Srimad Bhagavatam, Mahatmyam, Chapter One Sloka 43:
Naradaouvacha. Narada said: Hey Devi, who are you? Who are these two men? Who are the beautiful people around you? Tell me in detail the reasons for your sorrow.
Interpretation: Narada Muni, who is always quick in recognising people, could not, for once, recognise the lady and the two old men near her. This is the effect of Kali. In today’s world too, one cannot make out who is a true bhakta or devotee. We are all often surrounded by pseudo proponents of Bhakti who have motives or agenda. A true Bhakt is a rare gem in Kaliyug.
Sloka 44-45: Balouvacha..I am Bhakti. These two are my favourite sons – Gyana (knowledge) and Vairagya (renunciation). Due to march of time, their bodies have become old and infirm. These ladies around me are the holy rivers like Ganga. Though worshipped by Devas, I have no fame.
Interpretation: In Kaliyuga, Bhakti is supreme. When one attains Bhakti, the next step is gyana or knowledge or realisation of oneself. Bhakti and gyana combined would lead to Vairagya or detachment or renunciation. That is the progression of life. Through Bhakti, one gains wisdom which then leads to detachment. Detachment or renunciation leads to bliss where one is able to focus just on the Brahman or the Supreme.
When this does not happen, gyana and vairagya become old (unable to impart their spirit in people). Bhakti should not be routine, but lead to wisdom and detachment. This does not mean that tomorrow you have to give up the world. It takes a long time for wisdom and renunciation to ripen through bhakti. What is needed is sadhaka or practice; constant conscious practice; practice without motives. You should not use bhakti as a vehicle to gain materialistic things or happiness. Chaithanya Mahaprabhu is a good example. Through years of bhakti, wisdom will one day dawn in you. It is a natural process. You cannot or need not run after wisdom; nor can you download wisdom. And when wisdom ripens, you will find it easy to renounce everything. It will be easier to cut each string of attachment – one by one — that binds you to the materialistic world. Then your journey to the end would be easier. This is why our puranas say that the last stage of one’s life is vanaprasta or retiring to the forest (secluded place) for deep meditation and self-realisation. Without detachment, this is not possible.
Sloka 46: Idhanim..Hey one who does tapas, you have to listen to my long story. After listening to this, you should bless me with happiness.
Next is the story of Bhakti.