Srimad Bhagavatam Mahatmya- Padma Purana
The Meeting of Narada Muni and Bhakti Devi
Obeisances unto Lord Sri Krsna
We offer our humble obeisances unto Lord Sri Krsna, whose transcendental form is bliss personified. He is the cause of the creation, maintenance and destruction of the universe and the destroyer of the three types of miseries.
Humble obeisances to Sri Sukadeva Gosvami
We pay our humble obeisances to Sri Sukadeva Gosvami who is like the Supersoul. He left home immediately after taking birth, though he had not undergone any samskaras, or purificatory ceremonies. Upon his departure,, his father out of separation followed him calling, “O my son! O my son,” but only the trees responded.
Sri Saunaka Rsis put questions to Suta Gosvami after paying obeisances.
Once in the forest of Naimisaranya, Sri Saunaka Rsi, the best of sages who are expert in tasting krsna-katha, put some questions to Suta Gosvami after paying obeisances.
Sri Saunaka said, “O Suta Gosvami, your knowledge dispels the darkness of ignorance like millions of suns. Please recite the nectarean pastimes of Lord Krsna, which are like tonic for the ears. How can one increase the discrimination that results from knowledge of devotion and renunciation of the material world?1
( That discrimination which is not related to Bhakti is useless. It can only make a person materially wise, because it has no superior purpose. Similarly, knowledge and renunciation are useful only when they arise from devotion, otherwise they make the heart dry and hard. )
How do Vaisnavas get relief from the illusion created by Maya?
In Kali-yuga the general populace is demonic, please explain, therefore, the best means to purify those who are troubled by various types of tribulations.
O Suta Gosvami, please describe that sadhana, or most auspicious purifying process that will take one to Krsna.
A touch-stone can give only material happiness and the kalpa-vrksa tree can at most grant heavenly opulence, however, when the spiritual master is pleased he can give the eternal abode of the Lord – the Vaikuntha planet — which is not achieved even by the yogis.”
I will give you the essence of all conclusions
Sri Suta Gosvami said, “O Saunaka, your heart is full of love for the Personality of Godhead. After proper deliberation, therefore I will give you the essence of all conclusions, which will destroy the fear of birth and death and increase the flow of devotion which is the chief cause of Lord Sri Krsna’s happiness. Please hear it attentively.
( like hamsa separete milk from water he separete essence )
destroy fear of the snake of death
Sri Sukadeva Gosvami recited Srimad Bhagavatam in Kali yuga to absolutely destroy fear of the snake of death. There is no superior means than this for the purification of the mind. One attains the Srimad Bhagavatam, however, only after accumulating pious activities for many life times.
the demigods approached him with a pot of nectar
“When Sukadeva Gosvami sat among the sages and prepared to recite Srimad Bhagavatam to Pariksita Maharaja,2 the demigods, who are expert in accomplishing their work, approached him with a pot of nectar. They offered humble obeisances and said, ‘Please accept this pot of nectar and in exchange give us the nectar of hari-katha. Let King Pariksita drink this, and let us drink the nectar of Srimad Bhagavatam.’
( Pariksita Maharaja was cursed by the son of Samika Rsi to be bitten by a snake called Taksaka and die after seven days. When the king heard this, he renounced his kingdom and sat on the bank of Ganges intending to fast until death. Upon Sukadeva Gosvami’s arrival, Pariksita Maharaja asked him to recite Srimad Bhagavatam. Actually every living entity is cursed to die within seven days (from Sunday to Saturday). Death is compared to a snake that will pay everyone a visit. While everyone fears death, they do not use this fear to cultivate detachment. Rather, owing to ignorance, they become more attached. This is the difference between Pariksita Maharaja and the common man. Hearing Srimad Bhagavatam makes a person free from the fear of death. That Pariksita Maharaja heard Srimad Bhagavatam for seven days signifies that we should hear it everyday until our death. )
Hearing the Srimad Bhagavatam is rare even among the demigods
“At that time Sri Sukadeva Gosvami thought, ‘Where is a piece of glass and where is a transcendental gem? How can one compare these two? What is the question of comparing this material nectar, though celestial, with the transcendental nectar of Srimad Bhagavatam?’3 In this way Sukadeva Gosvami made fun of the demigods. He did not consider them proper recipients of hari-katha, because they are devoid of pure devotional service. Hence, hearing the Srimad Bhagavatam is rare even among the demigods.
( 3 Srimad Bhagavatam is the property of the devotees of the Supreme Lord. Although demigods are also devotees, they are selfish and attached to enjoyment. This disqualifies them from drinking the nectar of Srimad Bhagavatam. When one drinks heavenly nectar he loses his piety, but when one hears krsna-katha, he is freed from sin and his heart becomes purified, punya sravana kirtana (S.B. 1.2.17). This is the difference between heavenly nectar and the nectar of krsna-katha. )
Srimad Bhagavatam on one end of a scale and all other processes for obtaining liberation on the other
“Lord Brahma was astonished to learn that Pariksita Maharaja became liberated just by hearing Srimad Bhagavatam. In Satyaloka, he put the Srimad Bhagavatam on one end of a scale and all other processes for obtaining liberation on the other. Upon seeing the Srimad Bhagavatam tilt the scale, all the sages present were struck with wonder.
Hearing and reciting Srimad Bhagavatam will certainly grant bhakti
They asserted that in Kali-yuga only hearing and reciting Srimad Bhagavatam, which is non different from the Personality of Godhead, can immediately relieve one from material distress. If one hears it according to the proper process (as described in chapter six), it will certainly grant bhakti.
Merciful Kumara brothers recited Srimad Bhagavatam to the sage Narada
Previously the most merciful Kumara brothers recited Srimad Bhagavatam to the sage Narada. Although Sri Narada had heard it from lord Brahma, the Kumaras gave him the opportunity to hear it according to the recommended process.”4
( 4 According to the Second Canto, Lord Brahma spoke the original four verses of the Srimad Bhagavatam to Narada, who in turn instructed them to Sri Vyasa. The “proper process” refers to hearing the complete Srimad Bhagavatam in seven days according to the guidelines given in chapter six. )
Where Narada meet those great sages?
Sri Saunaka asked, “Where did the learned Narada, who is free from material bondage and constantly travels all over the universe, meet those great sages? How did his interest in hearing hari-katha and in knowing the specific rules and regulations for hearing it develop?”
Kumaras went to Visala (Badrinatha)
Suta Gosvami replied, “Now I will narrate an episode that is full of devotion. Sri Sukadeva, who considers me his surrendered disciple, told it to me in confidence. Once, the Kumaras went to Visala (Badrinatha) to get the holy association of saintly people.5 There they met Narada Muni.
( 5 Visala is another name for Badrinatha. Lord Nara-Narayana, the presiding deity of Bharata-varsa resides there and this it is visited by many saintly people. )
Narada like a person in complete anxiety
“The Kumaras said, ‘O brahmana, why do you appear so dejected and full of anxiety? Where have you come from, and where are you going so quickly? You appear like a person in complete anxiety owing to loss of wealth.6 This is not befitting a person like you, who is completely free from material attachment. Please explain the reason for this.’
( 6 Generally a saintly person has no reason to feel either dejected or elated but when he sees the living entities suffering, he feels unhappy for them.)
Earth the best of planets has completely afflicted by Kali yuga
+”Sri Narada replied, ‘I came here considering the earth to be the best of planets. Although I travelled to Puskara, Prayaga, Kasi, Godavari, Haridvara, Kuruksetra, Sriranga and Setubandha, I could not find peace in any of those holy places. At present, Kali yuga the friend of irreligion, has completely afflicted the whole earth.
Simptoms of Kali yuga
Now truthfulness, austerity, cleanliness, mercy and charity are nowhere to be seen.
The fallen living entities take pleasure in telling lies and are simply engaged in filling their bellies.7
( 7 This is the prediction for the present age.)
They are lazy, less intelligent, unfortunate, and always disturbed.
Those who are called saintly are actually pretenders.
Though they appear renounced, they accumulate wealth, women, and paraphernalia for sense pleasure.
Women rule the family and the brother-in-law is the consultant.
People sell their daughters out of greed, and husbands and wives always quarrel.
The holy places, asramas of saintly people, and rivers are under the control of the yavanas, who are against Vedic religion.8
( 8 Yavanas refers to the Muslim rulers who invaded India at various times, beginning from the 11th century. They were inimical to Vedic religion and culture. Some were tolerant, some were atrocious. Some Muslim destroyed temples and even forcibly converted Hindus to Islam. They even imposed taxes on visitors to the holy places.)
They have destroyed many temples and therefore yogis, siddhas, jnanis and religious people are not to be seen.
The processes of liberation are completely burnt to ashes in the fire of Kali-yuga.
In this age people sell grains in the market, the brahmanas charge fees to teach,9 and
women thrive by prostitution.10
( 9 According to Vedic custom a brahmana should not charge for giving knowledge. He is allowed to accept donations for his maintenance or send his students to householders for begging food. This custom insured that only those who had interest in teaching would perform this service and unqualified people would not be interest. Because students did not pay fees, they remained indebted and obedient to their teachers. This system continued in India up until about 150 years ago when British rulers introduced change. Under the present system, good relations between student and teachers are non-existent and thus the whole educational process is degraded.)
( 10 The exact Sanskrit is kaminyah kesasulinyah, which can also mean that women will cut their hair. )
Narada in Vrindavan
“Thus witnessing the defects of Kali-yuga and wandering over the face of the earth, I reached the bank of the Yamuna where Lord Krsna had performed various pastimes.
Narada Muni meet depressed Bhakti devi
O best of sages, please hear about the wonder I saw there. A beautiful woman was sitting in a dejected mood while two old men lay unconscious in front of her breathing very quickly.
While trying to bring them to consciousness, the young women would sometimes cry.
At times she would look around as if searching for her protector, the Supersoul.
She was served by hundreds of women who were fanning and trying to console her.
I saw this whole scene from afar and out of curiosity went near them.
Upon seeing me, the young lady stood up and spoke very piteously.
Only by great fortune can one get darsana of a person like you.
She said: “O saintly person, please stay here for a moment11 and dispel my distress. Your auspicious vision destroys the sins of materialistic people. By your words I will get relief from misery and become peaceful. Only by great fortune can one get darsana of a person like you.”
( 11 A saintly person does not speak with women unnecessarily. )
Narada asked who are you?
I inquired, “O virtuous lady, who are you and who are these two men lying here? Who are these ladies serving you? Please explain the cause of your distress in detail.”
Bhakti devi introduce herself
The lady said, “My name is Bhakti, and these two are my sons Jnana and Vairagya.12 By the influence of time they have become old and decrepit.13 These women are the holy rivers, such as the Ganges. They have come here to serve me.14 Although I am directly being served by these ladies, still I am not peaceful.15
( 12 Jnana and Vairagya are the natural offspring of devotion to the Lord (S.B. 1.2.7.) )
( 13 “By the influence of time” indicates the age of Kali, in which people lose interest in transcendental knowledge and renunciation. )
( 14 All the holy places are subservient to devotional service. They follow Bhakti. Therefore wherever a devotee goes, that places becomes holy. )
( 15 Transcendental knowledge and detachment from sense gratification naturally follow Bhakti. (S.B. 11.2.43). And discrepancy in this principle implies disturbance in devotional service. )
Bhakti devi life history
O sage, whose only wealth is austerity, though it is well known, please hear my story carefully and grant me solace. I was born in the land of Dravida, in South India, and I grew up in Karnataka. I was respected in the state of Maharastra, but when I came to Gujarata, I lost my youth.16
( 16 This briefly describes the history of the Bhakti movement in the age of Kali.
There were many great Vaisnavas who appeared in the land of Dravida. Later on Ramanujacarya organised and propagated Vaisnavism under the banner of the Sri Sampradaya (S.B. 11.5.38-40).
Madhvacarya appeared in the state of Karnataka and preached very vigorously, nurturing bhakti.
In Maharastra there were some saints such as Tukarma in Pandarpura who propagated bhakti.
But in Gujarata the people were more interested in accumulating wealth and thus bhakti was neglected. )
When one worships the deha (the body), the worship of Deva (the Lord), is neglected.
When bhakti is weak then jnana and vairagya are automatically emaciated.
