Aug 01, 2017 USA (SUN)
A certain devotee opines on this forum that Maharaja Bharata's fall-down, "…was only related to a lack of spiritual realization, even if he was already very advanced".
Srila Sanatana Gosvami's understanding:
Maharaja Bharata Pretended To Be Materially Affected
"We should understand that when saintly devotees like Bharata Maharaja, deeply absorbed in the moods of loving service to the Lord, seem to exhibit material attachment they are only pretending to be materially affected, in order to keep the confidential moods of devotional service hidden from public view. Such devotees would rather be treated with undeserved contempt than honored and worshiped.
"Shouldn't advanced devotees, in order to deliver the world from ignorance, let everyone see their greatness?
"Yes, but the so-called anomalous behavior of Vaishnavas like Bharata Maharaja is in fact their wayv of teaching sad-ācāra, civilized human behavior. By the examples of their own lives they show the consequences of violating the laws of God and material nature, for if people fail to learn how to act according to civilized standards their hearts will remain contaminated by sinful desires and they will never become inclined toward the Lord's devotional service.
"Bharata Maharaja showed by his own life the danger of wrong association. Although almost perfectly devoted and renounced, he was distracted into caring for a newborn deer and therefore had to suffer birth as a deer. A similar case is that of Saubhari Ṛṣi, who was deviated from meditation by seeing two fish engaged in sexual activities. However, in reality these elevated souls were faultless."
(Śrī Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī» Volume 2, Chapter 3, Bhajana: Worship, Verses: 170-172, Translated by Gopīparāṇadhana dāsa)