there are basically three types of disciples, Srila Prabhupada explains: uttama, madhyama and kanishta. Uttama disciple, is the disciple who even without the spiritual master giving a direct order that, “I want this to be done” can understand the mind of the spiritual master that the spiritual master desiring that this particular thing should be done, and he does that even without being given the order and correctly. Of course one shouldn’t imitate that, it require a considerable amount of experience to be able to come to that. If one will speculate and do the wrong thing one would be in trouble. We have seen that Prabhupad sometimes in vrndavan, he was just do like this, just raise his finger, there was no of indicating, understanding but immediately the servant would jump up and close the window or turn on the light or somehow or other they would just do exactly what he wanted, sometime they would do the wrong thing and he would go. (gestures) Then you know (laughing). But 85%… about 3/4 to… almost 95% of the time they get it right, once in a while they wouldn’t. Even a little… of course if a devotee would do something which was in a crisis which was the correct thing, Prabhupada will be very pleased, even without asking him. Of course if they did the wrong thing they are responsible, that’s uttama level.
Madyam level is that whatever the spiritual master orders, that disciple very expertly, very enthusiastically, very efficiently performs. Madyama – to follow explicitly the order of the spiritual master without any deviation, is the middle class. Kanishta or the neophyte level is that one trying to follow the order of the spiritual master, but is not cent percent expert or capable. He is trying to follow, but he is not always able to do it in the most enthusiastic way or in the most perfect way, that is the Kanista level, desire is there to try. Apart from this, Prabhupada said there is another level, it’s not actually a disciple, that level is called adhama, it’s like naradhama, asuram naradhama. naradhama this is adham disciple. Adham means fallen, doesn’t follow the order of the spiritual master, disobeys the instruction of the spiritual master, isn’t trying very hard at all to follow the instruction of the spiritual master, may be name only disciple, but in practicality he is not actually fulfilling the obligations, regular… a little irregular devotee, still because, they are called adhama-sisya. They are still disciple because at least they are recognizing some relationship, but they are not following so they are considered adhama, they are fallen; they are not actually a real disciple, in the strict sense of the world. Fallen disciple.
H.H. Jayapataka Swami Maharaj
1983, 5th,November, SB Class @ USA