Out of sheer misunderstanding, some transcendentalists think that knowledge and renunciation are necessary for rising to the platform of devotional service. This is not so. The cultivation of knowledge and the renunciation of fruitive activities may be necessary to understand one's spiritual existence in relation to the material conception of life, but they are not part and parcel of devotional service. The results of knowledge and fruitive activities are liberation and material sense gratification respectively. Consequently, they cannot be part and parcel of devotional service; rather, they have no intrinsic value in the discharge of devotional service. When one is freed from bondage to the results of knowledge and fruitive activities, he can attain to devotional service. Since a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa is by nature nonviolent, and since his mind and senses are controlled, he does not have to make a special effort to acquire the good qualities which result from cultivating knowledge and performing fruitive activities.
When Uddhava was asking Kṛṣṇa about rules and regulations according to Vedic injunctions, he asked, "Why is it that the Vedic hymns encourage one in material enjoyment, while at the same time the Vedic instructions also free one from all illusion and encourage one toward liberation?" The Vedic rules are supposed to be ordained by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but apparently there are contradictions, and Uddhava was anxious to know how one could be freed from these contradictions. In reply, Lord Kṛṣṇa informed him of the superexcellence of devotional service.
"It is neither practical nor necessary for one who is already engaged in devotional service to Me and whose mind is fixed on Me to endeavor for the cultivation of knowledge and renunciation." Thus the Lord's conclusion is that devotional service is independent of any other process. The cultivation of knowledge, renunciation or meditation may be a little helpful in the beginning, but they cannot be considered necessary for the discharge of devotional service. In other words, devotional service can be discharged independently of the cultivation of knowledge and renunciation. In this regard, there is also a verse from Skanda Purāṇa in which Parvata Muni told a hunter tribesman: "O hunter, the qualifications which you have just now acquired—such as nonviolence and others—are not astonishing, because one who is engaged in devotional service to the Supreme Lord cannot be a source of trouble for anyone under any circumstance."
After discussing these points, Lord Caitanya told Sanātana Gosvāmī, "Thus far I have explained devotional service according to the regulative principles. Now I shall explain devotional service to you in terms of transcendental attachment."
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.