Srila Prabhupada on Srimad Bhagavatam, Part 5

BY: SUN STAFF


Jan 17, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of Srila Prabhupada's preaching on Srimad Bhagavatam.

Today we will begin a presentation of the remaining portion of Srila Prabhupada's Introduction to Srimad Bhagwatam, Volume I, First Part, which is comprised of 'A short life sketch and teachings of Lord Chaitanya, the Preacher of Srimad Bhagwatam.' The Introduction began with a few pages of brief commentary on the importance of Srimad Bhagavatam.

Following is the opening text from the original Bhagwatam Intro, 'A short life sketch'. We will present the Introduction text in its entirety over the next few segments. At the end of each, we will offer a few comments and will compare some of the notable differences between this version and the original BBT version of Srimad Bhagavatam.


A short life sketch and teachings of Lord Chaitanya,
the Preacher of Srimad Bhagwatam

From Srimad Bhagwatam, Vol. I, First Part

LORD SRI CHAITANYA MAHAPRABHU, the Great Apostle of love of God and the Father of introducing congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord, advented Himself at Sridham Mayapur a quarter in the then city of Nabadwipa in Bengal on the Phalgooni Purnima evening in the year 1407 Shakabda (corresponding to Christian era 1486 February.)

His father Sri Jagannath Misra, a learned Brahmin, hailing from the district of Shylet came to Nabadwipa as a student because at that time Nabadwipa was considered to be the centre of education and culture and he domiciled on the bank of the Ganges after marrying Srimati Sachi devi a daughter of Srila Nilambar Chakrabarty, the great learned scholar of the then Nabadwipa. Jagannath Misra had a number of daughters by his wife Srimati Sachidevi and most of them expired at an early age. Two surviving sons Sri Viswarupa and Vishwambhar became at last the object of their filial affection and the last named son or the youngest son and the tenth one was Viswambhar who later on was known as Nimai Pandit and then Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu after accepting the renounced order of life.

Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited His transcendental activities for full forty eight years and then He disappeared from this mortal world in the year 1455 Shakabda at Puri.

For twenty four years only, he remained at Nabadwipa as student and householder. His first wife was Srimati Lakshmi Priya who died at an early age when the Lord was absent from home. On His return from East Bengal, He was requested by His mother to accept a second wife and the Lord agreed. His second wife was Srimati Vishnupriya Devi who bore the separation of the Lord, throughout the life, because the Lord took the order of Sanyas at the age of twenty four when Srimati Vishnupriya was hardly sixteen years only After taking Sanyas, the Lord made His headquarters at Jagannath Puri on the request of His mother Srimati Sachidevi. Thus the Lord remained for twenty four years at Puri out of which continuously for six years He traveled all over India and specially the Southern India in the mode of His preaching work of the cult of Srimad Bhagwatam.

The cult of His preaching Srimad Bhagwatam was to propagate the teachings of the Bhagwat Geeta as well in the practical way. In the Bhagwat Geeta Lord Sri Krishna is depicted as the Absolute Personality of Godhead and the last teachings of the great book of transcendental knowledge, is that one should give up all other modes of religious activities and should accept Him (Lord Sri Krishna) as the ONLY WORSHIPABLE Lord. And for this, the Lord assured all concerned that such devotees of the Lord would be protected from all sorts of sinful acts and there was no cause of anxiety. Unfortunately inspite of Lord Sri Krishna's direct order and teachings in the Bhagwat Geeta, less intelligent people misunderstood Him as a historical great personality and thus could not accept Him (Lord Sri Krishna) as the Original Personality of Godhead and such men with poor fund of knowledge were misled by many non-devotes. Thus the teachings of the Bhagwat Geeta was misinterpreted even by great scholars. Thus after the disappearance of Lord Sri Krishna there were hundreds of commentaries on the Bhagwat Geeta by many erudite scholars and almost every one tried to comment on the Bhagwat Geeta differently according to the self-interested motive.

Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the self Same Lord Sri Krislma and this time He appeared as a great Devotee of Lord Sri Krishna inorder to preach to the people in general, religionists and philosophers about the transcendental position of Sri Krishna the Primeval Lord and the cause of all causes. The sumtotal of His Preaching work was that Lord Sri Krishna who appeared at Brajabhumi (Vrindaban) as the son of the king of Braja (Nanda Maharaj),—is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and therefore He is worshipable by all. Vrindaban-dham is non-different from the Lord because the Name, Fame, Form, or the place where the Lord manifests Himself, all are identical with the Lord as Absolute knowledge. Therefore, Vrindaban-dham is also as much worshipable as the Lord. The highest form of transcendental worship of the Lord was exhibited by the damsels of Brajabhumi in the form of pure affection for the Lord and Lord Sri Chaitanya recommends the process as super excellent mode of worship. He accepts the Srimad Bhagawatam Puranam as the spotless Literature for understanding the Lord and He preached that the ultimate goal of life, for all human being, is to attain the stage of Prema or Love of God as the topmost perfection of life. Many devotees of the Lord (Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) like Srila Vrindaban das Thakur, Sri Lochandas Thakur, Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami, Sri Kavi Karnapur, Sri Probodhananda Saraswati, Sri Rupa Goswami. Sri Sanatan Goswami, Sri Raghunath Bhatta Goswami, Sri Jiva Goswami, Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami, Sri Raghunath Das Goswami and in the later age within two hundred years Sri Vishwanath Chakrabarty, Sri Valadeva Vidyabhusan, Sri Syamanada Goswami, Sri Narottamdas Thakur, Sri Bhaktivinode Thakur and at last Sri Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur (our spiritual Master) and many other great and renowned scholars and devotees of the Lord have prepared voluminous books and literatures on the life and precepts of the Lord. Such literatures are all based on the Shastras like the Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads, Ramayana, Mahabharata and other history and authentic literatures approved by the recognised Acharyas. They are unique in compositions and unrivalled in presentation with full of transcendental knowledge Unfortunately they are still under the cover of ignorance of the people and when such literatures (mostly in Sanskrit and Bengali) will see the light of the world and will be presented before the thinking people of the world it is then only India's glory and the message of Love will overflood the morbid world vainly searching after peace and prosperity under the cover of various illusory methods which are not in the line of approved Acharya-chain of desciplic succession.

The readers of this small description on the life and precepts of Lord Chaitanya will do well and profit much if they go through the books of Srila Vrindaban das Thakur (Sri Chaitanya Bhagwat) and Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami (Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita). The early life of the Lord is most fascinatingly expressed by the author of 'Chaitanya Bhagwat' and so far the teachings are concerned, they are more vividly explained in the Chaitanya Charitamrita. We have tried to combine these two books in one under the name of CHAITANYA CHARITAMRITA ESSAYS AND TEXT (3000 Pages) for the English readers.

The Lord's early life was recorded by one of His chief devotees and contemporaries namely Srila Murari Gupta, a medical practitioner of that time and the later part of the life of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was recorded by His private Secretary Sri Damodar Goswami or Srila Swarup Damodar who was practically constant companion of the Lord at Puri. These two devotees, recorded practically all the incidences of the Lord's activities and later on all the books regarding the Lord as abovementioned were composed on the basis of Karchas of Srila Damodar Goswami and Murari Gupta.

[End of this section of Srimad Bhagwatam]


Comments on the above excerpt:

Naturally there are many variations between the original Bhagwatam text of 'A short life sketch' and the later BBT Bhagavatam version – too many to mention here. But we would like to point out a few notable differences, and some of the variations in editorial standards that are consistent throughout these editions.

First, there is a general revision in the spelling of words, for example Braj becomes Vraj, Nabadwipa becomes Navadvipa, Chakrabarty becomes Chakravarty. Should one wonder which of two spelling versions is more archaic on many name/place words found in various writings, Srila Prabhupada's Bhagwatams will often provide the answer.

An interesting change of word is found near the end of the text above, where Srila Prabhupada had originally used the term "Karchas" when referring to Srila Swarup Damodar and Murari Gupta's writings, but he later replaced it with the word "kadacas (notebooks)".

