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Kanistha-adhikari means

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Lectures

Nectar of Devotion Lectures

In the lower stage, the devotee is engaged in Deity worship. It is not that Deity worship is lower than meditation. We don't mean that. Deity worship is the beginning of devotional service, as it will be mentioned in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu.
The Nectar of Devotion -- Vrndavana, October 23, 1972:

Prabhupāda: So there are three kinds of devotional stages: kaniṣṭha adhikāra, lower stage, and the madhyama adhikāra, middle stage, and uttama adhikāra. So the kaniṣṭha adhikāra means:

arcāyām eva haraye
ya pūjāṁ śraddhayahate
na tad-bhakteṣu cānyeṣu
sa bhaktaḥ prākṛtaḥ smṛtaḥ

In the lower stage, the devotee is engaged in Deity worship. It is not that Deity worship is lower than meditation. We don't mean that. Deity worship is the beginning of devotional service, as it will be mentioned in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, how to approach the Deity, how to cleanse the floor, how to change the dress, flower, how to make ārātrika, everything in detail there are.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Lectures

Kaniṣṭha-adhikārī means neophytes, neophytes who are not conversant with the conclusion of the Vedas.
Lecture on CC Adi-lila 7.113-17 -- San Francisco, February 22, 1967:

What is this goodness here in this material world? This is also matter. So there is no value, even goodness. One has to transcend the modes of goodness. That is transcendental, or aprakṛta.

tāṅra doṣa nāhi, teṅho ājñā-kārī dās
āra yei śune tāra haya sarva-nāśa

So again He supports Śaṅkarācārya, that "It is not his fault. He had to do it under the superior order to explain the Vedic literature in an impersonalist way. But those who are not expert, if they hear the commentary of Śaṅkarācārya, Śārīraka-bhāṣya, then he is doomed." In other words, those who are actually aspiring for being elevated in spiritual science, they should avoid to hear any commentary which is impersonal. Any commentary. Then he is doomed. If we follow Caitanya Mahāprabhu's instruction, then any impersonal commentary means, if we hear... Because we are not expert. We are not expert. Kaniṣṭha-adhikārī. Kaniṣṭha-adhikārī means neophytes, neophytes who are not conversant with the conclusion of the Vedas. They have got some, I mean to say, faith. That's all. But faith can be changed. Any... If a person, strong in arguments and strong in presenting things in jugglery of words, oh, the neophyte, his idea can be changed. But Caitanya Mahāprabhu warns, therefore, in the Vaiṣṇava philosophy that "You should not worship any other demigods." It does not mean that you should show disrespect to demigods. No. That is not. But because he is in the lower stage, if he is allowed to worship or to show respect to the demigods, he will think that he is also like Kṛṣṇa. "Kṛṣṇa is another demigod, and this Candra is another demigod, Śiva is another demigod." Just like some foolish persons, they propagate that "Whatever deity you worship, oh, that is God." Even, they say, if you worship a cat or a dog, that is also God. So therefore there is stricture. And in the Bhagavad-gītā also, mām ekam, "Simply unto Me, one," Kṛṣṇa says. Because one is a neophyte, he can be turned, his faith can be disturbed at any moment; therefore in the beginning one has to, I mean to say, pin his faith only in Kṛṣṇa, mām ekam. Otherwise, he cannot make progress. And when one understands Kṛṣṇa, janma karma me divyam (BG 4.9), in truth, then he can understand other things also.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1977 Conversations and Morning Walks

Kaniṣṭha-adhikārī means he must be a brāhmaṇa. That is kaniṣṭha-adhikārī. The spiritual life, kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, means he must be a qualified brāhmaṇa. That is kaniṣṭha. What is esteemed as very high position in the material world, brāhmaṇa, that is kaniṣṭha-adhikārī.
Room Conversation Varnasrama System Must Be Introduced -- February 14, 1977, Mayapura:

Prabhupāda: Yes. Therefore this should be made. Vaiṣṇava, to become Vaiṣṇava, is not so easy. If Vaiṣṇava, to become Vaiṣṇava is so easy, why so many fall down, fall down? It is not easy. The sannyāsa is for the highest qualified brāhmaṇa. And simply by dressing like a Vaiṣṇava, that is... fall down.

Hari-śauri: So the varṇāśrama system is like for the kaniṣṭhas, Kaniṣṭha-adhikārī.

Prabhupāda: Kaniṣṭha?

Hari-śauri: When one is only on the platform of neophyte.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Yes. Kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, yes.

Hari-śauri: Varṇāśrama system is beneficial.

Prabhupāda: Kaniṣṭha-adhikārī means he must be a brāhmaṇa. That is kaniṣṭha-adhikārī. The spiritual life, kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, means he must be a qualified brāhmaṇa. That is kaniṣṭha. What is esteemed as very high position in the material world, brāhmaṇa, that is kaniṣṭha-adhikārī.

arcāyām eva haraye
pūjāṁ yaḥ śraddhayehate
na tad-bhakteṣu cānyeṣu
sa bhaktaḥ prākṛtaḥ smṛtaḥ

The brāhmaṇa means from the material stage gradually he is elevated to the spiritual stage. And below the brāhmaṇa there is no question of Vaiṣṇava.

Hari-śauri: No question of?

Prabhupāda: Vaiṣṇavism.

śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ
hṛdy antaḥ-stho hy abhadrāṇi
vidhunoti suhṛt satām
(SB 1.2.17)

By becoming a brāhmaṇa, hearing, hearing, hearing... Or by hearing, hearing, hearing, he becomes a brāhmaṇa. The other qualities, śūdra quality, kṣatriya, vaiśya, means finished. So then next stage is, śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ, hṛdy antaḥ... Naṣṭa-prāyeṣv abhadreṣu. By this process, hearing... Without becoming a brāhmaṇa nobody is interested to hear. Then, by hearing, naṣṭa-prāyeṣv abhadreṣu, then abhadra, means the base qualities, means ignorance and passion... These are the base qualities. So naṣṭa-prāyeṣv abhadreṣu. When these base qualities are finished almost, not complete, nityaṁ bhāgavata-sevayā, by hearing from Bhāgavata or by serving the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement-

naṣṭa-prāyeṣv abhadreṣu
nityaṁ bhāgavata-sevayā
bhagavaty uttama-śloke
bhaktir bhavati naiṣṭhikī
(SB 1.2.18)

Then he becomes fixed up in devotional... This devotional service is the first-grade quality of sattva-guṇa.

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