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Suta Gosvami (SB cantos 1 - 6)
SB Canto 1
One day, after finishing their morning duties by burning a sacrificial fire and offering a seat of esteem to Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī, the great sages made inquiries, with great respect, about the following matters.
representative is one who can exactly present the viewpoint of Śrī Vyāsadeva. Śrī Vyāsadeva impregnated the message of Bhāgavatam unto Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī heard it from him (Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī). All bona fide representatives of Śrī Vyāsadeva in the chain of disciplic succession are to be understood to be gosvāmīs. These gosvāmīs restrain all their senses, and they stick to the path made by the previous ācāryas. The gosvāmīs do not deliver lectures on the Bhāgavatam capriciously. Rather, they execute their services most carefully, following their predecessors who delivered the spiritual message unbroken to them.
Those who listen to the Bhāgavatam may put questions to the speaker in order to elicit the clear meaning, but this should not be done in a challenging spirit. One must submit questions with a great regard for the speaker and the subject matter. This is also the way recommended in Bhagavad-gītā. One must learn the transcendental subject by submissive aural reception from the right sources. Therefore these sages addressed the speaker Sūta Gosvāmī with great respect.
The sages said: Respected Sūta Gosvāmī, you are completely free from all vice. You are well versed in all the scriptures famous for religious life, and in the Purāṇas and the histories as well, for you have gone through them under proper guidance and have also explained them.
Being the eldest learned Vedāntist, O Sūta Gosvāmī, you are acquainted with the knowledge of Vyāsadeva, who is the incarnation of Godhead, and you also know other sages who are fully versed in all kinds of physical and metaphysical knowledge.
One can sit on the vyāsāsana only after being conversant in all systems of philosophy so that one can present fully the theistic views of the Bhāgavatam in defiance of all other systems. Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī was the proper teacher, and therefore the sages at Naimiṣāraṇya elevated him to the vyāsāsana.
Only by his satisfaction can one please the Personality of Godhead, and when he is dissatisfied there is only havoc on the path of spiritual realization." It is essential, therefore, that a disciple be very much obedient and submissive to the bona fide spiritual master. Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī fulfilled all these qualifications as a disciple, and therefore he was endowed with all favors by his learned and self-realized spiritual masters such as Śrīla Vyāsadeva and others. The sages of Naimiṣāraṇya were confident that Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī was bona fide. Therefore they were anxious to hear from him.
Foreseeing the incompetencies of the people in this age of Kali, or the iron age of quarrel, the sages requested that Sūta Gosvāmī give a summary of all revealed scriptures because the people of this age are condemned in every respect. The sages, therefore, inquired of the absolute good, which is the ultimate good for the people.
Men are no longer interested in spiritual values. Material sense gratification is now the standard of civilization. For the maintenance of such material civilizations, man has formed complex nations and communities, and there is a constant strain of hot and cold wars between these different groups. It has become very difficult, therefore, to raise the spiritual standard due to the present distorted values of human society. The sages of Naimiṣāraṇya are anxious to disentangle all fallen souls, and here they are seeking the remedy from Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī.
There are different methods and prescribed duties recommended in these various scriptures. Taking into consideration the fallen condition of the people in general in this age of Kali, the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya suggested that Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī relate the essence of all such scriptures because in this age it is not possible for the fallen souls to understand and undergo all the lessons of all these various scriptures in a varṇa and āśrama system.
The varṇa and āśrama society was considered to be the best institution for lifting the human being to the spiritual platform, but due to Kali-yuga it is not possible to execute the rules and regulations of these institutions. Nor is it possible for the people in general to completely sever relations with their families as the varṇāśrama institution prescribes. The whole atmosphere is surcharged with opposition. And considering this, one can see that spiritual emancipation for the common man in this age is very difficult. The reason the sages presented this matter to Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī is explained in the following verses.
All blessings upon you, O Sūta Gosvāmī. You know for what purpose the Personality of Godhead appeared in the womb of Devakī as the son of Vasudeva.
O Sūta Gosvāmī, we are eager to learn about the Personality of Godhead and His incarnations. Please explain to us those teachings imparted by previous masters (ācāryas), for one is uplifted both by speaking them and by hearing them.
