The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 780,972 words | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Removal of Bhakti’s Miseries which is chapter 3 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 third chapter of the Bhagavata-Mahatmya: The Glory of Bhagavata Purana of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 3 - Removal of Bhakti’s Miseries

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nārada said:

1. For the sake of establishing Bhakti, Jñāna, and Vairāgya, I shall perform the sacrifice (for the spreading) of knowledge, exerting myself to the utmost, by reciting the Bhāgavata which is the illuminating sacred text introduced by Śuka.

2. May the place where I should perform this sacrifice (of Bhāgavata-recitation.) be described (by you). And the importance and glory of this sacred scripture of Śuka be explained by you, the experts in the Vedic lore.

3. May it be elucidated to me after this, in how many days the story of the Bhāgavata is to be heard, and the ritualistic procedure to be followed with reference to this (jñāna- yajña)?

Kumāras explained:

4. Listen, Oh Nārada! inasmuch as you are deeply modest and judicious, we shall narrate that to you: In the vicinity of Gaṅgādvāra (i.e. Haridvāra) there is a place called Ānanda on the bank (of the Gaṅgā).

5. It was peopled with hosts of sages and was visited by celestial beings like gods and siddhas. It was covered with various kinds of trees and creepers and spread over with soft sand.

6. It was a lovely place far away from crowds, and was beautified with golden lotuses. The feeling of enmity had no place in the hearts of these beings which lived near that place.

7. The Jñāna-yajña (viz. recitation of the Bhāgavata) should be performed there by you. And without any (extra) exertion on your part, the story (of the Bhāgavata) will be full of extraordinary and unprecedented sweetness in that place.

8. Accompanied in the fore-front by the pair (Jñāna and Vairāgya) which was (formerly) lying before her devoid of strength and with their bodies worn out with old age, Bhakti herself will visit that place, in person.

9. Wherever there is the recitation of the story of the Bhāgavata, Bhakti (Jñāna & Vairāgya) attend to it. Hearing the words of the story (of the Bhāgavata), the triad gets rejuvenated.

Sūta said:

10. Having explained thus, (to Nārada), the Kumāra- sages thence hastily accompanied Nārada and arrived at the bank of the Gaṅgā, for making people drink the (nectarine) juice of the (Bhāgavata) story.

11. When they reached the bank (of the Gaṅgā), there was a loud uproar on the earth, in the celestial world and in. the region of God Brahmā as well.

12. All those who were eager to enjoy the delicious flavour of the story of the Bhāgavata) and especially the votaries of Viṣṇu came a-racing to that place, to drink the nectarine juice of Śrī Bhāgavata.

13. 14. The sages Bhṛgu, Vasiṣṭha, Cyavana, Gautama, Medhātithi, Devala, Devarāta (Yājñavalkya), Paraśurāma, Viśvāmitra (the son of Gādhi), Śākala, Mārkaṇḍeya (the son of Mṛkaṇḍu), Dattātreya (the son of Atri), Pippalāda[1], Vāmadeva, the lord of yoga, Vyāsa and Parāśara, the counter part of Śuka[2] (chāyā-śuka), all these multitudes of sages of whom Jājali and Jahnu were the leaders, came along with their sons, disciples and wives, as they entertained a deep attachment and longing (to listen to the Bhāgavata).

15. There arrived the (presiding deities of) upaniṣaḍs, the (four) vedas, sacred incantations (like Sañjīvana capable of reviving the dead), tantras (both yāmala and ḍāmara types), seventeen Purāṇas and six systems of Philosophy, as well.

16. (There came also) sacred rivers (of whom the Gaṅgā[3] stands first), lakes (of which Puṣkara is the prominent one), holy places (like Kurukṣetra), the cardinal points and forests (like the Daṇḍaka).

17. Mountains (like Meru and Himālayas), celestial beings like gods and demigods like Gandharvas and Kinnaras (divine musicians) came there. Bhṛgu, due to his position of being the preceptor, advised and brought the remaining persons who failed to come (due to their worldly interests).

18. The Kumāra-sages (Sanat-Kumāra and his brothers) who were already initiated and were thoroughly devoted to Kṛṣṇa, were offered excellent seats by Nārada and were paid homages by all, occupied their seats.

