7-Minute Bhagavatam

7-Minute Bhagavatam

Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.10-12
by
Gopiparanadhana Dasa
Language 
English
Listen to podcast 
Transcript 


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.1.10, 1.1.11, and 1.1.12
Continuing the explanation of the first chapter of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam with verse ten:
prāyeṇālpāyuṣaḥ sabhya
 kalāv asmin yuge janāḥ
mandāḥ sumanda-matayo
 manda-bhāgyā hy upadrutāḥ
“O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky, and, above all, always disturbed.”
This is why the people of this age cannot be expected to perfect their lives by studying all the Purāṇas, epics, and smṛti handbooks of varṇāśrama-dharma: they don’t live long enough to spend the time for all this study, and even when their lives are longer than average, they are most often disinterested in spiritual improvement. And, even if they have the good fortune to associate with saintly devotees, they are too disturbed by illness and other troubles to take good advantage and put to practice what they hear. The means of perfection will have to be presented to them as directly and simply as possible.
People in this age have forgotten how to live naturally. Therefore their lives are miserable and short. Even the most intelligent and creative have to work for pay, surrendering their autonomy to corporations and governments. A brāhmaṇa is unquestionably degraded by becoming a paid servant; his word loses its power because it is no longer his own. People may still pursue education in this age, but for all the wrong reasons and by all the wrong methods. Spiritual life is neglected in the schools, or it is falsely represented by impersonalists and selfish materialists.
Now, text eleven:
bhūrīṇi bhūri-karmāṇi
 śrotavyāni vibhāgaśaḥ
ataḥ sādho ’tra yat sāraṁ
 samuddhṛtya manīṣayā
brūhi bhadrāya bhūtānāṁ
 yenātmā suprasīdati
“There are many varieties of scriptures, and in all of them there are many prescribed duties, which can be learned only after many years of study in their various divisions. Therefore, O sage, please select the essence of all these scriptures and explain it for the good of all living beings, that by such instruction their hearts may be fully satisfied.”
The Vedic social system began to break down just after Kṛṣṇa finished His pastimes in this world, and the sages at Naimiṣa forest foresaw the upcoming degradation of human life. Because the principles of varṇāśrama are meant to provide direction for persons in all conditions and on all levels of spiritual advancement, there are many kinds of scriptures teaching various practices. As a complete system, the Vedic way used to lead constantly toward the perfection of pure bhagavad-bhakti, but as the system collapses because of lack of real brāhmaṇas to guide and kṣatriyas to protect, the remaining piecemeal Vedic methods lose their coherence and efficacy long before they fade out altogether.
It will no longer be practical, the sages saw, to expect even well-educated people to study and live by many śāstras. Those in this age who study many śāstras anyway – and who are proud of it – will be no better off for this achievement, only adding arrogance to their spiritual ignorance. Therefore Sūta Gosvāmī is being asked, “Please simplify, simplify! Pick out the essence – the easiest way all living beings can revive their natural happy life.”
Now, text twelve:
sūta jānāsi bhadraṁ te
 bhagavān sātvatāṁ patiḥ
devakyāṁ vasudevasya
 jāto yasya cikīrṣayā
“All blessings upon you, O Sūta Gosvāmī. You know for what purpose the Personality of Godhead appeared in the womb of Devakī as the son of Vasudeva.”
Prepared to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam after hearing all the other Purāṇas, the sages have by now become unanimous in their eagerness to hear only what is directly connected to Kṛṣṇa. They do not even want to waste time speaking long benedictions to Śrī Sūta, so they simply tell him bhadraṁ te. They first asked nonspecifically about the highest benefit for people, and this second question, which they speak in this twelfth verse and the four following it, focuses on their real interest. Here they indicate directly that the essence of all spiritual practices they asked about before is in fact hearing and chanting Kṛṣṇa’s glories.
Kṛṣṇa took birth, or more properly speaking showed Himself to the eyes of this world, accepting Vasudeva and Devakī as His parents. As Lord Śiva explains to his wife in the Fourth Canto of the Bhāgavatam, sattvaṁ viśuddhaṁ vasudeva-śabditaṁ / yad īyate tatra pumān apāvṛtaḥ: The Supreme Lord displays Himself not through any material medium but only in the transcendental mode of goodness. That viśuddha-sattva is also called Vasudeva. Kṛṣṇa is famous for appearing to relieve the earth of her burden of demoniac kings, but that was only His apparent purpose. He really came to reveal His glories by protecting His dear devotees – not just by killing some petty antagonists but, more importantly, by saving them from the pain of not having Him in their company. The term sātvata refers to all Vaiṣṇavas, but also, in particular, to the Yadu clan.