A Perfect Devotee
There are lovers who have the means to make everything “perfect” for the one they love. They will try to impress their beloved in ways only wealthy people can afford. But those who are not so wealthy accept their reality. Instead of trying to perfect their situation and become rich so they can buy their beloved expensive gifts, they perfect their love to win their beloved’s heart. Some teachers of bhakti place a lot of emphasis on how you should work on yourself and become a perfect devotee before offering your heart to Radha and Krishn. Using the example of the finest devotees who were completely immersed in bhakti, they ask you to become like them by following certain rules, regulations and strict practices. But we have to understand that every devotee has a different lifestyle. Prahlad lived in Asur Lok, the abode of the demons. He didn’t have any devotee association, and his own family members were trying to kill him. But still, he was able to dedicate himself completely to the Lord.
The Pandavs were always engaged in various duties and responsibilities, yet Krishn was at the centre of their lives. They always turned to him for guidance, love and support. And the greatest devotees, the gopis themselves, were householders. Even though they spent each day doing heavy chores from morning to night, they were completely absorbed in Krishn's love. So everyone’s situation is different. From the examples of the devotees given so far, no one left everything to try to become perfect. But yes, internally they had completely surrendered themselves unto Krishn's lotus feet and they tried to love him in the most perfect way.
As devotees, we have read the stories of our masters, the great saints who attained perfection and pleased Krishn with their deep bhajan and extreme vairagya (worship and renunciation). For example, Raghunath Das Goswami drank only one small bowl of buttermilk and performed bhajan for over 23 hours a day, but can we do the same? Some teachers will give you practices similar to what these great souls performed. This needs a lot of sacrifice and has a limited success rate. But the Gaudiya way is to honour the great masters, while understanding and accepting ourselves the way we are. Instead of trying to become perfect, we should instead try to perfect our love, just as Prahlad, the Pandavs and the gopis did.