In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Third Canto, 29th Chapter, 10th verse, Śrīla Kapiladeva, while instructing His mother, has given the following characteristics of pure devotional service: "My dear Mother, those who are My pure devotees, and who have no desire for material benefit or philosophical speculation, have their minds so much engaged in My service that they are never interested in asking Me for anything—except to be engaged in that service. They do not even beg to live in My abode with Me."
There are five kinds of liberation, namely to become one with the Lord, to live with the Supreme Lord on the same planet, to have the same features as the Lord, to enjoy the same opulences as the Lord, and to live as a companion of the Lord. A devotee, not to speak of rejecting material sense gratification, does not even want any of the five kinds of liberation. He is satisfied simply by discharging loving service to the Lord. That is the characteristic of pure devotion.
In the above statement by Kapiladeva from the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the actual position of a pure devotee is described, and the primary characteristics of devotional service are also defined. Further characteristics of devotional service are described by Rūpa Gosvāmī with evidences from different scriptures. He states that there are six characteristics of pure devotional service, which are as follows:
- 1) Pure devotional service brings immediate relief from all kinds of material distress.
- 2) Pure devotional service is the beginning of all auspiciousness.
- 3) Pure devotional service automatically puts one in transcendental pleasure.
- 4) Pure devotional service is rarely achieved.
- 5) Those in pure devotional service deride even the conception of liberation.
- 6) Pure devotional service is the only means to attract Kṛṣṇa.
Kṛṣṇa is all-attractive, but pure devotional service attracts even Him. This means that pure devotional service is even transcendentally stronger than Kṛṣṇa Himself, because it is Kṛṣṇa's internal potency.