Bhakti Sandarbha 260-262 : More Glories of Hearing the Bhagavatam
Hearing Bhāgavata Purāṇa Is The Best
Of all the different literature related to Bhagavān, hearing of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the best. This is because it is made up of such influential words, and also because it is full of supreme relish (rasa).
तत्र पूर्वस्माद्यथा (भा. १.१.२)—
सद्यो हृद्यवरुध्यतेऽत्र कृतिभिः शुश्रूषुभिस्तत्क्षणात्॥ इति।
The first of these two characteristics is mentioned in the following verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:
This beautiful Bhāgavatam is composed by the great sage. What need is there of any other literature? As soon as pious beings awaken a desire to hear it, at that very moment Bhagavān is immediately captured in their hearts. (SB 1.1.2)
महामुनिः सर्वमहन्महनीयचरणपङ्कजः श्रीभगवान्। अत्र किं वा परैरित्यादिना शब्दस्वाभाविकमाहात्म्यं दर्शितम्॥
The “great sage” (mahā-muniḥ) here refers to Bhagavān whose lotus feet are honored by all great people. The question, “What need is there of any other literature?” demonstrates the natural glory of the words of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj
In Tattva Sandarbha it was established that the Bhāgavata Purāṇa is the most suitable literature to understand the Absolute Truth, tattva. But that is not its only greatness. It is also the best means to experience the Truth. It is great because of its author, its message and even because of its very words. In other words, even if one does not understand the meaning of the words of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa still they have their influence, like taking a good medicine unknowingly.
An example of this is Śukadeva himself. From his very birth he was absorbed in the bliss of Brahman, sva-sukha-nibhṛta-cetāḥ (12.12.68). He left home right after his birth without undergoing any education (anupetam, 1.2.3). Yet when he heard some verses describing the enchanting līlā of Kṛṣṇa his mind became attracted (ajita-rucira-līlākṛṣṭa-sāraḥ, 12.12.68). He returned to his father Vyāsa and studied the Bhāgavata Purāṇa from him (2.1.8). Therefore, Śrī Vyāsa says, “What need is there for any other book?” (1.1.2) This is a rhetorical question to stress the greatness of this book.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is Full of Relish
तद्रसामृततृप्तस्य नान्यत्र स्याद्रतिः क्वचित्॥
That Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is full of rasa, the second quality [mentioned in the previous Anuccheda] is expressed in this verse:
तद्रस एव अमृतं, तेन तृप्तस्य॥This beautiful Bhāgavatam is considered to be the cream of all the Upaniṣads. One who relishes its ambrosial flavor will not seek delight anywhere else. (SB 12.13.15)
The rasa, or taste, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is pure ambrosia. The verse refers to one who is satisfied with the taste of that nectar.
Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj
In the previous Anuccheda Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī said that hearing of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the best for two reasons: because of the power of its subject matter and composition, and because it is full of rasa. The first of these was explained in the previous anuccheda, the second is being described here.
Anyone who has a taste for Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam would not relish anything else because nothing else compares to it. It is like a person who has enjoyed a nice freshly-cooked meal will not be interested in some stale and rotten food.
By Great Fortune Only One Hears Kṛṣṇa’s Name, Form, Virtues and Pastimes
262.1 The conclusion of section on śravaṇam
अत्रैव विवेचनीयम्—श्रीभगवन्नामादेः श्रवणं तावत् परमं श्रेयः। तत्रापि महदाविर्भावितप्रबन्धादेः। तत्र महत्कीर्त्यमानस्य। ततोऽपि श्रीभागवतस्य। तत्रापि च महत्कीर्त्यमानस्येति।
In regard to hearing, the following should be considered: To hear about the names, forms, qualities, pastimes and associates of Bhagavān is supremely auspicious. Superior to this is hearing the compositions written by great devotees, and when they are sung by a great devotee, the benefit is greater still. To hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is superior even to this, and better yet when sung by a great devotee.
अत्र "मूर्त्याभिमतयात्मनः" (भा. ११.३.४८) इतिवत् निजाभीष्टनामादिश्रवणं तु मुहुरावर्तयितव्यम्। तत्रापि सवासनमहानुभावमुखात्।
In addition, one should repeatedly hear the names, forms, qualities and pastimes of the particular manifestation of Bhagavān for which one feels an attraction, as indicated in this verse: “One should worship the Supreme Bhagavān in the form of one's choice” (SB 11.3.48). Furthermore, one should hear about the deity of one’s choice from the lips of a great devotee who has the same devotional mood.
