Mahābuddhi dāsa: You said that you don’t want the gaura-vāṇī of Lord Caitanya to diminish when you are gone. I understand the mood you are expressing, but if our advancement and understanding of what you are teaching is small, how will we perform substantial service to you, to make sure it doesn’t disappear?
Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: If all the sannyāsīs and other preachers give up their false pride, self-interest, and desire for their own prestige, then all endeavours will easily yield positive fruits. If they give up these contaminations for the service of guru and Kṛṣṇa, all devotees can be united.
Mahābuddhi dāsa: What about us fallen householders?
Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: This instruction is true for gṛhasthas (householders) as well. A Vaiṣṇava gṛhastha lives in his home, but his heart is given totally to guru and Kṛṣṇa.
Actually there is no difference between gṛhasthas and sannyāsīs. In fact, sincere gṛhasthas are superior to those sannyāsīs who have worldly desires and selfish motives, and who are not properly following the principles of bhakti:
tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
(Śrī Śikṣāṣṭaka 3)
Considering oneself to be more insignificant than a blade of grass, being more tolerant than a tree, free from all desire for personal prestige, and offering all respect to others, one should constantly be absorbed in hari-kīrtana.
Our Guru Mahārāja has said that if a gṛhastha follows that verse, he is superior.
yei bhaje sei baḍa, abhakta — hīna, chāra
kṛṣṇa-bhajane nāhi jāti-kulādi-vicāra
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 4.67)
Therefore, in the discharge of devotional service to the Lord there is no consideration of the status of one’s family.
Walking with A Saint – Morning Walks and Conversations 2008 by Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Jagannātha dāsa: Gurudevajī, we are all kaniṣṭhas (third-class devotees, of meagre faith).
Śrīla Gurudeva: That is not true. You can speak for yourself; not for others. It is not that all the devotees are kaniṣṭha. Some are kaniṣṭha and some are madhyama.
Jagannātha dāsa: But aren’t there levels in kaniṣṭha: kaniṣṭha-kaniṣṭha, kaniṣṭha-madhyama, and kaniṣṭha-uttama?
Śrīla Gurudeva: I think that most of the senior devotees are at the madhyama stage.
Jagannātha dāsa: Really? If you think it’s true, it must be true.
Śrīla Gurudeva: What are the symptoms of a madhyama-adhikārī?
Śrīpāda Śrīdhara Mahārāja:
bāliśeṣu dviṣatsu ca
yaḥ karoti sa madhyamaḥ
[An intermediate or second-class devotee, called madhyama-adhikārī, offers his love to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is a sincere friend to all the devotees of the Lord, shows mercy to ignorant people who are innocent, and disregards those who are envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.]
Śrīla Gurudeva: The word prema in this verse means prema (not the prema of the uttama-adhikārī) to Kṛṣṇa. The word maitrī (friendship) in this connection refers to love and affection for Vaiṣṇavas. Kṛpa indicates that the madhyama-adhikārī inspires kaniṣṭha-adhikārīs by his hari-kathā. Then, regarding those who are against bhakti, the word upekṣā (neglect) is used.
I think that most senior devotees are like madhyama-adhikārīs; but they may be madhyama-kaniṣṭha or madhyama-madhyama, not madhyama-uttama.
Jagannātha dāsa: Okay.
Walking with A Saint – Morning Walks and Conversations 2009 by Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja