SB 4.9.11 – Dhruva Mahārāja continued: O unlimited Lord, kindly bless me so that I may associate with great devotees who engage in Your transcendental loving service constantly, as the waves of a river constantly flow. Such transcendental devotees are completely situated in an uncontaminated state of life. By the process of devotional service I shall surely be able to cross the nescient ocean of material existence, which is filled with the waves of blazing, firelike dangers. It will be very easy for me, for I am becoming mad to hear about Your transcendental qualities and pastimes, which are eternally existent.
The significant point in Dhruva Mahārāja’s statement is that he wanted the association of pure devotees. Transcendental devotional service cannot be complete and cannot be relishable without the association of devotees. We have therefore established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Anyone who is trying to be aloof from this Krishna Consciousness Society and yet engage in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is living in a great hallucination, for this is not possible. From this statement by Dhruva Mahārāja it is clear that unless one is associated with devotees, his devotional service does not mature; it does not become distinct from material activities.
The Lord says, satāṁ prasaṅgān mama vīrya-saṁvido bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ (Bhāg. 3.25.25). Only in the association of pure devotees can the words of Lord Kṛṣṇa be fully potent and relishable to the heart and ear. Dhruva Mahārāja explicitly wanted the association of devotees. That association in devotional activities is just like the waves of an incessantly flowing river.
In our Krishna Consciousness Society we have full engagement twenty-four hours a day. Every moment of our time is always busily engaged in the service of the Lord. This is called the incessant flow of devotional service.
A Māyāvādī philosopher may question us, “You may be very happy in the association of devotees, but what is your plan for crossing the ocean of material existence?” Dhruva Mahārāja’s answer is that it is not very difficult. He clearly says that this ocean can be crossed very easily if one simply becomes mad to hear the glories of the Lord.
Bhavad-guṇa-kathā: for anyone who persistently engages in hearing the topics of the Lord from Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatamand Caitanya-caritāmṛta and who is actually addicted to this process, just as one becomes addicted to intoxicants, it is very easy to cross the nescience of material existence. The ocean of material nescience is compared to a blazing fire, but to a devotee this blazing fire is insignificant because he is completely absorbed in devotional service. Although the material world is blazing fire, to a devotee it appears full of pleasure (viśvaṁ pūrṇa-sukhāyate).
The purport of this statement by Dhruva Mahārāja is that devotional service in the association of devotees is the cause of the development of further devotional service. By devotional service only is one elevated to the transcendental planet Goloka Vṛndāvana, and there also there is only devotional service, for the activities of devotional service both in this world and in the spiritual world are one and the same.
Devotional service does not change. The example of a mango can be given here. If one gets an unripe mango, it is still a mango, and when it is ripe it remains the same mango, but it has become more tasteful and relishable. Similarly, there is devotional service performed according to the direction of the spiritual master and the injunctions and regulative principles of śāstra, and there is devotional service in the spiritual world, rendered directly in association with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
But they are both the same. There is no change. The difference is that one stage is unripe and the other is ripe and more relishable. It is possible to mature in devotional service only in the association of devotees.
Some conclusions – This is a very instructive purport because Srila Prabhupada makes it very clear that one cannot make advancement unless he or she is in the association of devotees. This could mean either Srila Prabhupada himself (Vani vs vapuh) or that, plus some local good devotee association where one gathers regularly with them for kirtan and discussion and Krsna prasadam.
He also makes the point that our devotional service will not become distinct from material activities unless we regularly associate with advanced devotees, and eventually becoming addicted to the hearing process – of Srila Prabhupada.