सर्वस्य श्रीकृष्णनामादिश्रवणं तु परमभाग्यादेव सम्पद्यते, तस्य पूर्णभगवत्त्वादिति। एवं कीर्तनादिष्वप्यनुसन्धेयम्। तत्र यत् स्वयं सम्प्रति कीर्त्यते, तदपि श्रीशुकदेवादिमहत्कीर्तितचरत्वेनानुसन्धाय कीर्तनीयमिति।
To hear specifically about the names, forms, qualities and pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, out of all the various manifestations of Bhagavān, occurs only by supreme fortune, because He is the original, most complete form of Bhagavān. The same conclusions apply in regard to other devotional practices, such as singing and remembering. Whatever narrations one may sing at present, should be those that were previously sung by great devotees, like Śukadeva, and should be taken up in the same spirit.
तदेव श्रवणं दर्शितम्। अस्य च कीर्तनादितः पूर्वत्वं, तद्विना तत्तदज्ञानात्। विशेषतश्च यदि साक्षादेव महत्कृतस्य कीर्तनस्य श्रवणभाग्यं न सम्पद्यते, तदैव स्वयं पृथक् कीर्तनीयमिति, तत्प्राधान्यात्। अत एवोक्तं "तद्वाग्विसर्गो जनताघविप्लवः" (भा. १.५.११, १२.१२.५२) इत्यादौ।
We have thus explained the practice of hearing. This precedes the practices of singing and remembering, because one cannot have knowledge of these without first hearing. In particular, if one does not have the fortune to hear directly what is sung by a great devotee, then only should one personally sing, because hearing is the primary process. Consequently, we find a comment to this effect on the following verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:
On the other hand, even if imperfectly composed, that literature in which every verse contains the names that extol the glories of the unlimited Bhagavān, destroys the sins of humanity, because saintly people hear, sing and recite such names of Bhagavān. (SB 1.5.11)
टीकाकृद्भिः—"यद्यानि नामानि वक्तरि सति शृण्वन्ति, श्रोतरि सति गृणन्ति। अन्यदा तु स्वयमेव गायन्ति॥" इति।
Śrīdhara Svāmī comments: “If a speaker is present, the sādhus will hear the names of Bhagavān recited by her or him; if an audience is present, they will recite these names for their benefit; and if neither speaker nor audience is present, they will sing themselves.”
अथातः कीर्तनम्। तत्र पूर्ववन् नामादिक्रमो ज्ञेयः। नाम्नो यथा (भा. ६.२.१०)—
We will now discuss the practice of kīrtana, or singing the glories of Bhagavān. As in the case of hearing, singing is taken up in order, beginning with the names, forms, virtues, associates and finally the pastimes of Bhagavān. An example of singing the names of Bhagavān is found in this statement of the Viṣṇudūtas to the Yamadūtas:
नामव्याहरणं विष्णोर्यतस्तद्विषया मतिः॥
टीका च—"सुनिष्कृतं श्रेष्ठं प्रायश्चित्तमिदमेव। तत्र हेतुः—यतो नामव्याहरणात् तद्विषया नामोच्चारकपुरुषविषया मदीयोऽयं मया सर्वतो रक्षणीय इति विष्णोर्मतिर्भवति॥" इत्येषा।For sinners of all types, chanting the name of Bhagavān Viṣṇu indeed is the only perfect means of atonement, because it attracts the attention of Bhagavān. (SB 6.2.10)
Śrīdhara Svāmī comments: “This alone is the best form of atonement. The reason for this is that when a person chants Viṣṇu’s names, it attracts the attention of Bhagavān Viṣṇu, who thinks, ‘This person belongs to Me, and as such, I should protect him.’”
