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The Bhagavata Purana (Sanskrit: भागवतपुराण; also known as the Srimad Bhagavatam), is one of Hinduism’s eighteen great Puranas. 

The Bhagavata Purana, like other Puranas, discourses upon a wide range of topics including cosmology, astronomy, pedigree, geography, legend, music, dance, yoga, and culture. 

As it goes, the forces of evil, asuras (demons) have defeated the kind devtas (deities) and then ruled the universe. Truth re-emerged as Bhagwan Krishna– first made peace with the demons, got their recognition, and then creatively defeated them, bringing back hope, justice, freedom, and happiness.

This Purana is also known as a ‘saptah–vachan-parayan’(a–weeklong-recital-parayan) 

  • The date of composition is probably between the eighth and the tenth century CE, but may be as early as the 6th century CE. 
  • The origin of Shrimad Bhagwad is even much older. 

i. According o Skandha one of Shrimad Bhagwata, God Narayan himself narrated its content to Brahma. 

ii. Brahma narrated it to Devarishi Narada;

iii. Narada preached it to Badrayan Vyas. 

iv.  Vyas brought it into revered scriptural form and handed it to his son Shuk Dev. 

Contents of Bhagavata Purana

The Bhagavata Purana is the conversation between King Parikshi (grandson of Arjuna) and Saint Shukadeva Goswami. It is elaborately narrated in the skandha 1 and 2 of Shrimad Bhagwat. 


Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam With Three Commentaries- Set of 12 Skandhas (An Old and Rare Book)

  • Narrated in story form it is simple in style, at the same time lyrical and picturesque.
  • The text consists of twelve skandhas totaling 332 chapters (adhyayas) and 18,000 verses( shlokas).
  • The first nine skandhas are mostly associated with Vishnu and bhakti-yoga, wherein various ancient tales of Bhagavata (devotees of Vishnu) are enumerated.
  • These include Prahlad, Gajendra, Dhruva, Bali, Uddhava, Vidura, Maitreya, Parikshit, Priyavrata, Akrura, Ajamila, and others.  
  • While Bhakti Yoga is the prominent teaching, various paths show a creation that also includes Samkhya, Yoga, Vedanta, and Advaita Vedanta.
  • It is the tenth skandha that unfolds the largest chapter and the masterpiece poetic work of the text, through and on Krishna. 

Skandha 1


Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam With Three Commentaries- Skandha I (An Old and Rare Book)

  • The first skandh introduces the Bhagavata’s creation, with a discourse between sages Vyasa and Narada.
  • The Bhagavata describes itself as a recounting of events by Sauti (Suta) to Shaunaka and other sages assembled in the Naimisharanya Forest.
  • The sage Narada advises Vyasa that his restlessness was because he had not yet depicted his highest goal of knowledge.
  • Inspired by Narada Muni, (chapter 18), Vyasa thereafter wrote the entire Purana (twelve books/skandhas) and taught to his teenage son Shukadeva.  
  • Shuka entered sannyasa and renounced the world as a child and meet King Parikshit, who was about to die on the bank of the river Ganges.
  • The Bhagavata Purana is the conversation between King Parikshit (grandson of Arjuna) and Saint Sukadeva Goswami.
  • King Parikshit was cursed by the son of rishi Shamik that he would die of a snake(Taksakh)’s bite within seven days.

So Parikshit decided to give up his kingly duties and search for life.

As he was mentally preparing for his approaching death, he met the great saint Sukadeva Goswami. 

Parikshit asked Shuka’s advice to prepare for death.

Shuka imparted knowledge to King Parikshit.

The conversation between the two continued uninterrupted for seven days.

During this period the king did not eat, drink or sleep.

The saint explained to him Bhakti Yoga with an emphasis on achieving moksha through devotion to the supreme Lord Vishnu incarnated as Krishna. 

Skandha 2

 

Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam With Three Commentaries- Skandha II (An Old and Rare Book)

  • Shuka told Parikshit that when one was in a life-threatening condition and expecting death, one should become free of the fear of death by letting go of all attachments to likes and dislikes, home and family.

In response to Parikshit's questions, Shuka described the creation and the avatars of Vishnu.

  • Concluding with a description of the ten characteristics of a Purana.
  • After hearing the recital for seven days, Parikshit died.
  • Skandha 2 also presents a theory of cosmology, a theory on human anatomy.

