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Bhagavata purana

Bhagavata purana

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The Bhāgavata Purāṇa also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: भागवतपुराण, also known as , or ) is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 literature, with its primary focus on bhakti
Bhakti
In Hinduism Bhakti is religious devotion in the form of active involvement of a devotee in worship of the divine.Within monotheistic Hinduism, it is the love felt by the worshipper towards the personal God, a concept expressed in Hindu theology as Svayam Bhagavan.Bhakti can be used of either...

 (devotion) to the incarnations of Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

, particularly Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

. The Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 text comprises twelve skandas (cantos or books) and some 18,000 verses.
The Bhāgavata includes many stories well known in Hindu tradition, including the various avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

s of Vishnu and the life of Krishna. It was the first Purana to be translated into a European language, with three French translations between 1840 and 1857.

Like all Puranas, the Bhāgavata is a product of oral tradition
Oral tradition
Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

, its extant version usually dated to the ninth or tenth century CE. The text itself credits Veda Vyasa with its authorship.

The intense and personal bhakti described in the Bhāgavata is directed toward Krishna as God in human form. The tenth book (or canto), which is dedicated to Krishna, takes up about one quarter of the entire Bhāgavata. It includes the most comprehensive collection of stories about the life of Krishna, showing him in all the stages and conditions of human life. It also includes instruction in the practice of bhakti, an analysis of bhakti, and descriptions of the different types of bhakti.

The Bhāgavata takes the form of a story recounting Vyasa's work being recited for the first time by his son Śuka
Suka
The Suka was a unique fiddle that was played vertically, on the knee or hanging from a strap, and the strings were stopped at the side with the fingernails; similar to the Gadulka. The body of the instrument was very similar to the modern violin, but the neck was very wide, and the pegbox was crude...

 to the dying King Parikshit, who owes his life to Krishna. Longing to hear of Krishna before he dies, Śuka recites the Bhāgavata to Parikshit over the course of seven days.

Significance


The Bhāgavata is widely recognized as the best known and influential of the Puranas
Puranas
The Puranas are a genre of important Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religious texts, notably consisting of narratives of the history of the universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of kings, heroes, sages, and demigods, and descriptions of Hindu cosmology, philosophy, and geography.Puranas...

, and is sometimes referred to as the "Fifth Veda
Fifth Veda
The notion of a fifth veda , that is, of a text which lies outside than the four canonical Vedas but nonetheless has the status of a Veda, is one that has been advanced in a number of post-Vedic Hindu texts, in order to accord a particular text or texts and their doctrines with the timelessness and...

". It is unique in Indian religious literature for its emphasis on the practice of bhakti, compared to the more theoretical bhakti of the Bhagavad Gita; for its redefining of dharma; and for the extent of its description of God in a human form. The Glory of Srimad Bhagavatam can be understood by understanding the conversation between Krishna Dvaipayan Vyas and Narad Muni. It is also the source for many of the popular stories of Krishna's childhood told for centuries in the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

. Charlotte Vaudeville refers to the Bhāgavata as "the real Bible of Krishnaism
Krishnaism
Krishnaism is a group of Hindu denominations within Vaishnavism, centered on devotion to Radha Krishna or other forms of Krishna, identified with Vishnu.The central text of Krishnaism is the Bhagavad Gita....

", while the Bhāgavata declares itself as the essence of Vedanta
Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

:
The Sri Bhāgavata is the very essence of all the Vedanta literature. One who has enjoyed the nectar of its rasa
Rasa (theology)
Rasa is a Sanskrit theological concept specific to Krishna-centered bhakti traditions, such as Gaudiya Vaishnavism. The theological use of the word can be found early, about two thousand years before the Nimbarka or Caitanya schools of bhakti, in a phrase that Chaitanya traditions frequently...

 never has any desire for anything else.(12.13.15)


The Bhāgavata, along with the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

, are the main sources of scriptural authority used by Gaudiya Vaishnavas for demonstrating the pre-eminence of Krishna over other forms of God. An oft-quoted verse from the Bhāgavata is used as a representational statement by Krishna sects to show that Krishna is "Bhagavan Svayam
Svayam Bhagavan
Svayam Bhagavan , "The Lord" or Lord Himself, is a Sanskrit theological term. The term refers to the concept of absolute representation of the monotheistic God as Bhagavan within Hinduism....

"
, or God himself: "These [other incarnations] are amsha, or kala, partial incarnations, but krishnas tu bhagavan svayam, 'Krishna is Bhagavan, God himself.'"(1.3.28).

The 15th–16th century Assamese
Assamese language
Assamese is the easternmost Indo-Aryan language. It is used mainly in the state of Assam in North-East India. It is also the official language of Assam. It is also spoken in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and other northeast Indian states. Nagamese, an Assamese-based Creole language is widely used in...

 translation of the Purana (Bhagavat of Sankardeva
Bhagavat of Sankardeva
The Bhagavat of Sankardeva is the Assamese adaptation of the Bhagavata Purana made by Srimanta Sankardeva in 15th-16th century in the regions that form present-day Assam and Cooch Behar...

) by Srimanta Sankardeva
Srimanta Sankardeva
Mahapurusha Srimanta Shankardeva , was the greatest Assamese saint-scholar, playwright, social-religious reformer and a colossal figure in the cultural and religious history of Assam, India...

 and others form the central text of the Ekasarana Dharma, a monotheistic religion in Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

. Sankardeva's rendering of the tenth Book, locally called daxama, is particularly popular.

Origin and date



The Puranas are a type of traditional Hindu texts that took form during the medieval period, often both informed by earlier material and undergoing later interpolations.
It is therefore problematic to assign a precise date to any such text,
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa itself is a typical case, a text transformed by oral tradition which reached its "basic final shape" at some stage during the Indian Middle Ages
Middle kingdoms of India
Middle kingdoms of India refers to the political entities in India from the 3rd century BC after the decline of the Maurya Empire, and the corresponding rise of the Satavahana dynasty, beginning with Simuka, from 230 BC...

.

Scholarly consensus holds that the text was completed no later than around 1000 CE, when it is mentioned by al Biruni and quoted by Abhinavagupta
Abhinavagupta
Abhinavagupta was one of India's greatest philosophers, mystics and aestheticians. He was also considered an important musician, poet, dramatist, exegete, theologian, and logician - a polymathic personality who exercised strong influences on Indian culture.He was born in the Valley of Kashmir in...

; the earliest suggestions of it are the composition of the Vishnu Purana
Vishnu Purana
The Vishnu Purana is a religious Hindu text and one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. It is considered one of the most important Puranas and has been given the name Puranaratna...

and Harivamsa
Harivamsa
The Harivamsha is an important work of Sanskrit literature, containing 16,374 verses, mostly in metre. The text is also known as . This text is believed as a khila to the Mahabharata and is traditionally ascribed to Krishna Dvaipayana Veda Vyasa...

