Nishaji from Houston delivered a beautiful lecture on Srimad Bhagavatha Mahatmyam as told in Padma Purana. The Padma Purana akin to any other Grantha is a discussion between Sutha Pouranika and Sounaka Rishis. Sutha was in front of the Sounaka Rishis and they posed wonderful questions to Sutha Pouranika and the answer to these questions is verily the Srimad Bhagavatham gem that we are enjoying today. In Padma Purana, the discussion between Sounaka Rishis and Sutha took place right in the beginning of Kali Yuga, after the departure of Lord Sri Krishna to Vaikunta. Mahans are compassion personified and hence were concerned about the welfare of the people in the age of Kali and so Sounakar asked Suta to suggest an elixir for the people in Kali Yuga whose minds are always diabolical [kalmasha chitanam].
Chinthamanir loka sukam suradruhu swarga sampatham
Prayachati Guruhu Pritho Vaikuntam Yogi Durlabham
There is a gem known as Chithamani that would bestow one with any worldly desires and nothing more than it. There is a tree known as Kalpakavriksha which is superior to Chintamani gem and when one sits under the tree it can even bestow a heavenly abode but it cannot take one to Vaikunta.
If one desires to go to Vaikunta, then he needs to entice his Guru – “Prayachati Guruhu Pritho”. One can be a greatest sinner of all, but for some reason, a Mahatma looks at the sinner and takes him unto his fold then he is sure to reach Vaikunta, which is rare even for the Yogis.
Suta delineated that there is one pragmatic path for the people living in the age of Kali and started to talk about Srimad Bhagavatham which was expounded by Sage Suka to King Parikshit at the advent of Kali Yuga. Few years after the onset of Kali Yuga, King Parikshit was cursed by Shringi, a Sage’s son and was destined to die within the next seven days from the day the curse was casted on him.
He went and sat on the banks of Ganges and started praying to the Lord to show him a path to attain His Holy Feet and that’s when Sage Shuka comes and discourses on Srimad Bhagavatham. It is said that when Shuka started to embark his discourse on Bhagavatham, the Devas came there and started to create some confusion. This holy Grantha was only known in the world of Rishis and never existed in the world of Devas. The Devas “swakarya kushalaha devaha” wanted to preempt Bhagavatham from expounded to the world and hence lured King Parikshit with Amrutha in exchange for Srimad Bhagavatham saying that the Amrutha would bestow immortality. They went and stood in front of Sage Shuka and he just laughed them off. Sage Shuka who was not deterred by their requests expounded this great Grantha to Parikshit and he attained the holy feet of the Lord by merely listening to it.
“Parithavidta parikshitum Kettadhu hari kadayai” – sings our Guru Maharaj.
When Lord Brahma heard about King Parikshit’s liberation he was immensely astonished and he weighed Srimad Bhagavatham against all other Granthas and he also realized then that this scripture outweighed all the other Granthas understood the greatness of this Grantha.
The Lord had departed to Vaikunta and the Kali Yuga had set it. Sage Narada came down to Earth to witness the prowess of Kali. He was extremely disturbed seeing the plight of people and discerned that there was lack of devotion in people and that they were leading a mundane life. He himself was unable to differentiate a demon from a normal human being. He felt that most of the populace had demonic qualities in all of them and there were no righteousness anywhere. One day, he was passing by Brindavan and a sight caught his eyes. He saw a young and beautiful lady with two old men who lay unconscious in a dilapidated state. The lady tried her best to revive the two men but in vain. On seeing Sage Narada, she called out to him and asked him if he could help her in reviving them. Sage Narada went near the lady and enquired about her. She told him that she was Bhakti and the two men were her sons, Jnana and Vairagya who have become decrepit due to passage of time. Even though Bhakti was beautiful, she had not regained her beauty since Narada was unable to recognize her, who is the father of Bhakti.
