Of all the branches of knowledge in the world, spiritual knowledge is the best. All the difficulties that are faced by mankind can be overcome only by acquiring spiritual knowledge. That's why, Lord Krishna declares in the Gita, "I am the Science of self-knowledge amongst Sciences". (Adhyaatmavidyaa, vidyanaam - Gita, X-32)
The spiritual knowledge is obtained through the scriptures like Vedas, Sastras, and Puranas and Bhagavatam is the foremost of all such scriptures. Veda Vyasa, who was suffering from lack of mental peace, derived it after composing Bhagavata, on the advice of sage Narada. This Bhagavata is the store-house of knowledge which gives peace and happiness to the whole of mankind.
Amongst the holy books that teach Bhaktiyoga, Bhagavata occupies the first place. Bhagavata propounds the way to obtain the grace of God, leading to liberation through interesting stories and sub-stories. There are many commentaries on Bhagavata out of which the commentaries, written by Sreedharaswami, Sri Veeraraghavaacharya and Sri Vijayadhwaja Teertha, are famous for their exposition of the three branches of philosophy, viz. Advaita, Visishtadwaita and Dwaita, respectively.
Sri Bhagavatam Project was established by the T.T.D., to bring out the critical edition of Bhagavata, with the above commentaries. It was decided to publish this book in 14 volumes, out of which 8 volumes have already been released. 5 volumes, including the 12th Skandha, were handed over to the press for printing. This volume is the 11th Skandha which contains the whole essence of Vedanta. Uddhava Gita, contained in this volume, includes Bikshu Gita and Aila Gita etc. It brings out beautifully the essence of spiritual knowledge, It is extolled as equal to Bhagavad Gita.
The successful efforts of eminent scholar Dr. N.C.Y. Narasimhacharya and other pandits in preparation of this edition are laudable. We feel extremely happy for having had the opportunity to present this Bhagavatam in Sanskrit with three valuable commentaries, to the devotees.
We hope the readers, as well as educational institutions, would utilise this book fully, thereby making the T.T.D's efforts fruitful.
Sri Bhagavata is the fruit fallen from the Vedakalpavruksha. It is said to be the essence of entire Vedanta. One who has tasted this nectar, does not like any other thing, says Bhagavata. This is the eleventh Skandha of Bhagavata, which contains 31 chapters. Beginning from the 3rd Skandha, till the end of the book, ten characteristics are depicted in each chapter as follows:- Sarga, Visarga, Sthana, Poshana, Uti, Manvantara, Eshanukatha, Nirodha, Mukti and Ashraya. This volume explains the nature of Mukthi.
What is Mukthi (liberation)? Leaving all other forms and dwelling in one's own self is Mukthi, that is, dwelling in pure chaitanya, leaving one's sense and body consciousness. In the first six chapters of this book, incidents pertaining to the end of Krishnavatara are described. Lord Krishna had declared in the Bhagavad Gita that in order to destroy the wicked and protect the virtuous, and to establish Dharma, He incarnats in each yuga (age).
The war of Kurukshetra helped to a large extent to reduce the burden of the earth. Nevertheless, God realised that the remaining Yadava clan was also burdensome. It was invincible under the protection of the Lord Himself. Therefore, determined as He was to reduce the burden of the earth, He decided to destroy the Yadava clan by planting an inner fighting amongst them. To achieve this, a curse by the sages on Yadava clan, was planned. Once, the sages visited the city of Dwaraka. The Urchin boys of Yadavas, on seeing the sages decided to play a trick on them. They dressed a lad Samba, the son of Jambavathi, look like a pregnant woman and asked the sages, to foretell the sex of the child to be born. Enraged at their mischievous question, the sages said that a 'Pestle' would be born.
Despite knowing the curse pronounced by the sages, the Lord did not want to intervene. This curse intended to destroy the Yadava clan is included in the first chapter of this Skandha.
From the 2nd to 5th chapter, the teachings of Narada to Vasudeva, are described. In this teaching, the virtues of devotees, their characteristics, the nature of Maya, the way of overcoming it, description of Lord's incarnations, the nature of people without devotion; the different modes of worship based on changing times etc. are explained.
