Śrī Gauḍīya Kaṇṭhahāra | 2


Chapter 2 - Bhāgavat-tattva

The Bhāgavata Principle

Bhāgavatam is the Crown Jewel of all Revealed Scriptures


Completely rejecting all religious principles that are materially motivated, Bhāgavata-Purāṇa propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are fully pure in heart.

The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries.

This beautiful Bhāgavatam, compiled by the great sage Vyāsa in the maturity of his spiritual realization, is sufficient in itself for God-realization. What is the need for any other scripture?

As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhāgavatam, by this culture of knowledge, the Supreme Lord is established within his heart.

(Bhāg. 1.1.2)


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam gives direct information of the mellows derived from service to Kṛṣṇa. Therefore Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is above all other Vedic literature.

(Cc. Madhya 25.150)

Bhāgavatam is the Ripened Fruit of the Vedic Desire Tree


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the essence of all Vedic literature. It is the ripened fruit of the desire tree of Vedic knowledge. It has been sweetened by emanating from the mouth of Śukadeva Gosvāmī.

O thoughtful men, who relish transcendental mellows, always taste this fully ripened fruit.

As long as you are aspiring to be absorbed in the transcendental bliss derived from the Lord's loving service, you should continue tasting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam even after liberation.

(Bhāg. 1.1.3)

Bhāgavatam is the Literary Incarnation of Kṛṣṇa


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is as brilliant as the sun. After Lord Kṛṣṇa has left for His abode, accompanied by dharma and knowledge, it has arisen to save us from the darkness of the age of Kālī.

(Bhāg. 1.3.43)

Paramahaṃsas Sing Bhāgavatam for the Benefit of all Souls


The material miseries of the living entity, which are superfluous to him, can be directly mitigated by the linking process of devotional service; but the mass of people do not know this, therefore the great sage Vyāsa compiled this Vedic literature, which is in relation to the Supreme Truth.

Simply by hearing this Vedic literature, the feeling for devotional service to Kṛṣṇa sprouts up at once to extinguish the fire of lamentation, illusion, and fearfulness within the heart.

(Bhāg. 1.7.6,7)

Bhāgavatam is Dear to the Topmost Paramahaṃsas


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the spotless Purāṇa. It is especially dear to the Vaiṣṇavas; it has knowledge that is especially appreciated by the paramahaṃsas.

When carefully studied, heard, and understood again and again, it opens the door to pure devotion through which one never returns to the bondage of illusion.

(Bhāg. 12.13.18)

Bhāgavatam is the Natural Commentary on Vedānta, Mahābhārata, Gāyatrī, and the Vedas


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam explains the meaning of Vedānta and the purpose of Mahābhārata. It reveals the inner meaning of the gāyatrī mantra and the essence of the Vedas.

(Hari-Bhakti-Vilāsa 10.394)


In the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is an explanation of the brahma-gāyatrī mantra:

satyam param dhīmahi, "We meditate upon the Absolute Truth."

Here dhīmahi indicates the execution of devotional service and the attainment of the ultimate goal of life, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is satyaṃ paraṃ, the Supreme Absolute Truth.

(Cc. Madhya 25.147)


Vyāsadeva collected whatever conclusions were in the four Vedas and 108 Upaniṣads, and composed them in the form of codes as the Vedānta-sūtras.

In Vedānta-sūtra the purpose of all Vedic knowledge is explained, and in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, it is elaborated upon in 18,000 verses. What is explained in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and in the Upaniṣads serves the same purpose.

(Cc. Madhya 25.98-100)


If the Vedānta-sūtras are explained by their author, Vyāsadeva, their original meaning can be easily understood by the people in general.

(Cc. Madhya 25.93)


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam gives the actual meaning of the Vedānta-sūtras. The author of the sūtras is Vyāsadeva and he has explained their meaning in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

(Cc. Madhya 25.142)


Study Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam meticulously. Then you will understand the actual meaning of Vedānta-sūtra.

