So, what is the symptom of a devotee? How do you recognize a devotee? Do we
recognize a devotee by his birth? By his material condition? By his material situation?
No, the sign of a devotee is through his surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
It doesn't matter from whatever category, whatever background one comes. Like
candalo'pi dvija-shrestho hari- bhakti-parayanah. One maybe a candala but hari bhakti parayanah, when he becomes a devotee of Hari, Krishna, then he is dvija shrestha, he is superior, he is greater than a brahmana.
Here also we are seeing that so many devotees, as I just mentioned like they are born in a demoniac family. By birth they are demons, Prahlada Maharaja, Bali Maharaja, but why
they have been recognized as great devotees, exemplary devotees? Because of their
devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, it has been pointed out that
vaishnavera nahi jati kuladi vicara. There is no consideration for jati, kula. Jati means
caste and creed of a Vaishnava. Vaishnava can appear in any family.
What to speak of human beings, even an animal can become a devotee of Krishna. A
wonderful example is Hanumana. In the community of monkeys
there is Hanumana and there are so many other monkeys who are great devotees. The
bird can be a devotee. Example is Garuda, example is Jatayu, example is Sampati. They
are birds, but they are great devotees of the Lord.
So the Vedic Karma Kanda section may have consideration for caste and creed but when
it comes to devotional service there is no such consideration. Because the devotional
service is the activity of the soul, soul's activity. Now, the soul can, any soul at any place
can become a devotee. But what is the criteria for becoming a devotee?When can one
become a devotee, or when does one get the opportunity to become a devotee? That is the
most important consideration. One can become a devotee only by coming in contact with
a devotee. Without the contact of a devotee it is not possible to become a devotee. That is
why the devotional consideration is not of birth or any other criteria.
Yes, to be a brahmana generally one has to be born in a brahmanas family, generally. But
that also is not sufficient. One may be born in a brahmana family but he has to practice as
a brahmana. He has to become qualified. In our scriptures we find there are
many…brahmanas, they actually were demons. Like Ravana, he is born of an exalted
brahmana father, Vishrava. Hiranyakasipu, Hiranyaksa [born of] Kashyapa, son of
Brahma. So, by birth they may be very exalted, but their activity is making them into
demons. Whereas the devotion can be practiced by…but to receive, how can one become
a devotee? The answer is only by coming in contact with a devotee. That is why it is
important that the devotees go out and preach. Preach means provide the opportunity to
others to become a devotee.
(H.H Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaj)