Bhagawatam 088: Lord Srihari teaches Chatusśloki Bhāgawatam to Lord Brahma

Lord Brahma continued, “I seek to know Your gross and subtle forms, O formless Lord. Just as a spider spins a web and pulls it again back into itself, with your powerful determination You have manifested in the form of the Universe. With the help of your illusory power (māya shakti) using the 25 principles You have created innumerable universes. You create, sustain and then absorb them back into Yourself.

Having manifested in the form of these universes, You are the one who plays within them. Please grant me the knowledge pertaining to Your universal form.

O Supreme Lord, please bless that in accordance with Your command I should be able to create without any obstacles. Also please bless that I, who am thus engaged in creation, do not develop any bondage with the created world.

O Parameshwara! You are my dearest well-wisher. You treat me respectfully as one treats a friend. I seek that with a mind devoid of impurities, I should be engaged in the creation of differing living beings! Even though I am engaged in creating innumerable living beings, may I be free from the shackles of birth. May I eternally be free from the arrogance that I am an independent entity”.

This topic that we are about to speak is one of the most important topics in Bhagawatam. It is known as Chatusśloki Bhāgawatam. In 4 verses, Lord Srihari initiated Brahma into the entire essence of Bhāgawatam.

Hearing Brahma’s prayer, Lord Srihari replied as follows, “O Brahma! With feelings of devotional experience, please attentively listen to the Supreme Knowledge and to the method of sadhana, that I am about to impart to you. What I am about to teach you is the most confidential knowledge.

Yāvān ahaṁ yathā-bhāvo yad-rūpa-guṇa-karmaka

Tathaiva tattva-vijñānam astu te mad-anugrahāt

O Brahma, everything that I am i.e. my form, my existence, my nature, my qualities, my actions-  due to my blessings may you too attain that true inherent state! May you obtain the exact real knowledge of objects!

Aham evāsam evāgre nānyad yat sad-asat param

Paścād ahaṁ yad etac ca yo’vaśiṣyeta so’smy aham

Before creation I alone existed. There was nothing apart from me. Neither these gross forms, subtle forms, nor their causative factors existed at that time. Even after creation, this entire visible world is nothing but Me! After annihilation whatever will be left behind is also Me”.

In other words, after the destruction of the total samsāra (worldly bondages) that which remains is also the Supreme Lord. This web called worldly bondages or repeated cycle of births and deaths is nothing but His illusion. After its destruction, only the Supreme Lord remains!

Re ‘terthaṁ yat pratīyeta na pratīyeta cātmani

Tad vidyād ātmano māyāṁ yathābhāso yathā tamaḥ

Illusory objects, such as existence of two moons in the sky, do not have any real existence. Yet they appear to exist. Yet at the same time there are objects, like rāhu, which although existing are not visible. Realize all this is nothing but my illusory energy (māya).

Yathā mahānti bhūtāni bhūteṣūccāvacev anu

Praviṣṭāny apraviṣṭāni tathā teṣu na tev aham

Earth and the other basic elements appear as if they have entered into the objects created by them, although in reality they have not entered into them and are differently situated. In the similar manner I exist within everything and yet at the same time I am outside of them too”.

For the purposes of our understanding it is said that the Supreme Lord has entered into this created world. But in reality the Supreme Lord is the only true existence! Therefore to say He has entered the creation is technically wrong. This same message the Lord is explaining in the above verse.

If to a litre of Yoghurt another litre is added, then the end product is two litres of Yoghurt. Going by this logic, if the Lord were to enter the created world, what should happen? Hence it should not be interpreted that the Lord enters into the created world. To explain in this manner is going against the dictates of the scriptures.

There is a pot. Space exists within the pot (ghatākāśa). When the pot is broken, what happens to the space within it? The space continues to exist. The outer covering called pot was broken, that’s all, but the space within the pot cannot merge into total space (mahākāśa). Likewise, it is the same with God. For understanding purposes, the space within the pot (ghatākāśa) was addressed as mahākāśa. Please understand this difference clearly.

“Etāvad eva jijñāsyaṁ tattva-jijñāsunātmanaḥ

Anvaya-vyatirekābhyāṁ yat syāt sarvatra sarvadā

That which is the cause of all objects, at all times, in all situations and in all places, and yet remains distinctly separate from those objects, is the Self (atma).

It is enough for those who seek to understand the Self, to understand this above point”.

With this the chatusśloki Bhagawatam comes to an end.

Srihari Krishna!

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