Questions by the Sages
Srimad Bhagvatam Chapter 1 TEXT 1
om namo bhagavate väsudeväya
janmädy asya yato ‘nvayäd itarataç cärtheñv abhijïaù sva-räö
tene brahma hådä ya ädi-kavaye muhyanti yat sürayaù
tejo-väri-mådäà yathä vinimayo yatra tri-sargo ‘måñä
dhämnä svena sadä nirasta-kuhakaà satyaà paraà dhémahi
om—O my Lord; namaù—offering my obeisances; bhagavate—unto the Personality of Godhead; väsudeväya—unto Väsudeva (the son of Vasudeva), or Lord Çré Kåñëa, the Primeval Lord; janma-ädi—creation, sustenance and destruction; asya—of the manifested universes; yataù—from whom; anvayät—directly; itarataù—indirectly; ca—and; artheñu—purposes; abhijïaù—fully cognizant; sva-räö—fully independent; tene—imparted; brahma—the Vedic knowledge; hådä—consciousness of the heart; yaù—one who; ädi-kavaye—unto the original created being; muhyanti—are illusioned; yat—about whom; sürayaù—great sages and demigods; tejaù—fire; väri—water; mådäm—earth; yathä—as much as; vinimayaù—action and reaction; yatra—whereupon; tri-sargaù—three modes of creation, creative faculties; amåñä—almost factual; dhämnä—along with all transcendental paraphernalia; svena—self-sufficiently; sadä—always; nirasta—negation by absence; kuhakam—illusion; satyam—truth; param—absolute; dhémahi—I do meditate upon.
Srimad Bhagvatam Chapter 1 TEXT 1 TRANSLATION
I offer my obeisances unto Lord Çré Kåñëa, son of Vasudeva, who is the supreme all-pervading Personality of Godhead. I meditate upon Him, the transcendent reality, who is the primeval cause of all causes, from whom all manifested universes arise, in whom they dwell and by whom they are destroyed. I meditate upon that eternally effulgent Lord who is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations and yet is beyond them. It is He only who first imparted Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmä, the first created being. Through Him this world, like a mirage, appears real even to great sages and demigods. Because of Him, the material universes, created by the three modes of nature, appear to be factual, although they are unreal. I meditate therefore upon Him, the Absolute Truth, who is eternally existent in His transcendental abode, and who is forever free of illusion.
Srimad Bhagvatam Chapter 1 TEXT 1 PURPORT
Obeisances unto the Personality of Godhead, Väsudeva, directly indicate Lord Çré Kåñëa, who is the divine son of Vasudeva and Devaké. This fact will be more explicitly explained in the text of this work. Çré Vyäsadeva asserts herein that Çré Kåñëa is the original Personality of Godhead, and all others are His direct or indirect plenary portions or portions of the portion. Çréla Jéva Gosvämé has even more explicitly explained the subject matter in his Kåñëa-sandarbha. And Brahmä, the original living being, has explained the subject of Çré Kåñëa substantially in his treatise named Brahma-saàhitä. In the Säma-veda Upaniñad, it is also stated that Lord Çré Kåñëa is the divine son of Devaké. Therefore, in this prayer, the first proposition holds that Lord Çré Kåñëa is the primeval Lord, and if any transcendental nomenclature is to be understood as belonging to the Absolute Personality of Godhead, it must be the name indicated by the word Kåñëa, which means the all-attractive. In Bhagavad-gétä, in many places, the Lord asserts Himself to be the original Personality of Godhead, and this is confirmed by Arjuna, and also by great sages like Närada, Vyäsa, and many others. In the Padma Puräëa, it is also stated that out of the innumerable names of the Lord, the name of Kåñëa is the principal one. Väsudeva indicates the plenary portion of the Personality of Godhead, and all the different forms of the Lord, being identical with Väsudeva, are indicated in this text. The name Väsudeva particularly indicates the divine son of Vasudeva and Devaké. Çré Kåñëa is always meditated upon by the paramahaàsas who are the perfected ones among those in the renounced order of life.