19.The devotees of Lord Viṣṇu, those who renounced the world, the Saṃnyāsins (recluses) and the celibates were seated in the front (of all the listeners), and Nārada (being the convener or chief member of the audience) occupied the first (front-most seat).

20. One side was occupied by the host of sages, the other side by the celestial beings. The Vedas and Upaniṣads sat on one side; the (presiding deities of) holy places occupied another side, while the ladies were seated in (still) another part.

21. There was a loud hailing with lusty shouts of (words such as) ‘Victory’ (Jaya) and‘Salute’ (namas), and a fanfare of conchblasting, and a heavy shower of aromatic powder (of camphor, sandals etc.), parched grains of rice, and flowers.

22. Some leaders of gods ascended their aerial cars and profusely showered all the congregation with flowers of wish- yielding (heavenly) trees.

Sūta said:

23. Thus while all were listening with concentrated minds, the Kumāras began to extol, in clear terms, the glory of the Bhāgavata to the great-souled Nārada.

Kumāras said:

24. We shall now describe to you the great glory of the Śuka-Śāstra[4] (Śrīmad-Bhāgavata as enunciated by Śuka), by listening to which Liberation (from Saṃsāra) is (secure as if being) just on the palm of one’s hands.

25. One should constantly listen to the story of Śrīmad Bhāgavata (throughout one’s life), for by simply listening to it, Lord Hari occupies one’s heart.

26. Listen to the Bhāgavata Purāṇa which work consists of 18,000 verses (Ślokas) and is divided into 12 Skandhas, and forms a dialogue between King Parīkṣit and the sage Śuka.

27. So long as the story of the scripture enunciated by Śuka, viz. the Bhāgavata is not heard even for a moment, a man has to revolve in this rotating wheel of Saṃsāra due to his ignorance.

28. Of what use are the many Śāstras (scriptures) and Purāṇas listening to which causes nothing but confusion? The Bhāgavata is the only scripture which loudly announces the granting of Liberation from Saṃsāra (by listening to it).

29. The house in which the story of the Bhāgavata is recited, is transformed into a sacred place and it annihilates sins of persons who dwell in it.

30. Thousands of Horse-sacrifices and hundreds of Vājapeya sacrifices do not stand in comparison with the one-sixteenth of the efficacy of listening to the story of the Bhāgavata. (Śuka’s scripture).

31. Oh Sages who regard austerities as your wealth! Sins persist in this body so long as Śrīmad Bhāgavata is not properly listened to by men.

32. Neither the Gaṅgā nor the holy place Gayā or Kāśī or the sacred lake Puṣkara or the holy place Prayāga can equal the recitation of the Bhāgavata in its efficacy.

33. If you desire to attain the summum bonum, you should always read or recite with your own mouth either a half or a quarter of a verse from the Bhāgavata.

34-36. Wise persons knowing the truth as it is, do not desire to distinguish between the sacred syllable OM(the ultimate source of the Vedas), the Gāyatrī (the mother of the Vedas), the Puruṣa sūkta (Ṛg Veda Saṃhitā 10.90), the three Vedas (ṚK, Sāman and Yajus), the Bhāgavata, the sacred mantra of twelve syllables (viz. Om Namo Bhagavate Vāsudevāya), the Sun god who appears to assume twelve forms (one per month of the Hindu calendar), the sacredmost place Prayāga, Kāla or the Time spirit represented by one year, Brāhmaṇas, Agnihotra (offering of oblations daily to sacrificial fire—a duty of every householder), Surabhi, the wish-yielding cow, the twelfth day of the dark and bright halves of a lunar month, the Tulasī plant, the season called spring (consisting of months Caitra, and Vaiśākha) and Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme-Most person.

37. There is absolutely no doubt that the sin committed in millions of previous lives of a person is destroyed completely, if that person every day reads the scripture of the Bhāgavata understanding its import.

38. A person who always reads at least the half or a quarter of a verse from the Bhāgavata attains the combined merits of the Rājasūya and Aśvamedha sacrifices.

39. Recitation of the Bhāgavata every day, the practice of meditating on Hari, watering the Tulasī plant every day, and feeding and service rendered to cows—all these bear equal fruit.

