Śri Mahā Ganapataye namaḥ
Śri Saraswatyai Namaḥ
Śri Pāda vallabha Nrusimha Saraswati
Śri Guru Dattatreyaya namaḥ
This life given by God attains fulfillment only when vision of the Supreme Lord (Paramātma darshana) is attained! Bhakti Sutras and other Granthas (texts) authoritatively state that to attain this vision, there is no tool greater than devotion (bhakti). In this path of bhakti, Srimad Bhāgawatam assumes an extremely prominent place!
Even after composing the 18 Puranas, the 18 Upa-puranas, Brahma Sutras as well as Mahabharata, Maharishi Veda Vyasa was lacking complete peace and hence was dejected. At such time Maharishi Nārada advised him to compose the Bhāgavatam. Following this advice Maharishi Vyasa composed the Bhāgavatam and attained unsurpassed mental peace!
Such a sacred Bhāgawatam contains 12 Skandas (Canto)! Let us try to understand each of these chapters in great detail!
‘Bhāgawatam’ means ‘a scripture (shastra) that pertains to the Supreme Lord’. Every aspect pertaining to the Supreme Lord has been explained in this text. Every characteristic of a Purāṇa is found in it and hence it has become a Mahā-purāna.
It appears that it was Maharishi Vyasa’s intention to establish the doctrine of non-dualism (advaita shastra) through the medium of bhakti and thus enable the person to attain vision of the Supreme Lord!
If Bhāgatawam praises itself, there can be no speciality in it. For this reason the highly esteemed Pādma Purana has extolled the greatness of Bhāgawatam! From this we understand the special significance and status of Bhāgawatam.
Long time ago Maharishi Nārada felt like visiting all the pilgrim centres on earth. He visited Pushkara, Prayaga, Kashi, Godavari, Srikshetra, Kurukshetra, Sriranga, Rameshwara and many other sacred places. But He did not enjoy mental peace anywhere.
He realized that Kali (Yuga), who was the friend of unrighteousness (adharma), had enveloped the entire earth. Wandering everywhere in search of mental peace, he at last reached Brindavan, the land where little Krishna had demonstrated His miracles.
There on the banks of Yamuna, he saw a young lady grieving piteously. On her either side were two aged men who were unconscious. This young lady was serving these two aged men, all the while lamenting loudly. Surprised, Nārada Maharishi approached her. Upon seeing Nārada, the lady stood up and offering obeisance (namaskara) to him said,
“O great saint! Please accept my obeisance. Please stop here for a moment and listen to my difficulties. Only when we have sufficient punya (merit, fortune) we can be blessed with the darshan of great saints of your stature.”
Narada Maharishi asked her, “O young lady, who are you? Who are these two aged men beside you? Please tell me the cause of your distress in detail”.
The lady replied, “O Maharishi! I am bhakti (devotion). These two are my sons, Jnana (supreme knowledge) and Vairagya (dispassion). These ladies who have surrounded me are Vrinda and other rivers. They are here to offer me service. Even after all their services I am not peaceful.
I was born in Dravida deśa (South India). I grew up in Karnataka. In Maharashtra, Andhra and other places also I prospered a little. After spreading everywhere I reached Bhurjana deśa. There I turned into an old woman. By the time I reached this Bhurjana deśa, Kali Yuga had spread its tentacles everywhere. Even my children, Jnana and Vairagya, quickly turned old.
Wandering thus after a lot of time I reached this Brindavan. Strangely as soon as I reached here my old age vanished and I regained my youth. But these two children of mine still continue to be old and infirm. This fact troubles me a lot. I am clueless as to what is to be done.
I am debating whether I should move away from this country and reside in other foreign lands. I am unable to see my sons suffer due to old age. Even after regaining youth I am unable to be happy and peaceful. What is the reason behind this? O great saint! O Yoganidhi (treasure chest of Yoga)! Please dispel my sorrows”. In this manner Bhakti prayed to the saint.
Narada Maharishi meditated for some time. Then addressing her he said, “O young lady, please listen to me. This is the most terrible period of Kali Yuga. As such good conduct, path of Yoga and penance have diminished completely. People seem to be greatly inclined toward sinful deeds. Saints are suffering. Non-saintly persons are happy.
Forget about jnana and vairagya (supreme knowledge, dispassion), in people even devotion (bhakti) has depleted. That is why all three of you turned old. It is your good luck that you could reach Brindavan. Due to the sacredness of this place, you could regain your youth.”
Om Namo Narayana.