(Cc. Madhya 25.153)

Bhāgavatam is the essence of all the scriptures


The essence of all Vedic literature, the Vedas, Purāṇas, and Itihasas, has been collected in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

(Cc. Madhya 25.145)

Whoever Disregards Bhāgavatam and Relies on Śaṅkarācārya's Commentary is Lost


Vyāsadeva presented the Vedic literature for the deliverance of the conditioned souls, but if one hears the commentary of Śaṅkarācārya everything is spoiled.

(Cc. Madhya 6.169)

Bhāgavatam Reveals the Inner Meaning of Vedānta


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is accepted as the essence of all Vedic literature and Vedāntic philosophy. Whoever tastes the transcendental mellow of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is never attracted to any other literature.

(Bhāg. 12.13.15)

Bhāgavatam is the Cream of the Vedas and the Very Form of Kṛṣṇa


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam speaks of the highest goal of life, devotional service, divine love of Kṛṣṇa.
According to all the Vedas Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the very form of divine love.
The four Vedas are like yogurt, but the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is like butter.
The churner of this butter is Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and the eater of this butter is Parīkṣita Mahārāja.

(Cb. Madhya. 22.15-l6)


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is as great as Kṛṣṇa Himself, the Supreme Lord and the shelter of everything.

In each and every verse and syllable of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, there are multi-faceted meanings, for it is as infinite as Kṛṣṇa.

(Cc. Madhya 24.318)


Wherever Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Tulāsī-devī, the Ganges, and the devotees are found, Kṛṣṇa is always present.

(Cb. Madhya 22.81)

Self-Manifest and Eternal, Bhāgavatam is not Ordinary Materialistic Literature


In the beginning, middle, and end, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam speaks only of devotional service to Kṛṣṇa. As such, this literature is eternally perfect, infallible, and infinite, because it contains all truths pertaining to the infinite.

Since the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam speaks exclusively of the truths of pure devotional service, it is unparalleled among the śāstras. No other scripture can compare with Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

In the same way that the avatāras of Kṛṣṇa beginning with Matsya and Kūrma appear and disappear transcendentally, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is not of mundane origin. It appears and disappears of its own accord.

In the same way that truth about God Himself is inconceivable, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is beyond all material understanding. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is full of Kṛṣṇa-prema. It is a part of Kṛṣṇa Himself, for it describes Kṛṣṇa's confidential pastimes.

Whoever offends the lotus feet of Lord Nityānanda is a great sinner. Despite his deep study and scholarship, such a person will never understand the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

Bhāgavatam is Beyond Sensual Experience


I worship that Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the origin of all the gods, the abode of mercy, whose transcendental form is black like the tamal tree, and who has appeared in the form of His sound avatāra, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. It is the literary incarnation of Kṛṣṇa, a bridge by which lost souls can cross the ocean of repeated birth and death.

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam has 12 cantos, which correspond to the 12 different parts of Kṛṣṇa's divine form:

The first two cantos are the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa.
The third and fourth cantos are His lotus thighs.
The fifth canto is His lotus navel.
The sixth canto is His torso and chest.
The seventh and eight cantos are his lotus arms.
The ninth canto is his throat.
The tenth canto is his beautiful lotus face.
The eleventh canto is His forehead, and
the twelfth canto is His crown.

(Padma Purāṇa)

Two Kinds of Bhāgavata the Book and the Person


The name bhāgavata applies to two things:
the book Bhāgavata, and the agent of Kṛṣṇa's mercy, the devotee bhāgavata.

(Cb. Antya 3.532)


One of the bhāgavatas is the great scripture, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
The other is the pure devotee bhāgavatam, who is absorbed in bhakti-rasa.

(Cc. Ādi 1.99)


Through the actions of these two bhāgavatas the Lord instils the mellows of bhakti-rasa into the heart of a living being and thus the Lord, in the heart of His devotee, comes under the control of His devotee's love.