Väsudeva, or Lord Çré Kåñëa, is the cause of all causes. Everything that exists emanates from the Lord. How this is so is explained in later chapters of this work. This work is described by Mahäprabhu Çré Caitanya as the spotless Puräëa because it contains the transcendental narration of the Personality of Godhead Çré Kåñëa. The history of the Çrémad-Bhägavatam is also very glorious. It was compiled by Çré Vyäsadeva after he had attained maturity in transcendental knowledge. He wrote this under the instructions of Çré Näradajé, his spiritual master. Vyäsadeva compiled all Vedic literatures containing the four divisions of the Vedas, the Vedänta-sütras or the Brahma-sütras, the Puräëas, the Mahäbhärata, and so on. But nevertheless he was not satisfied. His dissatisfaction was observed by his spiritual master, and thus Närada advised him to write on the transcendental activities of Lord Çré Kåñëa. These transcendental activities are described specifically in the Tenth Canto of this work. But, in order to reach to the very substance, one must proceed gradually by developing knowledge of the categories.
It is natural that a philosophical mind wants to know about the origin of the creation. At night he sees the stars in the sky, and he naturally speculates about their inhabitants. Such inquiries are natural for man because man has a developed consciousness which is higher than that of the animals. The author of Çrémad-Bhägavatam gives a direct answer to such inquiries. He says that the Lord Çré Kåñëa is the origin of all creations. He is not only the creator of the universe, but the destroyer as well. The manifested cosmic nature is created at a certain period by the will of the Lord. It is maintained for some time, and then it is annihilated by His will. Therefore, the supreme will is behind all cosmic activities. Of course, there are atheists of various catagories who do not believe in a creator, but that is due to a poor fund of knowledge. The modern scientist, for example, has created space satellites, and by some arrangement or other, these satellites are thrown into outer space to fly for some time at the control of the scientist who is far away. Similarly, all the universes with innumerable stars and planets are controlled by the intelligence of the Personality of Godhead.
In Vedic literatures, it is said that the Absolute Truth, Personality of Godhead, is the chief amongst all living personalities. All living beings beginning from the first created being, Brahmä, down to the smallest ant are individual living beings. And above Brahmä, there are even other living beings with individual capacities, and the Personality of Godhead is also a similar living being. And He is an individual as are the other living beings. But the Supreme Lord or the supreme living being has the greatest intelligence, and He possesses supermost inconceivable energies of all different varieties. If a man’s brain can produce a space satellite, one can very easily imagine how brains higher than man can produce similarly wonderful things which are far superior. The reasonable person will easily accept this argument, but there are stubborn atheists who would never agree. Çréla Vyäsadeva, however, at once accepts the supreme intelligence as the parameçvara. He offers his respectful obeisances unto the supreme intelligence addressed as the para or the parameçvara or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And that parameçvara is Çré Kåñëa, as admitted in Bhagavad-gétä and other scriptures delivered by Çré Vyäsadeva and specifically in this Çrémad-Bhägavatam. In Bhagavad-gétä, the Lord says that there is no other Para-tattva (summum bonum) than Himself. Therefore, Çré Vyäsadeva at once worships the Para-tattva, Çré Kåñëa, whose transcendental activities are described in the Tenth Canto.
Unscrupulous persons go immediately to the Tenth Canto and especially to the five chapters which describe the Lord’s räsa dance. This portion of the Çrémad-Bhägavatam is the most confidential part of this great literature. Unless one is thoroughly accomplished in the transcendental knowledge of the Lord, one is sure to misunderstand the Lord’s worshipable transcendental pastimes called räsa dance and His love affairs with the gopés. This subject matter is highly spiritual, and only the liberated persons who have gradually attained to the stage of paramahaàsa can transcendentally relish this räsa dance. Çréla Vyäsadeva therefore gives the reader the chance to gradually develop spiritual realization before actually relishing the essence of the pastimes of the Lord. Therefore, he purposely invokes a Gäyatré mantra, dhémahi. This Gäyatré mantra is meant for spiritually advanced people. When one is successful in chanting the Gäyatré mantra, he can enter into the transcendental position of the Lord. One must therefore acquire brahminical qualities or be perfectly situated in the quality of goodness in order to chant the Gäyatré mantra successfully and then attain to the stage of transcendentally realizing the Lord, His name, His fame, His qualities and so on.
Çrémad-Bhägavatam is the narration of the svarüpa of the Lord manifested by His internal potency, and this potency is distinguished from the external potency which has manifested the cosmic world, which is within our experience. Çréla Vyäsadeva makes a clear distinction between the two in this çloka. Çré Vyäsadeva says herein that the manifested internal potency is real, whereas the external manifested energy in the form of material existence is only temporary and illusory like the mirage in the desert. In the desert mirage there is no actual water. There is only the appearance of water. Real water is somewhere else. The manifested cosmic creation appears as reality. But reality, of which this is but a shadow, is in the spiritual world. Absolute Truth is in the spiritual sky, not the material sky. In the material sky everything is relative truth. That is to say, one truth depends on something else. This cosmic creation results from interaction of the three modes of nature, and the temporary manifestations are so created as to present an illusion of reality to the bewildered mind of the conditioned soul, who appears in so many species of life, including the higher demigods, like Brahmä, Indra, Candra, and so on. In actuality, there is no reality in the manifested world. There appears to be reality, however, because of the true reality which exists in the spiritual world, where the Personality of Godhead eternally exists with His transcendental paraphernalia.
