His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada appeared in this world in
1896 in Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta
Sarasvati Gosvami, in Calcutta in 1922. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent
religious scholar and the founder of sixty-four Gaudiya Mathas (Vedic institutes), liked
this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teaching Vedic
knowledge. Srila Prabhupada became his student, and eleven years later (1933) at
Allahabad he became his formally initiated disciple.
At their first meeting, in 1922, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura requested
Srila Prabhupada to broadcast Vedic knowledge through the English language. In the
years that followed, Srila Prabhupada wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita,
assisted the Gaudiya Matha in its work and, in 1944, without assistance, started an
English fortnightly magazine, edited it, typed the manuscripts and checked the galley
proofs. He even distributed the individual copies freely and struggled to maintain the
publication. Once begun, the magazine never stopped; it is now being continued by his
disciples in the West.
Recognizing Srila Prabhupada’s philosophical learning and devotion, the Gaudiya
Vaisnava Society honored him in 1947 with the title "Bhaktivedanta." In 1950, at the
age of fifty-four, Srila Prabhupada retired from married life, and four years later he
adopted the vanaprastha (retired) order to devote more time to his studies and writing.
Srila Prabhupada traveled to the holy city of Vrndavana, where he lived in very
humble circumstances in the historic medieval temple of Radha-Damodara. There he
engaged for several vears in deep study and writing. He accepted the renounced order
of life (sannyasa) in 1959. At Radha-Damodara, Srila Prabhupada began work on his
life’s masterpiece: a multivolume translation and commentary on the eighteen thousand
verse Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana). He also wrote Easy Journey to Other
After publishing three volumes of the Bhdgavatam, Srila Prabhupada came to the
United States, in 1965, to fulfill the mission of his spiritual master. Since that time, His
Divine Grace has written over forty volumes of authoritative translations,
commentaries and summary studies of the philosophical and religious classics of India.
In 1965, when he first arrived by freighter in New York City, Srila Prabhupada was
practically penniless. It was after almost a year of great difficulty that he establish the
International Society for Krishna Consciousness in July of 1966. Under his careful
guidance, the Society has grown within a decade to a worldwide confederation of
almost one hundred Gsramas, schools, temples, institutes and farm communities.
In 1968, Srila Prabhupada created New Vrndavana, an experimental Vedic
community in the hills of West Virginia. Inspired by the success of New Vrndavana,
now a thriving farm community of more than one thousand acres, his students have
since founded several similar communities in the United States and abroad.
In 1972, His Divine Grace introduced the Vedic system of primary and secondary
education in the West by founding the Gurukula school in Dallas, Texas. The school
began with 3 children in 1972, and by the beginning of 1975 the enrollment had grown
Srila Prabhupada also inspired the construction of a large international center at
Sridhama Mayapur in West Bengal, India, which is also the site for a planned institute
of Vedic Studies. A similar project is the magnificent Krsna-Balarama Temple and
International Guest House in Vrndavana, India. These are centers where Westerners
can live to gain firsthand experience of Vedic culture.
Srila Prabhupada’s most significant contribution, however, is his books. Highly
respected by the academic community for their authoritiveness, depth and clarity, they
are used as standard textbooks in numerous college courses. His writings have been
translated into eleven languages. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, established in 1972
exclusively to publish the works of His Divine Grace, has thus become the world’s
largest publisher of books in the field of Indian religion and philosophy. Its latest
project is the publishing of Srila Prabhupada’s most recent work: a seventeen-volume
translation and commentary—completed by Srila Prabhupada in only eighteen
months—on the Bengali religious classic Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.
In the past ten years, in spite of his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada has circled the
globe twelve times on lecture tours that have taken him to six continents. In spite of
such a vigorous schedule, Srila Prabhupada continues to write prolifically. His writings
constitute a veritable library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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.
