Srila Prabhupada on Srimad Bhagavatam, Part 12


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

Today we begin with Text 1 of the First Chapter of the First Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. Throughout this First Canto, we will continue to offer a comparative view of the text as it appears in Srila Prabhupada's original Bhagwatams and in his first BBT edition. But beginning with this first sloka, we will now add a few layers to our study.

Throughout the various cantos, we hope to put an emphasis on Srila Prabhupada's teachings on Srimad Bhagavatam by exploring not only his purports to each verse, but also his lectures on the verses, where he made reference to the verses in his other books, where he mentioned them in conversations or letters, etc. In this way, we hope to get a more comprehensive understanding of each jewel-like sloka of Srimad Bhagavatam.

In comparing the text of SB 1.1.1 found in the original Bhagwatams to the text found in the later BBT 1st edition, a number of interesting elements are discovered. First, we should point out that there are also differences between the PDF versions of the original Bhagwatam, available on the Net, and the actual text in the hardcopy editions of Bhagwatam. For example:

There are a number of differences in headings between the PDF and hardcopy versions. In the PDF, the text in the TRANSLATION section is bolded, but it is not bolded in the original. In the PDF version, the heading 'PURPORT' is missing, so the translation text merges into the purport, which is rather confusing. As we found in the Introduction, the PDF has omitted the bolding and italics that appear in the hardcopy originals. Also, the proper paragraph structure is not maintained in the PDF. Some typos in the PDF appear to be caused by a bad scan of the hardcopy (e.g., an 'e' being reproduced as a 'c'). In other cases, however, we find words misspelled in the PDF copy that were correctly spelled in the original hardcopy, e.g., Hiranyakasipu/Hiranyakasiup.

Our general conclusion is that the PDF versions that have been circulated online for a number of years now are not accurate enough to be considered a duplicate of the original hardcopy Bhagwatams. They are nice to have access to, of course, but they can't be relied upon as a true copy.

What follows is the complete text of SB 1.1.1 from Srila Prabhupada's original Srimad Bhagwatam. The current BBT version of this verse can be found here, at The current online version appears to be unchanged from the 1978 BBT version, in Sanskrit transliteration and translation.

Immediately following is a side-by-side comparison of the sloka alone, Bhagwatam on left, Bhagavatam (without diacritics) on right:

Om Namo Bhagawate Vasudevaya
Janmadi asya yato annayad itaratas cha arthesu avijnah swarat

Tene brahma hrida ya adikavaye muhyanti yat surayah
Tejo vari mridam yatha vinimayo yatra trisargo' mirsha
Dhamna swena sada nirasta kuhukam satyam param dheemahi.

om namo bhagavate vasudevaya
janmady asya yato 'nvayad itaratas carthesv abhijnah svarat
tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye muhyanti yat surayah
tejo-vari-mrdam yatha vinimayo yatra tri-sargo 'mrsa
dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi

Following is the complete verse for SB 1.1.1 from the original Srimad Bhagwatam:

    Original Sanskrit Texts of the First Chapter*

    [page scans of] (original Sanskrit of 33 slokas inserted here)

    TEXT NO. 1

    Om Namo Bhagawate Vasudevaya
    Janmadi asya yato annayad itaratas cha arthesu avijnah swarat

    Tene brahma hrida ya adikavaye muhyanti yat surayah
    Tejo vari mridam yatha vinimayo yatra trisargo' mirsha
    Dhamna swena sada nirasta kuhukam satyam param dheemahi.


