Can a neophyte be –a pure devotee?

May 27, 2020 in Articles by Damaghosa dasa

Can a neophyte devotee– be a pure devotee of the Lord??
Dec 14 1972 letter to Tusta Krsna
Your next question, after leaving this material realm does the devotee remain forever with his spiritual master? The answer is yes. But I think you have got the mistaken idea in this connection. You speak of pure devotee, that he is saktyavesa avatara, that we should obey him only—these things are the wrong idea. If anyone thinks like that, that a pure devotee should be obeyed and no one else, that means he is a nonsense. We advise everyone to address one another as Prabhu. Prabhu means master, so how the master should be disobeyed? Others, they are also pure devotees. All of my disciples are pure devotees. Anyone sincerely serving the spiritual master is a pure devotee, it may be Siddhasvarupa or others, a-Siddhasvarupa. This must be very clearly stated. It is not only that your Siddhasvarupa is a pure devotee and not others. Do not try to make a faction. Siddhasvarupa is a good soul. But others should not be misled. Anyone who is surrendered to the spiritual master is a pure devotee, it doesn’t matter if Siddhasvarupa or non-Siddhasvarupa. Amongst ourselves one should respect others as Prabhu, master, one another. As soon as we distinguish here is a pure devotee, here is a non-pure devotee, that means I am a nonsense. Why you only want to be in the spiritual sky with Siddhasvarupa? Why not all? If Siddhasvarupa can go, why not everyone? Siddhasvarupa will go, you will go, Syamasundara will go, all others will go. We will have another ISKCON there. Of course, Mr. Nair must stay.
Madhya 15.106-Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu replied, “Whoever chants the holy name of Kṛṣṇa just once is worshipable and is the topmost human being.
PURPORT-Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura says that simply by chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa once, a person becomes perfect. Such a person is understood to be a Vaiṣṇava. With such faith and belief, one may begin a life of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but an ordinary person cannot chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa with such faith.
A devotee who believes that the holy name of the Lord is identical with the Lord is a pure devotee, even though he may be in the neophyte stage. By his association, others may also become Vaiṣṇavas.
One is known as a materialistic devotee if he simply worships the Deity of Hari with faith but does not show proper respect to the devotees and to others. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.2.47): arcāyām eva haraye pūjāṁ yaḥ śraddhayehate na tad-bhakteṣu cānyeṣu sa bhaktaḥ prākṛtaḥ smṛtaḥ
“Anyone who engages with faith in the worship of the Deity of Hari but does not show proper respect to the devotees and to others is known as a materialistic devotee.However, by associating with a neophyte devotee who believes that the holy name of the Lord is identical with the Lord, one can become a devotee also. .
Adi 7.73–“Simply by chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa one can obtain freedom from material existence. Indeed, simply by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra one will be able to see the lotus feet of the Lord.
PURPORT-The holy name and the Lord are identical. One who is completely free from the clutches of māyā can understand this fact.
Adi 7.51-“The Māyāvādī sannyāsīs are all criticizing Your Holiness. We cannot tolerate hearing such criticism, for this blasphemy breaks our hearts.”
PURPORT-This is a manifestation of real love for Kṛṣṇa and Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. There are three categories of Vaiṣṇavas: kaniṣṭha-adhikārīs, madhyama-adhikārīs and uttama-adhikārīs. The kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, or the devotee in the lowest stage of Vaiṣṇava life, has firm faith but is not familiar with the conclusions of the śāstras. The devotee in the second stage, the madhyama-adhikārī, is completely aware of the śāstric conclusion and has firm faith in his guru and the Lord. He, therefore, avoiding nondevotees, preaches to the innocent. However, the mahā-bhāgavata or uttama-adhikārī, the devotee in the highest stage of devotional life, does not see anyone as being against the Vaiṣṇava principles, for he regards everyone as a Vaiṣṇava but himself. This is the essence of Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s instruction that one be more tolerant than a tree and think oneself lower than the straw in the street (tṛṇād api su-nīcena taror iva sahiṣṇunā). However, even if a devotee is in the uttama-bhāgavata status he must come down to the second status of life, madhyama-adhikārī, to be a preacher, for a preacher should not tolerate blasphemy against another Vaiṣṇava. Although a kaniṣṭha-adhikārī also cannot tolerate such blasphemy, he is not competent to stop it by citing śāstric evidences. Therefore Tapana Miśra and Candraśekhara are understood to be kaniṣṭha-adhikārīs because they could not refute the arguments of the sannyāsīs in Benares. They appealed to Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu to take action, for they felt that they could not tolerate such criticism although they also could not stop it.

Feb 6 1976 Mayapura….

