Pibata Bhagavatam Rasam Alayam
Gauranga Darshan Das
O Srimad-Bhagavatam! O nectar churned from the ocean of all the Vedic scriptures! You are the most prominent transcendental fruit of the Vedas and are enriched with the jewels of all philosophical conclusions. You grant spiritual vision to all people of the world and are the very life-breath of the Vaisnava devotees. O Lord, you are the sun which has risen to dispel the darkness of Kali-yuga. Actually, you are Lord Krsna, who has returned among us. (Krsna-lila stava 412-413, by Srila Sanatana Gosvami)
A Man Who Wanted A Mango!
Once a man went into a mango orchard and saw a magnificent mango tree few tens of feet tall. As he was appreciating the beauty of the tree, he noticed a ripe fruit on its top branch, and a parrot just bit it with its beak, increasing its flavor. The elegance and color of that fruit attracted him and he desired to eat it. A few ideas popped up in his mind: to take a stone and throw it to the fruit so that it falls down; to get a pole long enough to reach the fruit and try to pluck it; to climb the tree himself and get it. The first two options seemed to him impractical as they might significantly damage the fruit. The last option seemed equally unfeasible as he had no experience of climbing a tree. As he was looking around, he saw some village boys playing. He approached those innocent boys and humbly requested them for the fruit. They are simple, well-acquainted with the orchard, quite experienced in climbing trees and are used to eating mangos regularly. Few of them enthusiastically climbed the tree – some remained on the lower branches, some climbed to the upper ones, and one of them gradually reached the high branch on which the ripe mango was there. He plucked it and gave to the boy standing on a lower branch. The second boy then passed it to the next boy who waited on a still lower branch. In this way the ripe mango was passed down over a few boys’ hands thus reaching the man who originally desired it. It just took a couple of minutes to receive the mango, which, the man thought, would otherwise would have been impossible with his previous ideas. Then the man thanked the boys who showered on him their pleasant smiles and he relished the nectarean juice of the mango.
Right Way Of Receiving The Mango
The man is intelligent, isn’t he? Instead of trying out different options himself, he took help from someone who is experienced. Same is the case when we try to understand scriptures. When one tries to understand the Bhagavatam with one’s own speculation, keeping aside the explanations of the great acaryas, one gets but only a distorted form of it. However, by following the guru-parampara, we receive the message of the Bhagavatam in its original form, like the fruit that descends from branch to branch safely into the hands of the sincere receiver. Srila Prabhupada writes, “The proper method for receiving this transcendental message is to hear it submissively. A challenging attitude cannot help one realize this transcendental message.”
It Is God Who Is Giving!
kasmai yena vibhasito ’yam atulo jnana-pradipah pura
tad-rupena ca naradaya munaye krsnaya tad-rupina
yogindraya tad-atmanatha bhagavadrataya karunyatas
tac chuddham vimalam visokam amrtam satyam param dhimahi
I meditate upon that pure and spotless Supreme Absolute Truth, who is free from suffering and death and who in the beginning personally revealed this incomparable torchlight of knowledge to Brahma. Brahma then spoke it to the sage Narada, who narrated it to Krsna-dvaipayana Vyasa. Srila Vyasa revealed this Bhagavatam to the greatest of sages, Sukadeva Gosvami, and Sukadeva mercifully spoke it to Maharaja Pariksit. [SB 12.13.19] The words tad-rupena, tad-rupina and tad-atmana in this verse clearly indicate that Lord Krsna Himself originally spoke Srimad-Bhagavatam to Brahma and then continued to speak this literature through the agency of Narada Muni, Dvaipayana Vyasa, Sukadeva Gosvami and other great sages. In other words, whenever saintly devotees vibrate Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is to be understood that Lord Krsna Himself is speaking the Absolute Truth through the agency of His pure representatives. Anyone who submissively hears this literature from the Lord’s bona fide devotees transcends his conditioned state and becomes qualified to meditate upon the Absolute Truth and serve Him.
Passing On Requires Personal Realization
Srimad-Bhagavatam is the essence of all scriptures (akhila-sruti-saram, SB 1.2.3; sarva-vedanta-saram, SB 12.13.12). It is the book form of Krsna and is considered the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic wisdom (SB 1.1.3) that has become even more nectarean when spoken by Sukadeva Gosvami. Srila Prabhupada writes, “In Sanskrit the parrot is also known as suka. When a ripened fruit is cut by the red beaks of such birds, its sweet flavor is enhanced. The Vedic fruit which is mature and ripe in knowledge is spoken through the lips of Srila Sukadeva Gosvami, who is compared to the parrot not for his ability to recite the Bhagavatam exactly as he heard it from his learned father, but for his ability to present the work in a manner that would appeal to all classes of men. (SB 1.1.3 P)” Therefore, along with submissive hearing, appealing presentation also needs personal realization of the subject. Sukadeva Gosvami has assimilated the message of the Bhagavatam (yah svanubhavam… SB 1.2.3) and presented it so expertly that even his guru, Vyasadeva and his parama-guru, Narada Muni heard from him as if they were hearing for the first time. Thus one needs to understand and introspect on the message of Bhagavatam, however, that needs to be in line with the parampara. Then only can one be assured that one’s explanations are bona fide.
Whom Is It Meant For?
Bhagavatam is understood by selfless persons who transcend the tendencies for competitive sense gratification (nirmatsaranam satam vedyam). And even those who are selfish, by hearing the Bhagavatam, lose their selfishness. Thus Bhagavatam is meant for both exalted men and neophytes. Exalted men relish this book while neophytes are uplifted by it. Even Narada Muni instructed Vyasadeva to write the Bhagavatam in such a way that it satisfies the hankerings of learned people and simultaneously mitigate the miseries of common people:
tvam apy adabhra-sruta visrutam vibhoh
samapyate yena vidam bubhutsitam
prakhyahi duhkhair muhur arditatmanam
sanklesa-nirvanam usanti nanyatha
Please, therefore, describe the Almighty Lord’s activities which you have learned by your vast knowledge of the Vedas, for that will satisfy the hankerings of great learned men and at the same time mitigate the miseries of the masses of common people who are always suffering from material pangs. Indeed, there is no other way to get out of such miseries. [SB 1.5.40]