7-Minute Bhagavatam

7-Minute Bhagavatam

Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.2, Part One
by
Gopiparanadhana Dasa
Language 
English
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Transcript 


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.1.2, Part One
Continuing the explanation of the first chapter of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam with the second verse:
dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavo ’tra paramo nirmatsarāṇāṁ satāṁ
 vedyaṁ vāstavam atra vastu śiva-daṁ tāpa-trayonmūlanam
śrīmad-bhāgavate mahā-muni-kṛte kiṁ vā parair īśvaraḥ
 sadyo hṛdy avarudhyate ’tra kṛtibhiḥ śuśrūṣubhis tat-kṣaṇāt
“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. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. This beautiful Bhāgavatam, compiled by the great sage Vyāsadeva [in his maturity], is sufficient in itself for God realization. What is the need of any other scripture? As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhāgavatam, by this culture of knowledge the Supreme Lord is established within his heart.”
This verse, which I will take two sessions to discuss, declares what of value can be found in the Bhāgavatam. Here (atra), in this book Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, is presented the supreme dharma, which excludes everything dishonest (kaitava). Dharma is the proper function of human beings, and it can be understood in terms of what people call religion. Religion is normally thought of as rules of piety and ritual worship, and the usual motives for such religious activities are material progress, sense gratification, and, for the few who lose interest in material happiness, liberation from birth and death. Since these are material motives, the Bhāgavatam rejects them as forms of dishonesty. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam will not teach one how to obtain any kind of material success.
Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī comments that dishonesty in dharma means the pursuit in one form or another of selfish profit. He adds that aiming for liberation is also a kind of dishonesty because it is ultimately a selfish pursuit. That all these motives, including the desire for liberation, are thrown out is indicated by the prefix pra- in the word projjhita: ujjhita means “thrown out,” and projjhita means “thrown out completely.”
Human civilization should distinguish itself from animal society by promoting the completely honest program of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The four pursuits of dharma, artha, kāma, and mokṣa are useful when they serve the higher purpose of reviving the soul’s relationship with God, but without this they are nothing but the mutual exploitation of cheaters and those who are cheated. In materialistic human society, selfishness causes everyone to be envious of everyone else, and even religious piety is selfishly motivated. But at least when one follows the authority of the Vedas, this envy and selfishness is regulated to ensure the fair distribution of sense gratification and gradual purification.
The kind of dharma taught in the Bhāgavatam is vāstavaṁ vastu, something of real substance. It comprises only the highest principles of spiritual life, those understandings and practices that promote pure devotion, with only one final purpose, the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. Only those who are most qualified spiritually – who are nonenvious, pure in heart, and devoted to God – can take fully to this dharma. Those who are less qualified because of material ambition and envy of others will not even be interested in the dharma taught by Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. They will instead be satisfied with the inferior dharmas cultivated by practice of ritual karma and impersonal philosophy. Their envy will drive them to compete with others to become the best ritualists, the best meditators, the best mental speculators. They will hardly ever concentrate on God and His pleasure. Sincere devotees of the Supreme Lord, however, simply want to please Him with whatever service they can do. They are nirmatsarāṇām, free from the inability to tolerate the success of others, and satām, saintly in the sense that they have compassion for suffering souls.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī suggests that even the unsaintly and envious have hope if they can be inspired to hear repeatedly from the Bhāgavatam. Regularly hearing and serving the Bhāgavatam’s message will free them from their disqualifications.
Karmīs are generally envious competitors, but jñānīs and yogīs too have a competitive spirit, although it is more subtle. The impersonal scriptures preferred by jñānīs teach something about the Supreme Truth but fail to reveal the highest knowledge of a personal relationship with the Supreme. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, however, propounds this highest truth.
Vāstavam atra vastu: This book reveals the most substantial reality, distinguished from illusion. It does not contain information only about material objects and their qualities and movements. Rather, the Personality of Godhead is the real, original substance, and whatever has emanated from Him in the spiritual and material worlds is secondary in its various categories of existence.
Or, looking at this in a different way, the word vāstava indicates what is derived from the original vastu, namely, the finite living entities, material nature, and the material world that evolves from her. All these vāstavas are explained in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as integrally related to the vastu. The Bhāgavatam endorses neither absolute oneness nor absolute plurality, but rather, the doctrine of inconceivably simultaneous sameness and difference, which the authorities in the line of Caitanya Mahāprabhu identify as the true teaching of Śrīla Veda-vyāsa in his Vedānta-sūtras. Materialists are wrong to present nature as supreme, and impersonalists are wrong to present the Absolute Truth as devoid of form and qualities.
Furthermore, the substantial reality revealed in the Bhāgavatam is the bestower of incomparable happiness and the dispeller of all three kinds of suffering. According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī, this highest possible happiness is found in becoming a loving companion of the Supreme Lord; that happiness is the actual benefit of studying Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. A second result of realizing the Bhāgavatam’s vāstava vastu is the elimination of miseries caused by body and mind, by other persons, and by the powers of nature; this, in other words, is liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Liberation is offered as an afterthought following the real benediction. At its very beginning the Bhāgavatam announces that having the distinct role of the Supreme Lord’s servant is more significant than the idea of being one with Him.
The discussion of this verse continues in the next session.