“Dear Balarama, You are very powerful; Your arms are very strong. Dear Krishna, You are very expert in killing all kinds of disturbing demons. Will You kindly note that just near this place there is a big forest of the name Talavana. This forest is full of palm trees, and all the trees are filled with fruits. Some are falling down, and some of them are very ripe even in the trees. It is a very nice place, but because of a great demon, Dhenukasura, it is very difficult to go there.” (Friends addressing Krishna and Balarama, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 15)
Friend1: I think one term you see more than others in reading the works of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is “pure devotee.”
Friend2: You’ve counted?
Friend1: This is the impression left with me, anyway. I’m sure someone else may say it is “Mayavadi” or something like that. Anyway, I am fully aware of both the context and the need. “Pure” devotion is distinguished from “ordinary” or “impure” devotion.
Friend2: Yes, because you can have allegiance to the Supreme Lord but also competing interests. It is like dipping your toe in two pools at once.
Friend1: Karma, jnana or yoga. These would be the other desires. In karma I may want to advance personally, to a higher post in this life or even to the heavenly planets.
Friend2: Where you get to enjoy material life on an exceptional scale, consuming the most intoxicating beverages.
Friend1: In jnana the ultimate objective is to merge into the Absolute. Become one with the Brahman energy. Lose identity. With yoga there are the accompanying siddhis.
Friend2: Hold your breath for long periods of time. Become extremely light or unbelievably heavy.
Friend1: Such as with baby Krishna against the whirlwind asura named Trinavarta.
Friend2: Or Lakshmana on the battlefield against Ravana. Impure devotion is the more common situation. It is still devotion, which is a great head-start on the road towards liberation.
Friend1: The easiest way to understand the “pure” variety is to remove outside desires. Basically, I don’t want anything from God. I want to serve Him. I am asking Him for service opportunities. That is the meaning to chanting the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Friend2: A very difficult standard to reach, but every living being has the potential.
Friend1: Alright, so now let’s transition to Krishna’s lila, His pastimes in Vrindavana. There is the incident with the asura named Dhenuka.
Friend2: A large ass, in the actual meaning. Terrorizing a forest area known as Talavana, preventing others from even entering.
Friend1: Which is why the cowherd friends in Vrindavana approached Krishna and His elder brother Balarama. The aroma from the fruits was too enticing. They wanted to enter Talavana but were well aware of the danger.
Friend2: Which Krishna and Balarama could easily handle.
Friend1: I’m getting to that. Sure, the friends knew this, but why take advantage? If they are intimate associates living in the company of the Supreme Lord in the sacred land of Gokula, why would they ask anything of Him? Does not their desire to taste fruits from a specific area invalidate their status as pure devotees?
Friend2: That is a really good question. What do you think the answer is?
Friend1: I’m not sure. I get it that one explanation is the previous lives.
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: These associates passed through the different stages of transcendental advancement already. They were already free of sin, so by the time they were with Krishna there was no chance of falling down, i.e. having material desires.
Friend2: That is certainly true. It’s a good way of putting it. I would add that when you are so close to the Supreme Lord, you can indeed ask Him for things. It does not violate any standard.
Friend1: Really? But enjoying the sense of taste seems material to me. It would go against pure devotion, no?
Friend2: Even if it did, look at who they approached. It is not like the boys would start eating the fruit and then suddenly forget God. See the history of Bhagavan’s pastimes. The Vanara leader Sugriva asked for assistance against the rival brother named Vali. Sita Devi, the devoted wife of Vishnu’s incarnation of Rama, once asked her husband to chase after a deer. Sudama Vipra tried but couldn’t muster up the courage to ask for financial assistance to deal with poverty. If you are close to Him, you can ask Krishna for anything. He will happily oblige.
Dhenuka the boys to scare,
Of his Talavana presence aware.
So to Krishna and brother went,
Since on tasting fruits bent.
But pure status not against?
Since for sense pleasure went.
When already for everything to rely,
The requests Krishna not to deny.