In Vrindavana Bhakti devi gets her youth
Rogues influenced by Kali-yuga broke my limbs and for a long time I remained in that condition and thus, along with my sons, I have become very weak and impotent. Upon coming to Vrndavana, I regained my youth and beauty, but my two sons, who are lying here, are still old and tired.17
( 17 Vrndavana is the eternal abode of Lord Krsna and thus Bhakti naturally flourishes there. But, if one neglects hearing krsna-katha, then Jnana and Vairagya remain in a fainted state. They get covered by Maya. As Lord Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (5.15) ajnanenavrtam jnanam tena muhynati jantavah. )
Bhakti devi going to Western world ( Srila Prabhupada )
I will leave this place and travel to foreign lands,18
( 18 Idam sthanam parityajya videsam gamyate maya. This statement hints at Srila Prabhupada’s travel to the western world from Vrndavana. It is interesting to note that the Sanskrit proverb used in this sentence is in the passive voice (gamyate). This signifies that she (Bhakti) will be carried by someone. Because the Puranas are compiled by Srila Vyasa, who is an incarnation of the Lord, it is not impossible for him to make such predictive statements. )
Sad condition of Bhakti devi sons
but I feel sad owing to the plight of my sons. We always remain together, so why is it that I am young and they are old? It should be that the sons are young while the mother is old. I am astonished by this and so I lament. You have mystic power and are most intelligent, therefore, please explain this to me.”
Narada Muni console Bhakti devi
Narada said, “O chaste lady, from within my heart I see the cause of your misery, therefore I advise you not to lament. Lord Hari will shower all auspiciousness upon you.”
Suta Gosvami said, “The best of sages, Sri Narada, understood the reason in a moment and said, ‘O beautiful lady, hear attentively from me.
I see no auspiciousness anywhere
Because of this ruthless age (Kali-yuga), good behaviour, yoga, and austerities have all become lost.
People are addicted to cheating, irreligious behaviour, and are like the demon Agha, sin personified.19
( 19 Aghasura was a demon with the body of a python. He swallowed the innocent cowherd friends of Krsna, who later on killed him. Demonic persons, who trouble innocent people and seize their wealth, are like Aghasura. )
At present, saintly people are unhappy and demonic people are enjoying sense gratification.
Under these circumstances, if an intelligent man maintains his fortitude, then he is considered a scholar.
By and by the earth is becoming a burden for Lord Sesa.
At present it is not even worth seeing, what to speak of touching, and I see no auspiciousness anywhere.
Bhakti devi and her two sons neglected in Kali yuga
Everyone neglects you and your two sons. Because of worldly attachment to sense gratification, people are blind. Owing to their negligence,, you have become decrepit.
Glory of Vrndavana
It is only due to the glory of Vrndavana that you have become young again. This land is very auspicious because devotion always dances here. However, your two sons are being neglected and thus their health is failing,20 but by the touch of Vrndavana they remain asleep and breathing.”
( 20 At present in Vrndavana the study of devotional literature such as Srimad Bhagavatam is being neglected and Vairagya is being replaced with cosy life. Yet the land has not lost its power. )
Why King Pariksita did not kill this sinful Kali-yuga?
Bhakti said, “Why is it that King Pariksita did not kill this sinful Kali-yuga? Because of Kali-yuga all objects have lost their essence. Why does the most merciful Lord Hari tolerate irreligion? O sage, please remove this doubt. I feel pacified by hearing your sweet words.”
( Also he do not kill her becouse Kali has fallen before Parikshit and has taken shelter at him, so he as kshatriya realy could not kill her )
Narada Muni explain the reason
Narada said, “O auspicious young lady, now that you have asked, please hear me with attention as I explain everything and thus relieve your misery.
Kali-yuga took control and started obstructing auspiciousness the day Lord Krsna left this planet for His abode.
When King Pariksita travelled on earth, conquering all the kings, he met Kali, who fell at his feet and took shelter of him.
The king, who understood the essence of things just like the bumble bee, decided not to kill him because that goal which is not attainable by penance, yoga meditation, or samadhi, is easily attained in Kali-yuga simply by performing hari-kirtana.21
( 21 Sage Karbhajana confirms this (S.B. 11.5.36).
He spotted this one essential good quality
Although the king knew that Kali-yuga was useless, he spotted this one essential good quality, and understanding that this would make the living beings happy, he spared him. Because humanity is engaged in irreligious and immoral acts, everything has lost its essence. All objects, including the seeds of the earth, are ineffective.22
( 22 The new varieties of grains, fruits and vegetables are hybrids. They yield more produce but are not as nutritious and delicious as the original varieties, which existed since time immemorial. We have experienced this ourselves because the hybrid seeds were introduced very late in India. For example chapatis made from contemporary wheat flour have less flavour, and the texture is not as pleasing as those of bygone years. They become dry and hard very quickly and are not as conducive to health as those made of the desi grain which is now extinct.)
The essence of katha is lost
The brahmanas, being greedy for wealth, are performing Bhagavata-katha in peoples houses and therefore the essence of katha is lost.23
( 23 The purpose of Hari-katha is not to solve economic problems. Its real purpose is to nourish Bhakti along with Jnana and Vairagya. )
Bad pandit and people in holy places
Immoral, atheistic, and sinful people have begun to reside in the holy places, causing the influence of those places to be lost.
Those people whose hearts are always filled with lust, greed and anger make a show of performing austerities, thereby causing the essence of penance to be lost.
Because people are unable to control their mind, they have taken shelter of greed, pretence, and immorality, and have given up the study of scriptures, causing the influence of jnana-yoga to be lost.
Moreover, the pandits, or scholars, are only expert in producing children and enjoying sex like buffaloes.
They are no longer expert in the process of liberation.24
( 24 All the above predictions can be confirmed by paying a visit to holy places like Vrndavana. That the “essence is lost” means one no longer sees their influence. If, however, one performs these activities as prescribed in the scriptures, he will fell the positive influence. )
Furthermore, there are hardly any Vaisnavas coming in bonafide sampradayas and there, everywhere all objects have become ineffective.
This indeed, is due to the influence of Kali and is not the defect of anyone else.
Lord who resides near by, He tolerates this
Therefore, although the lotus-eyed Lord resides near by, He tolerates this.”