, and the Vaishnava Bhakti movement
Bhakti movement
The Bhakti movement is a Hindu religious movement in which the main spiritual practice is loving devotion among the Shaivite and Vaishnava saints. The Bhakti movement originated in ancient Tamil Nadu and began to spread to the north during the late medieval ages when north India was under Islamic...

 in South India
South India
South India is the area encompassing India's states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as the union territories of Lakshadweep and Pondicherry, occupying 19.31% of India's area...

, which limit its composition to after 500 CE. Within this range, scholars such as R. C. Hazra date it to the first-half of the sixth century, while most others place it in the post-Alvar
Alvars
The alwar or azhwars were Tamil poet saints of south India who lived between the sixth and ninth centuries A.D. and espoused ‘emotional devotion’ or bhakti to Visnu-Krishna in their songs of longing, ecstasy and service. Sri Vaishnava orthodoxy posits the number of alvars as ten, though there are...

 period around the ninth century.
The final redactor of the text was emphasizing the texts's claim to ancient origns by resorting to an archaizing Vedic
Vedic Sanskrit
Vedic Sanskrit is an old Indo-Aryan language. It is an archaic form of Sanskrit, an early descendant of Proto-Indo-Iranian. It is closely related to Avestan, the oldest preserved Iranian language...

 flavour of Sanskrit.

The Bhāgavata itself claims primordial origins, while accepting that it has since been edited by human and divine hands. The text and Hindu tradition ascribe its authorship to Veda Vyasa, who is also credited as the scribe for the Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

.

The Bhāgavata Purāṇa contains apparent references to the South Indian Alvar
Alvars
The alwar or azhwars were Tamil poet saints of south India who lived between the sixth and ninth centuries A.D. and espoused ‘emotional devotion’ or bhakti to Visnu-Krishna in their songs of longing, ecstasy and service. Sri Vaishnava orthodoxy posits the number of alvars as ten, though there are...

 saints and it makes a post factum prophecy of the spread of Vishnu worship in Tamil
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

 country (BP XI.5.38–40); these facts, along with its emphasis on "emotional Bhakti to Krishna" and the "Advaita philosophy of Sankara
Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara Adi Shankara Adi Shankara (IAST: pronounced , (Sanskrit: , ) (788 CE - 820 CE), also known as ' and ' was an Indian philosopher from Kalady of present day Kerala who consolidated the doctrine of advaita vedānta...

", lead many scholars to trace its origins to South India. However, J. A. B. van Buitenen
J. A. B. van Buitenen
Johannes Adrianus Bernardus van Buitenen was an Indologist at the University of Chicago where he was the George V. Bobrinskoy Professor of Sanskrit in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations...

, a late professor of Indology
Indology
Indology is the academic study of the history and cultures, languages, and literature of the Indian subcontinent , and as such is a subset of Asian studies....

 at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 points out that 10th–11th CE South Indian Vaishnava theologians Yamuna
Yamunacharya
Yamunacharya or Alavandar was a vishistadvaita philosopher in Srirangam. Ramanuja, one of the leaders of the srivaishnava school sought to be his disciple. He was born in early 10th century CE and was the grandson of a brahmin, Nathamuni. Nathamuni was a famed yogi who collected to the works of...

 and Ramanuja
Ramanuja
Ramanuja ; traditionally 1017–1137, also known as Ramanujacharya, Ethirajar , Emperumannar, Lakshmana Muni, was a theologian, philosopher, and scriptural exegete...

 do not refer to Bhāgavata Purāṇa in their writings, and this anomaly needs to be explained before the geographical origins and dating are regarded as definitive.

Philosophy



The Bhāgavata is primarily a bhakti text, with an emphasis on achieving moksha
Moksha
Within Indian religions, moksha or mukti , literally "release" , is the liberation from samsara and the concomitant suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and reincarnation or rebirth.-Origins:It is highly probable that the concept of moksha was first developed in...

 through cultivating a personal relationship with Vishnu in the form of Krishna. The philosophy and teachings of the Bhāgavata include several traditions, and an absence of a "narrow, sectarian spirit". While Bhakti Yoga is the prominent teaching, various passages show a synthesis that also include Samkhya, Yoga, Vedanta, and Advaita Vedanta.

Bhakti


The Bhāgavata is among the most important texts on bhakti, presenting a fully developed teaching on bhakti
Bhakti
In Hinduism Bhakti is religious devotion in the form of active involvement of a devotee in worship of the divine.Within monotheistic Hinduism, it is the love felt by the worshipper towards the personal God, a concept expressed in Hindu theology as Svayam Bhagavan.Bhakti can be used of either...

 that originated with the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

. Bhakti is presented as a path of yoga, or "union with the divine". Many of the bhakti teachings in the Bhāgavata are presented as yogic activities—meditating on the lila of Krishna; hearing and singing about Vishnu/Krishna; remembering, serving, and worshiping him; dedicating all of one's actions to him—all are among nine activities of Bhakti Yoga taught in the Bhāgavata. While classical yoga attempts to shut down the mind and senses, the Bhakti Yoga in the Bhāgavata teaches that the focus of the mind is transformed by filling the mind with thoughts of Krishna.

There are many didactic philosophical passages, but the lengthy narrative stories are also a teaching; the book describes one of the activities that lead to liberation (moksha
Moksha
Within Indian religions, moksha or mukti , literally "release" , is the liberation from samsara and the concomitant suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and reincarnation or rebirth.-Origins:It is highly probable that the concept of moksha was first developed in...

) as listening to and reflecting on the stories of Bhagavan. Even Kapila, the Samkhya philosopher, teaches his mother that in order to reach liberation, she must have bhakti, jñāna
Jnana
Jñāna or gñāna is a Sanskrit and Pali word that means knowledge. It has various nuances of meaning depending on the context. The idea of jnana centers around a cognitive event which is recognized when experienced...

 (wisdom), and vairāgya
Vairagya
Vairāgya is a Sanskrit term used in Hindu philosophy that roughly translates as dispassion, detachment, or renunciation, in particular renunciation from the pains and pleasures in the material world...

