The purpose of the Puraanas is to popularize the abstract ethical and spiritual truths contained in the Vedas and the Upanishads by means of concrete illustrations from the lives of avatars, saints, sages, kings, true devotees etc. The Puraanas are said to have the 'double character of illustrative value and impressive actuality'. Hence it is essential to fully utilize these Puraanas for the common man to realize the truths of the Vedas which are beyond the realm of most religious minded people who have had no opportunity to learn the Vedas with their subdivisions or even to learn Sanskrit language in which all the Hindu religious scriptures are written. With this in mind the present text is prepared as an attempt to bring to the common man the essence of Srimad Bhaagavatam, the most authoritative of all the Puraanas.
The authorship of the eighteen major Puraanas - six each on Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, is attributed to the great sage Vedavyaasa, the author of Mahaabhaaratam who is also credited with the work of the classification of the Vedas. Bhaagavatam, the most popular of the eighteen Puraanas is considered as their authoritative scripture by the Vaishnavites and their religion, which teaches the ideal of love for God and complete surrender to Him, is known as Bhaagavata religion. The uniqueness of this Puraana lies in the reconciliation of knowledge and devotion.
According to Puraanas, like the other Hindu scriptures, there is no absolute beginning or end for creation, the universe moves in cycles. The historic evolution of life is divided into four Yugas-Krta or Satya, Treta, Dwaapara and Kali. With the passing away of Krshna Kaliyuga began and lasts for 4,32,000 years which will once again be followed by Satya Yuga wherein virtues will reign supreme unlike in the present Yuga. The eleventh book of Bhagavatam as well as the Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita contain teachings on love, knowledge, service, meditation etc. Those who have realized the transient nature of this materialistic world should, for peace and tranquillity, take to the path of spirituality and the pre requisites for spiritual life are virtues like truth, honesty, modesty, austerity, forgiveness, patience, physical and mental purity, detachment etc. Chanting the name of the Lord, surrendering oneself to Him, working for the good of others, doing one's duty with no attachment or desire for fruit etc are all means to unfold one's spirituality. May the present selection of stories of Dhruva, Prahlaada, Ambareesha and Ajaamila who attained eternal and highest bliss by resorting to such spiritual life inspire the readers. From among many stories of Bhaagavatam only these have been culled out and presented together in order to illustrate true and unselfish love for God as these personalities are paramabhakthas or devotees of highest order.
The text with translation of the relevant portions provided in this book is taken from Srimad Bhaagavatam, translated by Swami Tapasyananda and published in four volumes by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras. We have depended, to a great extent, on this edition of Bhaagavatam as well as the translation by Swami Prabhavananda, also published by Sri Ramakrishna Math. Madras. The text has been compiled selecting the stories of true devotees who attained highest bliss and freedom from the bondage of karma by following the path of Bhakthi yoga. In a similar fashion we intend to compile the stories of other great personalities from Bhaagavatam who also attained their highest goal by following the ideals of renunciation and wisdom which will be published as separate texts. The idea of compiling and publishing this series of books entitled 'Literature for Values' is to reach out to the common man - anyone who is interested in uplifting himself and dedicating his service for the welfare of the mankind. The depth and vastness of the knowledge contained in our scriptures is unfathomable. Sanskrit literature is vast and deep like a sea and the words of wisdom lie scattered like pearls in the depth. These pearls have already been searched for, collected and brought to the surface by many scholars - this wisdom has been analyzed and interpreted and brought to light in the form of books. Our intention is to select a few of such words which show to the common man the path to be taken in life as prescribed by these scriptures. The essential and most important teachings of these scriptures are repeated with each story so that they get registered and remain deep rooted in the minds of the readers. I take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan for taking up this project and publishing these books in a remarkable manner.
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