(Click to enlarge photo of Srila Prabhupada and disciples)
"Devotees are always under the service of Kṛṣṇa. So anyone who is giving service to Kṛṣṇa, we should take care of them also. We should offer our respect in... You'll find in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, it is stated somewhere that if..., if a devotee is coming, then another devotee who is engaged in worship of the Deity may stop Deity worship for the time being and should go immediately to receive the devotee.
So Kṛṣṇa also says, mad-bhakta-pūjā abhyadhika. Kṛṣṇa is satisfied more when a devotee worships His devotee. Kṛṣṇa says, 'If one is worshiping Me and one is worshiping My devotee, then the person who is worshiping the devotee, he's more important than the person who is worshiping Kṛṣṇa.'
Therefore in..., in the Gurvaṣṭaka by Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, it is said there, yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo. Yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo yasya aprasādād na gatiḥ kuto 'pi. The best devotee is the spiritual master. Unless one is devotee, pure devotee, how he can be spiritual master? Spiritual master means representative of God. So who can become representative of God? Unless he is twenty-four hours engaged in the service of God, Kṛṣṇa, how he can be spiritual master?
This is also explained by Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstraiḥ. The spiritual master is described as good as Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Because the, the spiritual master is representative of Kṛṣṇa because he's most confidential servant of Kṛṣṇa. Kintu prabhor ya priya eva tasya. Yasya pra...
Sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair uktas tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ. The spiritual master is worshiped as good as the Supreme Person. Sākṣād dharitvena. This is not artificial, but in all the śāstras, this is recommended. Sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair uktas tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ. Those who are learned devotees, advanced devotees, they also accept this, that spiritual master should be treated as good as Hari, the Supreme Person.
Why? Now... But the spiritual master does not think of himself as Hari. Although he's offered the respect of Hari, he thinks himself as humble servant of Hari and all others. A spiritual master takes his devo..., disciples as his spiritual master. That is the position. He thinks that 'Kṛṣṇa has sent me so many spiritual master.' He does not think himself as spiritual master; he thinks himself their servant. Because they have to be trained. Kṛṣṇa has appointed him to train them. Therefore he thinks himself as the servant of the disciples. This is the position. So when one is advanced, he can see the importance of devotee.
Advanced devotee never disobey or disrespect another devotee. Disrespect to another devotee is a great offense, vaiṣṇava-aparādha. Vaiṣṇava-aparādha is very serious offense. Therefore we teach to address amongst the devotees, 'Prabhu,' 'Prabhu,' 'Such and such Prabhu.' This should not be simply spoken by the lips; it should be realized. Everyone should think other devotee as his prabhu, master, not he should try to become master.
tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
(CC Adi 17.31)
Mānadena. We should be always ready to offer respect to all, not only devotees, but everyone. Everyone.
Because every living entity is originally a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. But circumstantially, being covered by the coat of māyā, he's playing like demon. But his original nature is a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Jīvera svarūpa haya nitya kṛṣṇera dāsa. Everyone is eternally servant of Kṛṣṇa. But being influenced by māyā, when he gets this body, given by māyā... Prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ (BG 3.27), when he's conducted by the three guṇas of māyā, he thinks himself otherwise. He thinks himself independent of Kṛṣṇa. But actually, nobody is independent of Kṛṣṇa."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Vrindavan, October 23, 1972)