 (dispassion), with bhakti being the most important.(3.25.18)

The Bhāgavata also teaches that bhakti is more important than caste, stating that even a Chandala
Chandala
Chandala is a Sanskrit word for someone who deals with disposal of corpses, and is a Hindu lower caste, formerly considered untouchables. Currently it is a term used specifically in Indo-Aryan speaking regions of India. Sandala has become a swear word in the colloquial usage of the Tamil language...

 who has deep faith and devotion is dearer to God than a brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 without faith.(III.33.7) While not completely dismissing the caste system, it does reject the superiority of the brahmin based solely on birth. In the Bhāgavata, devotees of Krishna include those from lower castes: Prahlad, considered the greatest of devotees, is the son of a demon king and of 'low birth'; the gopi
Gopi
Gopi is a word of Sanskrit origin meaning 'cow-herd girl'. In Hinduism specifically the name gopi is used more commonly to refer to the group of cow herding girls famous within Vaishnava Theology for their unconditional devotion to Krishna as described in the stories of Bhagavata Purana and...

s are uneducated wives of herdsman, yet are very close to Krishna. The Bhāgavata held out the possibility of salvation through devotion (bhakti) regardless of caste or social status. The Bhāgavata is also critical of the acquisition, protection, and enjoyment of wealth, going as far as implying that only the poor can be true followers of bhakti. In one passage, Krishna says to Rukmini
Rukmini
In Hinduism, Rukmini is the principal wife and queen of Krishna at his city of Dwarka. Krishna heroically kidnaps her from an un-wanted marriage at her request . Of Krishna's 16,108 queens, Rukmini is the first and most prominent...

, "We are poor and we are always the favourites of poor persons."(X.60.14)

Samkhya


Surendranath Dasgupta
Surendranath Dasgupta
Surendranath Dasgupta was a scholar of Sanskrit and philosophy.-Family and Education:Dasgupta was born in Kushtia, Bengal . His ancestral home was in the village Goila in Barisal District. He studied in Ripon College Calcutta and graduated with honours in Sanskrit. Later, he received his Masters...

 describes the theistic Samhkhya taught by Kapila in the Bhāgavata as the dominant philosophy in the text. In the Bhāgavata, Kapila is described as an avatar of Vishnu, born into the house of Kardama in order to share the knowledge of self-realization and liberation. Kapila's Samkhya is taught by him to his mother Devahuti in Book Three, and by Krishna to Uddhava in Book Eleven. Samkhya in the Bhāgavata is presented somewhat differently than in other classical Samkhya texts. It describes Brahman, or Bhagavan, as creating all beings within his Self in latent form—then, on its own initiative, bringing itself into Maya
Maya (illusion)
Maya , in Indian religions, has multiple meanings, usually quoted as "illusion", centered on the fact that we do not experience the environment itself but rather a projection of it, created by us. Maya is the principal deity that manifests, perpetuates and governs the illusion and dream of duality...

and falling " under the influence of its own power". This is in contrast to classical Samkhya, where the impulse for creation is "inherent in primal nature", or prakriti.

The treatment of Samkhya in the Bhāgavata is changed by the text's emphasis on devotion. In Chapter Eleven, Krishna describes the world as an illusion, and the individual as dreaming, even while in the waking state. He gives Samhkhya and Yoga as the way of overcoming the dream, with the goal of Samhkhya as Bhagavan himself in the aspect of Krishna.

Advaita


The Bhāgavata frequently discusses the merging of the individual soul with the Absolute Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

, or "the return of Brahman into His own true nature", a distinctly advaitic or non-dualistic philosophy. In the same passages, the Bhāgavata still recommends Bhagavan
Bhagavan
Bhagavan, also written Bhagwan or Bhagawan, from the Sanskrit nt-stem literally means "possessing fortune, blessed, prosperous" , and hence "illustrious, divine, venerable, holy", etc.In some traditions of Hinduism it is used to...

 as the object of concentration for reaching that goal. Scholars describe this philosophy as "Advaitic Theism", which combines the seemingly contradictory beliefs of a personal God that can be worshiped with a God that is immanent in creation and in one's own self. Daniel P. Sheridan describes Advaitic Theism as a "both/and" solution for the question of whether God is transcendent
Transcendence (religion)
In religion transcendence refers to the aspect of God's nature which is wholly independent of the physical universe. This is contrasted with immanence where God is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to creatures in various ways...

 or immanent
Immanence
Immanence refers to philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence, in which the divine is seen to be manifested in or encompassing of the material world. It is often contrasted with theories of transcendence, in which the divine is seen to be outside the material world...

 in relation to creation, and credits the Bhāgavata with a "truly creative religious moment" for introducing this philosophy.

Dharma


Bhāgavata extends the concept of dharma
Dharma
Dharma means Law or Natural Law and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender...

that had previously been regarded either as the duty to follow Vedic
Vedic
Vedic may refer to:* the Vedas, the oldest preserved Indic texts** Vedic Sanskrit, the language of these texts** Vedic period, during which these texts were produced** Vedic pantheon of gods mentioned in Vedas/vedic period...

 injunctions, as a moral code that emphasizes ahimsa
Ahimsa
Ahimsa is a term meaning to do no harm . The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hims – to strike; himsa is injury or harm, a-himsa is the opposite of this, i.e. non harming or nonviolence. It is an important tenet of the Indian religions...

(non-injury), satya
Satya
Satya is a Sanskrit word that loosely translates into English as "truth" or "correct". It is a term of power due to its purity and meaning and has become the emblem of many peaceful social movements, particularly those centered on social justice, environmentalism and vegetarianism.Sathya is also...

(truthfullness) etc., or as the idea of self-realization through yoga
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

. Breaking with these senses of the term, Bhāgavata considers dharma to consist of sincere worship and devotion towards God without any ulterior motive. Such worship is said to cleanse the spirit of all impurities—motives, jealousies, pretensions, etc.—and reveal man's nature as part of the absolute, leading to supreme bliss. Conversely, Bhāgavata teaches that simply following Vedic injunctions that do not produce devotion towards God are of transitory benefit and are fruitless labour.

Yoga


A classical approach to yoga
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

 is taught in the beginning of the second chapter, when Śuka tells Parikshit to prepare for death by making an asana
Asana
Asana is a body position, typically associated with the practice of Yoga, originally identified as a mastery of sitting still, with the spine as a conduit of biodynamic union...

 (place to sit) in a solitary place and meditating on Om
Om
Om is a sacred syllable of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.OM and similar may also refer to:-Music:* Om , a stoner metal band* Om , a 1965 album* OM , a 2006 album* Om...

, without regard for the distractions caused by the lower qualities of raja
Raja
Raja is an Indian term for a monarch, or princely ruler of the Kshatriya varna...

 and tamo guna. Śuka also describes different meditations on the gross and subtle aspects of Bhagavan, or God, in a way that is similar to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are 194 Indian sūtras that constitute the foundational text of Rāja Yoga. Yoga is one of the six orthodox āstika schools of Hindu philosophy, and Rāja Yoga is the highest practice....

