by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The Greatness of Shrimadbhagavata (Bhagavata-mahatmya) which is chapter 16 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the sixteenth chapter of the Margashirsha-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
Śrī Bhagavān said:
1. Listen, O Four-faced One, to (the description of) meditation. I shall give it with a delighted mind. By listening to it, a man obtains good fortune on the earth.
2. (The form to be meditated upon)
The Lord is to be meditated upon as follows: The Lord is seated on a lotus-like pedestal placed in a spot paved with and illuminated by precious stones. The Kalpa trees shine nearby. The bejewelled spot shines within a pavilion with golden background surrounded by a glorious park.
3-4. He has the dark-blue lustre of sapphire. He is in the form of a very small child. His tresses, glossy like molasses, are scattered over his face. His face is handsome like the beautiful full-blown lotus surrounded by swarms of bees. His eyes resemble blue lotus.
His cheeks gleam on account of the moving ear-rings. The nose is shapely and beautiful. The lips are red. The whole face is full of smiles. Many ornaments scatter their refulgence round his neck. He holds his nail(?) His eyes resemble a lotus.
5. His chest is soiled and grey-coloured due to the dust particles raised by the cows. His limbs are well-nourished. They gleam like gold. Strings of tinkling bells are tied round his hips and the pairs of beautiful calves and thighs.
6. He shines with the excellent lustre of the lotus-like pairs of hands and feet having the splendour of a Bandhujīva flower. He is laughing. There is milk-pudding in his right hand. He holds fresh, pure butter in his left hand.
7. He is fire (that burns down) multitudes of demons Who have become a burden to the earth. He is engaged (in the task of) killing Pūtanā and others. The Lord is surrounded by groups of cowherdesses and cowherds. The Lord of Devas is bowed down to by Indra and others.
8. Humble with devotion, he should worship Kṛṣṇa after remembering him early in the morning, along with the Lord of Serpents as well as Vajra (thunderbolt) etc. The devotee should please him with butter like white lotus and with milk mixed with curds.
9. The man who is always endued with faith and piety and who always worships Acyuta in the morning itself, shall ere long attain fully the goddess of fortune and after death he shall go to the purest great abode (Vaikuṇṭha).
11. O son, this most important Mantra should not be given by you to an undeserving person. The secret that yields Siddhi quickly should be guarded with great effort.
12-16. The preceptor should not accept a disciple who is idle, dirty, distressed and characterized by hypocrisy and delusion. He (the pupil) shall not be indigent, sickly, infuriated, lecherous and lustful. He should not be jealous and malicious, roguish and harsh in speech. He should not be one who has earned wealth unjustly or who is always devoted to other men’s wives. He should not be inimical to the learned. He should not be a perpetually ignorant fellow or one who professes to be a scholar. He should not be one who has deviated from his vow or one who is of obscure (or irregular?) means of livelihood. He should not be slanderous or vicious in mind. He should not be voracious, cruel in his activities, or a leader of wicked-minded men. He should not be miserly, sinful, dreadful or one who terrorises persons who seek refuge in him. The preceptor should not accept a disciple who has all (any of) these evil characteristics. If he accepts him, his defects (sins) will affect the preceptor.
17. Just as the defect (mistakes) of a minister affects the king, just as the defect of wife affects the husband, so also the defect of disciple passes on to the preceptor undoubtedly.
18-21. Hence the teacher should always test the disciple and only then should he accept him. The disciple should be one who is devoted to the service of the preceptor mentally, verbally and physically. He should not stoop to thieving. He should be endowed with pious qualities (faith, etc.), should endeavour to attain salvation. He should be devoted to the vow of celibacy. He should always be steadfast in the performance of holy rites. He should be cheerful (optimistic) in his mind. He should be pure and not be knavish. His mind should be free from impurities. He should be devoted to helping others. He should be disinterested. He should be one who causes delight to the preceptor with his mind, body (personal service) and wealth. He should cause delight, O son, to all who depend upon him and shall be pure.
22. (The preceptor) should impart the Mantra to a disciple of only such a nature and not otherwise. If he were to instruct otherwise, the curse of Devas will fall on him.
23. Listen, O son, I shall describe the characteristics of the preceptor too. Only that person who is endowed with these characteristics should be a preceptor to people.
24. He who is impartial in mind, calm and quiescent, devoid of anger, friendly to all men, good in behaviour, great and magnanimous and accords equal treatment to all in the world, is glorified as the (ideal) preceptor.
25. He must always observe my holy rites and vows. He must be one honoured by Vaiṣṇavas. He must be interested in episodes pertaining to me. He must be ever devoted to my festivals.
26. He must be an ocean of mercy and must be perfectly contented. He should be one who helps and obliges all living beings. He must be devoid of desire. He must be an all-rounder and accomplished gentleman. He must be an expert in all lores.
