Bhavas in Srimad Bhagavatam – 3
Given below are a few excerpts from Sri Sri Swamiji’s recent expounding of Srimad Bhagavatam:
The twelve cantos
Srimad Bhagavatam consists of 12 cantos. Each of these cantos contains a bunch of stories, teachings and philosophies. Sage Vyasa has meticulously grouped the contents of the great ‘grantha’ into appropriate cantos based on the numbering of the cantos!
The first sloka of the first chapter in this canto ends with the verse, ‘satyam param dhImahI’ – let us meditate on the Supreme Truth – the supreme truth being verily the ‘Brahman’. The Upanishads qualify the Brahman as being ‘ the One’ – ‘Sa Eka:’ – aptly enough, it takes its place in the first canto.
Though the Brahman is One without the second, in order for creation and sustenance of the Universe, it is manifested with ‘Nama’ and ‘Rupa’ (names and forms) as ‘Saguna’. The second canto in Bhagavatam talks about the different incarnations of the Lord – the Brahman manifested as ‘form’ and ‘attributes’.
Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution are the three prime activities performed by the Almighty. Sage Vyasa has aptly placed the Primordial Creation and the nature of the Universe in Canto 3.
Four in number, are the canonical goals of human life (‘Purushartas’) – Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (desires) and Moksha (liberation). The little child Dhruva performed penance towards the attainment of all these four goals, making the fourth canto the apt container for his story!
The five Pranas known have to be controlled for one to attain liberation. The lives of Jnaanis namely, Rishaba Yogeshwara and Jadabharata had this sense control, and hence find their place in the fifth canto.
Six Karmas are prescribed for every brahmin. Ajamila, portrayed as the sinner, had failed to perform all of these six karma, and yet attained the feet of the Lord through yet another higher Dharma – Nama Kirtan. Hence his episode is placed in the sixth canto.
The Vedas contain seven parts and Shri Nrisimha Bhagavan manifested Himself as a ‘Veda Vedhya’ for the devotee Prahlada, the Prahlada Charitra is in the seventh canto.
There are eight forms of Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth. Is it not apt that the birth of Goddess Lakshmi (who appeared from the ocean when Amruta Mathana was performed and wedded Lord Narayana) be placed in the 8th canto? [The birth of Mahalakshmi is mentioned in the eighth sloka of the eighth chapter of the eight canto!]
Lord Rama took birth on the ‘Navami’ day, the ninth day after the new moon day, in the Chitra month and hence, His story finds its place in the ninth canto.
There are ten widely mentioned incarnations of the Lord. As a corroboration of the fact that it was indeed Lord Krishna who took all the ten different forms, the divine story of Lord Krishna is placed in the tenth canto.
Vedanta Vichara calls fro the control of the 11 indriyas – the 5 ‘karma indriyas’, the 5 ‘jnana indriyas’ and the mind. Aptly enough, the eleventh canto contains sections detailing the Vedanta.
The twelfth canto talks about Nama Kirtan being the easiest way of reaching the Almighty. The Names of the Lord are twelve in number – Kesava, Narayana, Madhava, Govinda, Vishnu, Madhusudhana, Trivikrama, Vamana, Sridhara, Hrishikesha, Padmanabha, Damodhara, and these twelve Names form basis for all kirtan, denoting ‘Para Vasudeva’ who leads us to liberation.