Imagine SriRam or Shri Krsna saying that I have God living in my heart and I will follow what I believe in. Or someone saying that I love God in my own way and I don’t want to know about him in any other way except my own! Then the question would be, why would God Himself want to know the truth? Why would they give into their Gurus? Why should God learn the scriptures and understand the truth from their Gurus?
Mundane devotion has no place in spiritual enlightenment or growth. Assuming the so called devotee being uneducated or illiterate, he may follow some rites and rituals learnt by emulating others, still would be termed as ignorant. Look at Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, who even though being illiterate, learnt spiritual under the tutelage of various Gurus like Totapuri and Brahmani. Or Swami Adbhutananda who never understood anything that Shri Ramakrishna said but followed everything that was told to him as Guruagnya(Guru’s orders).
Even the cases of the highest devotees of Ram and Krsna, namely Tukaram, Tulsidas, Kabir, Meerabai, etc., learnt under the tutelage of a great spiritual Master. Devotion doesn’t mean looking at an image of God or crying for hours. That happens even if someone watches a very touching film for 2-3 hours. Devotion grows by being in company of devotees of the Lord. These are saints and sages who exist in this world even today. They alone can take you on the path of spiritual towards your own Ista or divine entity.
This calls for a story. Namdev was a great devotee of Lord Panduranga or Vitthala. One day he attended a conclave of saints. In that all the devotees asked Gora Kumbhar to test out everyone’s devotion to their Lord Krsna. Gora went around knocking heads, since that is the way the potters check the pots by knocking on them. He came to Namdev and after knocking on his head pronounced that Namdev is still not ready.
Namdev became furious and immediately sought out Krsna(Vitthala). He complained to the Lord that everyone was deriding him saying that he is not even a mediocre devotee. He asked Panduranga, when he was the only one who could see the Lord and share his meals, then how come these ignorant saints said that he was incompetent in devotion?
The Lord said that it is true. Even if Namdev could see Him and talk to Him, yet his devotion cannot fructify without Namdev meeting his Guru. So first Namdev needs to meet his Guru and then alone will he be able to reach the truth. Namdev was aghast at what Vitthala said and asked for the name of his Guru. Vitthala told him to seek out Visoba Khechar from a village far away. Namdev immediately set out to meet his Guru.
He arrived very early in that village. The whole village was asleep so he thought of resting in the wayside temple. He entered the temple and saw to his exasperation that a man was sleeping with his legs on top of the Shivlinga. He tried to wake the man up, since this was sacrilege. The man was fast asleep and refused to move, so Namdev picked up his feet and kept them on another side. The moment he lowered the legs, they landed on another Linga. Again he tried but the same thing happened. Wherever he kept the leg, there a Linga appeared. Finally, he couldn’t hold the legs suspended for long so he called out to the man in desperation.
The man got up and asked him to keep his leg where there isn’t any God. Namdev understood that he was in the presence of the divine Master. Once, Namdev completed his training, he went on to become one of the greatest saints.
In conclusion, let me tell you that no way will any individual’s devotion bear fruits of being with the Lord till they are not taught by a great spiritual Master. Only after complete training and sadhana under the Master can devotion fructify. But first to meet The Master one needs to leave their ego and mundane knowledge aside and seek spiritual guidance from Him.
Jesus or Krsna too had to take rigorous training under great spiritual Masters to then carry out their swadharma in this world.