The Bhagavata Purana

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

This page describes Merits of Devotion to Hari which is chapter 2 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 second chapter of the First Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 2 - Merits of Devotion to Hari

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Vyāsa said:

1. Being highly pleased at these courteous questions of the Brāhmaṇas (Sūta, Ugraśravas) the son of Romahaṛṣaṇa, complimenting their words (enquiry) began to reply in details.

Sūta said:

2. I bow down to that sage (Śuka) whose ceremony of the investiture of the sacred thread had not taken place (i.e. in that early stage of childhood), who had renounced all actions and set out (of home[1]) and whom the sage Vyāsa (Śuka’s father Dvaipāyana)[2], being grieved at his separation from him, called back as “Oh Son” (to which) the trees, being like Śuka on account of his (Śuka’s) existence (entry) into the hearts of all beings[3] responded (to Vyāsa).

3. I seek refuge in the son of Vyāsa (viz. Śuka, the spiritual master of sages who had, out of compassion for people in the worldly existence desiring to cross over the (ocean of) the blinding darkness (of ignorance), narrated the secret one among the Purāṇas[4] (viz. the Bhāgavata Purāṇa), which is the only one lamp of spiritual truth, full of its own (uncommon) glory[5], and is the essence of all the Vedas.

4. After paying obeisance to Nārāyaṇa[6] and also to Nara[7] the best of men[8], and also[9] to the goddess of learning, one should narrate Jaya (another name of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. See Bhāgavata Candrikā and Siddhāntapradīpa).

5. Oh sages! I have been very nicely asked by your honour about the welfare (or bliss) of the people because (your) relevant question is about Kṛṣṇa, whereby the soul becomes completely soothed.

6. That is certainly the sublime religion[10] for men, (religion) from which is created the devotion to Lord Viṣṇu—devotion which is without any (ulterior) motive, unobstructed (or constant) and by which the soul becomes deeply pacified.

7. Loyal devotion (applied) to Lord Vāsudeva[11] immediately[12] generates non-attachment which leads to causeless[13] knowledge.

8. If that religion, howsoever well-practised, does not create love for the stories of Lord Kṛṣṇa, it is certainly sheer labour.

9. Verily, wealth is not the proper objective of the religion leading to Liberation[14]. The desire (for worldly things) is never enjoined for the attainment of that (kind of) wealth which has religion as its end (object).[15]

10. It is not proper to satisfy the senses (by enjoyment of desired objects but to limit) that much enjoyment of desired objects as is essential for (the sustenance of) life. The aim of life in this world is enquiry about the Truth (or the essential nature of the Supreme Being= Tattva) and not (the desire for enjoyment in Heaven) by performing religious rites.

11. Those who possess the knowledge of the Truth (tattva) call the knowledge of non-duality[16] as the Truth. It is also variously designated as Brahman, Paramātman or Bhagavān.

12. The sages who have faith in it (Brahman) visualize their own soul in themselves, through devotion which is combined with knowledge and non-attachment and which is developed by listening to the Vedānta.

13. Hence, Oh greatest of the twin-borns! Gratification (grace) of Hari is the consummation of religion practised well by men according to the division of castes and stages of life.

14. Therefore, the Venerable Lord of the Sātvatas (deserves always to be) heard, eulogised, meditated and worshipped with concentrated attention.

15. Who will not love (listen to) His narratives by whose sword-like meditation, the learned ones, becoming one with the Supreme Spirit[17] cut asunder the knot-like acts producing bondage.[18]

16. Oh Brāhmaṇas! Love about the narratives of Vāsudeva will be generated in (persons) desirous of hearing (or devoted to service) and full of faith, by performing holy pilgrimages and through the service of the great (holy) people.

17. The reason is that Kṛṣṇa, hearing and glorifying (whose episodes) is meritorious and who is the well-wisher of the good, exists in the hearts of the listeners to His narratives and shakes off all evil.

18. When Evils are all but destroyed by continuous services of the devotees of the Lord[19], firm devotion to the Lord of excellent fame[20], is generated.

19. Then, mind, not being affected by perturbations (qualities or “aspects”[21]) like Passions (rajas) and Ignorance (tamas) and by desire, avarice and others, and being stabilised in goodness, is quietened (soothed).

