mahat-krpa vina kona karme 'bhakti' naya
krsna-bhakti dure rahu, samsara nahe ksaya
mahat-krpa—the mercy of great devotees; vina—without; kona karme—by some other activity; bhakti naya—there is not devotional service; krsna-bhakti—love of Krsna or devotional service to Krsna; dure rahu—leaving aside; samsara—the bondage of material existence; nahe—there is not; ksaya—destruction.
"Unless one is favored by a pure devotee, he cannot attain the platform of devotional service. To say nothing of krsna-bhakti, one cannot even be relieved from the bondage of material existence.
Pious activities bring about material opulence, but one cannot acquire devotional service by any amount of material pious activity, not by giving charity, opening big hospitals and schools or working philanthropically. Devotional service can be attained only by the mercy of a pure devotee. Without a pure devotee's mercy, one cannot even escape the bondage of material existence. The word mahat in this verse means "a pure devotee." As confirmed in Bhagavad-gita:
mahatmanas tu mam partha
daivim prakrtim asritah
bhajanty ananya-manaso
jnatva bhutadim avyayam
"O son of Prtha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible." (Bg. 9.13)
One also has to associate with such a mahatma who has accepted Krsna as the supreme source of the entire creation. Without being a mahatma, one cannot understand Krsna's absolute position. A mahatma is rare and transcendental, and he is a pure devotee of Lord Krsna. Foolish people consider Krsna a human being, and they consider Lord Krsna's pure devotee an ordinary human being also. Whatever one may be, one must take shelter at the lotus feet of a devotee mahatma and treat him as the most exalted well-wisher of all human society. We should take shelter of such a mahatma and ask for his causeless mercy. Only by his benediction can one be relieved from attachment to a materialistic way of life. When one is thus relieved, he can engage in the Lord's transcendental loving service through the mercy of the mahatma.

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