The Bhagavata Purana

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

This page describes Excellence of the Bhaktiyoga which is chapter 32 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 thirty-second chapter of the Third Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 32 - Excellence of the Bhaktiyoga

Kapila said:

1. Now, a person who sticks to domestic life and performs the (religious) duties prescribed for householders, obtains from them the two objectives, viz. kāma (enjoyment of desired objects) and artha (wealth). He continues to perform the same duties again.

2. He also is so much deluded with the objects of enjoyments, that he becomes averse to the Bhāgavata dharma. Endowed with earnest faith, he continues to worship the gods and Pitṛs (ancestors) by performing sacrifices.

3. The man has his mind completely possessed of faith (in gods and Pitṛs). He observes the religious vows (for the propitiation) of manes and gods, and drinks Soma juice (in the Soma sacrifice). Such a man will attain to the heaven presided over by the Moon, (but) will come back (i.e. will be born) again to this world.

4. (But) when Hari who is seated on Ananta (Śeṣa) goes to sleep on the bed of that Lord of serpents (at the time of Pralaya at the end of Brahmā’s day) those regions (accessible to such householders) are (also) dissolved.

5-7. The wise persons who do not perform their religious duties for obtaining kāma (their desired objects) and artha (wealth), who are unattached and have deposited (offered) all their religious acts (in God as his worship); who are extremely serene and of pure mind; who are engaged in the Nivṛtti- dharma; who have given up the sense of ‘mine-ness’ (ownership) and I-ness (ahaṃkāra)—such wise persons, by their power called ‘observance of one’s duties’ (Svadharma), and by thoroughly purified mind, go through the portals of the Sun to the perfect (or omniscient) Puruṣa (the Supreme Man), who is the Lord of the universe (of the movables and immovables, the liberated and the unliberated etc.), and who is the material cause of the world, and who causes the creation and the destruction of the universe.

8. Those who meditate upon Hiraṇyagarbha (Brahmā) as the Supreme Being[1], stay in the Satyaloka (Brahmā’s region) to the end of the second Parārdha which is the time of god Brahmā’s Pralaya (the mahāpralaya indicating the end of Brahmā’s period).

9.[2] When the great god Brahmā enjoys his full span of life called Parārdha, he desires to withdraw the universe composed of the gross elements, viz., the earth, water, fire, wind and the sky, the mind, the sense-organs along with their objects and the ahaṃkāra. He becomes one with the Prakṛti composed of three guṇas and enters the unmanifest Brahman.

10. The Yogins who have controlled their breath and mind and are unattached to worldly objects reach along with Brahmā (Hiraṇyagarbha) to the immortal highest Brahman, the ancient Puruṣa; (for till then) they have not yet shed off their ego (aharhkāra) completely.[3]

11. Oh brilliant mother, you devoutly take shelter under him who is enshrined in the lotuslike hearts of all beings and whose glory you have heard (from me).

12. (Even god Brahmā is born again). God Brahmā (who bears the Vedas within him) is the first (i.e. the creator) of the movable and immovable world. Along with sages (like Marīci), great Yogins like Sanatkumāra etc., and Siddhas who have propagated yoga path, even he—

13.[4] Having attained to the Saguṇa Brahman, the foremost among the Puruṣas on account of his actions done without any desire for their fruit, but on account of his notion of being different[5] (from god) as a creator and the (consequent) ahaṃkāra about creation,

14. [He] is born again as before at the time of the (next) creation when the balance of three guṇas gets disturbed and the guṇas get into commotion by the force of Time (Kāla) which is a form of the Lord.

15. They (the sages etc.) also, having enjoyed the divine glories and positions accrued to them by their religious acts, are born again when the universe is created (lit. guṇas get mixed up at the time of creation).

16. Those whose minds are attached here to Karmas, perform with faith all the daily religious duties as well as those (kāmya) actions which are not prohibited by the Dharma Śāstra.