    Om—Oh my Lord, namo—offering my obeisances, Bhagawate—unto the Personality of Godhead, Vasudevaya, unto Vasudeva-the son of Vasudeva or Lord Sri Krishna the Primeval Lord. Janmadi—creation, sustenance and destruction, asya—of this manifested universes, yato—from whom, annayad—directly, itaratas—indirectly, cha—and, arthesu—purposes, avijnah—fully cognisant, swarat—fully independent, tene—imparted, brahma—the vedic knowledge, hrida—by the hearty consciousness, Ya—one who, adikavaye—unto the original created being, Yat—about whom, suraya—great sages and demigods, tejo—fire, vari—water, mridam—earth, yatha—as much as, Vinimaya—action and reaction, Yatra—whereupon, trisarga—three modes of creative faculties, amrisha—almost factual, dhamna—along with all transcendental parapharnalia, swena—self sufficiently, Sada—always, nirasta—negation by absence, kuhakam— illusion, satyam—Truth, param—absolute, dheemahi—do I meditate upon.


    Oh my Lord Sri Krishna the son of Vasudeva the all pervading Personality of Godhead, I do offer my respectful obeisances unto you. I do meditate upon Him because He is the Absolute truth and is the Primeval cause of all causes of this manifested universes in the matter of creation sustenance and destruction. Directly and indirectly He is conscious of all different manifestations but still He is independent of any other cause beyond Himself. It is He only who imparted first the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of the original living being namely Brahmaji and unto Whom even the great sages and demigods become illusioned as much as there is illusory representation of water in the fire or land on the water and so on. It is on account of Him only the temporary manifestation of the material universes made by the reaction of the three modes of nature appears to be factual although it is unreal. I do therefore meditate upon Him Who is eternally existent in the trancendental abode which is for ever free from the illusory representation of the material world and He is therefore the Absolute Truth.


    Obeisances unto the Personality of Godhed Vasudeva directly indicates Lord Sri Krishna Who is the Divine son of Vasudeva and Devaki. The fact will be more explicitly explained later in the text of the Srimad Bhagwatam by the direct statement of the author in his assertion that Sri Krishna is the Original Personality of Godhead and all others are either His direct or indirect plenary portions or portion of the portion. Srila Jiva Goswami has still more explicitly explained the subject matter in his Krishna Sandarva and Brahmaji the original living being has explained the subject of Sri Krishna substantially in his treatise called by the name BRAHMA SAMHITA. In the Samveda Upanishad it is said also that Lord Sri Krishna is the Divine son of Devaki.

    Therefore, in this prayer of the author, the first proposition is that Lord Sri Krishna is the Primeval Lord and if any transcendental nomenclature has to be understood of the Absolute Personality of Godhead it must be the Name as indicated by the word Krishna the all attractive. In the Bhagwat Geeta in many places the Lord has affirmed Himself as the original Personality of Godhead and it is confirmed by Arjuna with authorised statements of great sages like Narada Vyasa and many others. In the Padma-puranam also (Pravaskhanda) it is said that out of the innumerable names of the Lord, the name of Krishna is the principal name. Therefore, although Vasudeva indicates the plenary portion of the Personality of Godhead and all the different forms of the Lord being indentical with Vasudeva, indicated in this text, is principally meant to indicate the Divine son of Vasudeva and Devaki Sri Krishna who is always meditated upon by the Paramhansas or the most perfect of the renounced order of life.

    This Vasudeva or Lord Sri Krishna is the cause of all causes. Every thing that be are all emanations from the Lord and how it so happens will be explained in the later chapters of Srimad Bhagwatam. This Bhagwat Puranam is described, by the Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanya, as the spotless Puranam because it contains the transcendental narration of the Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna. The history of Srimad Bhagwat is also very glorious. It was compiled by Sri Vyasdeva on his mature experience of transcendental knowledge under the instruction of Sri Naradaji the spiritual master of Vyasdeva. Vyasdeva compiled all the Vedic literatures namely the four divisions of the Vedas, the Vedanta Sutras or the Brahma Sutras, the Puranas, the Mahabharat etc. but yet he was not delighted in his mind. This was observed by his spiritual master and thus Narada advised him to write on the transcendental activities of the Lord Sri Krishna. The transcendental activities of Lord Sri Krishna is described specifically in the 10th Canto of the Book, which is considered to be the Substance of this attempt but in order to reach to the substance one has to approach gradually by developed knowledge of the categories.

