"krsna-nama nirantara yanhara vadane
sei vaisnava-srestha, bhaja tanhara carane
krsna-nama—the holy name of Lord Krsna; nirantara—incessantly; yanhara—whose; vadane—in the mouth; sei—such a person; vaisnava-srestha—a first-class Vaisnava; bhaja—worship; tanhara carane—his lotus feet.
"A person who is always chanting the holy name of the Lord is to be considered a first-class Vaisnava, and your duty is to serve his lotus feet."
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that any Vaisnava who is constantly chanting the holy name of the Lord should be considered to have attained the second platform of Vaisnavism. Such a devotee is superior to a neophyte Vaisnava who has just learned to chant the holy name of the Lord. A neophyte devotee simply tries to chant the holy name, whereas the advanced devotee is accustomed to chanting and takes pleasure in it. Such an advanced devotee is called madhyama-bhagavata, which indicates that he has attained the intermediate stage between the neophyte and the perfect devotee. Generally a devotee in the intermediate stage becomes a preacher. A neophyte devotee or an ordinary person should worship the madhyama-bhagavata, who is a via medium.
In his Upadesamrta Srila Rupa Gosvami says: pranatibhis ca bhajantam isam. This means that madhyama-adhikari devotees should exchange obeisances between themselves.
The word nirantara, meaning "without cessation, continuously, constantly," is very important in this verse. The word antara means "interval." if one has desires other than a desire to perform devotional service-in other words, if one sometimes engages in devotional service and sometimes strives for sense gratification-his service will be interrupted. A pure devotee, therefore, should have no other desire than to serve Krsna. He should be above fruitive activity and speculative knowledge. In his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami says:
silanam bhaktir uttama
This is the platform of pure devotional service. One should not be motivated by fruitive activity or mental speculation but should simply serve Krsna favorably. That is first-class devotion.
Another meaning of antara is "this body." The body is an impediment to self-realization because it is always engaged in sense gratification. Similarly, antara means "money." If money is not used in Krsna's service, it is also an impediment. Antara also means janata, "people in general." The association of ordinary persons may destroy the principles of devotional service. Similarly, antara may mean "greed," greed to acquire more money or enjoy more sense gratification. Finally, the word antara may also mean "atheistic ideas" by which one considers the temple Deity to be made of stone, wood or gold. All of these are impediments. The Deity in the temple is not material-He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. Similarly, considering the spiritual master an ordinary human being (gurusu nara-matih) is also an impediment. Nor should one consider a Vaisnava a member of a particular caste or nation. Nor should a Vaisnava be considered material. Caranamrta should not be considered ordinary drinking water, and the holy name of the Lord should not be considered an ordinary sound vibration. Nor should one look on Lord Krsna as an ordinary human being, for He is the origin of all visnu-tattvas; nor should one regard the Supreme Lord as a demigod. Intermingling the spiritual with the material causes one to look on transcendence as material and the mundane as spiritual. This is all due to a poor fund of knowledge. One should not consider Lord Visnu and things related to him as being different. All this is offensive.
In the Bhakti-sandarbha (265), Srila Jiva Gosvami writes: namaikam yasya vaci smarana-patha-gatam ityadau deha-dravinadi-nimittaka-'pasanda'-sabdena ca dasa aparadha laksyante, pasandamayatvat tesam.
The Mayavadis look on Visnu and Vaisnavas imperfectly due to their poor fund of knowledge, and this is condemned. In Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.46), the intermediate Vaisnava is described as follows:
balisesu dvisatsu ca
yah karoti sa madhyamah
sraddhavan jana haya bhakti-adhikari
'uttama', 'madhyama', 'kanistha'--sraddha-anusari
"One who is faithful is a proper candidate for devotional service. In terms of one's degree of faith in devotional service, one is a first-class, second-class or neophyte Vaisnava."
sastra-yukti nahi jane drdha, sraddhavan
'madhyama-adhikari' sei maha-bhagyavan
"Attraction and love are the ultimate goal of devotional service. The degrees of such attraction and love for God distinguish the different stages of devotion-neophyte, intermediate and perfectional." (Cc. Madhya 22.71) An intermediate devotee is greatly attracted to chanting the holy name, and by chanting he is elevated to the platform of love. If one chants the holy name of the Lord with great attachment, he can understand his position as an eternal servant of the spiritual master, other Vaisnavas and Krsna Himself. Thus the intermediate Vaisnava considers himself krsna-dasa, Krsna's servant. He therefore preaches Krsna consciousness to innocent neophytes and stresses the importance of chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. An intermediate devotee can identify the nondevotee or motivated devotee. The motivated devotee or the nondevotee are on the material platform, and they are called prakrta. The intermediate devotee does not mix with such materialistic people. However, he understands that the Supreme Personality of Godhead and everything related to Him are on the same transcendental platform. Actually none of them are mundane.
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