“O King Rahugana, the perfectional stage of devotional service, or the paramahamsa stage of life, cannot be attained unless one is blessed by the dust of the feet of great devotees. It is never attained by tapasya [austerity], the Vedic worshiping process, acceptance of the renounced order of life, the discharge of the duties of household life, the chanting of the Vedic hymns, or the performance of penances in the hot sun, within cold water or before the blazing fire.” —Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.23 purport
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
“Now, what exactly does it mean to be blessed by the dust of the feet of pure devotees? In a broad sense it means to be blessed by the mercy of pure devotees. One gets the mercy by following their instructions. So, we are blessed by receiving instructions from pure devotees, and we are further blessed by following their instructions.
“In Bombay, a disciple asked Srila Prabhupada for his mercy to follow his instructions. Srila Prabhupada curled his lips in disgust and said, ‘My mercy is that I have given my instructions. Now it is up to you to follow them.’ He gave the example of a person who had fallen into a well. When his savior, or deliverer, hands down a rope to pull him, out he prays, ‘Please make my fingers curl around the rope.’ Your deliverer has sent down the rope and is ready to pull you out of the well, but you have to hold on to the rope. In other words, he has given you his mercy in the form of his instructions, but now you have to follow the instructions.”