rajan patir gurur alam bhavatam yadunam
daivam priyah kula-patih kva ca kinkaro vah
astv evam anga bhagavan bhajatam mukundo
muktim dadati karhicit sma na bhakti-yogam
rajan—O King; patih—master; guruh—spiritual master; alam—certainly; bhavatam—of your; yadunam—of the Yadus; daivam—God; priyah—very dear; kula-patih—head of the family; kva—even sometimes; ca—also; kinkarah—order carrier; vah—you; astu—there is; evam—thus; anga—however; bhagavan—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; bhajatam—those who are in devotional service; mukundah—Lord Krsna; muktim—liberation; dadati—gives; karhicit—sometimes; sma—certainly; na—not; bhakti-yogam—devotional service.
"The great sage Narada said, 'My dear Maharaja Yudhisthira, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna is always ready to help you. He is your master, guru, God, very dear friend and head of your family. Yet sometimes He agrees to act as your servant or order-carrier. You are greatly fortunate because this relationship is possible only by bhakti-yoga. The Lord can give liberation [mukti] very easily, but He does not very easily give one bhakti-yoga, because by that process He is bound to the devotee.' "
This passage is a quotation from Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.6.18). While Sukadeva Gosvami was describing the character of Rsabhadeva, he distinguished between bhakti-yoga and liberation by reciting this verse. In relationship with the Yadus and Pandavas, the Lord acted sometimes as their master, sometimes as their advisor, sometimes as their friend, sometimes as the head of their family and sometimes even as their servant. Krsna once had to carry out an order of Yudhisthira's by carrying a letter Yudhisthira had written to Duryodhana regarding peace negotiations. Similarly, He also became the chariot driver of Arjuna. This illustrates that in bhakti-yoga there is a relationship established between the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the devotee. Such a relationship is established in the transcendental mellows known as dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhurya. If a devotee wants simple liberation, he gets it very easily from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as confirmed by Bilvamangala Thakura. Muktih svayam mukulitanjali sevate 'sman: for a devotee, mukti is not very important because mukti is always standing on his doorstep waiting to serve him in some way. A devotee, therefore, must be attracted by the behavior of the inhabitants of Vrndavana, who live in a relationship with Krsna. The land, water, cows, trees and flowers serve Krsna in santa-rasa, His servants serve Him in dasya-rasa, and His cowherd friends serve Him in sakhya-rasa. Similarly, the elder gopis and gopas serve Krsna as father and mother, uncle and other relatives, and the gopis, the young girls, serve Krsna in conjugal love.
While executing devotional service, one must be naturally inclined to serve Krsna in one of these transcendental relationships. That is the actual success of life. For a devotee, to get liberation is not very difficult. Even one who is unable to establish a relationship with Krsna can achieve liberation by merging in the Brahman effulgence. This is called sayujya-mukti. Vaisnavas never accept sayujya-mukti, although sometimes they accept the other forms of liberation, namely, sarupya, salokya, samipya and sarsti. A pure devotee, however, does not accept any kind of mukti. He wants only to serve Krsna in a transcendental relationship. This is the perfectional stage of spiritual life. Mayavadi philosophers desire to merge into the existence of the Brahman effulgence, although this aspect of liberation is always neglected by devotees. Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati Thakura, describing this kind of mukti, which is called kaivalya, or becoming one with the Supreme, has said, kaivalyam narakayate: "Becoming one with the Supreme is as good as going to hell." Therefore the ideal of Mayavada philosophy, becoming one with the Supreme, is hellish for a devotee; he never accepts it. Mayavadi philosophers do not know that even if they merge in the effulgence of the Supreme, this will not give them ultimate rest. An individual soul cannot live in the Brahman effulgence in a state of inactivity; after some time, he must desire to be active. However, since he is not related with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and therefore has no spiritual activity, he must come down for further activities in this material world. This is confirmed in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.2.32):
aruhya krcchrena param padam tatah
patanty adho 'nadrta-yusmad-anghrayah
Because Mayavadi philosophers have no information regarding the transcendental service of the Lord, even after attaining liberation from material activities and merging into the Brahman effulgence, they must come down again to this material world to open hospitals or schools or perform similar philanthropic activities.
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