Under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master, one becomes gradually purified. Therefore, one must be in the chain of disciplic succession and learn the spiritual art of submissive hearing. In the case of Sūta Gosvāmī and the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya, all these conditions are fulfilled because Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī is in the line of Śrīla Vyāsadeva, and the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya are all sincere souls who are anxious to learn the truth.
O Sūta, those great sages who have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord can at once sanctify those who come in touch with them, whereas the waters of the Ganges can sanctify only after prolonged use.
O wise Sūta, please narrate to us the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Godhead's multi-incarnations. Such auspicious adventures and pastimes of the Lord, the supreme controller, are performed by His internal powers.
Learned men, therefore, must be cautious of this age, and if they at all want to cross over the dangerous ocean of Kali, they must follow the footsteps of the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya and accept Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī or his bona fide representative as the captain of the ship. The ship is the message of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the shape of Bhagavad-gītā or the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Ugraśravā (Sūta Gosvāmī), the son of Romaharṣaṇa, being fully satisfied by the perfect questions of the brāhmaṇas, thanked them and thus attempted to reply.
The sages of Naimiṣāraṇya asked Sūta Gosvāmī six questions, and so he is answering them one by one.
Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī said: Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto that great sage (Śukadeva Gosvāmī) who can enter the hearts of all. When he went away to take up the renounced order of life (sannyāsa), leaving home without undergoing reformation by the sacred thread or the ceremonies observed by the higher castes, his father, Vyāsadeva, fearing separation from him, cried out, "O my son!" Indeed, only the trees, which were absorbed in the same feelings of separation, echoed in response to the begrieved father.
Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī was the spiritual master of Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī, who therefore offers his respectful obeisances unto Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī before he begins his answers to the questions of the sages at Naimiṣāraṇya.
Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto him (Śuka), the spiritual master of all sages, the son of Vyāsadeva, who, out of his great compassion for those gross materialists who struggle to cross over the darkest regions of material existence, spoke this most confidential supplement to the cream of Vedic knowledge, after having personally assimilated it by experience.
In this prayer, Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī practically summarizes the complete introduction of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
The Purāṇas are so divided that any class of men can take advantage of them and gradually regain their lost position and get out of the hard struggle for existence. Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī shows the way of chanting the Purāṇas. This may be followed by persons who aspire to be preachers of the Vedic literatures and the Purāṇas. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the spotless Purāṇa, and it is especially meant for those who desire to get out of the material entanglement permanently.
The supreme occupation (dharma) for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.
In this statement, Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī answers the first question of the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya. The sages asked him to summarize the whole range of revealed scriptures and present the most essential part so that fallen people or the people in general might easily take it up.
Why are such so-called men of religion allured by material gain? Because material gain can enable one to fulfill desires, which in turn satisfy sense gratification. This cycle of occupational engagements includes so-called religiosity followed by material gain and material gain followed by fulfillment of desires. Sense gratification is the general way for all sorts of fully occupied men. But in the statement of Sūta Gosvāmī, as per the verdict of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, this is nullified by the present śloka.
The number one Bhāgavata is the established personality of devotee, and the other Bhāgavatam is the message of Godhead. The third-class devotee therefore has to go to the personality of devotee in order to learn the instructions of devotional service. Such a personality of devotee is not a professional man who earns his livelihood by the business of Bhāgavatam. Such a devotee must be a representative of Śukadeva Gosvāmī, like Sūta Gosvāmī, and must preach the cult of devotional service for the all-around benefit of all people.
Sūta said: In the beginning of the creation, the Lord first expanded Himself in the universal form of the puruṣa incarnation and manifested all the ingredients for the material creation. And thus at first there was the creation of the sixteen principles of material action. This was for the purpose of creating the material universe.
The inquiries of the sages headed by Śaunaka are herewith praised by Sūta Gosvāmī on the merit of their transcendental nature. As already concluded, only the devotees of the Lord can know Him to a considerable extent, and no one else can know Him at all, so the devotees are perfectly cognizant of all spiritual knowledge.