(Cc. Ādi 1.100)


The conditioned soul cannot revive his Kṛṣṇa consciousness by his own effort, but out of causeless mercy, Kṛṣṇa, in the form of Vedavyāsa, compiled the Vedic literature and its supplements, the Purāṇas.

(Cc. Madhya 20.122)

The Inconceivable Nature of Bhāgavatam


According to all the revealed scriptures, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is inconceivable, beyond mundane understanding. Its meaning cannot be understood either by scholarship or penance.

One who is not a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, no matter how great a scholar he may be, will never understand Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.

(Cb. Madhya 22.13-14)


Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam has inconceivable knowledge about the Supreme Lord. One who knows this knows the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam gives the essence of devotion to Kṛṣṇa.

(Cb. Madhya 22.25)


I know Śukadeva knows the meaning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, whereas Vyāsadeva may or may not know it. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam can only be known through bhakti, not by mundane intelligence or by reading many commentaries.

(Cc. Madhya 24.313)

Bhāgavatam is Understood Through Vaiṣṇavas


If you want to understand Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam you must approach a self-realized Vaiṣṇava and study it under his guidance while at the same time taking exclusive shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya.

(Cc. Antya 5.131)


 [Lord Caitanya said to Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa.] Study Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from a pure Vaiṣṇava who has realized God.

(Cc. Antya 13.113)

Study Bhāgavatam Under the Spiritual Master


Sometimes my reading of the Bhagavad-gītā is correct and sometimes it is incorrect. I simply do so on the order of my guru. As long as I read Bhagavad-gītā, I can see Kṛṣṇa. It is for this reason I read Bhagavad-gītā, and my mind cannot give it up.

(Cc. Madhya 9.98,101)

Study Bhāgavatam in Light of Previous Ācāryas


By the mercy of Śrīdhara Svāmī, one can understand the meaning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. For this, reason he is the guru of the whole world, and I consider him my guru.

You should explain the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by following the version of Śrīdhara Svāmī. Giving up all false ego, you should worship Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

(Cc. Antya 7.133,136)

Who Does not Recognize Bhāgavatam is Doomed


Myself, My devotees, and the scripture Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam one who sees any difference between these three will find that all his intelligence has been destroyed.

(Cb. Madhya 18)


The so-called Bhaṭṭācāryas, Cakravartīs, Miśras, and others make a business out of the scripture, but have no realization at all. All their study of scripture is simply karmic activity. Whoever hears from them will be bound by Yamarāja and dragged down to hell at the time of death.

(Cb. Ādi 2.67-68)


Whoever has no regard for Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the same as a yavana, an untouchable heathen. He will be punished birth after birth by Lord Yamarāja.

(Cb. Ādi 2.39)

Those Proud of Their Piety Cannot Relish the Nectarean Juice of the Bhāgavatam


O Lord, there are 10 prescribed methods on the way to liberation: silence, vows, hearing of Vedic knowledge, penance, study of Vedic literature's, piety, explaining the śāstras, solitude, japa, and samādhī.

These are generally a means of livelihood for those who have not conquered their senses. Because they are falsely proud of their religious practices, however, these methods are all unsuccessful.

(Bhāg. 7.9.46)

NOTE: The implication here is that because they are proud of practicing these unsuccessful methods of liberation, so-called religionists (who cannot control their senses) cannot appreciate Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, despite performing all manner of pious activities.

Śrīla Prabhupāda comments, "The 10 processes of liberation or improvement on the path of liberation are not meant for devotees; kevalyā bhaktyā, if one simply engages in devotional service to the Lord, all ten methods of liberation are automatically observed."

Lecturing on Bhāgavatam as a Profession is Prohibited
So is Initiating Unqualified Disciples to Increase One's Wealth
So is Reciting Bhāgavatam to the Faithless for One's Prestige


A sannyāsī must not present allurements of material benefits to attract disciples. He should not initiate unqualified disciples in order to expand the number of his followers for prestige and material gain.

He should not unnecessarily read many books, nor should he lecture on scriptures like the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as a way of making his livelihood.

