word jugglery and speculation. Pure devotional service must always be free from such fruitive activities and philosophical speculations. One has to learn Krsna consciousness, or pure devotional service, from the authorities by spontaneous loving service.
This devotional service is a sort of cultivation. It is not simply inaction for people who like to be inactive or devote their time to silent meditation. There are many different methods for people who want this, but cultivation of Krsna consciousness is different. The particular word used by Srila Rupa Gosvami in this connection is anusilana, or cultivation by following the predecessor teachers (acaryas). As soon as we say “cultivation,” we must refer to activity. Without activity, consciousness alone cannot help us. All activities may be divided into two classes: one class may be for achieving a certain goal, and the other may be for avoiding some unfavorable circumstance. In Sanskrit, these activities are called pravrtti and nivrtti—positive and negative action. There are many examples of negative action. For instance, a diseased person has to be cautious and take medicine in order to avoid some unfavorable illness.
Those who are cultivating spiritual life and executing devotional service are always engaged in activity. Such activity can be performed with the body or with the mind. Thinking, feeling and willing are all activities of the mind, and when we will to do something, the activity comes to be manifest by the gross bodily senses. Thus, in our mental activities we should always try to think of Krsna and try to plan how to please Him, following in the footsteps of the great acaryas and the personal spiritual master. There are activities of the body, activities of the mind and activities of speech. A Krsna conscious person engages his words in preaching the glories of the Lord. This is called kirtana. And by his mind a Krsna conscious person always thinks of the activities of the Lord—as He is speaking on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra or engaging in His various pastimes in Vrndavana with His devotees. In this way one can always think of the activities and pastimes of the Lord. This is the mental culture of Krsna consciousness.
Similarly, we can offer many services with our bodily activities. But all such activities must be in relationship with Krsna. This relationship is established by connecting oneself with the bona fide spiritual master, who is the direct representative of Krsna in disciplic succession. Therefore, the execution of Krsna conscious activities with the body should be directed by the spiritual master and then performed with faith. The connection with the spiritual master is called initiation. From the date of initiation by the spiritual master, the connection between Krsna and a person cultivating Krsna consciousness is established. Without initiation by a bona fide spiritual master, the actual connection with Krsna consciousness is never performed.
This cultivation of Krsna consciousness is not material. The Lord has three general energies—namely the external energy, the internal energy and the marginal energy. The living entities are called marginal energy, and the material cosmic manifestation is the action of the external, or material, energy. Then there is the spiritual world, which is a manifestation of the internal energy. The living entities, who are called marginal energy, perform material activities when acting under the inferior, external energy. And when they engage in activities under the internal, spiritual energy, their activities are called Krsna conscious. This means that those who are great souls or great devotees do not act under the spell of material energy, but act instead under the protection of the spiritual energy. Any activities done in devotional service, or in Krsna consciousness, are directly under the control of spiritual energy. In other words, energy is a sort of strength, and this strength can be spiritualized by the mercy of both the bona fide spiritual master and Krsna.
In the Caitanya-caritamrta, by Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, Lord Caitanya states that it is a fortunate person who comes in contact with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krsna. One who is serious about spiritual life is given by Krsna the intelligence to come in contact with a bona fide spiritual master, and then by the grace of the spiritual master one becomes advanced in Krsna consciousness. In this way the whole jurisdiction of Krsna consciousness is directly under the spiritual energy—Krsna and the spiritual master. This has nothing to do with the material world. When we speak of “Krsna” we refer to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, along with His many expansions. He is expanded by His plenary parts and parcels, His differentiated parts and parcels and His different energies. “Krsna,” in other words, means everything and includes everything. Generally, however, we should understand “Krsna” to mean Krsna and His personal expansions. Krsna expands Himself as Baladeva, Sankarsana, Vasudeva, Aniruddha, Pradyumna, Rama, Nrsimha and Varaha, as well as many other incarnations and innumerable Visnu expansions. These are described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam to be as numerous as the uncountable waves. So Krsna includes all such expansions, as well as His pure devotees. In the Brahma-samhita it is stated that Krsna’s expansions are all complete in eternity, blissfulness and cognizance.