    Generally a philosophical mind is inquisitive to know what is the origin of all creations. He sees at night on the sky and naturally thinks what are the stars how they are situated who lives there and so on. All these enquiries are quite natural for a human being because he has the developed consciousness than the animals and to answer at once to such sincere enquirer the author of the Srimad Bhagvatam says that the Lord is the Origin of all creations. He is not only the creator but also He is the maintainer of the cosmic situation and He is also destroyer of them. The manifested cosmic nature is created at a certain period on the will of the Lord, it is maintained for some time and then it is annihilated by His will and as such He is the Supreme Will behind all these activities.

    There are Atheists of various categories who do not believe in the conception of a creator but that is due to poor fund of knowledge only. The modern scientist has created a Sputnik and by some arrangement or other the sputnik is thrown in the outer space to fly on for some time at the control of a scientist who is far away from the flying sputniks. Similarly all the universes, with innumerable planets within them, are similar to the sputniks controlled by the best Brain of the Personality of Godhead. In the Vedic literatures it is said that the Absolute Truth Personality of Godhead is the chief amongst the living personalities. All living beings beginning from the first created Being Brahmaji, down to the smallest ant, all of them are individual living beings. And above Brahmaji, there are many other living beings with individual capacities and the Personality of Godhead is also a similar living being as individual as the other living beings; but the Supreme Lord or the Supreme living Being has the highest brain with the supermost and inconceivable energies of different varieties. If a man's brain can produce a sputnik we can very easily imagine that brains higher than the man can produce similar other wonderful things far superior than the man made sputniks. A reasonable person will easily accept this argument but there are stubborn obstinates who may not believe in this reasonable statements. But Srila Vyasdeva at once accepts the Supreme Brain as the Parameswara. He proposes to offer his respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Brain addressed as the Para or the Parameswara or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And that Parameshwara is Sri Krishna is admited in the Bhagwat Geeta and all other scriptures delivered by Srila Vyasdeva and specifically in the Srimad Bhagwat. In the Bhagwat Geeta the Lord says that there is no other Paratatwa (Summum bonum) than Him. Therefore, the author at once worships the Paratatwa Sri Krishna whose transcendental activities are described in the 10th Canto. Unscrupulous persons go at once the 10th canto and specially to the five chapters where description of the Lord's Rasa Dance is kindly given. This portion of the Srimad Bhagwatam is the most confidential part of the great literature. Unless one has thoroughly accomplished himself in the transcendental knowledge of the Lord one is sure to misunderstand the Lord's worshipable transcendental pastimes in the form of Rasa Dance and His love affairs with the Gopies. The subject matter is highly spiritual technology and only the liberated persons who have gradually attained to the stage of Paramhansa, as referred to hereinbefore, can transcendentally relish worshipable Rasa Dance.

    Srila Vyasdeva, therefore, gives us the chance of gradual development of spiritual realisation before one can actually relish the essence of the pastimes of the Lord. He "therefore" purposely invokes the Gayatri Mantra "Dheemahi". This Gayatri Mantra is meant for the spiritually advanced people. When one has attained success in the matter of chanting the Gayatri Mantra he can enter into the transcendental position of the Lord. One must therefore acquire the Brahminical qualities or be perfectly situated in the quality of goodness of the modes of material nature inorder to chant the Gayatri Mantra successfully and then attain to the stage of transcendentally realising the Lord, His Name, His Fame, His Qualities etc. Srimad Bhagwatam is the narration of the Swarupa of the Lord manifested by his internal potency and this potency is distinguished from the external potency which has manifested the cosmic world which is practically within our experience. Srila Vyasdeva makes a clear distinction between the two in this Sloka.