. Several passages describe the merging of the individual soul with the Absolute Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

. The Bhāgavata, in explaining the method of reaching that goal, recommends the object of concentration as Bhagavan, with an emphasis on yoga as a form of bhakti.

Siddhi
Siddhi
is a Sanskrit noun that can be translated as "perfection", "accomplishment", "attainment", or "success". The term is first attested in the Mahabharata. In the Pancatantra, a siddhi may be any unusual skill or faculty or capability...

s
, or spiritual powers developed through yoga practice, are described in many passages in ways that echo the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The tenth chapter of the eleventh skanda teaches that the yogi who has controlled his senses and concentrated his mind on Bhagavan develops these siddhis. Patanjali describes siddhis as obstacles to reaching the ultimate goal of yoga (union)—the Bhāgavata describes them as blessings that are present in Bhagavan in infinite form, and given to the yogi in varying degrees depending on the yogi's devotion.

Narrators and setting


The Bhāgavata is a recounting of events by the storyteller Ugrasrava Sauti
Ugrasrava Sauti
Ugrashravas was the narrator of several Puranas, including Mahābhārata, Bhagavata Purana, Harivamsa, and Padma Purana, with the narrations typically taking place before the sages gathered in Naimisha Forest...

 (Sūta) to Saunaka and other sages assembled in the Naimisha Forest
Naimisha Forest
Naimisha Forest or Naimiṣāraṇya was an ancient forest mentioned in the epic Mahabharata and the Shiva Purana. It lay on the banks of the Gomati River . It lay between the Panchala Kingdom and the Kosala Kingdom...

. As Sūta explains, Veda Vyasa was feeling unsatisfied, even after he made divine knowledge available to humans by writing the Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

 and the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

. The sage Narada
Narada
Narada or Narada Muni is a divine sage from the Vaisnava tradition, who plays a prominent role in a number of the Puranic texts, especially in the Bhagavata Purana, and in the Ramayana...

, in his role as intermediary between gods and men, visited Vyasa to inform him that his unease was because he had not yet described the highest goal of knowledge—bhakti, or devotion to God.

Sūta recounts the first recital of Vyasa's work, given by Vyasa's son Śuka
Suka
The Suka was a unique fiddle that was played vertically, on the knee or hanging from a strap, and the strings were stopped at the side with the fingernails; similar to the Gadulka. The body of the instrument was very similar to the modern violin, but the neck was very wide, and the pegbox was crude...

 to King Parikshit, the grandson of Arjuna
Arjuna
Arjuna in Indian mythology is the greatest warrior on earth and is one of the Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahābhārata. Arjuna, whose name means 'bright', 'shining', 'white' or 'silver' Arjuna (Devanagari: अर्जुन, Thai: อรชุน, Orachun, Tamil: Arjunan, Indonesian and Javanese: Harjuna,...

. Parikshit, who owed his life to Krishna, had angered a rishi
Rishi
Rishi denotes the composers of Vedic hymns. However, according to post-Vedic tradition, the rishi is a "seer" to whom the Vedas were "originally revealed" through states of higher consciousness. The rishis were prominent when Vedic Hinduism took shape, as far back as some three thousand years...

's son for being disrespectful to the rishi's father. He was cursed to be bitten by a poisonous snake and had only seven days to live. Fasting by the banks of the Ganges River
Ganges River
The Ganges or Ganga, , is a trans-boundary river of India and Bangladesh. The river rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India into Bangladesh, where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. By discharge it...

, and with Krishna no longer alive, Parikshit longed to hear of him. The Bhāgavata introduces the life of Parikshit as background, thus bringing Krishna into the story, and is presented as part of Śuka's recital over the course of seven days. It concludes with Śuka asking Parikshit the standard, "What more do you want?"(12.5.13) Completely satisfied with what he has heard and his purpose in life fulfilled, Parikshit dies.(12.6.12–15)

Books



Book 1


The first book introduces the Bhāgavata, with Saunaka gathering the sages in Naimisha Forest
Naimisha Forest
Naimisha Forest or Naimiṣāraṇya was an ancient forest mentioned in the epic Mahabharata and the Shiva Purana. It lay on the banks of the Gomati River . It lay between the Panchala Kingdom and the Kosala Kingdom...

 to hear Sūta praise bhakti
Bhakti
In Hinduism Bhakti is religious devotion in the form of active involvement of a devotee in worship of the divine.Within monotheistic Hinduism, it is the love felt by the worshipper towards the personal God, a concept expressed in Hindu theology as Svayam Bhagavan.Bhakti can be used of either...

 to Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

 and describe the ten avatars of Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

. Sūta tells the story of the life of Parikshit, son of Abhimanyu
Abhimanyu
Abhimanyu is a tragic hero in the Hindu epic, the Mahābhārata. He is the son of Arjuna and Subhadra, who is the half-sister of Lord Krishna...

, beginning while still in his mother's womb, where Krishna protected him from the Brahmastra
Brahmastra
In ancient Sanskrit writings, the Brahmastra was a weapon created by Brahma.-Features:It is sometimes known as the Brahma Astra . As described in a number of the Puranas, it was considered the deadliest weapon...

 weapon of Ashwatthama
Ashwatthama
A hero of the Indian epic Mahābhārata, Ashwatthama or Ashwatthaman was the son of guru Drona. He is one of the seven Chiranjeevins. Dronacharya loved him very dearly. The rumours about his death in the Kurukshetra war, led to the death of his father from the hands of Prince Dhrishtadyumna...

. The conclusion of Parikshit's life introduces the main storyline of the Bhāgavata—a curse is placed on Parikshit that will cause him to die within seven days. Parikshit retires to the bank of the Ganges to fast until his death, with several sages gathered around him, including Śuka
Suka
The Suka was a unique fiddle that was played vertically, on the knee or hanging from a strap, and the strings were stopped at the side with the fingernails; similar to the Gadulka. The body of the instrument was very similar to the modern violin, but the neck was very wide, and the pegbox was crude...

, son of Vyasa
Vyasa
Vyasa is a central and revered figure in most Hindu traditions. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyasa , or Krishna Dvaipayana...

. Parikshit asks Śuka what he should do to prepare for death. Śuka's response constitutes the main part of the Bhāgavata.

Book 2


Śuka tells Parikishit that when one is about to die, they should become free of the fear of death and let go of all attachments to pleasure, home, and family. They should control the breath and mind and concentrate on the sacred Aum
Aum
Om or Aum Om or Aum Om or Aum (also , written in Devanāgari as and as , in Sanskrit known as (lit. "to sound out loudly"), ', or ' (also as ') (lit. "Auṃ form/syllable"), is a sacred/mystical syllable in the Dharmic or Indian religions, i.e...

