tri-rūpa-bhaṅga-pūrvakaṁ nitya-dāsya-nitya-kāntā-bhajanātmakaṁ prema kāryaṁ premaiva kāryam
tri-rūpa — of the three material forms (the qualities of goodness, passion, and ignorance); bhaṅga — the breaking; pūrvakam — preceded by; nitya — perpetual; dāsya — servitude; nitya — perpetual; kāntā — as a lover; bhajana — service; ātmakam — consisting of; prema — pure love; kāryam — one should manifest; prema — pure love; eva — alone; kāryam — one should manifest.
After breaking through the aforementioned coverings of the three modes of nature, one should act only in pure love of God, remaining perpetually in the mood of a servant serving his master, or a lover serving her beloved.
As described in Sūtra 56, there are three secondary forms of devotional service tinged with the guṇas (goodness, passion, and ignorance). These are practiced by sakāma devotees, who approach the Supreme Lord when in distress, when seeking wealth, or when seeking knowledge. One should transcend these secondary types of devotion and approach the Supreme Lord only with love. In other words, here Nārada is urging us to come to the spontaneous stage, as in the rasas of servitude (nitya-dāsya) and conjugal love (nitya-kāntā-bhajana). We should not think that we have completed the course of bhakti by becoming a religionist in the conventional sense—by attending the temple and making obligatory prayers and donations.
As a spiritual master, Nārada has responsibly taught the lower stages of bhakti and encouraged anyone with even a drop of faith. But it is also his responsibility to remind us that the goal is prema, and prema alone. His method is similar to Lord Kṛṣṇa’s in the Bhagavad-gītā, where the Lord mercifully encourages all kinds of karmīs, jñānīs, and yogīs, advising them on how to progressively turn their attention toward Him. But then He concludes, “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me” (Bg. 18.66).
Out of love, without seeking reward, a devoted servant tries to please his master, and a wife her husband. We see the perfection of servitude in the spiritual world, in Kṛṣṇa’s servants like Raktaka, Dāruka, and Patrī, and we see the perfection of a wife’s devotion in the queens of Dvārakā. In Lord Kṛṣṇa we find the perfect master and the perfect beloved, and so His servants and wives are eternally liberated as nitya-dāsa and nitya-kāntā. Following in the footsteps of such liberated beings, devotees in this world should strive to practice devotional service on the level of pure love. As stated in the Caitanya-mañjuṣā: premā pum-artho mahān. “Love for Kṛṣṇa is the supreme goal of life.”
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