Srila Prabhupada on Srimad Bhagavatam, Part 4


Jan 16, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of Srila Prabhupada's preaching on Srimad Bhagavatam.

Today we continue our series on Srila Prabhupada's preaching of Srimad Bhagavatam, focusing first on his original Delhi Bhagwatams. Before coming to preach in the West, Srila Prabhupada chose to translate, purport and publish the first canto of Srimad Bhagwatam, in three volumes. While we can only speculate as to why he chose these volumes first and foremost, Srila Prabhupada's translations and purports on Srimad Bhagavatam will go down in history as one of his primary writing efforts.

Later cantos of Srimad Bhagavatam were translated, purported and published after Srila Prabhupada arrived in America, where he was surrounded by many enthusiastic devotees in his growing ISKCON movement. Without question, the mood and "voice" presented in those later editions is markedly different than as it is embodied in the original three volumes of Srimad Bhagwatam. When reading the original Bhagwatams, perhaps more than any of Srila Prabhupada's other writings, either before or after his coming west, one can feel the Vrindaban mood expressed in the purports.

The original volumes may contain some typos and English imperfections, but we know that there is absolutely no less spiritual potency. In his Preface to the original Bhagwatams, Srila Prabhupada used bold text to emphasize this phrase:

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

In fact, we find reading the original Bhagwatams extremely inspiring, and even prefer them to the later, polished editions edited by the devotees under Srila Prabhupada's supervision. In the original three volumes, Srila Prabhupada's voice is so distinctly personal, one can hear him speaking as if he were standing before us today. Of course, the same can be said of all his books and writings, but in the case of the Bhagwatams, the 'Vrindavana mood' is so uniquely present in Srila Prabhupada's use of English.

Srila Prabhupada gives his personal declaration to the world about the potency and importance of his Srimad Bhagwatams, in a Motto which precedes the Introduction.


"It is admitted even in the higher circle that in fact, the whole root and background of Indian culture is wrapped in the Sanskrit language. And we know that the foreign invaders of India could break down some of the monumental architectural work in India but they were unable to break up the perfect ideals of human civilization so far kept hidden within the Sanskrit language of Vedic wisdom.

Srimad Bhagwatam is the mature ripen fruit of the tree of Vedic literature (pp. 66.). We have just begun to give it rendered into English with broader outlook and it is the duty of the leading Indians to spread up the culture all over the world at this momentous hour of need."

As we mentioned in a previous segment, we were fortunate to have a set of the original Bhagwatams come to us a number of years ago, and they now reside on our altar beneath Srila Prabhupada, his worshipable vani presence. Because these Bhagwatams were printed in India using rather inferior materials and bookbinding techniques (i.e., low quality boards, glue and cloth covers), many of the originals are in fairly rough shape today, with broken spines, torn pages, etc. Some sets, however, including the one we acquired, are in nearly perfect condition.

A number of years ago Nityananda das published a limited quantity of reprints of the original editions, and today the set can be purchased at

Before we recommence exploring the Introduction to the Bhagwatams, comprised primarily of a section entitled 'A short sketch of the life and teachings of Lord Caitanya', we would like to remind our Sun readers, or advise new readers of the MP3 audio series of the Preface and Introduction of the Bhagwatams, read by Jahnava dd:

Introduction - Part 1
Introduction - Part 2
Introduction - Part 3
Introduction - Part 4
Introduction - Part 5
Introduction - Part 6
Introduction - Part 7
Introduction - Part 8
Introduction - Part 9
Introduction - Part 10


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