THREE CLASSES OF DEVOTEES EXPLAINED BY SRILA RUPA GOSVAMI
It is confirmed by Lord Caitanya that only the fortunate persons, by the mercy of both a bona fide spiritual master and Krsna, will get the seed of devotional service.
In this connection, Lord Krsna says in Srimad-Bhagavatam, Eleventh Canto, Twentieth Chapter, verse 8:
“My dear Uddhava, only by exceptional fortune does someone become attracted to Me. And even if one is not completely detached from fruitive activities, or is not completely attached to devotional service, such service is quickly effective.”
So, every devotee is fortunate to get the interest know about Krishna.
We should not identify the devotees just based on the outlook. Dress and outlook may deceive you. We must access a devotee internally with his CONSISTENT APPROACH in devotion atleast for a certain period.
There are many INTERNAL symptoms from which we can find out which class a devotee is in and SAFELY undergo devotional practices.
(How to develop Social skills for the devotee children who are not social? READ HERE!)
THREE CLASSES OF DEVOTEES!
Let us read the details of THREE CLASSES OF DEVOTEES EXPLAINED BY SRI RUPA GOSVAMI that is based on the LEVEL OF DEVOTIONAL ADVANCEMENT. They are:
(1) First class devotees,
(2) Second class devotees and
(3) Third class devotees
Let us see one by one.
FIRST CLASS DEVOTEES – SYMPTOMS
The devotee in the first or uppermost class is described as follows.
(1) He is very expert in the study of relevant scriptures, and he is also expert in putting forward arguments in terms of those scriptures.
(Devotees Practicing alone or in Association – which is good for them? READ HERE?)
(2) He can very nicely present conclusions with perfect discretion and can consider the ways of devotional service in a decisive way.
(3) He understands perfectly that the ultimate goal of life is to attain to the transcendental loving service of Krsna, and he knows that Krsna is the only object of worship and love.
(4) This first-class devotee is one who has strictly followed the rules and regulations under the training of a bonafide spiritual master and has sincerely obeyed him in accordance with revealed scriptures.
(5) Thus, being fully trained to preach and become a spiritual master himself, he is considered first class.
(6) The first-class devotee never deviates from the principles of higher authority, and he attains firm faith in the scriptures by understanding with all reason and arguments. When we speak of arguments and reason, it means arguments and reason on the basis of revealed scriptures.
(7) The first-class devotee is not interested in dry speculative methods meant for wasting time. In other words, one who has attained a mature determination in the matter of devotional service can be accepted as the first-class devotee.
(FIVE PRIMARY DUTIES OF A DEVOTEE RECOMMENDED BY SRI CAITANYA MAHA PRABHU! READ HERE!)
SECOND CLASS DEVOTEES – SYMPTOMS
The second-class devotee has been defined by the following symptoms:
(1) He is not very expert in arguing on the strength of revealed scripture, but he has firm faith in the objective.
(2) The purport of this description is that the second class devotee has firm faith in the procedure of devotional service unto Krsna, but he may sometimes fail to offer arguments and decisions on the strength of revealed scripture to an opposing party.
(3) But at the same time he is still undaunted within himself as to his decision that Krsna is the supreme object of worship.
(BALANCED DEVOTEE & BRAINWASHED DEVOTEE – DIFFERENCES! READ HERE!)
THIRD CLASS DEVOTEES – SYMPTOMS
(1) The neophyte or third-class devotee is one whose faith is not strong and who, at the same time, does not recognize the decision of the revealed scripture.
(2) The neophyte’s faith can be changed by someone else with strong arguments or by an opposite decision.
(3) Unlike the second-class devotee, who also cannot put forward arguments and evidences from the scripture, but who still has all faith in the objective, the neophyte has no firm faith in the objective. Thus he is called the neophyte devotee.
Thus, we can identify the devotees based on these symptoms and then associate with the right level of devotees. However, when you come to the First class stage, you can associate with the third class devotees to uplift them to the first class, but, the first class should not come to the stage of third class devotees by associating with them!
(NINE PROCESS OF DEVOTIONAL SERVICE CAN BE READ HERE!)