Vyāsadeva delivered the message to Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and from Śukadeva Gosvāmī, Sūta Gosvāmī received the message. One should therefore receive the message of Bhāgavatam from Sūta Gosvāmī or from his representative and not from any irrelevant interpreter.
Sūta Gosvāmī is a bona fide representative of Śukadeva Gosvāmī because he wants to present the message which he received from the great learned brāhmaṇa. Śukadeva Gosvāmī presented Bhāgavatam as he heard it from his great father, and so also Sūta Gosvāmī is presenting Bhāgavatam as he had heard it from Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Simple hearing is not all; one must realize the text with proper attention. The word niviṣṭa means that Sūta Gosvāmī drank the juice of Bhāgavatam through his ears. That is the real process of receiving Bhāgavatam.
On hearing Sūta Gosvāmī speak thus, Śaunaka Muni, who was the elderly, learned leader of all the ṛṣis engaged in that prolonged sacrificial ceremony, congratulated Sūta Gosvāmī by addressing him as follows.
In a meeting of learned men, when there are congratulations or addresses for the speaker, the qualifications of the congratulator should be as follows. He must be the leader of the house and an elderly man. He must be vastly learned also. Śrī Śaunaka Ṛṣi had all these qualifications, and thus he stood up to congratulate Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī when he expressed his desire to present Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam exactly as he heard it from Śukadeva Gosvāmī and also realized it personally.
The leader of the assembly, Śaunaka, could estimate the value of the speaker, Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī, simply by his uttering yathādhītam and yathā-mati, and therefore he was very glad to congratulate him in ecstasy. No learned man should be willing to hear a person who does not represent the original ācārya.
Śaunaka said: O Sūta Gosvāmī, you are the most fortunate and respected of all those who can speak and recite. Please relate the pious message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which was spoken by the great and powerful sage Śukadeva Gosvāmī.
Sūta Gosvāmī is twice addressed herein by Śaunaka Gosvāmī out of great joy because he and the members of the assembly were eager to hear the text of Bhāgavatam uttered by Śukadeva Gosvāmī. They were not interested in hearing it from a bogus person who would interpret in his own way to suit his own purpose.
According to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, it is mentioned in the Mādhyandina-śruti that all the Vedas, namely the Sāma, Atharva, Ṛg, Yajur, Purāṇas, Itihāsas, Upaniṣads, etc., are emanations from the breathing of the Supreme Being. The only difference is that the Vedic mantras are mostly begun with praṇava oṁkāra, and it requires some training to practice the metric pronunciation of the Vedic mantras. But that does not mean that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is of less importance than the Vedic mantras. On the contrary, it is the ripened fruit of all the Vedas, as stated before. Besides that, the most perfectly liberated soul, Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, is absorbed in the studies of the Bhāgavatam, although he is already self-realized. Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī is following his footsteps, and therefore his position is not the least less important because he was not expert in chanting Vedic mantras with metric pronunciation, which depends more on practice than actual realization. Realization is more important than parrotlike chanting.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: When the second millennium overlapped the third, the great sage (Vyāsadeva) was born to Parāśara in the womb of Satyavatī, the daughter of Vasu.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Thus the sage amongst the gods (Nārada), comfortably seated and apparently smiling, addressed the ṛṣi amongst the brāhmaṇas (Vedavyāsa).
Sūta said: O brāhmaṇas, thus hearing all about Śrī Nārada's birth and activities, Vyāsadeva, the incarnation of God and son of Satyavatī, inquired as follows.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Thus addressing Vyāsadeva, Śrīla Nārada Muni took leave of him, and vibrating on his vīṇā instrument, he left to wander at his free will.
Ṛṣi Śaunaka asked: O Sūta, the great and transcendentally powerful Vyāsadeva heard everything from Śrī Nārada Muni. So after Nārada's departure, what did Vyāsadeva do?
Śrī Sūta said: On the western bank of the River Sarasvatī, which is intimately related with the Vedas, there is a cottage for meditation at Śamyāprāsa which enlivens the transcendental activities of the sages.
Śrī Śaunaka asked Sūta Gosvāmī: Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī was already on the path of self-realization, and thus he was pleased with his own self. So why did he take the trouble to undergo the study of such a vast literature?
