vartamāno vayasy ādye
tataḥ kim akarod bhavān
vyāsaḥ uvāca—Śrī Vyāsadeva said; bhikṣubhiḥ—by the great mendicants; vipravasite—having departed for other places; vijñāna—scientific knowledge in transcendence; ādeṣṭṛbhiḥ—those who had instructed; tava—of your; vartamānaḥ—present; vayasi—of the duration of life; ādye—before the beginning of; tataḥ—after that; kim—what; akarot—did; bhavān—your good self.
Śrī Vyāsadeva said: What did you [Nārada] do after the departure of the great sages who had instructed you in scientific transcendental knowledge before the beginning of your present birth?
Vyāsadeva himself was the disciple of Nāradajī, and therefore it was natural to be anxious to hear what Nārada did after initiation from the spiritual masters. He wanted to follow in Nārada's footsteps in order to attain to the same perfect stage of life. This desire to inquire from the spiritual master is an essential factor to the progressive path. This process is technically known as sad-dharma-pṛcchā.
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