भजन्त्यनन्यभावेन ते मे भक्ततमा मता: ॥ ३३ ॥
yāvān yaś cāsmi yādṛśaḥ
te me bhaktatamā matāḥ
jñātvā — knowing; ajñātvā — not knowing; atha — thus; ye — those who; vai — certainly; mām — Me; yāvān — as; yaḥ — who; ca — also; asmi — I am; yādṛśaḥ — how I am; bhajanti — worship; ananya-bhāvena — with exclusive devotion; te — they; me — by Me; bhakta-tamāḥ — the best devotees; matāḥ — are considered.
My devotees may or may not know exactly what I am, who I am and how I exist, but if they worship Me with unalloyed love, then I consider them to be the best of devotees.
According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, although yāvān indicates that Lord Kṛṣṇa cannot be limited by time or space, He becomes limited by the love of His pure devotees. For example, Lord Kṛṣṇa never steps one foot out of Vṛndāvana, because of the intense love of its inhabitants for Him. In this way, the Lord comes under the control of His devotees’ love. The word yaḥ indicates that Kṛṣṇa is the Absolute Truth who appears as the son of Vasudeva, or as Śyāmasundara. Yādṛśa indicates that the Lord is ātmārāma, or completely self-satisfied, and also āpta-kāma, or “one who automatically fulfills all of His desires.” Still, being affected by the love of His devotees, the Lord sometimes appears to be anātmārāma, or dependent on the love of His devotees, and anāptakāma, unable to achieve His desire without the cooperation of His devotees. Actually, the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, is always independent, but He reciprocates the intense love of His devotees and thus appears to be dependent on them, just as He apparently became dependent on Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodā during His childhood pastimes in Vṛndāvana. The word ajñātvā (“inexperienced, lacking knowledge”) indicates that sometimes a devotee may not have a proper philosophical understanding of the Personality of Godhead or due to love may temporarily forget the Lord’s position. In Bhagavad-gītā (11.41) Arjuna says:
he kṛṣṇa he yādava he sakheti
ajānatā mahimānaṁ tavedaṁ
mayā pramādāt praṇayena vāpi
“I have in the past addressed You as ‘O Kṛṣṇa,’ ‘O Yādava,’ ‘O my friend,’ without knowing Your glories. Please forgive whatever I may have done in madness or in love.” Arjuna’s words ajānatā mahimānam have the same meaning as Kṛṣṇa’s words ajñātvā mām in this verse of the Bhāgavatam. Both indicate incomplete understanding of Kṛṣṇa’s glories. In Bhagavad-gītā Arjuna says, praṇayena: his forgetfulness of Kṛṣṇa’s supreme position was caused by his love for Him. In this verse, Kṛṣṇa excuses such lapses on the part of His devotees with the words ajñātvā mām, which indicate that even though devotees may not fully appreciate His exalted position, Kṛṣṇa accepts their loving service. Thus this verse clearly reveals the supreme position of bhakti. Lord Kṛṣṇa also states in Bhagavad-gītā (11.54):
aham evaṁ-vidho ’rjuna
jñātuṁ draṣṭuṁ ca tattvena
praveṣṭuṁ ca parantapa
“My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding.”
Although one may develop innumerable saintly qualities, without love of Kṛṣṇa one will not achieve complete success. One must understand the Personality of Godhead as He is and love Him. Even if one is not capable of analytically understanding the position of God, if one simply loves Kṛṣṇa, then one is certainly perfect. Many of the residents of Vṛndāvana had no idea that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, nor did they know of Kṛṣṇa’s potencies or incarnations. They simply loved Kṛṣṇa with their hearts and souls, and therefore they are considered most perfect.