The Secret of Relishing Bhagavatam - Part 2

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

This is in continuation of the previous offering transcribing the class by HG Devakinandan prabhuji on Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.44. In the last offering we saw that,

1. We should hear Bhagavatam from a bonafide source.
2. We should hear Bhagavatam with rapt attention.

Here we see the other points,

3. We should hear Bhagavatam submissively: The best way to be attentive is to be submissive. Only when you are submissive to your teacher, you will be attentive to what he or she is speaking. If you are not submissive but challenging, whatever your teacher speaks, for the sake of challenging you will fight. The more you fight, the less attention you pay to the subject and the less attention you pay to the subject, the less attraction you will ever have for the subject. This is the reason we must be submissive. In the material world, if we are submissive in a corporate structure, it is taken as a sign of weakness. We say we will be eaten up. But in spiritual world it is the exact opposite. The more submissive one is, more the fruits of ripened devotional service will manifest. Srila Prabhupada gives the example of a tree with ripened fruits. It always bends low because of the weight of the ripened fruit. A tree without any fruit stands high because there is nothing there. So whenever we are not submissive, the false pride makes us stand up very straight and we challenge the authorities and when we challenge, we cannot concentrate on what the message is. Concentration equals to attention. When there is no concentration, there is no attention; when there is no attention, forget about attraction. Then Srimad Bhagavatam remains just as a book. After a while all other motives to read Bhagavatam come. Except the motive of glorifying Krishna there should be no other motive in our heart to read Bhagavatam. If you read Bhagavatam to learn shlokas, you are on the wrong track. Srimad Bhagavatam will give you all the knowledge to learn shlokas, but we will never be able to act on the shlokas.

What is the point of learning so many verses if our behaviour does not change? Guru Maharaj always said that 90% of Bhagavatam involves change of our behaviour. Only 10% is Krishna katha. Every prayer every devotee speaks in Srimad Bhagavatam is about how the character of the devotee must come to the standard that Krishna wants. In the absence of good behaviour, we are doing disservice to Srila Prabhupada and Srimad Bhagavatam because the main purpose of our wearing dhoti and tilak is to change our consciousness. Consciousness change means character change. Whatever we were before, we must try to change and whatever is the standard of devotional behaviour we must try to imbibe. If with Srimad Bhagavatam we cannot change the behavior, we have lost the race. If Bhagavatam changes our character, then it is a sign that we have heard Bhagavatam attentively and submissively. This is the litmus test. The sages in Naimisharanya request Suta goswami to speak Bhagavatam and they give the reasons on why they want him to speak in SB 1.1.8,

vettha tvaṁ saumya tat sarvaṁ tattvatas tad-anugrahāt
brūyuḥ snigdhasya śiṣyasya guravo guhyam apy uta

And because you are submissive, your spiritual masters have endowed you with all the favors bestowed upon a gentle disciple. Therefore you can tell us all that you have scientifically learned from them.

The sages say that Suta Goswami is gentle in behaviour. This is the hall mark of a devotee. A devotee is never harsh. Devotees do not lose temper. Devotees do not shout. Devotees do not scream. This harshness is the trait of demoniac nature. In Srimad Bhagavad Gita 16.4, the Lord mentions that the quality of harshness (paarushyam) belongs to demons. The quality of gentleness is the asset of the devotees. We cannot be artificially gentle. You will find, no matter what you do, if your sadhana is not up to the mark, you can behave as if gentle, but at some point Krishna will expose the temper within us. Suta Goswami was gentle because he was submissive to the acharyas. We cannot say that, 'I will be submissive only to spiritual master and do not care for the devotees.' Once when Srila Prabhupada was asked how to define a pure devotee to whom we must be submissive, Srila Prabhupada said, "Except for you, everyone else is a pure devotee." The mood Srila Prabhupada was trying to cultivate in us is that we should not see the faults in the devotees. A gentle disciple is submissive not only to his guru, but he sees all other devotees to be more advanced than him genuinely. He feels that he can learn from every devotee atleast one aspect of Krishna consciousness. He believes sincerely that every devotee is a gem and when he sees the goodness in other devotees, he extracts the best in the other devotees and he learns. That submissive nature will make him endowed. What is endowment fund? Technically speaking it is a fund we do not have right to, but that is given to us out of mercy, so to speak. When someone is endowed with something, it is considered to be mercifully given. You have plenty of that you should not have or that which exceeds your quota. So the blessings of spiritual master, when they are pleased with the submissive and attentive disciple, those blessings will transform into an endowment of bhakti. So the sages at Naimisaranya tell Suta Goswami that he has the qualification to speak on Bhagavatam as he is endowed by his spiritual masters.

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

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