“Shrimad-Bhagavatam is so made that one becomes at once engaged in the path of self-realization simply by hearing the topics. Although it is especially meant for the paramahamsas, or those who are totally engaged in self-realization, it works into the depths of the hearts of those who may be worldly men. Worldly men are all engaged in sense gratification. But even such men will find in this Vedic literature a remedial measure for their material diseases.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.7.8 Purport)Download this episode (right click and save)
Upon first glance, the various spiritual traditions of the world might look like a professional sports league. You have your franchise from this part of the world. Then you have a franchise from another. The people of the respective regions have their allegiances. Amongst the vast variety there is a unifying practice: each group thinks their religion is superior. This may lead the person with little knowledge to speculate further. “Perhaps the people just need religion to feel good. Maybe they have found happiness in that way. Never mind for myself, though, for I have more important matters to tend to.” The highest dharma, the one that covers all religions, sub-religions, desires, concoctions, and temporary fads, solves all problems for all people, even those who think otherwise. This dharma, or system of religiosity, is bhagavata-dharma and it has a lengthy work exclusively devoted to it: the Shrimad Bhagavatam.
Imagine this scene. You work in an office. The company provides software to various companies. The only thing typical about your work day is that nothing is ever fixed. You’re never devoted to a single project. The boss wants this thing done. The people in the accounting department have their own problems that they want you to look into. The other people in the technology section want to talk to you about nothing, a way to pass the day. You fix one thing and then there’s another problem.
The job takes its toll so much that you barely have time to yourself at night. Forget cooking for yourself, you live at the drive-thru window of the local fast food restaurant. They know your order each time you show up. “The usual, Mr. Hard At Work,” they ask you each time you pull up in your car. With embarrassment you say, “Yes, please.”
Finally, a Friday comes along where you’re planning to leave early. You’re getting away for the weekend. You’re not going to take your laptop computer with you. Just you and a couple of friends driving to a remote area with a pleasant environment. As you’re about to leave early on Friday, someone comes into your office. “Mr. Such and Such is on the phone from that company that we’re trying to get as a client. They need you on a conference call right now.” You ask if someone else can take it, and they tell you “no.” You ask why no one informed you of this beforehand, and they don’t have an answer. For pretty much anyone else in the company, it would be easy to leave, skipping the meeting. But you know if you do that you will hear about it on Monday. You will get yelled at for potentially blowing a big deal. Realizing that you have no choice but to stay, in a fit of rage you take the phone that’s on your desk and throw it against the wall.
“I just want peace,” you keep saying to yourself as you drive home. At this point, if someone were to suggest religion to you, you would likely dismiss it. “I don’t need a church or a savior. I’m not worried about the afterlife. I want peace, right now. I want to get rid of my worries.” Shrimad Bhagavatam, though seemingly a religious book, has the answer. The cream of this work is descriptions of the delightful pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose very name is the elixir for the distressed, be they a person in the business world or a renunciate living in a remote cave.
Meditation is the best way to get peace. Focus the mind on something wonderful. Nothing is more wonderful than the transcendental form of the Supreme Lord. In Sanskrit it is described as sach-chid-ananda. There is eternality, knowledge and bliss. This form exists in the flesh; it is not an abstract concept. Due to its flawless nature, its eternality in truth, it can exist within the mind as well. It is the same form whether thought about or seen directly. Hearing about it gives the picture for the mind.
The speaker of the Shrimad Bhagavatam knows that man hears about so many different people all the time. The topics of the Supreme Lord in His personal form are special, though. One only gets the true benefit of meditating on such a person by first knowing His true nature. If you hear about a boy stealing butter and lifting a giant mountain, you may consider the stories to be mythology. But if you know that such a boy is the Supreme Lord, the cause of all causes, the most beautiful person in the universe, who is also the most compassionate, then you’ll want to hear of His stealing of the butter in Vrindavana over and over again. In fact, nothing else will come close to this topic. You will wonder why no one ever told you about Krishna before, who is the darling child of Nanda Maharaja and mother Yashoda. You will wonder why everyone in the world is not meditating constantly on such a benevolent Lord.
Experience provides an understanding as to the reason for the lack of worship. Therefore the wise soul, who hears Shrimad Bhagavatam, whether they are a busy materialist or an aspiring transcendentalist, follows the directions of the advanced souls to reach the objective of constant meditation. They hear from Shrimad Bhagavatam, and when separated from that hearing they get the same association through the constant chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Bhagavatam from heaven sent,
For all audiences meant.
Those who trouble never have seen,
And those miserable and always mean.
Meditation the path to peace true,
From hearing of God image in mind too.
Bhagavatam’s descriptions perfectly aligned,
Knowledge of God and His play you’ll find.