In all the Vedas the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the living entities are stated to be of the same quality—cetana, or spiritual. This is confirmed in the Padma Purāṇa, wherein it is said that there are two kinds of spiritual entities: one is called the jīva, and the other is called the Supreme Lord. From Lord Brahmā down to the ant, all living entities are jīvas, whereas the Lord is the supreme four-handed Viṣṇu, or Janārdana. Strictly speaking, the word ātmā can be applied only to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but because the living entities are His parts and parcels, sometimes the word ātmā is applied to them also. The living entities are therefore called jīvātmā, and the Supreme Lord is called Paramātmā. Both the Paramātmā and the jīvātmā are within this material world, and therefore this material world has a purpose other than sense gratification. The conception of a life of sense gratification is illusion, but the conception of service by the jīvātmā to the Paramātmā, even in this material world, is not at all illusory. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person is fully aware of this fact, and thus he does not take this material world to be false but acts in the reality of transcendental service. The devotee therefore sees everything in this material world as an opportunity to serve the Lord. He does not reject anything as material but dovetails everything in the service of the Lord. Thus a devotee is always in the transcendental position, and everything he uses becomes spiritually purified by being used in the Lord's service.
Śrīdhara Svāmī has composed a nice verse in this regard: "I worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is always manifested as reality, even within this material world, which is considered by some to be false." The conception of the falsity of this material world is due to a lack of knowledge, but a person advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness sees the Supreme Personality of Godhead in everything. This is actual realization of the Vedic aphorism sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma: "Everything is Brahman."
The personified Vedas continued: "Dear Lord, less intelligent men take to other ways of self-realization, but actually there is no chance of becoming purified from material contamination or of stopping the repeated cycle of birth and death unless one is a thoroughly pure devotee. Dear Lord, everything rests on Your different potencies, and everyone is supported by You, as stated in the Vedas: eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān. Therefore Your Lordship is the supporter and maintainer of all living entities—demigods, human beings and animals. Everyone is supported by You, and You are also situated in everyone's heart. In other words, You are the root of the whole creation. Therefore those who engage in Your devotional service without deviation, who always worship You, actually pour water on the root of the universal tree. By devotional service, therefore, one satisfies not only the Personality of Godhead but also all others, because everyone is maintained and supported by Him. Because a devotee understands the all-pervasive feature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is the most practical philanthropist and altruist. Such pure devotees, thoroughly engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, very easily overcome the cycle of birth and death, and they as much as jump over the head of death."
A devotee is never afraid of death, or changing his body; his consciousness is transformed into Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and even if he does not go back to Godhead, even if he transmigrates to another material body, he has nothing to fear. A vivid example is Bharata Mahārāja. Although in his next life he became a deer, in the life after that he became completely free from all material contamination and was elevated to the kingdom of God. The Bhagavad-gītā affirms, therefore, that a devotee is never vanquished. A devotee's path to the spiritual kingdom, back home, back to Godhead, is guaranteed. Even though a devotee slips in one birth, the continuation of his Kṛṣṇa consciousness elevates him further and further, until he goes back to Godhead. Not only does a pure devotee purify his own personal existence, but whoever becomes his disciple also becomes purified and is ultimately able to enter the kingdom of God without difficulty. In other words, not only can a pure devotee easily surpass death, but by his grace his followers can also do so without difficulty. The power of devotional service is so great that a pure devotee can electrify another person by his transcendental instruction on crossing over the ocean of nescience.
The instructions of a pure devotee to his disciple are also very simple. No one feels any difficulty in following in the footsteps of a pure devotee of the Lord. Anyone who follows in the footsteps of recognized devotees, such as Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, the Kumāras, Manu, Kapila, King Prahlāda, King Janaka, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, Yamarāja and their followers in disciplic succession, very easily finds the door of liberation open. On the other hand, those who are not devotees but are engaged in uncertain processes of self-realization, such as jñāna, yoga and karma, are understood to be still contaminated. Such contaminated persons, although apparently advanced in self-realization, cannot liberate even themselves, what to speak of those who follow them. Such nondevotees are compared to chained animals, for they are not able to go beyond the jurisdiction of the formalities of a certain type of faith. In the Bhagavad-gītā they are condemned as veda-vāda-rata. They cannot understand that the Vedas deal with activities of the material modes of nature—goodness, passion and ignorance. But as Lord Kṛṣṇa advised Arjuna, one has to go beyond the jurisdiction of the duties prescribed in the Vedas and take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, devotional service. The Lord says in the Bhagavad-gītā, nistrai-guṇyo bhavārjuna: "My dear Arjuna, just try to become transcendental to the Vedic rituals." This transcendental position beyond the Vedic ritualistic performances is devotional service. In the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord clearly says that persons who are engaged in His devotional service without adulteration are situated in Brahman. Actual Brahman realization means Kṛṣṇa consciousness and engagement in devotional service. The devotees are therefore real brahmacārīs because their activities are always in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, devotional service.