First of all, let me offer my humble, respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master, His Divine Grace Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda. Sometime in the year 1935 when His Divine Grace was staying at Rādhā-kuṇḍa, I went to see him from Bombay. At that time, he gave me many important instructions in regard to constructing temples and publishing books. He personally told me that publishing books is more important than constructing temples. Of course, those same instructions remained within my mind for many years. In 1944 I began publishing my Back to Godhead, and when I retired from family life in 1958 I began publishing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in Delhi. When three parts of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam had been published in India, I then started for the United States of America on the thirteenth of August, 1965.
I am continuously trying to publish books, as suggested by my spiritual master. Now, in this year, 1976, I have completed the Seventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and a summary of the Tenth Canto has already been published as Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Still, the Eighth Canto, Ninth Canto, Tenth Canto, Eleventh Canto and Twelfth Canto are yet to be published. On this occasion, therefore, I am praying to my spiritual master to give me strength to finish this work. I am neither a great scholar nor a great devotee; I am simply a humble servant of my spiritual master, and to the best of my ability I am trying to please him by publishing these books, with the cooperation of my disciples in America. Fortunately, scholars all over the world are appreciating these publications. Let us cooperatively publish more and more volumes of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam just to please His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.
This First Chapter of the Eighth Canto may be summarized as a description of four Manus, namely Svāyambhuva, Svārociṣa, Uttama and Tāmasa. After hearing descriptions of the dynasty of Svāyambhuva Manu until the end of the Seventh Canto, Mahārāja Parīkṣit desired to know about other Manus. He desired to understand how the Supreme Personality of Godhead descends-not only in the past but at the present and in the future-and how He acts in various pastimes as Manu. Since Parīkṣit Mahārāja was eager to know all this, Śukadeva Gosvāmī gradually described all the Manus, beginning with the six Manus who had appeared in the past.
The first Manu was Svāyambhuva Manu. His two daughters, namely Ākūti and Devahūti, gave birth to two sons, named Yajña and Kapila respectively. Because Śukadeva Gosvāmī had already described the activities of Kapila in the Third Canto, he now described the activities of Yajña. The original Manu, along with his wife, Śatarūpā, went into the forest to practice austerities on the bank of the River Sunandā. They practiced austerities for a hundred years, and then Manu, in a trance, formed prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Rākṣasas and asuras then attempted to devour him, but Yajña, accompanied by his sons the Yāmas and the demigods, killed them. Then Yajña personally took the post of Indra, the King of the heavenly planets.
The second Manu, whose name was Svārociṣa, was the son of Agni, and His sons were headed by Dyumat, Suṣeṇa and Rociṣmat. In the age of this Manu, Rocana became Indra, the ruler of the heavenly planets, and there were many demigods, headed by Tuṣita. There were also many saintly persons, such as Ūrja and Stambha. Among them was Vedaśirā, whose wife, Tuṣitā, gave birth to Vibhu. Vibhu instructed eighty-eight thousand dṛḍha-vratas, or saintly persons, on self-control and austerity.
Uttama, the son of Priyavrata, was the third Manu. Among his sons were Pavana, Sṛñjaya and Yajñahotra. During the reign of this Manu, the sons of Vasiṣṭha, headed by Pramada, became the seven saintly persons. The Satyas, Devaśrutas and Bhadras became the demigods, and Satyajit became Indra. From the womb of Sunṛtā, the wife of Dharma, the Lord appeared as Satyasena, and He killed all the Yakṣas and Rākṣasas who were fighting with Satyajit.
Tāmasa, the brother of the third Manu, was the fourth Manu, and he had ten sons, including Pṛthu, Khyāti, Nara and Ketu. During his reign, the Satyakas, Haris, Vīras and others were demigods, the seven great saints were headed by Jyotirdhāma, and Triśikha became Indra. Harimedhā begot a son named Hari in the womb of his wife Hariṇī. This Hari, an incarnation of God, saved the devotee Gajendra. This incident is described as gajendra-mokṣaṇa. At the end of this chapter, Parīkṣit Mahārāja particularly asks about this incident.