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In the Caitanya-caritamrta, the devotee's desirable qualities are described to be twenty-six in number. They are stated as follows: He is very kind; he does not quarrel with anyone; he accepts Krsna consciousness as the highest goal of life; he is equal to everyone; no one can find fault in his character; he is magnanimous, mild and always clean, internally and externally; he does not profess to possess anything in this material world; he is a benefactor to all living entities; he is peaceful and is a soul completely surrendered to Krsna; he has no material desire to fulfill; he is meek and humble, always steady, and has conquered the sensual activities; he does not eat more than required to maintain body and soul together; he is never mad after material identity; he is respectful to all others and does not demand respect for himself; he is very grave, very compassionate and very friendly; he is poetic; he is expert in all activities, and he is silent in nonsense.

Srimad-Bhagavatam 3:15:25 Purport

Devotees may be divided into three classes. The devotee in the first or uppermost class is described as follows. He is very expert in the study of relevant scriptures, and he is also expert in putting forward arguments in terms of those scriptures. He can very nicely present conclusions with perfect discretion and can consider the ways of devotional service in a decisive way. He understands perfectly that the ultimate goal of life is to attain to the transcendental loving service of Krsna, and he knows that Krsna is the only object of worship and love. This first-class devotee is one who has strictly followed the rules and regulations under the training of a bona fide spiritual master and has sincerely obeyed him in accord with revealed scriptures. Thus, being fully trained to preach and become a spiritual master himself, he is considered first class. The first-class devotee never deviates from the principles of higher authority, and he attains firm faith in the scriptures by understanding with all reason and arguments. When we speak of arguments and reason, it means arguments and reason on the basis of revealed scriptures. The first-class devotee is not interested in dry speculative methods meant for wasting time. In other words, one who has attained a mature determination in the matter of devotional service can be accepted as the first-class devotee.

The second-class devotee has been defined by the following symptoms: he is not very expert in arguing on the strength of revealed scripture, but he has firm faith in the objective. The purport of this description is that the second-class devotee has firm faith in the procedure of devotional service unto Krsna, but he may sometimes fail to offer arguments and decisions on the strength of revealed scripture to an opposing party. But at the same time he is still undaunted within himself as to his decision that Krsna is the supreme object of worship.

The neophyte or third-class devotee is one whose faith is not strong and who, at the same time, does not recognize the decision of the revealed scripture. The neophyte's faith can be changed by someone else with strong arguments or by an opposite decision. Unlike the second-class devotee, who also cannot put forward arguments and evidences from the scripture, but who still has all faith in the objective, the neophyte has no firm faith in the objective. Thus he is called the neophyte devotee.

Further classification of the neophyte devotee is made in the Bhagavad-gita. It is stated there that four classes of men--namely those who are distressed, those who are in need of money, those who are inquisitive and those who are wise--begin devotional service and come to the Lord for relief in the matter of their respective self-satisfaction. They go into some place of worship and pray to God for mitigation of material distress, or for some economic development, or to satisfy their inquisitiveness. And a wise man who simply realizes the greatness of God is also counted among the neophytes. Such beginners can be elevated to the second-class or first-class platform if they associate with pure devotees.

....These four types of devotees have been described in the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, and they have all been accepted as pious. Without becoming pious, no one can come to devotional service. It is explained in Bhagavad-gita that only one who has continually executed pious activities and whose sinful reactions in life have completely stopped can take to Krsna consciousness. Others cannot. The neophyte devotees are classified into four groups--the distressed, those in need of money, the inquisitive and the wise--according to their gradations of pious activities. Without pious activities, if a man is in a distressed condition he becomes an agnostic, a communist or something like that. Because he does not firmly believe in God, he thinks that he can adjust his distressed condition by totally disbelieving in Him.

Lord Krsna, however, has explained in the Gita that out of these four types of neophytes, the one who is wise is very dear to Him, because a wise man, if he is attached to Krsna, is not seeking an exchange of material benefits. A wise man who becomes attached to Krsna does not want any return from Him, either in the form of relieving distress or in gaining money. This means that from the very beginning his basic principle of attachment to Krsna is, more or less, love. Furthermore, due to his wisdom and study of sastras (scriptures), he can understand also that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Nectar of Devotion, Text 3

"In the Tenth Canto, Fourteenth Chapter, verse 8, it is said, "My dear Lord, any person who is constantly awaiting Your causeless mercy to be bestowed upon him, and who goes on suffering the resultant actions of his past misdeeds, offering You respectful obeisances from the core of his heart, is surely eligible to become liberated, for it has become his rightful claim."

This statement of Srimad-Bhagavatam should be the guide of all devotees. A devotee should not expect immediate relief from the reactions of his past misdeeds. No conditioned soul is free from such reactionary experiences, because material existence means continued suffering or enjoying of past activities. If one has finished his material activities then there is no more birth. This is possible only when one begins Krsna conscious activities, because such activities do not produce reaction. Therefore, as soon as one becomes perfect in Krsna conscious activities, he is not going to take birth again in this material world. A devotee who is not perfectly freed from the resultant actions should therefore continue to act in Krsna consciousness seriously, even though there may be so many impediments. When such impediments arise he should simply think of Krsna and expect His mercy. That is the only solace. If the devotee passes his days in that spirit, it is certain that he is going to be promoted to the abode of the Lord. By such activities, he earns his claim to enter into the kingdom of God."

Nectar of Devotion, Text 10