Swami (Devi) Vasantananda, a medical graduate of Madras University, was initiate by Swami Sivananda Saraswathi of Rishikesh into Sanyasa Order in 1957. Since then she has been conducting spiritual discourses and Satsangas all over India and abroad. She is learned and eloquent. She has written commentaries on the Upanishads, Bhagavadgita, Lalita Sahasranama, Bhagavatam and Patanjali Yoga Sutras.
Her father and grand father were close associates of the great Tamil poet-patriot Sri Subramania Bharati during his exile in Pondicherry. The reminiscences written by her father have been compiled and edited and published by her as a centenary tribute to the poet during Bharati centenary celebrations. The book is written in Tamil and is Puduvayi Bharatiar.
She had established an Ashram in Uttarakashi in the Himalayas and has another one in Madras and a few spiritual centres at other places in India abroad.
She is Founder President of the Lokakshema Trust devoted to spiritual, religious, cultural and social activities. Under the auspices of the above Trust festivals like Vinayaka Chaturthi, Sri Krishna Jayanthi, Navaratri, Sri Rama Navami, Vyasa Puja and Sankara Jayanti are celebrated.
Trained in Carnatic Music, she has also established a Kirtana Mandali for ladies to conduct Bhajans and Namasankirtanam.
My first detailed study of the sacred Purana Srimad Bhagavatam happened in a very holy atmosphere in a place called "Sukartal" on the banks of Ganga sanctified by great saints and sages. It took place suddenly and in a most unexpected manner almost like a miracle. Though I was initially reluctant, one of my devotes in Delhi Virtually lifted me bodily and put me in her car and took me to Sukartal, Probable way back in late sixties of last century, where she was to hold a Bhagavata Saptaha. I was to be her main listener.
When I reached Sukartal,it immwdiately caused a spell on me which took me unawares for it was beyond all my expectations in beauty, sancity and inspiration with powerful spiritual vibrations for devotees of Bhagavatam, Sukartal was then a small obscure hamlet traditionally believed to be hallowed by the eternal spiritual presence of Sage Suka, the exponent of Bhagavatam and saint son of Vyasa. For Sage Suka there is a lovely temple consecrated in the place. When I entered the sanctum sanctorum. I almost went into a trance of Krishna Consciousness as I stood transfixed (for how long I do not remember) in front of the idol of Sage Suka as the mellifluous notes of musical verses of Bhagavatam recited by Him engulfed me. At once my faith was confirmed that Sukartal is the sport where Srimad Bhagavatam was first expounded by Sage Suka to king Parikshit and to the congregation of great Rishis.
When the Bhagavata Saptaha proceeded I listened with intense Bhava and Bhakti in the aftermath of the earlier transc experience in the sanctorum of the temple. As is my nabbit always when I listened to scriptures I automatically took notes as the Skandhas were unfolded. This was the original nucleus Manuscript (MSS) of mine on Srimad Bhagavatam. Somehow it took a back seat among other MSS on Scriptures like Upanisad. Gita, Patanjali Yoga, etc. for a long, long time. The latter scriptures were published one by one again at long intervals. Even when the original notes on Bhagavatam was revised in detail it took shape only as "A Bird's Eyeview" of the great scripture and first speared as a serial in the journal "Light and Superlight". Later I decided to get the articles and the balance of the unpublished material printed in a book form. I am quite conscious of the fact that full justice to the subject matter has not been done. But I can assure the reader that I have done my best to convey the core teachings of each Skandha in English in a narrative form for those who are not familiar ith Sanskrit. This aspect of the book has been emphasized very clearly by Holiness Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamigal, the present pontiff of Sri Sringeri Mutt in His gractious Srimukham to the publication. I am extremely thankful to him for pointing this out. Any way, I am blessed that with the Grace of Supreme Narayana, Sage Suka and the blessings of Sringeri Acharya, at last the book has seen the light of the Day.
Thought I have followed Sri Sridhara's famous and popular commentary and clarifications on Bhagavatam. I am extremely thankful to Gita press. Gorakhpur whose publication on Srimad Bhagavatam has greatly helped me while finally recasting my MSS.
