Kṛṣṇa-bhaktas are free from all material desires. Those who are liberated theoretically by knowing simply that the living entity is not material may still have desires, although they may be technically classified amongst liberated souls. Their main desire is to become one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Generally such persons are very much attached to Vedic rituals and righteous activities, performing them in order to enjoy material prosperity. Even when some of them transcend material enjoyment, they still try to enjoy the spiritual world by merging into the existence of the Supreme Lord. Some of them are also desirous of attaining mystic powers through the execution of yoga. As long as these desires are within one's heart, he cannot understand the nature of pure devotional service. When one is constantly being agitated by such desires, he is not peaceful. Indeed, as long as there is any desire for material perfection at all, one cannot be at peace. Since the devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa do not desire anything material, they are the only peaceful persons within this material world. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:
- muktānām api siddhānāṁ
- sudurlabhaḥ praśāntātmā
- koṭiṣv api mahāmune
"O great sage, out of many millions of liberated persons and persons who have achieved success in mystic yoga, one who is completely devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who is filled with peace is very hard to find." (SB 6.14.5)
In this way Lord Caitanya explained that of the many thousands and millions of living entities wandering in the material world, one who by the grace of Lord Kṛṣṇa and the spiritual master gets the seed of devotional service is very rare and fortunate. A pious or religious man is generally inclined to worship deities in various temples, but if by chance, even without his knowledge, he offers his obeisances to Lord Viṣṇu or receives the favor of a Vaiṣṇava, a devotee of the Lord, he at that time acquires the asset necessary to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is clearly understood from the life story of the great sage Nārada, which is related in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. By serving Vaiṣṇavas in his previous life, Nārada was favored by the devotees of the Lord and became a great sage. Indeed, amongst sages Nārada Muni is considered to be the greatest.
Vaiṣṇavas, or devotees, are usually very compassionate upon conditioned souls. Without even being invited, a devotee will go from door to door to enlighten people and to bring them out of the darkness of nescience by injecting knowledge of the living entity's constitutional position as a servant of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Such devotees are empowered by the Lord to distribute devotional consciousness, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, to the people in general. They are known as authorized spiritual masters, and it is by their mercy that a conditioned soul gets the seed of devotional service. The causeless mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is first appreciated when one comes in touch with a bona fide spiritual master who can bring the conditioned soul to the highest position of devotional life. Therefore Lord Caitanya said that by the mercy of the spiritual master one can achieve the causeless mercy of the Lord, and by the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one can attain the mercy of the bona fide spiritual master.
Thus by the mercy of the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa, one receives the seed of devotional service. He has only to sow the seed in the field of his heart, just as a gardener sows the seed of a valuable tree. After sowing this seed, one has to water it in the form of chanting and hearing the holy name of the Supreme Lord or by taking part in discussions about the science of devotional service in a society of pure devotees. When the plant of devotional service sprouts up from the seed of devotion, it begins to grow freely. When it is full grown, it surpasses the length and breadth of this universe and enters into the transcendental atmosphere, where everything is bathed in the effulgence of the brahmajyoti. The plant even penetrates this brahmajyoti and gradually enters the planet known as Goloka Vṛndāvana. There the plant takes shelter at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. That is the ultimate goal of devotional service. After attaining this position, the plant produces fruit, which is known as the fruit of love of Godhead. However, it is necessary for the devotee, or transcendental gardener, to pour water on the plant daily by chanting and hearing. Unless one waters the plant by chanting and hearing, there is every chance that it will dry up.