Unflinching devotional service, as described in these two verses, means engaging oneself in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or devotional service, accepting the Supreme Lord as all in all. Since the Supreme Lord is all-inclusive, if anyone worships Him with unflinching faith, one has automatically achieved all other opulences and performed all other duties. The Lord promises herein that He takes His devotee to the other side of birth and death. Lord Caitanya, therefore, recommended that one who aspires to go beyond birth and death should have no material possessions. This means that one should not try to be happy in this world or to be promoted to the heavenly world, nor should he strive for material wealth, children, houses or cows.
How liberation is imperceptibly achieved by a pure devotee and what the symptoms are have been explained. The situation with a conditioned soul is different, however. If he is in the mode of goodness, he may be preparing for promotion to the higher planets; if he is in the mode of passion, he will remain here in a society where activity is very prominent, and if he is in the mode of ignorance, he may be degraded to animal life or a lower grade of human life. But for a devotee there is no concern for this life or the next life because in any life he does not desire material elevation. He prays to the Lord, "My dear Lord, it does not matter where I am born, but let me be born, even as an ant, in the house of a devotee." A pure devotee does not pray to the Lord for liberation from this material bondage. Actually, the pure devotee never thinks that he is fit for liberation. Considering his past life and his mischievous activities, he thinks that he is fit to be sent to the lowest region of hell. If in this life I am trying to become a devotee, this does not mean that in my many past lives I was one hundred percent pious. That is not possible. A devotee, therefore, is always conscious of his real position. Only by his full surrender to the Lord, by the Lord's grace, are his sufferings mitigated. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, "Surrender unto Me, and I will give you protection from all kinds of sinful reaction." That is His mercy. But this does not mean that one who has surrendered to the lotus feet of the Lord has committed no misdeeds in his past life. A devotee always prays, "For my misdeeds, may I be born again and again, but my only prayer is that I may not forget Your service." The devotee has such mental strength, and he prays to the Lord: "May I be born again and again, but let me be born in the home of Your pure devotee so that I may again get a chance to develop my spiritual life."
A pure devotee is not anxious to elevate himself in his next birth. He has already given up that sort of hope. In any life in which one is born, as a householder, or even as an animal, he must have some children, some resources or some possessions, but a devotee is not anxious to possess anything. He is satisfied with whatever is obtainable by God's grace. He is not at all attached to improving his social status or the education of his children. He is not neglectful - he is dutiful - but he does not spend too much time on the improvement of temporary household or social life. He fully engages in the service of the Lord, and for other affairs he simply spares as much time as absolutely necessary (yathārham upayuñjataḥ). Such a pure devotee does not care what is going to happen in the next life or in this life; he does not care even for family, children or society. He fully engages in the service of the Lord in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is stated in Bhagavad-gītā that without the knowledge of the devotee, the Lord arranges for His devotee to be immediately transferred to His transcendental abode just after leaving his body. After quitting his body he does not go into the womb of another mother. The ordinary common living entity, after death, is transferred to the womb of another mother, according to his karma, or activities, to take another type of body. But as far as the devotee is concerned, he is at once transferred to the spiritual world in the association of the Lord. That is the Lord's special mercy. Because He is all-powerful, the Lord can do anything and everything. He can excuse all sinful reactions. He can immediately transfer a person to Vaikuṇṭhaloka. That is the inconceivable power of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is favorably disposed to the pure devotees.
In these verses, Kapiladeva is describing the devotee's acceptance of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as the most dear to us. If we want to love Kṛṣṇa as a son, Kṛṣṇa is prepared to be our son. Arjuna accepted Kṛṣṇa as his friend, and Kṛṣṇa was his best friend. Everyone can accept Kṛṣṇa in so many ways. We can love Kṛṣṇa as Arjuna did, or as Mother Yaśodā did. Similarly, Parīkṣit Mahārāja simply heard about Kṛṣṇa and developed love. The first-class yogī takes Kṛṣṇa as everything - priya, suta, sakhā, guru, everything. This is real bhakti. If we want a son, Kṛṣṇa is prepared to be our son. If we want a lover, He is prepared to be our lover. If we want a friend, He is prepared to be our friend. Whatever relationship we want in the material world, we can have with Kṛṣṇa. We all have some loving propensity, and Kṛṣṇa is prepared to fulfill this propensity. Kṛṣṇa is not a person like ourselves. We occupy one body, but Kṛṣṇa is the owner of all bodies. The body is a machine given by Kṛṣṇa. In the material world, a father may give his son a car. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa gives the living entities bodies, 8,400,000 different types of bodies. The living entity gets into the body just as a person gets into a car, and he goes this way and that. We can drive this machine called the body for so many years; then it becomes old, and we have to change it for another machine. This is the process of birth and death. We drive one car for a while, and the car is finally broken, or it is smashed. We may have an accident or not, but eventually the car has to go to the junk yard. Then we have to get another car.
Actually our position is that we never take birth and never die, but why have we been put into this position of accepting these machines? This is our real problem. What is the cause of this? We want to enjoy this material world with its wealth and possessions. As long as we are after material possessions, we cannot transcend the cycle of birth and death. However, we have to give up all this and take shelter of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and worship Him. Nor can we worship Him whimsically, but as He desires. If Kṛṣṇa says, "I want a glass of water," we must bring Him water. We cannot say, "Milk is better than water. I think I will bring Him milk." This is not favorable service. Some so-called bhaktas say, "I can worship the Lord in my own way." This is simply imagination. The Māyāvādīs say that Brahman has no rūpa, no form, and they suggest that we imagine some form. This is not the case with Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is present in His original form, and He is described in Vedic literatures. We have recounted these descriptions before. If we want to attain a body like Brahmā's, we can get it. If we want a body like a worm in stool, we can get it. Or, if we want a body like Kṛṣṇa's, we can get that also. That is our real body of sac-cid-ānanda. We can also get a body like a demigod's and go to the heavenly planets. Or we can remain here in the middle planetary system. Our destination is our own choice. We are given full freedom through our activities. By pious activities, we go to the heavenly planets, and by Kṛṣṇa conscious activities, we go to Vaikuṇṭhaloka.
We are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, but somehow or other we have forgotten this. In Caitanya-caritāmṛta (CC Madhya 20.117) it is said:
- kṛṣṇa bhuli' sei jīva anādi-bahirmukha
- ataeva māyā tāre deya saṁsāra-duḥkha
"Forgetting Kṛṣṇa, the living entity has been attracted by the external feature from time immemorial. Therefore the illusory energy (māyā) gives him all kinds of misery in his material existence." Because we have forgotten Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa has given us all these Vedas and purāṇas. Kṛṣṇa also comes into this material world in order to remind us of Himself. In this Kali-yuga, people are forgetting Kṛṣṇa more and more. They are not even interested in Him, but Kṛṣṇa is interested because we are His sons. A mad son may no longer be interested in his home, in his father or mother, yet the father never loses interest in his son. He is anxious because his boy has left home and is suffering. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa's son leaves the spiritual sky and takes up one material body after another and in this way travels from one planet to another in different species of life. Therefore Kṛṣṇa comes to rescue him.