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The venerable and beautiful Purāṇa about the Fortunate One
-It specially contains the biography of Lord Kṛṣṇa till the Mahābhārata war-
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Hi, Gabriel Pradīpaka once again. The title of this great work means the following: The venerable and beautiful (śrīmat) Purāṇa or Ancient Story (purāṇa) about the Fortunate one (bhāgavata). The final "t" (a hard consonant) in "śrīmat" is changed to "d" (a soft consonant) because it is followed by a soft consonant such as "bh" (See the 3rd sub-rule of the 2nd Rule of Consonant Sandhi for more information). The term "śrīmat" is generally utilized to replace the usual "śrī" (venerable), but I wanted to add another of its meanings to the translation in order to spice it up a little bit: "beautiful". Thus, "śrīmat" would mean "venerable and beautiful" in my opinion. Sometimes the name of this book is presented simply as: Śrībhāgavatapurāṇa, Śrībhāgavata or even Bhāgavata. Also, the name Śrīmadbhāgavata is commonly used. Now and then you will see that the name contains a "m" at the end: e.g. "Śrīmadbhāgavatapurāṇam". Under these particular circumstances, that "m" is indicatory of Nominative case, singular number, neuter gender of nouns ending in "a". As the word "purāṇa" is a neuter noun ending in "a", the letter "m" is to be added to indicate its case, number and gender. See the "Declension" subsection within the "Sanskrit" section for more information. Nonetheless, in titles, I generally prefer to write the words in their "prātipadika" aspect or crude form (no case, gender or number), i.e. such as they occur in the dictionaries, so that people will not get confused.
The word "bhāgavata" means "related to Bhagavat or the Fortunate One". The term "Bhagavat" is in general translated as "Lord", but its real meaning is "One who has bhaga or good fortune, welfare, etc.". As a result, the translation "Fortunate One" is a better translation than "Lord". Of course, the Fortunate One is the Lord, but I wanted my translation to be more accurate.
This is one of the eighteen Purāṇa-s or Ancient Stories. In my document about the Gurugītā you will find more information about Purāṇa-s. All these massive works were composed by the celebrated Vedavyāsa (or Vyāsa plainly). Vedavyāsa was the compiler of the Veda-s, the author of the famous Vedāntasūtra (also called "Brahmasūtra"), the lengthy Mahābhārata and a long etc. He was really prolific as a compiler/writer. In fact, he is very often called the "literary incarnation of the Lord" because of the immense literature he produced, which is the base of practically the entire Hinduism.
The word "vyāsa" derives from the root "vyas" (to arrange, divide, etc.). So, "vyāsa" means "one who arranges, divides, etc.", i.e. a compiler. The story of Vedavyāsa is very interesting. He is also known as "Dvaipāyana", because he was born on a small "dvīpa" or island in the river Ganges. The Vyāsa's guru is Nārada. Nārada is a Devarṣi, i.e. a divine Ṛṣi or Seer. He is supposed to be a messenger between gods and men. Nārada is commonly depicted playing his Vīṇā (a kind of Indian lute) while he flies. In other words, he is not a mere mortal as you can see, hehe.
In spite of having compiled such a huge works as Mahābhārata, Veda-s, etc., Vyāsa felt that something was lacking. Then, Nārada appeared and told him that he should compose a devotional scripture mainly dealing with the pastimes of Bhagavat, i.e. Lord Kṛṣṇa. Vyāsa did his guru's bidding and wrote the Bhāgavata or Śrīmadbhāgavatapurāṇa, the scripture I am talking about.
Śuka (also called Śukadeva) was a son of Vyāsa. He was born perfect, to wit, he needed not any guru or initiation to attain enlightenment because he already was an emancipated soul. As a teenager, he left his home and started wandering about as a sannyāsī (one who renounces all worldly activities).
At that time, there was also a great monarch called Parīkṣit. He was a virtuous king and the only one who could prevent the upcoming Kaliyuga (age of quarrel or discord) from entering. According to the Vedic knowledge, there are four ages or yuga-s: Kṛta or Satya (1,728,000 human years), Tretā (1,296,000 human years), Dvāpara (864,000 human years) and Kali (432,000 human years). The former (Kṛta or Satya) is the most virtuous yuga, while the latter, viz. Kali, is the worst one. The four ages comprise a period of 4,320,000 human years, which is known as Mahāyuga or Great Yuga. In turn, 1,000 Mahāyuga-s (4,320,000,000 human years) constitute a Kalpa (12 hours of Brahmā, the god creating the universe). Thus, a day of Brahmā lasts 8,640,000,000 human years. Brahmā lives 100 years and each of those years contains 360 days. Thus, Brahmā lives the astonishing quantity of 311,040,000,000,000 human years. At present Brahmā is 51 years old.
Every Brahmā's night lasting a Kalpa (i.e. 1,000 Mahāyuga-s or 4,320,000,000 human years), he sleeps and therefore the entire universe is momentarily annihilated till he wakes up again. Anyway, when Brahmā dies, the universe is completely obliterated and such a destruction lasts other 100 years (i.e. 311,040,000,000,000 human years). On the other hand, there are innumerable Brahmā-s creating other universes... oh well. There are also different interpretations of the quantities, but it is not relevant in this context. I personally think that worrying about if those quantities are completely right or not is like a person dying by starvation and at the same time being worried about how rich a particular tycoon is. So, let us leave Brahmā and his life span alone, please, hehe.