How human body has all the Vedic gods in it (Sattvic),

ten sensory organs and capacities (Rajasic) and

five material elements (Tamasic).

  • A definition of Dharma and pleasant fruits of a moral-ethical life are also listed in Chapters 7 and 8 of skandha 2. 
  • The Varaha story in skandha 2 is further linked to the legends of Demon king Hiranyaksha. 
  • Stories about Ravana, Kumbhakarna, Sisupala, and Dantavakra are mentioned elsewhere in the Puranas.
  • The vast conflict between the two - evil and good, spins through the chapters in twelve skandhas of the Bhagavata Purana.
  • However, the underlying inner- message to the devotees of Vishnu, is that " Don’t look at others as enemies, instead try to appreciate others, resist the improper spiritually and that has the power to transform".

Skandha 3


Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam With Three Commentaries- Skandha III (An Old and Rare Book)

Briefs about Vidura's spiritual teachings on pilgrimage to various holy places.

Near the Yamuna River Vidura meets Uddhava,

Who gives him the news of the Kurukshetra War and about Krishna's death in chapter 1 of this skandh.

This is described in greater detail in chapters 30 and 31 of skandh 11 as well.

  • The story of Jaya and Vijaya, who had unintentionally infuriated the four child sages, is another legend.
  • The birth of Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha is told, including the latter's death at the hands of Varaha, the boar avatar of Vishnu.
  • Kapila is described as an avatar of Vishnu, born into the house of Kardam rishi to share the knowledge of self-realization and liberation. Kapila’s Samkhya teachings help lead her mother Devahuti to final liberation.
  • Chapter 11 of this skandh deals with the calculations of time.

Skandha 4


Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam With Three Commentaries- Skandha IV

  •  The story of Daksha and his mahaYagna is told,

o In which he outraged Shiva in front of Dakshayani—his daughter and Shiva's consort, resulting in Dakshayani's self-immolation, known as ‘Sati’ thereafter.

  • The legend of Dhruva's penance and devotion to Vishnu is also recounted.

Skandha 5


Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam With Three Commentaries- Skandha V

  •  This is the story of

Manu's sons and their children led eventually to Bharat,

  • And a description of

o The world,

o The sun and its course,

o The moon,

o The planets,

o The regions below the earth( Pataal lok) and

o The twenty-eight hells( Narakas).

 Skandha 6


Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam With Three Commentaries- Skandha VI (An Old and Rare Book)

  •  It includes the story of Ajāmila, who reached the supreme abode Baikuntha simply by voicing the name "Na-Ra-Ya-Na" on his deathbed.

Although he was only intending to call his son, named Narayan. This being coinciding with the holy name of Bhagwan Vishnu.

  • Skandha 6 ends with the birth of the Maruts.

Skandha 7


Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam With Three Commentaries- Skandha VII

  • Dedicated to the well-known story of Bhakta Prahlada and the death of his father, demon king Hiranyakaśipu at the hands of Narasimha, an avatar of Vishnu.

This story of Prahlada has been widely told in the Vishnu Purana and is the form that is most commonly told in Hinduism.

Prahlada has been considered a great devotee of Vishnu and describes the process of bhakti toward Bhagavan.

The horrible behavior of Hiranyakasipu in this skandha, against his son Prahalad for his Bhakti towards Vishnu,  is not simply because of demonic Tamasic Guṇa but also because Vishnu in his Varaha avatar had killed his brother Hiranyaksha in skandha 2.

Hiranyakasipu turned resentful against Vishnu ever since then.

Skandha 8

  • The description of the six past Manvantaras (eras or periods of Manu) and the seven future eras of Manu includes several stories.
  • Legend of Vishnu's Vamana (brownie- ‘bauna’) avatar defeating king Bali.
  • The tale of churning the ocean of milk with the help of the Kurma avatar of Vishnu is also recounted.


Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam With Three Commentaries

Skandha 9

  • The current age of Manu is portrayed at length.
  • The saga of the Sun Dynasty founded by Ikshvaku and
  • The Lunar Dynasty of Pururavas is described.
  • The dynasties of—Panchala, Magadha, Kuru, Anu, Druhyus, Turvasu, and others have also been depicted at length.
  • Also describes the Yadu dynasty and the birth-Avtar of Krishna to Devki-Vasudev in a Mathura jail.


Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam With Three Commentaries (An Old and Rare Book)

Lord Krishna in Bhagavat Purana (skandha 10 and 11)

  • Skandhas 10 and 11 are solely dedicated to Krishna, not as the Jagat – Guru( teacher and diplomat) as shown in the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita, but as a young, lovely, naughty, heroic lad brought up by his cowherd parents, Nand - Yasoda, in a small village situated on the banks of the Yamuna. 
  • The tenth skandha, with about 4,000 verses, is by far the lengthiest, taking up almost one-quarter of the entire Bhagavata. is most popular. 
  • There are two flavors of Krishna stories, one of a warrior prince and another of a romantic lover.  It deals in detail with the story of Krishna's appearance and pastimes in Vrindavan.


Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam With Three Commentaries- Skandha X (An Old and Rare Book)

Narrating Krishna’s most enduring Lilas ( sacred plays, acts, myths, and stories )-- the naughty child who steals butter;

The God who holds the entire cosmos within himself; the hero, brave boy who protected villagers by eliminating numerous demons,

Shelded villagers by lifting an entire mountain upon his little finger at the time of torrential rain for many days;

The cowherd who is the divine and intimate love of all the gopies, making them leave all their duties to follow him. 

The intense devotion of the Gopies towards Lord Krishna expressed through love is later described as Bhakti Yoga.

When Krishna left for Mathura on a mission, the Gopies became grief-stricken.

  • The Skandha 11 describes how the Yadava dynasty, after a long period of peace and prosperity, fell to its devastation.


Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam of Maharsi Vedavyasa (XI Skandha with Three Ancient Sanskrit Commentaries)

Numerous causes - negligence, extravagances, irresponsibilities, and not following and protecting dharma within the society, in-fighting between good people- ultimately led to the destruction of the Yadava dynasty.

The end came through a senseless but brutal civil war, killing all the Yadavas along with Krishna.

The last chapter describes Krishna's ascent to Baikuntha.

  • Skandh eleven also includes the so-called Uddhava Gita, the last discourse of Krishna which he addressed to Uddhava. 

  Skandha 12


Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam With Three Commentaries- Skandha XII

The last skandha of the text includes various predictions, such as the future rulers of Magadha,

The evils of Kali Yuga and the end of KaliYuga with the destruction of the world (pralaya) to giving birth to a new Yuga.

The main story ends with the death of King Parikshit.

  • The skandha includes a summary of the entire Bhagavata, and a standard description of the ten characteristics of a Purana that is found in every Puranic text. 

INFLUENCE  OF BHAGAVATA  PURANA:

  • This pacifies some of the curiosities about one’s life –

o What is life? what is a human being's role in life? what is meant by the cycle of birth and death? 

o What is the relationship between God and man? 

  • The Bhagavata adds the fifth element of devotion (or divine service) further to the well-known four aspects of life i.e. 

Dharma (morality), Artha (acquiring wealth), Kama (pleasure) and Moksha (liberation or salvation).

  • The impact of Bhagavata on Indian life over the ages has been immense. 

o Important Hindu literature, 

o Inspiration for countless works of literature, song, drama, painting, sculpture, folk theatres and crafts. 

Stories of Lord Krishna from childhood to the Mahabharat battle figure in one or another form in temple structures.

Kaliya Mardan, gopika- vastra- Haran, Gajendra- moksha, Govardhan- Dharan, etc are only a few events that inspired the artists and craftsmen. 

Dance forms including Bharatnatyam, Manipuri, Kathakali, Odissi, etc have themes from Bhagwat Purana. 

  • The Bhagavata Purana made the teachings of the Vedas accessible to all people irrespective of caste and illuminate how to live a pious (dharmic), happy, and fulfilled life through stories of detachment, eliminating evil.
  • Shrimad Bhagwad is equally honored by the learned ones, devotees, sages, and philosophic researchers.

Thus Shrimad Bhagwat, Created by Maharshi Badrayan or Ved Vyas is a delicious and relishing fruit of Vedas from the lips of Shukracharya. It is soaked with blissful nectar of many Lilas of Krishna (Vishnu). It is an immortal heritage of the world's ancient literature leading to bathing in Bhakti Yoga to attain union with the divine.

The greatest feature of Bhagwad is that it illustrates the mutual but eternal relationship between the Jivatma (Atman-soul) and Parmatma (the supreme spirit).

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