” First in a two part series by HH Giriraj Swami. This is a Lecture from the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya Lila, Chapter 15, Texts 102-106.
2007-08-22 CC Madhya 15.102: After this, Ramananda Vasu and Satyaraja Khan both submitted questions at the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
CC Madhya 15.103: Satyaraja Khan said, “My dear Lord, being a householder and a materialistic man, I do not know the process of advancing in spiritual life. I therefore submit myself unto Your lotus feet and request You to give me orders.”
CC Madhya 15.104: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “Without cessation continue chanting the holy name of Lord Krsṇa. Whenever possible, serve Him and His devotees, the Vaiṣṇavas.”
CC Madhya 15.105: Upon hearing this, Satyaraja said, “How can I recognize a Vaiṣṇava? Please let me know what a Vaiṣṇava is. What are his common symptoms?”
CC Madhya 15.106: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “Whoever chants the holy name of Krsṇa just once is worshipable and is the topmost human being.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Ṭhakura says that a person who simply chants the holy name of Kṛṣṇa once becomes perfect and should be regarded as a Vaishṇava. This is confirmed by Srila Rupa Gosvami in his Upadeshamṛta (5): krsṇeti yasya giri taḿ manasadriyeta. With such faith in the holy name one may begin a life of Krsna consciousness. But an ordinary person cannot chant the holy name of Krsna with such faith. One should accept the holy name of Krsna to be identical with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Transcendence Himself. As the Padma Purana states, “The holy name of Krsna is identical with Krsṇa and is like a cintamaṇi gem, a touchstone. That name is Krsna personified in sound and is therefore perfectly transcendental and eternally liberated from material contamination.” Thus one should understand that the name “Krsna” and Krsna Himself are identical. Having such faith, one must continue to chant the holy name.
When one is situated on the neophyte platform, one cannot understand the devotional ingredients of a pure, unalloyed devotee. However, when the novice engages in devotional service — especially in Deity worship — and follows the order of a bona fide spiritual master, he is a pure devotee. Anyone can take advantage of hearing about Kṛṣṇa consciousness from such a devotee and thus gradually become purified. In other words, any devotee who believes that the holy name of the Lord is identical with the Lord is a pure devotee, even though he may be in the neophyte stage. By his association, others may also become Vaisnavas.
One is known as a materialistic devotee if he simply worships the Deity of Hari with faith but does not show proper respect to the devotees and to others. This is stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.47):
Yet even by associating with such a neophyte devotee, one can become a devotee also. When Lord Caitanya was teaching Sanatana Gosvami, He said:
“A person who has attained firm faith is a real candidate for advancing in Krsna consciousness. According to the faith, there are first-class, second-class and neophyte devotees. One who has preliminary faith is called a kanishṭha-adhikari, or a neophyte. The neophyte, however, can become an advanced devotee if he strictly follows the regulative principles set down by the spiritual master. Therefore it is on the basis of faith and attachment to Krsna that one can judge who is a madhyama-adhikari or an uttama-adhikari.” (Cc. Madhya 22.64, 69, 71)
It is thus concluded that even a neophyte devotee is superior to the karmis and jnanis because he has full faith in chanting the holy name of the Lord. A karmi or a jnani, regardless of his greatness, has no faith in Lord Visnu, His holy name or His devotional service. One may be advanced religiously, but if he is not trained in devotional service, he has very little credit on the transcendental platform. Even a neophyte devotee engaged in Deity worship in accordance with the regulations set forth by the spiritual master is in a position superior to that of the fruitive worker and speculative philosopher.