It is important to differentiate, first of all, between the terms devotee and a sadhaka although most times these two terms can be used interchangeably. A devotee is one who is passionate in serving his “ishta Devata” or one’s loved deity. A sadhaka is one who; out of intense desire of attaining the Prayojana (Ultimate Goal) commits Himself to following spiritual practices through bhajan (spiritual undertakings) and sadhana ( aiming for the cherished goal) ; becomes one-pointed, steadily culling out all that is undesirable for Bhakti and harnessing all that is desirable, using free-will for surrendering through service to Guru and the Lord. A sadhaka is fundamentally a devotee who is committed towards achieving the desired goal.
The aspect of Sadhaka Tattva is more about acquiring the desired consciousness and is an out-an-out internal process of transformation. Although external aspects such as Vaishnava Dress and Vaishnava adornment can provide some inspiration internally, it is the commitment to the mood of the Acaryas of the parampara that will have the final say in a sadhaka’s life. Spiritual practices such as Guru Seva, Harinama, Deeksha Mantras, following the Vaishnava injunctions form the basic framework for this internal mood cultivation; yet that is not all. Prayers made to the Guru Varga (Our spiritual masters) with the heart are the basis on which the Vaishnava mood blossoms in the heart of a sadhaka.
The Six Goswamis of Vrindavana are the one-stop point for cultivating the highest consciousness. Our path is called Raganuga which means “following the path of the associates of Sriman Mahaprabhu (the eternal associates of the divine couple) in spirit and demeanour. This also means that this following cannot be an imitation. Imitation refers to external demeanour devoid of spirit. This internal journey can happen only when one has mentally submitted oneself to the path of the Goswamis and one contemplates about the lives and glories of the followers of Sriman Mahaprabhu at all times. Consciousness is a fluid thing. Just as water takes the shape of the container, consciousness takes the shape of the content of the mind and intelligence. Hence one, who is a serious sadhaka of the Gaudiya Vaishnava principle, commits oneself to reading about the lives of the Parampara Gurus with utmost commitment and with “intense” desire to following their path. In this there is no question of considering practicality of situations which were then and now while trying to implement their mood. Consciousness is so potent that as soon as one mentally attaches oneself to the desirable elements, reality gets manifested on the very same lines. This is a pragmatic fact.
Out Parampara is our only saviour and although the saints of our Parampara may not be available in an embodied form, their spirit is cent percent available to associate with. When one reads books written by pure devotees like Sri Adi Kesava Dasa (O.B.L Kapoor), one will benefit immensely in developing one’s mood. The exalted moods of our Acaryas have been represented in the highest form by Sri Adi Kesava Dasa. Unless a sadhaka is committed to discipline just as a student resident in the campus of a disciplined Public school, there is no scope of developing the qualities of a true follower of Sriman Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
The spirit of our Parampara is still potent in the Gaudiya Geeti (Kirtans of the Acaryas), in their life and works, in the instructions of the Sadhguru, in the service of the Guru and Vaishnavas and in our own commitment to their service. A sadhaka is a person who loses his own identity in the service of the transcended masters of the parampara. Till the time that we hold our own individuality, sadhana remains “thoroughly” incomplete. There is no other way to qualify as a sadhaka other than to take shelter of the processes of the Parampara, to connect with the Parampara through service to the Sadhguru and our one-pointed approach of eliminating each and every item that keeps us from that aspect of serving the Parampara.