    He says herewith that the manifestive situation of internal potency is factual reality whereas the external manifestive energy in the form of material existance, is temporary and illusory only like the mirage in the desert. In the mirage of the desert there is no actual water. By interaction of some other thing there is appearance of the water. Real water is somewhere else. Similarly the manifestive cosmic creation is appearing like some reality, but the real reality, of which this is but an imitation shadow only, is somewhere else in the spiritual world which is conspicuous by the absence of all affairs of the mirage. Absolute Truth is there and not here. Here everything is relative truth or one seemingly truth depending on something else. This cosmic creation is an inter actory resultant of the three modes of nature and the temporary manifestations are so created to present an illusion of reality to the bewildered mind of the conditioned soul appearing as so many species of life including the higher demigods like Brahma, Indra, Chandra etc. In fact there is no reality in the manifestive world but it appears so on account of the Real Reality in the spiritual world where the Personality of Godhead eternaly exists with His transcendental parapharnalia.

    The chief engineer of a complicated construction does not personally take part in the construction but it is he only who knows all the nook and corner of the construction because everything is done by his direction only. He knows everything of the construction both directly and indirectly. Similarly the Personality of Godhead who is the Supreme Engineer of this cosmic creation knows very well in the nook and corner of the cosmic creation although the things are apparently done by someone else. Beginning from Brahma down to the insignificant ant no body is independent in the matter of material creation and every where there is the hand of Supreme Lord. All material elements as well as spiritual sparks are but emanations from Him only. And whatever is created in this material world are but interactions of the two energies, material and spiritual, of the Absolute Truth the Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna (Vasudeva). A living entity called by the name chemist can manufacture water in the chemical laboratory by mixing hydrogen and oxygen gases but in reality the living entity works in the laboratory under the direction of the Supreme Lord and the materials with which the chemist works are also supplied by the Lord. As such the Lord knows everything directly and indirectly and He is cognisant of all minute details of everything and is fully independent. He is compared with the mine of gold and the cosmic creations in different forms are compared with the gold rings and necklace etc. The gold ring and the gold necklace are qualitatively one with the gold in the mine but quantitatively the gold in the mine and the gold in the earring or necklace are different. The whole philosophy of the Absolute Truth is thus simultaneously one and different. Nothing is absolutely equal with the Absolute Truth but at the same time nothing is independent of the Absolute Truth.

    Conditioned souls beginning from the Brahma the engineer of the particular universe down to the insignificant ant all are creating—something but none of them are independent of the Supreme Lord. The materialist wrongly thinks that there is no creator save and except his own goodself and this is called Maya or illusion. On account of his poor fund of knowledge the materialist cannot see beyond the purview of his imperfect senses and thus he thinks that matter automatically takes its own shape without a conscious back ground. This is refuted here in this sloka of the Bhagwat by Srila Vyas-Deva Who is a liberated soul and he compiled this book of authority after his mature spiritual perfection. The complete whole or the Absolute Truth being the source of everything, nothing is independent of the Whole body. Any action and reaction on the body becomes cognisable fact to the embodied. Similarly if the whole thing is the body of the Absolute Whole nothing is unknown to the Absolute directly or indirectly.

    In the Sruti Mantra it is also stated that the Absolute Whole or the Brahman is the ultimate source of everything. Everything emanates from Him and everything is maintained by Him and at the end everything enters into Him only. That is the law of nature. In the Smriti Mantra also the same thing is confirmed. It is said there that at the beginning of Brahma's millennium the source from which everything emanates and ultimately at the end of that millennium the reservoir where everything enters into, is the Absolute Truth or Brahman. Material scientist half-hazardly takes it for granted that the ultimate source of all the planetary system is the Sun. But they are unable to explain as to the source of the Sun. Herein the ultimate source is explained. According to the Vedic literature Brahma is the creator of this Universe and yet he had also to meditate upon to get inspiration of such creation. Therefore Brahma or the sun is not the ultimate creator. It is stated here in this sloka that Brahma was tought the Vedic knowledge by the Personality of Godhead. One may argue that Brahma is the original living being within this universe and who could then give him inspiration as there was no second being at that time. Here in this sloka it is said that the Supreme Lord inspired the secondary creator Brahma and then he could go on with the creative functions. As we have already mentioned above about the supervising engineer the same thing is applicable in this example. The Real Brain behind all creative agent is the Absolute Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna. In the Bhagwat Geeta Lord Sri Krishna has personally admitted that it is He only who superintends over the creative energy Prakriti or the sumtotal of matter. Sri Vyasdeva, therefore, worships neither Brahma nor the Sun but the Supreme Lord who guides both Brahma and the Sun in their different activities of creation.