He must not attempt to increase material opulence unnecessarily. He must renounce endeavours for things that are beyond his means that cannot be attained even at the expense of great time and energy (Mahārambha).

(Bhāg. 7.13.8)

Śrīla Prabhupāda comments:

Sannyāsīs sometimes indulge in material opulence by unnecessarily constructing many temples and monasteries, but actually, such endeavours should be avoided.

Temples and monasteries should be constructed for the preaching of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, not to provide free hotels for persons who are useful for neither material nor spiritual purposes.

Temples and monasteries should be strictly off-limits to worthless bands of crazy men. In the temples and monasteries, gatherings of unnecessary, rejected, lazy fellows should be strictly disallowed.

Temples and monasteries should be used exclusively by devotees who are serious about spiritual advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura explains the word Āraṁbha as meaning māṭhādivyāparān, which means "attempts to construct temples and monasteries."

The first business of a sannyāsī is to preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but if by the grace of Kṛṣṇa facilities are available, then he may construct temples and monasteries to give shelter to serious students of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Otherwise such temples and monasteries are not needed.

Who will not hear the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam


One who is attached to enjoying the fruits of his work is called a karmī.

Whenever such a karmī (influenced by lusty desires, beginning with the desire for material wealth), hears a lecture on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, he will stop listening and go away, because he sees such hearing as a hindrance to his sense gratification.

The Bhāgavatam refers to such persons as "killers of the self," because they commit spiritual suicide by ignoring the message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Who but the killer of the soul or an animal-killer would avoid hearing the sublime message the Bhāgavatam?

(Sārārtha-darśinī commentary, on Bhāg. 10.1.4.)

Further Prohibitions Against Lecturing on Bhāgavatam for Money


One who is devoid of devotional service to Kṛṣṇa, who cooks for śūdras, who initiates disciples in the holy name for money, or who lectures on the scriptures for pay is a brāhmaṇa in name only. His brahminical status is destroyed by such misdeeds.

These so-called vipers without poison who frighten the ignorant, they control their ignorant disciples through fear and materialistic partiality, without having to show them any really praiseworthy spiritual achievements.

(Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa, Prakṛti-khaṇḍa, Chapter 21)

Don't listen Bhāgavatam From non-Devotees


Just as milk touched by the lips of a serpent has a poisonous effect, hari-kathā, when heard from the lips of non-devotees, is poisonous. Both those who speak it and those who hear it will suffer from the effects of poison.


The 18 Purāṇas


There are 18 Purāṇas:

Brahma, Padma, Viṣṇu, Śiva, Liṅga, Garuḍa, Nāradīya, Bhāgavata, Agni, Bhaviṣya, Skandha, Brahma-Vaivarta, Mārkaṇḍeya, Vāmana, Varāha, Matsya, Kūrma-and Brahmāṇḍa.

(Bhāg. 12.7.23-24)

The Purāṇas Have 3 Divisions: sāttvika, rājasika, and tāmasika


O you of perfect vision! The self-realized sages have determined that there are 3 divisions of the 18 Purāṇas corresponding to the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance:

The Viṣṇu, Nāradīya, Bhāgavata, Garuḍa, Padma and Varāha Purāṇas are in the mode of goodness.

The Brahmāṇḍa, Brahma-vaivarta, Markaṇḍeya, Bhaviṣya, Vāmana, and Brahma Purāṇas are in the mode of passion.

The 6 Purāṇas in the mode of ignorance, are Skandha, Matsya, Kūrma, Liṅga, Śiva, and Agni.

(Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa)


The Purāṇas in the mode of goodness glorify the Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa;

those in the mode of passion promote the glories of Lord Brahmā, the creator of the universe; and

those in the mode of ignorance celebrate the greatness of Agni, Śiva, and Durgā.

In addition many other scriptures have different mixtures of goodness, passion, and ignorance, and promote the worship of demigods like Sarasvatī and Lakṣmī along with worship of ancestors, and many other lower religious processes.

