Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj explains the practice of Bhāgavat-dharma.
It is necessary to be qualified, and quality will come through surrender. Prabhupād Saraswatī Ṭhākur told Śrīla Guru Mahārāj: “You don’t worry. You are a surrendered soul; you are surrendered to Kṛṣṇa. You have no offence.”
Bhāgavat-dharma is not such a narrow gauge. It is a broad gauge, a wide elevator.
ye vai bhagavatā proktā upāyā hy ātma-labdhaye
añjaḥ puṁsām aviduṣāṁ viddhi bhāgavatān hi tān
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 11.2.34)
[“Know Bhāgavat-dharma to be the means explained by the Lord for even the ignorant to easily attain the Lord.”]
If Kṛṣṇa Himself says, “I like samosas and rasa-gullas”, then there is no problem. If you give Him a samosa and a rasa-gulla, He will be very satisfied. If you give Him anything else, He not will be satisfied. Whatever Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa says is the way to get His mercy, that is Bhāgavat-dharma.
And another verse makes this point even stronger:
yān āsthāya naro rājan na pramādyeta karhichit
dhāvan nimīlya vā netre na skhalen na pated iha
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 11.2.35)
[“One who follows this path is never impeded. Even if one runs with one’s eyes closed, one will not trip or fall.”]
“You can go straight, and no problem will come to you if you are fully surrendered to Lord Kṛṣṇa and you have a mood of service to Lord Kṛṣṇa. It does not matter whether you proceed with your eyes open or closed. If you proceed in the way of Bhāgavat-dharma, you will reach your destination, the place you desire in the transcendental world.”
Here I displayed this verse:
jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva jīvanti
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.14.3)
Śrīman Mahāprabhu accepted it, and it explains the first quality, the minimum qualification, that is necessary, not the highest quality. What is that minimum? Throw away your knowledge and live surrendered to the sādhus. Where? Sthāne sthitāḥ: anywhere. “O Lord, You are ajita; no one can control or defeat You, but by the devotion of this kind of devotee You happily give Your mercy and become defeated. Ajiti ’pi jita: no one can defeat You, but by this kind of devotion, a devotee can defeat You, and You become most merciful to them.
kāyena vāchā manasendriyair vā
karoti yad yat sakalaṁ parasmai
nārāyaṇāyeti samarpayet tat
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 11.2.36)
It is necessary to offer everything to Kṛṣṇa and live on His remnants. Then no problems will come to us. In this regard, this is one kind of rule and regulation:
ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ prātikūlyasya varjanam
rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāso goptṛtve varaṇaṁ tathā
(Śrī Sātvata-tantra: 73)
You should try to eat the kind of prasādam that is favourable to your health. You should not disturb Kṛṣṇa or disturb the devotees. This is procedure Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī Prabhu has given to us. Ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ: try to take the kind of prasādam that is favourable to your health.
Three kinds of devotees are identified in Bhāgavatam:
sarva-bhūteṣu yaḥ paśyed bhagavad-bhāvam ātmanaḥ
bhūtāni bhagavaty ātmany eṣa bhāgavatottamaḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 11.2.45)
One who sees Kṛṣṇa’s presence everywhere is a first class devotee.
īśvare tad-adhīneṣu bāliśeṣu dviṣatsu cha
prema-maitrī-kṛpopekṣā yaḥ karoti sa madhyamaḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 11.2.46)
A second class devotee has Īśvare prema, Tad-adhīneṣu maitrī, bāliśeṣu kṛpā, and dviṣatsu cha upekṣā [love for the Lord, friendship with His servants, mercy for the innocent, and disregard for the inimical]. One who properly engages in these four kinds of behaviour is a second grade devotee.
archāyām eva haraye pūjāṁ yaḥ śraddhayehate
na tad-bhakteṣu chānyeṣu sa bhaktaḥ prākṛtaḥ smṛtaḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 11.2.47)
[“One who faithfully worships the Deity of the Lord but not His devotees or other souls is a neophyte devotee.”]
Here the third grade devotee is described. It is necessary to explain these definitions widely. Then, you will understand more. Actually though, wherever we are giving discourses, there Śrīmad Bhāgavat is present, Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā is present, and our Guru-varga is present. Not only the Bhāgavat and the Gītā are present there, the sādhu and Guru are also present.
Their influence must always be present in the life of a devotee. Then no problem will come. Whether or not you read the Bhāgavat or not is not the question. If you get a good devotee’s association, a good Guru’s association, a good Vaiṣṇava’s association, then always you will be benefitted. But it is necessary to be clean and clear. It cannot be appropriate for spiritual life that everything around us is dirty. Be clean and quite. I am very happy to see that all our devotees are very cleanly and quietly practising. But an even more attentive nature and spirit are necessary for everyone. More. And more. And not ‘until’ a certain stage. That is necessary forever: be clean and clear, and serve with pure devotion.
Pure devotion has two definitions, one given by Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī, and one given by Śrī Nārad Goswāmī.
sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ tat-paratvena nirmalam
hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-sevanaṁ bhaktir uchyate
[“Devotion is said to be service to the master of the senses with all the senses that is completely free from all adjuncts, intent upon Him, and uncontaminated.”]
This is given by Nārad Goswāmī.
ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā
(Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu: Pūrva-vibhāga, 1.11)
[“Pure devotion is constant endeavour to please Kṛṣṇa that is free from ulterior motives and unobstructed by pious action and renunciation.”]
This is given by Rūpa Goswāmī.
In Bengali poetry, Prabhupād Śrīla Saraswatī Ṭhākur also wrote,
viṣaya-samūha sakali mādhava
śrī-hari-sevāya yāhā anukūla
viṣaya baliyā tyāge haya bhula
[“Be free from attachment and connect everything with Kṛṣṇa. All material objects belong to the Lord. To consider anything that is favourable to the service of the Lord mundane and reject it is a mistake.”]
Spoken 13 April 2007.