Chapter 5: Attaining Perfection

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Nārada Bhakti Sūtra 76

bhakti-śāstrāṇi mananīyāni tad-bodhaka-karmāṇi karaṇīyāni


bhakti — of devotional service; śāstrāṇi — the scriptures; mananīyāni — should be respected; tat — by them; bodhakamade known; karmāṇi — prescribed activities; karaṇīyāni — should be executed.


One should respect the revealed scriptures of devotional service and discharge the duties they prescribe.


The most important bhakti-śāstras have been translated with paramparā purports by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda. Śrīla Prabhupāda writes, "In our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement we have therefore limited our study of Vedic literature to Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Caitanya-caritāmṛta, and Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. These four works are sufficient for preaching purposes. They are adequate for the understanding of the philosophy and the spreading of missionary activities all over the world" (Cc. Madhya 22.118, purport).

The Vedas are vast, comprising millions of Sanskrit ślokas. And while the conclusion of all branches of Vedic literature is to render devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, some parts of the Vedic literature are addressed to materialistic religionists and therefore teach a gradual process of elevation. The sages at Naimiṣāraṇya, therefore, asked Sūta Gosvāmī to teach them the essence of the Vedas. In Kali-yuga most people do not have the time, energy, or interest to go through all the Vedas, nor is it advisable to try. The essence, selected by Sūta Gosvāmī, is Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which teaches bhakti-yoga as the supreme dharma and rejects all "cheating religion." To bring transcendental light into the age of darkness, Śrīla Vyāsadeva, the compiler of all the Vedas, gave the world the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as his mature contribution:

anarthopaśamaḿ sākṣād bhakti-yogam adhokṣaje

lokasyājānato vidvāḿś cakre sātvata-saḿhitām

"The material miseries of the living entity, which are superfluous to him, can be directly mitigated by the linking process of devotional service. But the mass of people do not know this, and therefore the learned Vyāsadeva compiled this Vedic literature, which is in relation to the Supreme Truth" (Bhāg. 1.7.6).

Bhakti-śāstras include contemporary works written in pursuance of the conclusions of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā, and so on. The writing of commentaries and other bhakti literary works can continue for the edification of people in every age and create a movement away from mundane and speculative books.

Nārada states that a person should not only read bhakti-śāstras but also live by their instructions. The serious student should render service in terms of what he has heard from the spiritual master and the bhakti-śāstras. Śrīla Prabhupāda writes, "Without hearing such literatures, one cannot make actual progress. And without hearing and following the instructions, the show of devotional service becomes worthless and therefore a sort of disturbance on the path of devotional service. Therefore, devotional service is established on the principles of śruti, smṛti, purāṇa, and pañcarātra authorities. The make-show of devotional service should at once be rejected" (Bhāg. 1.2.12, purport).

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