Stages of development of bhakti
Rupa Goswami, a direct disciple of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, traces the development of Bhakti, pure love for Krishna, in this way:
- One begins with a preliminary interest in spiritual advancement and a conviction that material pursuits will never yield true happiness or perfection.
- One then associates with persons advanced in Bhakti.
- In the next stage one becomes initiated by an elevated spiritual master, under whose instruction one begins to practice devotional service.
- By executing devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free of all material attachments and all habits that impede one's spiritual progress.
- Thus, with realized knowledge, one attains unshakeable faith and steadiness.
- And one acquires an insatiable thirst for hearing about and serving the Supreme Person, Sri Krishna.
- Gradually emotions for God intensify to the point of spiritual ecstasy.
- Finally one awakens pure love for Krishna, which enables one to see Him face to face, to speak with Him, and to live and enjoy with Him eternally.