Madhya 22: The Process of Devotional Service
In the twenty-second chapter, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu describes the process of devotional service. In the beginning He describes the truth about the living entity and the superexcellence of devotional service. He then describes the uselessness of mental speculation and mystic yoga. In all circumstances the living entity is recommended to accept the path of devotional service as personally explained by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The speculative method of the so-called jñānīs is considered a waste of time, and that is proved in this chapter. An intelligent person should abandon the processes of karma-kāṇḍa, jñāna-kāṇḍa and mystic yoga. One should give up all these useless processes and take seriously to the path of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In this way one’s life will be successful. If one takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness fully, even though he may sometimes be agitated due to having previously practiced mental speculation and yogic mysticism, he will be saved by Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself. The fact is that devotional service is bestowed by the blessings of a pure devotee (sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ). A pure devotee is the supreme transcendentalist, and one has to receive his mercy for one’s dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness to be awakened. One has to associate with pure devotees. If one has firm faith in the words of a great soul, pure devotional service will awaken.
In this chapter Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu differentiates between a pure devotee and others. He also describes the characteristics of a pure devotee. A devotee’s most formidable enemy is association with women in an enjoying spirit. Association with nondevotees is also condemned because it is also a formidable enemy on the path of devotional service. One has to fully surrender unto the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa and give up attraction for women and nondevotees.
The six symptoms of fully surrendered souls are also described in this chapter. Devotional service has been divided into two categories — regulative devotional service and spontaneous love. There are sixty-four items listed in regulative devotional service, and out of these sixty-four the last five are considered very important. By practicing even one of the nine processes of devotional service, one can become successful. Speculative knowledge and mystic yoga can never help one in devotional service. Pious activity, nonviolence, sense control and regulation are not separate from devotional service in its pure form. If one engages in devotional service, all good qualities follow. One does not have to cultivate them separately. Spontaneous devotional service arises when one follows a pure devotee who is awakened to spontaneous love of God. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu describes the symptoms of devotees who are already situated in spontaneous love of God. He also describes the devotees who are trying to follow in the footsteps of the pure devotees.
“ ‘By association with worldly people, one becomes devoid of truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy, gravity, spiritual intelligence, shyness, austerity, fame, forgiveness, control of the mind, control of the senses, fortune and all opportunities. One should not at any time associate with a coarse fool who is bereft of the knowledge of self-realization and who is no more than a toy animal in the hands of a woman. The illusion and bondage that accrue to a man from attachment to any other object are not as complete as that resulting from association with a woman or with men too much attached to women.’