Shrimad Bhagavata is renowned as one or the greatest compositions in Sanskrit literature. This eighteenth Purana composed by Maharishi Veda -vyasa is extolled as the Mahapurana and is an integral part or the fabric or Indian culture. It stands unparalleled in its distinct and resplendent exaltation or devotion to God, revealing throughout the quintessence or Vedantic teachings.
Masterfully profound and delightfully enchanting, Shrimad Bhagavata abounds in word -paintings or the supreme Lord's wondrous and endearing avatars, divine sports, and devotees-paintings that kindle, intensify, and establish devotion in one's heart. This spring or devotion leads one to satsang, to the Guru, and to teachings that unveil one's essential nature or Brahman.
Swami Tejomayananda's acclaimed discourses on Shrimad Bhagavata are a rare treasure trough or spiritual wisdom, illuminating and transformative, inspiring even those immersed in material pursuits to walk the spiritual path. The reader will not only be greatly benefitted and enlightened by this treatise, but will also find insightful explanations on weighty and debated topics.
His Holiness Swami Chinmayananda, one or the most illustrious spiritual masters and Vedantins or the twentieth century, said, "Swami Tejomayananda has brought forth and unfolded the deeper import or this renowned and glorious scripture with immense clarity and flowing spontaneity."
About the Author
Swami Tejomayananda is the foremost disciple of his holiness Swami Chinmayananda, the founding father of Chinmaya Mission, a worldwide religious non-profit organization. Since his appointment in 1993 as the head of Chinmaya Mission, Swami Tejomayananda has guided, nurtured, and exponentially expanded its activities around the globe.
He travels year-round to conduct spiritual discourses on the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, Bhagavata, and other vedantic texts, and administers, across 23 countries, more than 300 Mission centres, more than 80 educational institutes, and numerous social service projects in diverse fields. He has also authored more than 100 publications in over four languages, including original compositions of music and lyrics.
He has been lauded by saints, seekers, and scholars, alike as a profound Vedantin, an exalted devotee, and a consummate teacher. After 45 years of indelible service in Chinmaya Mission’s monastic order, Swami Tejomayananda remains an inspiring beacon for countless spiritual aspirants worldwide.
The following inaugural address was given by His Holiness Swami Chinmayananda on October 31, 1992 in Mumbai, India, at the Bhagavata saptah conducted in Hindi by his disciple, Swami Tejomayananda. This book is the English translation of those Hindi talks.
Friends, one of the greatest miracles in history is the endless history of Hinduism. Hinduism is the mother of all religions and philosophy, from the Vedic period until today. Though we may carp at it at this moment because of our total ignorance, even today we are Hindus.
How did Hinduism survive? Even without the organization that churches and mosques had, it survived. In and through the ups and downs of historical periods, Hinduism remained. It is not that it did not have enemies. There were enemies outside, as well as inside, trying to destroy this great culture, as is the case even today. However, it still endured. And if you say, "I don't believe in Hinduism," then, "Namaste!"
It is because of its elasticity that Hinduism has survived. A tree grows from its cambium. It grows from inside, from a plant to a big, healthy tree. The cambium grows from within, just as the body of a garbhini, or pregnant woman, extends as the child grows in it. However much she may try to cover it, it is there. In the same way, when the tree grows, the outer bark yields, but it never leaves. The bark holds the tree together. The cambium grows from within and the bark holds it together.
Sanatana Dharma, or Hinduism, has this capacity to grow and expand in order to embrace society when society grows out of proportion. It is not that we are in a Vedic society today. There have been all kinds of historical changes in the world. Yet, in and through them, whether in war or peace, famine or prosperity, Hinduism has held Hindus together.
This capacity is rarely found in other religions, which become fanatical, do not grow, and instead crush society and refuse to allow it to grow. It is then that a revolt comes from within and that religion perishes. How many religions have come and gone! The Greek, the Roman, the Macedonian-these cultures and religions served society and produced brilliant ages of art and literature. However, after a certain time, they collapsed. Why? They were unable to hold the public, which bore new aspirations, new imaginations, new demands, and new experiments with life. It is not that Hindus as a community never grew in such inspirations or expectations, but this dharma of Hinduism was able to expand and embrace them.
One of the most salient features, of which there are plenty, of the Vedic period is that it did not have bhakti as a movement or technique-because at that time, people were highly intellectual and had minimal desires. Therefore, extroversion was minimal, for they were all born contemplative by nature. It was simple to live in a time when greedy people had not destroyed all the trees and nature was abundant. In the midst of all that plenty, living with minimal desires, they became highly contemplative.
In all Vedic literature, there is an emphasis on contemplation. By the time of the Mahabharata War, however, man had become more egocentric and desire-ridden, wanting to fulfil his desires regardless of other community members' needs. He had become restless in mind. To tell such an individual to sit and contemplate is an impossible path.
Vyasa, the great master, felt the need for societal change, so he evolved a new technique. It was not the intellectual technique of contemplation, but the technique of devotion of the heart. Thus, to contemplate on a form representing the higher Reality, whether Krishna or Rama, the Puranic tradition began. Because we cannot steady our mind on one form unless it is clear and vivid in our imagination, the Puranas give exquisite explanations, descriptions, and stories of the Lord. The stories of Krishna or Rama, of how the Lord met the worldly problems that you and I face, are vividly depicted. Through these, even the average man with mental agitations, as you all, can come, sit, listen, and turn his mind to the Higher.
The upasana (worship) methods of the Vedic period are too difficult for today's average man to turn his attention toward or even conceive. However, the Beauty of all beauties, who grew up by the banks of the Yamuna singing His song on His flute, who made the gopis so ecstatic with His music that they went to dance around Him-these are pictures we can easily conceive; these are at our level.
The students in elementary schools and colleges will understand elementary physics, but if you speak to them about advanced physics, they will not understand. Yet once they have understood at the lower level, they can grow UD to one day comprehend a post-graduate physics class. Applying the same technique, the mind becomes quiet through bhakti and its wanderings lessen. The steady mind then becomes an instrument for higher and consistent contemplation on the spring of Life within our heart.
Listening to Bhagavata is the only path at this moment available to you and me. We may read an Upanishad and intellectually understand it, but mere understanding is not the fulfilment of the Upanishads. We have to become one with that knowledge. We have to translate it into our own life.
When we start trying to apply the teachings of Bhagavata in our life, we are unable to because the mind is always wandering outward; it is always extrovert. It is fascinated by the immediate pleasures of sense gratification. It is so in all hearts; there is no question of keeping it a secret. Every one of us is lusty, greedy, selfish, and egocentric. In such a condition, how are we to turn and contemplate on the higher Reality?
In order to drag the mind away from its wanderings and persuade it to understand that there is a greater joy, a higher happiness in contemplating on the Lord; in order to slowly turn the mind- for which even the psychiatrist does not know all the possible psychological tricks-Vyasa enchants us with Bhagavata.
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