अतः स्वाभाविकतदीयावेशहेतुत्वेन तदीयस्वरूपभूतत्वात् परमभागवतानां तदेकदेशश्रवणमपि प्रीतिकरम्। यथा पाद्मोत्तरखण्डे श्रीरामाष्टोत्तरशतनामस्तोत्रे श्रीशिववाक्यम्—
Therefore, because Bhagavān’s name is part of His constitutional nature, it naturally impels the chanter to be absorbed in Him. As such, hearing even a part of Bhagavān’s name induces love in the great devotees of Bhagavān, as confirmed by Śrī Śiva in the Rāmāṣṭottara-śata-nāma-stotra of the Padma Purāṇa:
प्रीतिर्मे मनसो नित्यं रामनामविशङ्कया॥ (प.पु. ६.२५४.२१*) इति।
O Goddess, whenever I hear any name beginning with the letter ‘r’, love is awakened in my heart, because I think that it may be the name of Rāma. (PP 6.254.21)
तदेवं सति, पापक्षयमात्रलक्षणं कियत् ? इति भावः॥
This being the case, to say that the name destroys sins is hardly sufficient as a definition.
Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj
Listening to Bhāgavata Purāṇa from the mouth of a great devotee is supremely beneficial. This is confirmed from the Bhāgavata-mahātmya of Padma Purāṇa Uttara-khaṇḍa (chapters 193-198). There it is told that a ghost was released from his spectral body after hearing the Purāṇa for seven days. At the end of the week's recitation Kṛṣṇa became manifest and carried the Purāṇa's reciter along with the entire audience to His abode. A materialistic person is like a person possessed by the ghost of material desires, kāma. The verses of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa act like an incantation to exorcise this ghost and bring him to the normal life of prema.
There are various names of Bhagavān. One should regularly hear and sing the specific name of one’s worshipable Bhagavān. Of all His names, "Kṛṣṇa" is the most potent because that is the most complete and original form of Bhagavān. And as Kṛṣṇa has all other forms contained in His body, so also does His name have the power of all of Bhagavān's other names. It is stated in Brahmāṇda Purāṇa (236.19): “The benefit awarded by reciting the holy thousand names of Viṣṇu thrice can be achieved by chanting the name of Kṛṣṇa just once.”
Just as for hearing, where the sequence is to first hear the name, followed by hearing of Bhagavān's form, virtues, associates and pastimes, the same is to be understood about kīrtana. Furthermore the kīrtana of those names and so on that were composed and sung by great devotees is recommended. At present there are many devotional songs written by professional poets and singers. Listening to them or singing them is not recommended.
Of all the names, kīrtana of Kṛṣṇa’s name is supremely beneficial. And chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra is most wonderful because it was chanted by Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya and His great devotees. If one does not get the opportunity to hear a great devotee, then one should do kīrtana onself. If one is doing kīrtana alone then it should be done with the awareness that kīrtana of these names was done in the past by great devotees. One should do kīrtana as a follower of one’s guru paramparā and not independently.
If one is in love with a boy or girl and sees another person on the street who shares some of his physical features such as his or her gait or hairstyle, then one naturally becomes immediately absorbed in thoughts of the beloved. Similarly if one hears someone calling another person whose name begins with the same letters as one’s lover’s name, one would be reminded of one’s lover. Great devotees like Śiva become absorbed in thoughts of Bhagavān even if they hear just the first letter of their name. Indeed, Bhagavān’s attention is also drawn to such a reciter of His name, even if done incidently. Such is the power of the name. If you come across a famous person but do not recognize him, you would not bother paying him any attention. But if someone tells you his name or who he is, then you immediately become attentive. That means the name is more influential then the person himself.
Because the name has such potency to draw the attention of great devotees and even of Bhagavān Himself, then to describe the name as that which removes the sins of a chanter is not doing justice to its glory. That can be done by the mere semblance of the name, nāmābhāsa, as is known from the story of Ajāmila (6.2.14,18) In the next Anuccheda Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī describes the real benefit of chanting the name of Bhagavān.
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Bhakti Sandarbha 257-259 : Hearing the Bhagavatam
Bhakti Sandarbha 254-256 : Hearing Lila
Bhakti Sandarbha 251-253 : Hearing About Bhagavan's Attributes and Pastimes
Bhakti Sandarbha 248-250 : Introduction to Śravaṇam
Bhakti Sandarbha 246-247 : Honor Should be Given to All Vaiṣṇavas
Bhakti Sandarbha 243-245 : More Benefits of Sat-sanga
Bhakti Sandarbha 240-242 : The Power of Sat-saṅga to Grant Love for Krishna
Bhakti Sandarbha 239: Sat-saṅga Brings Bhagavān Under Control
Bhakti Sandarbha 238 : Sat-saṅga Captivates Bhagavān
Bhakti Sandarbha 237: Guru-sevā is the Key to Success