Of the eighteen Puranas, Srimad Bhagavatam is unique in many respects and stands at the top of the spiritual books of the Hindus. It stands as a versatile colossus of effulgence like the Sun. It eclipses the other Puranas, which shed only a twinkle on God themes in the firmament of Hindu scriptures. The authority and esteem given to the Bhagavatam among books on Bhakti cult are paramount.
The truths embodied in the Upanishads, are abstruse. They talk only about the transcendental aspect of God without attributes or qualities, as an abstract, Absolute Reality technically described as' irguna Brahman'. To make the difficult and terse doctrines contained in the Upanishads easy. of grasp for the generality of mankind the Bhagavatam elucidates those doctrines and truths in an easy and digestible form. It brings the "Nirguna" truth to us in a "Saguna" form. That is, the Abstract is represented as Concrete. The invisible God becomes a visible "Avatara", The transcendental becomes immanent. The abstruse becomes tangible and palpable. The mystic beauty of Bhagavatam lies in the unique reconciliation of the Contraries. That is it makes the Nirguna a Saguna, the abstract a concrete reality, without however diminishing or tarnishing the absolute aspect of the Godhead. The fundamental philosophy according to the Bhagavatam is, irguna and Saguna are one and the same like the obverse and reverse sides of the same coin. That is why we find in the narratives of Lord's Lila (sport) in Bhagavatam, the Godhead being characterized as abstract and concrete Saguna and Nirguna at the same time.
Bhakti is spontaneous upsurge of intense prema or Divine Love for one's Beloved. The Beloved is a concrete form of the Lord called the "Ishta-Devata", This spontaneous prema is unmotivated by any selfish considerations. There is not even the motive of Mukti or liberation or asking anything from one's Beloved. It is a state of absolute surrender wherein everything is for and is the Beloved alone. This is expressed as an yearning for the Union with one's Beloved forever with surrender and self-effacement. Bhakti is described by many similes. It is like the creeper seeking a merger or union with a tree or a chaste wife seeking oneness with her Lord, or like the rivers seeking and merging themselves with the ocean.
Bhakti in its essence is beyond definition and description. I t is a thing of personal experience and strictly between the lover and the Beloved in the ultimate analysis. However, summarizing all the feelings and sentiments involved in bhakti and its ultimate consummation in "Parama-prema" or infinite upsurge of love for the Beloved, Sri Narada, the crest-jewel of the bhaktas of Sri Hari defines it in his "Bhakti-Sutras" as follows:-
Narada says, "that is of the nature of the consecration of all
activities to the Lord and of extreme anguish at forgetting Him".
Intense and infinite love is of the nature of infinite supreme bliss at union with God and infinite or unbearable grief at separation from him. These two experiences are one and the same again, like the obverse sides of the same coin. They are best seen in the lives of the Gopis of Brindavan.
The Gopis of Brindavan surrendered themselves in toto to Lord Sri Krishna. The Bhagavatam says: "They surrendered their intellects and souls to the Lord; they are surrendered in Him; they regarded him as the highest goal; they always sang His glorious qualities; they forgot themselves and their houses."
Gopis had peerless devotion and pure Divine Prema or love for their Lord. It was shorn of all dross of human selfish love, for in human selfish love there is love for one's own joy. In devotion or parama prema the lover is centred not in one's own selfish happiness but is centred in seeking the joy of the Beloved in utter self-surrender, service and self-effacement. The Gopis knew their Sri Krishna was God and their very Being. Thus we find the very soil of Brindavan is hallowed with the vibrations of Gopis intense Krishna Prema and having been the scene of all Lord's leela (sport) to teach humanity the path of true bhakti.
Brindavan being such a blessed and hallowed place of Lord's descent and sport it is the fittest setting in which the "Bhagavata Mahatmya" or the glory of Srimad Bhagavata Purana itself is to be placed.
