Why are there so many rules and regulations when it comes to serving God? Isn’t pure love and devotion enough?
Training is necessary As a general principle, rules and regulations help us in training ourselves for a particular task in case of lack of expertise. In case of trying to serve God, most conditioned souls in the material world are not expert in serving the Supreme Lord and so require training under expert supervision of an expert spiritual master. Due to lack of proper training in various aspects of serving the Supreme Lord, we might ignorantly assume pleasure of the Supreme Lord by our attempts to serve while in reality end up not pleasing the Lord.
False claims must be refuted The Supreme Lord is satisfied with pure love and devotion but one problem in the material world is that “pure love and devotion” is scarce in supply. What is usually claimed as “pure love and devotion” is ignorant sentimentalism at best or intentional deception at worst. A much better option is to train oneself under experts following rules and regulations to become expert ourselves in due course of time.
Follow the process to reach the goal One problem with following rules and regulations is that sometimes we get so absorbed in following rules and regulations that we forget the original purpose for which we began following them. In this unfortunate manner, spiritualism degrades to ritualism. Part of bona fide training is not just to train someone in skills but also in internal values. Thus, any bona fide spiritual master will not just teach his followers in the techniques of serving the Supreme Lord but also in inculcating a proper mood for such service. When begun under expert guidance, systematic service (vidhi-bhakti) results in spontaneous devotional service (raga-bhakti). “Pure love and devotion” is our goal and an essential ingredient in trying to serve God but it has to be developed by paying a price of submission to training; it is not available cheaply.