Srila Prabhupada on Srimad Bhagavatam


Srila Prabhupada's original editions of Srimad Bhagwatam

Jan 07, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of Srila Prabhupada's preaching on Srimad Bhagavatam.

Today we begin this new series at the beginning, with the Preface of Srila Prabhupada's original 1962 publication of Srimad Bhagwatam, 1st Canto, Volume I. This edition was printed in Delhi for The League of Devotees (Regd.), Vrindaban:Delhi. The book's dedication follows:

Srila Prabhupada
Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati
Goswami Maharaj

On the 26th annual ceremony of His
Disappearance Day

He lives for ever by His Divine instructions
The follower lives with Him.

This heartfelt dedication is reminiscent of the familiar statement by Srila Prabhupada, "I will live forever from my books and you will utilize." (Interview, Berkeley, July 17, 1975)

When reading the Preface of Srila Prabhupada's original Srimad Bhagwatam, we get the first taste of Srila Prabhupada's voice before it was edited with the assistance of western devotees, and before Srila Prabhupada himself had spent any time in America. Naturally, there is a unique flavor in the words, spellings, grammatical style and typography of the original editions, which we find altogether delightful.

In his original Bhagwatam Preface, Srila Prabhupada included a number of words set in bold text, for emphasis. Interestingly, one of the bold text phrases is this:

    "Such transcendental literatures even though irregularly composed, is heard, sung and accepted by the purified men who are thoroughly honest."

However one describes the nuances of Srila Prabhupada's original writings in this Bhagwatam, clearly the message is cent percent pure, potent and transcendental, as he makes clear in this bolded text.

We find a number of interesting differences between the text of this original Bhagwatam Preface and the version produced later, in the first BBT publication. The most obvious, of course, is the title spelling: 'Srimad Bhagwatam', rather than 'Srimad Bhagavatam'.

There is some additional bold text in the original version, and there are three paragraphs in the original that do not appear in the later version. One refers to the recommended page count for breaking the very extensive Bhagwatam down into manageable editions, and the others refer to circumstances surrounding the original printing of the Bhagwatams.

In order to minimize wear and tear on our original editions of Srimad Bhagwatam as we type this text, we will not scan the pages in order to give the original Sanskrit slokas, providing only the transliterations. We will provide these scans by special request, however, if needed for research.

Tomorrow we will begin with Srila Prabhupada's extensive 48-page Introduction to his Srimad Bhagwatam, which is also very satisfying and illuminating to study in its original iteration.

(Srimad Bhagwatam, Delhi, 1962)

We must know the present need of the human society. And what is that need? The human society is no longer bounded by geographical limits of a particular countries or communities. The human society is broader than that in the middle age, and the world tendency is to belong to one state or one human society. The ideals of spiritual communism according to Srimad Bhagwatam, are based more or less on oneness of the entire human society nay the entire energy of the living being. The need is felt by great thinkers how to make it successful ideology. Srimad Bhagwatam will fill up the gap of human society and it begins, therefore, with the aphorism of Vedanta Philosophy as Janmadyasya yatah to adjust the ideal of common cause.

Human society, at the present moment, is not in the darkness of oblivion. It has made rapid progress in the field of material comforts of life, education and economic development of the entire world. But it suffers a pin-prick somewhere in the social body at large, and therefore there is large-scale quarrel even on less important issue. Therefore there is the want of the clue as to how they can become one in peace, friendship and prosperity by the common cause. Srimad Bhagwatam will fill up this gap by ontological aspect of human education. It is therefore a cultural presentation for re-spiritualisation of the entire human society.

Srimad Bhagwatam should be introduced also in the schools and colleges as it is recommended by the great student devotee Prahlada Maharaj in order to change the demoniac face of society.

[Sanskrit sloka]

Kaumara acaaret prajna dharman bhagwataniha
Durlabham manusam janma tad api adhrubam arthadam

Disparity of human society is due to the basic principle of a Godless civilization. There is God or the Almighty One from whom everything emanates, by Whom everything is maintained and in Whom everything is merged to rest. The material science has tried to find out the ultimate source of creation very insufficiently but it is a fact that there is one Ultimate Source of everything that be. This ultimate source is explained rationally and authoritatively in the beautiful Bhagwatam or Srimad Bhagwatam.

Srimad Bhagwatam is transcendental science not only to know the ultimate source of every thing but also to know our relation with Him and our duty towards perfection of the human society on the basis of this perfect knowledge.

It is powerful reading matter in Sanskrit language and is now rendered into English version elaborately so that simply by its careful reading one will know God perfectly well, so much so that the reader will sufficiently be educated to defend himself from the onslaught of the atheist. Over and above the reader will be able to convert others in accepting God as concrete principle as anything.

It begins with the definition of the Ultimate Source as the bonafide commentary of the Vedanta Sutra by the same author Srila Vyasadeva and gradually it develops into nine cantos upto the highest stage of God realisation. The only qualification required to study this great book of transcendental knowledge, is to proceed step by step cautiously and not to jump on half-hazardously like reading an ordinary book.

The book should be gone through chapter to chapter one after another and the reading matter is so arranged by its original Sanskrit text, its English transliteration, synonyms, translation and purportful explanation that one is sure to become a God-realised soul at the end of finishing the first nine cantoes.

The Tenth Canto is distinct from the first nine cantoes because it deals directly with the transcendental activities of the Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna. One will be unable to capture the effects of the 10th Canto without having gone through the first nine cantoes. The book is complete in twelve cantos each independent but it is good for all to get them by small instalments one after another.

It is a large voluminous literature and let us have it by parts of not more than 350 to 400 pages at a time. So that the reader may conveniently go through it without being taxed heavily both physically and mentally.

I must admit my frailties in presenting the First Part but still I am hopeful of its good reception by the thinkers and leaders of the Society, on the strength of the following statement of Srimad Bhagwatam:

[Sanskrit sloka]

Tad baga visarga janata agha viplavbo
Yasmin pratislokam abaddha vatyapi
Namani anantasya jasho ankitani yat
Srinnwanti gayanti grinanti sadhabah

"On the other hand the literature which is full with description of transcendental glories of the Name, Fame, Form, Pastime of the Unlimited Supreme Lord,- is a different creation of transcendental vocabulary all meant for bringing about a revolution in the impious life of a misdirected civilization of the world. Such transcendental literatures even though irregularly composed, is heard, sung and accepted by the purified men who are thoroughly honest." (pp. 259)

I am obliged to Sri Hanuman Prasad Poddar of the Gita Press and "Kalyan" fame, who has gone through my work and appreciating the endeavour, has helped through the Dalmia Jain Trust to meet part expenditure of this publication.

My thanks are due also to other friends who have helped me in undertaking this great task. Om Tat Sat.

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.

Dated at Delhi
December 15, 1962.


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