Bhagavata Mahatmya or The Glory of Bhagavatam
Once upon a time in the forest known as Naimisaranya a place sacred to Sri Vishnu, Saunaka and other sages were put to great pain and peril due to the onslaught of the evil effects of the dark age of Kali. Anxious to seek redemption they approached their Guru Sri Suta rishi with all reverence and devotion and asked him as to why people being devoid of Bhakti, Gyana (wisdom) and Viveka (discrimination) resorted to perpetration of evil in the world and how to redeem them from it and show them the path by which, purifying themselves, they shall attain beatitude.
The wise sage Suta was much pleased to find this spirit of enquiry in his pupils, which spoke amply of their discontent and their earnest yearning for Divine knowledge. He therefore addressed his beloved pupils thus:-
"Sages you have done well in asking me a question which is conducive to the welfare of the world, for your enquiry relates to the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. This topic, which completely purifies the heart, is embodied in the peerless scripture "Srimad Bhagavatam".
Then sage Suta said that the sage Narada approached Sanat Kumaras the celestial youths, Brahma's sons (Narada's elder brothers) for enlightenment as to how to study, preach and listen to this Holy Scripture. Then the sages of aimisaranya asked Sri Suta as to how, where and when sage Narada contacted Sanat Kumaras. In answering this question Sri Suta said that once four great Maharishis had gathered for a satsanga when sage Narada came in their midst, with intense anguish of heart. The Maharishis were taken by surprise at the melancholy and the mood of depression in Narada. They enquired the reason for his melancholy mood, which has overtaken the celestial sage. Sorely affected by their query, Narada gave vent to his feelings of anguish in a sorrowful narrative. He said, "Dear Maharishis, desirous of experiencing Krishna Bhakti prevalent in the world, I happened to visit the hallowed places of spiritual importance like Kasi, Prayag, Rameswaram, Srirangam and similar places in Aryavarta. Not only did I not find Bhakti anywhere but also wherever I went I became intensely agitated in mind and restless with pain and mental anguish. Every place I visited was ridden with Vice, falsehood, deceit, lust, greed and pride, and in short all the ravages and ruins caused by the evils of the age of Kali. Yet, undaunted and tenaciously holding on to my quest of seeking Krishna Bhakti I reached the banks of the sacred river Jam una. There I beheld a beautiful maiden in her prime of youth looking on with great agony at two old men who were lying prostrate at her feet in a state of unconsciousness. The two men were being well and affectionately attended to by two other young maidens. Approaching the first maiden and struck with her youth and beauty and her agony and misery which ill became her, I interestedly enquired as to who she was, and as to who her two young companions were. I also enquired about the two old people who were lying prostrate at her feet and what was the cause of her sorrow and misery.
For this interested enquiry the lady replied that she was extremely blessed to meet a Mahatma (to her I appeared as much) and to receive my attention. Answering my query she said, "0 venerable sage, my name is Bhakti, these old men at my feet are my beloved sons. They are called Gyana (Know ledge) and Vairagya (Renunciation). They have attained premature old age and decay. These two maidens are my devoted companions by the name of Ganga and Yamuna, the Goddesses presiding over the sacred rivers of the same name. Even though attended to affectionately by these two dear companions of mine, my sons have not recovered their youth and full vigour. Hence I am in intense misery. I am unable to bear the plight and suffering undergone by my sons. Wherever I go we are persecuted by the Deity presiding over the Kali age and by the evils of Kali. Atheists and anti-bhakti movements being rampant everywhere, I and my sons have no place to live in this world. Hoping against hope of getting some shelter and solace, we at last have come to this hallowed and sacred place of Brindavan seeking Sri Krishna bhaktas. Alas I am very sorry to tell you though I regained my youth, beauty and vigour on reaching this place, invigorated by the spiritual vibrations and atmosphere of this place, my sons have remained just the same. There have been no change whatsoever in them. They remain old, weak and in a state of premature decrepitude. How could any mother who is young and beautiful herself bear the agony and anguish of seeing her sons in a state of premature old age and decay? O revered and beloved sage! Kindly tell me the reason for this pitiable state of my sons. Please also enlighten me as to how we could redeem ourselves from this miserable plight".
