Tag Archives: kirtan

History of the Bhagavatam & Qualities of True Teachers

Suta gave a list of important incarnations of Godhead. Then there was a question, “Isn’t God limited by taking incarnations and having form?” – Suta explained that God’s form is beyond form, and the individual’s soul is similar. He then stated bluntly that no one can grasp what this truly means by their logic and intellect alone. To understand such infinite subjects one must be empowered by the infinite Godhead. Thus one must approach the topics of Godhead in a devotional mood.

Suta intends to deliver the topics of Godhead in a devotional mood, by explaining Śrīmad Bhāgavatam to them.

[1.3.40]

This Purāṇa named “Bhāgavatam” is nothing but pure spirit. It is full of the activities of he who inspires the ultimate poetry. It was compiled by the Sage Incarnation especially for the ultimate good of the world. In it reside blessedness, auspiciousness, and greatness!

The term “Sage Incarnation” (bhagavān ṛṣi) is a reference to Vyāsa, the incarnation who recompiled knowledge into more readily understandable formats.

[41-42]

He extracted the essence of the essence of all knowledge and history and put it in the care of his great, self-realized son. It was his son who actually gave it shape by explaining it to Emperor Parīkṣit, who was fasting until his end, surrounded by exalted sages on the Ganges’ shore.

Suka's Bhagavatam Kirtan

The Kirtan of Suka and Pariksit

Vyāsa’s constant task is to extract the essence of the abstracts of knowledge and explain it in more graspable ways. This requires utilization of analogy, metaphor and stories. Thus Vyāsa does not merely extract the essence of philosophy but also of art, presentation, and history. He combines the essence of philosophy with the essence of such subjects to create a presentation that can deliver deep understanding of spiritual concepts not just to dedicated sages living in a forest, but to blue collar workers as well.

He is not primarily a historian or an artist. His primary aim is to communicate knowledge, and he employs the essence of arts and histories to that end, as he deems appropriate.

His work came to a culmination due to the guidance of Narada. He then composed the Srimad Bhagavatam and taught it to his son, Suka. Suka then gave it fuller form by explaining it to Emperor Pariksit.

[43]

Krishna has returned to his own realm, and morality and knowledge have gone with him. The Age of Darkness has ruined the vision of everyone who remains. But now arises the new sun of this Purāṇa!

This is Suta’s direct answer to one of the earlier questions from the Sages, “How can morality and knowledge be protected now that Krishna has left our world?” They will be protected by the Bhāgavata Purāṇa.

[44]

O scholars, I was also in the kirtan of that greatly empowered sage of scholars. By his kindness I could concentrate upon it clearly and understand it. Now I will pass those words on to you, as far as my ability might allow.

A summary of the Bhāgavatam’s history: It was conceived of by Vyāsa as the perfected essence of the essence of his efforts to make true knowledge available. Vyāsa’s son, Śuka, presented it to an audience for the first time – during his kīrtana with the Emporer on the banks of the Ganges. Suta was present there and will now pass on what he learned to the sages of the forest.

Suta exemplifies the qualities of a truly valuable spiritual teacher.

The first quality is to attend to “kīrtana.” Kīrtana means audible glorification. Sometimes it is spoken, sometimes it is sung. Sometimes it is prose, sometimes it is poetry, and sometimes it is merely an important, meaningful word or name repeated with attention and devotion. The greatest “spiritual lottery” one could win would be to attend the kirtan of highly realized speakers and singers, as Suta did by attending the Kirtan of Śuka and Parīkṣit.

The second quality is appreciativeness. Understanding the topics of that exalted kīrtana, Suta did not become proud or arrogant. Instead, he felt so grateful to Śuka for kindly making the effort to explain the topics so easily and thoroughly.

The third quality of a truly valuable spiritual teacher is humility. The true teacher is appreciative towards his or her own teachers and humble before his students. Suta does not consider himself a superman. He admits natural limitations and does his best to communicate what he learned in a manner both relevant and intact.

One who attends kīrtana with full appreciation and who conducts kīrtana with full humility becomes a rising sun of spiritual blessing, dispelling the darkness of the Age of Quarrel.


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