Srila Prabhupada on Srimad Bhagavatam, Part 3


Jan 09, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of Srila Prabhupada's preaching on Srimad Bhagavatam.

In the last few paragraphs of the Introduction to Srimad Bhagavatam, just before the summary of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu's life and teachings, Srila Prabhupada states that in the modern age Lord Caitanya preached the Bhagavatam by practical demonstration. The amount of time that elapsed between the speaking of Srimad Bhagavatam and the Appearance of Lord Caitanya is over four thousand years, so Srila Prabhupada states that Lord Caitanya is modern in comparison. In the same way, Srila Prabhupada is the most modern Person Bhagavat. He is the perfect representative of Sri Caitanya and he is the transcendental representative of Srimad Bhagavatam, in person and in sound. His purports will go down through the ages as being inseparable from Srimad Bhagavatam itself.

Srila Prabhupada writes in the Introduction:

    "It was His [Mahaprabhu's] wish that the Srimad-Bhagavatam be preached in every nook and corner of the world by those who happened to take their birth in India."

Srila Prabhupada not only fulfilled the desire of Lord Caitanya that the Bhagavatam would be preached in every nook and corner of the world, but he also happened to take birth in India. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu as the Person Bhagavat and His declaration that the Bhagavatam should be preached in every corner by those of Indian birth are obviously manifest in Srila Prabhupada himself. Of course, in all humility Srila Prabhupada doesn't personally declare this in his Introduction, or elsewhere.

The Introduction to Srimad Bhagavatam was written by Srila Prabhupada prior to his journey to America and his ISKCON lila period. It will be obvious to the sincere reader that this was all pre-determined. Srila Prabhupada himself had not only a clear a vision, but we believe a clear understanding that he was the personality who would fulfill the statements made by Lord Caitanya. As he once said to a follower: "I am that Vaikuntha man."

It is interesting to consider Srila Prabhupada's inclusion of the lengthy article, 'A short sketch of the life and teachings of Lord Caitanya, The Preacher of Srimad-Bhagavatam' in his Introduction to Srimad Bhagavatam. While the opening introductory comments take only a few pages, the narrative about Sri Caitanya's life are quite extensive. Srila Prabhupada explains:

    "It is easier to penetrate into the topics of the Srimad-Bhagavatam through the medium of Sri Caitanya's causeless mercy."

Likewise, we find mention of the Srimad Bhagavatam in the introduction to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi Lila 1 Summary, where Caitanya-caritamrta is compared to other Vedic scriptures including the Bhagavatam:

    "Since we belong to this chain of disciplic succession from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, this edition of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta will contain nothing newly manufactured by our tiny brains, but only remnants of food originally eaten by the Lord Himself. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu does not belong to the mundane plane of the three qualitative modes. He belongs to the transcendental plane beyond the reach of the imperfect sense perception of a living being. Even the most erudite mundane scholar cannot approach the transcendental plane unless he submits himself to transcendental sound with a receptive mood, for in that mood only can one realize the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. What will be described herein, therefore, has nothing to do with the experimental thoughts created by the speculative habits of inert minds. The subject matter of this book is not a mental concoction but a factual spiritual experience that one can realize only by accepting the line of disciplic succession described above. Any deviation from that line will bewilder the reader's understanding of the mystery of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, which is a transcendental literature meant for the postgraduate study of one who has realized all the Vedic scriptures such as the Upanisads and Vedanta-sutra and their natural commentaries such as Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad-gita."

In his Introduction to Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Srimad Bhagavatam is mentioned several times, helping to place it in a comparative context to Caitanya-caritamrta:

    "Lord Caitanya also recommended that the highest mode of worship in the highest perfectional stage is the method practiced by the damsels of Vraja. These damsels (gopis, or cowherd girls) simply loved Krsna without a motive for material or spiritual gain. Caitanya also recommended Srimad-Bhagavatam as the spotless narration of transcendental knowledge, and He pointed out that the highest goal in human life is to develop unalloyed love for Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. [ ]

    Through Lord Caitanya we can become friends with Krsna, and there is no limit to this friendship. We can become friends of Krsna not in awe or adoration but in complete freedom. We can even relate to God as His father. This is not only the philosophy of Caitanya-caritamrta but of Srimad-Bhagavatam as well. There are no other literatures in the world in which God is treated as the son of a devotee. [ ]

    In Srimad-Bhagavatam there is a great deal of information given about the Vaikuntha planetary systems which are beyond the material universe. Similarly, a great deal of inconceivable information is given in Caitanya-caritamrta. Any attempt to arrive at this information through experimental knowledge is not possible. The knowledge simply has to be accepted."

It is a fascinating and a wholly enjoyable experience to compare the text of Srila Prabhupada's original Bhagwatams to the first BBT editions of Srimad Bhagavatam 1st Canto. The essence of Srila Prabhupada's voice while he still lived in India, before coming to the West, is very present when we read the three volume Bhagwatams.

Given that we are constantly having to compare Srila Prabhupada's original books to the BBT's unauthorized edited versions, feeling very frustrated and dissatisfied with the edited product, it is a real pleasure to be able to compare the Bhagwatams to the original Bhagavatams, taking note of the changes between the editions, which Srila Prabhupada did orchestrate and authorize.

Below we will point out a few differences between the two texts that we find particularly interesting, from the pages prior to the sketch of Lord Caitanya. In two places in the Bhagwatam, Srila Prabhupada has used capitalized and bolded text for 'Summum Bonum'.

In paragraph one of the Introduction of Srimad Bhagavatam it states:

    "There is no difference of opinion about the personal feature of God as the controller because a controller cannot be impersonal."

Whereas in the original Bagwatam it states:

    "There is no two opinions about the personal feature of God because He is controller. A controller cannot be an impersonal feature."

In paragraph three of the Bhagavatam Introduction it states:

    "The author of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Vyasadeva, first offers his respectful obeisances unto the param satyam…"

Whereas in the original Bagwatam it states:

    "Srimad Bhagwatam i.e., the Author of the book at first, offers his respectful obeisances unto the Param Satyam…"

In paragraph four of the Bhagavatam Introduction it states:

    "Consequently the perfect personality is addressed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam as Vasudeva, or one who lives everywhere in full consciousness and in full possession of His complete energy."

Whereas in the Bagwatam it states:

    "…Vasudeva or One who lives everywhere in full consciousness and in full capacity of His complete energy."

In paragraph six of the Bhagavatam Introduction it states:

    "It was His wish that the Srimad-Bhagavatam be preached in every nook and corner of the world by those who happened to take their birth in India."

Whereas in the Bagwatam it states:

    "He wanted it and ordered His followers that the cult of the Srimad Bhagwatam shall be preached in every nook and corner of the world by every one who happens to take his birth in India."

When the series resumes next week, we will begin to explore the summary sketch of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's life and teachings, which comprise the remainder of the Introduction to Srimad Bhagavatam.


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