Bhakti devi glorifiy Narada Muni – association with a saintly person is indeed the cause of all perfection
Suta Gosvami said, ” O Saunaka, hearing these revealing words of Sri Narada Muni, Bhakti was very surprised. She replied, ‘O saintly person, you are very glorious and it is my good fortune to have met you. Within this material world, association with a saintly person is indeed the cause of all perfection. Just by once meeting you, Sri Prahlada, the son of Kayadhu, conquered Maya, and by your mercy Dhruva Maharaja gained the Dhruva planet. You are the personification of all auspiciousness. I offer my obeisances unto you, the direct son of Lord Brahma.'”
Narada Endeavours to Remove Bhakti’s Distress
Sri Narada advice to bhakti devi-meditete on Krishnas feet
Sri Narada said, “O young lady, why are you in so much anxiety? Don’t be melancholy unnecessary. Just meditate on the lotus feet of Lord Sri Krsna and by His mercy you will be free from all misery.1
( 1. This is the only panacea for anxiety. When the mind is fixed on Krsna, it cannot experience agitation. That’s why devotees are always free from anxiety. )
Lord Krsna has not gone far away
Lord Krsna, who protected Draupadi from the atrocities of the Kauravas and who is the lover of the damsels of Vraja, has not gone far away. Besides, you are Bhakti and more dear to Him than His very life. On your request He even goes to the house of low born people.2
( 2. Lord Krsna is called patita-pavana, the purifier of the fallen, and Dina-bandhu, the friend of the distressed. He does not care for haughty people; He is pleased by humility. Only bhakti can grant liberation )
In Kali-yuga only bhakti can grant liberation
In Satya, Treta and Dvapara-yugas, jnana and vairagya were the means of liberation, but in Kali-yuga only bhakti can grant liberation. Thinking in this way, Lord Hari, the transcendental personification of knowledge, manifested you. You are the very dear beloved of Lord Krsna.
Lord Krsna order to Bhakti devi – “Go and nourish My devotees”
“Once you approached the Lord with folded hands and asked Him what you should do. He said, “Go and nourish My devotees”. You accepted this order which pleased Him very much. To assist you, the Lord sent Mukti as your maidservant and Jnana and Vairagya as your sons.3
( 3. The Lord is pleased with His obedient servants. He grants liberation, knowledge and detachment to the surrendered souls even without their asking. )
Residence of Bhakti Devi
1. You directly reside in Vaikuntha dhama where you nourish the devotees
2. And you expand yourself on this earthly planet for their nourishment as well.4
( 4 Devotional service is the internal potency of the Lord and descends from Him into the material world through disciplic succession. )
You came and happily resided on this earth along with Mukti, Jnana and Vairagya from Satya-yuga to Dvapara-yuga.
In Kali-yuga disease Mukti went back to Vaikuntha
But in Kali-yuga, Mukti contracted the disease of irreligious pretence and languished, and with your permission, went back to Vaikuntha. Now whenever you remember her, she comes to this planet briefly and returns to Vaikuntha.
Jnana and Vairagya become old and weak
Jnana and Vairagya remain with you always because they are like your sons.
Being neglected by the people of Kali-yuga, they have become old and weak, but will soon
recuperate, so you need not worry. I will find a solution to rejuvenate their bodies.
O beautiful faced one, there is no other age like Kali-yuga5 because you will be established in every house as well as in the heart of every person.6
If I do not preach your message I shall not be considered the servant of Lord Hari
Hear my vow. If I do not preach your message, subdue all other religions and make devotional festivals predominant then I shall not be considered the servant of Lord Hari. In Kali-yuga those people who follow you, even if they are sinful, will attain the abode of Lord Krsna without fear.7
( 5. Kali means the age of quarrel and hypocrisy, but it also indicates the age in which the Lord is readily available–kam krsnam lati dadati iti kalih. In other yugas people were healthy, intelligent, alert, and long lived. They had a natural inclination for yoga, penance, study of the Vedas, yajnas and so on. They did not pay heed to devotion, considering it too simplistic. Without bhakti, however, liberation cannot be attained. In previous ages people had to undergo the rigours of the respective processes for many lifetimes in order to realise this fact. But in Kali-yuga there is natural propensity towards bhakti because people in general are not qualified to participate in jnana, yoga, and karma. Therefore this age is glorious. Moreover, Lord Caitanya appeared in Kali-yuga to directly preach the message of bhakti and set the proper example. )
( 6. This statement predicts the appearance of Lord Caitanya who predicted prthivite ache yat nagaradi grama / sarvatra pracara hoibe mora nama. When Narada Muni says that he will establish bhakti, he means it will be done through a devotee. Therefore this verse also hints at the preaching activities of Srila Prabhupada who fulfilled the prophecies of Lord Caitanya and Sri Narada Muni. In fact in America Srila Prabhupada once held a program which very few people attended. When one disciple remarked that not many people had come, Srila Prabhupada said, “That’s not true. The great sage Narada Muni was present.” )
( 7. Everyone on qualified to take to the process of bhakti, regardless of birth or caste.)
Lord is controlled only by bhakti
The people in whose heart you reside become purified and they will not see Yamaraja, the Lord of Death, even in their dreams. Even ghostly beings like pretas, pisacas, raksasas and daityas are not able to trouble those whose hearts are imbued with devotion. The Lord cannot be controlled by austerities, study of the Vedas. by culture of knowledge, or by the fruitive activities described in the Vedas. He is controlled only by bhakti and the gopis are the evidence (pramana) of this.8
( 8. In Vedic culture, the Vedas are considered to be the supreme pramana, though here Sri Narada asserts that the gopis are. This is because the gopis are the topmost knowers and lovers of Krsna. Besides, among the gopis some are known to be the Vedas personified, hence they are also called pramana. )
The strength of bhakti
On the strength of pious activities performed for hundreds of lives one becomes attracted to bhakti, which is the only essence in Kali-yuga. On the strength of bhakti, Lord Krsna Himself appears to the devotee. Those people who are envious of devotion are always miserable no matter where they go within the three planetary systems. In the past, the great sage Durvasa suffered immense misery for offending a devotee.9
( 9. This refers to the story of Ambarisa Maharaja from the Ninth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. )
Bhakti alone can grant liberation
What more can I say? All vratas, tirthas, yogas, sacrifices and talks of knowledge are not needed. Bhakti alone can grant liberation.”
Suta Gosvami continued, “Narada’s conclusion glorified Bhakti and nurtured her.