Seeing Goddess Bhakti as a suppliant before me with tears in her eyes seeking redemption from her sorrow, I was very much moved by their plight. I prayed to Sri Hari, the Lord of my heart. Being inspired and enlightened by my meditation on Lord Sri Hari, I addressed the following words to her for consoling her and trying to redeem her and her sons from the plight in which they were placed.
"Devi, listen to the cause which led to your downfall and ruin of your sons. As soon as that great Avatara of Lord Narayana Bhagavan Sri Krishna withdrew His manifestation from the earth and retired to His abode Vaikuntah, principles of dharma, goodness, Bhakti to God, belief in righteous ways of life, austerity and truth have been left unprotected in this world and there is a general decay in spiritual values among mankind. Overpowered by the untrammeled sway of Kali the Deity personifying all the evils like unrighteousness, sins, ungodly and demoniac propensities - people are generally devoid of devotion to higher principles of life. They totally neglect gyana (spiritual knowledge) and vairagya (renunciation of material life). Since they do not accept nor practice the spiritual life, your sons are not only without patronage but are also persecuted along with you and they are on the verge of total extinction after having come to extreme decay and decrepitude".
Here Goddess Bhakti interrupted me and wailing with tears questioned me thus "0 Sage, I know that with the disappearance of Lord Sri Krishna, His devotees, the Pandava brothers, the champions of bhakti and spiritual way of life, left their bodies after renouncing their material life and throne. But they had left behind a noble and worthy grandson of theirs Parikshit to rule the empire. Does not the heroic blood of his ancestors flow in his veins? Is he not the custodian of the glorious spiritual heritage? Is not its protection bequeathed to him by the great ancestors of Kuru's race? Why has he allowed the Kali-Purusha this freedom and why has he left him unpunished inspite of seeing the atrocities perpetrated by Kali?"
To this pointed and pertinent query I replied as follows: "Devi, listen to the reason behind king Parikshit's behaviour. As soon as he came to the throne, he did find out the atrocities committed by Kali-purusha. Being enraged beyond appeasement, the great king sought and encountered the Kali-purusha. The Kali-purusha, when encountered by the mighty and powerful king, became very weak and surrendered to the king. Falling at the feet of king Parikshit, Kali-purusha prayed for his life. The great Parikshit, took pity on him, forgave him and spared his life.
Thereafter, shamelessly the Kali purusha is perpetrating his atrocities in the world. Fearless of any enemy who would challenge and put him to death, Kali is now operating everywhere with redoubled vigour.
There is a good reason behind the act of great king Parikshit, in letting off Kali without punishment. I think it is to make Bhakti the sole and easy means for attaining God by the weak and incapacitated human beings. So, it is this intention of the Lord which is to be fulfilled now. He is bound to keep His promise given to you at the beginning of this age of Kali. In the previous three yugas, Gyana Vairagya were easy of practice and were widely prevalent among mankind. In those ages, people adopted these means to attain God. But in the age of Kali weak and incapacitated mankind cannot follow the difficult paths of Gyana and Vairagya to realise God. So, the Lord in His infinite compassion has given an easy and quick path, viz., Bhakti, to realise Him.
He gave it a form which is personified in you O, Goddess Bhakti. In the early periods of Kali, you were ever with Lord Vasudeva accompanied and served by your sons Gyana and Vairagya. But accepting His command again, you had to come down to earth and spread your message of Bhakti in this world. Though you do your best to fulfil the mission and try to spread your easy and efficacious gospel of love and devotion as means to reach Him, people are not only negligent but they also actually reject and persecute you and your children since you are in their midst now. Anyhow, don't despair, Lord's will prevails and triumphs always. I think there is yet hope of victory for you". Being happy over the assurance I thus gave her on the strength of my intense Krishna Bhakti, Goddess Bhakti became cheerful and felt encouraged. She said that she would ever remain with me along with her children and that I am her only hope and redemption.
