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The Essence of Shreemad Bhagavatam: A Seven-Day Journey to Love

The Essence of Shreemad Bhagavatam: A Seven-Day Journey to Love

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The Essence of Shreemad Bhagavatam: A Seven-Day Journey to Love

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Mar 30, 2017


Over the course of seven days, Paramahamsa Sri Swami Vishwananda captivated an eager audience with his commentary on the Shreemad Bhagavatam, extracting the essence of its message and deepening the understanding and experience of everyone present. This book is the result of that event.

About the Shreemad Bhagavatam: Despite being compiled long ago by Sage Veda Vyasa, the Shreemad Bhagavatam’s message is very relevant today for it describes the powerful connection to the Divine presence that resides within the heart of every human being. Its verses prove that whenever humanity is most in need, the Divine manifests Itself on Earth to answer the call of the sincere devotees, and to re-establish balance, right action, and the life-affirming power of Divine Love.

Paramahamsa Vishwananda’s commentary gives an enlightening spiritual context to these stories of men and women, kings and beggars, avatars and demons, and seamlessly connects them to the deeper issues and questions that concern all of us today: life purpose, responsibility, honesty, jealousy, pride, ego, stewardship of the Earth, and much more.

Mar 30, 2017

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The Essence of Shreemad Bhagavatam - Paramahamsa Sri Swami Vishwananda

The Essence of Shreemad Bhagavatam: A Seven-Day Journey to Love

Bhakti Marga Publications

Copyright © 2016, 2017 Bhakti Event GmbH

Illustrations by Gitanjali, copyright © Bhakti Event GmbH

All rights reserved.

Second Edition

ISBN: 978-3-940381-52-1

Printed in Germany

Bhakti Marga Publications

c/o Shree Peetha Nilaya

Am Geisberg 1-8, 65321 Heidenrod - Springen, Germany


The Essence of

Shreemad Bhagavatam



About Paramahamsa

Sri Swami Vishwananda

Foreword to The Essence of Shreemad Bhagavatam

The Journey to Love Starts Here


The Glory of the Supreme Lord Narayana

The Power of the Bhagavatam

The Inquiries of the Great Sages

About Divinity and Service to the Lord

Manifestations of Lord Narayana

The Purity of Sukadev

Why Veda Vyasa Compiled the Shreemad Bhagavatam

King Parikshit, the Grandson of Arjuna

Arjuna Fights Ashvatthama

Krishna Saves Uttara’s Son


Bhishma’s Death in the Presence of Lord Krishna

Lord Krishna Leaves the Physical Plane

The Pandavas’ Timely Departure

Krishna Leela Ends and the Bhakta Leela Starts

King Parikshit Fights Kali Yuga

King Parikshit is Cursed by Shringi

Sukadev Starts Instructing King Parikshit

Varaha Avatar

Lord Kapila, the True Father of Yoga


Dhruva, the Exemplary Bhakta of Narayana

King Puranjana’s Infatuation for Puranjani

The Exemplary Life of King Priyavrata

The Lord Manifests Himself as King Rishabhadeva

The Incarnations of King Bharata

Bharata Gets Attached to a Fawn

Bharata’s Incarnation as a Deer

Bharata’s Incarnation as Jadabharata

Bharata Instructs the Repentant King

The Redemptive Power of Love and Devotion

Ajamila and the Power of Narayana’s Name

Yamraj Reveals the Supremacy of the Lord


Jaya and Vijaya are Cursed

Narasimha Avatar

Gajendra is Rescued by the Lord

The Churning of the Milky Ocean

Vamana Avatar

Matsya Avatar

The Power of King Ambarisha’s Devotion


The Advent of Rama Avatar

Rama and Sita’s Marriage

Rama is Exiled to the Forest

Ravana Kidnaps Sita

Rama Meets Hanuman, His Greatest Servant

Rama Rewards Sabari’s Pure Devotion

The Sages Blessed with Madhurya Bhav

Hanuman Meets Sita and Burns Lanka

The Rama Naam’s Bridge to Lanka

The Lanka’s War and the End of Ravana

The End of Rama’s Exile and Sita Agni Pariksha

Rama Returns to be Crowned King of Ayodhya

The Leela of Luv and Kush

The Leela of Rama Avatar Ends

Parashuram Avatar

The Leelas of Krishna Avatar Begin

Mother Earth Pleads for Help

The Dreadful Kamsa

The Power of Yogmaya – Sankarshana

The Manifestation of Krishna on Earth

Putana, the Blessed Demoness

Sakatasura, the Cart’s Wheel Demon

Trinavarta, the Whirlwind Demon


The Krishna Avatar Continues ...

The Naming Ceremony

Krishna’s Pranks

Yashoda Sees the Universe in Krishna’s Mouth

Yashoda’s Love Binds Krishna

Krishna Releases Kubera’s Sons

The Enchanting Vrindavan

Vatasura, Bakasura and Aghasura

Krishna Teaches Brahma a Lesson

Balarama Kills Dhenukasura

Kaliya Surrenders to Krishna

Balarama Kills Pralambasura

Krishna Steals the Gopis’ Clothes

Krishna Blesses the Brahmin’s Wives

Giridhariji Leela

The Enchanting Call of Krishna’s Flute

Krishna Hides Himself

Sri Gopi Gita

Maha Raas Leela

Aristhasura, Keshi and Shankhachuda


Continuing with the Krishna Avatar ...

Kamsa Sends Akrura to Vrindavan

Krishna and Balarama in Mathura

Krishna Kills Kamsa

Krishna and Balarama in Sandipani’s Ashram

Krishna Sends Uddhava to Vrindavan

Krishna Establishes Dwarka and Kills Kalayavana

Krishna Marries Rukmini

Pradyumna and Shambasura

Krishna and His 16,008 Wives

Narada Visits Krishna’s Palaces in Dwarka

Krishna Tests Rukmini

Sudama Visits Krishna in Dwarka

Krishna Blesses Sudama

Krishna Meets the Gopis

The Yadhava Clan is Cursed

Krishna Gives the Uddhava Gita

Last Moments of Lord Krishna on Earth

King Parikshit is Killed by Takshaka

Final Message





Paramahamsa Sri Swami Vishwananda is a fully realised spiritual Master, whose international mission, known as Bhakti Marga, the path of devotion, is based in the heart of Europe. He travels the world to encourage all people to recognise the universal Love that lies within each human being, and to awaken their innate ability to express that Love in their daily lives.