Bhakti devi request Narada to bring her sons back to normal
Then Bhakti spoke as follows. ‘O Narada, you are very glorious and have unflinching faith in me. Thus I will always reside in your heart and never leave. O saintly person, you are most merciful. Just in a matter of moments you have removed my misery. But my sons have not yet regained their consciousness. Please quickly bring them back to normal.'”
Narada felt very compassionate attempted to wake them up by shaking them
Suta Gosvami said, “Upon hearing these words of Bhakti, Narada felt very compassionate and attempted to wake them up by shaking them with his hands.10
( 10. Narada’s attempt to wake Jnana and Vairagya by shaking them with his hands indicates that knowledge cannot be revived by the process of karma. )
Narada spoke to their ears
He put his mouth to their ears and said, ‘O Jnana wake up, O Vairagya please arise.”11
( 11. Narada’s placing his mouth next to their ear presents the initiation ceremony in which the guru utters mantras into the right ear of the disciple. Mere initiation, however, cannot make one learned or renounced. )
Narada spoke all vedic mantras and shastras
Then he chanted Vedic Mantras, the Vedanta Sutras, and the Upanisads. He recited Bhagavad-gita again and again. With great difficulty, they were revived, but overcome by lethargy, they yawned and were unable to even open their eyes.12
( 12. The lethargy and yawning of Jnana and Vairagya indicate that one can get only a meagre amount of knowledge by recitation of the scriptures mentioned. They do not make one’s consciousness crystal clear. )
State of bhakti and vairagja
Their hair was a white as the feathers of ducks and their bodily limbs were emaciated and powerless. Owing to hunger and thirst they were weak and sleepy. Seeing this, Narada fell into anxiety and contemplated further ways to revive them from old age and sleep.
Voice emanating from the sky
O Saunaka, as the sage Narada, deliberated, meditating on the Supreme Lord, he heard a voice emanating from the sky.13
( 13. The Supersoul guides the sincerely inquisitive person from within. )
Voice from sky spoke: you must perform one specific noble
‘O Devarsi, do not worry, your endeavour will be successful. O sage you must perform one specific noble act that will be revealed to you by some great saintly person.14
( 14. A sincere, inquisitive person should accept the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master. In this way the Lord helps from within and without. )
Jnana and Vairagya will be released
As soon as you complete that activity, Jnana and Vairagya will be released from the clutches of sleep and old age, and bhakti will reign everywhere.’15
( 15. This statement predicts the appearance of ISKCON. )
Lack the guidance of a bona fide teacher and the scriptures
These words were heard by everyone.”
“In astonishment Narada said, ‘I cannot understand the meaning of this indirect statement.16
( 16. Personal realisations which lack the guidance of a bona fide teacher and the scriptures are unclear and insufficient. )
The voice did not clearly explain the path one must follow
The voice did not clearly explain the path one must follow in order to achieve perfection. Nor do I know where to find those saintly persons who will explain the process to me. What must I do to implement this order?'”
Narada Muni travelled to various holy places
Suta Gosvami said, “O Saunaka, bidding farewell to Jnana and Vairagya, Narada Muni travelled to various holy places and met with the saintly people residing there. He asked them to suggest a process by which Jnana and Vairagya could be revived. Some listened carefully but could not give a definite answer.17
( 17 Most people in the garb of saints do not clearly understand the Absolute Reality. They follow hodge-podge philosophy and lacking realisation cannot give satisfactory guidance to their disciples. )
None could offer a satisfactory reply
Others stated that it could not be accomplished, while still others remarked that it was not possible to determined a correct answer. Upon being asked the question, several simply kept quiet while others wriggled away to avoid embarrassment. They were all surprised to hear this question and none could offer a satisfactory reply. They began discussing among themselves as follows, ‘My dear friends, if Jnana and Vairagya could not be revived after the chanting of the Vedas, Vedanta Sutra and recitation of the Bhagavad-gita, then what can be the solution? And if Narada Muni, who is the chief yogi and saint, does not know, then who can answer?'”18
( 18. Here the word “Narada” means the giver of knowledge–naram jnanam dadati iti naradah. )
Sri Narada decided to go to Badari
“In this way, wherever Sri Narada inquired, he got the same answer–that it is very difficult to accomplish. He thus became very worried and decided to go to Badari where he performed penance with the intent to find the solution to revive Jnana and Vairagya. shortly thereafter the Kumaras, headed by Sanaka, appeared there.19
( 19. The Lord appears in the form of the spiritual master to the sincere seeker. )
Narada Muni glorify 4 Kumaras
They were effulgent like a million suns. Seeing them Sri Narada again enquired, “O saintly people, it is by great fortune that I have attained your association. Please be merciful to me and explain that noble process. You are the best of yogis, most knowledgeable and scholarly. Although you appear like five year old boys, you are the senior-most saintly persons. You always reside in Vaikuntha and engage in chanting the holy names. You are always intoxicated with the nectar of Lord Hari’s pastimes, which are your only sustenance.20
( 20. These are the characteristics of a bona fide spiritual master. )
Kumaras are always chanting the mantra harih saranam
You are always chanting the mantra harih saranam and therefore old age, which is caused by the influence of time, does not approach you. Previously, just by the flick of your eyebrows, you whirled Lord Visnu’s gatekeepers, Jaya and Vijaya down to this earth.21
( 21. This story is in the Third Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. )
Please reveal that process which the voice in the sky directed
Later they were reinstated by your mercy. I am most lowly and I feel most fortunate to have your darsana. You are very merciful so kindly bestow your mercy on me. Please reveal that process which the voice in the sky directed me to learn from saintly people. Please explain in detail how to follow that path. How can Bhakti, Jnana and Vairagya become happy? How can they be established in all classes of men?”