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
Stimad-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
coward 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 thar che reader will be sufficiently educated to defend himself from the on-
slaught of atheists. Over and above this, the reader will be able to convert others to
accepting God as a concrete principle.
Stimad-Bhagavatam begins with the definition of the ultimate source. It is a bonafide commentary on the Vedanta-sitera by the same author, Srila Vyasadeva, andgradually 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 Sti Krsna.One will be unable co capture the effects of the Tenth Canto without going
through the first nine cantos. The book is complete in twelve cantos, each
independent, bur it is good for all to read them in small installments one after
I must admit my frailties in presenting Srimad-Bhagavatam, but still Lam hopeful of
its good reception by the thinkers and leaders of society on the strength of the following statement of Srimad-Bhagavatam
"On the other hand, that literature which is full with descriptions of the transcen-
dental 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 com-
posed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest."
"This Bhagavata Purana is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the
departure of Lord Krsna to His own abade, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc.
Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the age of
Kali shall get light from this Purana." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 13.43)
The timeless wisdom of India is expressed in the Vedas, ancient Sanskrit texts char
touch upon all fields of human knowledge. Originally preserved through oral tradition,
the Vedas were first put into writing five thousand years ago by Srila Vyasadeva, che
"literary incarnation of God." After compiling the Vedas, Vyisadeva set forth their
essence in the aphorisms known as Vedanta-sittras. Srimad-Bhdgavatam (Bhagavata
Purana) is Vyasadeva’s commentary on his own Vedanta-sitras. It was written in the
maturity of his spiritual life under the direction of Narada Muni, his spiritual master.
Referred to as "the ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic literature," Srimad-Bhagavatam is
the most complete and authoritative exposition of Vedic knowledge.
After compiling the Bhagavatam, Vyasa imparted the synopsis of it to his son, the
sage Sukadeva Goswami. Sukadeva Gosvami subsequently recited the entire
Bhagavatam to Maharaja Pariksit in an assembly of learned saints on the bank of the
Ganges at Hastinapura (now Delhi). Maharaja Pariksit was the emperor of the world
and was a great rdjarsi (saintly king). Having received a warning that he would die
within a week, he renounced his entire kingdom and retired to the bank of the
Ganges to fast until death and receive spiritual enlightenment. The Bhagavacam
begins with Emperor Pariksit's sober inquiry to Sukadeva Gosvami:
"You are the spiritual master of great saints and devotees.
Tam therefore begging you to show the way of perfection for
all persons, and especially for one who is about to die. Please
let me know what a man should hear, chant, remember and
worship, and also what he should not do. Please explain all
this to me."
Sukadeva Gosvami's answer to this question, and numerous other questions posed
by Maharaja Pariksit, concerning everything from the nature of the self to the origin
of the universe, held the assembled sages in rapt attention continuously for the seven
days leading up to the king's death. The sage Sita Gosvami, who was present in that
assembly when Sukadeva Gosvami first recited Srimad-Bhagavatam, later repeated the
Bhdgavatam before a yathering of sages in the forest of Naimisdranya. Those sages,
concerned about the spiritual welfare of the people in general, had gathered to perform a long, continuous chain of sacrifices to counteract the degrading influence of
the incipient age of Kali. In response to the sages’ request thar he speak the essence of
Vedic wisdom, Sita Gosvami repeated from memory the entire eighteen thousand
verses of Srimad-Bhagavatam, as spoken by Sukadeva Gasvami to Maharaja Pariksie.
The reader of Srimad-Bhagavatam hears Sita Gosvami relate the questions of
Maharaja Pariksit and the answers of Sukadeva Gosvami. Also, Sita Gosvami sometimes responds directly to the questions put by Saunaka Rsi, the spokesman for the
sages gathered at Naimisaranya. One therefore simultaneously hears two dialogues:
one between Maharaja Pariksit and Sukadeva Gosvami on the bank of the Ganges,
and another at Naimisaranya between Sita Gosvami and the sages at Naimisaranya
forest, headed by Saunaka Rsi. Furthermore, while instructing King Pariksit, Sukadeva
Gosvami often relates historical episodes and gives accounts of lengthy philosophical
discussions between such great souls as the saint Maitreya and his disciple Vidura.
