Qualification for Devotional Service - Part 1

Qualification for Devotional Service - Part 1

Narahari Krishna Das

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

 The Lord clearly states in the Gita and Bhagavatam that He can be understood only by devotional service. Any amount of material qualifications without devotional service cannot please Him. At the same time, if a person has unalloyed love for the Lord even if he does not have any material qualifications, the Lord is very pleased with Him and showers His grace for the devotee to reach Him. This is stated by the great devotee Prahlada Maharaja in Srimad Bhagavatam verse 7.9.9 as follows.

manye dhanaabhijana-rupa-tapah-shrutaujas-
naaraadhanaaya hi bhavanti parasya pumso
bhaktyaa tutosha bhagavaan gaja-yutha-paaya

Prahlada Maharaja continued: "One may possess wealth, an aristocratic family, beauty, austerity, education, sensory expertise, luster, influence, physical strength, diligence, intelligence and mystic yogic power, but I think that even by all these qualifications one cannot satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. However, one can satisfy the Lord simply by devotional service. Gajendra did this, and thus the Lord was satisfied with him."

Srila Prabhupada explains in the commentary to the verse, "In a prayer to Krishna expressing her feelings, Srimati Kuntidevi called Him akincana-gocara. The prefix a means "not" and kincana means "something of this material world." One may be very proud of his prestigious position, material wealth, beauty, education and so on, but although these are certainly good qualifications in material dealings, they are not necessary for achieving friendship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who possesses all these material qualities is expected to become a devotee, and when he actually does, the qualities are properly utilized."

As our beloved spiritual master H H Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj says, "If you have  material qualifications, please use them in Krishna's service. If you don't have any, don't worry. Just forget about everything and run towards Krishna." But it is difficult to gain faith in this statement. Because we usually see that devotees who have better material qualifications or material situation do more service or usually their service is, 'more visible', than the service rendered by devotees who have low material profile and who struggle in their lives. So usually devotional service is judged in terms of external success which are mostly related to one's material qualifications. This may be true from the worldly point of view. But from the Supreme Lord's point of view, the real success is in terms of the love we have developed for the Lord which may or may not be reflected in one's external success. But when we look only at external success and become enamored by it, then in the pretext of praying for sincere bhakti, we usually start praying for better material qualifications/situation so that we can perform better bhakti. Srila Rupa Goswami in his prayers called Padyavali says as follows.

vyaadhasya aacaranam dhruvasya ca vayo vidya gajendrasya ka
kubjayah ka namarupam adhikam kim tat sudaamno dhanam?
vamsah ko vidurasya yaadavapater ugrasya kim paurusham
bhaktyaa tushyati kevalam na ca gunair bhaktipriyo maadhavah  

"If the Supreme Lord would can be pleased with only good occupation, then where is the good occupation of Dharmavyadha (the butcher). If age is the qualification for pleasing the Lord, then where is the age of Dhruva Maharaja (who was only five)? If material knowledge is the qualification for pleasing Him, then what knowledge Gajendra possessed? If physical beauty is the qualification to please God, then what beauty  Kubja possessed? If the Lord can be pleased only by wealth, then what wealth Sudhama possessed? If the Lord can be pleased by the persons born in high class families, then what high birth Vidura had? If the Lord can only be pleased by great physical power then what prowess Ugrasena had? Lord Sri Madhava, who loves devotional service becomes very pleased with a person who takes shelter of Him at His lotus feet with pure devotion, not by the adorable material qualities of a person who does not engage in devotional service."

In this prayer, Srila Rupa Goswami lists seven different devotees who were disqualified in different ways and still attained the Lord's grace by devotion. Krishna willing, we will see about these devotees in some detail in the subsequent offering.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Narahari Krishna Das,