Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto One

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Srimad-Bhagavatam – Canto One” by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta

Swami Prabhupada.

Summary: Srimad-Bhagavatam is compared to the ripened fruit of Vedic

knowledge. Also known as the Bhagavata Purana, this multi-volume work

elaborates on the pastimes of Lord Krishna and His devotees, and includes

detailed descriptions of, among other phenomena, the process of creation

and annihilation of the universe. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta

Swami Prabhupada considered the translation of the Bhagavatam his life’s


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Table of Contents

First Canto



We must know the present need of human society. And what is that need?

Human society is no longer bounded by geographical limits to particular

countries or communities. Human society is broader than in the Middle

Ages, and the world tendency is toward one state or one human society.

The ideals of spiritual communism, according to Srimad-Bhagavatam, are

based more or less on the oneness of the entire human society, nay, of

the entire energy of living beings. The need is felt by great thinkers to

make this a successful ideology. Srimad-Bhagavatam will fill this need in

human society. It begins, therefore, with the aphorism of Vedanta

philosophy janmady asya yatah to establish the ideal of a common cause.

Human society, at the present moment, is not in the darkness of

oblivion. It has made rapid progress in the field of material comforts,

education and economic development throughout the entire world. But there

is a pinprick somewhere in the social body at large, and therefore there

are large-scale quarrels, even over less important issues. There is need

of a clue as to how humanity can become one in peace, friendship and

prosperity with a common cause. Srimad-Bhagavatam will fill this need,

for it is a cultural presentation for the respiritualization of the

entire human society.

Srimad-Bhagavatam should be introduced also in the schools and

colleges, for it is recommended by the great student-devotee Prahlada

Maharaja in order to change the demoniac face of society.

kaumara acaret prajnodharman bhagavatan ihadurlabham manusam janmatad

apy adhruvam arthadam(Bhag. 7.6.1)

Disparity in human society is due to lack of principles in a godless

civilization. There is God, or the Almighty One, from whom everything

emanates, by whom everything is maintained and in whom everything is

merged to rest. Material science has tried to find the ultimate source of

creation very insufficiently, but it is a fact that there is one ultimate

source of everything that be. This ultimate source is explained

rationally and authoritatively in the beautiful Bhagavatam, or Srimad-


Srimad-Bhagavatam is the transcendental science not only for knowing

the ultimate source of everything but also for knowing our relation with

Him and our duty toward perfection of the human society on the basis of

this perfect knowledge. It is powerful reading matter in the Sanskrit

language, and it is now rendered into English elaborately so that simply

by a careful reading one will know God perfectly well, so much so that

the reader will be sufficiently educated to defend himself from the

onslaught of atheists. Over and above this, the reader will be able to

convert others to accepting God as a concrete principle.

Srimad-Bhagavatam begins with the definition of the ultimate source. It

is a bona fide commentary on the Vedanta-sutra by the same author, Srila

Vyasadeva, and gradually it develops into nine cantos up to the highest

state of God realization. The only qualification one needs to study this

great book of transcendental knowledge is to proceed step by step

cautiously and not jump forward haphazardly like with an ordinary book.

It should be gone through chapter by chapter, one after another. The

reading matter is so arranged with its original Sanskrit text, its

English transliteration, synonyms, translation and purports so that one

is sure to become a God-realized soul at the end of finishing the first

nine cantos.

The Tenth Canto is distinct from the first nine cantos because it

deals directly with the transcendental activities of the Personality of

Godhead Sri Krsna. One will be unable to capture the effects of the Tenth

Canto without going through the first nine cantos. The book is complete

in twelve cantos, each independent, but it is good for all to read them

in small installments one after another.

I must admit my frailties in presenting Srimad-Bhagavatam, but still I

am hopeful of its good reception by the thinkers and leaders of society

on the strength of the following statement of Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.11):

tad-vag-visargo janatagha-viplavo

yasmin prati-slokam abaddhavaty api

namany anantasya yaso 'nkitani yac

chrnvanti gayanti grnanti sadhavah

"On the other hand, that literature which is full with descriptions of

the transcendental glories of the name, fame, form and pastimes of the

unlimited Supreme Lord is a transcendental creation meant to bring about

a revolution in the impious life of a misdirected civilization. Such

transcendental literatures, even though irregularly composed, are heard,

sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest."

Om tat sat

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

Dated at Delhi

December 15, 1962


The conception of God and the conception of Absolute Truth are not on

the same level. The Srimad-Bhagavatam hits on the target of the Absolute

Truth. The conception of God indicates the controller, whereas the

conception of the Absolute Truth indicates the summum bonum or the

ultimate source of all energies. There is no difference of opinion about

the personal feature of God as the controller because a controller cannot

be impersonal. Of course modern government, especially democratic

government, is impersonal to some extent, but ultimately the chief

executive head is a person, and the impersonal feature of government is

subordinate to the personal feature. So without a doubt whenever we refer

to control over others we must admit the existence of a personal feature.

Because there are different controllers for different managerial

positions, there may be many small gods. According to the Bhagavad-gita

any controller who has some specific extraordinary power is called a

vibhutimat sattva, or controller empowered by the Lord. There are many

vibhutimat sattvas, controllers or gods with various specific powers, but

the Absolute Truth is one without a second. This Srimad-Bhagavatam

designates the Absolute Truth or the summum bonum as the param satyam.

The author of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Vyasadeva, first offers his

respectful obeisances unto the param satyam (Absolute Truth), and because

the param satyam is the ultimate source of all energies, the param satyam

is the Supreme Person. The gods or the controllers are undoubtedly

persons, but the param satyam from whom the gods derive powers of control

is the Supreme Person. The Sanskrit word isvara (controller) conveys the

import of God, but the Supreme Person is called the paramesvara, or the

supreme isvara. The Supreme Person, or paramesvara, is the supreme

conscious personality, and because He does not derive any power from any

other source, He is supremely independent. In the Vedic literatures

Brahma is described as the supreme god or the head of all other gods like

Indra, Candra and Varuna, but the Srimad-Bhagavatam confirms that even

Brahma is not independent as far as his power and knowledge are

concerned. He received knowledge in the form of the Vedas from the

Supreme Person who resides within the heart of every living being. That

Supreme Personality knows everything directly and indirectly. Individual

infinitesimal persons, who are parts and parcels of the Supreme

personality, may know directly and indirectly everything about their

bodies or external features, but the Supreme Personality knows everything

about both His external and internal features.

The words janmady asya suggest that the source of all production,

maintenance or destruction is the same supreme conscious person. Even in

our present experience we can know that nothing is generated from inert

matter, but inert matter can be generated from the living entity. For

instance, by contact with the living entity, the material body develops

into a working machine. Men with a poor fund of knowledge mistake the

bodily machinery to be the living being, but the fact is that the living

being is the basis of the bodily machine. The bodily machine is useless

as soon as the living spark is away from it. Similarly, the original

source of all material energy is the Supreme Person. This fact is

expressed in all the Vedic literatures, and all the exponents of

spiritual science have accepted this truth. The living force is called

Brahman, and one of the greatest acaryas (teachers), namely Sripada

Sankaracarya, has preached that Brahman is substance whereas the cosmic

world is category. The original source of all energies is the living

force, and He is logically accepted as the Supreme Person. He is

therefore conscious of everything past, present and future, and also of

each and every corner of His manifestations, both material and spiritual.

An imperfect living being does not even know what is happening within his

own personal body. He eats his food but does not know how this food is

transformed into energy or how it sustains his body. When a living being

is perfect, he is aware of everything that happens, and since the Supreme

Person is all-perfect, it is quite natural that He knows everything in

all detail. Consequently the perfect personality is addressed in the

Srimad-Bhagavatam as Vasudeva, or one who lives everywhere in full

consciousness and in full possession of His complete energy. All of this

is clearly explained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, and the reader has ample

opportunity to study this critically.

In the modern age Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu preached the Srimad-

Bhagavatam by practical demonstration. It is easier to penetrate into the

topics of the Srimad-Bhagavatam through the medium of Sri Caitanya's

causeless mercy. Therefore a short sketch of His life and precepts is

inserted herein to help the reader understand the real merit of Srimad-


It is imperative that one learn the Srimad-Bhagavatam from the person

Bhagavatam. The person Bhagavatam is one whose very life is Srimad-

Bhagavatam in practice. Since Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Absolute

Personality of Godhead, He is both Bhagavan and Bhagavatam in person and

in sound. Therefore His process of approaching the Srimad-Bhagavatam is

practical for all people of the world. It was His wish that the Srimad-

Bhagavatam be preached in every nook and corner of the world by those who

happened to take their birth in India.