. The development of yoga
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

 and bhakti, different types of dharana
Dharana
Dhāraṇā is translated as "collection or concentration of the mind ", or "the act of holding, bearing, wearing, supporting, maintaining, retaining, keeping back , a good memory", or "firmness, steadfastness, ... , certainty"...

, the nature of Bhagavan
Bhagavan
Bhagavan, also written Bhagwan or Bhagawan, from the Sanskrit nt-stem literally means "possessing fortune, blessed, prosperous" , and hence "illustrious, divine, venerable, holy", etc.In some traditions of Hinduism it is used to...

, and the liberation
Moksha
Within Indian religions, moksha or mukti , literally "release" , is the liberation from samsara and the concomitant suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and reincarnation or rebirth.-Origins:It is highly probable that the concept of moksha was first developed in...

 of a yogi upon his death are also explained by Śuka. In response to Parikshit's questions, Śuka describes creation and the avatars of Vishnu, concluding with a description of the ten characteristics of a Purana.

Book 3


Vidura
Vidura
Vidura was an important figure in the Mahabharata, a major Hindu epic. He was half-brother to the kings Dhritarashtra and Pandu of Hastinapura, born the son of the sage Vyasa and a lady-in-waiting to the queens Ambika and Ambalika of the city...

's pilgrimage to various holy places provides the backdrop for the stories and spiritual teachings in Book 3. Near the Yamuna River Vidura meets Uddhava
Uddhava
Uddhava is a character from the Puranic texts of Hinduism, who is the friend and counsellor of Krishna the Avatar. He plays a significant role in the Bhagavata Purana, being taught the processes of yoga and bhakti directly by Krishna...

, who gives him the news of the Kurukshetra War
Kurukshetra war
According to the Indian epic poem Mahābhārata, a dynastic succession struggle between two groups of cousins of an Indo-Aryan kingdom called Kuru, the Kauravas and Pandavas, for the throne of Hastinapura resulted in the Kurukshetra War in which a number of ancient kingdoms participated as allies of...

 and the death of Krishna. Next he meets the sage Maitreya, who gives instruction on the creation of the world, the divisions of time, and other subjects. The story of the birth of Hiranyakasipu and Hiranyaksa is told, including the latter's death at the hands of Varaha
Varaha
Varaha is the third Avatar of the Hindu Godhead Vishnu, in the form of a Boar. He appeared in order to defeat Hiranyaksha, a demon who had taken the Earth and carried it to the bottom of what is described as the cosmic ocean in the story. The battle between Varaha and Hiranyaksha is believed to...

, the boar avatar of Vishnu. An important story is the tale of Devahuti and her son Kapila—Kapila's Samkhya teachings help lead her to final liberation.


Book 4


The story of Daksha
Daksha
In Hinduism, Daksha, "the skilled one", is an ancient creator god, one of the Prajapatis, the Rishis and the Adityas. Daksha is said to be the son of Aditi and Brahma...

 and his sacrifice is told, in which he mocks Shiva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

 in front of Dakshayani
Dakshayani
Dākshāyani or Satī is a Hindu Goddess of marital felicity and longevity. She is worshipped particularly by Hindu women to seek the long life of their husbands...

—his own daughter and Shiva's consort—resulting in Dakshayani's self-immolation, which later came to be known by one of her names, Sati. The legend of Dhruva
Dhruva
In the Hindu mythology, Dhruva is a devotee of the god Vishnu, who blessed to attain the position of the polar star, also known as Dhruva in Sanskrit. Dhruva was the son of Uttānapāda...

's penance and devotion to Vishnu is also recounted, along with the related story of king Prithu
Prithu
According to Hindu mythology, Prithu is a sovereign , named in the Vedic scriptures and considered an Avatar of the preserver god—Vishnu. He is also called Pruthu, Prithi and Prithu Vainya, literally, Prithu — the son of Vena...

. The book ends with the recounting of the renunciation and liberation of the Pracetas brothers.

Book 5


The story of Manu
Manu (Hinduism)
In various Hindu traditions, Manu is a title accorded to the progenitor of mankind, and also the very first brahman king to rule this earth, who saved mankind from the universal flood. He was absolutely honest which was why he was initially known as "Satyavrata"...

's sons and their children leads eventually to Bharat
Bharata (emperor)
Bharata was a legendary emperor of India, and is referred to in Hindu and Jain mythology. He was son of King Dushyanta and Shakuntala and thus a descendant of the Lunar Dynasty of the Kshatriya caste. Bharata conquered all of greater Greater India, uniting it into a single entity which was named...

 and a description of the world, the sun and its course, the moon and the planets, the regions below the earth, and the twenty-eight hells (naraka
Naraka
Naraka is the Sanskrit word for the underworld; literally, of man. According to Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism, Naraka is a place of torment, or Hell...

).

Book 6


Book 6 includes the story of Ajāmila
Ajamila
Ajamila is a figure from the Puranas. The story of Ajamila is taken from Bhagavata Purana Canto 6.Ajamila was raised according to the Vedic regulations...

, who reached heaven as a reward for uttering the syllables "Na-ra-ya-na" on his deathbed, even though he was only intending to call his son. The story of the son of the Praceta brothers is also recounted, along with the victory of Indra
Indra
' or is the King of the demi-gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hindu mythology. He is also the God of War, Storms, and Rainfall.Indra is one of the chief deities in the Rigveda...

 over Viśvarūpa
Trisiras
Trisiras is the three-headed son of Tvashta in Hinduism. He was created by Tvashta to dethrone Indra. With one head, he ate; with another head, he observed his surroundings; with his last head, he read the Vedas. He grew so powerful that Indra became frightened of him, especially after Trisiras...

. Book 6 ends with the birth of the Maruts
Maruts
In Hinduism the Marutas , also known as the Marutagana and sometimes identified with Rudras, are storm deities and sons of Rudra and Diti and attendants of Indra. The number of Maruts varies from two to sixty . They are very violent and aggressive, described as armed with golden weapons i.e...

.

Book 7


The main portion of the seventh book is dedicated to the well known story of Hiranyakaśipu
Hiranyakashipu
Hiranyakashipu [golden-haired] is an Asura from the Puranic scriptures of Hinduism. The Puranas describe Hiranyakashipu as an Asura. His younger brother, Hiranyaksha was slain by Varaha, one of the Avatars of Vishnu and angered by this, Hiranyakashipu decided to gain magical powers by performing...

, his son Prahlada
Prahlada
Prahlada is a character from the Puranic texts of Hinduism, wherein he is famed for his exclusive devotion to Vishnu, despite attempts in the story by his father, Hiranyakashipu, to turn him to the contrary...