Sūta Gosvāmī thus addressed the ṛṣis headed by Śaunaka: Now I shall begin the transcendental narration of the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa and topics of the birth, activities and deliverance of King Parīkṣit, the sage amongst kings, as well as topics of the renunciation of the worldly order by the sons of Pāṇḍu.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: Hearing this from the Personality of Godhead, Arjuna touched water for purification, and after circumambulating Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, he cast his brahmāstra weapon to counteract the other one.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Although Kṛṣṇa, who was examining Arjuna in religion, encouraged Arjuna to kill the son of Droṇācārya, Arjuna, a great soul, did not like the idea of killing him, although Aśvatthāmā was a heinous murderer of Arjuna's family members.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: Draupadī then saw Aśvatthāmā, who was bound with ropes like an animal and silent for having enacted the most inglorious murder. Due to her female nature, and due to her being naturally good and well-behaved, she showed him due respects as a brāhmaṇa.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: O brāhmaṇas, King Yudhiṣṭhira fully supported the statements of the Queen, which were in accordance with the principles of religion and were justified, glorious, full of mercy and equity, and without duplicity.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Thereafter the Pāṇḍavas, desiring to deliver water to the dead relatives who had desired it, went to the Ganges with Draupadī. The ladies walked in front.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Having patiently heard her words, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is always very affectionate to His devotees, could at once understand that Aśvatthāmā, the son of Droṇācārya, had thrown the brahmāstra to finish the last life in the Pāṇḍava family.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: The Lord, thus hearing the prayers of Kuntīdevī, composed in choice words for His glorification, mildly smiled. That smile was as enchanting as His mystic power.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Being afraid for having killed so many subjects on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra, Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira went to the scene of the massacre. There, Bhīṣmadeva was lying on a bed of arrows, about to pass away.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, after hearing Bhīṣmadeva speak in that appealing tone, asked him, in the presence of all the great ṛṣis, about the essential principles of various religious duties.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Thus Bhīṣmadeva merged himself in the Supersoul, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, with his mind, speech, sight and actions, and thus he became silent, and his breathing stopped.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the maintainer of the world, became pleased after reestablishing Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira in his own kingdom and after restoring the Kuru dynasty, which had been exhausted by the bamboo fire of anger.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Upon reaching the border of His most prosperous metropolis, known as the country of the Ānartas (Dvārakā), the Lord sounded His auspicious conchshell, heralding His arrival and apparently pacifying the dejection of the inhabitants.
The sages assembled in the forest of Naimiṣāraṇya inquired from Sūta Gosvāmī about the birth of Mahārāja Parīkṣit, but in the course of the narration other topics like the release of the brahmāstra by the son of Droṇa, his punishment by Arjuna, Queen Kuntīdevī's prayers, the Pāṇḍavas' visit to the place where Bhīṣmadeva was lying, his prayers and thereafter the Lord's departure for Dvārakā were discussed.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: Emperor Yudhiṣṭhira administered generously to everyone during his reign. He was exactly like his father. He had no personal ambition and was freed from all sorts of sense gratification because of his continuous service unto the lotus feet of the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: While traveling on a pilgrimage, Vidura received knowledge of the destination of the self from the great sage Maitreya and then returned to Hastināpura. He became as well versed in the subject as he desired.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Because of compassion and mental agitation, Sañjaya, not having seen his own master, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, was aggrieved and could not properly reply to Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: Arjuna went to Dvārakā to see Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa and other friends and also to learn from the Lord of His next activities.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Arjuna, the celebrated friend of Lord Kṛṣṇa, was grief-stricken because of his strong feeling of separation from Kṛṣṇa, over and above all Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira's speculative inquiries.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Thus being deeply absorbed in thinking of the instructions of the Lord, which were imparted in the great intimacy of friendship, and in thinking of His lotus feet, Arjuna's mind became pacified and free from all material contamination.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura suggests that the ṛṣis like Śaunaka and others who were hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from Sūta Gosvāmī at Naimiṣāraṇya were not happy to hear about the Yadu's dying in the madness of intoxication. To give them relief from this mental agony, Sūta Gosvāmī assured them that the Lord caused the members of the Yadu dynasty to relinquish their bodies by which they had to take away the burden of the world.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: O learned brāhmaṇas, Mahārāja Parīkṣit then began to rule over the world as a great devotee of the Lord under the instructions of the best of the twice-born brāhmaṇas. He ruled by those great qualities which were foretold by expert astrologers at the time of his birth.
