There are three different kinds of devotees, namely kaniñöha-adhikäré, madhyama-adhikäré and uttama-adhikäré: the neophyte, the preacher and the mahä-bhägavata, or the highly advanced devotee. The highly advanced devotee is one who knows the conclusion of the Vedas in full knowledge; thus he becomes a devotee. Indeed, not only is he convinced himself, but he can convince others on the strength of Vedic evidence. The advanced devotee can also see all other living entities as part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, without discrimination. The madhyama-adhikäré (preacher) is also well versed in the çästras and can convince others also, but he discriminates between the favorable and the unfavorable. In other words, the madhyama-adhikäré does not care for the demoniac living entities, and the neophyte kaniñöha-adhikäré does not know much about çästra but has full faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Kumäras, however, were mahä-bhägavatas because after scrutinizingly studying the Absolute Truth, they became devotees. In other words, they were in full knowledge of the Vedic conclusion. In the Bhagavad-gétä it is confirmed by the Lord that there are many devotees, but a devotee who is fully conversant in the Vedic conclusion is very dear to Him. Everyone is trying to elevate himself to the highest position according to his mentality. The karmés, who have a bodily concept of life, try to enjoy sense gratification to the utmost. The jïänés’ idea of the highest position is merging into the effulgence of the Lord. But a devotee’s highest position is in preaching all over the world the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore the devotees are actually the representatives of the Supreme Lord, and as such they travel all over the world directly as Näräyaëa because they carry Näräyaëa within their hearts and preach His glories. The representative of Näräyaëa is as good as Näräyaëa, but he is not to conclude, like the Mäyävädés, that he has become Näräyaëa. Generally, a sannyäsé is addressed as Näräyaëa by the Mäyävädés. Their idea is that simply by taking sannyäsa one becomes equal to Näräyaëa or becomes Näräyaëa Himself. The Vaiñëava conclusion is different, as stated by Çréla Viçvanätha Cakravarté Öhäkura:
uktas tathä bhävyata eva sadbhiù
kinto prabhor yaù priya eva tasya
vande guroù çré-caraëäravindam **
According to the Vaiñëava philosophy,
a devotee is as good as Näräyaëa not by becoming Näräyaëa
but by becoming the most confidential servant of Näräyaëa.
Such great personalities act as spiritual masters for the benefit of the
people in general, and as such, a spiritual master who is preaching the
glories of Näräyaëa should be accepted as Näräyaëa
and be given all respects due Him.
(Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srimad Bhagavatam 4:22:17. purport.)