“Devotional service to Kṛṣṇa is the chief function of the living entity. There are different methods for the liberation of the conditioned soul — karma, jñāna, yoga and bhakti — but all the others are dependent on bhakti.
“Without devotional service, all other methods for spiritual self-realization are weak and insignificant. Unless one comes to the devotional service of Lord Kṛṣṇa, jñāna and yoga cannot give the desired results.
“ ‘When pure knowledge is beyond all material affinity but is not dedicated to the Supreme Personality of Godhead [Kṛṣṇa], it does not appear very beautiful, although it is knowledge without a material tinge. What, then, is the use of fruitive activities — which are naturally painful from the beginning and transient by nature — if they are not utilized for the devotional service of the Lord? How can they be very attractive?’
“ ‘Those who perform severe austerities and penances, those who give away all their possessions out of charity, those who are very famous for their auspicious activity, those who are engaged in meditation and mental speculation, and even those who are very expert in reciting the Vedic mantras are not able to obtain any auspicious results, although they are engaged in auspicious activities, if they do not dedicate their activities to the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I therefore repeatedly offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose glories are always auspicious.’
“Speculative knowledge alone, without devotional service, is not able to give liberation. On the other hand, even without knowledge one can obtain liberation if one engages in the Lord’s devotional service.
“ ‘My dear Lord, devotional service unto You is the only auspicious path. If one gives it up simply for speculative knowledge or the understanding that these living beings are spirit souls and the material world is false, he undergoes a great deal of trouble. He only gains troublesome and inauspicious activities. His endeavors are like beating a husk that is already devoid of rice. His labor becomes fruitless.’
“ ‘This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.’
“The living entity is bound around the neck by the chain of māyā because he has forgotten that he is eternally a servant of Kṛṣṇa.
“If the conditioned soul engages in the service of the Lord and simultaneously carries out the orders of his spiritual master and serves him, he can get out of the clutches of māyā and become eligible for shelter at Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet.
CC Madhya 22.17-25