O Sūta Gosvāmī, there are those amongst men who desire freedom from death and get eternal life. They escape the slaughtering process by calling the controller of death, Yamarāja.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: While Mahārāja Parīkṣit was residing in the capital of the Kuru empire, the symptoms of the age of Kali began to infiltrate within the jurisdiction of his state. When he learned about this, he did not think the matter very palatable. This did, however, give him a chance to fight. He took up his bow and arrows and prepared himself for military activities.
Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī affirms in the Bhāgavatam that although He was observed by the citizens of Dvārakā every day, they were ever increasingly anxious to see Him again and again. The living beings can appreciate the qualities of the Lord as the ultimate goal, but they cannot attain the status quo of such equality. This material world is a product of the mahat-tattva, which is a state of the Lord's dreaming condition in His yoga-nidrā mystic slumber in the Causal Ocean, and yet the whole creation appears to be a factual presentation of His creation. This means that the Lord's dreaming conditions are also factual manifestations. He can therefore bring everything under His transcendental control, and thus whenever and wherever He does appear, He does so in His fullness.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: After reaching that place, Mahārāja Parīkṣit observed that a lower-caste śūdra, dressed like a king, was beating a cow and a bull with a club, as if they had no owner.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: O best among the brāhmaṇas, the Emperor Parīkṣit, thus hearing the personality of religion speak, was fully satisfied, and without mistake or regret he gave his reply.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: The personality of Kali, thus being ordered by Mahārāja Parīkṣit, began to tremble in fear. Seeing the King before him like Yamarāja, ready to Kill him, Kali spoke to the King as follows.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Mahārāja Parīkṣit, thus being petitioned by the personality of Kali, gave him permission to reside in places where gambling, drinking, prostitution and animal slaughter were performed.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: Due to the mercy of the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who acts wonderfully, Mahārāja Parīkṣit, though struck by the weapon of the son of Droṇa in his mother's womb, could not be burned.
The sages of Naimiṣāraṇya became struck with wonder after hearing about the wonderful administration of Mahārāja Parīkṣit, especially in reference to his punishing the personality of Kali and making him completely unable to do any harm within the kingdom. Sūta Gosvāmī was equally anxious to describe Mahārāja Parīkṣit's wonderful birth and death, and this verse is stated by Sūta Gosvāmī to increase the interest of the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya.
The good sages said: O grave Sūta Gosvāmī! May you live many years and have eternal fame, for you are speaking very nicely about the activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead. This is just like nectar for mortal beings like us.
Unscrupulous greedy brāhmaṇas of the age of Kali induce the innocent public to such uncertain sacrificial shows without disclosing the scriptural injunction that in the age of Kali there is no fruitful sacrificial performance but the sacrifice of the congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord. Sūta Gosvāmī was narrating the transcendental activities of the Lord before the congregation of sages, and they were factually perceiving the result of hearing these transcendental activities. One can feel this practically, as one can feel the result of eating food. Spiritual realization acts in that way.
The sages of Naimiṣāraṇya were practically sufferers from the smoke of a sacrificial fire and were doubtful about the result, but by hearing from a realized person like Sūta Gosvāmī, they were fully satisfied.
Devotional service is eternal; it has no end, because it is spiritual. Therefore, since the assets of a pure devotee are completely different from material assets, there is no comparison between the two. Sūta Gosvāmī was a pure devotee of the Lord, and therefore his association with the ṛṣis in Naimiṣāraṇya is unique. In the material world, association with gross materialists is veritably condemned.
There is no end to such transcendental discourses. In mundane affairs there is the law of satiation, but in transcendence there is no such satiation. Sūta Gosvāmī desired to continue the topics of Lord Kṛṣṇa before the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya, and the sages also expressed their readiness to hear from him continuously. Since the Lord is transcendence and His attributes are transcendental, such discourses increase the receptive mood of the purified audience.