UthPanna Dravidae Saaham vridhim karnatakae gathaa
Kvachithkvachin Maharashtrae Gurjarae Jirnatham Gatha||
Thatra Gora Kalaer yogath pakandaihi kandithangatha
Durbalaham chiram yaatha puthrabhyam saha mandatham||
Vrindhavanam puna prapya navinaeva suroopini
Jaathaham Yuvathi Sapyavasheshta roopaya thu saampratham || [Srimad Bhagavata Mahatmyam 1. 48-50]
She said to Sage Narada that she was born in the land of Dravida, which spans from Kanyakumari all the way to Tirupathi in South India. We know that the fore-runners of bhakti who are verily the three Azhwars, and that she grew up in Karnataka. We know that Purandaradasa, Kanakadasa were all born in Karnataka. She then travelled to Maharashtra where we know of the innumerable devotees of Lord Panduraga and she was greatly respected in this state. She then travelled to Gujarat where she lost her youth. Some rogues injured her in Gujarat and hence she became very weak and impotent. When she arrived in Vrindavana, she regained her youth and vigor, because the Kshetra being Lord Krishna’s town but her sons Jnana and Vairagya were still weak and old and couldn’t recover.
Bhakti Devi requested Sage Narada to help her in reviving her sons. Sage Narada said that the reason for Jnana and Vairagya have become crippled is because of Kali-Yuga. In this Yuga, people are enjoying sense gratification and hence have only demonic qualities. Bhakti on hearing Sage Narada and who had some knowledge about Kali in turn asked as to why King Parikshit spared Kali.
Yath Phalam Nasthi Tapasa Na Yogena Samadina
tathphalam nasthi tapasa kalau keshava keerthanath|| [Srimad Bhagavatha Mahatmyam 1.68]
Yaekakaram kaim dhrustva saaravathsaaranisaram
Vishurathaha sthapithavan kalijaanaam sukaya cha|| [Srimad Bhagavatha Mahatmyam 1.69]
When King Parikshit was ruling one day he was going around his kingdom and he witnessed a strange sight. A demon was disguised as a king was ruthlessly beating a bull and cow. The bull’s three legs were already missing. When he went nearer to the scene, he realized that the king was Kali and that the bull and cow were Dharma and Earth respectively. When King Parikshit was about to kill Kali, he immediately requested for forgiveness and Parikshit spared him.
Even though Kali had innumerable defects, Kali had the greatest benediction that one who chants the divine names of the Lord will be immediately liberated. King Parikshit was aware of this precept and hence spared him. He further elucidated that in the previous three Yugas, Bhakti along with her children Jnana, Vairagya and Mukti were living happily but at the onset of Kali, Mukti was deceased because of the false doctrines and now Mukti comes down only when Bhakti is called. Bhakti was rejuvenated and she regained her vigor after having the darshan of Sage Narada and his explanation on Jnana and Vairagya’s weakness.
Na thapobir na vedaischa na jnanaenaapi karmanna|
harirhi sadhyathae bhaktya pramanam thatra gopika|| [Srimad Bhagavatha Mahatmyam 2.18]
Sage Narada further added that penance, Vedas and Jnana cannot lead one easily to the holy feet of Lord Hari. The path of Bhakti can instantly take one to Lord Hari and the standing example is the Gopis of Vrindavan.
When Lord Krishna came to Mathura, he once sent his minister and pal, Uddava to Brindavan with a message to the Gopis. On seeing the Gopis, Uddava’s first thought on the Gopis were that they were not educated and hence decided to impart Jnana on them. He asked them to come to banks of Yamuna early morning and asked them to close their eyes and slowly asked them to bring the beautiful countenance of Lord Krishna in their hearts. When they heard this, one of the Gopis immediately stood up and confided in Uddava, that it is indeed the beautiful form of Lord Krishna that is eternally residing in their hearts and earnestly requested Uddava to teach them something else that would take the form of Lord Krishna out of their hearts. When Uddava heard this, he immediately realized the greatness of Gopis and came to terms with the fact that Lord Krishna had sent Uddava to learn the quality of humility [Vinaya] from them and not to impart knowledge [Jnana] on the Gopis. He took the Pada Rajas of the Gopis and placed it on his head.
Alam vrathairalam thirthairalam yogairalam makaihi|
Alam Jnanakathalapaihi bhaktiraekaiva muktida|| [Srimad Bhagavatha Mahatmyam 2.21]
Sage Narada mentioned that pilgrimage, fasting or Yoga can lead one to Mukti and it is verily the path of Bhakti that can usher one to Mukti. Hearing the Upadaesha from sage narada, Bhakti regained her lost vigor.
She requested to invigorate her sons Jnana and Vairagya. Sage Narada chanted the Veda, Upanishada and Bhagavad Gita. They started to sit upright when they heard the sounds emanating from the chanting but they went to sleep state as soon as the recitation stopped.