Effortlessly connecting principles of eastern spirituality with elements of western spiritual tradition, Paramahamsa Vishwananda reveals the underlying oneness of the Divine and inspires a unique experience of spirituality, regardless of culture, religion, gender or age. To him, the name or form one gives to God does not matter. What matters is sincerity of the heart, devoted service to God and man, and a positive, humble attitude as one journeys along the spiritual path.

Giving Darshans and Satsangs tirelessly throughout the year, Paramahamsa Vishwananda introduces these simple but profound concepts in a very personal way, answering questions about love, life, death, healing, and faith.

His commentaries on supplementary Vedic texts like this one help a worldwide audience gain a deeper understanding of the universal messages they contain, and spread a message of love, peace and unity to all of mankind.


What is God?

This is the eternal question that mankind has strived to answer since time immemorial.

Is God Love? Consciousness? Energy? Light? God is all those things, but above all that, God is something else - someone else.

We call Him Narayana. He has, and continues to, incarnate in many forms to make Himself known to His children. He walks with them, talks with them, laughs with them - He lives with them. So how can we come to know Him? This is the real question. It is no longer about what God is, but rather who God is.

This is why we have the Shreemad Bhagavatam, the crown jewel of the Hindu holy scriptures. When it is expounded to us by a true living embodiment of the Divine like Paramahamsa Sri Swami Vishwananda, we have something incomparable to anything else - we have a firsthand experience of God Himself.

We all know the expression, ‘actions speak louder than words’. If the verses of the Shreemad Bhagavad Gita are the words of God, then the stories of the Shreemad Bhagavatam are undoubtedly the actions of God. To compare it to Christianity, the Shreemad Bhagavad Gita is the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, whilst the Shreemad Bhagavatam is the Bible itself. That is why it is the moral duty of any spiritual seeker to study this book.

The Shreemad Bhagavatam is a scripture unlike any other. It is the last and greatest work of the great sage, Sri Vedavyasa, and serves as the culmination of all the Vedas and Puranas. It tells the story of the Lord and His incarnations since the earliest records of Vedic history. In its original form, over 18,000 verses are split into 335 chapters. They are arranged into a further 12 subdivisions of books called Cantos. These books together recount the complete history of creation and the Lord’s many manifestations.

But no story is given more importance than that of the life of Lord Krishna. It depicts His birth, His youth, all His wonderful Leelas and wondrous acts, all the way up until the moment He left His body. It offers an unparalleled account of the life of the most complete incarnation of Lord Narayana the world has ever seen.

To make this knowledge as accessible as possible, Paramahamsa Vishwananda gave a seven-day commentary in which he expertly extracted only the most essential parts of the Bhagavatam and delivered them to the gathered devotees. This has now been compiled into the treasure you hold in your hands.

In this quest to know God, the words of Lord Jesus Christ give a special insight: He who has seen Me, has seen the Father. Never before has the Shreemad Bhagavatam brought the Lord to life with such vivid simplicity and intensity as through the words and insights of Paramahamsa Vishwananda. Truly one begins to see, to feel and to hear the Lord Himself. This book, The Essence of Shreemad Bhagavatam: A Seven-Day Journey To Love, is a gift of unparalleled Grace given to mankind today. Through this book, God makes Himself known to us, allowing us to glimpse through the veil of Maya enough to perceive an almost tangible person that we can come to know in the depths of our hearts. The Lord is depicted as a friend, brother, lover, teacher and so much more.

And that is the beauty of it. It is up to you. You choose how you wish to see him, how you wish to relate to him, and he will simply mirror your Love. That is the culmination of Bhakti. When the lover and the beloved become two sides of the same coin.

Guruji encourages you to not just read this book, but to live it, breathe it and lose yourself in the stories. Relive every experience, every word, in the core of your heart and you will find that God doesn’t exist in some far away plane, nor is He confined to ancient scriptures.

He lives in the heart of every living being today. Find Him, love Him and be free.

Jai Gurudev.



At the beginning of the Shreemad Bhagavatam there are different stories of virtuous kings who lived in the world, who had done their duty, but they had also attained the Lord. Often people say, Oh, no, no, this life is too short to attain the Lord. However, these stories show that it is very possible to attain God in just one life if one does one’s duty properly. Of course, they had good punya (good merits) from past lives, which brought them to where they were. In the same way, so do all of you who are seated here listening to the Bhagavatam; you all have good punya, too.

Actually, Bhagavan has chosen today for us to start this sapta of the Shreemad Bhagavatam. Today is a very auspicious day. But, months ago, when I chose the dates for this course, I didn’t know about this. It was Divine guidance, because this day was randomly taken as the time I would be free. So Bhagavan Himself chose these seven days, which start today. Yesterday, the auspicious Maha Lakshmi Day Onam and Hayagriva Jayanti were celebrated. Today is Balarama Jayanti and Raksha Bandhan, which celebrates the love between brothers and sisters. So, today is an auspicious day! But the Bhagavatam is not bound by any specific time, so you don’t need to look at the astrological Hindu Calendar to choose an appropriate time to start reading or listening to the Bhagavatam.

The Shreemad Bhagavatam is not to be read like a romance novel nor to be heard like a melody pleasant to the ear. The Bhagavatam is different. It’s not just the reading of the Bhagavatam that will free you, but merely hearing the glories and the pastimes of the Lord will free you. What power that has! That’s why it is said that the Bhagavatam is the Lord Himself. There is no difference between the Bhagavatam and the deity. There is no difference between the Bhagavatam and the Ishtadev. There is no difference between the Bhagavatam and the Guru. Because even hearing the glory of the Lord just one time will free you; it will release you from the bondage of birth and death.

When we go through the Bhagavatam, you will see the different stories which Vyasa Dev put together and how it came to be written. It is not something to be understood with the mind. It is something that you have to feel, because each story is the story of each person, each of you. It is a story of Bhakti itself, how to awaken devotion, and how to surrender to the Lord.

