Gradual Elevation to Perfection

Dear Prabhujis and Matajis,
Hare Krishna! Please accept my humble pranams! All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Gurudev!

In devotional service we talk about ecstasy/transcendental taste and so many things, but how can we experience it? Srila Prabhupada gives a nice explanation of science of devotional service and how to achieve the transcendental stage, in one of his transcendental purports in Srimad Bhagavatam (2.7.19). This is worth meditating for us to execute the devotional service nicely.

1. Unless one is inclined to be a devotee of the Lord, he cannot enter into the intricacies of devotional service
First qualification is inclination to be a devotee of the Lord. As of now we want to be in Krishna consciousness because it gives nice association, prasadam and also a sense of satisfaction that something spiritual is being done. Real inclination has not arisen to become a devotee of the Lord because we are fearful of losing our material status quo and position in the world in terms of material assets. Also we don't have any genuine faith in this process. This needs to be mitigated by constant study of scriptures.

2. Willing to co-operate with a pure devotee of the Lord who is engaged in the transcendental devotional service of the Lord
Since the genuine inclination is absent on account of lack of faith and fear of losing material assets, our cooperation becomes surfacial and not so internal. This is the second defect in us. Constant hearing from a pure devotee and study of scriptures will make us develop the cooperation aspect in our devotional life.

3. Gradually Learning the techniques of devotional service
The techniques of devotional service has to be gradually learnt. We may hear, read study for so many years of devotional service from the scriptures, but the application of those study in our day to day lives is the place where we fail. We are learning so many lessons in the sojourn of our material existence, but we are not applying those lessons regularly in our day to day lives which tantamount to repeat the same mistakes again and again.(punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām)

4. Progressive learning will proportionately free us from material contamination
The next stage is spiritual progress in devotional service. If we are practising bhakti sincerely then after years of practice, gradually our innate bad-tendencies will also vanish. There should be a definite change in our behaviour and conduct. That is the sign of becoming proportionately free from material contamination. Maharaj says that such a change in innate behaviour is possible only when we envisage our last day. Just like a prisoner who is going to be hanged becomes very perfect gentlemen, we should try to cultivate this tendency.

5. Such a purificatory process will establish the firm faith in Devotional service
As we are contaminated every day, we should constantly strive for purification of our body, mind and senses. Such purification will happen only by strictly adhering devotional service like chanting and hearing. Such constant purification will only develop firm faith in Devotional service.

6. Firm faith will gradually elevate us to stage of transcendental taste for such devotional service
We have to develop unflinching faith in this process come what may. Maharaj says that a devotee is satisfied in any condition of life and is always happy. Although it is the most difficult, to follow, we should cultivate this somehow or other by praying for the mercy of Guru and Krishna.

Once the transcendental taste for such devotional service is developed then it will result in genuine attachment for the devotional service to the Lord and this conviction will carry him to the point of ecstasy prior to the stage of transcendental love. There is a nice verse in the Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu that lists step by step process of attaining the pure devotional service from faith to Love of Godhead.

ādau śraddhā tataḥ sādhu- saṅgo ’tha bhajana-kriyā
tato ’nartha-nivṛttiḥ syāt tato niṣṭhā rucis tataḥ
athāsaktis tato bhāvas tataḥ premābhyudañcati
sādhakānām ayaṁ premṇaḥ prādurbhāve bhavet kramaḥ

"In the beginning there must be faith. Then one becomes interested in associating with pure devotees. Thereafter one is initiated by the spiritual master and executes the regulative principles under his orders. Thus one is freed from all unwanted habits and becomes firmly fixed in devotional service. Thereafter, one develops taste and attachment. This is the way of sadhana-bhakti, the execution of devotional service according to the regulative principles. Gradually emotions intensify, and finally there is an awakening of love. This is the gradual development of love of Godhead for the devotee interested in Krishna consciousness."

Srila Prabhupada gives the summary of all these activities by adopting one process in the purport 2.3.23 - One should be more serious about seeking the mercy of the devotee than that of the Lord directly, and by one's doing so (by the good will of the devotee) the natural attraction for the service of the Lord will be revived.

I therefore pray to the dust of the lotus feet of my beloved Spiritual master and Srila Prabhupada and all elevated Vaishnavas to bestow their special mercy on this polluted soul so that I develop natural attraction for devotional service.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Sajjana Priya Krishna das
Abu Dhabi.