Narada described the importance of' Kaliyuga as follows: "Venerable and knowledgeable people respect the age of Kali, wherein all the wishes would be fulfilled by mere sankeertana Permanent peace would be attained through it and the cycle of birth and death would be annihilated. What greater benefit would there be for humanity than this? The people of former ages like Krutayuga, desire to take birth in the fourth yuga. The people of Kaliyuga, naturally become devotees of Narayana."
Thus, the usefulness of' Nama samkeertana' in Kaliyuga is stressed here. It echoes the state- ment made in Kalisantaranopanishad, that the bad effects of Kali would be warded off by mere chanting the holy name of Srimannarayana.
Thereafter, the conversation between Sri Krishna and Uddhava starts in the 6th chapter. This discussion pregnant with spiritual thought stretches upto 29th chapter. This part of Bhagavata is considered to be the best.
Knowing that the Lord is going to disappear from the earth, the eminent devotee Uddhava, gets perturbed at the thought of separation from the Lord. He prays Sri Krishna as follows:
"Oh! Lord. You are leaving this world after annihilating the Yadavas. I cannot leave your lotus feet, even for a second. Please take me too, to your abode".
Then the Lord gives the last message to him. He explains a number of spiritual truths to inquisitive Uddhava.
The conversation between Sri Krishna and Arjuna contained in Maha Bharata is famous as Bhagavad Gita. Similarly, this conversation with Uddhava is well known as 'Uddhava Gita'.
The Moha (delusion) and Soka (sorrow) of Arjuna were dispelled by Sri Krishna, through the teachings of Gita, at the very beginning of Kurukshetra war. This teaching was made by Sri Krishna here, to console and teach self-knowledge to Uddhava who was bewildered at the thought of separation. Though it was taught by the Lord, it has assumed the name of Uddhava, as Uddhava Gita. This shows the extreme devotion and intense inquisitiveness of Uddhava. This assumes special importance, as it was the message delivered by Sri Krishna at the very end of his Avatara.
The interesting story of Avadhuta, who mentions 24 Gurus in this Skandha, is very important and inspiring. Avadhuta says that he has learnt many good things from these gurus i.e, The Earth, Air, Sky, Water, Fire, Moon, Sun, Dove, Python, Sea, Moth, Honey - bee, Elephant, Honey - gatherer, Deer, Fish, a courtesan by name Pingala, Osprey, Infant, a Maiden, Arrowmaker, Serpent, Spider and Wasp.
The method of teaching by these Gurus is vididly described in the three chapter’s viz. 7th to 9th.
The tenth Chapter describes that the identification of the self with the body leads to samsara, and the world is a myth.
In the next chapter, the characteristics of bound and liberated souls, the sages and the way to obtain devotion, are explained.
The 12th chapter gives an account of the importance of Sat sang (association with good people).
Also it contains the condition of work, when to do it and when not. Teaching made to Brahma, by the Lord in the form of Swan; the greatness of Bhakthi, and 18 kinds of Siddhi, are described in the succeeding three chapters.
In the 16th chapter, the Vibhuthis, i.e. manifold manifestations of the Lord are described. The tenth Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita also contains the same description. Both descriptions in these two scriptures are similar.
Uddhava questioned Lord Krishna to explain the various manifestations by worshipping which, the sages attained liberation. The Lord said that similar question was put to him, by Arjuna, and he explained his Vibhuthis to Uddhava. This is an important explanation to be remembered.
From the next to the 20th chapter, Vamas, Ashramas, Yama and Niyama etc. Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti yogas are enunciated.
In the 21st chapter, good and bad effects of objects and places are described. The next chapter gives an account of the number of 'TattWas' and discrimination between Prakruthi and Purusha. There are different opinions about the number of 'Tattwas'. Pressed to be specific about the number of 'Tattwas' by Uddhava, the Lord replied that one could decide the number, depending on one's own discretion, taking into consideration various opinions.
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