The solution is simple
The Kumaras replied, “O sage, Narada Muni, abandon your anxiety and be happy for the solution is simple. O Narada, glorious crest-jewel among the renunciates, you are the guide of those who walk the path of devotion, indeed you are the sun of bhakti-yoga. It is not very surprising that you have undergone this great endeavour for the sake of Bhakti. It is certainly appropriate for a devotee of the Lord to properly establish Bhakti.22 ( 22. This is the duty of every devotee of the Lord. )
We know the procedure the voice in the sky referred
Various sages have propagated many paths, but they are all troublesome and generally can only elevate one to the heavenly planets. Until now, the process by which one can attain the original Personality of Godhead has remained concealed, and it is rare to find one who knows this practice. We know the procedure the voice in the sky referred to and we will explain it to you.23
( 23. A guru is able to dispel all the doubts of his disciple. )
Jnana-yajna, or the sacrifice of knowledge, is the path of liberation
Please hear with an attentive mind. O Narada, sacrifice of material objects, penance, yoga, meditation, study of the Vedas and the path of knowledge, generally only lead toward fruitive activities and grant residence in the heavenly planets. Scholars have said that only jnana-yajna, or the sacrifice of knowledge, is the path of liberation.24
( 24. Here the term ‘knowledge’ is non different from devotion. Knowledge related to the Personality of Godhead is one aspect of bhakti. )
Just by hearing the words of Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhakti, Jnana and Vairagya will be nourished.
This constitutes the study of the Srimad Bhagavatam which has been sung by great personalities like Sukadeva Gosvami. Just by hearing the words of Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhakti, Jnana and Vairagya will be nourished. This will relieve the misery of Jnana and Vairagya and will make Bhakti blissful. As when a lion roars, wolves flee in fear, so merely by the sound of Srimad Bhagavatam, all the vicious qualities of Kali-yuga are destroyed. Bhakti is the flow of love of God and along with Jnana and Vairagya will enter every house and dance in the heart of every living being.”
Narada Munis doubt
Sri Narada said. “I have tried to awaken Jnana and Vairagya by chanting the Vedas, Upanisads and Bhagavad-gita with no success. How is it possible that they will re revived by hearing Srimad Bhagavatam?25
( 25. A disciple should present his doubts to his guru submissively. If he is arrogant a saintly person is not obliged to give the treasure of his knowledge to such an unqualified disciple. )
Story: Fox hunter and king
Please remove my doubt without delay
After all Srimad Bhagavatam is nothing more than the essence of the Vedas. Your darsana never goes in vain and you always protect those who surrender to you, please, therefore, remove my doubt with delay.”
Srimad Bhagavatam is the fruit of the tree of Vedic literature
The Kumaras said: “It is a fact that Srimad Bhagavatam is the essence of the Vedas and Upanisads,26 but it is the fruit of the tree of Vedic literature, it is superior.
( 26. The Vedas and Itihasas mainly deal in dharma, artha, kama and moksa, but the Srimad Bhagavatam speaks only of pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord, Krsna. )
Story: Narada who appear to Vyasa after has compiled all Vedic literature
Essence of Srimad Bhagavatam hidden
The vital fluid of the tree is spread from the root to the tip though it cannot be tasted. When that same fluid accumulates in the fruit however, it tastes very delicious.
Similarly, ghee, which is relishable even to the demigods, is spread throughout cow’s milk, but it cannot be savoured until it is extracted.
Sugar also exists throughout the cane, yet when extracted, it becomes more succulent.
The same applies to the pastimes depicted in Srimad Bhagavatam, which is equal to the Vedas.
You spoke the message of the Bhagavatam in just four verses to Vedavyasa
Srila Vyasadeva has propagated it to establish bhakti, jnana and vairagya.
Once Srila Vyasadeva, who knows the essence of all the Vedas and Upanisads, and is the compiler of the Bhagavad-gita felt dejected and was drowning in an ocean of confusion.
At that time you spoke the message of the Bhagavatam in just four verses. Upon hearing these verses Vyasa was freed from his lamentation. So why are you doubtful and astonished by this?
Recite Srimad Bhagavatam to Jnana and Vairagya
Recite Srimad Bhagavatam to Jnana and Vairagya and their lamentation and misery will be destroyed.”
You are always drinking the nectar of Srimad Bhagavatam
Narada said, “O saintly people, your darsana immediately shatters all the sins of the living entities and brings solace to those being scorched by the fire of material misery. You are always drinking the nectar of Srimad Bhagavatam, which you heard from Lord Sesa.
I have taken shelter of you for the purpose of preaching the message of bhakti, which is characterised by love of God.
Rear association of saintly persons
Only one who has performed greatly pious acts27 for many millions of lifetimes may achieve the association of saintly persons like yourselves and thus get completely free from ignorance caused by material delusion and pride. He then becomes established in proper discrimination.”
( 27. The pious acts mentioned here are those related to devotion such as offering charity to a devotee. )
Story: Narada Muni and brother of Ambharish Maharaja
Bhakti’s Distress is Dispelled
Sri Narada ask where this yajna should be performed
Sri Narada said, “To establish bhakti, jnana and vairagya, I will perform a jnana-yajna by reciting the Srimad Bhagavatam as was spoken by Sri Sukadeva Gosvami. Please explain where this yajna should be performed. You are the knower of the Vedas, therefore please explain the glories of the Srimad Bhagavatam as spoken by Sri Sukadeva Gosvami. Also please explain the proper procedure and duration for the recitation.”
The Kumaras replied
The Kumaras replied, “O Narada, you are very humble and discriminating.1
( 1. Knowledge comes to a humble and discriminate person.)
Go on the bank of Ganges in Haridvar at place called Ananda
We will explain everything to you, so kindly hear from us. Near Haridvara there is a bathing place or ghata on the bank of Ganges called Ananda.2
( 2. Haridvara means the gateway to Lord Hari, and Ananda means bliss. Bliss is in the vicinity of the Lord. Going to Haridvara means becoming favourable to the Lord and giving up the atheistic mentality. In this mood the Bhagavatam reciter will taste bliss. )
Many saintly persons reside there and demigods and perfected beings visit frequently. The place abounds with various types of trees and creepers and the sand is soft and appealing. The beautiful ghata decorates a solitary point on the river.3
Bath one’s mind with beautiful thoughts of Lord Hari
( 3. One should bath one’s mind with beautiful thoughts of Lord Hari. The Ganges represents the flow of transcendental knowledge. “Solitary place” means the absence of improper association. )
In transcendental knowledge he gets free from envy and material attachment.
