Glories of Srimad Bhagavatam – By Srila Prabhupada
1. Authority of the Bhagavatam
Some Mayavadi scholars argue that Srimad-Bhagavatam was not compiled by Sri Vyasadeva. While, some of them suggest that this book is a modern creation written by someone named Vopadeva. In order to refute such meaningless arguments, Sri Sridhara Swami points out that there is reference to the Bhagavatam in many of the oldest Puranas. This first sloka of the Bhagavatam begins with the Gayatri mantra. There is reference to this in the Matsya Purana, which is the oldest Purana. In that Purana, it is said with reference to the Gayatri mantra in the Bhagavatam that there are many narrations of spiritual instructions beginning with the Gayatri mantra.
There is the history of Vrtrasura. Anyone who makes a gift of this great work on a full moon day attains to the highest perfection of life by returning to Godhead. There is reference to the Bhagavatam in other Puranas also, where it is clearly stated that this work was finished in twelve cantos, which include eighteen thousand slokas. In the Padma Purana also there is reference to the Bhagavatam in a conversation between Gautama and Maharaja Ambarisa. The king was advised therein to read regularly Srimad-Bhagavatam if he desired liberation from material bondage.
Under the circumstances, there is no doubt about the authority of the Bhagavatam. Within the past five hundred years, many erudite scholars and acaryas like Jiva Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Visvanatha Cakravarti, Vallabhacarya, and many other distinguished scholars even after the time of Lord Caitanya made elaborate commentaries on the Bhagavatam. And the serious student would do well to attempt to go through them to better relish the transcendental messages.
(Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 1 Chapter 1 Text 1, Purport)
2. Explanation of All Vedic Literature
We should understand that Srimad-Bhagavatam is the real explanation of the Brahma-sutra and it is compiled by Vyasadeva himself. In the Garuda Purana it is said "The Srimad-Bhagavatam is the authorized explanation of Brahma-sutra, and it is a further explanation of Mahabharata. It is the expansion of the gayatri mantra and the essence of all Vedic knowledge. This Srimad-Bhagavatam, containing eighteen thousand verses, is known as the explanation of all Vedic literature."
(Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 23)
3. Supreme Vedic Literature
“The meaning of the Vedanta-sutra is present in Srimad-Bhagavatam. The full purport of the Mahabharata is also there. The commentary of the Brahma-gayatri is also there and fully expanded with all Vedic knowledge. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the supreme Purana, and it was compiled by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His incarnation as Vyasadeva. There are twelve cantos, 335 chapters and eighteen thousand verses." (Sri Caitanya Caritamrita, Madhya-lila, Chapter 25, Text 143-144, Translation)
4. Spotless literature
This Bhagavata is so, I mean to say, exalted transcendental knowledge that there are eighteen thousand verses, and if you analyze each verse, each word, you will get a great transcendental information. There is no comparison with this Srimad-Bhagavatam. Srimad-Bhagavatam amalam Puranam. Amalam, spotless. This Puranam, this old history of the world. (Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam 2.1.1-5 — Boston, December 22, 1969)
5. Gifting Srimad Bhagavatam. Whoever makes a gift of this great work on a full moon day attains to the highest perfection of life and goes back to Godhead. (Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 23)
6. Serious study
But Pariksit Maharaja was, from the beginning of his life, was a devotee himself, a devotee of Lord Krishna. And he inquired, "Whether I shall devote or I shall absorb my mind with Krishna consciousness?" Because he was a devotee of Krishna. Many people gathered. They gave different advices "Maharaja, you do this at the time of death," and "Do that," "Do this." So there were many big, big persons. He was perplexed. But he was a devotee of Krishna from the very beginning of his life, and thus he inquired, "Whether it is better to absorb the mind in Krishna consciousness?" This was his question.
