A Bhakta qualifies to be one only by remaining devoted to the Lord. Neither learning, nor birth, nor status matter in this case. And the Bhagavata Purana reiterates this truth. Under the guidance and inspiration of Narada, Vyasa composed the narrative that captures the essence of the Vedas and describes the glories of the Supreme Being — a synthesis of ethical values and devotion — to guide mankind through life to salvation.
Devotion to the Lord is effective; but more effective is showing respect and devotion to the devoted. This is the essence of Bhagavata Dharma that is celebrated in this text.
In a lecture, Embar Sri Kasturi drew attention to Narada’s account of his earlier life which afforded him a chance to get initiated into the path of devotion. Born to a maidservant who served pious sages, as a young boy, he got a chance to be in their company and to serve them with sincerity and devotion. As an obedient, shy, silent and respectful boy, he won their attention and blessings. This freed him from his past sins and instilled in him the ways of Dharma and devotion to God. Listening to the stories of the Lord, he cultivated his devotion. Gradually the desire to shed the links with the material world began to take root in him.
By being constantly engaged in thoughts of God he was able to subdue the influence of the Gunas and remove the ignorance that pulls us towards worldly attractions. It was a step-by-step inner transformation that he underwent. Even when his mother died due to snake-bite the boy accepted it in a matter-of-fact manner. He meditated on the Lord’s form intensely and very soon he had a vision of the Lord. But the vision was only for a brief spell and the child was feeling lost. God spoke in a celestial voice and said that he would have God’s vision in his next birth only. But this taste of the Lord which he had experienced would remain in his consciousness and continue to influence him in his subsequent birth.
It is said that at the time of deluge, the soul merged with the breath of Brahma and he was then born as a Rishi in the next millennium. From an ordinary being, he was able to attain an exalted status through the practice of devotion.