"One cannot call himself a devotee, but servant he can call himself always."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, December 22, 1975)
Prabhupāda: To become devotee is not so cheap thing. You don't think that because you have got a tilaka you have become devotee. Why do you think like that?
Devotee: Jaya Prabhupāda.
Prabhupāda: That Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, eiṭa eka kalira chelā, nāke tilaka, galaya mālā: "Here is another follower of Kali. He has got tilaka and mālā." Sahaja bhajana kacen māmu, saṅga laiyā pārera wala: "He is worshiping, bhajana, taking another's wife." Sahaja bhajana kacen māmu, saṅga laiyā pārera wala, ei ṭa eka kalira chelā: "Here is a servant of Kali. Simply he has changed his dress with tilaka and mālā." Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says. If you take tilaka and mālā and do all nonsense things, then you are not a devotee. You are kali-chelā. To become a devotee is not so easy thing.
Devotee (2): Devotee means perfect.
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. Certainly. Devotee means sa guṇān samatītyaitān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate (BG 14.26). He is above these material laws. That is devotee. Brahma-bhūyāya kalpate. He is in the Brahman stage. That is devotee. If you take... That means sahajiyā: "Because I have got a tilaka and mālā, I have become devotee." This kind of cheating will not do.
(Srila Prabhupada Morning Walk, Delhi, March 25, 1976)
Devotee: So if we as devotees in Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement are transcendental to these modes, does that mean that we can...
Prabhupāda: You are not transcendental. You are trying to be transcendental. You should always remember that "We are trying to be transcendental." When you are actually on transcendental state, you will not be affected by any modes of material nature. Therefore you should be very cautious and careful.
(Srila Prabhupada Morning Walk, Perth, May 11, 1975)