(Tattva-Sandarbha, annucheda 17)

What is to be Known as Śāstra


The Ṛig, Yajur, Sāma, and Atharva Vedas, as well as the Mahābhārata, the Nārada-Pañcarātra, and the Rāmāyaṇa, are certainly known as śāstra.

Those books that favourably follow in the footsteps of these authorized scriptures are also designated as śāstra. All other literature simply lead one down the wrong path, and can never be known as scripture.

(Madhva-Bhāṣyadhṛta, Skānda-vacana)

What is Pañcarātra


Pañca means five. Rātra means jñāna. According to authorities there are 5 kinds of knowledge.

(Nārada Pañcarātra, 1.2.44)

Note: These five kinds of knowledge are:

1) Vedic,
2) Yogic,
3) Knowledge that is a product of the world of birth and death, or experiential knowledge,
4) Knowledge by which liberation is attained, and
5) Knowledge by which one attains to the loving service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

To explain these, saints and sages have composed scriptures known as Pañcarātra the treatise on 5 kinds of knowledge.


Literature that explains the 5 different kinds of Vedic literature:

Sānkhya-śāstra; Yoga-śāstra, the Vedas; the different branches of the Vedas, and the sub-branches of all of these is known as Pañcarātra.

(Mahābhārata, Śāntiparva, Mokṣa-Dharma, Chapter 349)

The Words of the Pañcarātra are as Good as God


The best of innumerable Vaiṣṇavas, death-conquering Śambhu, heard the Pañcarātra from the lotus mouth of Kṛṣṇa. The knowledge contained in the Pañcarātra puts an end to birth, death, old age, and disease and reveals the Supreme truth.

(Nārada Pañcarātra 1.2.45)

Nārada Pañcarātra is the Cream of all Vedic Literature


Śrīla Nārada Muni, after studying all the śāstras, heard this unparalleled transcendental knowledge from the lotus mouth of the best of devotees, Lord Śiva, who heard it from Kṛṣṇa. At that time he compiled the Pañcarātra, which is the essence of nectar.

(Nārada Pañcarātra 1.2.56)


Nārada Pañcarātra is the essence of all the Vedas. It has extremely wonderful and divine qualities. Among the Purāṇas, it is rare to find such a wonderful scripture.

(Nārada Pañcarātra 1.2.61)

Nārada Pañcarātra is Authorized.


O best of Kings, Lord Nārāyaṇa spoke the Nārada Pañcarātra. After carefully scrutinizing all the revealed scriptures, and having divined their essential meanings, He established this truth, which is without material boundaries.

O my Lord! Those who are ensconced in the mode of ignorance, and who are saturated with the qualities of ignorance can never understand the different kinds of truths this literature expounds.

Throughout the scriptures they have compiled the ṛśīs glorify Lord Nārāyaṇa. Without doubt, Śrī Kṛṣṇa eternally resides in those literature. In those scriptures that are filled with doubts and arguments, Śrī Kṛṣṇa doesn't reside there.

Note: Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī quoted the above passage from the Mahābhārata in his Paramātmā-sandarbha. His comment follows:

"Pañcarātrasya kṛtsnasya vaktā tu bhagavān svayam," means that God Himself spoke the Nārada Pañcarātra. It is therefore the best of all scripture.

The line beginning with sarveṣu means that Lord Nārāyaṇa established Nārada Pañcarātra on the basis of divine reality, and that Nārada Pañcarātra is therefore supernaturally excellent among all revealed scriptures.

The line beginning with the words na cainam explains that those whose nature is envious, and non-devotional, the asuras, will never be able to understand this sublime literature.

The line beginning with niḥsaṃśayeṣu explains that for one who properly studies the Nārada Pañcarātra all the imports of the Vedas will be clear, and he will be purified of all doubts in a very short time.

(Paramātmā-Sandarbha, annucheda 18, and Mahābhārāta)

Thus ends the Second Jewel of the Gauḍīya Kaṇṭhahāra entitled Bhāgavat-tattva.