So in answer to this question, Sukadeva Gosvami replied, variyan esa te prasnah (SB 2.1.1) "My dear King…" Variyan esa te prasnah krto loka-hitam nrpa. Nrpa, "the king," address. "My dear king, your inquiry is very glorified," variyan esa te prasnah krto loka-hitam (SB 2.1.1), "because on account of this question, whatever I shall reply…" Means he knew. The reply is this Srimad-Bhagavatam. Question was about Krishna, and the reply is Srimad-Bhagavatam, eighteen thousand verses. And each and every verse is so important that if a serious student studies each and every verse, each verse will take at least one month to understand.
And there are eighteen thousand verses. So for serious study of Srimad-Bhagavatam, it will take eighteen thousand months. So eighteen thousand months meaning how many years? One thousand five hundred years. (laughter) It is such an important book, Srimad-Bhagavatam. Each verse is a new verse, not repetition of the same subject. And it is deeply thoughtful. And every verse is, as it is stated here, atmavit-sammata?, approved by persons who are self-realized. Atmavit. Atmavit. Atma means self, and vit means one who knows, well aware of self-realization. They are called atmavit.
(Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam 2.1.1-5 — Melbourne, June 26, 1974)
7. Ever refreshing
You'll find great scholars, Vyasadeva… There is no comparison of his scholarship, how many… Now, this Srimad-Bhagavatam, he has written eighteen thousand verses. And not only Srimad-Bhagavatam, He has written eighteen Puranas. Out of eighteen Puranas the Srimad-Bhagavatam is one Purana. And in one Purana you find eighteen thousand verses, and each and every word is so meaningful that you study throughout your whole life, oh, still you'll find refreshed.
(Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam 5.5.1-2 — London (Tittenhurst), September 13, 1969)
8. Such A Nice Literature
Prabhupada: You are educated. You should try to understand our philosophy. There are so many things to be learned from our… They're not sentimentally dancers only. They've got logic, philosophy, science, everything. Otherwise how we are writing so many books? Just see, ancient word, how they are nicely, these two verses we have read. How full of meaning!
Na yad vacas citra- padam harer yaso jagat-pavitram pragrnita karhicit
tad vayasam tirtham usanti manasa (SB 1.5.10),
Each word has volumes of meanings. There are 18,000 verses in Srimad-Bhagavatam. And each word you'll find enlivening. Each word. It's such a nice literature. (Room Conversation with Dr. Christian Hauser, Psychiatrist — September 10, 1973, Stockholm)
9. Srimad Bhagavatam – For All The Life
Maharaja. Pariksit Maharaja was given time, seven days. He was cursed by a brahmana boy that "Maharaja, you shall die within seven days, bitten by a snake." So immediately, because he was emperor, so he understood that "I shall have to die." So he prepared himself. For seven days he tried to understand what is his relationship with Krishna, or God. That is imitated at Bhagavata-saptaha. But actually, Bhagavata is not to be studied imitating Pariksit Maharaja for seven days. No. In seven days we cannot understand even one verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam, what to speak of the eighteen thousand verses. That is not possible. But it has become a fashion. Bhagavata says, nityam bhagavata-sevaya. Nasta-prayesv abhadresu nityam bhagavata-sevaya (SB 1.2.18). It is not for seven days; it is for all the life. (Pandal Lecture — Delhi, November 12, 1971)
10. Result of reciting and hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam
The whole Srimad-Bhagavatam, eighteen thousand verses, very difficult to pronounce even and what to speak of memorizing, were narrated very easily just like reading some printed book. He narrated the whole subject matter of Srimad-Bhagavatam continuously for seven days and Maharaja Pariksit also understood the subject matter very clearly. Both of them were so meritorious that they attained the highest goal of life, namely the Lotus Feet of Lord Sri Krsna simply by reciting and hearing respectively. (Letter to Bali-mardana — Tokyo 25 August, 1970)
11. We are indebted to Vyasadeva
We have got so many debts to clear. This is responsibility. Devarsi-bhutapta-nrnam pitrnam (SB 11.5.41). We are indebted to the demigods. Just like sun is one of the demigods. We are getting, enjoying the sunshine. We are indebted to him. This is responsibility. Suppose if you take electricity, light, you are responsible for paying the bill. Similarly, you are taking so much advantage of the sunlight. You are also obliged to pay the debts, repay the debts. Devarsi means those who have given us the Vedic literature. Just like Narada Muni, Vyasadeva, they have given us… Vyasadeva given us immense literature. Immense literature. He has written Mahabharata. He has written the eighteen Puranas.