20. Thus the knowledge[22]of the reality of the Lord is produced in the-person whose mind is pacified and who has freed himself from attachment through the devotion of the Supreme Lord.

21. As soon as the Supreme Lord is seen within oneself, his knot (of ego) in the heart[23] is cut asunder, all doubts are solved and his actions (good or bad, of the previous period which are not exhausted by enjoying the fruits) are annihilated.

22. Hence, verily, wise men always practise with great delight (their) devotion in Lord Vāsudeva which purifies their hearts.[24]

23. Sattva (goodness), rajas (passion) and tamas (ignorance)—These are the attributes or constituents of Nature (Prakṛti). The Supreme Being possessing these attributes is one. Here He assumes names like Hari, Viriñci (Brahmadeva), and Hara (Śiva) for the preservation (creation and destruction) of the universe. There (from among them) the good (Final Beatitude) comes from Him whose body is Sattva (goodness) itself.

24. To the earthly wood, the smoke issuing from it is superior. To such smoke the Fire is superior as being connected with all sacrificial acts prescribed in the Vedas. (Similarly) the quality of rajas is better than that of tamas, but sattva-guṇa (the quality of goodness) is the best as the Supreme Spirit (Brahman) is realized in it.[25]

25. Therefore, formerly sages worshipped Venerable Viṣṇu (who is of purest goodness i.e. sattva-guṇa incarnate). Those who follow them here become fit for final beatitude.

26. So also, disregarding the lords of goblins of terrible forms, persons desirous of Liberation (being) quiet and free from malice adore images of Nārāyaṇa.

27. Verily, longing for wealth, power and offspring, persons whose nature (is dominated by) the qualities of rajas (passion) and tamas (ignorance) and who are of the kindred nature (as lords of manes etc.) adore the Lords of the manes, goblins and created beings and others.

28. Vāsudeva is the highest objective of the Vedas. (Vedic) sacrifices are intended for Vāsudeva. The Yogic practices (and as a matter of that) all (religious) actions have Vāsudeva as their goal.

29. The object of knowledge is (the comprehension of) Vāsudeva. Religious penance is for the sake of Vāsudeva. Vāsudeva is the goal of Religion. Vāsudeva is the end to be reached in liberation.

30. The Supreme Lord whois without attributes (and) all-pervading by nature, formerly created this (Universe) by His will-power called Illusion (Māya) which consists of (three) qualities (viz. sattva, rajas and tamas) and is of manifested and unmanifested form or “expressive of cause and effect (law of causation).

31. (The Supreme Lord) having manifested Himself by His Knowledge or Intellectual Power[26] and entering into these attributes created by Māyā appears as if He has attributes.

32. Just as the same fire placed in wood from which it is created, appears of different forms, (so also) the Puruṣa[27]—the Soul of the Universe appears different in created beings.[28]

33. This (Supreme Lord), by entering into beings created by Himself by the effects full of attributes, of gross and subtle elements, organs of senses and Soul-mind, enjoys their attributes.[29]

34. Certainly, this Creator of the Universe[30], being fond of pastimes[31] like incarnations in gods, non-human being sand men, protects the Universe, by his power.

Footnotes and references:


pravrojantamBhāvāratha Dīpikā: Set out as a recluse (to enter the 4th stage of life. viz. Saṃnyāsa). But Padaratnāvalī refutes this on the grounds of the ineligibility of Śuka to Saṃnyāsa as his thread ceremony had not taken place. Here pravrajyā does not mean saṃnyāsa but “abruptly going out.” Subodhinī explains pravrajanam as “leaving out all contacts” and not saṃnyāsa.


Dvaipāyana—The name of Vyāsa, the son of Parāśara, so called because of his birth on an island in the Jumna—Bhāratavarṣīya Prācīna Caritra Kośa. p. 479.

evaṃ dvaipāyana jajñe satyavatyām parāśarāt /
nyasto dvīpe sa yad bālas tasmād dvaipāyaṇaḥ smṛtaḥ //

  —Mahābhārata I.63.86


sarva-bhūta-hṛdayaḥBhāvāratha Dīpikā: Śuka replied through the medium of trees to remove the paternal bond from the heart of Vyāsa.

Subodhinī: One who controls the hearts of all beings; or whose heart is in all beings.

