The socialist's idea of a society devoid of competition is artificial because even in the socialist states there is competition for power. It is a fact that the principle of sense gratification is the basic principle of materialistic life, and this can be realized either from reading the Vedas or simply from observing common human activities. The Vedas recommend fruitive activities by which people can advance to higher planets, and they also recommend worship of the various demigods for the purpose of attaining their planets. Ultimately the Vedas recommend activities by which one can reach the Absolute Truth and realize His impersonal feature in order to become one with Him. However, the impersonal aspect of the Absolute Truth is not the last word. Above the impersonal feature is the Paramātmā, or the Supersoul, and above that is the Supreme Personality. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam gives information about the personal qualities of the Absolute Truth, qualities which are beyond the impersonal aspect. Topics concerning these qualities are greater than topics of impersonal philosophical speculation; consequently Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is given higher status than the jñāna-kāṇḍa portions of the Vedas. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is also greater than the karma-kāṇḍa and upāsanā-kāṇḍa portions as well because it recommends the worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the divine son of Vasudeva. The karma-kāṇḍa portion of the Vedas is fraught with competition to reach heavenly planets for better sense gratification, and this competition is also seen in the jñāna-kāṇḍa and upāsanā-kāṇḍa portions. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is above all of these because it aims only at the Supreme Truth, the substance or root of all categories.
In other words, from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam we can know the substance as well as the relativities in their true sense and perspective. The substance is the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the relativities are the different forms of energy which emanate from Him. Since the living entities are also related to His energies, there is nothing really different from the substance. At the same time, the energies are different from the substance. In the material sense, this conception is self-contradictory, but Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam explicitly deals with this aspect of simultaneous oneness and difference. This philosophy is also found in the Vedānta-sūtra beginning with the janmādy asya sūtra. Knowledge of the simultaneous oneness and difference found in the Absolute Truth is imparted for the well-being of everyone. Mental speculators mislead people by establishing the energy of the Lord as absolute, but when the truth of simultaneous oneness and difference is understood, the imperfect concepts of monism and dualism cease to satisfy. By understanding the Lord's simultaneous oneness with and difference from His creation, one can immediately attain freedom from the threefold miseries—miseries inflicted by the body and mind, by other living entities and by acts of nature.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam begins with the surrender of the living entity unto the Absolute Person. This surrender is made with clear consciousness and awareness of the devotee's oneness with the Absolute, and, at the same time, of his eternal position of servitorship. In the material conception, one thinks himself to be the Lord of all he surveys; consequently he is always troubled by the threefold miseries of life. As soon as one comes to know his real position in transcendental service, he at once becomes freed from all these miseries. The position of servitor is wasted in the material conception of life. In an attempt to dominate material nature, the living entity is forced to offer his service to relative material energy. When this service is transferred to the Lord in pure consciousness of spiritual identity, the living entity at once becomes free from the encumbrances of material affection.
Over and above this, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the personal commentary on Vedānta-sūtra made by Vyāsadeva when he had attained maturity in spiritual realization. He was able to write it by the help of Nārada's mercy. Vyāsadeva is also an incarnation of Nārāyaṇa, the Personality of Godhead; therefore there is no question about his authority. Although he is the author of all Vedic literature, he specifically recommends the study of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. In other purāṇas various methods for worshiping demigods are mentioned, but in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam only the Supreme Personality of Godhead is mentioned. The Supreme Lord is the total body, and the demigods are different parts of that body. Thus if one worships the Supreme Lord, he need not worship the demigods, for the Supreme Lord is in the hearts of all demigods. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu distinguished Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from all other purāṇas by recommending it as the spotless Purāṇa.
The method by which the transcendental message is received is the method of submissive hearing. A challenging attitude cannot help one receive or realize the transcendental message; therefore in the second verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam the word śuśrūṣu is used. This word indicates that one should be anxious to hear the transcendental message. The desire to hear with interest is the primary qualification for assimilating transcendental knowledge. Unfortunately many people are not interested in patiently hearing the message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The process is simple but the application difficult. Those who are unfortunate will find time to hear ordinary social and political topics, but when they are invited to attend an assembly to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, they are reluctant to attend. Sometimes people indulge in hearing portions of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam which they are not prepared to hear. Professional readers of the Bhāgavatam indulge in reading the confidential portions dealing with the pastimes of the Supreme Lord. These portions appear to read like sex literature. However, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is meant to be heard from the beginning, and those who are fit to assimilate the messages of Bhāgavatam are mentioned in the very beginning (SB 1.1.2): A bona fide audience fit to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is generated after many pious deeds. An intellectual person can believe in the assurances of the great sage Vyāsadeva and patiently hear the messages of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in order to realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly. One need not struggle through the different Vedic stages of realization, for one can be lifted to the position of paramahaṁsa simply by agreeing to hear the message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam with patience. The sages of Naimiṣāraṇya told Sūta Gosvāmī that they were intensely desirous of understanding Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. They were hearing from Sūta Gosvāmī about Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and they were never satiated by these discussions. People who are really attached to Kṛṣṇa never want to stop hearing about Him.