Following is an excerpt from the lecture on Using the Power of Association – by Vraj Bihari Das
srotum icchami bho mune
yenasan sukhino deva
harer duhkham kuto ’bhavat
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Maharaja Pariksit inquired from Sukadeva Gosvami: O great sage, what was the reason for Indra’s unhappiness? I wish to hear about this. When he killed Vrtrasura, all the demigods were extremely happy. Why, then, was Indra himself unhappy?
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
This, of course, is a very intelligent question. When a demon is killed, certainly all the demigods are happy. In this case, however, when all the demigods were happy because of Vrtrasura’s having been killed, Indra was unhappy. Why? It may be suggested that Indra was unhappy because he knew that he had killed a great devotee and brahmana. Vrtrasura outwardly appeared to be a demon, but inwardly he was a great devotee and therefore a great brahmana.
Herein it is clearly indicated that a person who is not at all demoniac, such as Prahlada Maharaja and Bali Maharaja, may outwardly be a demon or be born in a family of demons. Therefore in terms of real culture one should not be considered a demigod or demon simply according to birth. In his dealings while fighting with Indra, Vrtrasura proved himself a great devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Furthermore, as soon as he finished fighting with Indra and was apparently killed, Vrtrasura was transferred to Vaikunthaloka to become an associate of Sankarsana. Indra knew this, and therefore he was morose at having killed such a demon, who was actually a Vaisnava or brahmana.
A Vaisnava is already a brahmana, although a brahmana may not be a Vaisnava. The Padma Purana says:
avaisnavo gurur na syad
vaisnavah sva-paco guruh
One may be a brahmana in terms of his culture and family and may be expert in Vedic knowledge (mantra-tantra-visaradah), but if he is not a Vaisnava, he cannot be a guru. This means that an expert brahmana may not be a Vaisnava, but a Vaisnava is already a brahmana. A millionaire may very easily possess hundreds and thousands of dollars, but a person with hundreds and thousands of dollars is not necessarily a millionaire. Vrtrasura was a perfect Vaisnava, and therefore he was also a brahmana.
A person should be evaluated by his/her internal consciousness and not by external profiles. Indra had killed Vrtrasura who appeared to be demon in external appearance. But he was unhappy because he knew that he had killed a Vaishnava. Devotees like Prakalatha and King Bali were not even demoniac but they were born in association of demons and so they were not considered as Vaishnava. Padma Purana says that an expert Brahmana may not be a Vaishnava but a Vaishnava is already a Brahmana.
In India, many people are obsessed with being Brahmana but not being a Vaishnava. It is like following rules without aim. Many of the disciples of Srila Prabhupada are not born Brahmanas but are great Vaishnavas. Whatever the Caste you were born in, you can be a Vaishnava and thus a Brahmana. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also exemplified this by embracing Ramananda Roy who was a great devotee and Vaishnava and a Shudra Born. Being a Brahmana is mostly an external identification with birth and caste but being a Vaishnava is an internal identification with Krishna. Brahmanical status should be assessed by the attraction of the person to Krishna.
Being a Vaishnava is not easy also. Just by calling himself as devotee and going to ISKCON are not enough for being a Vaishnava. Lord Chaitanya gives three important things to be a Vaishnava – Vaishnava Seva, Naam Ruchi and Jeevdhaya. Vaishnava Seva is serving devotees to see Krishna in our life. Naam Ruchi is developing taste for Krishna’s holy names because in Kali Kala Krishna is present in the form of his Holy names. Jeevdhaya is preaching Krishna conscious and giving Krishna to all.
Parikshit Maharaj’s case is a classical example of how one should be internally satisfied and not depend on external situations. Parikshit Maharaj had given up all his wealth and sophistication when he knew that he would die soon. And he surrendered himself to Sukhadeva Swami as disciple to know Krishna through his master. Because Parikshit Maharaj knows that Krishna can be seen only through his devotees. Parikshit Maharaj was always humble and never took credit. He was repenting and lamenting for his action of putting dead snake on Shamika Rishi’s shoulders. He asked the sages for three wishes. First wish is to get attraction for Krishna in his next birth if he would birth again. Second wish is to preach Krishna Consciousness and get compassion for all others. Third wish is to get shelter and association of devotees.
Srila Prabhupada writes that we should have scientific adaption of process of Krishna Consciousness. That process is the chanting and praying in association of devotees. If we get association of devotees for one second, we will lose the desire to go to heavenly planets. Prabhupada writes that we are always in relation with people or group of people interested in materialistic things and that’s why we have so many problems. So if we get association with Bhagavatha Sangi, group of well experienced devotees, we will experience a relationship with Krishna. Prabhupada says that getting association of Bhagavatha Sangi should be the highest goal of life. Prabhupada writes that a devotee will not appreciate the company of a person who is not a devotee even if he is Brahman.
Sachinanda Maharaj says that if you ask these three things before going to sleep every day, you will become humble and servant of servant. First question is “For whole of today, how much I glorified other devotees and how much I notified myself?” Second is “How much I did service for devotees and how much I get service from devotees?” Third is “How much I thought of Krishna and how much I thought of myself?”
This is very beautifully explained in this Audio to a great lenght, please download and listen to it.