One category of change in editorial standards that we find most instructive is in the instances where Srila Prabhupada used bold text, all capital letters or initial caps to emphasize words or phrases, and these have been changed to plain text with no emphasis in the BBT edition. To our knowledge, Srila Prabhupada did not use a typewriter when composing his Bhagwatam manuscript. It was no doubt hand-written, painstakingly, which means that Srila Prabhupada would have had to make a special point with the Delhi publisher that certain words and phrases were to be bolded.

For example, in the original text above Srila Prabhupada writes:

    "…one should give up all other modes of religious activities and should accept Him (Lord Sri Krishna) as the ONLY WORSHIPABLE Lord."

Whereas the BBT edition of the Bhagavatam states:

    "…one should give up all the modes of religious activities and accept Him (Lord Sri Krsna) as the only worshipable Lord."

There is an obvious tendency found in the BBT edition to eliminate capitalization of descriptive terms in relationship to Krsna. For example, Srila Prabhupada originally wrote "Name, Fame, Form", while the new edition uses "name, fame, form".

There are a few instances where more contemporary terminology has replaced the more archaic, e.g., Viswarupa and Vishwambhar being the object of their parents "filial" affection is changed to "paternal affection"; same meaning, different term.

One of the more interesting variations is this one, first from the Bhagwatam:

    "…He traveled all over India and specially the Southern India in the mode of His preaching work of the cult of Srimad Bhagwatam.

    The cult of His preaching Srimad Bhagwatam was to propagate the teachings of the Bhagwat Geeta as well in the practical way."

As compared to the BBT Bhagavatam:

    "He traveled continuously all over India (and especially throughout southern India) preaching the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

    Lord Caitanya not only preached the Srimad-Bhagavatam but propagated the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita as well in the most practical way."

Two instances of the word "cult" are eliminated, quite likely because the word had some negative connotations in the West. It's interesting to note, however, that devotees in the West today quite liberally use phrases like 'the Cult of Mahaprabhu' to describe the Krsna Consciousness movement. In other words, there may be trends in common language usage, but eventually an archaic term is quite likely to resurface and become commonplace once again.

In the context of our ongoing discussion about the designation 'Sampradaya Acarya', we note the language Srila Prabhupada used in his Bhagwatam for a phrase referring to:

    "various illusory methods which are not in the line of approved Acharya-chain of desciplic succession."

Changed to:

    "various illusory methods not approved by the acaryas in the chain of disciplic succession."

We don't wish to speculate as to the reasons why any of these changes were made, but it seems there is an obvious dynamic we should take into account. Without a doubt, Srila Prabhupada approved the BBT's edited versions of his original Srimad Bhagavatams, thus they must be accepted as fully authorized. We also understand that he took advantage of the fact that his western disciples were more familiar with the English language than he, and he undoubtedly took their advice on many technical issues of semantics, grammar, punctuation, etc. It seems quite likely, therefore, that in the case of typographical revisions like the elimination of initial capitals from "name, fame, form", what was taken as good advice on the technicalities of English inadvertently resulted in obscuring certain gems of Truth that Srila Prabhupada had naturally imbued his writings with in the original Bhagwatam manuscript.

Coming back to the essential message of this Bhagavat Purana, Srila Prabhupada has established for the reader the fact that Lord Chaitanya approves this Srimad Bhagavatam. He wrote:

    "He accepts the Srimad Bhagawatam Puranam as the spotless Literature for understanding the Lord"

Srila Prabhupada also provides us with an interesting historical glimpse of his unfolding body of literature, writing in this Bhagwatam sketch:

    "The early life of the Lord is most fascinatingly expressed by the author of 'Chaitanya Bhagwat' and so far the teachings are concerned, they are more vividly explained in the Chaitanya Charitamrita. We have tried to combine these two books in one under the name of CHAITANYA CHARITAMRITA ESSAYS AND TEXT (3000 Pages) for the English readers."

This was changed in the BBT Srimad Bhagavatam to:

    "The early life of the Lord is most fascinatingly expressed by the author of Caitanya-bhagavata, and as far as the teachings are concerned, they are more vividly explained in the Caitanya-caritamrta. Now they are available to the English-speaking public in our Teachings of Lord Caitanya."

In the next segment, we will continue our exploration of 'A short life sketch and teachings of Lord Chaitanya, the Preacher of Srimad Bhagwatam'.


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