One of the Puranas is the Bhagavata Purana. And he has written the Upanisads. Then he has compiled the Vedanta-sutra. And each and every book, there are innumerable verses. In Mahabharata there are 100,000's of verses. In Srimad-Bhagavatam, 18,000 verses. And if you study one verse, it will take at least one week to understand. So grave thoughts. So therefore, we are reading all these Vedic literatures. Certainly, we are indebted to them. (Hare Krishna Festival Address — San Diego, July 1, 1972, At Balboa Park Bowl)
12. Immense Treasure House
Vedic literature means the four Vedas Sama, Yajur, Rig, Atharva, then Upanisad, 108 Upanisad, and eighteen Puranas, Ramayana, Mahabharata. It is an immense treasure-house of literature. So this Srimad-Bhagavatam is one of the eighteen Puranas, and in this Srimad-Bhagavatam there are eighteen thousand verses.
(Lecture at St. Pascal's Franciscan Seminary — Melbourne, June 28, 1974)
13. Vedic desire tree
Prabhupada: Now, amongst these Puranas, the Srimad-Bhagavatam is called the Maha-Purana.
Prof. Kotovsky: Maha-Purana.
Prabhupada: Yes. So we have translated in English the full, with the original Sanskrit text, its transliteration, an English equivalent for each word, then translation, and then purport, explanation of the verse. In this way there are 18,000's of verses in Srimad-Bhagavatam. And the acaryas, the great saintly sages who are the preachers of this Bhagavatam throughout India, their opinion is that it is the ripened fruit of the Vedic desire tree. Nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam (SB 1.1.3). And it is accepted by all, I mean, Indian scholars, and especially Lord Caitanya, He preached this Bhagavata. So we have got that, complete in English translation. If you want to see some of them, we can show you. (Conversation with Prof. Kotovsky — June 22, 1971, Moscow)
14. Most important book
Brahmananda: Which of your books do you consider to be the most important?
Prabhupada: Well, beginning from the First Canto.
Prabhupada: Yes. Janmady asya yato (SB 1.1.1). It is step by step. First of all Bhagavad-gita study nicely so we can get the idea of Absolute Truth, and then by studying Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, you understand more and more, more and more, more and more.
Prof. Hopkins: But is there, is there any one, one of the translations or one of the purports or of a series of purports of the things that you've published that you think is more clear, more…
Prabhupada: Every sloka we are describing word to word. So every sloka you will find new idea, new idea. There are 18,000 verses. (Conversation with Professor Hopkins — July 13, 1975, Philadelphia)
15. Receive the message with great respect and attention
In the two previous slokas it has been definitely proved that the Srimad-Bhagavatam is the sublime literature which surpasses all other Vedic scriptures due to its transcendental qualities. It is transcendental to all mundane activities and mundane knowledge. In this sloka it is stated that Srimad-Bhagavatam is not only a superior literature but is the ripened fruit of all Vedic literatures. In other words, it is the cream of all Vedic knowledge. Considering all this, patient and submissive hearing is definitely essential. With great respect and attention, one should receive the message and lessons imparted by the Srimad-Bhagavatam. (PURPORT Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.3)
16. Extinguishes the fire
Simply by giving aural reception to this Vedic literature, the feeling for loving devotional service to Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, sprouts up at once to extinguish the fire of lamentation, illusion and fearfulness. (TRANSLATION Srimad Bhagavatam 1.7.7)
17. Effect of Regular Attendance in Srimad Bhagavatam Classes
By regular attendance in classes on the Bhagavatam 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. (TRANSLATION Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.18)
18. Regularly Study Srimad-Bhagavatam
I am very much stressing at this point that all of my students shall be very much conversant with the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness, and that they should read our books very diligently at least one or two hours daily and try to understand the subject matter from varieties of angles. We are holding our morning class here in Los Angeles in the temple and I am speaking from 7 to 8 am, and the process is that we are going through some chapters of Srimad-Bhagavatam by taking one sloka each day, and reading the Sanskrit aloud, each word is pronounced by me and repeated by the students and then altogether we chant the sloka several times until we have learned it. And then we discuss the subject matter very minutely and inspect it from all angles of approach and savor the new understandings.
