A devotee shares his realizations about reading, speaking on, and seeking shelter of Srimad-Bhagavatam
WHAT IS SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM?
When Krsna appears in the form of matter as stone or marble, He is called Deity; when He appears as fish, we call Him Matsya when He appears as tortoise, we call Him Kurma; when He appears as half man-half lion, we call Him as Nrsimhadeva and when Krsna appears as an ideal human being, we call Him Rama. Similarly, when Krsna appears in the form of sound vibration or in the form of a book, He is known as Srimad-Bhagavatam the beautiful sound incarnation of the Lord.
Srimad-Bhagavaram is a compilation of questions asked about Krsna and His devotees, and answers given by the sages, who in their descriptions have decorated Krsna's beautiful transcendental form with ornamented, devotional language and sound.Words by themselves are hollow but when they are brought together for decorating Krsna, then they become all attractive Srimad-Bhagavatam. lt is a combination of sound vibrations that glorify Krsna's transcendental name, form, beauty, and pastimes. It is an alankar, an ornament of Krsna's all attractive potency.Amongst all the sanskrit scholars, it is accepted th at the Sanskrit which is used in the Srimad-Bhagavatam is of the highest perfection. And one is considered to be a complete scholar only wh en one masters Srimad Bhagavaram. Even the type of poetry which is used in Srimad-Bhagavatam is the highest. Just to give an example, if you take gopi geet SB Can ro 10 Chapter 31), every verse of the gopi geet has a pattern.Take the first verse:
tava karhamrtam rapta-jivanmit
kavibhir iditam kalmalapaham
sravana-mangalam srimad aratam
bhuvi granti ye bhuri-da janah (S.B. 10.31.9)
These lines have been composed so beautifully that the first syllable and the seventh syllable of everyline is the same, and also the second syllable of all four lines is same. In the First line tava karhamrtam taptajivanam the second syllable of the second syllable of the second line
kavibhir iditam is again va; of third
line sravana-mangalam too, and of
fourth line bhuvi gmanti is again va.
GOPlS are in separation but they are not crying wildly. When we are in separation and distress we cry incoherently.But when gopis are in separation,when they are in distress, they cry out verses in exquisite Sanskrit poetry with extraordinarily beautiful poetic meter.
This is considered one of the best meters and is known as bhujanga pray It is described that the Vedas instruct like a master instructs a servant. The Puranas instruct like a friend; and the Kavyas or the poetic compositions instruct like a lover. There is difference in all the three: the master orders, "Do it!", a friendbegs, "Please do it, it will be good for you." And a lover implores with the most tender feelings. Srimad Bhagavaram combines all three Srimad-Bhagavaram instructs like a master, appeals like a friend, and pleads likea lover.In this way, Srimad-Bhagavaram is considered the topmost quintessence of all the spiritual and transcendental literatures. It is the highest and the purest.
SPIRIT OF STUDYING SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM
This spirit is described in Srimad Bhagavatam itself. Vyasadeva was sitting in the intense, icy cold of Badrinatha, compiling the four vedas, eighteen Puranas, 108 Upanisads,Vedanta-sutras etc. All this was in classic Sanskrit with not even a single mistake. He accomplished enough to ensure everlasting fame, glory, and recognition. But Vyasadeva was not interested in these achievements. He wasinterested into getting a genuine experience, and he knew it is not available simply by accumulating achievements Inspite of all this, Vyasadeva was still dissatisfied and so when Narada Muni appeared he exclaimed, "I wrote all the different literatures following your instructins but still I am not fully satisfied. I have managed to create a big library but my heart is empty. tathapi natma paritusyate me I am not fully satisfied."
This conversation is very important. If we are looking for simply accumulating achievements and making show to the world then we may be satisfied only with the superficials. But if we are looking for inner satisfaction in life then we have to go beyond the superficial and experience something spiritually tangible.
