The Vedic Encyclopedia, Srimad Bhagavatam, like an ocean, is expansive with its nominal and phenomenal subject matters and deep in its spiritual and philosophical insights, making it a text for both research and relish by many.
Srila Prabhupada encourages Bhagavatam study referring to the commentaries of Vaisnava acaryas: “…there is no doubt about the authority of the Bhagavatam. Within the past five hundred years, many erudite scholars and acaryas like Jiva Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Viswanatha Cakravarti, Vallabhacarya, and many other distinguished scholars even after the time of Lord Caitanya made elaborate commentaries on the Bhagavatam. And the serious student would do well to attempt to go through them to better relish the transcendental messages.” [SB 1.1.1 Purport]
Srila Prabhupada compared Bhagavatam study with taking darshan of the deity of Lord Krishna, which is done gradually from Lord’s lotus feet to the lotus face. He emphasizes a step-by-step study of the Bhagavatam in his preface to Srimad-Bhagavatam: “Srimad-Bhagavatam begins with the definition of the ultimate source. It is a bona fide commentary on the Vedanta-sutra by the same author, Srila Vyasadeva, and gradually it develops into nine cantos up to the highest state of God realization. The only qualification one needs to study this great book of transcendental knowledge is to proceed step by step cautiously and not jump forward haphazardly as with an ordinary book. It should be gone through chapter by chapter, one after another. The reading matter is so arranged with its original Sanskrit text, its English transliteration, synonyms, translation and purports so that one is sure to become a God-realized soul at the end of finishing the first nine cantos.”
BHAGAVATA SUBODHINI by the Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha aims at helping the reader savor the Srimad-Bhagavatam, both in a systematic step-by-step manner and with the help of the commentaries of acharyas. Taking into consideration any kind of academic anomalies that might inhibit one from fully delighting in the wonders of the Bhagavatam, the Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha has designed a systematic framework to present the Bhagavatam in a lucid manner – Bhagavata Subodhini.
Bhagavata Subodhini simplifies the apparent complexity in understanding the Bhagavatam, by uncovering and integrating the explanations of Srila Prabhupada and the previous acaryas, and thus caters to the taste and need of avid readers, scholars, and even newcomers to the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Most verses of the Bhagavatam are given descriptive commentaries by various Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas. Amongst them is the esteemed commentator Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. His explanations are devotional, relishing, logical, highly regarded in the study circles of Bhagavatam, not to mention being often quoted in the Bhaktivedanta purports. He iswell known for giving connections between verses and chapters, presenting the conversations and prayers in an interesting dialogue manner and giving positive interpretations to the blasphemous words of demons directed towards the Lord and His devotees. Unsurprisingly therefore, the various links between verses, sections, chapters and even cantos, and additional information that are presented in Bhagavata Subodhini, find their major source in the Sarartha Darshini commentary of Cakravarti Thakura.
Anyone who hasn’t even heard of the Bhagavatam can read through Bhagavata Subodhini and develop an interest in the original manuscript. This book is not meant to be a replacement for a detailed study of Bhagavatam, but serves as a complement. The following is a brief description of the various features of Bhagavata Subodhini.
This is the main section of Bhägavata Subodhiné that gives an overview of the third canto, while the other sections serve as auxiliary contents that enhance one’s appreciation of the third canto. The following are the various features of this section.
This section contains select verses form acanto that carry deep and extraordinary import in terms of philosophy (siddhanta) and emotions (bhava) that can increasingly enhance the reader’sappreciation. These verses can be considered as jewels that are found in the depths of the ocean and the acaryas, our divers, help us in accessing them. We’ve provided a list of few citations by the various acaryas (wherever possible), focusing on the numerous ways one can understand a single verse.These different angles of vision in relishing the verses of the Bhagavatam are the glory of the Vaishnava acaryas for their astounding realization and expert presentation. The list of citations are not exhaustive, and surely all verses of the Bhagavatam are equally important, nevertheless, from these few pearls of Special Verses, one can only imagine the pelagic treasures from the entire ocean of the Bhagavatam.
This section consists of multiple prominent themes that are present in the specific cantos of Çrémad Bhägavatam. Each compilation contains a comprehensive list of verses on a particular theme. The objective of this section is to make the readers appreciate the cross sectional overview on a specific theme revealed in various chapters of a canto.
The extensive lists of referencematerial from the Bhagavatam cantos are presented in this section. Unlike the Thematic Compilations, these materials are more or less direct in nature with little or no analysis like the names of Lord Kåñëa, saintly qualities and analogies. Also, quick overviews of some crucial characters that appear throughout the canto(s) are presented. This section aims at providing an interesting, quick yet extensive reference guide.
Ultimately, the entire presentation of Bhagavata Subodhini is an offering of love and gratitude by Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha to the Vaishnava community at large. With this gesture of appreciation, Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha desires to assist the devotees in their reading of Srimad Bhagavatam, who in spite of their immense social obligations and spiritual responsibilities, sincerely yearn to taste a droplet of this nectarean scripture.