(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 03 May 2016, Vrndavana, India, Bhagavad-gita 3.34)
It is interesting that when speaking of prema (pure love for Krsna) in the Srimad Bhagavatam, the example is given of the intermediate devotee, the madhyama-adhikārī. Not the kanishta-adhikārī (the neophyte), but of the madhyama, someone a bit more advanced, a devotee who has shown determination. It is provided: īśvare tad-adhīneṣu bāliśeṣu dviṣatsu ca prema-maitrī-kṛpopekṣā yaḥ karoti sa madhyamaḥ (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.2.46). This says that for the madhyama-adhikārī, he has prema for isvara (Lord), friendship for the devotees and indifference for the envious. So it is interesting that the word prema has been used for the madhyama-adhikārī. Now, prema comes at the end of the ladder of the nine stages of bhakti, from sraddha (faith) to prema (pure love for Krsna). So how is it that the madhyama-adhikārī can already have prema, considering it is the uttama-adhikārī who is the advanced devotee. This is because prema is not like flicking a light switch that can suddenly be changed from the darkness of ignorance to “I love Krsna”! There is a lot in between where that Krsna prema is developing and growing.
So our movement is operating on this goal of attaining love for Krsna. Prabhupada was very generous in that regard. For instance, we may remember the famous story that Srutakirti prabhu told us about massaging Prabhupada. It started with a large group of devotees receiving Prabhupada at the airport. Since they had not seen Prabhupada in a very long time, everyone was crying when Prabhupada arrived, except for Srutakirti. He had dry eyes with not a single tear. So when he was massaging Prabhupada later that day, he expressed to Prabhupada, “I am such a fallen soul Prabhupada. Everyone was crying at the airport when they saw you, because they were full of love for you. But I am just cold, and I have no feeling in my heart. No love at all. What do I do?” Prabhupada responded with absolutely nothing. The next day however when it was time for the same massage, Prabhupada finally gave the answer to Srutakirti, “This is love. This service that you are doing, this is also love.”
Therefore, Prabhupada was very generous in such ways. There are other pastimes of intimate servants of Prabhupada whose minds were still not always aligned, and wanted to do something else, even while they were serving Prabhupada, a pure devotee. Now we can say things like, “Prabhupada is a unique personality who did the greatest work of bringing this movement forward for all of us.” But his servants, meanwhile, were also after a while, ready to do something else. So imagine how this point counts for all of us. We are engaging in devotional service and yet our mind may sometimes desire some other activity. This is possible. We may think to ourselves while chanting, “Do I really have to do it again? This is not even pure love.” But Prabhupada did not look at it in that strict sense, because even if it is not manifesting as pure love, regardless, it is still love.