Srimad Bhagavatam, Jewel of the Puranas


Sukadeva gives Srimad Bhagavatam
Kishangarh School
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Apr 29, CANADA (SUN) — In the vast body of Vedic literature are found numerous categories of sastra. Among them, Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana), is known as the Jewel of the Puranas. Among the 18 primary Puranas are the 18 upa-puranas and numerous minor Puranas. The primary Puranas describe five subjects: sarga (creation), pratisarga (recreation), vamsa (history of the sages), manvantara (periods of Manu), and vamsanucarita (geneology of kings). Lord Visnu is the predominating Deity of the six most prominent Puranas, the crown of which is the 18,000 verse Srimad-Bhagavatam which provides all instruction on the science of self-realization.

    "Brahmaji said to Narada, "Whatever I have spoken to you about the Bhagavatam was explained to me by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and I am advising you to expand these topics nicely so that people may easily understand the mysterious bhakti-yoga by transcendental loving service to the Lord."

    Srimad-Bhagavatam 2:9:35 Purport

Srimad-Bhagavatam is one of the most prominent texts accepted by Acaryas in the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya. The Bhagavatam provides histories of the prominent Visnu avataras and the lives of the Supreme Lord's great devotees. It provides the essence of Krsna conscious philosophy.

Srila Prabhupada describes the essence of Srimad-Bhagavatam and the importance of hearing and chanting the Absolute Truth contained therein:

"This Vedanta Sutra was compiled by Srila Vyasadeva and by the advice of His Spiritual master Srila Narada--Vyasadeva wrote a commentation of the Vedanta Sutra by compiling Srimad-Bhagavatam. So Srimad-Bhagavatam is the last gift of Srila Vyasadeva to represent an authorized commentation of the Vedanta Sutra and Lord Caitanya's mission is to preach this cult in every corner of the world in order to make the people really happy. This Vedanta Sutra is now mishandled in India by unauthorized persons of different camps and as such the people are being misguided. Newly sprung up national enthusiasm of the Indian leaders, Industrialists and plan makers, has no time neither desire to understand the message of Vedanta Sutra or even the Bhagavad-gita. You cannot do acts of humanity without proper guidance. The Vedanta Sutra is the proper guidance because the sastra "Athata Bramajijnasa" is the beginning of an inquiry in the essence of our different engagements."

Srila Prabhupada Letter to Ved Prakash, 07-07-58

"Lord Brahma is the topmost devotee of the Lord within the universe, and therefore the Personality of Godhead replied to his four principal inquiries in four important statements, which are known as the original Bhagavatam in four verses. These were Brahma's questions: (1) What are the forms of the Lord both in matter and in transcendence? (2) How are the different energies of the Lord working? (3) How does the Lord play with His different energies? (4) How may Brahma be instructed to discharge the duty entrusted to Him? The prelude to the answers is this verse under discussion, wherein the Lord informs Brahma that knowledge of Him, the Supreme Absolute Truth, as it is stated in the revealed scriptures, is very subtle and cannot be understood unless one is self-realized by the grace of the Lord. The Lord says that Brahma may take the answers as He explains them. This means that transcendental knowledge of the absolute Supreme Being can be known if it is made known by the Lord Himself. By the mental speculation of the greatest mundane thinkers, the Absolute Truth cannot be understood. The mental speculators can reach up to the standard of impersonal Brahman realization, but, factually, complete knowledge of transcendence is beyond the knowledge of impersonal Brahman. Thus it is called the supreme confidential wisdom."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2:9:31

Recitation of Srimad-Bhagavatam

Brahmans Reciting Scripture
Hand-colored Engraving by Solvyns, c. 1799, Calcutta

"Srimad-Bhagavatam is the desire tree of Vedic wisdom. Veda itself means "the aggregate of knowledge." And whatever knowledge is required for human society is perfectly presented in Srimad-Bhagavatam. There are different branches of knowledge in the Vedic writings, including sociology, politics, medicine and military art. All these and other branches of knowledge are perfectly described in the Vedas. So, as far as spiritual knowledge is concerned, that is also perfectly described there, and Srimad-Bhagavatam is considered to be the ripened fruit of this desire-fulfilling tree of the Vedas. A tree is honored by the production of its fruit. For example, a mango tree is considered very valuable because it produces the king of all fruits, the mango. When the mango fruit becomes ripened it is the greatest gift of that tree, and Srimad-Bhagavatam is similarly held to be the ripened fruit of the Vedic tree. And as ripened fruit becomes more relishable when first touched by the beak of a parrot, or suka, Srimad-Bhagavatam has become more relishable by being delivered through the transcendental mouth of Sukadeva Gosvami.