The chief engineer of a complicated construction does not personally take part in the construction, but he knows every nook and corner because everything is done under his direction. He knows everything about the construction, both directly and indirectly. Similarly, the Personality of Godhead who is the supreme engineer of this cosmic creation knows every nook and corner, although affairs are being carried out by demigods. Beginning from Brahmä down to the insignificant ant, no one is independent in the material creation. The hand of the Lord is seen everywhere. All material elements as well as all spiritual sparks emanate from Him only. And whatever is created in this material world is but the interaction of two energies, the material and the spiritual, which emanate from the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, Çré Kåñëa. A chemist can manufacture water in the chemical laboratory by mixing hydrogen and oxygen. But, in reality, the living entity works in the laboratory under the direction of the Supreme Lord. And the materials with which he works are also supplied by the Lord. The Lord knows everything directly and indirectly, and He is cognizant of all minute details, and He is fully independent. He is compared with the mine of gold, and the cosmic creations in so many different forms are compared with objects made from the gold, such as gold rings, necklaces and so on. The gold ring and the gold necklace are qualitatively one with the gold in the mine, but quantitatively the gold in the mine is different. Therefore, the Absolute Truth is simultaneously one and different. Nothing is absolutely equal with the Absolute Truth, but at the same time, nothing is independent of the Absolute Truth.
Conditioned souls beginning from Brahmä, who engineers the entire universe, down to the insignificant ant, are all creating, but none of them are independent of the Supreme Lord. The materialist wrongly thinks that there is no creator other than his own self. This is called mäyä, or illusion.
Because of his poor fund of knowledge, the materialist cannot see beyond the purview of his imperfect senses, and thus he thinks that matter automatically takes its own shape without the aid of a superior intelligence. This is refuted in this çloka by Çréla Vyäsadeva: “Since the complete whole or the Absolute Truth is the source of everything, nothing can be independent of the body of the Absolute Truth.” Whatever happens to the body quickly becomes known to the embodied. Similarly, the creation is the body of the absolute whole. Therefore, the Absolute knows everything directly and indirectly that happens in the creation.
In the Çruti mantra, it is also stated that the absolute whole or Brahman is the ultimate source of everything. Everything emanates from Him, and everything is maintained by Him. And at the end, everything enters into Him. That is the law of nature. In the Småti mantra, the same is confirmed. It is said that the source from which everything emanates at the beginning of Brahmä’s millennium, and the reservoir to which everything ultimately enters, is the Absolute Truth or Brahman. Material scientists take it for granted that the ultimate source of the planetary system is the sun, but they are unable to explain the source of the sun. Herein, the ultimate source is explained. According to the Vedic literatures, Brahmä, who may be compared to the sun, is not the ultimate creator. It is stated in this çloka that Brahmä was taught Vedic knowledge by the Personality of Godhead. One may argue that Brahmä, being the original living being, could not be inspired because there was no other being living at that time. Herein it is stated that the Supreme Lord inspired the secondary creator, Brahmä, in order that Brahmä could carry out his creative functions. So, the supreme intelligence behind all creations is the Absolute Godhead, Çré Kåñëa. In Bhagavad-gétä, Lord Çré Kåñëa states that it is He only who superintends the creative energy, prakåti, which constitutes the totality of matter. Therefore, Çré Vyäsadeva does not worship Brahmä, but the Supreme Lord, who guides Brahmä in his creative activities. In this çloka, the particular words abhijïaù and svaräö are significant. These two words distinguish the Supreme Lord from all the other living entities. No other living entity is either abhijïaù or svaräö. Namely, no one is either fully cognizant or fully independent. Even Brahmä has to meditate upon the Supreme Lord in order to create. Then what to speak of great scientists like Einstein! The brains of such a scientist are certainly not the products of any human being. Scientists cannot manufacture such a brain, and what to speak of foolish atheists who defy the authority of the Lord? Even Mäyävädé impersonalists who flatter themselves that they can become one with the Lord are neither abhijïaù nor svaräö. Such impersonalists undergo severe austerities to acquire knowledge to become one with the Lord. But ultimately they become dependent on some rich disciple who supplies them with money to build monasteries and temples. Atheists like Rävaëa or Hiraëyakaçipu had to undergo severe penances before they could flout the authority of the Lord. But ultimately, they were rendered helpless and could not save themselves when the Lord appeared before them as cruel death. This is also the case with the modern atheists who also dare to flout the authority of the Lord. Such atheists will be dealt with similarly, for history repeats itself. Whenever men neglect the authority of the Lord, nature and her laws are there to penalize them. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gétä in the well-known verse: yadä yadä hi dharmasya gläniù. “Whenever there is a decline of dharma and a rise of adharma, O Arjuna, then I incarnate Myself.” (Bg. 4.7)