, and the death of Hiranyakaśipu at the hands of Narasimha
Narasimha
Narasimha or Nrusimha , also spelt as Narasingh and Narasingha, whose name literally translates from Sanskrit as "Man-lion", is an avatar of Vishnu described in the Puranas, Upanishads and other ancient religious texts of Hinduism...

, an avatar of Vishnu. This version expands on the story of Prahlada as told in the Vishnu Purana
Vishnu Purana
The Vishnu Purana is a religious Hindu text and one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. It is considered one of the most important Puranas and has been given the name Puranaratna...

, and is the form that is most commonly told in Hinduism. Prahlada is considered a great devotee of Vishnu, and describes the process of bhakti toward Bhagavan. Book seven also includes a discussion of the dharma
Dharma
Dharma means Law or Natural Law and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender...

 involved with the different varnas and with the four ashramas
Ashrama (stage)
An Ashrama in Hinduism is one of four stages in an age-based social system as laid out in the Manu Smrti and later Classical Sanskrit texts.-The Ashram system:...

 (stages) of life.

Book 8


The description of the six past Manvantara
Manvantara
Manvantara or Manuvantara , or age of a Manu , the Hindu progenitor of mankind, is an astronomical period of time measurement. Manvantara is a Sanskrit sandhi, a combination of words manu and antara, manu-antara or manvantara, literally meaning the duration of a Manu, or his life span .Each...

s
(ages or time periods of Manu) and the seven future ages of Manu includes several stories, many involving the avatars of Vishnu. Nine chapters are dedicated to the oft told story of Vishnu's Vamana
Vamana
Vamana is described in the Puranic texts of Hinduism as the Fifth Avatar of Vishnu, and the first incarnation of the Second Age, or the Treta yuga. Also he is the first Avatar of Vishnu which appears with a completely human form, though it was that of a dwarf brahmin. He is also sometimes known as...

 (dwarf) avatar and his defeat of Bali
Mahabali
Mahabali , also known as Bali or Māveli was a benevolent Asura King, and the grandson of Prahlada. The festival of Onam commemorates his yearly homecoming after being sent down to the underworld by Vamana, the fifth avatar of Vishnu.-Conquest of the Universe and banishment:Bali, an asura, was the...

. The story of the churning of the ocean of milk
Samudra manthan
In Hinduism, Samudra manthan or Ksheera Sagara Mathanam, Churning of the Ocean of Milk is one of the most famous episodes in the Puranas...

 is also recounted, which is done with the help of the Kurma
Kurma
In Hinduism, Kurma was the second Avatar of Vishnu. Like the Matsya Avatar also belongs to the Satya yuga.-Samudra manthan :...

 avatar of Vishnu.

Book 9


The current age of Manu is described at length, including the traditional history of the Solar Dynasty founded by Ikshvaku
Ikshvaku
Ikshvaku pāli: Okkāka) was the first king of the Ikshvaku dynasty and founder of the Solar Dynasty of Kshatriyas in Vedic civilization in ancient India.-In Hinduism:He is remembered in Hindu scriptures as a righteous and glorious king...

 and the Lunar Dynasty of Pururavas
Pururavas
Pururavas was the first king of the Aila dynasty or the Somavamsha. According to the Vedas, he is a mythological entity associated with the Surya and Usha , and is believed to resided in the middle region of the cosmos. The Rig Veda states that he was a son of Ila and was a pious king...

. A long history of dynasties is described—Panchala
Panchala
Panchala is an ancient region of northern India, which corresponds to the geographical area around the Ganges River and Yamuna River, the upper Gangetic plain in particular. This would encompass the modern-day states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. During the ancient times, it was home to a...

, Magadha
Magadha
Magadha formed one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas or kingdoms in ancient India. The core of the kingdom was the area of Bihar south of the Ganga; its first capital was Rajagriha then Pataliputra...

, Kuru, Anu, Druhyus
Druhyus
The Druhyus were a people of Ancient India. They are mentioned in the Rigveda, often together with the Anu tribe. Some early scholars have placed them in the northwestern region....

, Turvasu, and others—leading up to the Yadu
Yadu
Yadu is one of the five Indo-Aryan tribes mentioned in the Rig Veda . The Mahabharata, the Harivamsha and the Puranas mention Yadu as the eldest son of king Yayati and his queen Devayani. The prince of King Yayati, Yadu was a self-respecting and a very established ruler...

 dynasty and the birth of Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

 to his parents Vasudeva
Vasudeva
In Hindu itihasa , Vasudeva is the father of Krishna, the son of Shoorsen, of the Yadu and Vrishni dynasties. His sister Kunti was married to Pandu. He was a partial incarnation of Rishi Kashyap....

 and Devaki
Devaki
In Hinduism, Devaki is the wife of Vasudeva and biological mother of Krishna.She was the daughter of Devaka, the younger brother of King Ugrasena of Mathura. She was a partial incarnation of Aditi, the mother of the Devas.-Imprisonment :...

.

Book 10


The tenth book, dedicated to Krishna, is responsible for the widespread popularity of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. Book Ten includes the most enduring images and stories of Krishna: the mischievous child who steals butter; the godlike child who holds the entire universe within himself; the boy who can slay demons and move an entire mountain with one finger; the cowherd who is the love of all the gopi
Gopi
Gopi is a word of Sanskrit origin meaning 'cow-herd girl'. In Hinduism specifically the name gopi is used more commonly to refer to the group of cow herding girls famous within Vaishnava Theology for their unconditional devotion to Krishna as described in the stories of Bhagavata Purana and...

s, making them leave all their duties to follow him.

The tenth book is by far the lengthiest, taking up almost one quarter of the entire Bhāgavata. While the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita show Krishna in various roles as teacher and diplomat, book 10 shows Krishna simply engaging in lila
Lila
Lila , or Leela is a concept within Hinduism literally meaning "pastime", "sport" or "play". It is common to both non-dualistic and dualistic philosophical schools, but has a markedly different significance in each. Within non-dualism, Lila is a way of describing all reality, including the cosmos,...

, or divine and intimate play with his devotees. It presents this intimate relationship with God as the highest goal of human existence.

Book 11



The destruction of the Yadava dynasty, including Krishna and all his kinsmen, is caused by the curse of a brahmin—instigated by Krishna himself. The Yadavas kill each other in a drunken fight and Krishna dies as a result of the same curse, the result of a metal-tipped arrow striking his foot. The last chapter describes Krishna's ascent to Vaikuntha. Book eleven also includes the so-called Uddhava Gita, the last discourse of Krishna which he addresses to his dear friend Uddhava
Uddhava
Uddhava is a character from the Puranic texts of Hinduism, who is the friend and counsellor of Krishna the Avatar. He plays a significant role in the Bhagavata Purana, being taught the processes of yoga and bhakti directly by Krishna...