Prabhupāda: Madness. The whole world is going on on this foolish understanding. Therefore they have been described, mūḍha, all rascals. Anyone who is thinking, “There is no God, there is no Kṛṣṇa, it may be He is impersonal, there is no personality, and I am equal to Him”—these are all rascals, fools.
Dayānanda: So actually there is no way to become detached.
Prabhupāda: The only way is that you become Kṛṣṇa conscious.
Dayānanda: Except through Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Mām eva ye prapadyante. You surrender to Kṛṣṇa and everything will be clear, just like as soon as the sun rises, everything is clear, no covering. That is our propaganda, that you become Kṛṣṇa conscious; then you become fully aware of everything. Otherwise you remain rascal, fools, gādhā, asses. If you prefer to remain asses, you can do so, but we are servant of Kṛṣṇa. We must preach real, reality.
Dayānanda: Even the jñānīs and yogis become…
Prabhupāda: What is these jñānīs? They are also another rascal, another edition of rascals. Bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate [Bg. 7.19]. Therefore so-called jñānīs, after many, many births’ practical realization, they surrender to Kṛṣṇa. Vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā [Bg. 7.19]. Then he understands that Kṛṣṇa is everything. But such great person is very, very rare. Sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ, very, very rare.
Dayānanda: But what about the persons who may be a little bit devoted but who have not achieved that unalloyed devotion?
Prabhupāda: Kaniṣṭha-adhikārī. They are not devotees, but they are called bhaktābhāsa. There is some signs of bhakti. Actually they are not bhakta. Bhaktābhāsa. Ābhāsa. Ābhāsa means a simple, a little light.
Hṛdayānanda: So devotee really means one who has love for Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda: Yes, unalloyed, without any condition. Anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyam [Brs. 1.1.11], zero, all other, that “I am this, I am that, I am jñānī, I am yogi, I am karmī, I am minister, I am king”—all these are thinking like that, they’re all nonsense. “I am servant of Kṛṣṇa”—that is greatness. Jīvera svarūpa haya nitya-kṛṣṇa-dāsa [Cc. Madhya 20.108-109]. That is self-realization, ātma-tattvam.
Dayānanda: So because that person is very rare, then, I guess, the only way we can possibly know how to become like that is to find one pure devotee and exactly follow that way of Kṛṣṇa consciousness that he has.
Prabhupāda: Hm?
Dayānanda: I mean to say that because a pure devotee is so rare, the only way must be to find out a pure devotee and exactly follow.
Prabhupāda: Yes. If you try to find out… (end)
Letter to Janaki oct 13 1968 seattle
Answering your puzzle, it may be said that a pure devotee is he who loves Krishna, without any material desire. People are generally engaged in karma. Karma means work and get the result and enjoy life. And jnana, jnana means speculating process to understand the Absolute Truth. So one who does not indulge in speculating habit, neither tries to gain something by his work, but simply engages himself in the service of the Lord, he is called a pure devotee. Such pure devotees are very rare. But by the Grace of Krishna, practically all the devotees and disciples who have kindly joined me, they are, their symptoms are pure devotees. Even if they have got some ulterior desire, that will be removed very soon, because they have taken to the pure process of Krishna Consciousness. Hope this will meet both of you in good health, and awaiting your good news by next mail. Thanking you once more for writing me,
Feb 4 1971 letter Murari
… I am confident that if you simply take our principles very seriously and follow them rigidly, everything will come out successfully. Our Movement is being carried by spiritual strength from chanting of the Hare Krsna Mahamantra from the lips of pure devotees. Our disciples are pure and therefore the effect is that this movement is gaining in scope all over the world.
Dec 29 1972 Madhudvisa letter
I know there has been some controversy within the Society about the actual position of our Siddha Svarupa. But I think he is a very nice boy and he has understood our philosophy just to the point, so I have every faith that he will manage all right. Recently, I had sent one letter to reply Tusta Krsna’s questions about Siddha Svarupa, namely, that Siddha Svarupa may be pure devotee, but so all of you are also pure devotees. There is no question that Siddha Svarupa is only pure devotee and no one else is pure devotee. All of my disciples, as soon as they surrender themselves to Krsna, they become pure devotees actually. If you see Tusta there you may see also the copy of my letter to get the right idea. These things must be cleared up or there may be danger of split within our ranks. Try to keep the whole situation in unified condition, but if Siddha Svarupa and his disciples are living there separately and peacefully, I have no objection, so long there is no controversy or ill feelings between their camp and yours.
Some Conclusions–we can see from all the above quotes how Prabhupada sees his disciples. Regarding Tapana Misra and Chandrasekhara, two personal associates of Mahaprabhu whom Prabhupada describes as kanistha devotees because they did not have “enough knowledge” to defeat the mayavadis but, instead, and more importantly, had great love for Lord Caitanya and Krsna-and this was the key or main point. Prabhupada began his purport with this first sentence…”This is a manifestation of real love for Kṛṣṇa and Lord Caitanya “. Therefore the two of them could not tolerate blasphemy of the Lord. So we may follow all the rules and regulations perfectly, but if we do not develop love for the Lord, its all a waste of time.
SB 7.7.51 purport…“Even if one commits the most abominable actions, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated.” To develop unalloyed love for Kṛṣṇa is the perfection of life. Other processes may be helpful, but if one does not develop his love for Kṛṣṇa, these other processes are simply a waste of time.
Hare Krsna
damaghosa das
NOI text 2-atyāhāraḥ prayāsaś ca prajalpo niyamāgrahaḥ jana-saṅgaś ca laulyaṁ ca
ṣaḍbhir bhaktir vinaśyati
TRANSLATION-One’s devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required; (2) over endeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain; (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters; (4) Practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically; (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness; and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements.