Bhagavatam - How the epic Bhagavatam came about !

Vyasa - Narada discussion ; Chapter 4 - Skandha 1


This is the story of how Bhagavatam got to be composed. This is narrated in the chapter 4 titled "Vyasa Narada samvadam" . In the beginning of Ramayana also there is a dialog between Narada and Valmiki. It is Valmiki's query about who is the best among men that excites Narada about talking about the Prince of Ikshwakus by name Rama and that led to "Ramayana" . Bhagavatam also emerges out of a similar Dialog this time between Narada and the poet Vyasa.



The story of Bhagavatam

Towards the end of Dwapara Yuga which is third among the four Yugas (Krita, Treta, Dwavapara and Kali) was born Sage Veda Vyasa as the son of Parashara by Satyavathi the daughter of a fisherman Vasu.

Vyasa sitting on the banks of River Saraswati had a deep insight into the past present and future perceived great transformation being brought about by imperceptible flight Time in the value systems of human beings. Seeing the fast declining of capabilities of men in terms of their health and strength as also his loss of faith, resolution, intelligence and longevity the Sage thought of securing the future good of men of all classes and orders.

Perceiving the impossibility of Veda being transmitted in its present form without loss of its content , Veda Vyasa reorganized the single undivided Veda of those times to four Vedas namely Rig-Veda, Yajur-veda, Sama Veda and Adharvan Veda. He passed on the four Vedas to Rishis Paila, Vaisampayana, Jamini, and Sumanthu respectively. Romaharshana was entrusted the study of Puranas and Itihasas. For the benefit of those who are debarred from Vedic rites Vyasa also composed Mahabharata. It is said Mahabharata contained everything that is needed to be known.

However though he has dedicated himself for the welfare of all classes and order of people by completing Mahabharata sage Vyasa experienced a great deal of dissatisfaction. So while he was contemplating in this mood Sage Narada appeared.

Then sage Vyasa asked Narada.“ I have devoted myself to all vows and in absolute sincerity I have devoted myself to Vedic study, service of teachers, and adoration of Vedic Fires. In the guise of Mahabharata I have made available to people debarred from Vedic rites the knowledge of the four fold meaning of life namely Dharma Artha, Kama and Moksha . Still I do not feel the enrichment and joy of spirit. Is it that I have not given adequate exposition to the laws of divine life?"

He further asks Narada “ Oh Narada you travel all over the world like sun and you can get into the hearts of every body and be witness to all their thoughts. So deign to look into to the state of my mind find out what my sin of omission is !

Thus implored Narada told him that “ Oh Son of Parashara ! you have not adequately described the unsullied glory of the Supreme Lord. I consider as inadequate all those philosophies which fail to please the Lord because of lack of devotional exuberance. You have not described the greatness of Vasudeva with the exhaustiveness with which you have treated the Vedic rites and four fold end of human life namely Dharma Artha Kama Moksha ! ”

Narada then elaborated the supremacy of Bhakti.

After the departure of Narada Sage Vyasa chose a sacred spot on the western Banks of the river Saraswati called Samyaprasa most suited for Spiritual retreats. Sitting in his Ashram at that spot the Sage Vyasa entered into a Samadhi after observing all the rites. He realized that panacea for all the sufferings cause by Avidya (ignorance) is devotion to Lord. That illumined sage therefore composed the Bhagavata Purana for the benefit of the man to teach him that Bhakti is the one means by which the spiritual glory of Jiva can be restored. It is said that even the commencement of the study of Bhagavatam results in Bhakti permeating the mind of man.

That is the origin of Bhagavata.

Bhagavatam gives an introduction to the embedded story in the first two chapters of the first Skandha

“The epic by name Bhagavatam is the narration of the stories of God . It is compiled by Vyasa Deva . It is meant for the ultimate good of all people for their success , bliss and perfection”

As Narada explicitly suggested it is essentially about the glory of Vasudeva. That enchanting story of story Vasudeva or Lord Krishna is told in Dasama Skandha. Hence the importance of Dasama Skandha , the essence of which is captured in a beautiful sloka :( X31sloka 9 )

"Your story which is like Amritam revives the scorched spirit of a man ; purifies a sinner , the holy men thrive on it . To hear it is auspicious and peace generating. Those who chant your name are the real benefactors."

Om tat Sat