O Sūta Gosvāmī, you are a learned and pure devotee of the Lord because the Personality of Godhead is your chief object of service. Therefore please describe to us the pastimes of the Lord, which are above all material conception, for we are anxious to receive such messages.
Professional speakers make a show of Bhāgavata-saptāha for the sake of family maintenance, and the materially disposed audience hears such discourses of Bhāgavata-saptāha for some material benefit, namely religiosity, wealth, gratification of the senses, or liberation. Such Bhāgavatam discourses are not purified from the contamination of the material qualities. But the discourses between the saints of Naimiṣāraṇya and Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī are on the transcendental level. There is no motive for material gain. In such discourses, unlimited transcendental pleasure is relished both by the audience and by the speaker, and therefore they can continue the topics for many thousands of years.
O Sūta Gosvāmī, please describe those topics of the Lord by which Mahārāja Parīkṣit, whose intelligence was fixed on liberation, attained the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of Garuḍa, the king of birds. Those topics were vibrated by the son of Vyāsa (Śrīla Śukadeva).
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: O God, although we are born in a mixed caste, we are still promoted in birthright simply by serving and following the great who are advanced in knowledge. Even by conversing with such great souls, one can without delay cleanse oneself of all disqualifications resulting from lower births.
Sūta Gosvāmī did not take his birth in a brāhmaṇa family. He was born in a family of mixed caste, or an uncultured low family. But because of higher association, like Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī and the great ṛṣis of Naimiṣāraṇya, certainly the disqualification of inferior birth was washed off.
Sūta Gosvāmī learned the science of Kṛṣṇa from great ṛṣis and authorities like Śukadeva and Vyāsadeva and he was so qualified that even the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya eagerly wanted to hear from him the science of Kṛṣṇa in the form of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. So he had the double association of great souls by hearing and preaching. Transcendental science, or the science of Kṛṣṇa, has to be learned from the authorities, and when one preaches the science, he becomes still more qualified. So Sūta Gosvāmī had both the advantages, and thus undoubtedly he was completely freed from all disqualifications of low birth and mental agonies. This verse definitely proves that Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī did not refuse to teach Sūta Gosvāmī about the transcendental science nor did the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya refuse to hear lessons from him because of his inferior birth. This means that thousands of years ago there was no bar to learning or preaching the transcendental science because of inferior birth.
The pastimes of the Lord in different features can only be estimated partly by the great learned devotees. So Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī has rightly taken this position in describing the pastimes of the Lord as far as he has realized. Factually only the Lord Himself can describe Himself, and His learned devotee also can describe Him as far as the Lord gives him the power of description.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: While returning home, the King (Mahārāja Parīkṣit) felt that the act he had committed against the faultless and powerful brāhmaṇa was heinous and uncivilized. Consequently he was distressed.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: The King thus spoke and questioned the sage, using sweet language. Then the great and powerful personality, the son of Vyāsadeva, who knew the principles of religion, began his reply.
SB Canto 2
O learned Sūta Gosvāmī! Please continue to explain such topics to us because we are all eager to hear. Besides that, topics which result in the discussion of the Lord Hari should certainly be discussed in the assembly of devotees.
O Sūta Gosvāmī, your words are pleasing to our minds. Please therefore explain this to us as it was spoken by the great devotee Śukadeva Gosvāmī, who is very expert in transcendental knowledge, and who spoke to Mahārāja Parīkṣit upon being asked.
Knowledge explained by the previous ācārya like Śukadeva Gosvāmī and followed by the next like Sūta Gosvāmī is always powerful transcendental knowledge, and it is therefore penetrating and useful to all submissive students.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Mahārāja Parīkṣit, the son of Uttarā, after hearing the speeches of Śukadeva Gosvāmī, which were all about the truth of the self, applied his concentration faithfully upon Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: When Śukadeva Gosvāmī was thus requested by the King to describe the creative energy of the Personality of Godhead, he then systematically remembered the master of the senses (Śrī Kṛṣṇa), and to reply properly he spoke thus.
So the transcendental knowledge of the Supreme Lord is not mental speculation by the mundane wranglers, but is uncontaminated, eternal, perfect knowledge beyond the jurisdiction of material modes. The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is therefore the direct incarnation of the Lord in the form of transcendental sound, and one should receive this transcendental knowledge from the bona fide representative of the Lord in the chain of disciplic succession from the Lord to Brahmājī, from Brahmājī to Nārada, from Nārada to Vyāsa, from Vyāsadeva to Śukadeva Gosvāmī, from Śukadeva Gosvāmī to Sūta Gosvāmī.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Thus Śukadeva Gosvāmī, being invited by Mahārāja Parīkṣit to speak on topics of the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa with the devotees, was very much pleased.
Thus by general conclusion Lord Kṛṣṇa is the ultimate source of all energies, and the word Kṛṣṇa means that. And to explain Kṛṣṇa or the science of Kṛṣṇa, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam has been prepared. In the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam this truth is indicated in the questions and answers by Sūta Gosvāmī and great sages like Śaunaka, and in the First and Second Chapters of the canto this is explained.
Śaunaka Ṛṣi, after hearing all about the creation, inquired from Sūta Gosvāmī about Vidura, for Sūta Gosvāmī had previously informed him how Vidura left home, leaving aside all his relatives, who were very difficult to leave.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī was narrating the topics of the creation and destruction of the material world, but it appears that the ṛṣis headed by Śaunaka were more inclined to hear of transcendental subjects, which are on a higher level than the physical.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī explained: I shall now explain to you the very subjects explained by the great sage in answer to King Parīkṣit's inquiries. Please hear them attentively.
SB Canto 3
Exactly as Śaunaka Ṛṣi inquired of Sūta Gosvāmī and Sūta Gosvāmī replied, so Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī replied to King Parīkṣit's inquiries. The King was very anxious to understand the meaningful discussion that took place between the two great souls.
Śrī Suta Gosvāmī said: The great sage Śukadeva Gosvāmī was highly experienced and was pleased with the King. Thus being questioned by the King, he said to him, "Please hear the topics attentively."
Sūta Gosvāmī said: O son of Bhṛgu, the great sage Maitreya Muni, thus hearing from Vidura, felt very much enlivened. Everything was in his heart, and thus he began to reply to the questions one after another.
The phrase sūta uvāca ("Sūta Gosvāmī said") appears to indicate a break in the discourse between Mahārāja Parīkṣit and Śukadeva Gosvāmī. While Śukadeva Gosvāmī was speaking to Mahārāja Parīkṣit, Sūta Gosvāmī was only one member of a large audience. But Sūta Gosvāmī was speaking to the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya, headed by the sage Śaunaka, a descendant of Śukadeva Gosvāmī. This, however, does not make any substantial difference in the topics under discussion.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī continued: My dear brāhmaṇa, Kṣattā (Vidura) the great devotee of the Lord achieved transcendental bliss by hearing the narration of the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead from the authoritative source of the sage Kauṣārava (Maitreya), and he was very pleased.
Sūta Gosvāmī was speaking to the sages headed by Śaunaka, and therefore he addressed them in this verse as dvija, twice-born. The sages assembled in Naimiṣāraṇya hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from Sūta Gosvāmī were all brāhmaṇas, but to acquire the qualifications of a brāhmaṇa is not everything. Merely to be twice-born is not perfection. Perfection is attained when one hears the pastimes and activities of the Lord from a bona fide source.
ome impersonalists are reluctant to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, although many of them are now taking an interest in it just for monetary gain. Actually, however, they have no faith. On the contrary, they describe it in their own way. We should not hear, therefore, from the Māyāvādīs. We have to hear from Sūta Gosvāmī or Maitreya, who actually present the narrations as they are, and only then can we relish the pastimes of the Lord; otherwise the effects on the neophyte audience will be poisonous.
Śrī Śaunaka inquired: O Sūta Gosvāmī, after the earth was again situated in its orbit, what did Svāyambhuva Manu do to show the path of liberation to persons who were to take birth later on?