So you introduce this system in all of the centers in your zone, and you will discover that everyone becomes very much enlivened by these daily classes. Read one sloka and discuss and then go on to the next sloka on the next day, and so on, and even you discuss one verse each day it will take you 50 years to finish Srimad-Bhagavatam in this way. So we have got ample stock for acquiring knowledge. And if the students get knowledge more and more, they will automatically become convinced and very easily perform their duties for tapasya or renunciation of the material bondage, and that will be their successful advancement in Krishna Consciousness. So I want that advancement amongst all of my students, so your are responsible that the standard will be maintained. (1972 Correspondence)
19. Understanding Srimad Bhagavatam
Bhagavatam is to be understood by devotional service and from a devotee, and not by one's own intelligence or by academic commentaries. (Teachings of Lord Caitanya – Chapter 16 Conclusion of Teachings to Sanatana Gosvami)
20. Meaning of Srimad Bhagavatam
Bhagavatam literally means the pastimes of the Lord and the Lord's devotees. (SB 3.19.34, Purport)
21.Peace in society
By hearing the subject matter of Srimad-Bhagavatam this false complexity of materialism is removed, and real peace in society begins. (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.7.7, Purport)
22. Srimad-Bhagavatam is meant for paramahamsas
Although Srimad-Bhagavatam is counted among the Puranas, it is called the spotless Purana. Because it does not discuss anything material, it is liked by transcendental Vaisnava devotees. The subject matter found in Srimad-Bhagavatam is meant for paramahamsas. (Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 19.17, Translation and Purport)
23. Vedic Mantra
Every verse in the Vedic literature, especially in the Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita, is a Vedic mantra. (SB 8.4.15, Translation and Purport)
24. Purpose of Every Religion
Either you be a Hindu or Muslim or Mohammedan or Buddhist, whatever you like, Srimad-Bhagavata does not stop you, but it gives you hint what is the purpose of religion. The purpose of religion is to develop your love of Godhead. (Lecture on BG 4.7 — Montreal, June 13, 1968)
25. Ten subjects described in Srimad Bhagavatam
“"Here (in Srimad-Bhagavatam) ten subjects are described (1) the creation of the ingredients of the cosmos, (2) the creations of Brahma, (3) the maintenance of the creation, (4) special favor given to the faithful, (5) impetuses for activity, (6) prescribed duties for law-abiding men, (7) a description of the incarnations of the Lord, (8) the winding up of the creation, (9) liberation from gross and subtle material existence, and (10) the ultimate shelter, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The tenth item is the shelter of all the others. To distinguish this ultimate shelter from the other nine subjects, the mahajanas have described these nine, directly or indirectly, through prayers or direct explanations."
(Chaitanya Charitamrita Adi 2.91-92, Translation and Purport)
26. Possessing Srimad Bhagavatam and Caitanya Caritamrta
I want that every respectable person has a full set of Bhagavatam and Caitanya Caritamrta in his home. (Letter to Alex, Bob, Drdhavrata, Gupta, Rsabhadeva, Stan — Bhuvanesvara 24 January, 1977)
27. Getting out of material entanglement
If one comes in contact with the book Bhagavatam as well as with the devotee bhagavata, who knows what the Bhagavatam is, then such a fortunate man gets out of the material entanglement (SB 3.8.2, Translation and Purport)
28. Sufficient for Preaching Work
If you simply reproduce verbatim the purports which I have given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, and chant Hare Krishna with ecstasy, that will be sufficient for your preaching work,
(Letter to Harivilasa — Montreal 10 June, 1968)