40. To a person who (happens to) hear at least a sentence out of the Bhāgavata at the time of death, Lord Viṣṇu, out of love, offers him (a place in) Vaikuṇṭha.

41. It is definitely certain that a person who presents the Bhāgavata, placing it on a throne (seat) of gold, to a votary of Viṣṇu attains the Sāyujya type of Liberation consisting in absorption in Lord Kṛṣṇa.

42. A wicked person who has not drunk (heard) the story of Śuka’s scripture, paying to it at least slight attention, since his birth, has led a futile life like that of a Cāṇḍāla (a person belonging to the lowest caste), or like a donkey, and made his mother a sufferer by causing pangs of his birth to her.

43. He is a perpetrator of sinful deeds who has not at all heard even a sentence from the Bhāgavata. He is called a breathing corpse. About him say the leaders of the hosts of gods in heaven, “Fie upon such a man who is comparable to a beast and is nothing but a burden to the earth”

44. The story elucidated in the Bhāgavata is certainly very rare (to listen) in this world. It is obtained (heard) as a fruit of the culmination of meritorious actions performed in crores of previous lives.

45. Oh highly intelligent Nārada who are a treasure house of yoga! One should listen to the story of the Bhāgavata with a perfect concentration (of mind). There is no restriction of the number of days within which it should be heard. The hearing of the Bhāgavata is always commended at all times.

46. It is ordained that while hearing the Bhāgavata one should always observe (the vows of) truthfulness and celibacy. But that being impossible in the Kali age, specific observances as laid down by Śuka for this should be known.

47. Due to the impossibility of the control of the mental activity, of abiding by the rules (to be prescribed later in Chapter Six), and observance of consecration (known as Viṣṇu-dīkṣā), listening to the Bhāgavata for a (specific) period of one week is advised.

48. The fruit that one attains by hearing every day the Bhāgavata, with faith and devotion, in the month of Māgha (after performing early bath, worship of the Lord etc.), the same is allotted by the sage Śuka to the listening[5] of the Bhāgavata within the duration of a week.

49. Listening to the Bhāgavata within a week’s period is recommended, due to non-subjugation of the mind, (human) susceptibility to disease (and illness), shortness of the life-span of men and the prevalence of plethora of evils in the Kali age.

50. One can easily attain the whole of that fruit by listening (to the entire Bhāgavata) in a week, which one cannot obtain even through the performance of penance, through the yogic process, and through meditation (and a absorption of the mind in the mind in the Supreme Soul).

51. The Bhāgavata week roars more loudly (i.e. brings more prosperity) than the performence of sacrifices; it leads to higher merits then (the observance of) vows; it brings more excellence than by performing austerities; it is always supremely suprior to sacred places.

52. It is superior to yoga (involving control of the mind), to the contemplation (with concentrated mind) and to the spiritual knowledge. How can we describe its excellence? It surpasses (in excellence) everything else.

Śaunaka asked:

53. The incident (of Nārada’s meeting and dialogue with the Kumāra sages) as narrated by you is really wonderful. How is it that in the present (Kali) age, the Bhāgavata Purāṇa set at nought (and excelled) the Śāstric knowledge (dispassion, celibacy etc.) and the ordinances prescribed for all classes of people, and became efficacious to lead to the Liberation (from saṃsāra, even), the detractors of yoga and spiritual knowledge.

Sūta replied:

54. “When Kṛṣṇa became ready to depart from this earth to go to his region (Vaikuṇṭha), Uddhava, despite his listening to (the spiritual knowledge imparted in) the Eleventh Skandha (of the Bhāgavata) addressed him as follows:

Uddhava said:

55. “Oh Kṛṣṇa! you, on your part will be going after achieving the work of your devotees. My mind is weighed with a deep anxiety. Please give a hearing to me and bring me happiness.

56. This terrible period of Kali is just impending. Wicked people will reassert themselves again. Even good persons will contract cruelty sheerly through their association with them (the evil people).

57. To whom can this earth overburdened with sinners, resort in the form of a cow? Oh lotus-eyed God! No other protector except you appears in view.

58. You are affectionate to the devotees! At least have mercy on the pious people, and do not depart (from this world). Though you are formless, pure consciousness, you have (sportively) assumed a form possessing excellences for the sake of your votaries.