The Bhagavatam is considered to be one of the main books for Vaishnavas. All the Puranas are inside it. Very often people say that the Vedas are the best of all, because all the sampradayas refer to the Vedas as the ultimate scriptural authority. Of course, the Vedas are the ultimate scriptural authority, but there is no difference between them and the Puranas, nor the Bhagavatam. It’s just that when Veda Vyasa compiled the Bhagavatam, he also wanted to simplify those scriptures and make them much easier for people.

When you listen to the Bhagavatam, your mind must be focused. That’s why you can’t give the Bhagavatam to everybody. Likewise, in the Bhagavad Gita (Ch. 18, vs. 63-68), Lord Krishna says to Arjuna that the most secret knowledge He had given him should not be revealed to people who are not worthy of it. People who are not worthy of this knowledge will not grasp the deepness of it. They will not drink the nectar of it, so this knowledge would be wasted. This is the idiocy of the mind because people are running behind the five senses. They are trapped by the panchabhuta, the five elements, that a human body and the whole universe is made of. So, people want to understand and to feed their minds more, whereas the Bhagavatam must be understood by the heart. And how will you understand the Bhagavatam by the heart? By feeling it at the same time that you are reading or listening to it.

The pastimes of the Lord, the glories of Narayana, are not just plain stories. You must awaken the Lord Himself inside of you. You have to awaken the feeling that you are part of these stories. For instance, when Sage Sukadev is revealing the Bhagavatam to King Parikshit, you have to see yourself next to him and feel that you are part of what is happening. Sukadev is seated in front of Parikshit. There are thousands of brahmins gathered around them, who have come to hear the glory of the Lord. When Sukadev arrives, everybody welcomes him. So, you have to see yourself in the assembly also. And when Sukadev is talking, you have to be like a child. When you tell a child a story, what is happening in the child’s mind? The child starts to visualise everything. The child starts to see himself or herself in the story. In the same way, you are not just passing by a story, but instead you are portraying it and going into the feeling of it. Then, later on, when we come to the Krishna Leela, you’ll also perceive the Lord doing His Leela.

In this first part, the Bhagavatam tells you how great Narayana is, and the wonders he works through the lives of people. Even if they were great kings, they still were normal human beings like everybody else. Even now, there are so many great things which the Lord does, and there are also so many great souls in this world. Very often, all of this is not noticed, because the great souls don’t even want to let people know. They do everything very quietly, subtly. Nevertheless, these are all manifestations of the Lord Himself and of His glory.

The Bhagavatam is the Lord’s glory in Itself, and it is said that if we hear the glories of the Lord, we will attain Him. In the same way, if we do our sadhana meditating upon the Lord, we can attain Him. If we chant His Name, we will attain Him. If we love Him, we will attain Him. If we build up any type of relationship with Him, we will attain Him. This is His bhav, His Leela, and He is not bound by any limitation. People are bound by limitation, because the mind is bound by limitation, but the Lord is beyond that. There are no rules for Him. Rules are for people, because they are bound by rules. However, Bhagavan is not bound by any rules. He is free.

Now, behold Rama Avatar and Krishna Avatar. Which one we will say is greater? Hmmm? This is the tricky part. Very often, people look at the Leelas of the Lord and say, This one is better than the other one. But, no, both are the same. How can one be greater than the other? If you want to see the difference, of course you will see the difference. The difference is in their outward appearance: one holds the flute and the other one holds the bow and arrow. True? Later on, we will go through the Dashavatar, Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parashuram, and you will see that the Lord is the same one. The difference is only in their outward Swarupa.

Now, one may say that Krishna has come to give Madhurya Bhav, the sweetness of Love experienced by being His lover. But Rama also has given Madhurya Bhav. Didn’t Sabari love Rama so dearly? She did. But He had to give this kind of bhav privately. He gave it also to the sages, who were running like crazy to jump on Him saying, We love Him! Let’s be with Him! But at that moment, Rama had to say, No, not now. In my next Incarnation, I will give it to you. He didn’t say ‘another Avatar’. No, He said, I will give it to you, not in this life, but in the next life. Nevertheless, privately of course, Rama did give the Madhurya Bhav to some. When Rama removed His crown and Krishna removed His turban, they looked the same.

Sage Sukadev is also considered a Swarupa of the Lord Himself, completely free. One may ask, Why Sukadev? What is so important about Sukadev? How come Sukadev was free? Later on in the Bhagavatam, these questions will be answered during one incident which happened in Sukadev’s life – one in which his father, Veda Vyasa, also played a part.

Day 1

The Glory of the Supreme Lord Narayana

The Power of the Bhagavatam

The Inquiries of the Great Sages

About Divinity and Service to the Lord

Manifestations of Lord Narayana

The Purity of Sukadev

Why Veda Vyasa Compiled the Shreemad Bhagavatam

King Parikshit, the Grandson of Arjuna

Arjuna Fights Ashvatthama

Krishna Saves Uttara’s Son


Canto 1, Chapter 1, Verse 1

oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya

janmādy asya yato ’nvayād

itarataś cārtheṣv abhijñaḥ svarāṭ

tene brahma hṛdā ya ādi-kavaye

muhyanti yat sūrayaḥ

tejo-vāri-mṛdāṁ yathā vinimayo

yatra tri-sargo ’mṛṣā

dhāmnā svena sadā nirasta-kuhakaṁ

satyaṁ paraṁ dhīmahi

O my Lord Narayana, the Supreme Lord of all, I offer my humble obeisances unto You, I praise You, I bow down to You. Please Lord accept my obeisances. I meditate upon Lord Narayana, because He is the Ultimate Truth. He is the one who creates, sustains and destroys the manifested universes. He is indirectly and directly conscious of all manifestations, and because there is no other cause beyond Him, He is independent. It is only He who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahma, the first living being. By Him even the demigods and great sages are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory images of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the physical universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear real, although they are unreal. I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord Sri Hari, who is eternally present in Vaikunta and who is forever free from the illusions of the material world. I meditate upon Him, for He is the Absolute Truth and the only Supreme Lord.