17. Those whose mind has become dull by rajo-guṇa, and is attached to enjoyments, have no control over senses. Their heart finds pleasure in domestic life. These (persons) propitiate the Pitṛs (ancestors).

18. Those who value only the first three objectives in life (viz. dharma, artha and kāma) set their face against the stories of Hari (the vanquisher of demon Madhu) whose great prowess is worth eulogizing and memory about whom eliminates the saṃsāra.

19. They are certainly of accursed fate who leaving aside the nectarlike stories of Hari, listen to the vile, accounts just as feces-eating animals feed upon excrement.

20. They go to the region of Pitṛs (ancestors) through the southern path of Aryaman (technically called dhūmra-mārga—path of smoke). Those who perform all the prescribed religious rites from the pregnancy—garbhādhāna—to the funeral, are born in their own family (lit. of their descendants).

21. Oh pious mother, thereafter when their merit (accrued to them by their religious acts) is exhausted, they are immediately deprived of their means of (celestial) enjoyments by Gods. They being helpless (at the mercy of their karmas) fall again to this world.[6]

22. Therefore you adore the Supreme Lord (Viṣṇu) with utmost regard and devotion based on (i.e. felt on account of contemplation of) his excellent attributes. The lotus-like feet of the Lord deserve service.

23. If the yoga called devotion to Lord Vāsudeva is intensely practised, it immediately generates desirelessness and knowledge that leads to the realization of Brahman.

24. (As a matter of fact) all objects are equal. But it is when the mind of the devotee becomes fixed and steady in God due to the votary’s love for the excellent attributes of the Lord that it does not discriminate (between them) according to the attitude of the senses—as being favourite and agreeable and non-favourite and disagreeable.

25. At that time (in that stage) he realizes the Brahman by his own Self as being free from all attachment, of perfect wisdom,[7] free from acceptability or rejectability (i.e. above merits and demerits) and full of the highest bliss.

26. The Para Brahman is pure knowledge (consciousness). It is described as the Supreme Ātman, the Īśvara and the Puruṣa. The Lord (Bhagavān) is the same who is equally perceived in different capacities (as the seer, the thing-to-be- seen and the act-of-seeing).

27. Perfect non-attachment (to the world) in all respects is the only desired fruit that a Yogin is to get by practising all yogas in this world.

28.[8] The Brahman is one (without a second). It is of the nature of knowledge or consciousness and without any attributes. It is an illusion when through outward looking senseorgans it appears as things (like the sky) possessed of sound and other attributes.

29. Just as the one Mahat (Mahattattva) appears as ahaṃkāra of three types (viz. sāttvika, rājasa and tāmasa) and of five kinds (according to the five Mahābhūtas) and eleven kinds (as per ten sense-organs plus the internal organ, viz. the mind), it is from the same principle that the Svarāj (jīva), its body and its egg (of the universe) make their appearance.

30. Verily it is only a non-attached person whose mind is composed and serene by faith, devotion and continuous practice of Yoga who realizes this Brahman.

31. Oh mother, I have up till now explained to you the knowledge that leads to the realization of the Brahman. It is by this knowledge that the real nature of Prakṛti and Puruṣa is clearly understood.

32. The path of knowledge (Jñāna yoga) pertains to the attributeless Brahman while the Yoga called Bhakti (devotion) is based on firm devotion to me. But both of them have the same objective viz. (the realization of) the Supreme Lord.

33. Just as the same object possessing many attributes is perceived in different forms by the sense-organs with separate functions (lit. doors), (similarly) the Supreme Lord (though absolutely one without a second) is seen in different ways through different śāstras.

34. By doing religious acts, by performing sacrifices, by donating gifts, by penance, by the study of the Vedas, by subduing the ātman and the sense-organs and by renunciation of karmas.

35. By means of the yoga with (eight) different stages, and by the Path of Bhakti (Bhaktiyoga), by religious practices both with and without the desire for their fruits, which are called Pravṛtti and Nivṛtti.

