When does one get Bhagavatam?
Srimad Bhagavatam is a narration of the glories of the Lord by Sage Suka to king Parikshit. Going by this logic, the Purana should have commenced with the story of Parikshit. But how does the Purana start?
It starts with the story of Ashwattama killing the progeny of the Pandavas and his deploying Brahmastra against Arjuna. Why does Sage Vyasa start the Purana with this incident? It is because this is where Mahabharata ends. It is only to show that Bhagavatam is a continuation of the Mahabharata that the epic starts thus.
What is the import of such a beginning? – ‘Dharmakshetre Kurukshetre’ goes the Bhagavat Gita. Dharmakhetra is nothing but our body. Mahabharata, the battle between the 5 Pandavas and the 100 Kauravas, is nothing but the battle between the good thoughts (‘Pandu’ means white and the good thoughts are very few in number) and the hundreds of bad thoughts (represented by the Kauravas).
It is the battle between the good and the bad in our own self, and finally the good triumphs, making us saatvic in nature.
So, once, we destroy all the bad thoughts and become saatvic, we get to read the ‘Bhagavatam’, which leads us to Mukti! [This is why Bhagavatam is shown as a continuation of the Mahabharata]
What would happen if we perform Bhakti while the evil thoughts are still dominating? It would lead to confusion. Confusion is another way to attain liberation. It was the confusion that led Vivekananda to the highest state. But this calls for a right Guru to guide one out of confusion; and it takes a long time too (unlike the fear of death, which instantly gave the experience of liberation to Bhagavan Ramana).