This verse is a praise of the Bhagavatam dedicated to Sri Hari, Narayana Himself. He is Bhagavan, the Ultimate Himself, who is doing the creation as Brahma. He is sustaining the universe as Vishnu, and it is Himself also doing the destruction as Shiva. There is no difference between them! The Lord manifests Himself in different aspects, in different qualities of Himself. But beyond the form, beyond the reality which the mind understands, it is the Supreme Lord Himself who is doing everything.

Looking at ourselves from an outward perspective, we will say that we are Shaktas, we are Saivites, we are Vaishnavas, we are Ganapathas, we are this and that. We are from different Sampradayas, different lineages, and we tend to say, We are the best. The Bhagavatam itself starts with ‘oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya janmādy asya yato ’nvayād’, which means that Sri Hari is the one who is doing everything: creation, preservation and destruction. Beyond the external material reality that you see, beyond Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, it is only Lord Narayana Himself who is manifesting Himself in this universe, doing His creation. And it is the same Lord Himself who is manifested in every human being as his or her essence. Your Atma is the essence of Him. It’s a small part of Him, but it doesn’t mean that it is different from Him. It is Him doing it all.

What you see outside comes and goes. How many births have you taken? How much merit have you earned to sit here and listen to the Bhagavatam? Do you think this happens just by chance? Why there is always only a handful of people who can hear the glories of the Lord? Why has God chosen you in this whole universe of seven billion people? Because of your punya. Because you have earned that merit to hear about His glory, to swim in His ocean. Narayana is always on the Milky Ocean, sitting on Adishesh. Maha Lakshmi is at the Feet of the Lord, and all these Jivas are around them. Everybody is part of that ocean; everybody is a drop of that ocean. However, you should look towards the Lord. That’s why in this verse it says, I meditate upon the Absolute Truth. I meditate upon Narayana. There is nothing beyond Him, because everything comes from Him. It is only Him who is sustaining everything, and everything will dissolve by His own power.

As He is part of the whole creation, He is in everything. There is nothing which is not Him. From the tiniest particle that exists to the mightiest elephant, the largest whale or the highest mountain, everything is Him. Each one of you seated here, it’s only Him. So there’s nothing which is not the Lord. Hell, Heaven, Earth – everything is a manifestation of His Will and He infused Himself into that manifestation, into His creation. It’s like when you create something. You also put part of yourself into that, don’t you? Have you ever seen a painter painting or have you ever painted? While painting, you let part of yourself go into what you are painting. In the same way, when the Lord creates, part of Himself is in everything that He creates; from the smallest of His creations to the biggest one. That’s why Ramanuja Acharya himself said, Even if I have to go to Hell, I will encounter His face there. Tell me where the Lord is not present, and I shall be there.

So everything is Him. He adds a certain Leela, a certain drama to everything He manifests, but in the end it is only Him that stays. That’s what the realised souls realise: that they are not present, it’s only the Lord Himself. In the Ramacharitamanas, Tulsidas Goswami said, "It’s not me who is writing the Ramacharitamanas. It is Sri Rama Himself who is writing it." All the scholars have acknowledged that it was not Tulsidas, but Sri Rama Himself who wrote the Ramacharitamanas through him, as His own manifestation. That’s why when people realise themselves, what do they realise? Is your identity separated from the Lord? No, your identity is not separated from the Lord. You are part of the Lord. And when you realise that you are part of the Lord, you become part of everything. This is where the secret of the Supreme is revealed to the one who is realised, because then there is no ‘you’ as the mind, or ‘you’ as an identity separated from the Lord, but it is only the Supreme Lord Himself inside of you.

As Kabir said, Whatever I do, it’s the Lord who is doing it through me. He had realised that it was Rama who was doing everything inside of him. Of course, in our daily language, sometimes we use the words ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘mine’. But when the mind is completely submitted to the Lord the ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’ don’t exist; one becomes only Narayana. So that’s why in this verse it says, He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestation, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him.

Here you have to understand that when we talk about God, the mind of man is limited, so we also create a certain limitation to God. People think, God has to be like this or like that! Why? Because you create a God that is suited to you! The same thing happens when people love. People say, I love you, I love you, I love you. But, what do you love? You love only the external appearance. You think, Yeah, I am loving. But, you love what suits you. True Love is beyond that. There is nothing higher than true Love. That’s why it says in this verse that the Lord is independent of all creation, because He is ever-existing, and there is nothing beyond Him. Who else would you meet beyond Him? Before the creation He existed, through creation He existed, and beyond the creation He will always exist. So who is beyond Him? Nobody. There is no one else.

Pure Love is not the love which is limited to a short-term relationship. In the Bible, Jesus said that Love is God. This is not just a command which we have to follow. No, Love is God because He is the supreme form of Love inside of you. And that supreme Love is your true aspect. The love which you understand with the mind must reach to that level; it must be transformed into that supreme state. Then you can say, Yes, I have loved somebody. Otherwise, you are not loving anything. You are just playing a game to make yourself feel happy and to fool yourself, but you are still in illusion and are deluding yourself. That’s why you have misery and only short-term happiness. If you were truly loving, you would be beyond the drama. And that’s what pure Love does. That’s what supreme Love is, the essence of who you are. Pure Love keeps increasing. There is no limit to it. And there is nothing beyond that. This is supreme Love and that’s what Bhagavan Himself stands for.

He said that He is manifested in everything. Everything is His Maya. Everything is His creation. He has infused Himself fully into His creation, but He stays always full. Even in His creation He is full, although He is beyond and independent of creation.

Whether you believe or not that He is God, doesn’t bother Him, because He is God. He is eternal and your belief will not change Him. Whether you love Him or not, He is ever-loving. On the other hand, when people love, they always have expectations. So, you become miserable or you become happy when the love is corresponding to your expectations. Parents may love their children, but for how long? Can you keep loving them after you die? No, when you die it’s finished! What happens afterwards? Next life, you don’t remember. How many times have you taken birth? How many parents have you had? Many! Then, who are your parents? Which ones will you say are your parents? Only the ones which you can now remember.

Sometimes in life you come across people and have the feeling that you know them. You may feel motherly love towards a certain person, yet you think, But, I already have my mother. Or sometimes you may feel that a person is like your child. Of course you feel it, because in many lives you had many parents, many fathers, many sons, many daughters, many husbands, many wives. So how can it be only one? However, you identify yourself more to the ones related to your present body. But this lasts only till death comes. (Or if you have Alzheimer’s, then you forget about everything!)

But Bhagavan is beyond that. God is Supreme, because He is above everything, He is independent of creation. He has created everything and by His own Will, Maha Maya is doing everything. And all scriptures say that, not only the Bhagavatam. Take the Bible, take the Qur'an, take every holy scripture in this world, they all say that the Lord is beyond His creation, and independent of it. God doesn’t need anyone to say that He is God for Him to be God, because He is. But everyone else needs approval in order to be recognised, right? You are given a name when you are born. Without that name, who will know you? Likewise, Swami Vishwananda: it’s a name given just for the name’s sake. But is that really Swami Vishwananda? Is that Lakshmi? Is that Swami Pepe? You see, everybody else is bound by the name, the outward identity. Without this identity how can you live in this world? You can’t. Because, if you are walking and somebody calls you, Hey! How many people would turn their heads? ‘Hey’ can be a hundred people, it can be anybody. This is a limitation, and is the difference between Narayana as His supreme state and Narayana as Jiva, as His manifestation state. His manifestation is limited, but the supreme cosmic body of the Lord is unlimited. It is not invisible, it’s beyond that. That’s why it’s said that He is independent and there is nothing beyond Him.

It is only He who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahma.

It was He who gave Brahma the knowledge of the Veda. Which Brahma are we talking about? There are many Brahmas, not only one. The cosmic body of the Lord is endless and we are all inside of Him, even if, sometimes, He appears to play different Leelas on the outside, and our minds perceive that we are outside of Him. In fact, however, we are not. Whereas He is inside, outside, and everywhere.

During the Raas Leela, Shiva wanted to dance with Krishna like the gopis were doing. Of course, the guardians were there and told him, No! You can’t go inside, this is only for matajis. Shiva asked, Why can’t I go inside? They said, Like this? You can’t go in! Yes, you are Shiva. Please accept our respects as you are Lord Shankar, but which Lord Shankar are you? Which universe are you from? Which Brahma controls that universe? There is one-faced Brahma, two-faced Brahma, three-faced Brahma, four-faced Brahma, five-faced Brahma, hundred-faced Brahma. They are all Brahmas, part of an endless creation.

At the beginning of each kalpa, the day of Brahma, creation starts. One kalpa is equivalent to 4.32 billion human years. At the end of the day, during the night of Brahma, also equivalent to 4.32 billion human years, Brahma sleeps and pralaya happens. The whole creation is dissolved and a new creation starts. Then, Brahma has a life of 100 years in His time, which is equivalent to 311 trillion years. Afterwards, Brahma disappears inside Narayana, while Narayana inhales one time. When Narayana exhales, a new Brahma is created and creation happens again. Can you imagine that? You can’t imagine it. Too many years to think about. And do you think this is the only creation happening now? No!

In the cosmic body of the Lord, an endless creation of a multitude of universes is happening right now, and each one has their own Brahma. All of them are responsible for creation, but they are completely different. There are so many Brahmas. Every time Brahma is created, He forgets who He is. But Bhagavan never forgets who He is. Manifestation is bound by Maya. Here Bhagavan, through His own Yogmaya creates Brahma and Brahma gets limited to that Yogmaya. That’s why you see that all three, Brahma, Vishnu and Shankar, are always meditating. Shiva is always meditating on Mount Kailash. Brahma is always in deep meditation, concentrating on the Absolute, and Vishnu is always lying down. So, all three are constantly in deep meditation. On whom are they meditating? There is somebody who is beyond them and that’s Shriman Narayana. They are not different from Him, they are part of Him, but in the end it is only Him that always stays.

It is said that at the beginning, when Brahma was created, He didn’t know who He was. He looked around, left, right, and said, Where am I? What is this strange place? Who am I? He could not remember who He was because it was a new Brahma, a new manifestation. He found Himself seated on a lotus growing from the navel of Maha Vishnu. Then, the Lord Himself revealed to Him who He was, why He had been created and what was His dharma. So each universe has their own Brahma and each Brahma has their own duty, which is creation itself, although there are different aspects of creation. In this way, Bhagavan revealed the Veda, the true knowledge, to Brahma because it was a different Brahma, a different creation, and Brahma was the first being to be manifested.

Like Bhagavan Krishna Himself said to Uddhava in the Uddhava Gita, Brahmaji is My son. I love Him. He is dear to Me. Then, after His own manifestation, the Kumaras, the Manus, and the Sapta-Rishis were created from Him, and everything else is then manifested. This is Brahma’s dharma: to create and manifest this world.

(repeating a portion of the first verse above)

tene brahma hṛdā ya ādi-kavaye

muhyanti yat sūrayaḥ

tejo-vāri-mṛdāṁ yathā vinimayo

yatra tri-sargo ’mṛṣā

By Him even the demigods and great sages are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory images of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the physical universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear real, although they are unreal.

Here ‘illusion’ means ‘manifestation which is limited’. Even the sages and rishis, who are well advanced, who have great wisdom and true knowledge, are still bewildered by illusion. Like Brahma, they are still limited.

The demigods are devas. In the Hindu tradition, there are 330 million devas. There are devas for everything and every little thing has a deva. For instance, a stone has a deva. In this verse it says,

...the demigods and great sages are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory images of water seen in fire, or land seen on water.

When one is in the desert, one perceives many things which are not really there, due to mirages. One may see a mirage and think it’s a beautiful oasis. In all holy scriptures, in any religion, it is said that one gets bewildered by the mirage that one sees in the desert. But why? Because one is bound by the mind’s limitation. And when one is bound by limitation, one doesn’t perceive the Lord. When one doesn’t perceive the Lord, one is bewildered, and thinks that everything that one sees is real.

Like it is said here very beautifully, ...illusory images of water seen in fire. The panchatattva, the five elements, are an illusion, because each one is present within each other. We usually perceive the five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and ether as separate from each other. But in chemical science, there is the hundred elements chart (the periodic table). One may ask, How do you relate this hundred element chart with the panchatattva? Well, if you consider the panchatattva as the primary elements, each one of the other elements is a different mixture of the panchatattva, and each one vibrates differently. For instance, by mixing water and air, you get the gas state.

