Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.2, Part Two
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Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.1.2, Part Two
Continuing the explanation of the second verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, from the words śrīmad-bhāgavate mahā-muni-kṛte:
In these words, the Bhāgavatam indicates its own proper name, as Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī explains. The Bhāgavatam is valuable not only because it creates auspiciousness and removes misfortune; much more importantly, it gives one Bhagavān. That it does so is the meaning of the name Bhāgavatam. This Bhāgavatam is śrīmad in the sense that it is naturally endowed with all of the Supreme Lord’s personal potencies, just as His names and other attributes are so endowed. The suffix -mad in śrīmad indicates permanent, inseparable endowment, not just temporary or conditional possession. A person may be a sannyāsī at some stage of his life and for some time carry a daṇḍa; he has other attributes, however, which are permanent, like his consciousness. Thus the proper name of this book is the full title Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Just as a blue lotus is not properly identified by calling it only “blue” or only “lotus,” so śrīmad is not simply an adjective to be optionally added to Bhāgavatam. Still, when the book is called Bhāgavatam for short, the abbreviation, used out of familiarity, is acceptable, just as those who have affection for Queen Satyabhāmā sometimes call her Bhāmā.
As the most excellent book, the Bhāgavatam is connected with the most excellent authors. It is actually eternal, but like other apauruṣeya scriptures it is credited to the sages who at various times received it in their meditation and spoke it for others. As Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī points out, the first mahā-muni, greatest of sages, who taught the Bhāgavatam was the Supreme Lord Nārāyaṇa, who spoke it to Lord Brahmā in a brief form. Brahmā then spoke the Bhāgavatam to Nārada, who empowered Vyāsadeva to deliver it to the human race living in Kali-yuga. Among all the great sages on the face of the earth, Vyāsa is famous as the greatest, though a number of other sages are much elder to him. Vyāsadeva edited all the Vedas just before the beginning of this age, and after the mature contributions of his own books Mahābhārata and the Vedānta-sūtras, he received the order from his guru to culminate his literary work with Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
No other scripture is as valuable as the Bhāgavatam. Other scriptures and the spiritual methods they teach may help people achieve God consciousness, but only gradually and not to the fullest extent. Karma-kāṇḍa scriptures only indirectly make one qualified for the jñāna-kāṇḍa, which again only incrementally approaches the goal of devotional life. Karma-kāṇḍa worship of demigods is only indirectly devotional service. Only a small fraction of all Vedic literatures teach devotional service mixed with motives of karma and jñāna, and only an even smaller handful of books teach pure devotional service. No other text provides as complete and systematic a presentation of pure bhakti as does Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam can empower a finite soul to capture the Supreme Lord in his heart and to do it quickly and easily. The secret to achieving this effortless success is a single qualification we each must have: real eagerness to hear. Once we have earned that qualification in the way that will be explained in this chapter, the Lord is at once captured and can never again escape.
Kṛṣṇa begins to reveal Himself even early in the process of faithful hearing of the Bhāgavatam, and even a little taste in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is something a person can never forget, even if he tries to fall back into illusion. And as Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī reveals, the full faith of a devotee who has achieved prema brings Kṛṣṇa under the devotee’s control. Kṛṣṇa can be dominated by pure love and only by pure love.
Successful practitioners of devotional service are called kṛtī, “competent.” The competent kṛtī devotees as well as the less competent are all fit candidates for studying Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The kṛtīs are addressed in the next (third) verse in the words “Drink this nectar, O expert and thoughtful men,” and the less competent are referred to later in the words “Śukadeva spoke this out of compassion for those who are suffering in the cycle of birth and death.”
Śuśrūṣu means “wanting to hear,” and by convention it further means “wanting to serve.” This is the prerequisite for entering the study of the Bhāgavatam: readiness to accept and live by what one hears. The śuśrūṣus are also kṛtī, meaning they have accumulated in this life and previous lives the credit of good works (control of the senses and mind, ritual sacrifice, study of scripture, charity, and so on). It cannot be expected that everyone will become serious to hear the Bhāgavatam. Those who do become serious should be understood to have worked hard in the past to qualify themselves for it.
This second verse of invocation is spoken by Vyāsadeva. It offers the sage’s blessings to the readers that by listening to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam they can realize Kṛṣṇa and eventually achieve love for Him. Devotees of the Bhāgavatam can thus become the perfect souls described in this verse by the words parama-haṁsānāṁ satām even without the bother of following the tedious methods of ritual sacrifice, philosophical analysis, and demigod worship. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the most excellent scripture, is the distillation of everything of value in the karma-kāṇḍa, jñāna-kāṇḍa, and upāsanā-kāṇḍa refined to absolute purity. It is strongly recommended to all sincere souls to hear the Bhāgavatam constantly.
To emphasize this topmost importance of the Bhāgavatam, the word atra (“here”) is repeated three times in this verse: The Supreme Lord is captured only in this book and nowhere else. The most substantial truth is revealed only in this book and nowhere else. And all forms of cheating religion are excluded only in this book and nowhere else.
The next session continues with explanation of the third verse.