That the Supreme Lord is all-perfect is confirmed in all Çruti mantras. It is said in the Çruti mantras that the all-perfect Lord threw a glance over matter and thus created all living beings. The living beings are parts and parcels of the Lord, and He impregnates the vast material creation with seeds of spiritual sparks, and thus the creative energies are set in motion to enact so many wonderful creations. An atheist may argue that God is no more expert than a watchmaker, but of course God is greater because He can create machines in duplicate male and female forms. The male and female forms of different types of machineries go on producing innumerable similar machines without God’s further attention. If a man could manufacture such a set of machines that could produce other machines without his attention, then he could approach the intelligence of God. But that is not possible, for each machine has to be handled individually. Therefore, no one can create as well as God. Another name for God is asmaurdha, which means that no one is equal to or greater than Him. Param satyam, or the Supreme Truth, is He who has no equal or superior. This is confirmed in the Çruti mantras. It is said that before the creation of the material universe there existed the Lord only, who is master of everyone. That Lord instructed Brahmä in Vedic knowledge. That Lord has to be obeyed in all respects. Anyone who wants to get rid of the material entanglement must surrender unto Him. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gétä.
Unless one surrenders unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, it is certain that he will be bewildered. When an intelligent man surrenders unto the lotus feet of Kåñëa and knows completely that Kåñëa is the cause of all causes, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gétä, then only can such an intelligent man become a mahätmä or great soul. But such a great soul is rarely seen. Only the mahätmäs can understand that the Supreme Lord is the primeval cause of all creations. He is parama or ultimate truth because all other truths are relative to Him. He is omniscient. For Him, there is no illusion.
Some Mäyävädé scholars argue that Çrémad-Bhägavatam was not compiled by Çré Vyäsadeva. And some of them suggest that this book is a modern creation written by someone named Vopadeva. In order to refute such meaningless arguments, Çré Çrédhara Svämé points out that there is reference to the Bhägavatam in many of the oldest Puräëas. This first çloka of the Bhägavatam begins with the Gäyatré mantra. There is reference to this in the Matsya Puräëa, which is the oldest Puräëa. In that Puräëa, it is said with reference to the Gäyatré mantra in the Bhägavatam that there are many narrations of spiritual instructions beginning with the Gäyatré mantra. And there is the history of Våträsura. Anyone who makes a gift of this great work on a full moon day attains to the highest perfection of life by returning to Godhead. There is reference to the Bhägavatam in other Puräëas, also, where it is clearly stated that this work was finished in twelve cantos which include 18,000 çlokas. In the Padma Puräëa also there is reference to the Bhägavatam in a conversation between Gautama and Mahäräja Ambaréña. The King was advised therein to read regularly Çrémad-Bhägavatam if he desired liberation from material bondage. Under the circumstances, there is no doubt about the authority of the Bhägavatam. Within the past 500 years, many erudite scholars and äcäryas like Jéva Gosvämé, Sanätana Gosvämé, Viçvanätha Cakravarté, Vallabhäcärya, and many other distinguished scholars even after the time of Lord Caitanya made elaborate commentaries on the Bhägavatam. And the serious student would do well to attempt to go through them to better relish the transcendental messages.
Çréla Viçvanätha Cakravarté Öhäkur specifically deals with the original and pure sex psychology (ädi-rasa), devoid of all mundane inebriety. The whole material creation is moving under the principle of sex life. In modern civilization, sex life is the focal point for all activities. Wherever one turns his face, he sees sex life predominant. Therefore, sex life is not unreal. Its reality is experienced in the spiritual world. The material sex life is but a perverted reflection of the original fact. The original fact is in the Absolute Truth, and thus the Absolute Truth cannot be impersonal. It is not possible to be impersonal and contain pure sex life. Consequently, the impersonalist philosophers have given indirect impetus to the abominable mundane sex life because they have overstressed the impersonality of the ultimate truth. Consequently, man without information of the actual spiritual form of sex has accepted perverted material sex life as the all in all. There is a distinction between sex life in the diseased material condition and spiritual sex life.