As the Lord said, different sages, different demigods (there are so many of them), are all in illusion, because each one thinks, Our kingdom is the best! We are better than others. They are bound by their duties and by the outside reality, so they don’t perceive the supreme reality of Shriman Narayana inside, which is beyond everything. They don’t perceive that it is Narayana who is present inside everybody and everything, because they are bewildered by illusion. Here Bhagavan said that it’s only by His Will that this happens. So, even if they want to transcend this illusion they can’t, because they are bound by their dharma.

Later on, in the Krishna Leela, we will see how Indra, who is the king of the demigods, became so proud and arrogant. He sent so much rain that Bhagavan had to lift Giriraj, the Govardhana hill, with His little finger. Indra was so deluded that he didn’t realise how stupid he was.

But here in this verse, it says that Brahma Himself is deluded, not only the devas and lesser gods (devas of trees, stones, or water). It is said that even the sages are limited by that illusion. That’s why they have to do their sadhana, they have to earn the Grace of the Lord, and they have to be worthy. Because if one is not worthy, why would God reveal Himself? Likewise, in the Bible it is said that when you give pearls to the pigs, they trample over them, because they do not know their value.

(repeating a portion of the first verse above)

Only because of Him do the physical universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature appear real, although they are unreal.

What are the three modes of nature? These are the three gunas: sattva, tamas, and rajas. Everything manifested is bound by these three gunas, which are related to Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. Sattva is represented by Maha Vishnu, Brahma represents rajas and tamas is represented by Shiva. As I said earlier, the Lord manifests and does these three things: creation, protection and destruction. But He is always free. He is beyond that. That’s why Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are the wise ones, because they are constantly focused on the Supreme Lord Narayana. They are not concentrating on the outside reality. By concentrating on Shriman Narayana, everything else is taken care of, everything else is being done by itself. This is the Yogmaya of the Lord.

So, through these three gunas one perceives limitation, one gets attracted to that limitation, and one is bound by this limitation. Due to these three gunas one doesn’t perceive the supreme reality.

You know that in your essence you are Divine, true? You know that God is living inside of you. This truth has been taught to you since your childhood: Where is God? Here, in the heart. You know He is here in the heart, yet why don’t you realise Him? Because you give foremost importance to the mind. You give foremost importance to what you see. You give foremost importance to what you hear. You give foremost importance to what you taste. You give foremost importance to what you can touch. You give foremost importance to the five senses, as well as to the outside reality. However, the five senses themselves are bound by the three gunas: sattva, rajas, tamas. If you look at the way you think, you can see it. In the morning, when you wake up, your mind is more calm. During the day, it starts getting agitated. At night, it is completely full. That’s why it is said that it’s better to do your sadhana and meditate in the morning. Why do you think the rishis advised people to meditate in the morning? Because the mind is more calm.

So, the Bhagavatam starts by praising the Supreme Lord. Just in this verse itself we can see the deepness of the Lord. He is not bound by anything. He is beyond everything. But, everything that is manifested is His Leela. You are part of His Leela! Now, He chooses to talk through me sitting here. And at the same time, He chooses to listen through you sitting there. Through each one of us, it is Him doing His own Leela. However, this level of perception is for realised souls. Realisation is that: perceiving the Lord in everything, not only in people who are sane, but also in the people, whom He chooses to play a role as insane.

What are you looking at? What is your aim? What do you perceive? The outside reality perceived with the mind driven by the senses or the supreme reality? The manifestation of the Lord or the Supreme Lord Himself beyond that manifestation? The Lord dwells within the heart, deep inside, but it is covered with many layers like an onion. Imagine one day you are peeling an onion, and you find a big diamond inside. How happy would you be? Extremely happy, yes? Wow! God has manifested a diamond inside this onion! And this is what you have inside of you. More than a diamond, you have the Supreme Lord Himself. But He will reveal Himself only when all the layers which you have accumulated throughout lives have been removed. When the ‘I’, ‘my’ and ‘mine’ are removed, then you’ll see the diamond which you have inside of you. You’ll see Bhagavan Himself. Then you won’t exist, since it’s only Him that exists.

As I said earlier, only then you can say, like Kabir, that whatever you do is God doing it. Very often, you see people in the world with their minds still very much focused on the outside, still thinking only about themselves, I want this, I want that. But then, they always say, Oh, it is God who is doing everything through me. Of course it is God. He is not limited by your mind, but you have not realised that yet. You know it, only because you have read and heard about it. It’s completely different to truly realise it. That’s why, when we look at the Krishna Leela, Bhagavan is free. He is beyond any limitation. He is beyond the rules written in the Vedas or created by the human minds. He is not bound by any rules. Rules are applied only for manushya. If you do something wrong, you will have a certain reaction. But Bhagavan is free. He created the whole universe. He created everything by Himself. What rules would apply to Him? He is beyond all rules. He Himself created the rules, He Himself created Maha Maya.


Canto 1, Chapter 1, Verse 2

dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavo ’tra

paramo nirmatsarāṇāṁ satāṁ

vedyaṁ vāstavam atra vastu

śivadaṁ tāpa-trayonmūlanam

śrīmad-bhāgavate mahā-muni-kṛte

kiṁ vā parair īśvaraḥ

sadyo hṛdy avarudhyate ’tra

kṛtibhiḥ śuśrūṣubhis tat-kṣaṇāt

Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhagavatam reveals the highest truth, which is understandable by devotees whose heart is pure. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the good of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. This glorious Bhagavatam, compiled by the great sage Veda Vyasa is sufficient in itself for God-Realisation. What is the need of any other scripture? As soon as one submissively and attentively hears the message of Bhagavatam, by this fund of knowledge the Supreme Lord is established within his heart.

"Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, the Bhagavatam reveals the highest truth." Like I said earlier, everyone is bound by rules, true? Let’s say we are performing a puja. When we do a puja, we have to follow some Yam and Niyam: it has to be like this and like that; one step after the other, and so on. These are religious activities. I am not saying that to follow the rules is not right. It is right when you do these activities. However, in the Bhagavatam it is said that these activities are the lowest of all.