36. By clear knowledge about the nature of the Soul and by firm sense of non-attachment—by means of these, the self-illuminating Lord whether Saguṇa or Nirguṇa is realized.

37. I have clearly described to you the nature of the four kinds of Bhakti-yoga and of kāla (Time) whose course is unmanifested but which runs within the beings (to bring about their birth and death).

38. (I have narrated to you) the external courses of jīva, which are created by avidyā and karma. Oh mother, when the Soul enters into these, he does not know its own real nature.

39. This knowledge should not be explained to the evil person nor to one of undisciplined (arrogant) nature, nor to a dullard nor to a man of bad character, nor to a hypocrite.

40. (One should not) advise this to a person of greedy nature, nor to a person whose mind is attached to his house (property etc.), nor to one who is not devoted to me. It should never be taught to the enemies of my devotees.

41. It should be taught to my faithful devotee, who is modest and disciplined and is not jealous of anybody; to one who has formed friendship with beings, and who takes pleasure in serving (his elderly persons or preceptor).

42. It should be expounded to him who is completely unattached internally and externally, who is of tranquil heart, and is not envious of anybody, is pure and to whom I am the dearest of the dear.

43. Oh mother, the man who even once hears this knowledge with faith, or relates this to others with his mind set on me verily attains to my abode.

Footnotes and references:


parasya paracintakāḥ: Yogins who meditate upon the ParamātmanBhāgavata Candrikā

VC. notes that those who meditate upon Hiraṇyagarbha only are not liberated after Brahmā’s liberation.


Padaratnāvalī gives a different process of this saṃhāra or withdrawal: Brahmā is withdrawn into the unmanifest Lakṣmī along with the deities presiding over all Tattvas. He enters Parabrahman through Lakṣmī.


agatābhimānāḥ: They are proud of being the votaries of Hiraṇyagarbha. Hence they are not completely absorbed in the Supreme Lord. Their dissolution being prākṛtic in nature, they are born again—VC.


Padaratnāvalī explains: Jīva attains to the Lord (Puruṣa) by proper understanding of the exact differences between Jīva, īśvara and by complete knowledge that is so essential for Liberation (mukti) and by doing actions without any desire even after attainment of knowledge. The Lord is Brahman, i.e. full of all excellences. He possesses infinite guṇas like knowledge, power etc. and is Saguṇa as the creator of the universe. He assumes Human form for his devotees. Hence he is called Puruṣa. He is beyond kṣara and akṣara Puruṣa. Hence he is called Puruṣarṣabha. Brahmā ‘enters’ into him, that is, gets sāyujya type liberation.


bhedadṛṣṭi: (i) Jīva’s ego as being independent and the wrong identification of the body and the Soul—Bhāgavata Candrikā

(ii) The ego of being the creator of the world just as Viṣṇu is the protector—VC.

Even Sanatkumāra and others had the egoistic tinge of being the experiencers of Brahman and they regarded Brahman as ‘spotted’ with Māyā—VC.


Cf. kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṃ viśanti / Bhagavad Gītā 9.21.


sama-darśana—(i) One who gives pure knowledge—Siddhāntapradīpa

(ii) One who knows the reality as it is—Padaratnāvalī

(iii) One who knows all world as imbued with Brahman—Bhāgavata Candrikā


(i) Bhāgavata Candrikā Quoting Bhagavad Gītā 14.27 interprets ‘Brahman’ as jīva. Jīva is of the nature of knowledge, destitute of guṇas like sattva. To regard it as identical with its gross body is illusion. Jīva is conditioned by elements like Pṛthvī but the Supreme Soul is beyond these.

(ii) Brahman which incarnated as a Fish, should be understood as possessing non-prākṛtic body. It appears as one endowed with a gross body to the senses which are familiar with gross objects. But that is a delusion.—Padaratnāvalī

(iii) The Brahman which is of the nature of knowledge appears to outward-looking sense-organs as objects (like the sky) possessing the attribute of sound. It is devoid of rejectable attributes.—Siddhāntapradīpa

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