59. How can your devotees continue to live on the earth when bereaved of you? There is a great difficulty in propitiating attributeless God. Hence think over a little.”

10. Hearing this appeal from Uddhava, at (the holy place called) Prabhāsa, Hari pondered to himself, “What can be done by me for supporting my devotees”.

61. The Lord deposited in the Bhāgavata all his spirit and energy. Having disappeared (from the world) he entered and abides in the ocean called Bhāgavata.

62. Hence this (Bhāgavata ) is now the verbal image of Lord Hari directly. If rendered service to it, heard, recited or (even simply) seen, it annihilates (all) sins.

63. It is due to this reason, that hearing of the Bhāgavata in a week, has been regarded as superior to all (other religious practices). In the Kali-age, the Bhāgavata week has been announced to be the religion superseding other religious practices.

64. This ha? been pronounced as the path of righteousness in the Kali age for washing off completely misery, poverty, misfortune and sins and for subduing the passion of lust and anger.

65. Otherwise how can human beings free themselves from the deluding potency of Lorḍ Viṣṇu which is extremely difficult even for gods to overcome? Hence the Bhāgavata week. (course of listening to the Bhāgavata within a week) has been proclaimed (and strongly recommended).

Sūta said:

66. While the glorious merits of the great dharma consisting of listening to the Bhāgavata in a week’s duration, was being proclaimed by the sages, a miracle took place there. Oh Śaunaka, listen to it carefully as it is now being described.

67. Bhakti (Devotion), the embodiment of absolute love in God, unexpectedly manifested herself accompanied by her two sons (Jñāna and Vairāgya) now fully re-juvenated and repeatedly uttering the names of the Lord, ‘Oh Lord! Oh Kṛṣṇa! Oh Govinda! Oh Hari! Oh Murāri! (Destroyer of the demon Mura)’

68. The members of the assembly saw her come attired in excellently charming garments, and adorned with ornaments in the form of the teachings of the Bhāgavata and began to guess as to how she entered and how she appeared in the midst of the sages.

69. ‘It is from the very import of the story (of the Bhāgavata) that she has now sprung up’, observed the Kumāra- sages. Hearing these words, she along with her sons humbly made the following submission to (the sage) Sanatkumāra.

Bhakti said:

70. “Mutilated and practically dead as I was, due to Kali age, you resuscitated me today by feeding me with the nectar-like story (of the Bhāgavata). May you, the sons of God Brahmā, direct me what place I, along with my sons should occupy”. They thereupon, spoke the following words to her:

71. “Assuming the excellent form of Govinda, you persistently preserve the divine love among the devotees and cure completely their disease of Saṃsāra. Resorting to absolute firmness, you perpetually occupy the minds of the devotees of Viṣṇu.

72. Thereby the evils (like hereticalness) born of the Kali age which are capable of dominating the world, will not dare cast a glance at you”. Even as they were instructing her (as guidance), she immediately occupied the hearts of the devotees of Hari as her abode.

73. Blessed are they in the entire world (s) in whose hearts abides unflinching devotion to Hari, the Lord of Śrī (Affluence), even though they may be destitute of wealth. It is hence that Hari, being tied with the bond of devotion, enters (and abides) in their hearts completely giving up his realm of Vaikuṇṭha.

74. What more can we extol now the great glory of this embodiment of the Veda, designated as the Bhāgavata, in this world. It is by resorting (i.e. listening) to and by expounding it in details, that both the eloquent preacher as well as the attentive listener attain oneness with Lord Kṛṣṇa. This path is self-sufficient; there is no propriety in following other paths of righteousness.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

The plural is used to indicate the persons born in the gotra.

[2]:

Vyāsa-moha-nirāsāya chāyayā racitaḥṚju nāmnī commentary.

[3]:

As a matter of fact, it should be the Yamunā, as the Gaṅgā was already present.

[4]:

A better v.l, is:

atha te varṇyate'smābhir mahimā Śuka-Śāstra-jaḥ /

The great glory derived from the Śuka-Śāstra is being described to you now by us.

[5]:

v. l. Śrāvaṇe—In the month of Śrāvaṇa (as well as in the month of Māgha).

[6]:

v.l. Śrāvaṇe—In the month of Śrāvaṇa (as well as in the month of Māgha).

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