The fragrance of lotus flowers fills the air and lions and tigers dwell with no animosity toward other animals.4
( 4. When one is in transcendental knowledge he gets free from envy and material attachment. )
By the sound of Bhagavatam they will become young and energetic
Go there and effortlessly start this jnana-yajna, for by the medium of this katha, a novel rasa will become manifest. You will see Bhakti appear along with Jnana and Vairagya, who have become decrepit. Wherever there is recitation of Srimad Bhagavatam, bhakti, jnana and vairagya automatically become manifest. By the sound of Bhagavatam they will become young and energetic.”5
( 5. Sound, or sabda pramana, is the only means to acquire transcendental knowledge.)
Everyone came in haste to drink the nectar
Sri Suta Gosvami said, “After saying this, the Kumaras, desiring to drink the nectar of Srimad Bhagavatam, arrived at the bank of the Ganges, along with Narada.
The news spread all over the earth and throughout the three planetary systems. Those devotees who harboured any taste for hearing the Lord’s pastimes, came in haste to drink the nectar.
Sage like Bhrgu, Vasistha, Cyavana, Gautama, Medhatithi, Devala, Devarata, Parasurama, Visvamitra, Sakala, Markandeya, Dattatreya, Pippalada, Vyasa, Parasara, Chayasuka, Jajali, Jahnu, and all such great saintly persons arrived there along with their family members and disciples.
Besides them, the Vedas, the Upanisads, Mantra, Tantra, the seventeen Puranas and the six philosophical systems came in their personified forms.
Sacred rivers like the Ganges, sacred ponds like Puskara, holy ksetras like Kuruksetra, sanctified forests like Dandaka, all the directions, majestic mountains like the Himalayas, the demigods, Gandharvas, and even Danavas came there to hear hari-katha.
Those who were not inclined to come out of excessive pride, were brought by the great sage Bhrgu who had expertly convinced them.
The Kumaras then sat on a beautiful seat offered by Sri Narada and resolved themselves to recite Srimad Bhagavatam.
In the front of the audience sat Vaisnavas, renunciants, brahmacaris, and Sri Narada Muni sat in front of them.
On the one side sat the sages and on the other the demigods.
One place hosted the Vedas and Upanisads, and another the holy places.
In yet another place sat the women, while all around could be heard, “All glories! All glories!”
As conches resounded and people decorated each other with coloured powder and flowers. Some demigods alighted from their airplanes and from the sky others showered flowers on the audience.”
The Kumaras began reciting the glories of Srimad Bhagavatam – everyone sat with an attentive mind
Suta Gosvami said, “In this way the worship was performed and then everyone sat with an attentive mind. The Kumaras began reciting the glories of Srimad Bhagavatam before the sage Narada. “Now we will describe the glories of Bhagavatam, which by hearing, one attains liberation.
One should always hear Srimad Bhagavatam, for just by doing so, the Lord sits in one’s heart. Bhagavatam has 18 000 verses in twelve cantos and is a dialogue between Sri Sukadeva and King Pariksita.6
( 6. Some scholars propose that Bhagavatam refers to the Devi-bhagavatam, which also has 18 000 verses and twelve cantos, but this statement soundly defeats their claim because the Devi-bhagavatam was not spoke by Sri Sukadeva Gosvami. )
Benefits of hearing Srimad Bhagavatam
The living entity wanders in this world owing to ignorance, until he hears the Bhagavatam Sri Sukadeva Gosvami recited.
Indeed there is no need to hear many scriptures and Puranas as this simply causes confusion.
Srimad Bhagavatam alone is sufficient to grant liberation.
That house where Bhagavatam is recited daily becomes a holy place and those who reside there become free from all sins.
Thousands of horse sacrifices and hundreds Vajapeya sacrifices cannot compare to one sixteenth of the benefit of hearing Srimad Bhagavatam.
O sages, sins reside in a person’s body only until he properly hears Srimad Bhagavatam.
The benefits offered by the Ganges, Gaya, Kasi, Puskara, or Prayaga cannot compare to those derived from hearing the Bhagavatam.
If you at all desire the supreme destination, then you should daily recite at least one half, or even on fourth of a Srimad Bhagavatam sloka.
There is no difference between Omkara, Gayatri Mantra, Purusa-sukta, the three Vedas, Srimad Bhagavatam, the twelve syllable mantra, the twelve features of the sun god, Prayaga, Kala which manifests as a year, brahmana, agnihotra sacrifice, a cow, fasting on ekadasi, Tulasi, spring season and the Personality of Godhead, Krsna.
A person who hears Srimad Bhagavatam day and night and understands its meaning, becomes free from the sins committed in millions of lives. There is no doubt about it.
The person who daily recites even one half or one fourth of a verse of Srimad Bhagavatam gets the benefit of performing the Rajasuya sacrifice (horse sacrifice).
Daily recitation of the Bhagavatam, meditation on the Personality of Godhead, the watering of Tulasi, and rendering service to the cow, are all considered equal.
If a person hears a verse from the Srimad Bhagavatam at the time of death, the Lord becomes pleased and grants him residence in Vaikuntha.
Whoever places the Bhagavatam on a golden throne and donates it to a devotee certainly attains the association of the Personality of Godhead.
A person who does not hear even a part of Srimad Bhagavatam during the whole of his life, lives just like a candala or an ass.
The purpose of his birth is only to give delivery pains to his mother.
A person who has not even heard one verse of the Bhagavatam is very sinful and although living, is actually dead. His life is an utter waste and simply a burden for the earth. This is the statement of Lord Indra, the chief among the demigods.
Indeed it is not very easy to get an opportunity to hear Srimad Bhagavatam. Only a very pious person gets such an opportunity. O Narada, you are very intelligent and the abode of mysticism. Hear this katha with attention. There are no rules restricting the time or date for hearing Bhagavatam.7
One has to use every opportunity to hear Srimad Bhagavatam
( 7. Bhagavatam is transcendental and should be heard whenever one has the opportunity, for a moment passed, never returns. )
Hear Bhagavatam while keeping a vow of celibacy and truthfulness
Considered best is that one should hear Bhagavatam while keeping a vow of celibacy and truthfulness.8
( 8. If one neglects these rules he will not understand the actual message of Srimad Bhagavatam. )
Recommended process of hearing the Bhagavatam in seven days – saptaha sravana
But for the people in Kali-yuga this is very difficult.
Therefore, Sukadeva Gosvami explained a special process for hearing that should be known.
