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dharmān bhāgavatāṁs tava
yān śrutvā śraddhayā martyo
mucyate sarvato bhayāt
According to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, Nārada Muni might have been reluctant to instruct Vasudeva because of natural respect for Vasudeva’s exalted position as the father of Kṛṣṇa. Nārada might have thought that since Vasudeva was already perfect in Kṛṣṇa consciousness there was no need to instruct him in the process of devotional service. Therefore, anticipating Nārada’s possible reluctance, Vasudeva specifically requested Nārada to preach to him about devotional service to Kṛṣṇa. This is the symptom of a pure devotee. A pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa never considers himself exalted. To the contrary, he meekly feels that his devotional service is most imperfect but that somehow or other Lord Kṛṣṇa, out of His causeless mercy, is accepting such imperfect service. Caitanya Mahāprabhu has stated in this regard:
tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
“One can chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, feeling himself lower than the straw in the street. One should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respect to others.” (Śikṣāṣṭaka 3) The conditioned souls in this material world become falsely proud of their so-called family lineage. This pride is false because one who has taken birth in the material world is in a fallen situation, even in the best of cases. Vasudeva, however, was certainly not fallen, since he had taken birth in the family of Kṛṣṇa. Since he was Kṛṣṇa’s father, his position was most exalted, yet because he was a pure devotee he did not become proud of his special relationship with Kṛṣṇa. Instead, considering himself deficient in spiritual understanding, he took advantage of the appearance of Nārada Muni, a great preacher of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, by immediately inquiring from him about devotional service. This incomparable humility of a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa is far superior to the false humility of the impersonalist, who actually maintains a desire to be equal to God though adopting the external behavior of a meek and saintly person.
Bhayam, or fear, is caused by seeing something other than Kṛṣṇa (dvitīyābhiniveśataḥ). Everything is actually an emanation from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as stated in Vedānta-sūtra (janmādy asya yataḥ) and as confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ, vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti, etc.). Kṛṣṇa is the well-wishing friend of every living entity (suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānām). If a living being gives up his misguided attempt to defy the Supreme Personality of Godhead and surrenders to the Lord, certainly he becomes confident in his eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa. A surrendered soul can actually experience that Kṛṣṇa is his well-wishing friend, and since that friend is the supreme absolute controller of all existence, there is certainly no cause for fear. The son of a rich man certainly feels confident while touring the estate of his father. Similarly, an empowered representative of the government feels confident in the discharge of his duty. In the same way, a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, acting as a representative of the Supreme Lord, feels confident because he can understand at every moment that the entire material and spiritual creation is strictly under the control of his benevolent master. The nondevotee, however, denies the supreme position of Kṛṣṇa and therefore imagines that something is different from Kṛṣṇa. For example, if a servant of the government thinks that there is some dangerous obstacle that cannot be controlled by the government’s power, he becomes fearful. If a child feels that there is some power that cannot be subdued by his father, then he becomes fearful. Similarly, because we artificially think that there is something within existence that is not under the strict control of the benevolent Lord, we become fearful. Such a concept of a second thing (something other than Kṛṣṇa) is called dvitīyābhiniveśa, and it immediately creates a foreign atmosphere of bhayam, or fear. Kṛṣṇa is called abhayaṅkara, which means that He destroys all fear in the heart of His devotee.
Sometimes so-called scholars, distraught after many years of impersonal speculation and enjoyment of materialistic life, become fearful and anxious. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī compares such disturbed philosophers to the bound vulture in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad. Desiring liberation from fear, such speculators unfortunately concoct an imaginary liberation (vimukta-māninaḥ) and try to take shelter of impersonal spiritual existence or voidness. But the Bhāgavatam (10.2.32) states, āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ/ patanty adho ’nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ: because such speculators have not rectified their original mistake of rejecting their eternal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they fall from their concocted liberation and thus remain in a fearful condition. Vasudeva, however, is openly eager to hear more and more about devotional service to Kṛṣṇa, and therefore he states, yān śrutvā śraddhayā martyo mucyate sarvato bhayāt: simply by hearing about pure devotional service to Kṛṣṇa, a conditioned soul can easily free himself from all types of fear, and this transcendental freedom is certainly eternal.