God, according to Vaishnavism, cannot be realized through logic or reason; and without bhakti all penances, austerities, and rites are futile. Man cannot realize God by self-exertion alone; for such realization His grace is necessary, and this grace is felt by the pure in heart. The mind is to be purified through bhakti. The pure mind then remains forever immersed in the ecstasy of God-vision. It is the cultivation of this divine love that is the chief concern of the Vaishnava religion.

There are three kinds of devotion: tāmasic, rājasic, and sāttvic. If a person, in his devotion to God, is actuated by malevolence, arrogance, jealousy, or anger, then his devotion is tāmasic, since it is influenced by tamas, the quality of inertia and darkness. If he worships God from a desire for fame or wealth, or from any other worldly ambition, then his devotion is rājasic, since it is influenced by rajas, the quality of activity.

But if a person loves God without any thought of material gain, if he performs his duties to please God alone and maintains toward all created beings the attitude of friendship, then his devotion is called sāttvic, since it is influenced by sattva, the quality of harmony.

But the highest devotion transcends the three gunas, or qualities, being a spontaneous, uninterrupted inclination of the mind toward God, the Inner Soul of all beings. It wells up in the heart of a true devotee as soon as he hears the name of God or mention of God’s attributes. A devotee possessed of this love would not accept even the joy of heaven if it were offered to him. His one desire is to love God under all conditions–in pleasure and pain, life and death, honour and dishonour, propserity and adversity.

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