Kramasandarbha. Upon whom the heart of all beings is placed.


purāṇa-guhyam [purāṇaguhya]—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā & Kramasandarbha. interpret as above, but Bhāgavata Candrikā: “The secret Purāṇa”, Padaratnāvalī adds purāṇasya bhagavataḥ sannidhātuṃ yogyam.


svānubhāvamKramasandarbha.: This expresses the uncommon glory of the BH.P., but Padaratnāvalī: He who expounded Brahman (svānubhāvam) and who narrated the BH.P. which is’... etc. (Padaratnāvalī construes this verse differently as indicated above).


Nārāyaṇa: Viṣṇu so called because he lay on the waters of the Deluge before the beginning of Creation:

āpo nārā iti proktā āpo vai nara- sūnavaḥ /
tā yadasyāyanaṃ pūrvaṃ tena nārāyaṇaḥ smṛtaḥ //


Nara: An incarnation of Viṣṇu; born of Dharma and Mūrti daughter of Dakṣa. A friend and associate of Nārāyaṇa while performing penance at Badarikāśrama. As Bhāvāratha Dīpikā and Kramasandarbha. note Nārāyaṇa and Nara represent Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna.


narottama—The best of beings. Some treat this as the adjective qualifying Nara.


Padaratnāvalī reads “Vyāsa” for caiva. He interprets this verse rather differ­ently:

“After paying homage to Nārāyaṇa (the subject of the Bhāgavata Śāstra), Vyāsa (the author of the BH.P.), the goddess Lakṣmī, Vāyu, the greatest of men, the highest teacher, Sarasvatī (the goddess of learning) and Nara, I expound the BH.P. (due to the favour of the above deities).” Kramasandarbha. states: ‘Of this Bhāgavata Śāstra, Nara & Nārāyaṇa are the presiding deities (adhiṣṭhātṛ-devate), Śrī-Kṛṣṇa is the Devatā, Sarasvatī is the Śakti, Vyāsa is the Seer (Ṛṣi), OM (praṇava) is the Bīja, and Gāyatrī is the Metre (Chandas). As point­ed out by Nīlakaṇṭha in his commentary on the Devī-Bhāgavata, the 1st verse of the BH.P. is notin the Gāyatrī metre (vide Ft. Note on BH.P. I.1.1.)’


Bhāvāratha Dīpikā: This verse answers the 1st question (in Bhāgavata Purāṇa1.1.9). pura dharma: Religion is of two kinds—apara dharma (i.e. Dh. the object of which is Liberation) and—para dharma (which creates devotion to Krṣṇa).


Vāsudeva—Bhāgavata Candrikā; All pervader, Padaratnāvalī' One who dwells (pervades) everywhere or One who makes all to dwell in Him. vasati sarvatra, svasmin sartaṃ vāsayati = vasuḥ. vasuś vāsau devaś ca /


āśuKramasandarbha. Quickly. As soon as the Bhāgavata Purāṇa is heard, the knowledge described therein is created.


ahaitukaBhāvāratha Dīpikā: Free from unnecessary arguments & Kramasandarbha.: Derived from the Upaniṣads. Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa: The object or cause of which is “A” (i.e.) Vāsu­deva. Padaratnāvalī: With no ulterior motive like money etc. Bhāgavata Candrikā: Bhakti as an end in itself. Siddhāntapradīpa That which does not result in anything but devotion. Subodhinī Knowledge which is not inferrable but is generated directly by realization (sākṣātkāra )


āpavargyaBhāgavata Candrikā, Padaratnāvalī: “That which leads to Liberation”. Kramasandarbha.: Devotion—Unconditional devotion of the individual spirit to the divine spirit. The devotion which does not expect any gain in return but gives oneself up to God.


dharmaikāntasyaPadaratnāvalī “That of which Dharma is the only definite fruit”. Bhāgavata Candrikā endorses the same when he says:

dharmaika-prayojanasyārthasya vittasya lābhāya prayojanāya kāmo na smṛtaḥ / arthasya prayojanaṃ na kāmo bhavati /

It may be noted that by kāma he means our needs of life annapānādi.