    In this sloka the particular word namely Avijna and Swarat are significant. These two words distinguish the Lord from all other living entities. No living entity other than the Supreme Being the Absolute Personality of Godhead is either Avijna or Swarat i.e. none of them are either fully cognisant or fully independent. Every one has to learn from the Superior all about knowledge. Even Brahma who is the first living being within this material world has to mediate upon the Supreme Lord and to take help from Him only to create. When Brahma or the Sun cannot create anything without acquiring required knowledge from the Superior then what to speak of the material scientist who are fully dependant on so many things. Jagadish Chandra Bose, Isac Newton, Prof. Einsftin etc. of the modern scientists who may be boastful of their respective creative energy are also dependant on the Supreme Lord for so many things. After all the respective highly intelligent brains of these gentlemen are certainly not the products of any human being. The brain is created by another agent other than the celebrated scientists as above mentioned. If the brains like that of Jagadish Bose or Isac Newton could have been manufactured by any human being then they would have produced many such brains instead of eulogising the brains of the scientist. The Scientists even could not manufacture a similar brain and what to speak of other foolish atheists who defy the authority of the Lord. Even the Mayavadi impersonalists who flatter themselves to become the Lord are not even Avijna nor Swarat. Such Mayavadi monists undergo a severe process of austerity and penances to acquire the required knowledge for becoming one with the Lord but ultimately they become dependant on some rich follower who supplies them the requisite parapharnalia to conduct a great establishment in the shape of monastery and temples. An Atheist like Ravana or Hiranyakashipu had had to undergo severe type of penances before they could flout the authority of the Lord and ultimately they were so much helpless that they could not save themselves when the Lord appeared before them as the cruel Death. The same thing is applicable to the modern atheists also who dare to flout the authority of the Lord. Such atheists will be dealt with similar awards as was meted out to the past great atheists like Ravana and Hiranyakashipu. History repeats itself and as such what was accorded in the past will act again and again whenever there is such necessity. Whenever there is negligence of the authority of the Lord, the penalty by the laws of nature is always there. This is confirmed in the Bhagwat Geeta by the well known maxim 'JADA JADAHI DHARMASYA GLANI'.

    The Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead is all perfect is confirmed in all Sruti mantras. It is said in the Sruti mantras that the All-perfect Lord threw a glance over the matter and thus He created all living beings. The living beings are parts and percels of the Lord and He impregnates the vast material nature with the seeds of spiritual sparks and thus the creative energies are set in motion for so many wonderful creations. One atheist friend argued that God is no more expert than the manufacturer of a subtle watch which moves by the delicate machineries. We had to reply the atheist friend that God is still a greater machanic than the watch-maker in the sense that He creates one machine in duplicate male and female forms. The male and female forms of different grades of machinery go on producing innumerable quantities of similar machine without further attention of God. If a man could manufacture such set of duplicate machine to produce further machines without any attention of the original manufacturer then of course a man could surpass the intelligence of God. But that is not possible, each and every one of the imperfect machines had to be handled individually by the mechanic and therefore no body can be more intelligent or equally intelligent like God. God's another name is therefore called as the Asmaurdha. Nobody is equal or greater than Him. Every body has his equal number or somebody surpassing his intelligence but nobody can claim that he has neither any equal nor higher than him. Param Satya or the Supreme Truth is He Who has no equal nor any higher contemporary. This fact is corroborated in the Sruti mantras as follows. It is said that before the creation of the material universe there was the Lord Who is the master of every one. That Lord instructed Brahma about the Vedic knowledge. That personality of Godhead has to be obeyed in all respects. Any body who wants to get rid of the material entanglement must, therefore, surrender unto Him. This is confirmed in the Bhagwat Geeta also.

    Unless one, therefore, surrenders unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead it is sure and certain that one must be bewildered even if he happens to be a big brain. When the big brains surrender unto the lotus feet of Vasudeva and know it fully that Lord Vasudeva is the cause of all causes, as it is confirmed in the Bhagwat Geeta, then only such big brain becomes a Mahatma or the broad minded. But such broad minded Mahatma is rarely seen. Only the Mahatmas, therefore, can understand that the Supreme Lord Who is Absolute Personality of Godhead, is the Primeval Cause of all creations. He is Parama or Ultimate Truth because all other truths are relatively dependant on Him. And because He is the source of everyone's knowledge He is omniscient and for Him there is no illusion as it is for the relative knower.

    Some scholars of the Mayavada school argue that Srimad Bhagwatam was not compiled by Sri Vysadeva and some of them suggests that this book is a creation of modern age by some body of the name Bopedeva. Srila Sridhar Swami, in order to refute this meaningless arguments, says that there is reference of the Bhagwatam in many other oldest Puranas. The first sloka of the Bhagwatam is begun with Gayatri Mantra and there is reference of this in the Matsya Puranam (the oldest Puranam). In that Puranam it is said with reference to the context of Gayatri Mantra in the Bhagwatam that there are so many narrations of spiritual instructions beginning with the Gayatri Mantra and there is the history of Vitrasura. Any one who hands over a charity of this great work on the full moon day, attains to the highest perfection of life by going back to God head. Similarly there is reference of this Bhagwatam in other puranas also where it is clearly said that the work is finished in twelve cantos and completed in eighteen thousand Slokas. In the Padma Puranam also there is reference of the Bhagwatam during the conversation of Goutam and Maharaj Amburish. The king was advised therein to read regularly Srimad Bhagwatam if he at all desired liberation from the material bondage. Under the circumstances there is no questions brewing any sort of doubt regarding the authority of Sri Srimad Bhagwatam Puranam. And later on within five hundred years from the present era many eudite scholars and Acharyas like Jiva Goswami, Sanatan Goswami, Viswanath Chakravarty, Ballavacharya, and many other distinguished Scholars even after the time of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu made elaborate commentations on the Bhagwat Puranam with unique scholarship and the serious student will do well to make an attempt to go through them to relish more happily about the transcendental messages from the Bagwatam. Srila Viswanath Chakravarty Thakur specifically deals in the original and pure sex psychology (Adirasa) devoid of all mundane inebriety. The whole material world is moving on the basic principle of sex life. In the modern set up of human civilisation the sex life is the central point of all activities. Wherever we may turn our face we see a great prominence on the sex life. Therefore, sex life is not unreal. Its real reality is experinced in the spiritual world. The material sexlife is but a perverted reflection of the original fact. The original fact therefore, is in the Absolute Truth and as such the Absolute Truth cannot be impersonal without any sense in the pure sexlife. The impersonal monist-philosophy has given an indirect impetus to the abominable mundane sex life because they have given too much stress on the impersonality of the Ultimate Truth. The result is that men with poor fund of knowledge have accepted the perverted sex life as all in all without any information of the actual spiritual form of sex. There is distinction of the sex life in the diseased condition of material life from that in the spiritual existence and the Srimad Bhagwatam will gradually elevate the unbaised reader to the highest perfectional stage of transcendence from the three modes of material activities namely fruitive actions, speculative philosophy and worshipping the functional deities as they are inculcated in the Vedic verses. It is stated as follow in the second sloka."

    HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

As shown above, there are many differences in spelling between the original Bhagwatam and the 1st BBT edition slokas. In comparing the Translation of SB 1.1.1, we find the same type of differences with did throughout the Introduction and 'life sketch'. For the sake of brevity we will not point them all out here. Hopefully the comparative examples given for the Introduction will make it easier for the reader to do their own comparisons.

The most substantive difference between the two Translations is this (Bhagwatam in blue, Bhagavatam in red):