The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Narada Meets Bhakti (Devotion in a Human Form) which is chapter 1 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the first chapter of the Bhagavata-Mahatmya: The Glory of Bhagavata Purana of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 1 - Nārada Meets Bhakti (Devotion in a Human Form)

[Note: This glorification of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa is extracted from the Padma PurāṇaUttara Khaṇḍa, chs 193-198. In the preamble of ch. 193, goddess Pārvatī requests Lord Śiva to narrate to her the glory of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa wḥicḥ is regarded as the greatest among all the Purāṇas. Lord Śiva reports to her the dialogue between Sūta and Śaunaka wherein the Bhāgavata is glorified by Sūta to Śaunaka. I have followed here the commentary Ṛju-nāmnī by Pt. Rāma Pratāpa, son. of Vrajalāla, of Śāṇḍilya gotra, a resident of ‘Vijayapura’ in Śekhāvaṭī.]

1. We extol the glory of Lord Kṛṣṇa who is the embodiment of the Truth, Consciousness and Bliss, the Cause of the Creation (Protection and Destruction) of the universe, who annihilates the three types of torments (viz. (1) pertaining to one’s body, (2) caused by other beings (3) inflicted by the Providence).

2. I pay my obeisance to that sage (Śuka) who (in the early stage of childhood) renounced all actions even though the ceremony of the investiture of the sacred thread had not taken place. While he set out (as a recluse to enter the fourth stage of life viz. SannyāsaBhāvāratha Dīpikā) and whom the sage Vyāsa (his father), being grieved at his desertion of home, called back as “Oh Son”, (to which) the trees (with which Śuka had identified himself) on account of his (Śuka’s) entry (existence) into the hearts of all beings, responded to Vyāsa (Śuka replied through the medium of trees to remove the paternal bond from the heart of Vyāsa—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā).

3. In the forest called Naimiṣa, Śaunaka who was aconnoisseur in enjoying the sweetness of nectar-like stories (of the Lord), bowed down to Sūta who was comfortably seated, and requested him.

Śaunaka said:

4. Oh Sūta! your knowledge is like the splendour of millions of suns capable of totally annihilating the darkness of ignorance. Be pleased to tell me the essence of the stories (of the Lord), serving as an elixir (completely gratifying) my ears.

5. In what way is the power of discrimination, developed through devotion, spiritual knowledge and renunciation, enhanced? How are delusion and infatuation removed by the votaries of Lord Viṣṇu?

6. In this advent of the terrible Kali age, a (normal human) being has become demonic in nature. What is the best remedy for the expiation of such a being who is subjected to (and overcome with) afflictions?

7. Be pleased to explain to us the ever-effective remedy, which is the auspicious-most in the propitious ones and the sacred-most among the sanctifying ones, and which leads to the attainment of Lord Kṛṣṇa.

8. The philosopher’s stone[1] may give worldly pleasures, and the Lord of gods (Indra), affluence in the heaven. But if a spiritual preceptor is pleased, he confers (attainment to) Vaikuṇṭha, the region of Viṣṇu which is very difficult to obtain even for yogins.

Sūta said:

9. Oh Śaunaka! You entertain love (for Lord Kṛṣṇa) in your heart. Hence after pondering deeply, I shall explain to you the conclusions deduced by all established truths (philosophies) which are capable of destroying the fear of Saṃsāra (mundane existence, the chain of births and deaths).

10. Listen to me attentively. I shall now relate to you what will swell the flood of devotion (to God), and bring about the Grace of Lord Kṛṣṇa.

11. It is with a view to remove completely the fear of falling a victim to the jaws of the serpent in the form of Time, that a sacred treatise called Bhāgavata was set forth by the sage Śuka in this Kali age.

12. There is not a single other remedy to achieve purification of the mind. One can (however) get the opportunity of (listening to) the Bhāgavata, if there be (balance of) meritorious actions in previous births.

13. When the sage Śuka took his seat in the assemblyhall to narrate the story (of the Bhāgavata) to king Parīkṣit, all gods arrived there carrying with them actually the jar full of nectar.

14. Bowing down to Śuka, all the gods, clever as they were to accomplish their purpose, requested, “After receiving first the (jar of) nectar, kindly let us have the nectar in the form of stories of the Lord.

