RECITATION OF ŚRĪMAD-BHĀGAVATAM AMONG DEVOTEES
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the desire tree of Vedic wisdom. Veda itself means “the aggregate of knowledge.” And whatever knowledge is required for human society is perfectly presented in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. There are different branches of knowledge in the Vedic writings, including sociology, politics, medicine and military art. All these and other branches of knowledge are perfectly described in the Vedas. So, as far as spiritual knowledge is concerned, that is also perfectly described there, and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is considered to be the ripened fruit of this desire-fulfilling tree of the Vedas. A tree is honored by the production of its fruit. For example, a mango tree is considered very valuable because it produces the king of all fruits, the mango. When the mango fruit becomes ripened it is the greatest gift of that tree, and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is similarly held to be the ripened fruit of the Vedic tree. And as ripened fruit becomes more relishable when first touched by the beak of a parrot, or śuka, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam has become more relishable by being delivered through the transcendental mouth of Śukadeva Gosvāmī.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam should be received in disciplic succession without any breakage. When a ripened fruit comes from the upper part of the tree onto the ground by the process of being handed down from a higher branch to a lower branch by persons in the tree, the fruit does not break. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, when received in the paramparā system, or disciplic succession, will likewise remain unbroken. It is stated in Bhagavad-gītā that the disciplic succession, or paramparā, is the way of receiving transcendental knowledge. Such knowledge must come down through the disciplic succession, through authorized persons who know the real purpose of the śāstra.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu recommended that one learn Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from the mouth of the self-realized person called bhāgavatam. Bhāgavata means “in relationship with the Personality of Godhead [Bhagavān].” So the devotee is sometimes called bhāgavatam, and the book that is in relationship with devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead is also called Bhāgavatam.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu recommended that in order to relish the real taste of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam one should take instruction from the person bhāgavatam. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is relishable even by a liberated person. Śukadeva Gosvāmī admitted that although he was liberated from within the very womb of his mother, it was only after relishing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that he became a great devotee. Thus one who is desirous of advancing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness should relish the purport of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam through the discussions of authorized devotees.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Second Canto, first chapter, verse 9, Śukadeva Gosvāmī admits that although he was very much attracted by the impersonal Brahman, when he heard the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead from the mouth of his father, Vyāsadeva, he became more attracted to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The idea is that Vyāsadeva was also a self-realized soul, and his mature contribution of transcendental knowledge was delivered directly to Śukadeva Gosvāmī in the manner indicated.
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