Sri Vyas ji says- Upon hearing the questions of the Shaunkadi Brahmavadi Rishis (sages), Ugrashrava, son of Romaharshana, was filled with joy. He praised and congratulated the sages for asking such an auspicious question and began to speak.
Sut ji said- At the time, when even Sri Shukadev ji’s Yagyopavit Sanskar (a highly sacred ceremony in which a sacred thread is worn, mostly by Brahmins) had not been performed, when the auspicious time of performing the worldly or Vedic rituals had not come, he (Shukdevji) alone, with the intention of taking sanyasa (life of renunciation, purification of everything), left. Seeing him leave the house and everything at such a young age, his father Vyas ji, driven by the fear of separation and sorrow of parting with his son, began calling out ‘Son! Son!’ At that time, being absorbed in transcendence, the trees responded on behalf of Shukdev ji. I offer my respects to the great sage Sri Shukadev ji, who is present in the hearts of all.
This scripture of Srimad Bhagwat Mahapuran, sparking the wave of devotion among one, is extremely divine and mystical. It is the essence of all the Vedas and helps one to experience and awaken to the true form of the Supreme Lord, when read with full sincerity, devotion and purity. It is a unique lamp that illuminates the spiritual principles for those who are trapped in the darkness of ignorance and lack of spiritual wisdom in this world. Out of compassion for such spiritual seekers, the great sage Sri Shukdev ji describes and narrated this pure, euphoric and life changing Purana (scripture). I offer him my respects. One should read this Srimad Bhagavat Mahapurana while offering obeisance to the greatest avataras of the Lord among the humans, Nar-Narayana, all the sages, Goddess Saraswati and Sri Vyas Dev ji, in order to liberate ourselves from all the illusions and sufferings of outer as well as inner world.
Addressing all the sages Sut ji further says-
You all have asked a very beautiful question for the welfare of the whole world, because this question is related to Sri Krishna and it leads to self- purification. The best religion for the human beings is the one that leads to devotion towards Lord Sri Krishna- a devotion that is free from all the desires and expectations, selfless and remains constant. With such devotion, one immerses in the state of gratitude and attains the realization of the Supreme Lord that resides in us in the form of soul, who is the embodiment of pure joy in the heart. Once the devotion to the Lord Sri Krishna arises, the manifestation of selfless knowledge and detachment occurs, as one becomes fully absorbed in Him with unconditional love. Even after following the path of Dharma (righteousness) correctly, if one does not get overwhelmed by listening to the divine stories of the Lord, and does not experience the joy of selfless devotion, it is all in vain. The purpose of Dharma is Moksha (liberation; salvation). It shouldn’t be used as a means of obtaining wealth. Wealth is to be used for the sake of Dharma, and not for enjoying materialistic desires and pleasures. The purpose of materialistic desires is not to satisfy the senses, but to sustain life. The purpose of life is also the quest for truth and knowledge. Ascending to heaven is neither the ultimate purpose of human life. Those with high spiritual wisdom and knowledge address or refer to the indivisible, non- dual, blissful form of knowledge as Tatva (the ultimate supreme truth), which some address as Brahma (the creator of this entire cosmos), some as Parmatma (the ultimate soul) and some as Bhagavan (the Lord. Devout sages experience that supreme truth in their hearts through Bhagavata listening, accompanied by knowledge and renunciation. Shaunkadi Rishis! This is the only reason why humans should practice their respective varnas and ashrams in accordance with Dharma, as it pleases the Lord. Therefore, one should diligently, with focused mind, engage in daily chanting, meditating and worshiping the compassionate Supreme Lord.
The knot of Karma is very strong. A wise person cuts through that knot with the sword of contemplation and devotion towards the Lord. Then who would not love the divine stories of god? Shaunkadi Rishis! Visiting sacred places sparks the willingness to do seva, then followed by the desire of listening to the divine stories, which strengthens our faith, leading to a keen interest in the stories of the Lord. Both, listening and singing the glory of Sri Krishna, purifies us. The Lord himself enters in the hearth of those who sincerely, selflessly and devotedly listens to the divine stories, and destroys all negative samskaras and negative tendencies, as HE is the eternal well- wisher and compassionate to the pure hearted people. After constantly reading or listening to the Srimad Bhagvat Mahapuran, or even after being in the presence and around the devotees of Lord, all the negativity within us gets destroyed, and the attainment of permanent selfless love for Sri Krishna happens. One then becomes free from Rajas and Tamas, i.e. experiences freedom from emotions or thoughts like lust and greed, and immerses in Satva, i.e calm, peace and a state of compassion and gratitude and purity. In this way, when devotion leads to detachment from the world and desires, the heart fills with joy, and manifestation of the true form of the Lord happens. As soon as the realization of the true form of the Lord happens in the heart, the knot of the heart gets untangled, all doubts gets dispelled, and the bondage of Karma gets destroyed. Therefore knowledgeable people with great joy offer their love and devotion to Lord Sri Krishna, through which they attain the ultimate peace.
There are three forms of nature- Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Accepting these, the Lord in the form of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra perform the role of creation, maintenance and destruction of the cosmos. However, the ultimate welfare of humans is possible only after worshiping and devoting ourselves in the lotus feet of Lord Sri Vishnu, filled with Sattva. Just as compared to wood, smoke is better, and fire is even better as compared to smoke, as fire gives good results in Vedic rituals and sacrifices, similarly, compared to Tamas, Rajas is better and Satva is even better than Rajas, because it leads to the attainment of the Lord. In ancient times, great souls used to worship the Lord Sri Vishnu, who is filled with Sattva, for their well- being. Even now, those who follow in their footsteps, become devoted to the same well-being. Those who want to go beyond this ocean of materialistic worldly existence, do not bad mouth about others, who do not see faults in others, do not worship the fierce forms of Bhairava and other ghostly beings filled with Rajasic and Tamasic qualities, but rather worship the Lord Vishnu and his other incarnations filled with Sattva. But those whose nature is Rajasic and Tamasic, they worship the ghosts, ancestors and Prajapatis with the desire for wealth, power and offspring, because their nature is similar to those beings. The Vedas refer to Lord Krishna alone. The purpose of all Yagnyas (Homas) is also Sri Krishna. Yoga is performed for Sri Krishna, and the culmination of all actions is also in Lord Sri Krishna.
Spiritual knowledge leads to the attainment of the cosmic form of Sri Krishna. Tapasya is performed to please Sri Krishna. All religious practices are performed for Sri Krishna, and all actions and all deeds converge in Him. Although Lord Sri Krishna is devoid from Prakruti (the original or natural form of anything; original or primary substance) and its attributes, His divine energy or Maya, which is present from the perspective of phenomenal universe, but is just an mythological imagination from the perspective of science, creates this universe and everything in it. These three qualities- Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are all manifestations of that same Maya; yet the Lord residing within them, appears to be associated with them. In reality, He is a complete embodiment of pure knowledge. Fire is essentially the same, but when it appears in different types of wood, it seems to be different. Similarly, though the Lord is one, He appears to be many according to the diversity of the living beings and the forms in which they worship. It is the Lord who, through the subtle elements, senses and mind, creates the different species of life, and then, entering into each of them, experiences the essence of this worldly life. He creates all beings and takes various avatars among Gods, Humans, Animals and Birds, with the intention of nurturing and showering everyone with his blessings and grace through his leelas (divine play).