Bhagawatam 089: The 10 topics covered in Bhagawatam

The Supreme Lord continued, “O Brahma! With absolute concentration fix your intellect upon this initiation that I have now imparted to you. By doing so, even though you are involved in the process of creation, under no circumstances will you be troubled by delusion and infatuation”.

In this manner the Supreme Lord who is birthless instructed Brahma, the Lord of all the beings who are subject to birth, and then suddenly disappeared.

Brahma offered obeisance to that Supreme Lord who had withdrawn his form and vanished in front of his eyes. He began creating the universes just as they had existed in the past creations.

Lord Brahma, who is the Lord of righteousness, once sat down and began to deeply contemplate about the welfare of all beings. With the intent of causing auspiciousness to all beings, he laid down regulations called Yama and Niyama.

The five Yamas specified by Him are: non-violence (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), physical as well as mental non-stealing (asteya), walking on the path of God and maintaining celibacy (Brahmacharya), non-inclination towards material comforts (aparigraha). The five Niyamas are: inner as well as outer purity (soucha), being content with one’s possessions (santosha), undertaking austerities and penance (tapas), studying scriptures that lead towards liberation (swādhyaya) and complete Self-surrender (Iśwara pranidhāna).

To Lord Brahma, Nārada with his profound devotion is the dearest amongst all his sons. He is exceptionally modest. Maharishi Nārada once decided to know about the Lord’s illusory energy (māya)  and understand about it in minute detail. With this intent he served his father, Lord Brahma, with utmost devotion and humility and pleased him through his services. Upon realizing that his father was deeply pleased with him, Nārada in all humility put forth his doubts to his father just as Parikshit questioned Maharishi Śuka. At that moment, Brahma who was supremely pleased with his services, explained to him, Bhagawatam which contains the ten characteristics and which was taught to him by Lord Srihari.

Once when the supremely radiant Maharishi Vedavyasa was seated on the banks of River Saraswati meditating upon the Supreme Lord, Maharishi Nārada paid him a visit. He preached to Maharishi Vyasa the sacred Bhāgawata purana.

O Emperor Parikshit! You sought to know how this universe emerged from the Supreme Lord. I will answer not just this question but all your other questions in complete detail. Please listen.”

With this the ninth chapter of the Second Canto of Srimad Bhagawatam comes to an end.


Second Canto Chapter Ten


In this chapter, the characteristics of Puranas as well as the origin of the presiding deities of the senses (indriyas) from the Universal form are explained.

Maharishi Śuka explained, “In this Bhāgawata Purāṇa, the 10 topics of sarga, visarga, sthānam, poṣaṇam, ūta, manvantara, the stories pertaining to the Supreme Lord, nirodha, mukti and āśraya have been explained.

In order to understand the absolute, factual essence of the tenth topic i.e. āśraya, Maharishis explain the other nine topics in Bhāgawatam, either using syllables that factually explain those subjects or through inferences.

Due to the transformation within the three attributes of nature (trigunas), the following emerge from the Supreme Lord: the five basic elements, the subtle sense perceptions (tanmatras), senses (indriyas), Mahat tattva (fundamental principle of total material creation) and ahamkara (egoism). This emergence is known as Sarga.

This entire material world created by Hiranyagarbha, the Lord of all living beings, and which consists of animate and inanimate objects, is known as Visarga.

Srihari upholds this entire created world by laying down the rules of righteousness. Through this He ensures that this created world is not destroyed. He alleviates the sufferings of his devotees. These supreme deeds of the Lord are known as Sthānam.

The blessings that He showers upon His devotees are known as Poṣaṇam.

The disciplines and the rules of righteousness abided by the Lords of the Manvantara time periods, who are supremely noble beings, are known as Manvantara.

Due to the fruitive actions of the individual he experiences likes-dislikes, hatred and other subtle tendencies which turn into bondages. They are known as ūtaya.

Explaining the glories and wonderous pastimes of the Supreme Lord as well as the stories of his ardent devotees are known as īśa katha.

At the time of annihilation, īśwara will be immersed in Yogic sleep (Yoga-nidra). At that time all living beings merge into him, along with their bodies. This is known as Nirodha.

Due to Supreme Knowledge obtained, setting aside the earlier notions such as ‘I am the doer’, ‘I am the enjoyer’, that had earlier arisen due to spiritual ignorance (ajnana) and now stabilizing in the supreme existence-knowledge-bliss (Sacchidānanda) state is called Moksha.

That pure self-illuminating Supreme Lord, who is the cause of the creation, sustenance and annihilation and of their illumination, is the sole shelter and hence He is āśraya. To realize this Absolute Truth, the person should understand the other 9 subjects.

The conditioned soul who sees (dṛṣṭa) the world through the medium of eyes and other sense organs is ādhyatmika. Each of these sense organs has a presiding deity who controls them. For instance, the Sun is the presiding deity for the eyes. Such presiding Lords of the senses are called ‘ādhi-daivika’. Although a single Self exists this gross body causes this segregation known as ‘ādhyātmika’ and ‘ādhi-daivika’.  Hence this gross body made of five basic elements and which is the cause for this segregation is known as ‘ādhi-bhoutika’.

That inner witness which observes them all is the Self-sufficient and Self-illuminating Lord! It is purely due to His grace that everything, including the ādhyātmika, ādhi-daivika and ādhi-bhoutika, illumines!

As explained in the previous chapter, the cosmic egg (Brahmānda) broke open and the Universal form of the Lord (Virat Puruśa) emerged. He wanted a residence for himself. As He is an embodiment of purity, at first He created the ever-pure waters. In these waters of the ocean that He had created, this Universal Lord spent thousand years.

The Universal Lord is also known as Nara. As water was born from Him, it got the name Nāra. As He lives in those waters, this Universal Lord was called Nārāyaṇa. Hence Nārāyaṇa is the Lord who has made water His home.

In this universe that consists of animate and inanimate objects, time (kāla), illusion (māya), actions accrue to all living beings purely due to the grace of Lord Nārāyaṇa. It should be clearly understood here that in the absence of His grace, these would not accrue.

The non-dual and omnipotent Lord Nārāyaṇa, who woke up from His Yogic-sleep, desired to see himself in varied divine, human and other forms and which consists of varied principles. Through the medium of his illusory powers (māya shakti) he released the powerful energy of creation (srishti shakti). This energy split into three viz., ādhyātmika, ādhi-daivika and ādhi-bhoutika.


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