Getting back to the story, Kaliyuga needed to enter this world, but king Parīkṣit was in its way. Parīkṣit was a son of Abhimanyu (a son of Arjuna himself). Therefore, he was a grandson of Arjuna, one of the five celebrated Pāṇḍava-s (reputed sons of king Pāṇḍu) who won the Mahābhārata war. Also, since Pāṇḍu was a son of Vyāsa, in reality Parīkṣit was also great-great-grandson of Vyāsa. Oh well, sorry if there are some possible mistakes in the relationships but I was never good at family affairs. Read my introduction to Bhagavadgītā for more information about all those characters. There you will understand as well why I wrote that the Pāṇḍava-s were the "reputed sons" of Pāṇḍu.
As a result, Kaliyuga had to lay a trap for Parīkṣit in order to get rid of him. One day, king Parīkṣit was hunting in a forest. As he was really very thirsty, went to a nearby hermitage for some water. In that hermitage there was a sage called Śamīka engrossed in profound meditation. The king asked that sage for a little water several times, but Śamīka did not respond at all due to his state of samādhi or perfect concentration. Parīkṣit got extremely angry with the sage and, taking a dead snake he happened to find there, put it around the Śamīka's neck in order to show his wrath and humble the sage. Śamīka was a priest (brāhmaṇa), and Parīkṣit had always paid homage to priests. Anyway, under the influence of Kaliyuga, which resided in the golden crown the king was wearing at that moment, Parīkṣit lost his temper and made a great mistake. Of course, Śamīka, the sage, kept meditating as if nothing had occurred.
When Parīkṣit returned his palace and removed that crown, he realized how great sin he had committed, but it was too late by now. Why? Because, when the son of Śamīka (the sage meditating in the hermitage), by the name of Śriṅgī, returned to the hermitage and saw his father with that dead snake around his neck, got really furious and uttered a curse: "The one who did this (i.e. Parīkṣit) will die by the bite of Takṣaka himself (one of the three lords of the snakes) in seven days". Afterward, Śamīka came out at last of his samādhi and learnt what his son had done. As the curse could not be stopped, the sage told Śriṅgī to inform Parīkṣit about it.
At the moment Parīkṣit was informed, he felt very happy. Why? Because now he knew the exact time of his death and might put the remaining time to good use. And he did so: he left all behind (kingdom, family, etc.) and went to the banks of river Ganges to meditate on the Lord and wait for his inevitable death. When all sages became aware of their king's destiny, they rushed to that place to accompany Parīkṣit during his last seven days. Do you remember Śuka, the son of Vyāsa who had left his home to wander about as a sannyāsī? Well, he went to that place on the banks of Ganges too. When Parīkṣit saw Śuka, he immediately asked him about what a man on the point of dying should perform. Śuka was glad with such a question and started his narration of the Śrīmadbhāgavatapurāṇa, which he had learnt from his father, Vedavyāsa. The narration continued for seven days without any interruption at all. When Takṣaka arrived on the seventh day, killed Parīkṣit finally, but the in other times king had already attained complete body detachment and enlightenment. At any rate, Kaliyuga could at last enter... and who can deny this?
Sūta (the son of Romaharṣana) was one of those sages assembled on the banks of Ganges. He heard the entire narration of the Bhāgavata by Śuka and learnt it by heart spontaneously. Later on, a group of wise men met in the Naimiṣa wood or forest (a sacred place for Lord Viṣṇu). These sages were headed by Śaunaka. Sūta was also there. Then the sages, after doing duly homage to Sūta, asked him to narrate the Bhāgavata such as he listened to it coming from the Śuka's lips. And Sūta did exactly that. Thus, by the grace of Sūta, all of us can at present enjoy this magnificent Purāṇa. This has been a summary of the entire story, obviously.
Finally, I must make these points very clear:
- So far, the only commentary on the Bhāgavata I recognize as authoritative is the one written by Śrīdhara (of which I have a copy purely written in original Sanskrit).
- This does not mean that I will agree with Śrīdhara always or that my translation will be "completely" based on such a commentary, but I feel great respect for his work.
- I will translate the text exactly as "I read it" in the first place. If necessary, I will add alternative translations to enrich my work.
- Some fragments of the Śrīdhara's commentary will be inserted into the explanatory notes when needed. In fact, I think I will do it very often as his interpretations are worthy of being heard by everyone.
- I offer this translation to Paramaguru, the Supreme Guru living in all, since by His divine Grace, Gabriel Pradīpaka, a mere mortal, can understand perfectly the complexities of the Bhāgavata as well as those of the Śrīdhara's commentary, which is extremely scholar and complete. I also want to thank Atri (one of the seven Ṛṣi-s or Vedic Seers), because his direct assistance has proved really helpful for me. He is doubtless one of the forms assumed by that divine Grace Itself. May this translation be for the good of the entire humankind!
This document was conceived by Gabriel Pradīpaka, one of the two founders of this site, and spiritual guru conversant with Sanskrit language and Trika philosophy.
For further information about Sanskrit, Yoga and Indian Philosophy; or if you simply want to comment, ask a question or correct a mistake, feel free to contact us: This is our e-mail address.
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