Srila Prabhupada explains the “razors edge” of Devotional service

December 30, 2022 in Articles by Damaghosa dasa

June 13 1976 Detroit
Devotee (2): …devotional service is transcendental to the modes of material nature. That’s from the very moment that one first begins to render devotional service? Or gradually? From the first very moment?
Prabhupāda: Yes. [break]
Devotee (2): …of devotional service in the modes of material nature, there’s no such thing.
Prabhupāda:No. Means if you do not follow the regulative principles, then it is mixed.
Satsvarūpa: Sometimes devotees think that in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, when Lord Kapila teaches there isdevotional service in ignorance and in passion and in goodness, that that may mean your own disciples too. But then some devotees say “No, we’re above that designation. It’s not mixed devotional service, even though we’re neophytes.”
Prabhupāda:If you voluntarily do not follow, then you fall down. That is in ignorance.
Devotee (2): So where that is described in the Third Canto, Part Four, where it is described about devotional service in ignorance, passion, and goodness, and so forth, that has nothing to do with your disciples then?
Prabhupāda:Who is my discipleFirst of all let him follow strictly the disciplined rules.
Devotee (2): As long as one is following, then he is
Prabhupāda: Then he is all right.
Devotee (2): …above those lower levels.
Prabhupāda:Oh, yes. Otherwise, why there is need of regulative principles? He is immediately liberated. If he thinks that “Because I have taken to, I am liberated,” then why the rules and regulations?
Devotee (2): But as long as he follows the rules and regulations.
Prabhupāda: Yes.
Devotee (2): [break] …the brahmabhūtaḥ platform, brahmabhutaḥ prasannātmā [Bg. 18.54], immediately?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Bhagavad-gītā it is said māṁca yo ‘vyabhicāreṇa [Bg. 14.26], unalloyed. Bhaktiyogenasevate, then he’s liberated. If it is vyabhicāreṇa, sometimes falls down, sometimes…, then it is within sattvaguṇarajoguṇa, tamo-guṇa. The word is māṁcayaḥavyabhicāreṇabhaktiyogena, pure bhakti.
Hariśauri: Without any falldown.
Devotee (2): Falldown means deviation from the orders of the spiritual master.
Prabhupāda: Yes, that is vyabhicāreṇa, that is not avyabhicāreṇa. If you are subjected to the attraction of māyā, that is vyabhicāreṇa.
Devotee (2): If somebody is following the instructions, but if there’s attraction for māyā
Prabhupāda:That cannot be. Maybe in the beginning due to past habits, but that must be nil very soon. Otherwise he’s not following. Just like fan switched off may move for a little, but not that it will go on moving. Must stop. Switch is off. And if it is going on, then the switch is not yet off. [break]
Devotee (2): A devotee is sometimes subject to hankering or lamentation. That is material though, isn’t it?
Prabhupāda: Yes.
Devotee (2): In other words, if, at that moment, if he desires something other than Kṛṣṇa, that’s a material desire.
Prabhupāda:Then he has to learn it. So long one is not competent in that position, he’s subjected, he may fall down.

Some Conclusions-One time I sat down and had some short discussion with an aspiring iskcon guru. I asked him-are you a liberated soul? He said quickly-yes.
I then asked him to name the qualities of a liberated soul–No answer after twice asking the same question. I then gave him about 8 points from the books  one needed to have to be classified as a liberated soul. 
Then he replied that I was the most envious person he had ever met. !! 
This is iskcon today.
Here , however is what Srila Prabhupada an acual pure devotee  says further  about this….
(Srila Prabhupada Morning Walk, Perth, May 11, 1975
Devotee: So if we as devotees in Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement are transcendental to these modes, does that mean that we can…
Prabhupada: You are not transcendental. You are trying to be transcendental. You should always remember that ‘We are trying to be transcendental.’ When you are actually on transcendental state, you will not be affected by any modes of material nature. Therefore you should be very cautious and careful. Just like on the sea, you are in the boat. You are transcendental. But the boat may…, can merge into the water any moment unless you are very carefully plying it. At any moment. You are not in the water, you are safe on the boat, but if you do not carefully ply your boat, then you can fall down at any moment. The comparison is given, nṛ-deham ādyam sulabhaṁ sudurlabhaṁ (SB 11.20.17). Sulabhaṁ. This human form of body is just like a very nice boat to cross over this ocean of ignorance, and the guru is the pilot, or the captain. And the śāstras are favorable wind. Just like if you are going this direction, if the wind is blowing this…, then automatically your boat is pushed. And behind the boat, what is called, the boat, that thing? He takes the…
Devotee (2): The oar, rudder…
Devotee (3): The oarsman. Oarsmen.
Prabhupada: Oarsman, all of them are. Chief?
Devotee (2): The steersman or the pilot?
Prabhupada: Yes, the chief man. So the guru is there. He is the chief man, giving direction, or the captain. And others are plying, and the boat is also strong, and the wind is also favorable. In this circumstances, if you cannot cross, then you make suicide. The śāstras are there. That is favorable wind. You get the way. And the spiritual master is directing, ‘Do like this.’ And you have got a nice boat, and you are plying. Now cross over. Very big ocean in the material world. Just see the sky, how big it is. So we have to cross this material sky, penetrate the covering, then go to the spiritual sky. Then you are safe. Paras tasmāt tu bhāvaḥ anyaḥ ‘vyakto ‘vyaktāt sanātanaḥ (BG 8.20). That place, even after destruction of this whole material world, that is safe. So we have to go there, plying the boat.
So  to be clear– what exactly is- pure devotional service?
SB 3.29.8 purport...To act under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master with a motive to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead is pure devotional service. But if one has a motive for personal sense gratification, his devotional service is manifested differently. Such a man may be violent, proud, envious and angry, and his interests are separate from the Lord’s.