Sage Narada perplexed by the Jnana and Vairagya’s state of fragileness went around seeking advice from someone and met the Sanath Kumaras, who are the sons of Lord Brahma on the way. He confided the incident with Bhakti and her sons and requested them for help and advice in this regard. The Kumaras told Sage Narada to perform a Jnana Yagna which is verily the recitation of Srimad Bhagavatham.
Bhakti Jnana Viraganam thadh goshena balam mahath
Vrajishyathi dvayoho kashtam sukam bhakter bhavishyathi||
Pralayam hi gamishyanthi Srimad Bhagavathath dvanehae
kalaer dosha imae sarvae simhashabdath vruka eva|| [Srimad Bhagavatha Mahatmyam 2.31-2.32]
The evils of Kali will vanish away where ever Srimad Bhagavatham is recited akin to how the wolves run hither and tither when they hear the roaring sounds of the lion. Bhakti will yield the milk of love and Bhakti along with Jnana and Vairagya will eternally dance in one’s heart.
Sage Narada cognizant of the greatness of Srimad Bhagavatham asked as to how Srimad Bhagavatham could revive Jnana and Vairagya.
The Kumaras explained with reference to three examples that even though Srimad Bhagavatham is the essence of all Vedas, it is the fruit of Vedas, Scriptures and Puranas. Akin to how one would taste the fruit from a tree and not the bark or the leaves of the tree even though the fluid in the tree traverses from root to the fruit. Ghee, a relished commodity of all ages is latent in the cow’s milk and it cannot be savored until it is extracted from milk and sugar found throughout the sugar-cane, when processed, the sugar from sugar-cane becomes more succulent.
Srimad Bhagavatham the essence of all scriptures makes it indeed very sweet and very easy to ingest.
The Kumaras further added that –
Atha tae varnayathaesmabhir mahima shukasastrajhah
yasya shavana matrena muktih karathalae stitha
sadha sevya sadha sevya srimad bhagavthi katha
yasyaha shravana mathrena harischitham shamashrayeth [Srimad Bhagavatha Mahatmyam 3.24-25]
By constant reminiscing and reciting Srimad Bhagavatham, the Lord will himself will come and reside in the heart of the devotee.
“slokardham sloka padam vaa” – even one recites half a sloka and that is enough to usher in goodness in him and also in his house.
Our Guru Maharaj once told a story where a rich and affluent man was living alone in a mansion. He desired to go on a pilgrimage tour to take a holy dip in Ganga but was hesitant to lock his house and hence waited for a befitting opportunity. One day he met a devotee of the Lord who confided in him that he wanted to remain in solitude and recite Srimad Bhagavatham for seven days. The rich man was very happy and handed over the house under his custody and embarked on his pilgrimage. One day mother Ganga herself came in his dreams and enlightened this rich man that she is verily present in all places where Srimad Bhagavatham is recited and asked him to revert back to his home.
Where ever Srimad Bhagavatham is recited, that place is a confluence of all the seven rivers and all auspiciousness is present there. The Kumaras guided Sage Narada to a place called Anandha for doing Saptahah. When they went all the Devas, all celestials, Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma came down to take part in Srimad Bhagavatha Sapthaham.
Sakala Bhuvana Madhyae nirdhanasthaepi dhanya
nivasathi hrudhi yaesham srihari bhaktiraeka
Harirapi Nija lokam Sarva thatho vihaya
pravishathi hrudhi thaeshaam bhaktisuthropanadhvaha|| [Srimad Bhagavatham Mahatmyam 3.73]
The one who is fortunate in all the worlds is one who poverty striken but imcessantly chants the divine names of the Lord. The Lord completely vacates Vaikunta and comes down to reside in the heart of his devotee and he thus ties his devotee’s heart unto himself and is bounded to him forever.
Atha vaishnava chiteashu drshtva bhaktim aloukikam
Nijalokam parithyajya bhagavan bhakthavathsalaha [Srimad Bhagavatha Mahatmyam 4.1]
The Lord comes as Bhakthavatsala, who is verily Muralidhara with a flute wherever he sees his devotees in a divine communion [aloukika bhakti].
The Kumaras preached drinking the nectar of Srimad Bhagavatham since it is the favorite of Lord SriHari.
Krishnapriyam kalmashanashanam cha muktaekahaetumiha bhakitvilasa kari
Santhaha kathanakamidham pibadhadarena lokae hi thirtha parishilana sevaya kim|| [Srimad Bhagavatha Mahatmyam 6.98]
The satsang ended with prayers and Namasankirtan.