advayaBhāvāratha Dīpikā: Non-duality. Here Bhāgavata Purāṇa anticipates the theory of momentariness of the Buddhists. Padaratnāvalī: “Having neither equal nor superior”. Bhāgavata Candrikā: “incomparable with It”, also avyaya-bheda-rahita, or jātyādi-bheda- rahita. Kramasandarbha.: Knowledge is nothing but consciousness (cit) and has no second (advaya) and is of the Supreme Being. Although the Bhāgavata Purāṇa uses the word Tattva in the sense of Brahman, Paramātman and Bhagavān, one is the Pure knowledge beyond everything, the other is the internal controller having abundance of Māyā—power, while the last is complete within Himself. Verse 12: ātmaniBhāvāratha Dīpikā: “In sentient beings”, Kramasandarbha. “In the purified hearts of sentient beings”


yukṭaḥ [yukṭa]—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā: With power of self-control, Kramasandarbha: With a subdued mind.


granthiBhāvāratha Dīpikā: Knots i.e. acts producing ego, Kramasandarbha.: Acts producing ego in different bodies.


or the study of the Bhāgavata.


uṭtama-ślokaBhāvāratha Dīpikā: (1) As in Bhāgavata Purāṇa 1.1.19 He whose glory dispels darkness of ignorance in mind. (2) The Lord who is praised by persons whose hearts are absolved from ignorance.


bhāva—According to Sāṅkhyas, the perturbation of Prakṛti results in the non-balance of its guṇas i.e. “attributes or constituents” which Dr. Radhakrishnan prefers to call “aspects”. But he prefers to use the original Sk. guṇa in History of Indian Philosophy Vol. II pp. 262-65. I have however, foll­owed the traditional translation of these terms.


Kramasandarbha. thinks that the communion with the Supreme Lord is felt from within without the influence of thinking power.


Padaratnāvalī takes hṛdaya-granthi as Mind and not ego. Quoting Vedic scriptures he states that on this point Bhāvāratha Dīpikā’s explanation is against the tenets of the BH.P. (bhāgavata-jñānād advaita-niṣedhāc ca /)


Bhāvāratha Dīpikā: “Though the Supreme Being assumed three different names for three different functions, the real good of men will result in devotion to Vāsudeva who is lull of Sattva-guṇa.


Bhāvāratha Dīpikā Explains: The quality of rajas is more expressive of the Supreme Being than tamas. The particle tu shows that rajas has but little value as compared with sattva (Goodness) which fully expresses the nature of the Supreme Being. Thus the superiority of Viṣṇu, the presiding deity of sattva- guṇa over the other two presiding deities of rajas and tamas (viz. Brahmadeva and Śiva is obvious.


vijñānaBhāvāratha Dīpikā: Intellectual power, Bhāgavata Candrikā: Soul (jīva), Siddhāntapradīpa: Indi­vidual soul (jīva) who is a part of the Universal soul and is of the nature of knowledge.


pumānBhāvāratha Dīpikā: The Supreme lord, the Soul of the universe. Bhāgavata Candrikā: The individual soul (jīva). Padaratnāvalī however, supports the above (our) translation.


VC. differs: “Just as the fire consumes the wood in which it is created, the universal soul (paramātma) when realized by devotion etc. removes the limitations (upādhis) due to māyā.” Siddhāntapradīpa thinks that this verse shows the driving force of the Lord. The paramātmā appears differently as a driving force in all movable and immovable objects but He is one.


Bhāgavata Candrikā differs. He takes asau as individual soul. The gist of his interpretation: “The individual soul enters the bodies of gods etc. created according to their past actions, and enjoys the objects of senses and does acts resulting into merits or sins”. Alternatively he suggests that the Supreme Lord enjoys through individual souls and not directly. Padaratnāvalī thinks that the Supreme Lord enters these bodies in a detached manner. If he enters an unfortunate body, the Supreme Soul has not to suffer miseries like the indivi­dual soul.


loka-bhāvanaḥ [lokabhāvana]—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā “Protector of the Universe”. Padaratnāvalī,Bhāgavata Candrikā: “The Creator of the Universe”.


anu-rataSiddhāntapradīpa “Ready to protect the religion as neeḍeḍ at a particular period”. Padaratnāvalī thinks that anu means The Lord is not bound to but may at His will incarnate as per necessity of the world. He is not bound by the law of Karman to do so.

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