The Srimad-Bhagavatam is the science of Krsna, the Absolute

Personality of Godhead of whom we have preliminary information from the

text of the Bhagavad-gita. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said that anyone,

regardless of what he is, who is well versed in the science of Krsna

(Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita) can become an authorized preacher

or preceptor in the science of Krsna.

There is a need for the science of Krsna in human society for the good

of all suffering humanity of the world, and we simply request the leaders

of all nations to pick up this science of Krsna for their own good, for

the good of society and for the good of all the world's people.

A short sketch of the life and teachings of Lord Caitanya, the Preacher

of Srimad-Bhagavatam

Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the great apostle of love of God and the

father of the congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord,

advented Himself at Sridhama Mayapura, a quarter in the city of Navadvipa

in Bengal, on the Phalguni Purnima evening in the year 1407 Sakabda

(corresponding to February 1486 by the Christian calendar).

His father, Sri Jagannatha Misra, a learned brahmana from the district

of Sylhet, came to Navadvipa as a student because at that time Navadvipa

was considered to be the center of education and culture. He domiciled on

the banks of the Ganges after marrying Srimati Sacidevi, a daughter of

Srila Nilambara Cakravarti, the great learned scholar of Navadvipa.

Jagannatha Misra had a number of daughters by his wife, Srimati

Sacidevi, and most of them expired at an early age. Two surviving sons,

Sri Visvarupa and Visvambhara, became at last the object of their

paternal affection. The tenth and youngest son, who was named

Visvambhara, later became known as Nimai Pandita and then, after

accepting the renounced order of life, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited His transcendental activities

for forty-eight years and then disappeared in the year 1455 Sakabda at


For His first twenty-four years He remained at Navadvipa as a student

and householder. His first wife was Srimati Laksmipriya, who died at an

early age when the Lord was away from home. When He returned from East

Bengal He was requested by His mother to accept a second wife, and He

agreed. His second wife was Srimati Visnupriya Devi, who bore the

separation of the Lord throughout her life because the Lord took the

order of sannyasa at the age of twenty-four, when Srimati Visnupriya was

barely sixteen years old.

After taking sannyasa, the Lord made His headquarters at Jagannatha

Puri due to the request of His mother, Srimati Sacidevi. The Lord

remained for twenty-four years at Puri. For six years of this time He

traveled continuously all over India (and especially throughout southern

India) preaching the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Lord Caitanya not only preached the Srimad-Bhagavatam but propagated

the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita as well in the most practical way. In

the Bhagavad-gita Lord Sri Krsna is depicted as the Absolute Personality

of Godhead, and His last teachings in that great book of transcendental

knowledge instruct that one should give up all the modes of religious

activities and accept Him (Lord Sri Krsna) as the only worshipable Lord.

The Lord then assured that all His devotees would be protected from all

sorts of sinful acts and that for them there would be no cause for


Unfortunately, despite Lord Sri Krsna's direct order and the teachings

of the Bhagavad-gita, less intelligent people misunderstand Him to be

nothing but a great historical personality, and thus they cannot accept

Him as the original Personality of Godhead. Such men with a poor fund of

knowledge are misled by many nondevotees. Thus the teachings of the

Bhagavad-gita were misinterpreted even by great scholars. After the

disappearance of Lord Sri Krsna there were hundreds of commentaries on

the Bhagavad-gita by many erudite scholars, and almost every one of them

was motivated by self-interest.

Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the selfsame Lord Sri Krsna. This

time, however, He appeared as a great devotee of the Lord in order to

preach to the people in general, as well as to religionists and

philosophers, about the transcendental position of Sri Krsna, the

primeval Lord and the cause of all causes. The essence of His preaching

is that Lord Sri Krsna, who appeared at Vrajabhumi (Vrndavana) as the son

of the King of Vraja (Nanda Maharaja), is the Supreme Personality of

Godhead and is therefore worshipable by all. Vrndavana-dhama is

nondifferent from the Lord because the name, fame, form and place where

the Lord manifests Himself are all identical with the Lord as absolute

knowledge. Therefore Vrndavana-dhama is as worshipable as the Lord. The

highest form of transcendental worship of the Lord was exhibited by the

damsels of Vrajabhumi in the form of pure affection for the Lord, and

Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommends this process as the most

excellent mode of worship. He accepts the Srimad-Bhagavata Purana as the

spotless literature for understanding the Lord, and He preaches that the

ultimate goal of life for all human beings is to attain the stage of

prema, or love of God.

