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jñāna-vairāgyataś ca yat
śreyobhir itarair api
mad-bhakto labhate ’ñjasā
kathañcid yadi vāñchati
Lord Kṛṣṇa here reveals the transcendental glories of devotional service to the Lord. Although pure devotees are desireless, desiring only the Lord’s service, sometimes a great devotee may desire the Lord’s benediction to facilitate his loving service. In the Sixth Canto of the Bhāgavatam we find that Śrī Citraketu, a great devotee of the Lord, desired promotion to heaven so that accompanied by the most attractive ladies of the Vidyādhara planet he could beautifully chant the glories of the Lord. Similarly, Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the great narrator of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, desiring to avoid entanglement in the illusory potency of the Lord, would not come out of his mother’s womb. In other words, Śukadeva Gosvāmī desired apavargam, or liberation from māyā, so that his devotional service would not be disturbed. Lord Kṛṣṇa personally sent the illusory energy far away so that Śukadeva Gosvāmī would come out of his mother’s womb. Because of intense loving desire to serve the lotus feet of the Lord, a devotee may also desire promotion to the spiritual world.
According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, a devotee, having given up the independent cultivation of knowledge and detachment, may have firm faith in the devotional service of the Lord and yet remain slightly attached to the fruits of such activities. By expert fruitive activities one gains residence in material heaven, and by cultivation of detachment one is relieved of all bodily distress. If Lord Kṛṣṇa detects within a devotee’s heart the desire for such benedictions, the Lord can easily award them to His devotee.
The word itaraiḥ in this verse indicates visiting holy places, accepting religious vows and so forth. Several auspicious processes of elevation are mentioned in the verse preceding this, but all the auspicious results of these processes are easily achieved by loving service to the Lord. Thus all devotees of the Lord, in whatever stage of advancement, should dedicate their energy exclusively to the Lord’s service, as affirmed in the Second Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī:
akāmaḥ sarva-kāmo vā
yajeta puruṣaṁ param
“A person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire, without any material desire or desiring liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead.” (Bhāg. 2.3.10)