A progressive devotee accepts everything as an impetus to advance in Krishna consciousness. A devotee’s premise is that the supreme sanctioning power is Krishna, and that nothing can take place without His sanction. Because Krishna is all-good and desires to reclaim the conditioned souls to take them back to Godhead, whatever takes place in our lives is good for us. Everything is meant to help us return to Godhead. This consciousness is not always easy to maintain, but that is the mood of a progressive devotee. It does not matter whether we are brahmachari, sannyasi, grihastha, man or woman. A devotee must be progressive. That is what makes him great.
Falldown for a devotee is certain. But his recovery is more important. Recovery is possible only when we have this progressive mood, understanding that however embarrassing, humiliating, difficult or awkward falldown may be, it has been created by Krishna just to push us and purify us so that we may advance and become free from the shackles of maya.
Repeatedly we see great misfortune and humiliation in the lives of even the most advanced and powerful devotees. Even Lord Ramachandra was embarrassed by His exile to the forest on the day of His coronation. The Pandavas were also humiliated and cheated out of their wife and kingdom. They had to wander for 12 years in the forest, and even upon returning from the forest, it took a world war—in which practically everyone (640 million soldiers) and everything were destroyed—in order to reestablish their rightful position. They never gained materially; they were losers. Krishna will do anything to bring His devotee back home, back to Godhead. He will act even apparently against His own interests. The whole Yadu dynasty was destroyed by Krishna. He destroyed His whole family for the purpose of bringing them back to Him. Parikshit, who was such a wonderful personality (he held the age of Kali in abeyance), was unjustly cursed to die within 7 days by the immature brahmana boy Shringi. Still, Parikshit Maharaja was glorious as the hero of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, because he took his misfortune as a lesson sent by the Lord. He prepared himself to hear about the Lord by listening to Shukadeva Gosvami’s recitation of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. In this way, he perfected his life and gave us this most wonderful literature, the Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is the ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic wisdom. Prahlada Maharaja was also constantly harassed. Even Krishna was harassed—the whole world rose up against Krishna.
In our struggle to advance in Krishna consciousness, we should not become discouraged because of apparent failures, humiliation or setbacks. In order to have great success, there must be great failure. We cannot have sweet victory without great obstacles, just as we cannot distinguish light without the background of darkness. Krishna glorifies His devotees and exhibits their super-excellent qualities by setting them against the background of adversity and ordeal.