7-Minute Bhagavatam

7-Minute Bhagavatam

Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.22
by
Gopiparanadhana Dasa
Language 
English
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Transcript 


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.2.22 and 1.2.23, Part One
Continuing the explanation of the second chapter of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam with verse twenty-two:
ato vai kavayo nityaṁ
 bhaktiṁ paramayā mudā
vāsudeve bhagavati
 kurvanty ātma-prasādanīm
“Certainly, therefore, since time immemorial, all transcendentalists have been rendering devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, with great delight, because such devotional service is enlivening to the self.”
Because hearing and chanting about the Supreme Lord is the most effective way to revive the soul’s relationship with Him, it is concluded here that kavis always worship Him with great pleasure. Śrīla Prabhupāda translates kavayo as “all transcendentalists” and vāsudeve as “Lord Kṛṣṇa.” Some may judge this rendition as not literal enough, but if any liberty has been taken it is simply that of reading the Bhāgavatam’s overall purport into this verse. Sūta Gosvāmī is developing his presentation gradually; before he said that those who know the Supreme describe it in three forms, and now he is drawing his focus only to Bhagavān. Later he will say kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. Let others interpret this statement as they may, but Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī argues from it at great length in his Kṛṣṇa-sandarbha to prove that Kṛṣṇa is the original Godhead and Lord Vāsudeva and all other forms of God derive from Him.
The word kavi that Śrī Sūta uses here can be understood in various ways. Poets are called kavis, and so, sometimes, are scholars in general. The sages who sound the Vedic hymns in their meditation are called kavis or sūris. Śrīla Prabhupāda chooses to say “all transcendentalists,” but obviously he doesn’t mean by this to include the impersonal jñānīs and yogīs. In his purport he specifies “the higher transcendentalists,” those who not only have some appreciation for Bhagavān but who participate in His eternal pastimes.
Nityam, “always,” can also be understood variously. It can mean that higher transcendentalists spend all their time in Kṛṣṇa conscious meditation, or it can mean that there have always been such sages, going back to the beginning of the creation – or, as Śrīla Prabhupāda puts it, “since time immemorial.”
The “less intelligent persons” in whose opinion Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are “newly accepted” are the academic speculators who assume the Bhāgavatam’s own outline of history must be a fiction. They tell us that there could not have been advanced civilization millions of years ago, and that Kṛṣṇa and His biographer Vyāsa could not have lived five thousand years ago. Unfortunately, those who have no faith in the Bhāgavatam’s authority cannot understand its message.
Now verse twenty-three:
sattvaṁ rajas tama iti prakṛter guṇās tair
 yuktaḥ paraḥ puruṣa eka ihāsya dhatte
sthity-ādaye hari-viriñci-hareti saṁjñāḥ
 śreyāṁsi tatra khalu sattva-tanor nṛṇāṁ syuḥ
“The transcendental Personality of Godhead is indirectly associated with the three modes of material nature, namely, passion, goodness, and ignorance, and just for the material world’s creation, maintenance, and destruction He accepts the three qualitative forms of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva. Of these three, all human beings can derive ultimate benefit from Viṣṇu, the form of the quality of goodness.”
This verse gives a good reason why higher transcendentalists worship Vāsudeva. Brahmā, Śiva, and Viṣṇu may all be manifestations of the same Absolute Truth, but Viṣṇu is definitely superior to the other two; worshiping Him leads to spiritual perfection whereas worship of the other two does not. The word yukta is used here to express that the Supreme Person makes contact with material nature. But, as Śrīla Prabhupāda clarifies in his translation, He is only “indirectly associated.” Brahmā and Śiva are limited souls who experience some influence, however slight, of passion and ignorance. Viṣṇu, however, even after participating in the material creation, remains untouched. Therefore He alone is all-powerful.
Saṁjñāḥ means “names.” The Supreme Lord expands Himself to appear under the names of the deities of the modes. They are His own forms, although two of them are separated expansions, finite jīvas, and they serve to rule the three qualities of nature. As Śrīla Prabhupāda says it, they are the Lord’s “qualitative forms.”
All human beings have the privilege to worship the Supreme Lord; no one need be satisfied with worshiping anyone less. Anyone worshiping a pastime avatāra of Viṣṇu is still considered a Vaiṣṇava as long as the Lord worshiped is a “plenary part” – that is to say, the absolute Lord Himself rather than a limited deity who can be influenced by Māyā.
The discussion of this verse continues in the next session.