A conditioned soul is one who has forgotten Kṛṣṇa as his eternal master. Thinking that he is enjoying the material world, the conditioned soul suffers the threefold miseries of material existence. Saintly persons (sādhus), Vaiṣṇava devotees of the Lord, preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness on the basis of the Vedic literature. It is only by their mercy that the conditioned soul is awakened to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. When awakened, he is no longer eager to enjoy the materialistic way of life. Instead, he devotes himself to the loving transcendental service of the Lord. When one engages in the Lord’s devotional service, he becomes detached from material enjoyment:
- bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir
- anyatra caiṣa trika eka-kālaḥ
- (SB 11.2.42)
This is the test by which one can tell whether he is advancing in devotional service. One must be detached from material enjoyment. Such detachment means that māyā has actually given the conditioned soul liberation from illusory enjoyment. When one is advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he does not consider himself as good as Kṛṣṇa. Whenever he thinks that he is the enjoyer of material advantages, he is imprisoned in the bodily conception. However, when he is freed from the bodily conception, he can engage in devotional service, which is his actual position of freedom from the clutches of māyā. This is all explained in the following verse from the Bhagavad-gītā (BG 7.14).