Many devotees of Lord Caitanya like Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura, Sri

Locana dasa Thakura, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, Sri Kavikarnapura,

Sri Prabodhananda Sarasvati, Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Sri

Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Jiva Gosvami, Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami,

Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami and in this latter age within two hundred

years, Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti, Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana, Sri

Syamananda Gosvami, Sri Narottama dasa Thakura, Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura

and at last Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura (our spiritual master)

and many other great and renowned scholars and devotees of the Lord have

prepared voluminous books and literatures on the life and precepts of the

Lord. Such literatures are all based on the sastras like the Vedas,

Puranas, Upanisads, Ramayana, Mahabharata and other histories and

authentic literatures approved by the recognized acaryas. They are unique

in composition and unrivaled in presentation, and they are full of

transcendental knowledge. Unfortunately the people of the world are still

ignorant of them, but when these literatures, which are mostly in

Sanskrit and Bengali, come to light the world and when they are presented

before thinking people, then India's glory and the message of love will

overflood this morbid world, which is vainly searching after peace and

prosperity by various illusory methods not approved by the acaryas in the

chain of disciplic succession.

The readers of this small description of the life and precepts of Lord

Caitanya will profit much to go through the books of Srila Vrndavana dasa

Thakura (Sri Caitanya-bhagavata) and Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami

(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta). The early life of the Lord is most

fascinatingly expressed by the author of Caitanya-bhagavata, and as far

as the teachings are concerned, they are more vividly explained in the

Caitanya-caritamrta. Now they are available to the English-speaking

public in our Teachings of Lord Caitanya.

The Lord's early life was recorded by one of His chief devotees and

contemporaries, namely Srila Murari Gupta, a medical practitioner of that

time, and the latter part of the life of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was

recorded by His private secretary Sri Damodara Gosvami, or Srila Svarupa

Damodara, who was practically a constant companion of the Lord at Puri.

These two devotees recorded practically all the incidents of the Lord's

activities, and later on all the books dealing with the Lord, which are

above mentioned, were composed on the basis of kadacas (notebooks) by

Srila Damodara Gosvami and Murari Gupta.

So the Lord advented Himself on the Phalguni Purnima evening of 1407

Sakabda, and it was by the will of the Lord that there was a lunar

eclipse on that evening. During the hours of eclipse it was the custom of

the Hindu public to take bath in the Ganges or any other sacred river and

chant the Vedic mantras for purification. When Lord Caitanya was born

during the lunar eclipse, all India was roaring with the holy sound of

Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama,

Rama Rama, Hare Hare. These sixteen names of the Lord are mentioned in

many Puranas and Upanisads, and they are described as the Taraka-brahma

nama of this age. It is recommended in the sastras that offenseless

chanting of these holy names of the Lord can deliver a fallen soul from

material bondage. There are innumerable names of the Lord both in India

and outside, and all of them are equally good because all of them

indicate the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But because these sixteen

are especially recommended for this age, people should take advantage of

them and follow the path of the great acaryas who attained success by

practicing the rules of the sastras (revealed scriptures).

The simultaneous occurrence of the Lord's appearance and the lunar

eclipse indicated the distinctive mission of the Lord. This mission was

to preach the importance of chanting the holy names of the Lord in this

age of Kali (quarrel). In this present age quarrels take place even over

trifles, and therefore the sastras have recommended for this age a common

platform for realization, namely chanting the holy names of the Lord.

People can hold meetings to glorify the Lord in their respective

languages and with melodious songs, and if such performances are executed

in an offenseless manner, it is certain that the participants will

gradually attain spiritual perfection without having to undergo more

rigorous methods. At such meetings everyone, the learned and the foolish,

the rich and the poor, the Hindus and the Muslims, the Englishmen and the

Indians, and the candalas and the brahmanas, can all hear the

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