Wich this understanding of the history of the Bhdgavatam, the reader will easily be
able to follow its intermingling of dialogues and events from various sources. Since
philosophical wisdom, not chronological order, is most important in the text, one
need only be attentive to the subject matter of Srimad-Bhagavatam to appreciate fully
its profound message.
The translator of this edition compares the Bhdgavaram to sugar candy— wherever
you taste it, you will find it equally sweet and relishable. Therefore, to taste the sweetness of the Bhdgavatam, one may begin by reading any of its volumes. After such an
introductory taste, however, the serious reader is best advised to go back to-the First
Canto and then proceed through the Bhagavatam, canto after canto, in its natural
This edition of the Bhagavatam is the first complete English translation of this important text with an elaborate commentary, and it is the first widely available to the
English-speaking public. The first twelve volumes (Canto One through Canto Ten,
Part One) are the product of the scholarly and devotional effort of His Divine Grace
A-C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-dedrya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and the world’s most distinguished ceacher of Indian
religious and philosophical thought. His consummate Sanskrit scholarship and intimate familiarity with Vedic culture and thought as well as the modern way of life
combine to reveal to the West a magnificent exposition of this important classic.
Readers will find this work of value for many reasons. For those interested in the
classical roots of Indian civilization, it serves as a vast reservoir of detailed infor-
mation on virtually every one of its aspects. For students of comparative philosophy
and religion, the Bhagavatam offers a penetrating view into the meaning of India’s
profound spiritual heritage. To sociologists and anthropologists, the Bhagavatam
reveals the practical workings of a peaceful and scientifically organized Vedic culture,
whose institutions were integrated on the basis of a highly developed spiritual world
Students of literature will discover the Bhdgawatam to be a master piece of majestic
poetry. For students of psychology, the text provides important perspectives on the
nature of consciousness, human behavior and the philosophical study of identity.
Finally, to those secking spiritual insight, the Bhagavatam offers simple and practical
guidance for attainment of the highest self-knowledge and realization of the Absolute
Truth. The entire multivolume text, presented by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust,
promises to occupy a significant place in the intellectual, cultural and spiritual life of
modern man for a long time to come.
The conception of God and the conception of Absolute Truth are not on the same
level. The Srimad-Bhagavatam hits on the target of che Absolute Truth. The conception of God indicates the controller, whereas the conception of the Absolute Truth indicates the semmum boniwn or che 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 vibhutimar 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
The author of Stimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Vyasadeva, first affers his respectful obeisances unto the pararh satyam (Absolute Truth), and because the pararh satyam is the
ultimate source of all energies, the parati 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, bur che Supreme Person is called the paramesvara, or the
supreme fsvara. 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 fike Indra, Candta and Varuna, but the Stimad-
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 infiniresimal 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 janmdady 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 macter can be generated from che living entity. For instance, by contact with the living entiry, 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 dcdryas (teachers), namely Sripida Sankaracarya, has preached that
Brahman is substance whereas che 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-perfecr, 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 co study this critically.
In the modern age Lord Sti 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 Svimad-Bhagavatam.
It is imperative chat one learn the Srimad-Bhdgavatam from the person
Bhagavaram. The person Bhagavatam is one whose very life is Srimad-Bhagavatam in
practice. Since Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the Absolute Personality of Godhead, He
is both Bhagavan and Bhdgavatam 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-Bhdgavatam is the science of Krsna, the Absolute Personality of Godhead of whom we have preliminary information from the text of the Bhagavad-gitd.
Sti Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said that anyone, regardless of what he is, who is well
versed in the science of Krsna (Srimad-Bhdgavatam 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 suffer-
ing 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.
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