|Srimukham from Sri Sringeri Jagadguru||(iv)-(v)|
|Index to Contents||(viii)-(xii)|
|Chapter 1||The frustration of Veda Vyasa||19|
|Chapter 2||Sage Narada - A God among devotes and a devotee among Gods||26|
|Chapter 3||Birth of King Parikshit||32|
|Chapter 4||The Last journey of the Pandavas||39|
|Chapter 5||The eing and renuciation of Parikshit||41|
|Chapter 1||The Cosmic form of the Lord||46|
|Chapter 2||The Manifestations of the Lord||52|
|Chapter 3||The Imortance of Penance and the Ten Characteristics of Bhagavata Purana||60|
|Chapter 1||The Dialogue between Vidura & Uddhava and the Teaching of Maitreya||64|
|Chapter 2||The Fall of Jaya and Vijaya The Rise of yagnavaraha||74|
|Chapter 3||The Advent of Lord Kapila & Hs Teaching of Paths of Yoga||78|
|Chapter 4||Holy Mother Devahuti's Brahmanirvana||84|
|Chapter 1||Descendants of Manu's Daughters||87|
|Chapter 2||The Story of Sati||88|
|Chapter 3||Dhruva the Noble||95|
|Chapter 4||Raja Prithu - The Organiser of Rarth||102|
|Chapter 5||The Parable of Puranjana and the Story of Prachetas||109|
|Chapter 1||Rishabha the Perfect Preceptor||117|
|Chapter 2||Jadabharata the Great||124|
|Chapter 3||The Description of the Worlds of the Cosmos - The Imortance of Sun God||136|
|Chapter 1||He Legend of Ajamila - THeRedeemed Sinner||146|
|Chapter 2||The Death of Viswarupa and the Birth and Death of Vritra||153|
|Chapter 3||Chitraketu - the EalierIncarnation of Vritra||161|
|Chapter 1||Prahlada - the Crest Jewel among Bhaktas||169|
|Chapter 2||Narasimha - the Avatara for the Asura and Child Devotee||179|
|Chapter 3||The Tale of Three Cities||189|
|Chapter 4||Norms of Conduct||191|
|Chapter 1||Liberation of the Elephant King||200|
|Chapter 2||The Divine Tortoise and the Divine Damsels - Lakshmi & Mohini||204|
|Chapter 3||The Descent of the Divine Dwarf Vamana||212|
|Chapter 4||THeDivine Fish||220|
|Chapter 1||Hte Glory of Ambarisha's Fast||223|
|Chapter 2||The Greatest among the Lkshwakus - Sri Ramachandra||229|
|Chapter 3||The Lunar Line - Parasurama of Invicible Might||238|
|Chapter 1||The Advent of Lord Krishna||248|
|Chapter 2||Vraja Lilas of Sri Krishna||257|
|Chapter 3||Brindavana Lilas of Sri Kishna||268|
|Chapter 4||Mathura Lilas of Sri Krishna - Death of Kamsa||296|
|Chapter 5||Sri Kridhan's Sacrament of Brahmacharya||306|
|Chapter 6||Dwaraka Lilas of Sri Krishna - Marriage with Rukmini||312|
|Chapter 7||Death of Jarasandha and Sisupala||323|
|Chapter 8||Grace on Sudama, Subhadra's Marriage||330|
|Chapter 9||Krishna's Grace on Srutadeva and Bahulaswa, Bhrigu's Test of Gods||336|
|Chapter 10||Revelation of Sri Krishna and Arjuna as Sages Narayana and Nara||341|
|Chapter 1||Rishi's Cruse on Yadava Race and Dialogue between Narada and Vasudeva||344|
|Chapter 2||Sri Krishna's Decision to End the Yadu Race and Teachings to Uddhava||352|
|Chapter 3||Teachings to Uddhava (contd)||364|
|Chapter 4||The End of Krishnavatara||382|
|Chapter 1||The Glory of Divine Name, The Panacea of Kali Age and The Death of Parikshit||389|
|Chapter 2||Markandeya the Deathless||397|
|Chapter 3||The Summing up||401|
|Sri Krishna Stottarasatanamavali|
Item Code: NAM492 Author: Swami (Devi) Vasantananda Cover: Paperback Edition: 2006 Publisher: Lokakshema Trust, Chennai Language: English Size: 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch Pages: 428 (15 B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 580 gms