“In the book Padyavali by Rupa Gosvami there is the following statement about Vrindavana: “In this place the son of Maharaja Nanda used to live with His father, who was king of all cowherd men. In this place Lord Krishna broke the cart in which the Sakatasura demon was concealed. At this place Damodara, who can cut the knot of our material existence, was tied up by His mother, Yasoda.”
A pure devotee of Lord Krishna resides in the district of Mathura or Vrindavana and visits all the places where Krishna’s pastimes were performed. At these sacred places Krishna displayed His childhood activities with the cowherd boys and mother Yasoda. The system of circumambulating all these places is still current among devotees of Lord Krishna, and those coming to Mathura and Vrindavana always feel transcendental pleasure. Actually, if someone goes to Vrindavana, he will immediately feel separation from Krishna, who performed such nice activities when He was present there.
Such attraction for remembering Krishna’s activities is known as attachment for Krishna. There are impersonalist philosophers and mystics, however, who by a show of devotional service want ultimately to merge into the existence of the Supreme Lord. They sometimes try to imitate a pure devotee’s sentiment for visiting the holy places where Krishna had His pastimes, but they simply have a view for salvation, and so their activities cannot be considered attachment.
It is said by Rupa Gosvami that the attachment exhibited by pure devotees for Krishna cannot possibly be perfected in the hearts of fruitive workers (karmis) or mental speculators, because such attachment in pure Krishna consciousness is very rare and not possible to achieve even for many liberated persons. As stated in Bhagavad-gita, liberation from material contamination is the stage at which devotional service can be achieved. For a person who simply wants to have liberation and to merge into the impersonal brahmajyoti, attachment to Krishna is not possible to acquire. This attachment is very confidentially kept by Krishna and is bestowed only upon pure devotees. Even ordinary devotees cannot have such pure attachment for Krishna. Therefore, how is it possible for success to be achieved by persons whose hearts are contaminated by the actions and reactions of fruitive activities and who are entangled by various types of mental speculation?
There are many so-called devotees who artificially think of Krishna’s pastimes known as ashta-kaliya-lila. Sometimes one may artificially imitate these, pretending that Krishna is talking with him in the form of a boy, or else one may pretend that Radharani and Krishna both have come to him and are talking with him. Such characteristics are sometimes exhibited by the impersonalist class of men, and they may captivate some innocent persons who have no knowledge in the science of devotional service. However, as soon as an experienced devotee sees all of these caricatures, he can immediately evaluate such rascaldom. If such a pretender is sometimes seen possessing imitative attachment to Krishna, that will not be accepted as real attachment. It may be said, however, that such attachment gives the pretender hope that he may eventually rise onto the actual platform of pure devotional service.
This imitative attachment can be divided into two headings—namely, shadow attachment and para (transcendental) attachment. If someone, without undergoing the regulative principles of devotional service or without being guided by a bona fide spiritual master, shows such imitative attachment, this is called shadow attachment. Sometimes it is found that a person actually attached to material enjoyment or salvation has the good fortune to associate with pure devotees while they are engaged in chanting the holy name of the Lord. By the good grace of the Lord one may also cooperate and join in the chanting. At that time, simply by the association of such pure devotees, the moonlike rays from their hearts reflect on him, and by the influence of the pure devotees he may show some likeness of attachment caused by inquisitiveness, but this is very flickering. And if by the manifestation of such shadow attachment one feels the disappearance of all material pangs, then it is called para attachment.
Such shadow attachment or para attachment can develop if one associates with a pure devotee or visits holy places like Vrindavana or Mathura, and if an ordinary man develops such attachment for Krishna and fortunately performs devotional activities in the association of pure devotees, he can also rise to the platform of pure devotional service. The conclusion is that transcendental attachment is so powerful that if such attachment is seen manifested even in some common man, by the association of a pure devotee it can bring one to the perfectional stage. But such attachment for Krishna cannot be invoked in a person without his being sufficiently blessed by the association of pure devotees.
As attachment can be invoked by the association of pure devotees, so attachment can also be extinguished by offenses committed at the lotus feet of pure devotees. To be more clear, by the association of pure devotees attachment for Krishna can be aroused, but if one commits offenses at the lotus feet of a devotee, one’s shadow attachment or para attachment can be extinguished. This extinguishing is like the waning of the full moon, which gradually decreases and at last becomes dark. One should therefore be very careful while associating with pure devotees to guard against committing an offense at their lotus feet.
Transcendental attachment, either shadow or para, can be nullified by different degrees of offenses at the lotus feet of pure devotees. If the offense is very serious, then one’s attachment becomes almost nil, and if the offense is not very serious, one’s attachment can become second class or third class.”
N.O.D., Nectar of Devotion also known as Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhu, Ch 18, Character of One in Ecstatic Love