The Sanskrit words abhijña and svarāṭ, appearing in the first verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, are significant. These two words distinguish the Lord from all other living entities. No living entity other than the supreme being, the Absolute Personality of Godhead is either abhijña or svarāṭ—that is, none of them are either fully cognizant or fully independent. Everyone has to learn from his superior about knowledge; even Brahmā, who is the first living being within this material world, has to meditate upon the Supreme Lord and take help from Him in order to create. If Brahmā or the sun cannot create anything without acquiring knowledge from a superior, then what is the situation with the material scientists who are fully dependent on so many things? Modern scientists like Jagadisha Chandra Bose, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, etc., may be very boastful of their respective creative energies, but all were dependent on the Supreme Lord for so many things. After all, the highly intelligent brains of these gentlemen were certainly not products of any human being. The brain is created by another agent. If brains like those of Einstein or Newton could have been manufactured by a human being, then mankind would produce many such brains instead of eulogizing their passing. If such scientists cannot even manufacture such brains, what to speak of foolish atheists who defy the authority of the Lord?
Even the Māyāvādī impersonalists who flatter themselves and believe that they have become the Lord themselves are not abhijñaḥ or svarāṭ, fully cognizant or fully independent. The Māyāvādī monists undergo a severe process of austerity and penance to acquire knowledge of becoming one with the Lord, but ultimately they become dependent on some rich follower who supplies them with requisite paraphernalia to construct great monasteries and temples. Atheists like Rāvaṇa and Hiraṇyakaśipu had to undergo severe penances before they could flout the authority of the Lord, but ultimately they were so helpless that they could not save themselves when the Lord appeared before them as cruel death. This is also applicable to the modern atheists who dare flout the authority of the Lord. Such atheists will be dealt the same awards as were given in the past to great atheists like Rāvaṇa and Hiraṇyakaśipu. History repeats itself, and what was occurring in the past will recur again and again when there is necessity. Whenever the authority of the Lord is neglected, the penalties dealt by the laws of nature are always there.
That the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, is all—perfect is confirmed in all śruti-mantras. It is said in the śruti-mantras that the all-perfect Lord glanced over matter and thus created all living beings. The living beings are parts and parcels of the Lord, and He impregnates the vast material nature with the seeds of the spiritual sparks. Thus the creative energies are set in motion for so many wonderful creations. When one atheist argued that God is no more expert than the manufacturer of a subtle watch which has so many delicate parts, we had to reply that God is a greater mechanic than the watchmaker because He simply creates one machine in male and female forms, and the male and female forms go on producing innumerable similar machines without the further attention of God. If a man could manufacture a set of machines capable of producing other machines without the man giving the matter any further attention, then a man could be said to equal the intelligence of God. Of course this is not possible. Each and every one of man's imperfect machines has to be handled individually by a mechanic. Because no one can be equal in intelligence to God, another name for God is asamaurdhva, which indicates that no one is equal to or greater than Him. Everyone has his intellectual equal and superior, and no one can claim that he has neither. However, this is not the case with the Lord. The śruti-mantras indicate that before the creation of the material universe, the Lord was existing, and He was master of everyone. It was the Lord who instructed Brahmā in Vedic knowledge. That Personality of Godhead has to be obeyed in all respects. Anyone who wants to become freed from material entanglement must surrender unto Him, and this is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā.
Unless one surrenders unto the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead, it is certain that one will be bewildered, even if he happens to be a great mind. Only when great minds surrender unto the lotus feet of Vāsudeva and know fully that Vāsudeva is the cause of all causes, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (7.19), can they become mahātmās, or truly broad-minded. However, such broad-minded mahātmās are rarely seen. Only they, however, can understand the Supreme Lord as the Absolute Personality of Godhead, the primeval cause of all creations. He is parama, ultimate truth, because all other truths are dependent on Him. Because He is the source of all knowledge, He is omniscient; there is no illusion for Him as there is for the relative knower.
Some Māyāvādī scholars argue that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was not compiled by Śrīla Vyāsadeva, and some suggest that the book is a modern creation written by someone named Vopadeva. In order to refute this meaningless argument, Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī points out that there are many of the oldest purāṇas which make reference to the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The first śloka, or verse, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam begins with the Gāyatrī mantra, and there is reference to this in the Matsya Purāṇa (the oldest Purāṇa). With reference to the context of Gāyatrī mantra in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, in this Purāṇa it is said, "That which contains many narrations of spiritual instruction, begins with the Gāyatrī mantra and also contains the history of Vṛtrāsura, is known as the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Whoever makes a gift of this great work on a full moon day attains to the highest perfection of life and goes back to Godhead. There is also reference to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in other Purāṇas which even indicate that the work consists of Twelve Cantos and eighteen thousand ślokas. In Padma Purāṇa also there is reference about the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam during a conversation between Gautama and Mahārāja Ambarīṣa. Mahārāja Ambarīṣa was advised to read Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regularly if he at all desired liberation from material bondage. Under these circumstances, there is no doubt regarding the authority of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. For the past five hundred years many scholars have made elaborate commentaries upon Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and have displayed unique scholarship. The serious student will do well to attempt to go through them in order to more happily relish the transcendental messages of the Bhāgavatam.