The Secret of Relishing Bhagavatam - Part 4

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, wherein Prabhuji was explaining the way to approach, study and relish Srimad Bhagavatam.

8. We should follow three ways to remember and study Bhagavatam: The three ways are mentioned in SB 12.13.18 - tac chṛṇvan su-paṭhan vicāraṇa-paro.

a) tac chṛṇvan – the first thing is we hear. When we want to hear, we must first start by hearing submissively. Open your heart to hear Srimad Bhagavatam.

b) su-paṭhan – After hearing, simply repeat it. Suta Goswami's great qualification is not his scholarship, not his memory power, but simply that he repeated exactly what Sukadev Goswami spoke. Not only do they repeat like a parrot, they repeated it by realization. When you repeat something after you have acted on it, then whatever we speak will have potency. Otherwise it will not touch the heart of the listeners. How powerful Suta Goswami must have been when he sat in the forest of Naimisaranya? They had only one qualification. No changing. No addition. No subtraction. No multiplication. No division. If the acharyas made a full stop, they repeated the full stop. If the acharya made a comma, they repeated the comma. That is how we must learn Srimad Bhagavatam. Do not paraphrase Srimad Bhagavatam. Do not learn Srimad Bhagavatam the way you want it to be learnt. Learn Srimad Bhagavatam the way Srila Prabhupada and the acharyas have given us. When Caitanya Mahaprabhu was asked why He was just chanting the Holy names of the Lord, why He was not speaking philosophy, Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, "My spiritual master told me, 'you are such a fool that you please just chant the Holy names and do nothing else'." Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is non different from Krishna, could have sat down and repeated Srimad Bhagavatam to the whole universe. But instead He taught the world how to be a perfect disciple and a perfect listener. Whatever Guru has given as his instructions, we simply have to follow. We do not have to adjust the instructions. We do not have to modify the instructions. After Guru Maharaj has given instructions, we must not let our mind say, 'Guru Maharaj's instruction is not absolute. Now we can put it according to time, place and circumstances.' If Guru Maharaj wanted to give instructions according to time, place and circumstances, he would have told you. But because we lack faith, we adjust. If we really touch our hearts, those who follow the instructions of the spiritual master 100%, like Sukadev Goswami, Suta Goswami, Parikshit maharaj, Srimad Bhagavatam is always open to them. Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur Maharaj gave this very nice example.

A king used to maintain a group of monkeys for providing entertainment for his sons. The monkeys were very nicely fed with sumptuous delicacies everyday. The leader of the monkeys was well-versed in the scriptures of such wise personalities as Sukracarya, Brhaspati and Canyaka, and he used to teach the other monkeys these scriptures. There was also a pack of sheep in the kings palace and the little princes used to ride them for fun. One of those sheep was very fond of eating anything from the palace kitchen. The cooks in the kitchen had to beat the sheep quite often to prevent it from causing mischief.The monkey leader thought that this kind of behaviour every now and then may result in something disastrous for the monkeys in the long run. The sheep are extremely gluttonous and the cooks, on the other hand, are very adept in beating the sheep with whatever they find at hand. In case the cooks any time start hitting the sheep hit a burning stick from the fire, then the furry body of the sheep would surely start burning. When such a burning sheep starts running around in frenzy and by chance enters into the nearby horse stable, then the hay inside will catch on fire and the entire stable along with it's horses will be a blazing fire in no time. One ancient expert Salihotra, who is well versed in animal husbandry prescribes that burns on horse flesh can be healed by animal skin obtained from monkeys. Accordingly, the king will have the monkeys killed. Apprehending thus, the wise old monkey leader called along all the monkeys confidentially and told them about the possible danger. But the young ones didn't listen. So the old monkey left for the forest alone. After few days, whatever the old monkey had predicted took place and as the young monkeys lost their lives simply because they disobeyed the elder's advice.

This story is allegorical of how the proud disciples of a genuine spiritual master do not want to accept his instructions per se, but they use their mental speculation and their mental gymnastics to find a way out of the solutions genuinely offered by guru. Those who disobey the orders of the acharyas, they will always be in trouble. That is why we always have difficulty in reading Srimad Bhagavatam, because we do not have the mentality that this is what would please our Guru Maharaj, Krishna and Srila Prabhupada. When you try to do an action in your life that pleases devotees and Krishna, what comes? Mercy comes. That is how we attract the mercy of the Lord. Mercy is already flowing, but is it the fault of the mercy that the ground on which it is flowing is hard, stony and infertile? We have no one to blame if we cannot ingest Srimad Bhagavatam in our lives because,

-Attention is not there.
-Rapt attention is not there.
-Submissiveness to being attentive is absent.
-Submission to the spiritual master is not per se.
-We have no concept that except for Krishna's mercy, we cannot study Srimad Bhagavatam.

This is su-paṭhan. It means we actually hear and we repeat. We realize what we repeat and act on it and live our life based on it. If we do this, then the final product, Srimad Bhagavatam tells us is vicāraṇa-paro.

c) vicāraṇa-paro – We scrutinizingly analyze and ingest what we have repeated. This is the mood of one who studies Srimad Bhagavatam. Never study Srimad Bhagavatam like a professional reciter. Do not study Srimad Bhagavatam because you have to study it. If we have that mood, it is same as coming before Their Lordships in the morning and saying, "Krishna, I am a pujari. I have to wake You up." In this mood, Krishna does not want to wake up. We will never wake up because we will perpetually be ignorant. But if we sincerely pray to Krishna before we sleep in the night that, "Krishna, You please as Supersoul, wake me up for Mangala arati so that You can then allow me to have Your darshan." Then why will not Krishna wake you up for Mangala arati? Similarly we pray, "Krishna, You are non-different from Srimad Bhagavatam. You please give me a chance to study Srimad Bhagavatam." When you sincerely pray for the mercy of Srimad Bhagavatam, do you really think Krishna will deny us that mercy? Why would He? For a sincere aspirant, Krishna is always available. This is the mood of a Bhagavata. So the secret of studying Srimad Bhagavatam is clear.

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.