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Srimad Bhagavata Purana

Bhagavata as available today, has been divided into 12 skandhas or books, further divided into 335 adhyayas or chapters, containing in all, a little more than 14,000 slokas or verses. However, tradition has always put it at 18,000 verses.

The Bhagavata is a work of exceptional literary merit. It is as graceful as it is tough. Whether it is a description of nature (10.20) or of places like Mathura and Dwarka (10.41; 10.37) or depiction of the well-known navarasas (nine poetic sentiments 10.29; 10.60; 10.37; 10.8; 10.80, 81), Bhagavata excels in every way. No wonder then, that the community of scholars have, for centuries, accepted it as a touchstone of their erudition.

Traditional Commentaries

For this very reason, the Bhagavata has attracted the attention of several scholars who have composed commentaries on it. As many as 44 commentaries are known to exist.

By far, the Bhavarthadipika of Sridharasvamin (14th cent.) seems to be the most popular of these commentaries. Brevity and clarity, a rather difficult combination, are its chief characteristics. It has also steered clear of controversies. Dipini is sub-commentary on this work by Radharamanadasa Gosvamin. Since Sridhara was a monk of the Advaita school of Vedanta, the other two schools Visistadvaita and Dvaita-did not want to lag behind. The Bhagavata-candrika of Viraraghavacarya and the Padaratnavali of Vijayadhavaja-tirtha are the commentaries, respectively, of these two schools. The other well-known commentaries still holding their sway among the followers of the respective cults are: Subodhini of Vallabhacarya (A. D. 1473-1531); Siddhanta-pradipa of Nimbarkacarya (12th cent.); Kramasandarbha of Jivagosvamin (15th cent.) and Sararthadarsini of Visvanatha-cakravartin (17th cent.). Sanatana Gosvamin (15th cent.) has chosen to comment only on the tenth skandha. This work, Brhad-vaisnavatosini, is highly venerated by the followers of the Caitanya school.