We can hardly find any human beings who believe in the Vedic scriptures and the existence of God, or even in proper behavior. Those who do believe in these things, and in advancing in spiritual life, are known as Āryans. Out of those who believe in the scriptures and the advancement of human civilization, there are two classes—the righteous and the unrighteous. Those who are righteous generally execute fruitive activities to derive some good result for sense gratification. Out of many such persons who engage in righteous activities for sense gratification, only a few come to know about the Absolute Truth. These are called jñānīs, empiric philosophers in search of the Absolute Truth. Out of many hundreds and thousands of such empiric philosophers, only a handful actually attain liberation. When one is liberated, he theoretically understands that the living entity is not composed of material elements but is spirit soul, distinct from matter. Simply by understanding this doctrine, even theoretically, one qualifies as a mukta, or liberated soul. But the actual mukta is he who understands his constitutional position as part and parcel of the Lord and as His eternal servant. Such liberated souls engage with faith and devotion in the service of the Lord, and they are called kṛṣṇa-bhaktas, or Kṛṣṇa conscious persons.
Kṛṣṇa-bhaktas are free from all material desires. Although those who are theoretically liberated by knowing that the living entity is not material may be classified among liberated souls, they still have desires. Their main desire is to become one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such persons are very much attached to performing Vedic rituals and righteous activities in order to enjoy material prosperity. Even when some of them transcend material enjoyment, they still try to enjoy in the spiritual world by merging into the existence of the Supreme Lord. Some of them also desire to attain mystic powers through the execution of yoga. As long as any of these desires are within a person's heart, he cannot understand the nature of pure devotional service, and on account of constantly being agitated by such desires, he is not peaceful. Indeed, as long as there is any desire for material perfection at all, one cannot be at peace. Since the devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa do not desire anything material, they are the only peaceful persons within this material world. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.14.5):
- muktānām api siddhānāṁ nārāyaṇa-parāyaṇaḥ
- su-durlabhaḥ praśāntātmā koṭiṣv api mahāmune
"O great sage, out of many millions of liberated persons and persons who have achieved success in mystic yoga, it is very rare to find one who is completely devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is therefore filled with peace."
Lord Caitanya next explained that of the many thousands and millions of living entities wandering in the material world, one who by the grace of Lord Kṛṣṇa and the spiritual master gets the seed of devotional service is very rare and fortunate. A pious or religious man is generally inclined to worship deities in various temples, but if by chance, even without his knowledge, he offers his obeisances and worshipful respects to Lord Viṣṇu and receives the favor of a Vaiṣṇava, a devotee of the Lord, at that time he acquires the asset necessary to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is plainly understood from the history of the great sage Nārada, which is related in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. By serving Vaiṣṇavas in his previous life, Nārada was favored by those devotees of the Lord and became the great sage Nārada Muni.
Vaiṣṇavas are generally very compassionate toward the conditioned souls. Without even being invited, a devotee will go from door to door to enlighten people, to bring them out of the darkness of nescience by imparting knowledge of the living entity's constitutional position as a servant of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Such devotees are empowered by the Lord to distribute devotional consciousness, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, to the people in general. They are known as authorized spiritual masters, and it is by the mercy of such a spiritual master that a conditioned soul gets the seed of devotional service. The causeless mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is first appreciated when one comes in touch with a bona fide spiritual master, who can enlighten the conditioned soul and bring him to the highest position of devotional life. Therefore Lord Caitanya said that by the mercy of the spiritual master one can achieve the causeless mercy of the Lord and by the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead one can attain the mercy of the bona fide spiritual master.
Thus by the mercy of the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa one receives the seed of devotional service. Then one has to sow the seed in the field of his heart, just as a gardener sows the seed of a valuable tree. After sowing this seed, one has to water it by chanting and hearing the holy name of the Supreme Lord and by taking part in discussions about the science of devotional service in a society of pure devotees. When the plant of devotional service sprouts up from the seed of devotion, it begins to grow freely. When it is fully grown, it surpasses the length and breadth of this universe and enters the transcendental atmosphere of the spiritual world, where everything is bathed in the effulgence of the brahmajyoti. The plant penetrates even the brahmajyoti and gradually enters the planet known as Goloka Vṛndāvana. There the plant takes shelter at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. That is the ultimate goal of devotional service. After attaining this position, the plant produces the fruit of love of Godhead. To taste this fruit, however, it is necessary for the devotee, or transcendental gardener, to water the plant daily by chanting and hearing. Unless one waters the plant by chanting and hearing, there is every chance that it will dry up.