Srimad-Bhagavatam should be received in disciplic succession without any breakage. When a ripened fruit comes from the upper part of the tree onto the ground by the process of being handed down from a higher branch to a lower branch by persons in the tree, the fruit does not break. Srimad-Bhagavatam, when received in the parampara system, or disciplic succession, will likewise remain unbroken. It is stated in Bhagavad-gita that the disciplic succession, or parampara, is the way of receiving transcendental knowledge. Such knowledge must come down through the disciplic succession, through authorized persons who know the real purpose of the sastra.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommended that one learn Srimad-Bhagavatam from the mouth of the self-realized person called bhagavatam. Bhagavata means "in relationship with the Personality of Godhead [Bhagavan]." So the devotee is sometimes called bhagavatam, and the book which is in relationship with devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead is also called Bhagavatam. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommended that, in order to relish the real taste of Srimad-Bhagavatam, one should take instruction from the person bhagavatam. Srimad-Bhagavatam is relishable even by a liberated person. Sukadeva Gosvami admitted that although he was liberated from within the very womb of his mother, it was only after relishing Srimad-Bhagavatam that he became a great devotee. Thus, one who is desirous of advancing in Krsna consciousness should relish the purport of Srimad-Bhagavatam through the discussions of authorized devotees.

In Srimad-Bhagavatam, Second Canto, First Chapter, verse 9, Sukadeva Gosvami admits that although he was very much attracted by the impersonal Brahman, when he heard the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead from the mouth of his father, Vyasadeva, he became more attracted to Srimad-Bhagavatam. The idea is that Vyasadeva was also a self-realized soul, and his mature contribution of transcendental knowledge was delivered directly to Sukadeva Gosvami in the manner indicated."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 12

"This is the training. The brahmacari should rise early in the morning and worship guru, agni, fire, surya, and in the morning there should be class, and on the order of the guru, they should assemble and begin reading Vedic literature, chandamsi.

So for reading Vedic literatures it does not require any erudite scholarship. Simply one has to hear. Therefore the another name of Vedic literature is called sruti. Sruti smrti puranadi. This class means that everyone has to learn Sanskrit? No, that is not necessary. You may be a very good scholar or not, but Krsna has given you the facility of seeing and hearing. You have got eyes; you have got ear. So in the gurukula the students, they first of all attend the mangala-arati, guru-vandana, hearing. Then hear this Vedic literature. Here is Vedic literature, Srimad-Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita. They are all Vedic literature. The Mahabharata is Pancama-veda. The four Vedas are there, Sama, Yajur, Rg, Atharva. And Mahabharata is Pancama-veda, the fifth Veda. Stri-sudra-dvija-bandhunam trayi na sruti-gocara. Woman and sudra and dvija-bandhu, they cannot understand Vedic language. It is difficult. For them Vyasadeva made Mahabharata. In the manner of studying history, Mahabharata... Mahabharata means the great history of greater India. So in that history, Vedic literature, Pancama-veda, there is the Bhagavad-gita, essence. So if you read Bhagavad-gita, even if you read Mahabharata, that is all Vedic literature, Mahabharata, Ramayana, the Puranas, the Upanisad, Vedanta-sutra, and the Vedas, original Vedas. Original Veda is Atharva Veda. Atharva Veda was divided into four parts, Sama, Yajur, Rg, Atharva. So they are all Vedic literatures.