Even after such a profuse literary output, Srila Vyasadeva was so humble that he sought guidance from Narada Muni, who himself had not written even a single book! This is the most important aspect: that Srimad Bhagavatam came into being, because it's author inspite of having achieved so much in the field of authorship, was still very humble. He still felt that there was someone who could correct him. This is the most significant part of the Srimad Bhagavaram that it was born because the author was humble, submissive, and willing to be corrected without becoming agitated.
Srila Vyasadeva further asked, "Please tell me what is the root cause of my dissatisfaction?" In answering, rada Muni chastised Vyasadeva. He said, "jugupsitam dharma-krte nusasarah: what you have written may be ok, but in one sense its all useless; it is abominable from philosophical point of view." After having written four Vedas, 108 Upanijads, 18 Puranas, and Vedanta-sutras – everything in perfect grammar, Vyasadeva has to hear this. Please imagine what kind of humility is needed to accept this type of a feedback. Vyasadeva did not flare at Narada Muni, but realized that there must be a plan behind this. Submissivelyhe inquired, "Please tell me what I shall do now?"
The entire Srimad-Bhagavatam wasborn from this spirit of humility and therefore if we want to enter into Bhagavatam then we have to enter into this dialogue, and only then the essence will be revealed to us. Only in a feeling of humility, we can actually enter the mysteries of Srimad-Bhagavatam and therefore we say it can be understood only by sitting at the feet of a person Bhagavata. The author himself has shown this by his own example. The whole mood was surcharged with submissiveness, humility, willingness to please his guru Narada Muni and therefore, Srimad-Bhagavatam tastes sweet; if Vyasadeva had been in a bitter state,he couldn't have produced something sweet.
FACING CHALLENGES IN DAILY LIFE
It is the mercy of Srila Prabhupada that we are in an institution where we have a chance to become humble at every moment. When we have difficulty, say, with a person and we feel that "I just can't deal with this person" we should feel that "No, this is the only chance to become humble and enter into Srimad-Bhagavaram." Srimad-Bhagavatam can be absorbed only by bhakti, not by intelligence or by just studying commentaries.
bhaktya bhilgavatam grahyam
na buddhya na ca tikaya
(Cc Madhya 24.313).
Transalation: "Srimad-Bhilgavatam, the spotless Purana, can be learned only through devotional service, not by material intelligence, speculative methods or imaginary commentaries. And what is bhakti? It is to submissively follow the instructions of your superiors.
yat pada-samsrayah suta munayah
prasamayanah sadyah punanty
upasprstahsvar – dhunyapo' nusevaya
"O Suta, those great sages who have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord can at once sanctify those who come in touch with them, whereas the waters of the Ganges can sanctify onlyafter prolonged use." (S.B. 1.1.15) In the course of our service to Srila Prabhupada and spiritual master, there will be various obstacles and problems, and we may even find people judging or misunderstanding us. If we are weak, we will succumb to this test and may think, "I can't do it." But these tests are given so as to increase our enthusiasm to serve more effectively and seek more shelter. By serving the erson Bhagavatas, we will get entrance into the book Bhagavatam.
HY READ SRlMAD BHAGAVATAM?
Vyasadeva has revealed this in the first verses that he writes about Srimad-Bhagavatam:
yasyam vai sruyamanayam
krsne parama – puruse
bhaktir utpadyate pumsah
soka – moha – bhayapaha
"Simply by giving aural reception to thisVedic literature, the feeling for loving devotional service to Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, sprouts up at once to extinguish the fire of lamentation, illusion and fearfulness."(S.B. 1.7.7)
Simply by hearing Srimad Bhagavatam what happens? bhaktir utpadyate- bhakti is aroused. The sun of devotion rose in the coldest part of the planet Badrinatha and the raysspread all over the universe. And as soon as the sun of bhakti arises the darkness of soka, bhaya, moha – lamentation, fear, and illusion disappears. This is the result of hearing Srimad Bhagavatam.