SB 1.5 - Causeless mercy of the devotees
The sages, whom Nārada served, were impartial by nature, but still they blessed Nārada with their mercy. Though great devotees like Bharata and Prahlāda see equally, they also show some partiality concerning giving mercy. The sages’ giving mercy to Nārada for the first time did not depend on Nārada’s good qualities, and show of respect. He developed the good qualities by their mercy. Then those qualities became the cause of further mercy. There are two types of mercy: one, which is affected by seeing material qualities and another, which is not affected by seeing material qualities. All persons in the material world have mercy caused by qualities. They show mercy or withdraw mercy based on seeing good qualities or not. In the second type of mercy, those who are beyond the influence of material world show mercy without any cause, since they see everything in the world as same. In this manner, sometimes these sages show mercy to some person.
Nārada was self controlled and had no attachment for sports, and did not speak more than required. The sages are referred as veda-vādīs – or followers of Vedānta. In the Vedas the subject matters are only three, namely to establish the relation of the living beings with the Lord, perform duties in devotional service, and achieve love of God. Thus the veda-vādīs indicate the pure devotees of the Lord. Such devotees are impartial in distributing the transcendental knowledge of devotional service, by which one can reestablish one’s relationship with the Lord. And Nārada was self controlled even before being initiated by the devotees. Without being self controlled and without being obedient, no one can become successful in following the instructions of the guru, and without doing so, no one can go back to Godhead. The first four stages of bhakti are understood here: mercy of the devotees, service to devotees, faith and taking shelter of guru.