This Çrémad-Bhägavatam will gradually elevate the unbiased reader to the highest perfectional stage of transcendence. It will enable him to transcend the three modes of material activities: fruitive actions, speculative philosophy, and worship of functional deities as inculcated in Vedic verses.
Srimad Bhagvatam Chapter 1 TEXT 2
dharmaù projjhita-kaitavo ‘tra paramo nirmatsaräëäà satäà
vedyaà västavam atra vastu çivadaà täpa-trayonmülanam
çrémad-bhägavate mahä-muni-kåte kià vä parair éçvaraù
sadyo hådy avarudhyate ‘tra kåtibhiù çuçrüñubhis tat-kñaëät
dharmaù—religiosity; projjhita—completely rejected; kaitavaù—covered by fruitive intention; atra—herein; paramaù—the highest; nirmatsaräëäm—of the one hundred percent pure in heart; satäm—devotees; vedyam—understandable; västavam—factual; atra—herein; vastu—substance; çivadam—well-being; täpa-traya—three-fold miseries; unmülanam—causing uprooting of; çrémat—beautiful; bhägavate—the Bhägavata Puräëa; mahämuni—the great sage (Vyäsadeva); kåte—having compiled; kim—what is; vä—the need; paraiù—others; éçvaraù—the Supreme Lord; sadyaù—at once; hådi—within the heart; avarudhyate—become compact; atra—herein; kåtibhiù—by the pious men; çuçrüñubhiù—by culture; tat-kñaëät—without delay.
Srimad Bhagvatam Chapter 1 TEXT 2 TRANSLATION
Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhägavata Puräëa propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. This beautiful Bhägavatam, compiled by the great sage Çré Vyäsadeva, is sufficient in itself for God realization. As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhägavatam, he becomes attached to the Supreme Lord.
Srimad Bhagvatam Chapter 1 TEXT 2 PURPORT
Religion includes four primary subjects, namely pious activities, economic development, satisfaction of the senses, and finally liberation from material bondage. Irreligious life is a barbarous condition. Indeed, human life begins when religion begins. Eating, sleeping, fearing, and mating are the four principles of animal life. These are common both to animals and to human beings. But religion is the extra function of the human being. Without religion, human life is no better than animal life. Therefore, in human societies there is some form of religion which aims at self-realization and which makes reference to man’s eternal relationship with God.
In the lower stages of human civilization, there is always competition to lord it over the material nature or, in other words, there is a continuous rivalry to satisfy the senses. Driven by such consciousness, man turns to religion. He thus performs pious activities or religious functions in order to gain something material. But if such material gains are obtainable in other ways, then so-called religion is neglected. This is the situation in modern civilization. Man is thriving economically, so at present he is not very interested in religion. Churches, mosques or temples are now practically vacant. Men are more interested in factories, shops, and cinemas than in religious places which were erected by their forefathers. This practically proves that religion is performed for some economic gains. Economic gains are needed for sense gratification. Often when one is baffled in the pursuit of sense gratification, he takes to salvation and tries to become one with the Supreme Lord. Consequently, all these states are simply different types of sense gratification.
In the Vedas, the above mentioned four activities are prescribed in the regulative way so that there will not be any undue competition for sense gratification. But Çrémad-Bhägavatam is transcendental to all these sense gratificatory activities. It is purely transcendental literature which can be understood only by the pure devotees of the Lord who are transcendental to competitive sense gratification. In the material world there is keen competition between animal and animal, man and man, community and community, nation and nation. But the devotees of the Lord rise above such competitions. They do not compete with the materialist because they are on the path back to Godhead where life is eternal and blissful. Such transcendentalists are nonenvious and pure in heart. In the material world, everyone is envious of everyone else, and therefore there is competition. But the transcendental devotees of the Lord are not only free from material envy, but they are well-wishers to everyone, and they strive to establish a competitionless society with God in the center. The contemporary socialist’s conception of a competitionless society is artificial because in the socialist state there is competition for the post of dictator. From the point of view of the Vedas or from the point of view of common human activities, sense gratification is the basis of material life. There are three paths mentioned in the Vedas. One involves fruitive activities to gain promotion to better planets. Another involves worshiping different demigods for promotion to the planets of the demigods, and another involves realizing the Absolute Truth and His impersonal feature and becoming one with Him.
