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Three Classes Of Devotees In The Bhagavata

In mentioning three classes of devotees, the Bhagavata calls lowest those preachers and devotees whose attention is restricted to the image or symbol of worship and who fail to see into the heart of beings or the boundless canopy of the universe (Shrimad Bhagavata Purana 11.2.47).

Guided by Prakriti, such persons’ devotion has undoubtedly been tempered, but it is not as yet stain-
less and sharp. The minds of such devotees cannot go beyond the symbol. So the universality of the
Omniscient escapes them.

Occupying the middle position are devotees who love God and build bridges with others who think alike. These seekers tolerate the ignorant and remain indifferent to the enemies of Go (Shrimad Bhagavata Purana 11.2.46).

It is difficult to define the extent to which the influence of these middle-ranking devotees extends. Love for God is ever-present wherever there is an atmosphere of God-intoxication. And irrespective of the sect, country, or community, a chain of friendship binds the lovers of God together. Such devotees make untiring efforts to bring into the fold all those who are beyond the pale of this love, and have the tendency to overlook those who are foolishly hostile towards the Divine. The middle- ranking devotee is always hopeful that a change will transform such people.

Who is the greatest among devotees? One who sees God’s existence in all beings, and all beings as
grounded in God, the Self of all (Shrimad Bhagavata Purana 11.2.45).

All is One and the One is all. The greatest is the one who realizes that the universe is God; I am in God and God is in me. I am in the universe; the entire universe is in me.