Question: Recently, while discussing with devotees, we churned out some points from the verse defining kaniṣṭhādhikāri in the Bhāgavata. I want to check with you whether they are proper. If possible, can you throw more light? Our points from discussion are as follows:
The Bhāgavata classifies the devotees based on their vision. Kaniṣṭhādhikāris have the narrow vision of seeing Kṛṣṇa only in the deity. Uttamādhikāri sees Kṛṣṇa everywhere.
Answer: The division is based upon the level of awareness, speech and behavior. Among these three factors, awareness is the guiding factor for the other two.
Question: A kaniṣṭhādhikāri respects mainly the guru, whose consciousness is surcharged with Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but not other Vaiṣṇavas. A kaniṣṭhādhikāri sees divinity only in the holy dhāma and performs bhakti only in the holy dhāma but not outside the holy dhāma.
Answer: This may not be true, otherwise kaniṣṭhas will be found only in the dhāma and not outside. But such is not the case. It is also not true that a kaniṣṭha would not perform bhakti when he has to leave the dhāma.
Question: A kaniṣṭhādhikāri may come to temple only on holy days like Janmaṣṭami, but he will not be seen on other days in satsanga.
Answer: This is not true. A kaniṣṭha may be a very regular visitor of temple.
Question: A kaniṣṭhādhikāri sees Kṛṣṇa only in the Bhāgavata, but he does not see Kṛṣṇa in other Vedic literatures, although it is said that Hari᾽s glories are found in all Vedic literatures (vede rāmayaṇecaiva purāṇe bhārata gītatha)
Answer: This is also not true. A kaniṣṭha may actually respect other ṡāstras equally as the Bhāgavata, not being aware of its greatness. The main characteristic of a kaniṣṭha is that he/she can feel the presence of Kṛṣṇa in His vigraha and not in other places. But this does not limit his vision only to the dhāma, to festival days, to the Bhāgavata, etc.
Question: What is the process by which we can rise from the kaniṣṭha to the madhyama stage?
Answer: One has to work for it. The two important factors are mahat-sevā and ṡāstra-ṣravaṇam from a mahat.