This rare human form of birth is a golden opportunity for the encaged living entity to become freed from the clutches of material nature, where the jiva has been suffering since time immemorial in various abominable situations that are full of distress and anxiety.
Out of the 8,400,000 species, it is only the human species that is conducive for cultivating self-realization. Although those who have taken birth in this current age of Kali are unfortunate in so many ways, there is one great fortune: by the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the highest goal of spiritual life can be achieved simply by following the simple and sublime process of chanting the Holy Names of the Lord. Even the demigods in the heavenly planets, who enjoy a high standard of sense gratification, desire to take birth in Kali yuga on this earth planet, knowing their heavenly enjoyment to be temporary. Thus they also get an opportunity to cross over the ocean of nescience by chanting the holy names of the Lord.
Among the fortunate jivas who have taken birth as humans in the age of Kali, those who are in the association of devotees and have taken up Krishna consciousness are the most fortunate, for they have received an opportunity to develop pure love for the lotus feet of Sri Krishna and thus put an end to their cycle of birth and death. Yet, even among such greatly fortunate people, it is seen that not all come with the same mood. Sri Krishna himself says in the Bhagavad-gita (7.16),
catur-vidha bhajante mam
janah sukrtino ‘rjuna
arto jijnasur artharthi
jnani ca bharatarsabha
O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.
It is sometimes seen that certain people come with the motivation to gain some material wealth or name and fame.Such a motivation is simply due to their being under the modes of material nature. This external energy of the Lord is not easy to overcome and she very easily traps the jivas in her various snares. Sri Krishna says,
daivi hy esa guna-mayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te (BG 7.14)
This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.
All jivas who are starting on the path of Bhakti are easily allured by Maya-devi and will be, at least until they reach the platform of nistha, or steadiness in bhakti. Before that, at the stage of anartha nivritti, or the clearing of unwanted tendencies in the heart, Maya-devi very expertly finds the shortcomings in our endeavors in Krishna consciousness and tests us. The reason behind this is that one is eligible to directly serve the Lord only after being thoroughly cleansed of all material propensities. Till the time that one is cleared of such samskaras, the external energy of the Lord keeps testing and punishing the living entities.
However, a devotee who is sincerely endeavoring to make progress on the path of Bhakti, by following the different limbs of devotional service in the association of other senior Vaishnavas, is sure to overcome such anarthas in due course of time and be situated in pure Krishna consciousness. Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavat Gita,
api cet su-durācāro
bhajate mām ananya-bhāk
sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ
samyag vyavasito hi saḥ
kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā
na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati (BG 9.30-31)
Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination.
He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kuntī, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.
Despite one’s numerous fall downs and setbacks, if a sadhaka continues to sincerely endeavor, begging with repentance for forgiveness for his offences and praying for the protection of the Lord, the Lord promises that such a devotee will never perish. On the other hand, the sadhakas who find fault in such devotees and start offending them incur Vaishnava aparadha, as such devotees should still be considered as saintly. It is to be understood that in due course of time they shall cleansed of their offences and once again situated in the service of the Lord.
This however does not mean that we should associate with such people but rather it is advised that one should associate with like-minded, senior and affectionate devotees so that we may be able to make steady advancement in our own cultivation of Bhakti. Therefore, overlooking others faults, we should earnestly follow the instructions of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as given in Sri Shikshashtakam and thus make our lives sublime.
trinad api sunichena
taror api sahishnuna
kirtaniyah sada harih
One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.