Śuddha-bhakti, the activity of the soul proper—in other words, engagement in the transcendental loving service of the Lord—is performed in a liberated condition. In Bhagavad-gītā (BG 14.26) it is stated:
- māṁ ca yo 'vyabhicāreṇa
- bhakti-yogena sevate
- sa guṇān samatītyaitān
- brahma-bhūyāya kalpate
"One who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down in any circumstance, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman."
Avyabhicāriṇī bhakti means unalloyed devotion. A person engaged in devotional service must be free from material motives. In this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, one's consciousness must be changed. If consciousness is aimed toward material enjoyment, it is material consciousness, and if it is aimed toward serving Kṛṣṇa, it is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. A surrendered soul serves Kṛṣṇa without material considerations (anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyam (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.11)). Jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam: unalloyed devotional service, which is transcendental to the activities of the body and mind, such as jñāna (mental speculation) and karma (fruitive work), is called pure bhakti-yoga. Bhakti-yoga is the proper activity of the soul, and when one actually engages in unalloyed, uncontaminated devotional service, he is already liberated (sa guṇān samatītyaitān (BG 14.26). Kṛṣṇa's devotee is not subjected to material condition, even though his bodily features may appear materially conditioned. One should therefore not see a pure devotee from a materialistic point of view. Unless one is actually a devotee, he cannot see another devotee perfectly. As explained in the previous verse, there are three types of devotees—kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, madhyama-adhikārī and uttama-adhikārī. The kaniṣṭha-adhikārī cannot distinguish between a devotee and nondevotee. He is simply concerned with worshiping the Deity in the temple. A madhyama-adhikārī, however, can distinguish between the devotee and nondevotee, as well as between the devotee and the Lord. Thus he treats the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the devotee and the nondevotee in different ways.
No one should criticize the bodily defects of a pure devotee. If there are such defects, they should be overlooked. What should be taken into account is the spiritual master's main business, which is devotional service, pure service to the Supreme Lord. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (BG 9.30):
- api cet sudurācāro
- bhajate mām ananya-bhāk
- sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ
- samyag vyavasito hi saḥ
Even if a devotee sometimes seems to engage in abominable activities, he should be considered a sādhu, a saintly person, because his actual identity is that of one engaged in the loving service of the Lord. In other words, he is not to be considered an ordinary human being.
Even though a pure devotee may not be born in a brāhmaṇa or gosvāmī family, if he is engaged in the service of the Lord he should not be neglected. In actuality there cannot be a family of gosvāmīs based on material considerations, caste or heredity. The gosvāmī title is actually the monopoly of the pure devotees; thus we speak of the six Gosvāmīs, headed by Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī. Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī had practically become Mohammedans and had therefore changed their names to Dabira Khāsa and Sākara Mallika, but Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself made them gosvāmīs. Therefore the gosvāmī title is not hereditary. The word gosvāmī refers to one who can control his senses, who is master of the senses. A devotee is not controlled by the senses, but is the controller of the senses. Consequently he should be called svāmī or gosvāmī, even though he may not be born in a gosvāmī family.