In this verse, it says, ...rejecting all religious activities.... This means that the Bhagavatam is not bound by any of these rules. To read the Bhagavatam you don’t need to do any of these things. There is no special time to start, any time is always auspicious. The Bhagavatam is free from all religious rules. Anytime is a good time. Anywhere is a perfect place. Whichever way you read it, it is always beneficial. You can read it in an angry mood, it will bear positivity. You can read it in a joyful mood, it will bear positivity. You can read it in a very ecstatic mood, it will always bear positivity. So it is not bound by any limitation, because the glory of the Lord awakens the Love inside. And there is no special time to love. You can’t say, I love in the morning and during the day I don’t want to love anybody. In the same way, you can’t say, During that time I will love that person, and then after that, I will not love that person. Love is not bound by that. You love because you love. That’s why I said, and you can see it written in our books, Just Love! Don’t think how, don’t reason, just love! Because when you truly let this Love awaken, it is not bound by anything. It is free. That pure Love is called Prem. Prem liberates and has three main qualities: it keeps growing, it is not bound by anything, and there is nothing beyond it. Likewise, there is nothing beyond the Bhagavatam itself.

Furthermore, the Bhagavatam reveals the highest truth. But this truth can only be understood by the bhakta whose heart is pure and whose mind is fully focused. Otherwise, you will just hear some stories and you will say, I went to see Swamiji. He was talking, Lalalalalala... for seven days. I was bored and felt sleepy, terrible! It doesn’t matter, you will get the benefit subconsciously anyway. However, until it moves from ‘subconsciously’ to ‘consciously’, it’s hard work. So, focus yourself! It’s said that those who listen with attentiveness will get the highest truth.

Once Lord Shiva was telling the glory of Shriman Narayana to Parvati and from time to time He would ask, My beloved, my darling, are You listening? Parvati would reply, Mmhm. Like this Shiva knew that She was attentive. But after some time what happened? Even while She was sleeping, Shiva kept hearing ‘Mmhm’. Very strange. All of a sudden, Shiva looked at Parvati and saw that She was sleeping! Then, who was doing ‘Mmhm’? Shiva started thinking, There should be someone else around! He looked around, left and right, but could not see anybody. Then He looked up in the tree and He saw a parrot. So the parrot was saying ‘Mmhm!’ while Parvati was sleeping. Since the parrot listened deeply and enjoyed the glory of Shriman Narayana, it attained the greatest truth; it broke free from the cycle of birth and death. Its karma was completely cleansed and it attained its pure state again.

However, the Bhagavatam should not be revealed to somebody who doesn’t deserve to listen to it. Only to the one who has a pure heart. Here, this parrot had a pure heart. This parrot was actually the postman of Srimati Radharani. It used to bring Srimati Radharani’s letters to Krishna. So it did a good job. When Radha left this physical plane, Her parrot flew to the Himalayas. There, while standing on a tree, to its delight, the parrot heard Shiva telling the glory of Lord Krishna to Parvati.

When Parvati fell asleep, due to Her lack of attentiveness, She fell into the demigods category. Now, Shiva saw that parrot there and said, Why does this bird has such great wisdom? I shall kill it! He took His trident and started running behind the parrot. The parrot was running and flying, and trying to hide itself. Shiva was running behind the parrot holding the trident. The parrot flew faster and faster, and at the same time, Veda Vyasa was telling the glory of the Lord to his wife Vatika. She was falling asleep, and just then she started yawning. As she opened her mouth, the parrot flew inside. But she didn’t realise that she had swallowed a bird. Now, when you swallow a fly, you realise it, right? How did Vatika swallow a parrot without realising it? Veda Vyasa, who was sitting right there, didn’t notice anything either! How strange is the Leela of the Lord! In one yawn, the parrot entered the mouth of Vatika, and in due time, Vatika gave birth to Sukadev, the one who revealed the Bhagavatam to King Parikshit.

Of course, now you might be asking, How can a bird fly into somebody’s mouth and then a person is born? When the parrot was listening to the Bhagavatam, revealed by Lord Shiva, it assumed the divine state. All the negativity had been cleansed from its bird state, and only Narayana stayed inside. So when the parrot entered the mouth of the wife of Veda Vyasa, it was in an energy form. Meanwhile that energy manifested inside the womb of Vatika, and later on Sukadev was born. That’s why Sukadev didn’t look different from Krishna, Rama or Narayana. Just by listening to the glories of the Lord, he attained that state. Why? Because the parrot was fully engaged, fully focused, fully attentive. That’s why it could drink that nectar and transform itself so that its true inner aspect was awakened.

At that point, Shiva came to Veda Vyasa and asked, Have you seen a parrot around? Veda Vyasa said, A parrot? Here, it’s only me and my wife. I didn’t see any parrot! Lord, why are you asking me that question? Shiva explained what had happened. Then Veda Vyasa said to Shiva, But why did you want to kill the parrot? By hearing the glories of the Lord, the parrot became fully realised. Nobody can kill it. It broke free from the cycle of birth and death, so what would you kill? For sure it has assumed the divine state of Lord Narayana Himself. So who would you kill? You can kill only the outward manifestation, but you can’t kill it, if it has already freed itself. Then Shiva said, Yes, it’s true. It’s only the Lord which is inside the parrot. Then Shiva left and Veda Vyasa realised that his wife was pregnant.

(repeating a portion of the previous verse)

The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the good of all.

By listening to the Bhagavatam, by realising this truth inside oneself, one automatically is transformed. And this transformation is not only for you. By transforming yourself, it’s a blessing for the welfare of the people around you, who also benefit from it. Like Sukadev, when he was sitting on the tree in the form of the parrot, the benefit he got was not only for himself. That’s why when he was born again, he was freely giving the stories, theses glories of the Lord, and revealing them to everybody. So this means that by hearing the Bhagavatam you are doing a great service: you are doing Karma Yoga, Jyaana Yoga and Raja Yoga; all these three types of yoga together. Don’t think that you are just sitting here, boring yourself thinking, I’m not doing anything. No, all these three yogas are being done: Karma, Jyaana and Raja Yoga (Bhakti Yoga falls into Raja Yoga).