It is understood here that Manu creates scriptural regulations for the salvation of the conditioned souls, who come to the material world for material enjoyment. The Lord is so kind that any soul who wants to enjoy in this material world is given full facility for enjoyment, and at the same time he is shown the path of salvation. Śaunaka Ṛṣi, therefore, inquired from Sūta Gosvāmī: "What did Svāyambhuva Manu do after the reinstatement of the earth in its orbital situation?"
O Sūta Gosvāmī, all good fortune to you! Please narrate the activities of the Lord, which are all magnanimous and worth glorifying. What sort of devotee can be satiated by hearing the nectarean pastimes of the Lord?
On being asked to speak by the great sages of Naimiṣāraṇya, the son of Romaharṣaṇa, Sūta Gosvāmī, whose mind was absorbed in the transcendental pastimes of the Lord, said: Please hear what I shall now speak.
Sūta Gosvāmī continued: Vidura, the descendant of Bharata, was delighted to hear the story of the Lord, who, having assumed by His own divine potency the form of a boar, had enacted the sport of lifting the earth from the bottom of the ocean and indifferently killing the demon Hiraṇyākṣa. Vidura then spoke to the sage as follows.
The word anukīrtaya is very significant. Anukīrtaya means to follow the description-not to create a concocted mental description, but to follow. Śaunaka Ṛṣi requested Sūta Gosvāmī to describe what he had actually heard from his spiritual master, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, about the transcendental pastimes the Lord manifested by His internal energy.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: The most powerful sage Maitreya was a friend of Vyāsadeva. Being encouraged and pleased by Vidura's inquiry about transcendental knowledge, Maitreya spoke as follows.
SB Canto 4
Sūta Gosvāmī, continuing to speak to all the ṛṣis, headed by Śaunaka, said: After hearing Maitreya Ṛṣi describe Dhruva Mahārāja's ascent to Lord Viṣṇu's abode, Vidura became very much enlightened in devotional emotion, and he inquired from Maitreya as follows.
Sūta Gosvāmī continued: When Vidura became inspired to hear of the activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa in His various incarnations, Maitreya, also being inspired and being very pleased with Vidura, began to praise him. Then Maitreya spoke as follows.
Sūta Gosvāmī continued: O Śaunaka, leader of the great sages, after hearing Maitreya speak about the various activities of King Pṛthu, the original king, who was fully qualified, glorified and widely praised all over the world, Vidura, the great devotee, very submissively worshiped Maitreya Ṛṣi and asked him the following question.
Mokṣa, or liberation, has to be taken very seriously, even at the sacrifice of the other three items. As advised by Sūta Gosvāmī in the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, religious principles are not based on success in economic development.
Whenever there are some important talks between a devotee and the Lord or between exalted devotees, one should be very much curious to hear them. At the meeting of Naimiṣāraṇya, where Sūta Gosvāmī spoke Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to all the great sages, Sūta Gosvāmī was also asked about the talks between Mahārāja Parīkṣit and Śukadeva Gosvāmī, for the sages believed that the talks between Śukadeva Gosvāmī and Mahārāja Parīkṣit must have been as important as the talks between Lord Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna.
SB Canto 5
Bathing in the Ganges can certainly cure one of many infectious diseases, but it cannot cleanse one's materially attached mind, which creates all kinds of contaminations in material existence. However, one who directly associates with the Supreme Lord by hearing of His activities cleanses the dirt from his mind and very soon comes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Sūta Gosvāmī confirms this in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.17):
- śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
- hṛdy antaḥ-stho hy abhadrāṇi
- vidhunoti suhṛt-satām
The Supreme Lord within everyone's heart becomes very pleased when a person hears narrations of His activities, and He personally cleanses the dirt from the mind of the listener.
SB Canto 6
Sūta Gosvāmī said: O great sages (assembled at Naimiṣāraṇya), after the great yogi Śukadeva Gosvāmī heard King Parīkṣit's inquiry, he praised it and thus replied.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: After hearing Mahārāja Parīkṣit's very intelligent question, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the most powerful sage, began answering his disciple with great affection.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: O great sage Śaunaka, after hearing Mahārāja Parīkṣit speak respectfully and briefly on topics essential to hear, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, who was well aware of everything, praised his endeavor with great pleasure and replied.