Devotional service means to prosecute Krsna conscious activities which are favorable to the transcendental pleasure of the Supreme Lord, Krsna, and any activities which are not favorable to the transcendental favor of the Lord cannot be accepted as devotional service. For example, great demons like Ravana, Kamsa and Hiranyakasipu were always thinking of Krsna, but they were thinking of Him as their enemy. This sort of thinking cannot be accepted as bhakti, or Krsna consciousness.
The impersonalists sometimes misunderstand devotional service in such a way that they divide Krsna from His paraphernalia and pastimes. For example, the Bhagavad-gita is spoken on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, and the impersonalists say that although Krsna is of interest, the Battlefield of Kuruksetra isn’t. The devotees, however, also know that the Battlefield of Kuruksetra by itself has nothing to do with their business, but in addition they know that “Krsna” does not mean just Krsna alone. He is always with His associates and paraphernalia. For instance, if someone says, “Give something to eat to the man with the weapons,” the eating process is done by the man and not by the weapons. Similarly, in Krsna consciousness, a devotee may be interested in the paraphernalia and locations—such as the Battlefield of Kuruksetra—which are associated with Krsna, but he is not concerned with simply any battlefield. He is concerned with Krsna—His speech, His instructions, etc. It is because Krsna is there that the battlefield is so important.
This is the summary understanding of what Krsna consciousness is. Without this understanding one is sure to misunderstand why the devotees are interested in the Battlefield of Kuruksetra. One who is interested in Krsna becomes interested in His different pastimes and activities.
The definition of a pure devotee, as given by Rupa Gosvami in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, can be summarized thus: his service is favorable and is always in relation to Krsna. In order to keep the purity of such Krsna conscious activities, one must be freed from all material desires and philosophical speculation. Any desire except for the service of the Lord is called material desire. And “philosophical speculation” refers to the sort of speculation which ultimately arrives at a conclusion of voidism or impersonalism. This conclusion is useless for a Krsna conscious person. Only rarely by philosophical speculation can one reach the conclusion of worshiping Vasudeva, Krsna. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita itself. The ultimate end of philosophical speculation, then, must be Krsna, with the understanding that Krsna is everything, the cause of all causes, and that one should therefore surrender unto Him. If this ultimate goal is reached, then philosophical advancement is favorable, but if the conclusion of philosophical speculation is voidism or impersonalism, that is not bhakti.
Karma, or fruitive activities, are sometimes understood to be ritualistic activities. There are many persons who are very much attracted by the ritualistic activities described in the Vedas. But if one becomes attracted simply to ritualistic activities without understanding Krsna, his activities are unfavorable to Krsna consciousness. Actually, Krsna consciousness can be based simply on hearing, chanting, remembering, etc. Described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam are nine different processes, besides which everything done is unfavorable to Krsna consciousness. Thus, one should always be guarding against falldowns.
Srila Rupa Gosvami has also mentioned in this definition of bhakti the word jnana-karmadi. This karmadi (fruitive work) consists of activities which are unable to help one attain to pure devotional service. Many forms of so-called renunciation are also not favorable to Krsna conscious devotional service.
Srila Rupa Gosvami has also quoted a definition from the Narada-pancaratra, as follows: “One should be free from all material designations and, by Krsna consciousness, must be cleansed of all material contamination. He should be restored to his pure identity, in which he engages his senses in the service of the proprietor of the senses.” So when our senses are engaged for the actual proprietor of the senses, that is called devotional service. In our conditional state, our senses are engaged in serving these bodily demands. When the same senses are engaged in executing the order of Krsna, our activities are called bhakti.
As long as one identifies himself as belonging to a certain family, a certain society or a certain person, he is said to be covered with designations. When one is fully aware that he does not belong to any family, society or country, but is eternally related to Krsna, he then realizes that his energy should be employed not in the interests of so-called family, society or country, but in the interests of Krsna. This is purity of purpose and the platform of pure devotional service in Krsna consciousness.