The glories of Srimad Bhagavatam
September 14 was Bhadra-purnima. SB 12.13.13 states that, “If on the full moon day of the month of Bhadra one places Srimad-Bhagavatam on a golden throne and gives it as a gift, he will attain the supreme transcendental destination.”
I wrote a short offering in this important day, exalting the importance of the Srimad Bhagavatam, and specially of the commentary of Srila Prabhupada:
HG Mulaprakriti d.d. shares with us in her memories that Srila Prabhupada personally taught her to use the verse “krsne sva-dhamopagate” (SB 1.3.43) when presenting Srimad Bhagavatam on book distribution:
"This Bhagavata Purana is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Krsna to His own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the age of Kali shall get light from this Purana."
She shares that Prabhupada said, "See how beautifully Srimad-Bhagavatam sells itself. Anyone who heard this from Srimad-Bhagavatam would think, 'I must read that book, I must.' That's what you need to tell people. Tell them straight from Srimad-Bhagavatam. I am excited when I read Srimad-Bhagavatam, so certainly they will be as well." (Memories of Srila Prabhupada)
The Srimad Bhagavatam is the amala purana, the spotless purana. Some think that all Vedic literature is at the same level, but there is a gradation. Most of Vedic scriptures speak about Karma-kanda, rituals and fruitive activities. Although we should pay our respects to such books, they are not for us. Higher are the sections of the Vedas that deal with jnana, the upasana-kanda. Higher still are the portions that deal with devotional service. Amongst such selected passages, the Srimad Bhagavatam shines as the most exalted. Everything that is not pure is kicked out of Srimad Bhagavatam: “Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhāgavata Purāṇa propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are fully pure in heart.” (SB 1.1.2)
Srimad Bhagavatam gives us the view of the world of the paramahansas. How can we can get free from the darkness of the age of Kali and situate ourselves into the platform of pure devotional service to The Lord, free of contamination of mental speculation or fruitive hankering.
Even after compiling all the Vedas, Srila Vyasadeva was still dissatisfied. His spiritual master, Sri Narada, mildly chastised him: “Are you satisfied by identifying with the body or the mind as objects of self-realization?” “You have not actually broadcast the sublime and spotless glories of the Personality of Godhead. That philosophy which does not satisfy the transcendental senses of the Lord is considered worthless.”
Understanding his guru’s intention, Srila Vyasadeva composed the Srimad Bhagavatam, speaking exclusively about pure devotional service. The Srimad Bhagavatam is a scripture for pure devotees, and anyone that studies it, even if not a pure devotee himself, will in due course of time become a maha-bhagavata, as spotless as the Srimad Bhagavatam itself. “By regular attendance in classes on the Bhāgavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact.” (SB 1.2.18)
This is, however, not the end of the story. After composing Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila Vyasadeva simply kept it in his mind. He first spoke it to Sukadeva Goswami, who by hearing the beautiful Srimad Bhagavatam was moved from his meditation on the impersonal brahman and became attracted to devotional service to the Lord.
Sukadeva Goswami in turn recited Srimad Bhagavatam to Maharaja Pariksit in the banks of the Ganges. Srila Suta Goswami was present in the meeting, and later he recited Srimad Bhagavatam to the sages in the Naimisharanya forest. Just like a fruit becomes even more sweet when touched by the beak of a parrot, the Srimad Bhagavatam became even sweeter after it was recited by these two sages. Vyasadeva wanted to capture this sweetness, therefore he patiently waited. When Suta Goswami recited the Srimad Bhagavatam, in the Naimisharanya forest, Vyasa was there to compile it.
This sweetened Srimad Bhagavatam became even sweeter after being commented on by the different acaryas in our parampara. Sridhara Swami, Jiva Goswami, Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, and other exalted personalities commented on the Srimad Bhagavatam. As a second Vyasadeva, Srila Prabhupada studied all these different commentaries, combined them with his own realization and wrote his commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam.
This work is the culmination of 5000 years of effort by our acaryas. It is the searchlight that can guide us in the dense darkness of the age of Kali. It is our chance to find the way back to Godhead.
It is impossible to properly exalt the importance of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavatam. This is a book that will be studied for 10.000 years. It will guide generations of Vaishnavas in their spiritual pursuits. Just as in the past our different vaishnava acharyas wrote purports in the works of Srila Vyasadeva, future vaishnava acharyas are going to write commentaries on Srila Prabhupada’s purports. This is such literary work of such monumental importance that I don’t think we are going to be able to grasp its importance in our time.
In the future, the sleepless nights of Srila Prabhupada writing his commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam are going to become the stuff of legends. Devotees that had just a brief association with Srila Prabhupada, are going to be revered as saints. Volumes are going to be written about them. Temples that were erected at that time, and are being erected today are going to become places of pilgrimage. Objects used by Srila Prabhupada and his followers are going to become sacred relics. For ten thousand years, the sacrifices of Srila Prabhupada and his followers are going to be remembered.
In the last days before His disappearance, Srila Prabhupada was lying in the bed, extremely weak and emaciated. Even in this condition, he was dictating purports for the 13th chapter of the 10th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. Seeing how difficult it was for Srila Prabhupada to formulate and dictate new purports, HH Tamal Krsna Maharaja suggested that he already did so much, and therefore was unnecessary to continue working in such strenuous condition. Srila Prabhupada replied by telling the story of the “good soldier”. He said: "Even if a good soldier, who serves in the army of the king, is struck down on the battlefield and his head is severed from his shoulders, still, even if he is lying on the ground in such condition, if he is a good soldier he will try to wave his sword in the air with the hopes that he will somehow strike the enemy. Similarly, I am a servant in the army of my Guru Maharaja, and as long as I have life, I must preach. Even in my present condition."
As Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura used to say: “One who has life can preach". Regardless of our condition, there is always something that we can do, and by using this potential in Krsna’s service, we make advancement. By studying and distributing this beautiful Srimad Bhagavatam, we are buying our ticket Back to Godhead.
Apart from people from outside, we need to make sure all the members of our society understand the importance of the Srimad Bhagavatam. We have to make sure that everyone has a set in their homes. My realization is that the distribution of sets to our congregational members and sympathizers can be the next big wave in book distribution. By contacting and visiting them, we can explain the importance of Srimad Bhagavatam and other books from Srila Prabhupada and convince them to not only buy a set, but get books to distribute to their friends and relatives. This may be the way that Krsna Consciousness is going to spread to all towns and villages.
Caitanya Chandra dasa