Srimad Bhagavatam 11.18.28 - Qualities Which A Devotee Should Possess (download mp3)
by Gaura Vilas Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
jñana-nistho virakto va
sa-lingan asramams tyaktva
A learned transcendentalist dedicated to the cultivation of knowledge and thus detached from external objects, or My devotee who is detached even from desire for liberation — both neglect those duties based on external rituals or paraphernalia. Thus their conduct is beyond the range of rules and regulations.
This verse describes the paramahamsa stage of life, in which there is no further need for rituals, external paraphernalia or rules and regulations. A completely realized jñana-yogi pursuing liberation, or beyond that, a perfect devotee of the Lord who does not desire even liberation, has no further desire for material engagement. When one completely purifies the mind, there is no possibility of sinful behavior. Rules and regulations are meant for guiding those who have a tendency to act in ignorance or for personal gratification, but one who is perfect in spiritual consciousness can move freely, as described here by the Lord. One who tends to drive a car recklessly or who is unfamiliar with the local road conditions certainly needs the discipline of elaborate road signs and police enforcement of traffic laws. A perfectly safe driver, however, is thoroughly familiar with the local road conditions. He has no real need for the enforcement officials or the speed limits and caution signs meant for those unfamiliar with the road. A pure devotee of the Lord desires nothing except service to the Lord; he automatically fulfills the purport of all negative and positive injunctions, which is to always remember Krsna and never forget Him. One should not, however, artificially imitate the exalted position of a paramahamsa devotee, for such imitation will quickly ruin one’s spiritual career.
In the previous verses the Lord has elaborately described various rituals, paraphernalia and disciplines for the various spiritual orders of life. The sannyasi, for example, carries a tridanda and a waterpot and eats and lives in a particular way. A paramahamsa devotee, having completely given up all attachment and interest in the material world, is no longer attracted by such external features of renunciation.