jñānaṁ viraktimad abhūn niśitena yena
ciccheda saṁśaya-padaṁ nija-jīva-kośam
In the Nārada-pañcarātra, devotional service to the Lord is likened unto a queen. When a queen gives an audience, many maidservants follow her. The maidservants of devotional service are material opulence, liberation and mystic powers. The karmīs are very much attached to material enjoyment, the jñānīs are very anxious to become freed from material clutches, and the yogīs are very fond of attaining the eight kinds of mystic perfection. From the Nārada-pañcarātra we understand that if one attains the stage of pure devotional service, he also attains all the opulences derived from fruitive activities, empiric philosophical speculation and mystic yogic practice. Śrīla Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura therefore prayed in his Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta: “My dear Lord, if I have unflinching devotion to You, You become manifest before me personally, and the results of fruitive activity and empiric philosophical speculation — namely religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation — become like personal attendants and remain standing before me as if awaiting my order.” The idea here is that the jñānīs, by culture of brahma-vidyā, spiritual knowledge, struggle very hard to get out of the clutches of material nature, but a devotee, by dint of his advancement in devotional service, automatically becomes detached from his material body. When the devotee’s spiritual body begins to manifest, he actually enters into his activities in transcendental life.
At present we have contacted a material body, material mind and material intelligence, but when we become free from these material conditions, our spiritual body, spiritual mind and spiritual intelligence become manifest. In that transcendental state, a devotee attains all the benefits of karma, jñāna and yoga. Although he never engages in fruitive activities or empiric speculation to attain mystic powers, automatically mystic powers appear in his service. A devotee does not want any kind of material opulence, but such opulence appears before him automatically. He does not have to endeavor for it. Because of his devotional service, he automatically becomes brahma-bhūta. As stated before, this is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (14.26):
māṁ ca yo ’vyabhicāreṇa
sa guṇān samatītyaitān
“One who is engaged in full devotional service, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.”
Because of his regular discharge of devotional service, a devotee attains the transcendental stage of life. Since his mind is transcendentally situated, he cannot think of anything but the lotus feet of the Lord. This is the meaning of the word saṁsmaraṇa-anupūrtyā. By constantly thinking of the lotus feet of the Lord, the devotee immediately becomes situated in śuddha-sattva. Śuddha-sattva refers to that platform which is above the modes of material nature, including the mode of goodness. In the material world, the mode of goodness is considered to be representative of the highest perfection, but one has to transcend this mode and come to the stage of śuddha-sattva, or pure goodness, where the three qualities of material nature cannot act.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura gives the following example: If one has strong digestive power, after eating he automatically lights a fire within his stomach to digest everything and does not need to take medicine to aid his digestion. Similarly, the fire of devotional service is so strong that a devotee does not need to act separately to attain perfect knowledge or detachment from material attractions. A jñānī may become detached from material attractions by prolonged discussions on subjects of knowledge and may in this way finally come to the brahma-bhūta stage, but a devotee does not have to undergo so much trouble. By virtue of his devotional service, he attains the brahma-bhūta stage without a doubt. The yogīs and jñānīs are always doubtful about their constitutional position; therefore they mistakenly think of becoming one with the Supreme. However, a devotee’s relationship with the Supreme becomes manifest beyond all doubt, and he immediately understands that his position is that of eternal servant of the Lord. Jñānīs and yogīs without devotion may think themselves liberated, but actually their intelligence is not as pure as that of a devotee. In other words, the jñānīs and yogīs cannot become factually liberated unless they become elevated to the position of devotees:
āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ
patanty adho ’nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ
The jñānīs and yogīs may rise to the highest position, Brahman realization, but because of their lack of devotion unto the lotus feet of the Lord, they again fall down into material nature. Therefore jñāna and yoga should not be accepted as the real processes for liberation. By discharging devotional service, Mahārāja Pṛthu automatically transcended all these positions. Since Mahārāja Pṛthu was a śaktyāveśa incarnation of the Supreme Lord, he did not have to act in any way to attain liberation. He came from the Vaikuṇṭha world, or spiritual sky, in order to execute the will of the Supreme Lord on earth. Consequently he was to return home, back to Godhead, without having to execute jñāna, yoga or karma. Although Pṛthu Mahārāja was eternally a pure devotee of the Lord, he nonetheless adopted the process of devotional service in order to teach the people in general the proper process for executing the duties of life and ultimately returning home, back to Godhead.