Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam Is Eternal And Ancient
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
Is Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam a man-written, modern book?
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is not a recent book. It is eternal and ancient like the Vedas. Respected Sridhara Svami has confirmed the eternality of the Bhāgavatam by using the words tārāṅkuraḥ sajjaniḥ. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam has been accept¬ed as the supreme fruit of the Vedic desire tree.
nigama-kalpa-taror galitaṁ phalaṁ
pibata Bhāgavataṁ rasam ālayaṁ
muhur aho rasikā bhuvi bhāvukāḥ
”O expert and thoughtful men, relish Śrī¬mad-Bhāgavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures. It emanated from the lips of Sri Sukadeva Gosvami. Therefore this fruit has become even more tasteful, although its nectarean juice was already relishable for all, including liberated souls.”
From praṇava (oṁ) came Gāyatrī, from Gāyatrī came the Vedas, from the Vedas came the Brah¬ma-sūtra, and from the Brahma-sūtra came Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which is known as Parama¬haṁsa-saṁhitā. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which has brightly risen like a sac-cid-ānanda sun after being reflected through the samādhi of the author, con¬sists of inconceivable topics related to the Supreme Truth. Those who have eyes should see, those who have ears should hear, and those who have minds should meditate on the topics of Śrīmad-Bhāgava¬tam. People infected by the blindness of prejudice are deprived of the sweet taste of Śrīmad-Bhāgav¬atam.
(Śrī Kṛṣṇa-saṁhitā introduction)
What is the true statement and commentary on Vedānta?
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, composed by Vyasadeva, is the only commentary on Vedānta-sūtra. All the conclusions of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam are the true conclusions of Vedānta. Sriman Mahaprabhu said that when the author himself writes the com¬mentary the true meaning is derived. Therefore the commentary Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam should be accepted by everyone as the statements of Vedānta.
What kind of writing is Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam?
The Bhāgavata does not allow its followers to ask anything from God except eternal love for Him.
(The Bhāgavat: Its Philosophy, Its Ethics & Its Theology)
By whose character the identification of Śrī¬mad-Bhāgavatam is illustrated?
When we were in the college, reading philosoph¬ical works of the West, and exchanging thoughts with the thinkers of the day, we had a real hatred toward the Bhāgavata. The great work looked like a collection of wicked and stupid ideas, scarcely adapted to the nineteenth century, and we hated to hear any arguments in its favor. Then, the volumes of Channing, Parker, Emerson, and Newman had more weight than all the Vaiṣṇava books. Greedily we poured over the various commentaries of the Bible and of the labors of the Tattva Bodhini Sabha, which contained extracts from the Upaniṣads and the Vedānta, but no work of the Vaiṣṇavas had any favor with us.
When we advanced in age and our religious sentiment developed, we turned to our own belief and prayed, as Jesus prayed in the garden. Acci¬dentally, we came across a book about the great Caitanya and on reading it with some attention to settle the historical position of that Mighty Genius of Nadia, we had the opportunity of gathering His explanation of Bhāgavata, given to the wrangling Vedantists of the Benares school. The accidental study created within us a love for all the works that we find about our Eastern Savior. With diffi¬culty, we gathered the famous Karchas (diaries) in Saṅskrit, written by the disciple of Caitanya. The explanations of the Bhāgavata that we got from these sources were of such a charming character that we secured a copy of the complete Bhāgavata. We studied its texts (difficult of course for those not trained in philosophical thoughts) with the assistance of the famous commentaries of Sridhara Swami. From such study, we have gathered the real doctrines of the Vaiṣṇavas. Oh! What a trouble to get rid of prejudices gathered in unripe years.
(The Bhāgavat: Its Philosophy, Its Ethics & Its Theology)
Why are the identity and glo¬ries of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam hidden from the materialists and the foreigners?
“What sort of thing is the Bhāgavata?” asks a European gentleman newly arrived in India.
With a serene look, his companion tells him, “The Bhāgavata is a book, which an Oriya-bearer reads daily in the evening to a number of hearers. It contains jargon of unintelligible and savage writ¬ing of those men who paint their noses with some sort of clay or sandalwood, and wear beads all over their bodies to secure salvation for themselves.”
Another of his companions, who has traveled a little in the interior, would immediately contradict him and say, “The Bhāgavat is a Saṅskrit work claimed by a sect of men, the Gosvamis, who give mantras to the common people, like the popes of Italy, and pardon their sins on payment of enough gold to pay their social expenses.”
A third gentleman will give a third explanation. A young Bengali, chained up in English thoughts and ideas, and wholly ignorant of the pre-Moham¬medan history of his own country will add one more explanation. He says, “The Bhāgavata is a book containing an account of the life of Krishna, who was an ambitious and immoral man!” This is all that he could gather from his grandmother before he went to school.
Thus, the great Bhāgavata remains unknown to the foreigners, like the elephant of the six blind men who caught hold of different parts of the body of the beast! But truth is eternal and is never injured but for awhile by ignorance.
(The Bhāgavata: Its Philosophy, Its Ethics & Its Theology)
What did Sri Bhaktivinoda say regarding the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam being the only book that is beneficial for all?
We can say that if all the religious scriptures of the Hindus are thrown into the ocean and only the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is kept aside, there will be no harm for the Āryans or the ordinary living entities.
Why is Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam not accepted by everyone?
Because of great fortune, a living entity develops a taste for Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which is the crest jewel among all religious literature that is available in the world.