In Kali-yuga the minds of people are always disturbed and thus it is very difficult for them to perform pious activity and follow rules and regulations for a long period.
He has recommended, therefore, a process of hearing the Bhagavatam in seven days, which is called saptaha sravana, or saptaha yajna.
Something is better than nothing
Whatever benefit one derives from hearing Bhagavatam during the month of Magha or anytime, Sukadeva says, that one gets the same benefit by the process of Saptaha. Because people in general are short-lived, always sick, and unable to control their minds, the process of hearing Srimad Bhagavatam in seven days is offered in Kali-yuga.9
( 9. Something is better than nothing, therefore, at least for seven days one should follow the rules and regulations for hearing Srimad Bhagavatam. As far as the devotees are concerned however, ‘seven days’ means everyday just as when people say “I do this seven days a week”, and what they mean is I do this every day of the year. )
Nothing greater then hearing Bhagavatam through the Saptaha Yajna
That benefit which is unattainable through penance, yoga and mystic trance, can be readily attained by properly hearing the Bhagavatam through the process of Saptaha. There is no greater vrata, penance, sacrifice, service to a holy place, meditation, or knowledge than hearing Bhagavatam through the Saptaha Yajna.”
How is it possible that this is a better process of liberation?
Saunaka said, “O Suta Gosvami, you have made very wonderful statements! Certainly Bhagavatam must describe about Lord Krsna, who is the source of Brahma, but how is it possible that this is a better process of liberation then even the path of knowledge?”
Suta Gosvami said, “O Saunaka, when Lord Krsna was about to leave this earthly planet to go to His own abode, He spoke the eleventh canto to Uddhava.
Upon hearing it, Uddhava asked, “O Govinda You have fulfilled Your purpose with respect to Your devotees and as You prepare to return to Your abode, there is one doubt in my mind. Please hear it and grant me solace.
Kali-yuga will begin immediately, and various types of vicious qualities will become manifest.
Who will give the earth shelter?
Saintly people will become demonic and the earth will become over burdened.
Then who will give her shelter? O lotus-eyed Lord, but for You, I do not see anyone who can protect the earth. O Lord, You are very dear to Your devotees and merciful to the saintly persons, therefore, please do not leave. O Lord, You appeared here only for the benefit of Your devotees, so how will Your devotees maintain their lives in your separation? To meditate on Your impersonal feature is very miserable, therefore please do something.10
( 10. Worship of impersonal Brahman is very difficult, and more so for the people of Kali-yuga. Therefore, no one should waste valuable and limited life in such a fruitless pursuit. )
Srimad Bhagavatam solution to give shelter to His devotees
“Hearing these words of Uddhava at Prabhasa, the Lord devised a solution to give shelter to His devotees.
O Saunaka, He invested all His power in the Srimad Bhagavatam along with Himself in His unmanifest form.
We should know, therefore, that Srimad Bhagavatam is the personification of the Lord in the form of sound.
Story: Radharani sending Shukadeva to give message to devotees
Hearing Saptaha, therefore, is the correct means to be freed from the clutches of Maya
One who serves, hears, or even sees the Srimad Bhagavatam becomes free from all sin.
In Kali-yuga, therefore, hearing Bhagavata Saptaha is the chief religion and superior to all other means.
In Kali-yuga this is the only principle which removes sin and relieves the misery of unfortunate people.
It gives them the power to conquer lust, anger, and greed. It is very difficult for the demigods to get relief from Maya, so then, how can mortal beings be expected to become free from her?
Hearing Saptaha, therefore, is the correct means to be freed from the clutches of Maya.”11
( 11. This statement is directed to the common man, for if he is instructed to hear Srimad Bhagavatam daily, he will immediately reject the proposal. But after deliberation he may conclude, “If hearing it for only one week has so many wonderful benefits, then why not hear it everyday?” Therefore, Saptaha is a preaching technique for dull people. Moreover, if one submissively hears Srimad Bhagavatam from a pure devotee, he will surely get free from the clutches of Maya. There is no exaggeration in this statement. )
Bhakti appeared along with her two sons chanting
Suta Gosvami said, “O Saunaka, while the Kumaras were explaining the glory of Saptaha to Narada Muni, a very wonderful thing happened in that assembly.
Bhakti appeared along with her two sons, who had now regained their youth.
She was loudly and repeatedly chanting “Sri Krsna! Govinda! Hare! Murare! O Lord Narayana! Vasudeva!
Understanding it and meditating on its meaning is like decorating Bhakti.
All the assembled people saw that Bhakti had become beautiful by wearing the imports of the Srimad Bhagavatam as ornaments.12
( 12. Just hearing Srimad Bhagavatam is devotional service, but understanding it and meditating on its meaning is like decorating Bhakti. )
Bhakti appeared from the import of the Bhagavata-katha
The sages then began discussing how it was that Bhakti had manifested herself in the assembly, from where had she come, and so on.”
The Kumaras then said, “Bhakti has now appeared from the import of the Bhagavata-katha.
Where bhakti can reside with her sons?
Hearing this, Bhakti and her two sons humbly submitted. ‘In Kali-yuga we were almost lost but now you have rejuvenated us. Please explain where we can reside.’
The Kumaras responded, “You award the Personality of Godhead to your devotees, and you sever the bonds of this material world, therefore with great patience and fortitude you should reside in the hearts of the devotees of Lord Krsna. The defects of Kali-yuga may overpower the whole universe but they will not be able to so much as glance at you.”
Bhakti entered the hearts of the Lord’s devotees
Upon hearing the words of the Kumaras, Bhakti entered the hearts of the Lord’s devotees.
The devotees in whose heart Bhakti resides may appear impoverished, but they are most glorious and opulent, because abandoning His own abode, the Lord Himself comes to reside in their heart, being tied by the rope of devotion.
The Bhagavatam is the personification of the Lord on earth and its glory cannot be described in words.
Anyone who hears or recites Bhagavatam becomes an associate of the Lord, so what is the purpose of religious principles without it?”
nimna-ganam yatha ganga
devanam acyuto yatha
vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh
purananam idam tatha
Just as the Ganga is the greatest of all rivers, Lord Acyuta the supreme among deities and Lord Sambhu (Siva) the greatest of Vaishnavas, so Srimad Bhagavatam is the greatest of all Puranas.
(Srimad Bhagavatam 12.13.16)