Pure Devotional Service
14th September 2014 • Śrīmad Bhāgavatam
śruto ‘nupaṭhito dhyāta
sadyaḥ punāti sad-dharmo
deva-viśva-druho ‘pi hi
Pure devotional service rendered to the Supreme Lord is spiritually so potent that simply by hearing about such transcendental service, by chanting its glories in response, by meditating on it, by respectfully and faithfully accepting it, or by praising the devotional service of others, even persons who hate the demigods and all other living beings can be immediately purified.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has commented that the word sad-dharma refers to bhāgavata-dharma. This is also confirmed by Śrīdhara Svāmī. Bhāgavata-dharma is spiritually so powerful that even those who by worldly standards are implicated in various ways in sinful behavior can easily be purified by adopting any of the processes mentioned in this verse. In the practice of ordinary piety, one worships God with the expectation of receiving something in return for one’s service. Similarly, the impersonalist aspires for his own liberation, wishfully thinking that he will become equal to God. In bhāgavata-dharma, however, there is no such impurity. Bhāgavata-dharma is devotional service to the Lord in which the only objective is the satisfaction of the Lord. If one rejects this process and instead wants to hear about, teach or meditate upon another process, the chance for immediate purification is lost.
Neither ordinary materialistic yoga processes meant for achieving mystic powers nor impersonal processes based on speculation have the power to purify immediately those who have fallen into sinful behavior. Sad-dharma, or bhāgavata-dharma, pure devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is unique in that even the most fallen souls can immediately rise to the highest perfectional stage by surrendering at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa or His pure devotee. This was vividly demonstrated in the preaching work of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, especially in the case of the sinful brothers Jagāi and Mādhāi.