Which is your favorite means to attain knowledge among the following options-
The drawback of Mundanity
Anything related to the world of matter cannot be indulged in or consumed for an extended period of time. Even a thoroughly materialistic person shall not enjoy doing the same activity involving a certain material subject for a continued period of time. His mind shall become exasperated and drained of vitality if he attempts to engage in any one type of material activity for a prolonged period. For example if someone watches a movie, at most, one shall be able to watch the same movie one more time, but by then, he would have lost all interest, in doing so. Now, the same movie cannot be viewed over a 100 times and that too on a daily basis
Spiritual subjects are ever fresh
However spiritual subjects or things relating to the Lord, do not fall into that category. Once, one is cleaned of material dross, one is ever enthusiastic to hear about the Lord or is able to focus on any spiritual subject, with the same enthusiasm every day, although the subject matter appears to be repetitive by nature. The reason for Upanyasam (उपन्यासम Satsanga, discussion about God), is that only this process possesses tremendous attraction and magnetism, to keep the listeners bound to the subject of the spirit or God. Only this process is suitable towards drawing all goodness and auspiciousness.
Revelation of the Great Scriptures
The spiritual subjects are only two, they are the spirit and God. There is no third object of discussion. Bhagavad Gita was the result of the discussion about God and spirit that happened between Lord Krishna and Arjun. The Mahabharata was a result of a discussion that happened between the sage Vaisampayana and Janamejaya, the great-grandson of Arjun. The discussion between Parikshit (father of Janamejaya) and Sage Sukadeva Goswami revealed the great scripture Bhagavatha. The Hari Vamsha Purana, is another great scripture that discusses the various incarnations of the Lord. There was a king called Hari Yashwan. This scripture also deals with the descendants of this king, due to which the Purana is called Hari Vamsha (हरी वंश Descendants of Hari). The Mahabharata has a total of 18 Parvas (पर्व Canto). The 18 Parvas totally cover One hundred and twenty five thousand verses. As a continuation from the 19th to 21st Parva, there was a plan to continue the Mahabharata, but that did not happen. These three Parvas became part of a new scripture. The 19th Parva became Hari Vamsha Parva. This scripture delineates the various incarnations of the Lord. The 20th Parva became Vishnu Parva, which has all the pastimes of Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The 21st Parva is called the Bhavishya Parva which has the entire future of the universe enlisted within it. The Kaliyuga has passed 5111 years. From this period till the next 427,000 years, the Bhavishya Parva entails all the details.
Content of the Hari Vamsha
Reading the Hari Vamsha with faith and attention can invoke the grace of Lord Surya Narayana. This is particularly auspicious for couples who do not have children, who have a fault in their astrological chart owing to the malicious positions of the Sun star. Reading the Hari Vamsha can benedict them with children. The Mahabharata is capable enough to invoke the 4 primary Purusharthas namely Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. The Hari Vamsha Purana looks into the various divinities and tries to investigate their origins. For example to whom were the 27 Stars or Nakhshatra (नक्षत्रं stars) born ? To whom were the 11 rudras (रुद्र an aspect of Shiva) born ? To whom were the 12 Adityas born ? (आदित्य aspects of Sun god). To whom were the 8 Vasus born ? (वसु a type of celestial beings). We always consider certain things, experienced in the world to be emotions or even non-living things, but fail to understand that they are in fact, beings, who have an eternal presence in the other-worlds. For example, Yama, the God of Death is born to Surya Deva. Yamuna Devi, is the sister of Lord Yama. We consider Yamuna, as a river who appears to be a non-living river. We consider Death, whose presiding deity is Lord Yama, to be an event in one’s life, that ends life and consider the Sun to be a mere star. It will be interesting to see, why Yamuna Devi appears as a river on planet earth. Why was Lord Yama ordained to preside over the Death of beings? Why is he the deity to rule over Hell? What connection does Sukadeva Goswami have with a parrot? Thus the stories of thousands of such divinities, their origin, their representation on planet earth etc, can be known through the Hari Vamsha. Moreover, the deeper philosophies and the significance of the celestials is also explained in Hari Vamsha in great detail.
Transacting with Bhakti and Jnana
Just as the waters exist for cleaning the body, the great works of Veda Vyasa are intended for the mind’s bathing. Veda Vyasa is of the opinion that any type of transaction between humans other than that of pure Bhakti or Jnana shall result only in dissatisfaction or turmoil. For example, when money is transacted between two people, it causes a strain in their relationship over the long period. Similarly when relatives meet, they transact based on material relationships that gives rise to envy and conflict of interests. However when people discuss the pastimes of the Lord and share their knowledge about the scriptures, there is no expectancy of any sort and sharing of knowledge is carried out as the will of the Lord. Such knowledge sharing, according to Veda Vyasa is utterly desirable.
Greatness of Hari Vamsha
What benefit a person derives by donating 100 cows to a Brahmana, whose horns are ornamented with gold and their bodies covered by gem studded blankets, a man hearing the Hari Vamsha, derives that much benefit. So says the Scripture. Many times the words of the Scripture may seem confusing. While reading the scripture, the context needs to be taken into consideration. For example, it is said in the Gita- Speaking about the Gita to another person, one gets the same benefit, as a person who has performed severe austerities and followed all the principles of Dharma. This seems to be a very overwhelming statement. How can just speaking about the Gita to a handful of people be compared to years of Penance and walking on the path of Dharma, performing austerities and leading a well stipulated spiritual life? There seems to be some sort of imbalance when two of these activities are compared. One activity is a life-long, protracted and difficult proposition while spelling out the Gita to another man, is far simpler. When the scripture compares the two and puts them on the same scale, it means that if one activity pleases the Lord, then in comparison, doing the other activity shall also equally please the Lord and in His eyes both these activities shall be viewed on the same scale. One does all spiritual activities and undertakes discipline only to satisfy and please the Lord. So whatever results the scripture prescribes as benefit in comparison to another action, is to be understood in terms of the capacity of the action, to please the Lord. That is the underlying mood of the promises that the scripture makes.