. Canto or Book 11 section 7-9 discusses the pastimes and realizations of an Avadhuta.

Book 12


The future rulers of Magadha
Magadha
Magadha formed one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas or kingdoms in ancient India. The core of the kingdom was the area of Bihar south of the Ganga; its first capital was Rajagriha then Pataliputra...

 are predicted, along with the evils of Kali Yuga
Kali Yuga
Kali Yuga is the last of the four stages that the world goes through as part of the cycle of yugas described in the Indian scriptures. The other ages are Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga...

 and the future destruction of the world (pralaya
Pralaya
Pralaya, in Hindu cosmology, is an aeonic term which specifies different periods of time during which non activity situation persists, as per different formats or contexts...

). The main story ends with the death of King Parikshit—cursed to die from snakebite—and the thwarted snake sacrifice of his son Janamejaya
Janamejaya
Janamejaya was a Kuru king. He was the son of Parikshit and Madravati. He was the grandson of Abhimanyu and the great-grandson of Arjuna, the valiant warrior hero of the Mahābhārata. He was ascended to the Kuru throne following the death of his father. His significance comes as the listener of the...

. The text finally concludes with a second description of the ten characteristics of a purana, the life of Markandeya
Markandeya
Markandeya is an ancient rishi from the Hindu tradition, born in the clan of Bhrigu Rishi. He is celebrated as a devotee of both Shiva and Vishnu and is mentioned in a number of stories from the Puranas...

, a summary of the Bhāgavata, and the assurance that it is the greatest among puranas.

Theatre and dance



The Bhagavata cult
Bhagavata
Bhagavata signifies in the context of Hinduism. In this context bhakti has the primary meaning of 'adoration', while Bhagavat means 'the Adorable One', and Bhagavata is a worshiper of the Adorable One...

 centred around the worship of Krishna and the related puranas, played a central role in the development of theatre and dance in India, particularly through the tradition of Ras and Leela, which are dramatic enactments of Krishna wooing gopi
Gopi
Gopi is a word of Sanskrit origin meaning 'cow-herd girl'. In Hinduism specifically the name gopi is used more commonly to refer to the group of cow herding girls famous within Vaishnava Theology for their unconditional devotion to Krishna as described in the stories of Bhagavata Purana and...

s
(cow herding girls), and episodes from his life, respectively. Though this dance-theatre tradition predates the composition of the Harivamsa
Harivamsa
The Harivamsha is an important work of Sanskrit literature, containing 16,374 verses, mostly in metre. The text is also known as . This text is believed as a khila to the Mahabharata and is traditionally ascribed to Krishna Dvaipayana Veda Vyasa...

, Vishnu
Vishnu Purana
The Vishnu Purana is a religious Hindu text and one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. It is considered one of the most important Puranas and has been given the name Puranaratna...

and Bhagavata Purana, they were significant in its evolution. In particular, many Ras plays dramatise episodes related in the Rasa Panchadhyayi ("Five chapters of the Celestial Dance"; Book 10, chapters 29–33) of Bhagavatam. The purana accords a metaphysical significance to the performances and treats them as religious ritual, which cleanses the hearts of faithful actors and listeners and gains them para bhakti (supreme devotion) towards the Lord. Bhagavatam also encouraged theatrical performance as a means to propagate the faith (BP 11.11.23 and 36, 11.27.35 and 44, etc.), and this led to the emergence of several theatrical forms centred around Krishna all across India.

In Book 10, Bhagavatam describes Krishna dancing the Tandava
Tandava
' or ', the divine art form, is a dance performed by the god Shiva, who is revered by Hindus. According to Hindu mythology, Shiva’s Tandava is a vigorous dance that is the source of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution...

, a vigorous dance, on the hood of the cobra Kāliyā
Kaliya
Kaliya , in Hindu mythology, was the name of a poisonous Naga living in the Yamuna River, in Vrindavan. The water of the Yamuna for four leagues all around him boiled and bubbled with poison...

. This is regarded as the origins of the classical dance style of Kathak
Kathak
Kathak is one of the eight forms of Indian classical dances, originated from Uttar Pradesh, India. This dance form traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathaks, or storytellers...

, and has influenced other forms including Odissi
Odissi
Odissi, also spelled Orissi , is one of the eight classical dance forms of India. It originates from the state of Orissa, in eastern India. It is the oldest surviving dance form of India on the basis of archaeological evidences. The classic treatise of Indian dance, Natya Shastra, refers to it as...

, Manipuri
Manipuri dance
Manipuri dance is one of the major Indian classical dance forms. It originates from Manipur, a state in north-eastern India on the border with Myanmar . In Manipur, surrounded by mountains and geographically isolated at the meeting point of the orient and mainland India, the form developed its own...

 and Bharatnatyam.

Commentaries


The oldest exegetical commentary presently known is Tantra-Bhāgavata from the pancaratra
Pañcaratra
Pāñcarātra are the Vaishnava Sanskrit texts dedicated to worship of Narayana and form part of the Agamas.Unlike Vaikhanasa tradition, the Pancaratric tradition of Agamas prescribe image worship in the place of rituals like Yajnas, mentioned in the Vedas...

 school. From the modern age there is Sridhara Swami's Bhavartha-dipika written in 11th century CE, then later, Madhvacharya
Madhvacharya
Madhvācārya was the chief proponent of Tattvavāda "Philosophy of Reality", popularly known as the Dvaita school of Hindu philosophy. It is one of the three most influential Vedānta philosophies. Madhvācārya was one of the important philosophers during the Bhakti movement. He was a pioneer in...

 (c 13th century CE) wrote the Bhagavata Tatparya Nirnaya. Other commentaries are: Hanumad-Bhasya, Vasana-bhasya, Sambandhoki, Vidvat-kamadhenu, Tattva-dipika, Paramahamsa-priya, Suka-hridaya. Vopadeva wrote the Mukta-phala and the Hari-lilamrita. Vijayadhvaja composed the Pada-ratnavali. Viraraghava also edited The Bhāgavata-Candrika (from Ramanuja's school). Other works are the Suvodhini by Vallabha and Bhakti-ratnavali by Visnupuri. Among the Gaudiya Vaishnava commentaries there are Jiva Goswami
Jiva Goswami
Jiva Goswami is one of the most prolific and important philosopher and saint from the Gaudiya Vaishnava school of Vedanta tradition, producing a great number of philosophical works on the theology and practice of Bhakti yoga, Vaishnava Vedanta and associated disciplines...

