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Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavatam

The Vedic scriptures designate these sacred texts as the most important, essential revelations. They directly describe the nature, energy, and person of God, who is both the immanent (as Vishnu) and transcendent (as Krishna) source of everything, the cause of all causes, of both the impersonal and personal manifestations. Bhagavad-gita("the song of God") are the words spoken by God, and Srimad-Bhagavatam("Divine Revelation")are the words about God spoken by His representatives. This implicit structure of the Vedic scriptures sheds new light on the entire Vedic tradition and deserves closer examination. But the goal of these scriptures is to lead us to the Supreme, and it is not sufficient merely to study them theoretically. They imply practical consequences. Mere academic study of the Vedic scriptures can be compared to reading a cookbook or a musical composition. If we don't come to the point of actually cooking or playing, we will have missed the goal.

The Bhagavad-gita As It Is

Bhagavad-gita means "the song of God." It was spoken by Lord Krishna to His friend and eternal servant Arjuna, one of the five Pandava brothers, the heroes of the epic Mahabharata. The 18 chapters of the Bhagavad-gita are from the middle of the Mahabharata and comprise the core teaching of that history of India. The 700 verses of the Bhagavad-gita were spoken in about 45 minutes. They were spoken 3,134 years before the birth of Christ on a battlefield about 80 km. north of Delhi, India. That battlefield, called Kuruksetra, still exists today.

The external reason for the Bhagavad-gita's being spoken is the refusal of the great warrior and general Arjuna to fight on the battlefield of Kuruksetra due to the illusion that had momentarily overcome him. Krishna therefore gave him perfect instruction, which cleared up his illusion and ultimately led to the victory of the Pandavas and the reestablishment of righteousness and purity in the kingdom. The internal reason is to enable us, the fallen conditioned souls of this material world, to hear directly from Krishna how to free ourselves from illusion and return to our original position of eternal, loving devotional service to the Lord.

Although many editions of the Bhagavad-gita have been published in the world, most scholars agree that only the Bhagavad-gita As It Is truly represents the words of Krishna as they are understood by Krishna's sincere followers. Indeed, although many persons had translated the text before Srila Prabhupada presented his book, the study of these other versions had not resulted in anyone becoming a devotee of Lord Krishna-which is the whole point of the Gita. Since one may judge a thing by the results it brings, the result that thousands of people have transformed their lives by devotion to Krishna owing to the publication and distribution of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has made the science of Krsna consciousness available to those outside of India and has shown that Vedic knowledge is divine revelation to bring us to the supreme goal, pure loving devotional service of Krishna.

Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita 15.15:

sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto
mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca
vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedanta-krd veda-vid eva caham
I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come rememberance, knowledge
and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas, I am to be known.
Indeed, I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.

Srimad Bhagavatam

The Bhagavata Purana, is the ripened fruit of the Vedic literature and is the narration of transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. It is narrated by Sukadeva and has become more sweet from being spoken from his lips.

"Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhagavata Purana propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are fully pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. This beautiful Bhagavatam, compiled by the great sage Vyasadeva, is sufficient in itself for God realization. What is the need of any other scripture? As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhagavatam, by this culture of knowledge the Supreme Lord is established within his heart."
Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 1, Part 1, Verse 2

"O expert and thoughtful men, relish Srimad Bhagavatam, the mature fruit of desire 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."
Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 1, Part 1, Verse 3

One should read the Bhagavatam from the beginning to the end and not skip to the Tenth Canto, as recommended by Srila Prabhupada:
"The Tenth Canto is distinct from the first nine cantos because it deals directly with the transcendental activities of the Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna. One will be unable to capture the effects of the tenth Canto without going through the first nine cantos. The book is complete in twelve cantos, eac independent, but it is good for all to read them in small installments one after another." -Preface


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