27. He must be capable of dispelling all doubts. He must not be lazy. Such a preceptor is a respected Brāhmaṇa. He knows what happens at different times. He should bless all.
28. The disciple having the characteristics mentioned before should receive that Mantra, O son, from a preceptor of this type, in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa which is my resort.
30. The Purāṇa named Śrīmadbhāgavata is renowned throughout the world. The devotee should listen to it with faith. It causes my satisfaction and pleasure.
31. A man who reads the Bhāgavata Purāṇa continuously gets the merit of gifting a tawny-coloured cow for every syllable (so read).
32. He who reads or listens to half or even one-fourth of a verse quoted from Bhāgavata everyday, shall obtain the merit of (the gift of) a thousand cows.
33. O son, a man who reads with (mental and physical) purity a verse from Bhāgavata everyday, attains the merit of (reading) all the eighteen Purāṇas.
34. Vaiṣṇavas stay there where my story is continuously (told). Those men are unaffected by Kali, who always honour my (favourite Purāṇa).
36. If people always honour the scripture Bhāgavata in their houses in the Kali Age, if they clap their hands (in praise thereof) and if they shout in joy, I become delighted with them.
37. The Manes drink milk, ghee, honey and water for as many days, O son, as their descendants keep the Bhāgavata text in their abodes.
38. Those who devoutly present the Bhāgavata scripture to a Vaiṣṇava, reside in my world for thousands and crores of Kalpas.
39. Devas are propitiated till the universal annihilation of all living beings by the men who honour the Bhāgavata scripture in their abodes always.
40. If one has in one’s abode half of a verse or even one-fourth of it from the excellent Bhāgavata, of what use are the collection of hundreds and thousands of other scriptural texts?
41. If, in Kali Age, anyone has no Bhāgavata text in his abode, he will never return from the noose of Yama.
42. If there is no Bhāgavata text in anyone’s house in Kali Age, how can he be known as a Vaiṣṇava? He is worse than a Cāṇḍāla.
43. O Lord of the worlds, scriptural texts must be collected even at the cost of all that one possesses. For the sake of propitiating me, O my son, a Vaiṣṇava must do so always.
44. Wherever there is Bhāgavata, the holy scripture, in Kali Age, I always stay there along with Devas.
46. O Lord of the worlds, my scripture should be listened to by one who seeks fame, virtue and victory, for the sake of dispelling sins and by the pious-minded one for the sake of salvation.
47. Śrīmadbhāgavata is meritorious. It yields longevity, health and nourishment. By reading or listening to it, one is liberated from all sins.
48. If people do not listen to the great (scripture.) Śrīmadbhāgavata, O Lord of the worlds, their perpetual master is Yama. It is indeed the truth, the truth (positively).
49. If a man does not go to listen to Bhāgavata, O son, particularly on the Ekādaśī day, there is no greater sinner than he.
50. I stay in that house where a verse from Bhāgavata, or half of it or even a quarter of it is kept written.
51. Approaching all the hermitages and taking a holy plunge in all the rivers is not as sanctifying unto men as Śrīmadbhāgavata.
52. Wherever there is Śrīmadbhāgavata, O Four-faced One, I go to that place like a cow fond of her calf.
53. I never abandon that man who is a reader and expounder of my stories, who is always engaged in listening to my stories and who is delighted in his mind (on hearing) my stories.
54. If a man does not stand up on seeing Śrīmadbhāgavata, the meritorious scripture, O son, his merit for the whole year perishes.
55. If a man honours Śrīmadbhāgavata on seeing it by standing up and bowing down to it, by seeing him I derive matchless pleasure.
56. If on seeing Bhāgavata from a distance a person (gladly) proceeds towards it, he shall undoubtedly attain the merit of a horse-sacrifice for every such step.
57. If a man gets up and bows down to Śrīmadbhāgavata, I grant to him wealth, sons, wives and devotion.
58. If men devoutly listen to Śrīmadbhāgavata offering royal reception and reverence to it, I am won over by them (easily).
59. O righteous one, men who listen devoutly to the great Śrīmadbhāgavata during all my festivals give me great delight.
60. I am won over by them through clothes, ornaments, flowers, incense, lamps and presents like a good husband by a good wife.
Footnotes and references:
For meditation on God some form must be conceived for concentration of the mind. Here vv 2-7 give a beautiful description of Kṛṣṇa as a child. It will appeal to all devotees for meditation.
The author of this section emphasizes Dāmodara as the Mantra for meditation and Japa. The qualifications of a disciple to whom the Mantra is to be imparted are given in vv 11-22.
Qualifications of the preceptor are detailed in vv 23-27.
The importance of listening to or reading Śrīmadbhāgavata is shown in vv 29-34 and in vv 47ff.
VV 35-46 describe the efficacy of the Bhāgavata if one copy of it is kept in the house.