's Krama-sandarbha (16th century CE), the Sarartha Darsini by Vishvanatha Chakravarti (17th century), the Dipikadipani by Radharamana, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati's Gaudiya-bhasya (20th century).

Translations

  • A Telugu version was rendered by the poet Pothana
    Pothana
    Bammera Potana was an Indian Telugu poet best known for his translation of the Bhagavata Purana from Sanskrit to Telugu. He was a Telugu and Sanskrit Scholar. His work, Andhra Maha Bhaagavathamu, is popularly called as Pothana Bhagavatham in Telugu.-Early life:Bammera Potanamatyulu was born into...

     in the fifteenth century.

  • The transcreated work, known as the Bhagavata of Sankaradeva
    Bhagavat of Sankardeva
    The Bhagavat of Sankardeva is the Assamese adaptation of the Bhagavata Purana made by Srimanta Sankardeva in 15th-16th century in the regions that form present-day Assam and Cooch Behar...

    , is the primary theological source for Mahapurushiya Dharma
    Mahapuruxiya dharma
    Ekasarana Dharma is a monotheistic religion founded and propagated by Srimanta Sankardeva in the 15th century. Most of the adherents of this religion today live in the Indian state of Assam...

     in the Indian state of Assam
    Assam
    Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

    . Sankaradeva (1449-1568 AD) drew inspiration chiefly from the Bhagavata and he himself undertook the task of rendering of the major portion, namely Books I, II, III, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI and XII. Besides the rendering, he composed a large number of works with materials from the Bhagavata such as the Kirttana Ghosha which is an anthology (kavya-kosh) of more than two dozen epics of various magnitudes. Most of the poems of the Kirttana are renderings or adaptations from the Bhagavata Purana. His Nimi Nava Siddha Samvada is a doctrinal treatise based on Book XI of the Bhagavata. His Anadi Patana is mainly an adaptation from Book III of the Bhagavata. The Gunamala, the 'Garland of Praises (for Lord Krishna)' written by Sankaradeva is a little handbook capturing in racy, rhyming and sonorous verses, the essence of the Bhagavata Purana. Within the compass of a single laudatory verse, the poet recounts many incidents from Krishna's life making them easy to remember. This 'pocket-Bhagavata' is a sacred text for all Assamese Vaisnavas and is often placed in the pedestal or the Guru-Asana (sacred throne) in the congregational prayer-house called Namghar as the object of veneration. See English translation of Sankaradeva's Gunamala

  • A condensed Srimad Bhagavatam in Sanskrit, the Narayaneeyam, was composed by Melpathur Bhattathiri
    Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri
    Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri , third student of Achyuta Pisharati, was of Madhava of Sangamagrama's Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics. He was a mathematical linguist . His most important scholarly work, Prkriya-sarvawom, sets forth an axiomatic system elaborating on the classical system...

     of Kerala
    Kerala
    or Keralam is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was created on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam speaking regions....

     in 1586.

  • The 16th century Maharashtrian poet Eknath
    Eknath
    Eknath was a prominent Marathi scholar and religious poet. He is called a "sant" in the Marathi tradition as are most other religious poets...

     wrote a scholarly commentary on the 11th Canto of the Shrimad Bhagavatam named "Ekanathi Bhagavata" in Marathi, the vernacular language of the Indian state of Maharashtra.

  • The first translation of the Bhagavata into French is done by Eugene Burnouf in 1840.

  • A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
    A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
    Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was a Gaudiya Vaishnava teacher and the founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, commonly known as the "Hare Krishna Movement"...

     has written a multi-volume edition that includes translation and commentary.

  • Swami Tapasyananda has written an English translation in four volumes.

  • Swami Prabhavananda
    Swami Prabhavananda
    Swami Prabhavananda was an Indian philosopher, monk of the Ramakrishna Order, and religious teacher.-Biography:...

     wrote an English version that is part translation, part summary and paraphrase, titled The Wisdom of God: Srimat Bhagavatam.

  • Asthana Vidwan Motaganahalli Ramashesha Shastri has written a Kannada translation, Bhagavata Maha Purana.

  • Gita Press
    Gita Press
    The Gita Press is one of the world's largest publishers of Hindu religious texts. It is located in Gorakhpur city of India's Uttar Pradesh state. It was founded in 1923 by Jaya Dayal Goyandka for promoting the principles of Sanatana Dharma. Hanuman Prasad Poddar was the founding and the lifetime...

     has a two-volume English and Hindi translation (with Sanskrit text and English translation).

  • Kamala Subramanian has written a concise version of this book in English.

  • Another translation of Book X was published on Writers Workshop
    Writers Workshop
    Writers Workshop is a Calcutta-based literary publisher founded by the poet-professor P. Lal in 1958. Over the next few decades it published many new authors in urban literature of the post-independence period. These authors later became big names.-History:...

     in 1997, transcreated by Nandini Nopani and P. Lal
    P. Lal
    Purushottama Lal was an Indian poet, essayist, translator, professor and publisher. He was the founder and publisher of Writers Workshop in Calcutta, established in 1958.-Life and education:...

    .

  • Edwin Bryant published an English translation of Book X in 2003, through Penguin Books
    Penguin Books
    Penguin Books is a publisher founded in 1935 by Sir Allen Lane and V.K. Krishna Menon. Penguin revolutionised publishing in the 1930s through its high quality, inexpensive paperbacks, sold through Woolworths and other high street stores for sixpence. Penguin's success demonstrated that large...

    .

See also


  • Bhagavan
    Bhagavan
    Bhagavan, also written Bhagwan or Bhagawan, from the Sanskrit nt-stem literally means "possessing fortune, blessed, prosperous" , and hence "illustrious, divine, venerable, holy", etc.In some traditions of Hinduism it is used to...

  • Bhakti
    Bhakti
    In Hinduism Bhakti is religious devotion in the form of active involvement of a devotee in worship of the divine.Within monotheistic Hinduism, it is the love felt by the worshipper towards the personal God, a concept expressed in Hindu theology as Svayam Bhagavan.Bhakti can be used of either...

  • Krishna
    Krishna
    Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

  • Nava rasas
  • Puranas
    Puranas
    The Puranas are a genre of important Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religious texts, notably consisting of narratives of the history of the universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of kings, heroes, sages, and demigods, and descriptions of Hindu cosmology, philosophy, and geography.Puranas...

  • Vedanta
    Vedanta
    Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...



Further reading

  • Mani, Vettam. Puranic Encyclopedia. 1st English ed. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975.
  • Cheever Mackenzie Brown. The triumph of the goddess: the canonical models and theological visions of the Devī-Bhāgavata Purāṇa. SUNY Press, 1990. ISBN 0791403637. Excerpts

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