The impersonal aspect of the Absolute Truth is not the highest. Above the impersonal feature is the Paramätmä feature, and above this there is the personal feature of the Absolute Truth or Bhagavän. Çrémad-Bhägavatam gives information about the Absolute Truth in His personal feature. It is higher than impersonalist literatures and higher than the jïäna-käëòa division of the Vedas. It is even higher than the karma-käëòa division, and even higher than the upañana-käëòa division because it recommends the worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Çré Kåñëa. In the karma-käëòa, there is competition to reach heavenly planets for better sense gratification, and there is similar competition in the jïäna-käëòa and the upañana-käëòa. The Çrémad-Bhägavatam is superior to all of these because it aims at the Supreme Truth which is the substance or the root of all categories. From Çrémad-Bhägavatam one can come to know the substance as well as the categories. The substance is the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Lord, and all emanations are relative forms of energy.
Nothing is apart from the substance, but at the same time the energies are different from the substance. This conception is not contradictory. Çrémad-Bhägavatam explicitly promulgates this simultaneously one and different philosophy of the Vedänta-sütra, which begins with the “janmädy asya” sütra.
This knowledge of the energy of the Lord being simultaneously one and different from the Lord is an answer to the mental speculators’ attempt to establish the energy as the Absolute. When this knowledge is factually understood, one sees the conceptions of monism and dualism to be imperfect. Development of this transcendental consciousness grounded in the conception of simultaneously one and different leads one immediately to the stage of freedom from the threefold miseries. The threefold miseries are 1.) those miseries which arise from the mind and body, 2.) those miseries inflicted by other living beings, and 3.) those miseries arising from natural catastrophes over which one has no control. Çrémad-Bhägavatam begins with the surrender of the devotee unto the Absolute Person. The devotee is fully aware that he is one with the Absolute and at the same time in the eternal position of servant to the Absolute. In the material conception, one falsely thinks himself the lord of all he surveys, and therefore he is always troubled by the threefold miseries of life. But as soon as one comes to know his real position as transcendental servant, he at once becomes free from all miseries. As long as the living entity is trying to master material nature, there is no possibility of his becoming servant of the Supreme. Service to the Lord is rendered in pure consciousness of one’s spiritual identity; by service one is immediately freed from material encumbrances.
Over and above this, Çrémad-Bhägavatam is a personal commentation on the Vedänta-sütra by Çré Vyäsadeva. It is written in the maturity of his spiritual life through the mercy of Närada. Çré Vyäsadeva is the authorized incarnation of Näräyaëa, the Personality of Godhead. Therefore, there is no question as to his authority. He is the author of all other Vedic literatures, yet he recommends the study of Çrémad-Bhägavatam above all others. In other Puräëas there are different methods set forth by which one can worship the demigods. But in the Bhägavatam only the Supreme Lord is mentioned. The Supreme Lord is the total body, and the demigods are the different parts of that body. Consequently, by worshiping the Supreme Lord, one does not need to worship the demigods. The Supreme Lord becomes fixed in the heart of the devotee immediately. Lord Caitanya Mahäprabhu has recommended the Çrémad-Bhägavatam as the spotless Puräëa and distinguishes it from all other Puräëas.
The proper method for receiving this transcendental message is to hear it submissively. A challenging attitude cannot help one realize this transcendental message. One particular word is used herein for proper guidance. This word is çuçrüñu. One must be anxious to hear this transcendental message. The desire to sincerely hear is the first qualification.
Less fortunate persons are not at all interested in hearing this Çrémad-Bhägavatam. The process is simple, but the application is difficult. Unfortunate people find enough time to hear idle, social, political conversations, but when invited to attend a meeting of devotees to hear Çrémad-Bhägavatam they suddenly become reluctant. Sometimes professional readers of the Bhägavatam immediately plunge into the confidential topics of the pastime of the Supreme Lord, which they seemingly interpret as sex literature. Çrémad-Bhägavatam is meant to be heard from the beginning. Those who are fit to assimilate this work are mentioned in this çloka: “One becomes qualified to hear Çrémad-Bhägavatam after many pious deeds.” The intelligent person by thoughtful discretion can be assured by the great sage Vyäsadeva that he can realize the Supreme Personality directly by hearing Çrémad-Bhägavatam. Without undergoing the different stages of realization set forth in the Vedas, one can be lifted immediately to the position of paramahaàsa simply by agreeing to receive this message. (Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhaktivedanta)