Taking into consideration the fallen condition of the people in general in this age of Kali, the sages of Naimisaranya suggested that Sri Suta Gosvami relate the essence of all such scriptures because in this age it is not possible for the fallen souls to understand and undergo all the lessons of all these various scriptures in a varna and asrama system.
The varna and asrama society was considered to be the best institution for lifting the human being to the spiritual platform, but due to Kaliyuga it is not possible to execute the rules and regulations of these institutions. Nor is it possible for the people in general to completely sever relations with their families as the varnasrama institution prescribes. The whole atmosphere is surcharged with opposition. And considering this, one can see that spiritual emancipation for the common man in this age is very difficult. The reason the sages presented this matter to Sri Suta Gosvami is explained in the following verses.
suta janasi bhadram te
bhagavan satvatam patih
jato yasya cikirsaya
SYNONYMS suta--O Suta Gosvami; janasi--you know; bhadram te--all blessings upon you; bhagavan--the Personality of Godhead; satvatam--of the pure devotees; patih--the protector; devakyam--in the womb of Devaki; vasudevasya--by Vasudeva; jatah--born of; yasya--for the purpose of; cikirsaya--executing.
TRANSLATION All blessings upon you, O Suta Gosvami. You know for what purpose the Personality of Godhead appeared in the womb of Devaki as the son of Vasudeva.
PURPORT Bhagavan means the Almighty God who is the controller of all opulences, power, fame, beauty, knowledge and renunciation.
He is the protector of His pure devotees. Although God is equally disposed to everyone, He is especially inclined to His devotees. Sat means the Absolute Truth. And persons who are servitors of the Absolute Truth are called satvatas.And the Personality of Godhead who protects such pure devotees is known as the protector of the satvatas.
Bhadram te, or "blessings upon you," indicates the sages' anxiety to know the Absolute Truth from the speaker.
Lord Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appeared to Devaki, the wife of Vasudeva. Vasudeva is the symbol of the transcendental position wherein the appearance of the Supreme Lord takes place.
tan nah susrusamananam
ksemaya ca bhavaya ca
SYNONYMS tat--those; nah--unto us; susrusamananam--those who are endeavoring for; arhasi--ought to do it; anga--O Suta Gosvami; anuvarnitum--to explain by following in the footsteps of previous acaryas; yasya--whose; avatarah--incarnation; bhutanam--of the living beings; ksemaya--for good; ca--and; bhavaya--upliftment; ca--and.
TRANSLATION O Suta Gosvami, we are eager to learn about the Personality of Godhead and His incarnations. Please explain to us those teachings imparted by previous masters [acaryas], for one is uplifted both by speaking them and by hearing them.
The conditions for hearing the transcendental message of the Absolute Truth are set forth herein. The first condition is that the audience must be very sincere and eager to hear. And the speaker must be in the line of disciplic succession from the recognized acarya. The transcendental message of the Absolute is not understandable by those who are materially absorbed. Under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master, one becomes gradually purified. Therefore, one must be in the chain of disciplic succession and learn the spiritual art of submissive hearing.
In the case of Suta Gosvami and the sages of Naimisaranya, all these conditions are fulfilled because Srila Suta Gosvami is in the line of Srila Vyasadeva, and the sages of Naimisaranya are all sincere souls who are anxious to learn the truth. Thus the transcendental topics of Lord Sri Krsna's superhuman activities, His incarnation, His birth, appearance or disappearance, His forms, His names and so on are all easily understandable because all requirements are fulfilled. Such discourses help all men on the path of spiritual realization.
Living beings who are entangled in the complicated meshes of birth and death can be freed immediately by even unconsciously chanting the holy name of Krsna, which is feared by fear personified.
Vasudeva, or Lord Krsna, the Absolute Personality of Godhead, is the supreme controller of everything. There is no one in creation who is not afraid of the rage of the Almighty. Great asuras like Ravana, Hiranyakasipu, Kamsa, and others who were very powerful living entities were all killed by the Personality of Godhead. And the almighty Vasudeva has empowered His name with the powers of His personal Self. Everything is related to Him, and everything has its identity in Him. It is stated herein that the name of Krsna is feared even by fear personified. This indicates that the name of Krsna is nondifferent from Krsna. Therefore, the name of Krsna is as powerful as Lord Krsna Himself. There is no difference at all. Anyone, therefore, can take advantage of the holy names of Lord Sri Krsna even in the midst of greatest dangers. The transcendental name of Krsna, even though uttered unconsciously or by force of circumstances, can help one obtain freedom from the hurdle of birth and death.
suta munayah prasamayanah
sadyah punanty upasprstah
SYNONYMS yat--whose; pada--lotus feet; samsrayah--those who have taken shelter of; suta--O Suta Gosvami; munayah--great sages; prasamayanah--absorbed in devotion to the Supreme; sadyah--at once; punanti--sanctify; upasprstah-- simply by association; svardhuni--of the sacred Ganges; apah--water; anusevaya--bringing into use.
O Suta, those great sages who have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord can at once sanctify those who come in touch with them, whereas the waters of the Ganges can sanctify only after prolonged use.
Pure devotees of the Lord are more powerful than the waters of the sacred river Ganges. One can derive spiritual benefit out of prolonged use of the Ganges waters. But one can be sanctified at once by the mercy of a pure devotee of the Lord.
In Bhagavad-gita it is said that any person, regardless of birth as sudra, woman, or merchant, can take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord and by so doing can return to Godhead. To take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord means to take shelter of the pure devotees.
The pure devotees whose only business is serving are honored by the names Prabhupada and Visnupada, which indicate such devotees to be representatives of the lotus feet of the Lord.
Anyone, therefore, who takes shelter of the lotus feet of a pure devotee by accepting the pure devotee as his spiritual master can be at once purified. Such devotees of the Lord are honored equally with the Lord because they are engaged in the most confidential service of the Lord, for they deliver out of the material world the fallen souls whom the Lord wants to return home, back to Godhead.
Such pure devotees are better known as vicelords according to revealed scriptures. The sincere disciple of the pure devotee considers the spiritual master equal to the Lord, but always considers himself to be a humble servant of the servant of the Lord. This is the pure devotional path.
ko va bhagavatas tasya
suddhi-kamo na srnuyad
SYNONYMS kah--who; va--rather; bhagavatah--of the Lord; tasya--His; punya-- virtuous; sloka-idya--worshipable by prayers; karmanah--deeds; suddhikamah-- desiring deliverance from all sins; na--not; srnuyat--does hear; yasah--glories; kali--of the age of quarrel; mala-apaham--the agent for sanctification.
TRANSLATION Who is there, desiring deliverance from the vices of the age of quarrel, who is not willing to hear the virtuous glories of the Lord? PURPORT
The age of Kali is the most condemned age due to its quarrelsome features. Kali-yuga is so saturated with vicious habits that there is a great fight at the slightest misunderstanding.
Those who are engaged in the pure devotional service of the Lord, who are without any desire for self-aggrandizement and who are freed from the effects of fruitive actions and dry philosophical speculations are capable of getting out of the estrangements of this complicated age.
The leaders of the people are very much anxious to live in peace and friendship, but they have no information of the simple method of hearing the glories of the Lord. On the contrary, such leaders are opposed to the propagation of the glories of the Lord. In other words, the foolish leaders want to completely deny the existence of the Lord.
In the name of secular state, such leaders are enacting various plans every year. But by the insurmountable intricacies of the material nature of the Lord, all these plans for progress are being constantly frustrated. They have no eyes to see that their attempts at peace and friendship are failing.
But here is the hint to get over the hurdle. If we want actual peace, we must open the road to understanding of the Supreme Lord Krsna and glorify Him for His virtuous activities as they are depicted in the pages of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
tasya karmany udarani
parigitani suribhih bruhi
lilaya dadhatah kalah
SYNONYMS tasya--His; karmani--transcendental acts; udarani--magnanimous; parigitani--broadcast; suribhih--by the great souls; bruhi--please speak; nah--unto us; sraddadhananam--ready to receive with respect; lilaya-- pastimes; dadhatah--advented; kalah--incarnations.
His transcendental acts are magnificent and gracious, and great learned sages like Narada sing of them. Please, therefore, speak to us, who are eager to hear about the adventures He performs in His various incarnations.
The Personality of Godhead is never inactive as some less intelligent persons suggest. His works are magnificent and magnanimous. His creations both material and spiritual are all wonderful and contain all variegatedness.
They are described nicely by such liberated souls as Srila Narada, Vyasa, Valmiki, Devala, Asita, Madhva, Sri Caitanya, Ramanuja, Visnusvami, Nimbarka, Sridhara, Visvanatha, Baladeva, Bhaktivinoda, Siddhanta Sarasvati and many other learned and selfrealized souls.
