Aug 062018

tasyāḥ sādhanāni gāyanty ācāryāḥ
tasyāḥ — of it; sādhanāni — the means of development; gāyanti — sing; ācāryāḥ — the great teachers.
Standard authorities have described the methods for achieving devotional service.
Having described the essence of parā bhakti, the highest stage of devotional service, Nārada now turns to the practices one must perform to reach that stage. The practice stage of bhakti is called sādhana-bhakti. Nārada previously stated that bhakti was its own means, that it does not depend on anything else—specifically jñāna, or knowledge. And as Śrīla Prabhupāda points out, bhakti doesn’t even depend on the devotee’s practice:

Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be aroused simply by practice. Actually there is no such practice. When we wish to develop our innate capacity for devotional service, there are certain processes which, by our accepting and executing them, will cause that dormant capacity to be invoked. Such practice is called sādhana-bhakti. [The Nectar of Devotion, p. 20]

The rules and regulations of bhakti are meant to cure a conditioned soul of the madness that causes his bondage and suffering. Śrīla Prabhupāda writes (The Nectar of Devotion, p. 21), “As a man’s mental disease is cured by the directions of a psychiatrist, so this sādhana-bhakti cures the conditioned soul of his madness under the spell of māyā, material illusion.”

Nārada says that the methods he will teach have been given by the ācāryas, those who teach by both word and deed. Bhakti can be taught only by Vaiṣṇava ācāryas and their representatives, not by teachers of comparative religion or impersonalists in the guise of bhaktas. Nārada himself is one of the greatest ācāryas, and so his own sayings are sufficient. Still, following the paramparā tradition, he quotes previous ācāryas and also gives his own insights. Thus his teachings are acceptable to all, regardless of sampradāya or particular founder-ācārya. Here Nārada uses the word gāyanti, “they sing,” because the ācāryas joyfully teach the principles of bhakti.

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