Friday, December 30, 2005

The Dangers of Reading Srimad Bhagavatam

Picture: Vyasa compiles the Bhagavatam

Below is an excerpt from an article we are working on for our next printed magazine. The diacritics are given in Harvard Kyoto style:

ZaGke nItAH sapadi daZama-skandha-padyAvalInAM
varNAH karNAdhvani pathi katAmAnupurvyAd bhavadbhiH
haMho dimbhAH parama-ZubhadAn hanta dharmArtha-kAmAn
yad garhantaH sukhamayam amI mokSam apy AkSipanti

You foolish children! It seems that you have gone and let the syllables of the tenth canto’s verses enter the pathways of your ears. Why else would you show such horror for those most auspicious goals of duty, success and pleasure, and deride that supremely blissful state of liberation? (Bhakti-rasAmRta-sindhu 1.2.240)


Srila Jiva Goswami comments that the above verse praises the BhAgavatam by using what is known as a “vyAja-stuti”, where one pretends to be criticizing something, but is in fact praising it. A literary style is used here known as: aprastuta praZaMsA — or a figure of speech which, by describing what is not the subject matter (aprastuta) conveys a reference to the intended subject. When irrelevant or incidental things are said in connection with any relevant topic, it is called aprastuta praZaMsA alaGkAra — a rhetorical figure of speech.

The previous verse (1.2.239 of Bhakti-rasAmRta-sindhu) instructs that if one wants to enjoy mundane relationships in this world they should not see Lord Govinda on the banks of the Yamuna at Kesi-ghat. The real intention of the verse is not to dissuade one from seeing Krishna; its purpose is to glorify Krishna’s form and the far greater happiness obtained by seeing it. In a similar way, text 240 describes the first three goals of life as “most auspicious” and liberation as “supremely blissful”, while it addresses one who reads or listens to the tenth canto as being “a child” or “unintelligent”. However, the real point is to indicate the supreme importance of reading or listening to the tenth canto of the BhAgavatam. Thus in both of these verses, the seeming criticisms actually offer a kind of ironical praise.

[The mag article will also include excerpts from the commentaries of Mukunda Das Goswami (a famous disciple of Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami) and Srila Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur. -- MD]

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