15. If this exchange (of nectar for the stories of Lord Hari) is acceptable, the nectar may be drunk by the King (Parīkṣit), while all of us will drink (listen to) the nectar-like Śrīmad Bhāgavata.

16. “Where is the ordinary nectar? Where is the (sanctifying) story of the Bhāgavata? (The nectar can stand no comparison at all with the Bhāgavata) just as a Very costly jewel can never be compared with a glass bead”. Reasoning thus (with himself) Śuka laughed out (the barter proposed by) gods. So goes the traditional report.

17. Knowing thoroughly that they (gods) were not the devotees of the Lord, he refused to narrate to them the nectarine story of the Lord. Hence the story of Śrīmad-Bhāgavata is un-obtainable even to gods.

18-19. In those ancient days, even god Brahmā was wonder-struck to see the liberation (from Saṃsāra) of King Parīkṣit, that way (through merely listening to the story of the Bhāgavata). On his return to Satya-Ioka (Brahmā’s region), he weighed in balance all ways leading to Mokṣa. But all others proved to be (comparatively) light, while this (listening to the Bhāgavata) proved the heaviest in weight. At that time, all the sages also were astonished.

20. They realized that the sacred text called the Bhāgavata, the recitation or hearing of which instantaneously confers the ‘fruit’ of attaining to the Vaikuṇṭha, is verily the Lord Himself (incarnate) in this world.

21. Formerly it was prescribed to Nārada by compassionate sages headed by Sanaka, that listening to the Bhāgavata completely within the duration of one week, definitely confers Liberation (from Saṃsāra).

22. Although this (Bhāgavata) was heard by the heavenly sage Nārada due to his relation with god Brahmā, the procedure of listening to the Bhāgavata within the duration of seven days, was explained to him by the boy-sages (Sanaka etc.).

Śaunaka asked:

23. What interest did Nārada have in listening to the procedure (of reciting the Bhāgavata within a week) inasmuch as his mission is trouble-shooting in the world, for which he is always on the move? And where did he meet them (sages Sanaka and others).

Sūta replied:

24. I shall now relate to you an incident conducive to the (enhancement of) devotion. It was narrated to me in strict privacy by Śuka who regarded me as his disciple.

25. Once those four absolutely sinless sages (Sanaka, Sanandana etc.) arrived at Badarikāśrama with a view to contact other saints. They saw Nārada there.

The Boy-sages (Sanaka and others) asked:

26. Oh Brāhmaṇa sage! How is it that your appearance is down-cast? What anxiety worries your worship? Where are you proceeding in haste? And whence have you come?

27. You now appear listless like a man who has lost all his wealth and property. This is not proper in the case of a person (like you) who has renounced all attachment. Please let us know the reason.

Nārada explained:

28-29. Knowing that the earth is the best of regions (in the universe), I arrived here and during my wandering (through wander-lust) to different sacred places, I visited Puṣkara, Prayāga, Kāśī, the Godāvarī (some holy place on the bank of that river), Haridvāra, Kurukṣetra, Śrīraṅga [śrī-raṅgaṃ], Rāmeśvara (site of Ramā’s [Rāma’s?] bridge over the sea).

30. But at no place did I get any solace or delight giving satisfaction to the mind. Now the earth is thoroughly in the grip of Kali, the friend of unrighteousness.

31. There is no place for truthfulness, austerities, purity (both physical and mental), compassion and liberality. The wretched beings thereof are solely occupied in filling their belly (for which) they make false statements.

32. The people are stupid and extremely dull-witted. They are luckless and are afflicted (with disease, difficulties etc.). The (so-called) saints are engaged in heretical activities while the recluses) sannyāsins (or the renouncers of the worldly life) entertain family and property.

33. Young women (in disregard of older generation) control the household. One’s wife’s brother becomes a counsellor (his advice prevails). They sell their daughters out of greediness. The husbands and wives quarrel with each other.

34. (Sites of) hermitages (of sages), holy places and sacred rivers are occupied by yavanas (foreigners). Here (in India) the sacred shrines (of gods) have been destroyed and polluted by wicked enemies of religion.

