śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year 10, Issue 8
Posted: 12 September 2017

Dedicated to
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja

The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam

by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda


One will not attain salvation by studying Vedānta for millions upon millions of years. No good will come of squeezing one’s nose (during prāṇāyama) even if one practices for all eternity and thereby acquires the power to rise into the sky to a height of ten or twenty cubits. True well-being will be available to all the people of the world if they listen to the discourse of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatamfrom one who is oneself a bhāgavata (leading the practical life of a true bhakta without maintaining the slightest attachment for the life of a karmī or a monistic jñānī).

There will be no harm even if all the books of the world are burnt away, so long as there is at least this one treatise left: the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. There would be no inconvenience felt even if thousands of learning centres were abolished, if only the reading and teaching of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam continues. But what a wonder! What a phantom! This book of books has been converted into a commodity of trafficking! The course of the world is just the opposite of the teaching Gaurasundara (Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu) gave.

There is no other book in the world like the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. This is not a mere tittle-tattle. If one reflects on it as a truly impartial judge, one will realize that there has not been any book like the Bhāgavatam, nor will there be any other. In this book, a consideration of gradual evolution has been presented in a sequence of better and better conceptions: from skeptic, to atheistic, and on through attribute-less, neuter, masculine, coupled, coupled by marriage and at last, coupled secretly – such different conceptions.

* * *

Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s sports are described in the Tenth Canto, so what was the necessity of composing the other nine cantos and placing them first? In those nine cantos deliberations on each of these conceptions have been shown in order to prepare the ground for introducing the main subject: Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental sportive dalliances with the gopīs, who are out of wed-lock, as described in the songs of the Tenth Canto like Gopī-gīta. There have been many who have read the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam before Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came into this world, but only those who have read it after reading the Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta written by Śrī Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī – one of Mahāprabhu’s chief followers in the line of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī – have been able to comprehend the real import and the actual object of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam; they have read the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam inside the Caritāmṛta.

The unrefined, ease-loving people pretending to be Vaiṣṇavas may read the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and profit-seekers may explain it for a price, but they will only misconstrue and cover the true reading: the conceptions in accordance with the Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta in the line of the followers of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. Their elucidation may even please the material minds of their readers and listeners; but with that they may only make the path to hellish existence easier to access for themselves and their admirers.

The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, as defined in its third verse, is the succulent fruit of the kalpataru, or desire-fulfilling tree, known as the Vedas. The non-devotees crave for dharma (piety, or puṇya), artha (affluence), kāma (objects of desire) and mokṣa (emancipation). There are those whose desire or mental determination does not chase after such insipid or unsavory things. They have put to rest their desires for enjoyment or emancipation and have passed beyond the realm of mental speculation. Enjoyment-hunters and ritualists who seek worldly well-being are chasing after rotting flavours, and the monists of the non-distinction conception aspire for a tasteless realization.

The Bhāgavatam does not produce fruits of such a repugnant or tasteless variety. It can be fully traced in the Bhāgavatam how the distinction between the inner thoughts of viṣaya and aśraya – that is, the recipient and the giver of service – has shown a gradual development through the various evolutionary stages: from being contracted, to slightly blossoming, then blooming, thriving, mature and at last, fully ripened. Only those who have reached the stage of transcendental excellence are competent to taste this fruit (the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam) of the nigama-kalpataru (the desire-fulfilling tree known as Veda). Having fully surpassed the stage of worldly perception, with hearts brightened by viśuddha-sattva (absolutely pure presence and being), they are fit to receive the sweet mellowness of love that exists far beyond the mundane, and be permanently possessed of the purest ecstatic mood.

This fruit is so succulent, too. It has no hard skin, pit, fibers or any other part fit to abandon. There are many rejectable elements in books that focus on enjoyment-hunting, karmajñānayoga or a form of bhakti that is mixed with one of these. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, there are no objectionable elements like any of these. Its sweet succulent mellowness is to be relished all along our path, even after emancipation. And the really emancipated souls are permanent relishers of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

Those who make a fuss of wanting to listen to “Bhāgavata-kathā” orated by a professional or an expert entertainer instead of liberated paramahaṁsaVaiṣṇavas, do so for sensual gratification. They seek superficial, poetic appreciation of the literature and its grammar and so on. . Yet these orators are full of tendencies that are harmful to the culture of true well-being. Those who listen to them are debarred from tasting the pure, juicy sweetness of the Bhāgavata, but are deluded into thinking that the offensive or apathetic taste they achieve is the true taste of the Bhāgavatam. When persons who are sure of the transitoriness of human life, like Parikṣit, listen to the Bhāgavata orated by liberated paramahaṁsa Vaiṣṇavas like Śrī Śukadeva, they become eternal tasters of the bhāgavata-rasa, absolved from any worldly attachment.

Adapted from The Gaudiya Volume 5, Number 9
by the Rays of The Harmonist team

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