These creations, both material and spiritual, are full of opulence, beauty and knowledge, but the spiritual realm is more magnificent due to its being full of knowledge, bliss and eternity. The material creations are manifested for some time as perverted shadows of the spiritual kingdom and can be likened to cinemas. They attract people of less intelligent caliber who are attracted by false things. Such foolish men have no information of the reality, and they take it for granted that the false material manifestation is the all in all.
But more intelligent men guided by sages like Vyasa and Narada know that the eternal kingdom of God is more delightful, larger, and eternally full of bliss and knowledge.
Those who are not conversant with the activities of the Lord and His transcendental realm are sometimes favored by the Lord in His adventures as incarnations wherein He displays the eternal bliss of His association in the transcendental realm. By such activities He attracts the conditioned souls of the material world. Some of these conditioned souls are engaged in the false enjoyment of material senses and others in simply negating their real life in the spiritual world.
These less intelligent persons are known as karmis, or fruitive workers, and jnanis, or dry mental speculators. But above these two classes of men is the transcendentalist known as satvata, or the devotee, who is busy neither with rampant material activity nor with material speculation. He is engaged in the positive service of the Lord, and thereby he derives the highest spiritual benefit unknown to the karmis and jnanis.
As the supreme controller of both the material and spiritual worlds, the Lord has different incarnations of unlimited categories. Incarnations like Brahma, Rudra, Manu, Prthu and Vyasa are His material qualitative incarnations, but His incarnations like Rama, Narasimha, Varaha and Vamana are His transcendental incarnations. Lord Sri Krsna is the fountainhead of all incarnations, and He is therefore the cause of all causes.
TRANSLATION O wise Suta, please narrate to us the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Godhead's multi-incarnations. Such auspicious adventures and pastimes of the Lord, the supreme controller, are performed by His internal powers.
For the creation, maintenance and destruction of the material worlds, the Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead Himself appears in many thousands of forms of incarnations, and the specific adventures found in those transcendental forms are all auspicious. Both those who are present during such activities and those who hear the transcendental narrations of such activities are benefited.
vayam tu na vitrpyama
svadu svadu pade pade
SYNONYMS vayam--we; tu--but; na--not; vitrpyamah--shall be at rest; uttamasloka-- the Personality of Godhead, who is glorified by transcendental prayers; vikrame--adventures; yat--which; srnvatam--by continuous hearing; rasa--humor; jnanam--those who are conversant with; svadu-- relishing; svadu--palatable; pade pade--at every step.
TRANSLATION We never tire of hearing the transcendental pastimes of the Personality of Godhead, who is glorified by hymns and prayers. Those who have developed a taste for transcendental relationships with Him relish hearing of His pastimes at every moment.
PURPORT There is a great difference between mundane stories, fiction, or history and the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. The histories of the whole universe contain references to the pastimes of the incarnations of the Lord. The Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Puranas are histories of bygone ages recorded in connection with the pastimes of the incarnations of the Lord and therefore remain fresh even after repeated readings.
For example, anyone may read Bhagavad-gita or the Srimad-Bhagavatam repeatedly throughout his whole life and yet find in them new light of information. Mundane news is static whereas transcendental news is dynamic, inasmuch as the spirit is dynamic and matter is static. Those who have developed a taste for understanding the transcendental subject matter are never tired of hearing such narrations. One is quickly satiated by mundane activities, but no one is satiated by transcendental or devotional activities.
Uttama-sloka indicates that literature which is not meant for nescience. Mundane literature is in the mode of darkness or ignorance, whereas transcendental literature is quite different. Transcendental literature is above the mode of darkness, and its light becomes more luminous with progressive reading and realization of the transcendental subject matter.
The so-called liberated persons are never satisfied by the repetition of the words aham brahmasmi. Such artificial realization of Brahman becomes hackneyed, and so to relish real pleasure they turn to the narrations of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Those who are not so fortunate turn to altruism and worldly philanthropy. This means the Mayavada philosophy is mundane, whereas the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam is transcendental.
TRANSLATION Lord Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, along with Balarama, played like a human being, and so masked He performed many superhuman acts.
PURPORT The doctrines of anthropomorphism and zoomorphism are never applicable to Sri Krsna, or the Personality of Godhead.
The theory that a man becomes God by dint of penance and austerities is very much rampant nowadays, especially in India. Since Lord Rama, Lord Krsna and Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu were detected by the sages and saints to be the Personality of Godhead as indicated in revealed scriptures, many unscrupulous men have created their own incarnations. This process of concocting an incarnation of God has become an ordinary business, especially in Bengal. Any popular personality with a few traits of mystic powers will display some feat of jugglery and easily become an incarnation of Godhead by popular vote.
Lord Sri Krsna was not that type of incarnation. He was actually the Personality of Godhead from the very beginning of His appearance. He appeared before His so-called mother as four-armed Visnu. Then, at the request of the mother, He became like a human child and at once left her for another devotee at Gokula, where He was accepted as the son of Nanda Maharaja and Yasoda Mata. Similarly, Sri Baladeva, the counterpart of Lord Sri Krsna, was also considered a human child born of another wife of Sri Vasudeva.
In Bhagavad-gita, the Lord says that His birth and deeds are transcendental and that anyone who is so fortunate as to know the transcendental nature of His birth and deeds will at once become liberated and eligible to return to the kingdom of God. So knowledge of the transcendental nature of the birth and deeds of Lord Sri Krsna is sufficient for liberation.
In the Bhagavatam, the transcendental nature of the Lord is described in nine cantos, and in the Tenth Canto His specific pastimes are taken up. All this becomes known as one's reading of this literature progresses.
It is important to note here, however, that the Lord exhibited His divinity even from the lap of His mother, that His deeds are all superhuman (He lifted Govardhana Hill at the age of seven),
and that all these acts definitely prove Him to be actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Yet, due to His mystic covering, He was always accepted as an ordinary human child by His socalled father and mother and other relatives. Whenever some herculean task was performed by Him, the father and mother took it otherwise. And they remained satisfied with unflinching filial love for their son.
As such, the sages of Naimisaranya describe Him as apparently resembling a human being, but actually He is the supreme almighty Personality of Godhead.
kalim agatam ajnaya
ksetre 'smin vaisnave vayam
kathayam saksana hareh
SYNONYMS kalim--the age of Kali (iron age of quarrel); agatam--having arrived; ajnaya--knowing this; ksetre--in this tract of land; asmin--in this; vaisnave--specially meant for the devotee of the Lord; vayam--we; asinah- seated; dirgha--prolonged; satrena--for performance of sacrifices; kathayam--in the words of; sa-ksanah--with time at our disposal; hareh-- of the Personality of Godhead.
TRANSLATION Knowing well that the age of Kali has already begun, we are assembled here in this holy place to hear at great length the transcendental message of Godhead and in this way perform sacrifice.
PURPORT This age of Kali is not at all suitable for self-realization as was Satya-yuga, the golden age, or Treta- or Dvapara-yugas, the silver and copper ages. For self-realization, the people in Satya-yuga, living a lifetime of a hundred thousand years, were able to perform prolonged meditation. And in Treta-yuga, when the duration of life was ten thousand years, self-realization was attained by performance of great sacrifice. And in the Dvapara-yuga, when the duration of life was one thousand years, self-realization was attained by worship of the Lord. But in the Kali-yuga, the maximum duration of life being one hundred years only and that combined with various difficulties, the recommended process of self-realization is that of hearing and chanting of the holy name, fame, and pastimes of the Lord.
The sages of Naimisaranya began this process in a place meant specifically for the devotees of the Lord. They prepared themselves to hear the pastimes of the Lord over a period of one thousand years. By the example of these sages one should learn that regular hearing and recitation of the Bhagavatam is the only way for self realization. Other attempts are simply a waste of time, for they do not give any tangible results.
Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu preached this system of Bhagavata-dharma, and He recommended that all those who were born in India should take the responsibility of broadcasting the messages of Lord Sri Krsna, primarily the message of Bhagavad-gita. And when one is well established in the teachings of Bhagavad-gita, he can take up the study of Srimad-Bhagavatam for further enlightenment in self-realization.
tvam nah sandarsito dhatra
kalim sattva-haram pumsam
SYNONYMS tvam--Your Goodness; nah--unto us; sandarsitah--meeting; dhatra--by providence; dustaram--insurmountable; nistitirsatam--for those desiring to cross over; kalim--the age of Kali; sattva-haram--that which deteriorates the good qualities; pumsam--of a man; karna-dharah--captain; iva--as; arnavam--the ocean.
TRANSLATION We think that we have met Your Goodness by the will of providence, just so that we may accept you as captain of the ship for those who desire to cross the difficult ocean of Kali, which deteriorates all the good qualities of a human being.
The age of Kali is very dangerous for the human being.