35. There is no (real) yogī, possessor of mystic powers. There is none who has acquired spiritual knowledge or performs righteous acts. In the forest-conflagration in the form of the Kali age, all spiritual discipline has been reduced to ashes.

36. In this Kali age, the country will be full of people who sell food, Brāhmaṇas, selling the Vedas and women living by prostitution.

37. During my course of wandering over the earth, I observed these evils (caused by) the Kali age, and I arrived on the bank of the Yamunā which was (once) the stage of Hari’s (Kṛṣṇa’s) sports.

38. Listen to me, oh prominent sages, what miraculous phenomenon I noticed there. A young woman with a dejected mind was sitting there.

39. Two old men, with heavy breathing, were lying unconscious beside her. She was nursing them, trying to bring them back to consciousness and shedding tears before them.

40. In all the ten quarters, she was looking for the protector of her person. She was fanned by hundreds of women who were reassuring her.

41. Seeing this from a distance, I approached her out of curiosity. The girl stood up as she saw me. The girl, deeply distressed in mind, spoke to me.

The girl said:

42. Oh saintly person! Wait for a moment and put an end to my worries. Your very sight itself is a great panacea removing all sins of the world.

43. Most probably my agonies will be pacified by (listening to) your words. It is only when one is highly lucky that persons like you are seen.

Nārada asked:

44. Who are you? Who are these two (old men)? And who are these ladies with lotus-like eyes? Oh good lady I Tell me in details the cause of your misery.

The girl replied:

45. am known as Bhakti (Devotion). These two who are by name "Spiritual Knowledge” and “Renunciation”, are regarded as my sons. These have become aged and worn out due to passage of time.

46. (Pointing to ladies) These are rivers like the Gaṅgā and others who have come to serve me. Waited upon even by gods as I am, I get no felicity or bliss.

47. Oh Sage (whose wealth is penance)! Anxiously and carefully listen to this story of mine. The story of my life is a long one. But please listen to it, and give me some mental happiness.

48. Such as I am, I was born in the Draviḍa land and grew up to maturity in Karṇāṭaka. At some places in Mahārāṣṭra I was respected, but after coming to Gujarat I became old and decrepit.

49. Owing to the terrible age called Kali, I was crippled in my various parts of the body by the heretics (who singing god’s name, dancing before him, worshipping him, were neglected by the people due to heretical teachings) I was subjected to live in that stage for a long time; I became weak and sluggish along with my sons.

50. But after reaching Vṛndāvana I became rejuvenated, and endowed with enviable beauty. Thus I appear quite young with a lovely form.

51. But these two sons of mine who are suffering great anguish, have slept due to fatigue. I however, propose to go to another place leaving this place.

52. I am pained at the decrepitude of my sons. Though I am their mother, why should I look young and my sons aged.

53. How did this unnatural inversion take place when we three have been staying together? It is natural that the mother should be old and the sons youthful.

54. My mind is overwhelmed with this miraculous change, and hence I am grief-striken. Oh intelligent abode of Yoga! Kindly let me know what can be the cause of this.

Nārada said:

55. Oh sinless lady! I have perceived and understood all your plight through my insight born of spiritual knowledge. You need not be depressed in spirits. Lord Hari will bring bliss in your life.

Sūta said:

56. Grasping within a moment the cause of her misery the great sage spoke as follows:

Nārada said:

Oh young lady! listen to me carefully. The present age is dominated by the terrible Kali.

57. It is due to his influence that righteous conduct, the yogic way of life and austerities have been neglected completely. People indulging in fraudulent and wicked deeds are acting like Aghāsura.

58. In this age, saintly people come to grief and suffer, and unrighteous people feel exultant. Only the person possessing intelligence and fortitude is either wise or learned.

59. Year after year, this earth which deserves not to be touched (by foot in walking) or is not worthy of looking at, is becoming heavier and heavier to Śeṣa and there is nothing which is auspicious.

60. At present no body cares to look at you along with your sons. You stand neglected by persons who are blinded with passion, and thus you are overcome with old age.

61. Vṛndāvana really deserves praise, as it is due to its contact, that Bhakti was rejuvenated as a young woman and where Bhakti (gleefully) dances.

