One has to associate with a mahatma who has accepted Krishna as the supreme source of the entire creation. Without being a mahatma, one cannot understand Krishna's absolute position. A mahatma is rare and transcendental, and he is a pure devotee of Lord Krishna.
A pure devotee is the supreme transcendentalist and one has to receive his mercy for one's dormant Krishna Consciousness to be awakened. One has to associate with pure devotees. If one has firm faith in the words of a great soul, pure devotional service will awaken.
Pure devotees are interested in achieving the transcendental service of the Lord, which is non different from Him.
If one wants to acquire the mercy of the Lord, he has to associate with pure devotees. Such association alone can, by degrees, release one from the quivering elements.
Great unalloyed devotees of the Lord are compassionate towards the fallen and therefore they travel all over the world with the mission of bringing souls back to Godhead, back to home. Such pure devotees of the Lord carry the message of Godhead in order to deliver the fallen souls and therefore the common man who is bewildered by the influence of the external energy of the Lord should avail himself of their association.
Only those who are pure devotees, those who follow the regulative principles of religious life as prescribed in the scriptures, are able to engage themselves in karma-yoga and then jnana-yoga and thereafter, by pure meditation, can understand pure consciousness. When God consciousness is developed, one can take advantage of the association of pure devotees. Syan mahat-sevaya viprahpunya-tirtha-nisevanat: one is able to associate with the Lord even during the existence of this life.