The inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, Vrajavāsīs, are living examples of devotional service. Theirs is ideal devotional service with attachment, and such devotion can be found only in Vrajabhūmi, Vṛndāvana. If one develops devotional service and attachment by following in the footsteps of the Vrajavāsīs, he attains rāga-mārga-bhakti, or devotional service in attachment to the Lord. According to Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.270), "Devotional service with ecstatic attachment for that service, which becomes natural for the devotee, is called rāga, or transcendental attachment." Devotional service discharged with such attachment is called rāgātmikā, and deep attachment with deep absorption in the object of love is called rāgātmikā. Examples of these can be seen in the activities of the residents of Vrajabhūmi. One who becomes attracted to Kṛṣṇa by hearing of such attachment is certainly very fortunate. When one becomes deeply affected by the devotion of the residents of Vrajabhūmi and tries to follow in their footsteps, he does not care for the restrictions or regulations of the revealed scriptures. This is the characteristic of one discharging rāga-bhakti.
Devotional service with attachment is natural, and one who has been attracted by it does not argue with those who oppose him, even though others may argue by presenting scriptural injunctions. The natural inclination to devotional service is also based on scriptural injunction, and one who has attachment for such devotional service is not required to give it up simply on the strength of scriptural argument. In this connection it should be noted that a class of so-called devotees (known as prākṛta-sahajiyā) follow their own concocted ideas and, representing themselves as Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā, indulge in debauchery. Such devotional service and attachment are false, and those so engaged are actually gliding down a hellish path. This is not the standard of rāgātmikā, or devotion. The prākṛta-sahajiyā community is actually cheated and very unfortunate.
Devotional service with attachment can be executed in two ways—externally and internally. Externally the devotee strictly follows the regulative principles beginning with chanting and hearing, while internally he thinks of the attachment which attracts him to serve the Supreme Lord. Indeed, he always thinks of his special devotional service and attachment. Such attachment does not violate the regulative principles of devotional service, and a real devotee adheres to these principles strictly; yet he always thinks of his particular attachment.
Since all the inhabitants of Vrajabhūmi, Vṛndāvana, are very dear to Kṛṣṇa, a devotee selects one of the inhabitants and follows in his footsteps in order to be successful in his own devotional service. A pure devotee who is attached to the Lord always follows in the footsteps of a personality of Vrajabhūmi. It is advised in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.294) that a pure devotee attached to devotional service should always remember the activities of a particular inhabitant of Vraja, even though he is not able to live in Vrajabhūmi or Vṛndāvana. In this way he can always think of Vrajabhūmi and Vṛndāvana.
The confidential devotees attached to the service of the Lord are divided into several categories: some of them are servants, some are friends, some are parents, and some are conjugal lovers. In devotional service with attachment, one has to follow a particular type of devotee of Vrajabhūmi. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.25.38) the Lord says:
- na karhicin mat-parāḥ śānta-rūpe
- naṅkṣyanti no me 'nimiṣo leḍhi hetiḥ
- yeṣām ahaṁ priya ātmā sutaś ca
- sakhā guruḥ suhṛdo daivam iṣṭam
"The word mat-para is only used to refer to persons who are satisfied with the idea of becoming My adherents alone. They consider that I am their soul, I am their friend, I am their son, I am their master, I am their well-wisher, I am their God, and I am their supreme goal. My dear mother, time does not act on such devotees." In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.308), Rūpa Gosvāmī offers his respectful obeisances to those who always think of Kṛṣṇa as He is, and His relation as son, well-wisher, brother, father, friend, etc. Whoever follows the principles of devotional service with attachment and follows a particular devotee of Vrajabhūmi certainly attains the highest perfection of love of Godhead in that spirit.