Sri Sukadeva Goswami is established perfectly in Brahman
Sri Sukadeva Goswami left the comforts of his home and proceeded, walking through the banks of the river, established as a Brahma Bhutah (ब्रह्म भुत: established in Brahman). His father, the old Dwaipayana Veda Vyasa followed him, calling out to him, from behind. At the banks were some teenaged village girls who were having a bath. When Sukadeva passed them by, the girls continued their bath without the need to cover themselves. But as Veda Vyasa went past them, they immediately reached out for their clothes and instantly covered themselves. Sukadeva Goswami was a 14 to 16 year old lad while Sri Vyasa Deva was a ripe old man. This surprised the old sage. He approached the girls out of curiosity, to find out why they did not find the need to cover themselves when Sukadeva Goswami passed by them, while, they covered themselves when Veda Vyasa passed by them. The girls smiled and boldly gave the reason. They said “The very fact that you have approached us with this question, indicates that you see a difference in our being clothed and not clothed, while your son is oblivious of his surroundings and does not even see whether we are clothed or not clothed and walks freely without being bound to the duality of this world.” The Shrimad Bhagavatham begins with the glorification verses of that Sage Dwaipayana Veda Vyasa and his illustrious son, Sukadeva Goswami, who was perfectly established in Brahman.
Swayamvyakta Kshetra in Bharath
The Shrimad Bhagavatham was being rendered at Naimisharanyam in the Swayamvyakta Kshetra (स्वयंव्यक्त क्षेत्र Emerging on its own) of Northern India. The Swayamvyakta Kshetra is not designed by humans, but emerges on its own, by the pure will of the Lord. On the east of Naimisharanyam is the holy land of Pushkaram. Towards the North of Naimisharanyam is Badrikashramam and the region of Muktinath known as Saligramam. These 4 regions are called the Swayamvyakta Kshetra in the Northern part of India. In the Southern part of India, Nanguneri known as Vanamamalai, the next one is Srirangam where Lord Sri Ranganatha resides, then there is Srimushnam where Sri Bhu Varaha Swami resides and to the North of this region is Tirumala Tirupati Balaji. These 4 regions form the Swayamvyakta Kshetra within Southern part of India.
How was Bhagavatha transmitted
In Naimisharanyam, the Lord exists in the form of forest trees, plants and shrubs. This is the forest form of the Supreme Being. In this forest about 60,000 rishis had assembled. Seated under a tree was Suta Goswami, an expert in rendering stories from the Puranas. The 60,000 rishis slowly assembled around Suta Goswami and requested him to deliver the great Purana known as the Bhagavatha Purana, also known as Shrimad Bhagavatham. The mode of delivery of the Bhagavatha is interesting. Sri Vyasa Deva delivered the Bhagavatha to his son Sukadeva Goswami. Sri Sukadeva Goswami delivered the Bhagavatha to King Parikshit, the grandson of the Pandava warrior Arjun. Among the assembled ones, on the banks of Shuktaal, where Sukadeva Goswami rendered the Bhagavatha, a king known as Romaharsana was also present and he took the permission from Sukadeva Goswami to hear the Bhagavatha, seated along with King Parikshit. Then Romaharsana delivered the Bhagavatha to his son Suta Goswami and that Suta Goswami is now delivering the Shrimad Bhagavatham to the 60,000 sages at Naimisharanyam.
The nectar called Sri Bhagavatha
Sri Bhagavatha, the Shastra proclaims, is pure nectar for the ears. The sweetness appears in the heart, as the nectar passes through the ears and enters the heart. Hearing Hari Katha through the Bhagavatha shall increase Jnana and the light emerging from the Katha shall consume the darkness that envelops the heart. The light of Jnana through Hari Katha is not like the light which lights up the room by the press of a switch. Rather, the more one listens to Hari Katha with continued patience, slowly the darkness of the heart or the veil of ignorance with which we embrace illusory knowledge is slowly swept away by the science of real knowledge that is encapsulated within Hari Katha. Today we have given undue importance to many things of the world, owing to our perennial ignorance, which has remained within us since time immemorial.
The Importance and Benefits of the Bhagavatha
The Bhagavatha highlights the dark areas within each one of us and uproots ignorance because of which we have been giving importance to the unnecessary things within the material world. As we hear or read the Shrimad Bhagavatham, we shall end with this exclamation “Alas, I had been toiling unnecessarily for so many things and wasting precious time. How fortunate would I have become, if I were to have have got the Bhagavatha, years before.” All the problems which we have been holding in the heart, thinking that it is a problem, shall disappear at once. Envy would have evaporated from the heart as the morning sun eats up dew. One shall then not bother if someone else is educated or bodily beautiful or wealthy and with ever so many material attributes. Even our mere attention shall not go to them. We would become extremely fearless and we shall even forget the very definition of worry. All these stick to man because of inherent ignorance. The Bhagavatha shall verily eat away these unnecessarily elements that form the very body of ignorance. Man keeps various types of opinions about other people. This veil of opinions is that which clouds his vision.
Shrimad Bhagavatham is the milk and Suta Goswami is the cow
Suta Goswami was an enlightened sage, his face gleamed with the very glow of Brahman. His eyes were deep and floated in the ocean of the all-knowing. The sages at Naimisharanyam were eager to hear the Bhagavatha from such a great rishi. The Rishis, headed by Shaunaka Rishi posed this question “Dharma has left to Vaikuntha following the Lord Sri Krishna. We are now in Kaliyuga. Only you appear to be equipped with the answers to our many questions. Kindly illumine us. Kindly let us know how we can attain the Supreme Being Sri Krishna?” Suta Goswami was happy to receive the question and hence said “You have posed a very nice and appropriate question. The answer that I am going to give you is not only applicable to you, but it is applicable to all living entities who are currently alive as well as for those who will arrive on this material plane in the future.” This can be understood in this way. A cow provides milk for its calf. But the calf only drinks the milk to a limited extent and the rest of the milk is for people who depend on the cow’s milk for nourishment. Similarly the milk of Hari Katha, the Bhagavatha is flowing out from the mouth of Sri Suta Goswami; the 60,000 sages of Naimisharanyam are the calves, but we are the ones who are consuming that pure milk that has been sweetened by the mouth of a pure devotee like Suta Goswami.
The Position of the Shrimad Bhagavatham
It is said that the Shrimad Bhagavatham has to be heard with pointed attention because each word that is being transmitted by the scripture is nectar and the ears should not spill even one word out of inattention or sloth. This was the precaution that Suta Goswami gave to Shaunaka and the other rishis. The mind of the common man is turbid with the impurities of materialism. Shrimad Bhagavatham is like alum, which when mixed with the mind, distills it as alum distills the dirt from turbid water. Only one who has accrued pious activities and punya (पुण्य merits) of many lifetimes will be have the good fortune of reading the Shrimad Bhagavatham or hearing it. It was said that as King Parikshit was preparing to hear the Bhagavatha from Sukadeva Goswami, the Devatas appeared before King Parikshit and said, “We give you the nectar of immortality and in exchange kindly hand over the benefits of hearing the Shrimad Bhagavatham to us.” To this the intelligent king replied “Am I not able to see the difference between diamond and a piece of glass? Although one may continue to live by consuming Amrita or Nectar, one cannot go past the material universe, whereas hearing the Shrimad Bhagavatham with attention can give me a place along with Lord Sri Krishna in the spiritual universe. So kindly keep your proposal with you. I am not interested.” On another occasion, there was an attempt to weigh the worth of Shrimad Bhagavatham. A weighing scale was made to assess the spiritual value of the Bhagavatham. The great Book of the Bhagavatha was put on one scale while all other methodologies that could take you to Sri Krishna were all put together on another scale and yet the Shrimad Bhagavatham scripture proved to outweigh all other methods put together.