7-Minute Bhagavatam

7-Minute Bhagavatam

Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.1-2
by
Gopiparanadhana Dasa
Language 
English
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Transcript 


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.2.1 and 1.2.2
Beginning this reading with Canto 1, chapter 2, text 1.
vyāsa uvāca
iti sampraśna-saṁhṛṣṭo
 viprāṇāṁ raumaharṣaṇiḥ
pratipūjya vacas teṣāṁ
 pravaktum upacakrame
“Ugraśravā [Sūta Gosvāmī], the son of Romaharṣaṇa, being fully satisfied by the perfect questions of the brāhmaṇas, thanked them and thus attempted to reply.”
In this second chapter of the Bhāgavatam, Ugraśravā Sūta, the son of Romaharṣaṇa, begins to answer the six questions posed to him by the sages. The first four questions – about the highest good for mankind, the essence of the Vedas’ teachings, the purpose of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s appearance, and His pastime activities – are answered in this chapter; the last two questions – about the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa’s various avatāras, and where shelter for spiritual life can be found in Kṛṣṇa’s absence – will be answered in the next chapter. In his very first instructions in chapter two, Sūta Gosvāmī outlines the scope of devotional education. He mentions the subject of such education (the Personality of Godhead), the practical application of the educational theory (devotional service), and the final goal to be achieved (pure love for the Supreme Lord).
Now verse two:
sūta uvāca
yaṁ pravrajantam anupetam apeta-kṛtyaṁ
 dvaipāyano viraha-kātara ājuhāva
putreti tan-mayatayā taravo ’bhinedus
 taṁ sarva-bhūta-hṛdayaṁ munim ānato ’smi
“Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī said: Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto that great sage [Śukadeva Gosvāmī] who can enter the hearts of all. When he went away to take up the renounced order of life [sannyāsa], leaving home without undergoing reformation by the sacred thread or the ceremonies observed by the higher castes, his father, Vyāsadeva, fearing separation from him, cried out, ‘O my son!’ Indeed, only the trees, which were absorbed in the same feelings of separation, echoed in response to the begrieved father.”
Before answering the sages’ questions Sūta Gosvāmī offers respects in three verses to his instructing spiritual master Śukadeva and to his worshipable Deities. In the first two of these verses he remembers Śrīla Śukadeva’s transcendental qualities, indirectly revealing his guru’s spiritual power by describing his unique behavior.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī tells us what Sūta Gosvāmī must have been thinking: “I have to answer the sages with my opinion of what is the essential teaching of all the revealed scriptures. It’s not going to be at all good if what I propose does not satisfy their hearts. After all, they asked me ‘what gives full satisfaction to the heart.’ I have to carefully identify what realized sages have ascertained to be the source of real satisfaction for the soul. Some sages consider such satisfaction to be derived from the study of Sāṅkhya, others look to the Mīmāṁsā, others to the Upaniṣads, and still others to the Vedānta-sūtras, which interpret the purport of the Upaniṣads. But I cannot put my full faith in these opinions since the chief of all of these sages, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana, even after mastering all these philosophies and compiling the Vedānta-sūtras, remained unsatisfied. When Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam appeared, however, Dvaipāyana Vyāsa felt full satisfaction. And when the Bhāgavatam was spoken to Parīkṣit in the assembly of the most brilliant sages, proponents of all different doctrines, as the essence of the scriptures, the Bhāgavatam passed their scrutiny and they unanimously proclaimed it as pure as unalloyed gold and the only scripture capable of giving complete satisfaction. Therefore what I need to speak is Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and I need to begin by paying homage to its speaker Śrī Śukadeva, begging for his shelter.”
In the prayer offered in this verse Śrī Sūta remembers Śrī Śukadeva’s renunciation of everything material. As soon as he was born Śukadeva abandoned the comfort of his father’s home. He took sannyāsa not by any formal ritual but by doing what in essence is the proper activity of a sannyāsī: leaving material association and going off to wander the earth. He did not take advantage of the opportunity to learn the Vedas from his father, the editor of all the Vedas. He could have remained at home for a while to receive from his father upanayana, investiture with the sacred thread, but he was not interested even in that. Without the sacred thread a boy born in a brāhmaṇa family is not considered fit to begin Vedic study, and conditioned souls need to learn from the Vedas to reawaken their attraction to the Supreme Truth. Śukadeva was not a conditioned soul; he didn’t care for any purification rituals or Vedic education since he was already determined to dedicated himself to the Supreme.
According to Śrīla Viśvanātha, in this state of mind Śukadeva was in intimate communion with the Supersoul. When his father called pathetically for him to come back, he paid no attention, but the Paramātmā in his heart showed respect to Vyāsadeva by Himself arranging a response. Also present in the hearts of the nearby trees, the Paramātmā inspired the trees to share Vyāsadeva’s pain of separation and echo his cries. Vyāsadeva’s sorrow should not be judged a fault because his attachment to his great son was perfectly spiritual.
Śrīla Prabhupāda in his purport to this verse discusses the process of becoming a twice-born dvija, then a learned vipra, and then a Vaiṣṇava. In Kali-yuga this spiritual path is forgotten, and brahminical initiation becomes a mere formality for social status. We should remember that Ugraśravā Sūta, the honored speaker at the assembly of sages and brāhmaṇas at Naimiṣāraṇya, was not himself a brāhmaṇa by the standards of proud materialists.