The Secret of Relishing Bhagavatam - Part 1

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances! All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev!

The following is a transcription of the class delivered by HG Devakinandan prabhuji in Sydney on Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.44,

tatra kīrtayato viprā viprarṣer bhūri-tejasaḥ
ahaṁ cādhyagamaṁ tatra niviṣṭas tad-anugrahāt
so ’haṁ vaḥ śrāvayiṣyāmi yathādhītaṁ yathā-mati

O learned brahmanas, when Sukadeva Goswami recited Bhagavatam there [in the presence of Emperor Parikshit], I heard him with rapt attention, and thus, by his mercy, I learned the Bhagavatam from that great and powerful sage. Now I shall try to make you hear the very same thing as I learned it from him and as I have realized it.

This verse is very instructive because it tells us how to study Srimad Bhagavatam and very often we may take it for granted that Srimad Bhagavatam is available and sometimes we may read Srimad Bhagavatam but the taste for Bhagavatam and the joy and bliss of being fixed in Srimad Bhagavatam may not be there and the reason for that is described in the purport to this verse.

1. We should hear Bhagavatam from a bonafide source: This is the starting point. Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport to SB 1.3.44, "One can certainly see directly the presence of Lord Sri Krishna in the pages of Bhagavatam if one has heard it from a self-realized great soul like Sukadeva Goswami. One cannot, however, learn Bhagavatam from a bogus hired reciter whose aim of life is to earn some money out of such recitation and employ the earning in sex indulgence. No one can learn Srimad-Bhagavatam who is associated with persons engaged in sex life. That is the secret of learning Bhagavatam. Nor can one learn Bhagavatam from one who interprets the text by his mundane scholarship. One has to learn Bhagavatam from the representative of Sukadeva Goswami, and no one else, if one at all wants to see Lord Sri Krishna in the pages. That is the process, and there is no alternative. Suta Goswami is a bona fide representative of Sukadeva Goswami because he wants to present the message which he received from the great learned brahmana. Sukadeva Goswami presented Bhagavatam as he heard it from his great father, and so also Suta Goswami is presenting Bhagavatam as he had heard it from Sukadeva Goswami." So the first step of the formula to know Bhagavatam is to hear from the acharyas in the parampara or disciplic succession. If we do not know who is coming from parampara, all we have to do is we hear from Srila Prabhupada, and our spiritual masters.

2. We should hear Bhagavatam with rapt attention: In the purport, Srila Prabhupada writes, "One should hear with rapt attention from the real person, and then he can at once realize the presence of Lord Krishna in every page. The secret of knowing Bhagavatam is mentioned here. No one can give rapt attention who is not pure in mind. No one can be pure in mind who is not pure in action. No one can be pure in action who is not pure in eating, sleeping, fearing and mating. But somehow or other if someone hears with rapt attention from the right person, at the very beginning one can assuredly see Lord Sri Krishna in person in the pages of Bhagavatam."

Here the word 'niviṣṭa' is used in the verse. It means fully attentive. When something is heard in a rapt manner, it means the sense of urgency is born in the heart. When one hears Srimad Bhagavatam with the sense of urgency, knowing that any time our life can end, then that attention becomes very fixed. If we sincerely believe that today we will not die, then we cannot be attentive to Srimad Bhagavatam. If we are fully conscious of the fact that at any time we may go, then our attention becomes rapt.

When someone pays attention to something, where does his mind go? The mind goes to the subject he is paying attention. If a person does not pay attention, then he is seated here, but his mind is everywhere and anywhere except here. This is the nature of the mind. The mind is so expert that it can divide you into pieces. So if we want to be attentive, Srimad Bhagavatam tells us we must be 'tivrena', meaning we must be one-pointed. Only when you are attentive to Srimad Bhagavatam, will you become attracted to Bhagavatam. Two 'A's always remember - Attention and Attraction. We are always wondering how to have taste for Bhagavatam. Before attraction can come, we must become attentive. If you are attentive in your service to the deities, then the deities will give you the mercy to be attracted to Them. This is the reciprocation between the Deity and the living entity. One cannot artificially induce attraction. If you artificially induce attraction to read Bhagavatam, for a while it is colorful but when you go back home, you cannot put Bhagavatam into practice. It was all in the air and the sky. This happens with the professional reciters of Bhagavatam who sound very pleasing to the ears, but we are unable to understand and realize Bhagavatam. We are here to realize that our time is short and we must become attentive to Bhagavatam. In the school, whenever we were attentive to any subject, we did well in it and most of the times we developed attraction for it. When there is no study or no attention, how can there be attraction? So for us to become attracted to the pages of Bhagavatam, Suta Goswami is giving the clue - to be rapt in attention. If you are rapt in attention (matih) it leads to attraction (ratih). If you become matir Krishna, you become Krishna rati and if you become Krishna rati (attracted to Krishna) your gati - destination will definitely be Krishna. That is why matih must come first, rati comes next and then gati.

We shall see the other points in the ensuing offerings, Krishna willing.

Thank you very much. 
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Vaijayantimala devi dasi
Abu Dhabi.