The Srimad-Bhagavatam, also known as the Bhagavata-Purana, is widely acclaimed as the very essence and culmination of all the wisdom of the Vedas. Its narrations and teachings have inspired philosophers, artists, poets, theologians, and spiritual seekers for centuries.
From the very beginning, the Srimad-Bhagavatam aims to penetrate deeply to the question of the ultimate purpose and meaning of our human existence, questions which are so often put aside tin our times of tumult and uncertainty.
The Srimad-Bhagavatm begins with a depiction of an assembly of sages in the forest of Naimisaranya, a sacred place in Northern India. By their spiritual vision they could see that humanity was turning in the wrong direction, towards an impersonalistic society based on exploitation and greed. They could understand quite deeply that this state of affairs would rob people of the chance for their highest destiny, to be spiritually free and able to understand God and all life in love and devotion.
Imbued with compassion, they asked the elderly Suta Goswami, the most experienced sage in the assembly:
"Please, therefore, being blessed with many years, explain to us, in an easily understandable way, what you have ascertained to be the absolute and ultimate good for the people in general."
Many centuries ago, deep spiritual wisdom was available to everyone through the via medium of the Vedic scriptures, but to go through all the detailed formulas of those texts and reconcile the numerous contradictions was no easy task. Therefore the sages then asked their second question:
"There are many varieties of scriptures, and in all of them there are many prescribed duties, which can be learned only after many years of study in their various divisions. Therefore, O sage, please select the essence of all these scriptures and explain it for the good of all living beings, that by such instruction their hearts may be fully satisfied."
Suta Goswami congratulated the sages by their compassionate and broadminded questions. He answered as follows:
"The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self."
This "devotional service" is known as bhakti-yoga. It is love expressed in action, without any ulterior motive for some kind of gain, for the pleasure of God and of all life. Such love is not dependent on any external consideration such as time, place, sex, color, creed, age, wealth, intellectual capabilities or anything else for that matter. It only requires a sincere heart.
Every living being is a part of the Supreme Being. By loving the Supreme we can simultaneously love everyone else. This love is the very nature of our being. The awakening of this love is the essence of all spiritual teachings found throughout the world. By awakening this love can the longing of our heart be fully satisfied.
In the Srimad Bhagavatam we find narrations of men and women, gods and demons, rich and poor, kings and mendicants, children and old folks, who all share one common characteristic - their extraordinary love for the Divine. These narrations provide great inspiration and offer invaluable lessons for anyone aspiring for spiritual truth.
Srimad-Bhagavatam is therefore translated as "the beautiful narration of God and His devotees." This narration culminates in the descriptions of Sri Krishna, the All-attractive One, and the unique loving pastimes He performed on this earth along with His devotees.
Srimad-Bhagavatam invites us to explore the possibility of reestablishing our own unique relationship with God, and find again the treasure of love that is lying buried in the depth of our heart.