So that’s why it is said that whatever you are doing, it’s for the welfare of all, it’s a service. By transforming yourself you are rendering a service to the society. Today you are listening to the Bhagavatam, tomorrow you will go into the world. The Bhagavatam never gets finished, because by listening to it, by ‘drinking the water of life’, you are reviving your inner Self. And your inner Self will vibrate Itself wherever you go. Then, this is the service that you are rendering to the society. This vibration will have a deep impact upon your surroundings. Whatever and whomever comes into that vibration will receive the benefit – not physically, but upon the mind, energetically. Because your body is not just the physical body. Your etheric body vibrates and the Bhagavatam is absorbed by these seven bodies, which start vibrating that vibration. It’s not only your physical body that is cleansed. It’s not only your mind that is cleansed. All the seven subtle bodies are also cleansed and your aura is vibrating this vibration.

This Truth removes the pain and suffering that is caused by the three gunas. Because, if you are bound by the three gunas, you will always stay in judgement. Sattvic people think, Oh, I am perfect, all the others are crap. Rajasic people think, Okay, I’m neither good or bad. It doesn’t matter. But still, the judgements are there. Tamasic people say, I will kill for happiness, so let me go and kill. Tamasic people find short-term happiness. In rajasic people, happiness lasts a bit longer, and sattvic people have longer happiness. However, all three are still bound by illusion. All three still limit themselves. Only when Bhakti, devotion and surrender awaken inside of you, then you break through beyond these three gunas, and then the heart is fully purified.

Just by listening to the Bhagavatam one attains Self-Realisation. There is no big sadhana to do. All three yogas and sadhanas are given – namely Karma, Jyaana and Raja Yoga (Bhakti Yoga) – just by hearing the Bhagavatam.

There is this nice story of a very poor lady from Kerala. She would put her child to bed. Then, she would light her oil lamp and would go to listen to the Bhagavatam. At that time in that village, they didn’t have electricity and TV, so the main entertainment was going to listen to the pastimes of the Lord, the Harikatha.

One night, there was only a little bit of oil left in the lamp. She went to the Harikatha. When she came back home, she looked at the oil lamp and noticed that there were still a few drops of oil left. She thought to herself, Let it be on. It will go out during the night, but tomorrow we can fill it up again. So she went to sleep. Next day, when she woke up, to her amazement the lamp was still burning. She was shocked. How was it possible? Why was this lamp still burning? She looked inside the lamp and there was not even one drop of oil. The wick was dry but was still burning with a bright flame. She was astonished and said, It’s a miracle! Then she thought, Okay, let’s see if this is going to continue. For a whole month she didn’t put any oil in the lamp and it was still burning. Then she lit two other lamps with this lamp and they burned without oil. What power! This happened in 1967. Meanwhile she died, but the three lamps which she lit are still burning today without oil. Why? Because she had lit the inner light. When the inner light has been lit, then the Lord can manifest Himself.

So those who listen to the Bhagavatam attain God-Realisation. And it is said that if you concentrate on the Bhagavatam there is no need for any other scriptures. If you go deeper into the Bhagavatam, you will get everything. Bhagavatam here also stands for the Satguru. Once you are surrendered to your Satguru, there is no need to go to any other guru. But if you feel that you have a need to go, then you may go, but it will not bring you any benefit. Everything will be revealed to you as long as you are completely focused and give yourself deeply to the Lord. That’s why in this verse, it is said that is very important to be attentive and listen submissively to the Bhagavatam. Like that, the Lord reveals Himself within the core of your heart. So, be attentive, be focused! Don’t sleep, get up, awake, listen! Let your mind be fed. If you fall asleep, it will not help you. Be attentive!


Canto 1, Chapter 1, Verse 5

ta ekadā tu munayaḥ

prātar huta-hutāgnayaḥ

sat-kṛtaṁ sūtam āsīnaṁ

papracchur idam ādarāt

One morning, after finishing their duties of burning a sacrificial fire and offering a seat of honor to Sage Suta, the great sages ask, with great respect, about the following matters.

Sage Suta, a disciple of Sage Sukadev had just finished performing his morning sadhana, the puja and the fire ceremony. Many sages are seated there, in his presence, and they ask him several questions, showing great respect, deep devotion and the longing to know more.

Those sages were very wise. They knew already about Realisation, but there are different stages of Realisation, and they wanted the highest Realisation: they wanted to realise God Himself. They didn’t want Self-Realisation, they wanted God-Realisation. Their sadhana had brought them only to a certain level, and they knew that they couldn’t reach that level of God-Realisation by themselves. They needed the Grace. So they inquired, How can we attain that Grace, ‘Kripa’?

Their great respect for Sage Suta also showed their great willingness. Their inquiries were not made plainly like, I want to realise God, but it’s so difficult. They were not thinking, It takes too long! Better not ask him. If he tells us something to do and we can’t do it, we will feel bad and he will also feel bad. That’s too many bad feelings. With this attitude people show that they don’t have a real interest. They want God-Realisation, but they don’t want to do anything. They want it to be easy. But, actually it is very easy! I am talking, and you are listening! There is nothing easier than that! In the same way, the sages were sitting there, and Sage Suta was talking. But the difference is that they were very attentive. If people are yawning or sleeping it means that some tamasic qualities are still present inside them. However, within the seven days of listening to the Bhagavatam, they will get purified anyway!

This verse says that the sages asked Sage Suta with deep respect. They wanted to know more because knowledge is never complete! You can’t say knowledge finishes, because it never does. There is always something to learn, until you have reached the Lord Himself. But how do you drink that nectar? Here the sages wanted to know how to be completely free, not just partially. They didn’t want only to be free in that particular life. They didn’t want to be back again in any life. They wanted to dwell continuously with the Lord Himself. This is deep, isn’t it? This is the highest wish.

Of course, then they said, Find us an easy way. Tell us how it would be much easier. We do our sadhana, we can put our feet over our head, but where would that bring us? Nowhere! Please tell us something which makes us eager to want more. Like when you read a novel, and you are eager to turn the next page. But, of course, like I said earlier, the novel lasts only for a short time. The moment you close the book, it’s finished.

It’s like when people have a deep desire to eat ice cream. People say that they love ice cream. But, how can they love ice cream?

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