62. These two (sons of yours) do not shed off their decrepitude due to absence of people accepting them. Their deep sleep is regarded as a result of the partial satisfaction of their self.

Bhakti asked:

63. Why was this sinful—impious—Kali established by King Parīkṣit? What has become of the essence or fruit of every thing, after the advent of the Kali age?

64. How is it that Lord Hari who is noted for his grace, tolerates this unrighteousness or this unrighteousness of Kali? Be pleased to cut (remove) this doubt of mine. I feel happy when I hear your speech.

Nārada said:

65. As I am asked by you with so much affection, be pleased to listen, oh child. I shall explain to you everything and your nervousness (of the mind) will disappear, Oh blessed lady!

66. When the glorious Lord Kṛṣṇa left this earth and retired to his region, since that very day the Kali age which hinders all spiritual efforts, has been commenced.

67. When, during the course of the conquest of the world, (lit. cardinal points) Kali was seen by the king Parīkṣit as resorting to him for protection like an indigent person, the king who, like a black bee sucked (grasped) the essence of everything, decided, “This (Kali) should not be killed by me”.

68. (For) It is only in the Kali age that a person can attain that supreme fruit by chanting the name and glory of Lord Viṣṇu that one can never get through austerities, yoga or meditation.

69. Taking into account this unique speciality of the Kali age and regarding it as valuable, though it is lacking in other essential qualities, Parīkṣit established the (presiding deity of that) age for securing the bliss of those who would be born in Kali age.

70. The essence of all substances has now disappeared in every respect due to perpetration of evil deeds. All substances on the earth stay bereft of their essence, like the husk devoid of seed-grains.

71. The importance and efficacy of the story of the Bhāgavata have eroded away as the story has been recited in every house and to all persons (irrespective of their devout- ness) by Brāhmaṇas out of greed for obtaining food grains.

72. Even the returnees from the Raurava hell who perpetrate most terrible and heinous crimes and who are nonbelievers, have occupied the sacred places and hence the efficacy of holy places has vanished.

73. Even the persons whose minds are full of and distracted with erotic passion, anger, extreme greed and avidity for pleasures, are practising penance. Hence the potency of penance is lost.

74. The power of meditation has disappeared due to non-control of the mind, avarice, hypocrisy, adoption of heresy and absention from the study of sacred texts.

75. Like he-buffalos (regardless of Śāstric restrictions) the learned people indulge in sexual intercourse with (their) women, and are very diligent in procreating children, but are indifferent to the means leading to one’s salvation.

76. In no place there is devotion to Viṣṇu as traditionally followed in (ancient) sects. Hence the essence and efficacy of everything are completely lost everywhere.

77. This is the very nature of the (Kali) age. Nobody is to be blamed. Hence Lord Viṣṇu (of lotus eyes), though so close to us (as the Indwelling Lord antar-yāmin), forbears this.

Sūta said:

78. Being extremely surprised to hear this speech of Nārada, Bhakti again addressed the following words to him. Oh Śaunaka, please listen to them.

Śrī Bhakti said:

79. Oh heavenly sage! You are certainly blessed (by your saintliness). It is my (sheer) luck that you have come The very sight of righteous persons is highly conducive to the attainment of all things in the world.

80. I bow to that son of Brahmā who is the receptacle (and support) of all auspicious blessings, grasping—understanding whose only one word-construction (viz. taking of the name of god), Prahlāḍa, the son of Kayādhū, transcended the deluding māyā power and through whose grace Dhruva, (the son of Uttānapāda) attained to the eternal abode.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Cintāmaṇi—A fabulous precious stone, supposed to yield to the possessor, all his desires.

[2]:

According to a Smṛti text quoted by the Commentary, a person dying by serpent-bite does not go to good regions. Hence the wonder of sages when Parīkṣit secured Liberation even after death by a snake-bite.

[3]:

Aghāsura: A demon sent by Kaṃsa to kill Kṛṣṇa. He assumed the form of a boa constrictor and lay with his mouth open. The cowherd, boys with Kṛṣṇa entered it, but Kṛṣṇa killed him.—Bhāgavata Purāṇa 10.12.

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