Sri Aravindji fromFloridadelivered a beautiful lecture elucidating on the greatness of Srimad Bhagavatam.
Srimad Bhagavatam speaks volumes about the glories of Bhagavan and the Bhagavatas. This holy granta is Lord Krishna Himself [Swayam Krishna].
“Srimad Bhagavathakyoyam Prathyaksha Krishna eva hi”
The lord merged into Srimad Bhagavatam to benefit the people in this age of Kali. Every syllable in this Maha Purana connotes Lord Krishna.
Can the Unborn be born? And even if he does, can He be born in the form of a book? When he can take the form of a boar, why not as a grantha! And the reason for all of this is nothing but His infinite compassion.
One day Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was performing a Pooja to Radha-Kantha – his personalKrishnadeity, when he was bestowed with a divine vision – a divine jyoti (light) rises from the deity, enters his own body and leaves it to enter Srimad Bhagavatam granta- and then converges back into Radha Kanta. Unable to decipher the divine message, he questioned the Lord and the Lord said that it was to show that Srimad Bhagavatam is verilyKrishna.
“Srimad bhagavthi suranaam athi durlabham” – Bhagavatam is difficult even for the Devas!
A person from the South wished to undertake a pilgrimage toNorth India. At about the same time, he received an invitation from his friend to attend a Bhagavata Saptaham that the latter hosted. He gently denied the invitation and set out on the trip. After traveling hundreds of miles, he reachedVaranasi. It was late in the night and he rested in the pyol of a householder’s place. Someone came to enquire directions to go to theGanges, and the householder replied that he didn’t know. Witnessing this conversation, the gentleman from the south thought, ‘Ridiculous! How terrible a sinner this fellow is, that living inVaranasi, he doesn’t know the route to theGanges! Its verily a sin to even rest in this person’s house!’ and he walked away. The next morning, he headed for theGangesto take a dip, and surprisingly, even as he reached the banks, he was not able to see the river flowing! Later he understood that he was not able to see the river because of the two sins that he has committed! Contemplating on his acts, the man walked back and realized what happened the previous night and went to the householder’s residence. As he approached, he saw a few women, dingy dark and dirty entering the house and then leaving the house in a gorgeous celestial form.
He was now confident that the householder was no less than a Mahatma and that an ‘apachara’ to the Mahatma has made the river invisible to him. He entered the house and fell at the feet of the Mahatma – and asked him, who those women were. They were indeed the holy rivers –Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswathi! He wanted to know what kind of austerities / poojas the person was performing that the very holy rivers were getting cleansed at his home! All he was doing was – placing a flower on a text of Srimad Bhagavatam every day! At once he realized, that the second sin was that of declining an invitation to Srimad Bhagavata Saptaham!
A similar incident happened in our Satsang as well. There was a person in the town ofAmburin Tamil Nadu and one fine day, our Swamiji went to their house. The entire family was taken by surprise! It later turned out that the only pooja that they were doing was to keep a flower on the Bhagavatam Granta at their pooja room – not even aware of the fact that it was Srimad Bhagavatam! Such is the greatness of Srimad Bhagavatam.
The first canto of Bhagavatam speaks of three women –Kunti, Draupadi and Uttara, in reverse order, each one being the daughter -in-law of the other! After the Mahabharata War, Draupadi woke up to be pained to know that her five sons have been charred to death by Ashwattama, Drona’s son. Unable to bear the grief, Arjuna vowed to kill the perpetrators of the arson and chased Ashwattama and brought him before Draupadi. Draupadi immediately bowed to Ashwattama and pleaded to her husbands to let him off, for three reasons – Ashwattama was a Brahmin, the son of their Guru, and above all, she didn’t want Ashwattama’s mother Gautami to suffer the same pains as she was going through. Indeed, the compassionate heart of a mother, a woman being portrayed here.
Following this, Ashwattama is let off, and he casts another Brahmastra on the womb of Uttara, who bears the only child of the Pandava lineage. Uttara comes crying running to Sri Krishna pleading to protect the womb. This episode depicts Draupadi’s immense love and compassion on one who had caused her lots of grief. That child was verily King Parikshit, without whom there wouldn’t have been Bhagavatam at all! Bhagavatam also speaks about Kunti who does a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving for everythingKrishnadoes for her, and surprisingly asks for more sorrows!
Bhagavatam then goes to speak about the Leelas of the Lord starting from the cosmic creation. The incarnations of the Lord, the ‘Charitras’ of His devotees like Dhruva and Prahlada are narrated. In Dhruva Charitra, narada is seen as giving benedictions to Dhruva and the latter goes to entice the Lord through his tapas. Prahlada Charitra shows the beautiful precept that steadfast devotion of the Lord can surpass myriad of obstacles that come by in life. As a central piece of jewel comes the story of Ajamila – who was liberated at his last breath by the Divine Name, even after having committed the gravest of sins is elucidated. The liberation of the elephant king Gajendra who is put into terminal danger shows us that one can be freed from the pangs of death by surrender. The churning of the ocean of milk to get the divine nectar (Amrutha Mathanam) and the story of Balifollows. Then Sage Shuka speaks about the story of Ambarisha, to underline the importance of ‘Vinayam’ (humility) – the absence of which makes one unfit to Krishna Leela – which is the sum and substance of the following, 10th Canto, nay, the entire Bhagavatam!
In his Satpadi Stotra, Adi Shankara preaches about what one should ask for when offering prayers to the Lord –
“Avinayam Apanaya Vishno Damayam Manaha samaya visayayam
mhrihathdrishna Bootha daya vistaraya taraya samsara saarad taapad “
Humility is associated with a gentleman. The virtue of Vinaya constitutes humility, gentleness, consideration for others. The education that one acquires should inculcate this quality in all of us.
In Bhagavat Gita, while speaking about a scholar, says ‘vidyA vinaya sampanne…’ – underlining tha the trait of humility is the foremost.
Padmapada, a disciple of Adi Shankara in his hymns of praise on his guru Adi Shankara sings –
“Prathyasa Unmuka Vinitha Vinaya Bringah”
He calls the disciples of Adi Shankara as “Bringah” and that they are drinking the nectar of all commentaries from the lotus like lips of their Guru, Sri Adi Shankaracharya.
The expression used to indicate the disciples is “Vinitha Vinaya Bringah”. The disciples who have come to be equipped with humility have now been transformed into “Vinitha” which is verily the person possessing this virtue of humility.
So how is this possible? It is verily the presence of the Guru that has bestowed the disciples with the virtue of humility. This goes to show that this important quality can only be bestowed by one’s own Sadguru. He would inculcate this important trait before placing his disciples unto the lotus feet of the Lord.
It is only with this virtue of humility that one proceeds to the 10th Canto, which is prescribed for everyday reading ‘nityam dasamasya paataath’. The Eleventh Canto is the essence of Bhagavata Dharma described in the conversation of Uddhava with Krishna. The 12th Canto speaks of the greatness of Nama Sankirtan in this Kali Yuga!
“nAma sankirtanam yasya sarva pApa praNAshanam
PranAmo dukkha shamanah tam namAmi harim param”
So how is one bestowed with Srimad Bhagavatam? It is verily the grace of a Guru that will bless his devotees with this Srimad Bhagavatam. When the Lord decides to take someone unto his fold, then the first indication is blessing his devotee with Srimad Bhagavatam.
The satsang ended with Namasankritan and prayers after reminiscing on Srimad Bhagavatam.