So especially in this age Bhagavad-gita is essence of Vedic literatures, and it is based on the Vedanta-sutra. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, hetumadbhir viniscita. Brahma-sutra padais caiva hetumadbhir viniscita. This Bhagavad-gita is based on Brahma-sutra. Brahma-sutra means Vedanta-sutra. Vedanta-sutra is very important. It is the summary of Vedic study, sutra. The janmady asya yatah, this is a sutra, a synopsis. And you can explain very nicely from the Vedas. So there are small sutras, aphorism. From that aphorism you can expand. The Vedanta is the summary of all the Vedic literatures, anta, the supplement of the Vedic literatures. And Srimad-Bhagavatam is the explanation of Vedanta-sutra. Bhasyayam brahma-sutranam. In every chapter of Srimad-Bhagavatam you'll find brahma-sutra-bhasya: "This is real commentary on the Brahma-sutra." So one should read daily at least one, two hours. That is human life. They are going to the libraries for reading newspaper and nonsense literature, but they will not come to hear Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the essence of Vedic literature. Nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam idam. It is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, nigama. Nigama means Vedas. Agama, nigama. So nigama- kalpa-taru. Vedas just like desire tree. Whatever knowledge you want to get, there is perfectly there, without any mistake, without any illusion, without any cheating. All other literatures, man-made literatures, you will find these things: cheating, imperfectness, mistake, and illusion. In the Vedic literature you won't find these four defects. Therefore, according to Vedic civilization, if you give evidence from the Vedic literature, it is to be accepted. No more argument. Anything which is accepted in the Vedas, vedavata, there is no more argument. This is Indian civilization. All our literatures you'll find, therefore, full of quotation from Vedic literature to prove it. That is the actual. It is not imaginary.

So one should read or hear chandamsi. Chandamsy adhiyita guroh. It is guru's duty. Adau gurv-asrayam. Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum eva abhigacchet. Tad-vijnana, transcendental knowledge, one should approach guru. So guru-kula means guru's place. So he keeps the disciples to learn the Vedic literature. This is guru-kula. We are constructing such big, big houses. Why? We are inviting people to come here and live in this guru-kula and learn Vedic literature. This is our purpose. Bombay is a very big city, people are rich, so we can give you nice room, nice prasadam. Come here, live here at least once in a week and learn Vedic literature, Vedic civilization. The essence of Vedic literature is Srimad-Bhagavatam. Bhasyayam brahma-sutranam vedartha-paribrmhitam. Our mission is to invite people to take advantage of learning Vedic literature, chandamsi. And what is the ultimate goal of studying Vedic literature? That is explained in the Bhagavad-gita, vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyam: to understand Krsna. So therefore our movement is known as Krsna consciousness movement.

So chandamsy adhiyita guror ahutas cet suyantritah. Very well behaved. Just like machine works systematically. You have seen. Everyone has seen. The machine of the watch is working very systematically, correctly. Similarly, every student, every disciple must work very correctly, like the machine. There is no question, "Why you did not attend school or the class?" You cannot say that "This is this. This is this." No. As machine work, everyone should attend the class, rise early in the morning, attend mangala-arati. This is called suyantritah, working like machine, no discrepancy. That is wanted. Suyantritah. Then upakrame avasane. In the beginning the students should come and offer obeisances to the lotus feet of guru. This is begin. Adau gurv-asrayam. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah. This is the principle. If you offer your respectful obeisances to guru, he becomes pleased. Anyone, even one is offender, if he comes and offers obeisances to the superior guru, then even there was offense, he forgets. Father. Father of... The son may be offender, but when he comes and offers his respect to the father, he forgets. So that should be done regularly, suyantritah, just like machine. As soon as one sees guru, immediately he must offer obeisances. Beginning, end also. When he comes to see guru he must offer obeisances, and when he leaves that place he must offer obeisances. And in the in-between, coming and going, he should learn from the guru Vedic understanding. This is the principle of living in gurukula.

So upakrame avasane ca caranau sirasa namet. Just at the lotus feet of guru the brahmacari... So our students, they are very obedient. And if our students see the guru hundred times, he practices this process, offering obeisances while meeting and while going. These things are to be practiced. Then danta. Brahmacari guru-kule vasan danta. Then he'll be controlled, self-controlled. Obedience is the first law of discipline. If there is no obedience, there cannot be any discipline. And if there is no discipline you cannot manage anything. That is not possible. Therefore this is very essential, that the students should be very disciplined. Disciple means one who follows discipline. This is disciple, sisya. The Sanskrit word is also the same, sisya. I have several times explained. Sisya, it comes from the verb sas, sasana, ruling. So sisya means one who voluntarily accepts the ruling of the spiritual master. He is called sisya. Sisya, sasana, sastra, sastra, sasana--these things are the same, from the same root. So this is the instruction.

Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 7:12:3, 04-14-76, Bombay

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


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