Benefits one gets when reading and hearing Srimad Bhagavatam
SB Canto 4
My dear Vidura, I have summarily explained the causes of devastation. One who hears this description three times attains piety and washes the sinful contamination from his soul.
By hearing the narration of Dhruva Mahārāja one can fulfill desires for wealth, reputation and increased duration of life. It is so auspicious that one can even go to a heavenly planet or attain Dhruvaloka, which was achieved by Dhruva Mahārāja, just by hearing about him. The demigods also become pleased because this narration is so glorious, and it is so powerful that it can counteract all the results of one’s sinful actions.
There are different types of men in this world, not all of them pure devotees. Some are karmīs, desiring to acquire vast wealth. There are also persons who are only after reputation. Some desire to be elevated to the heavenly planets or to go to Dhruvaloka, and others want to please the demigods to get material profits. Herein it is recommended by Maitreya that every one of them can hear the narration about Dhruva Mahārāja and thus get their desired goal. It is recommended that the devotees (akāma), the karmīs (sarva-kāma) and the jñānīs, who desire to be liberated (mokṣa-kāma), should all worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead to acquire their desired goals of life. Similarly, if anyone hears about the activities of the Lord’s devotee, he can achieve the same result. There is no difference between the activities and character of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and those of His pure devotees.
Anyone who hears the narration of Dhruva Mahārāja, and who repeatedly tries with faith and devotion to understand his pure character, attains the pure devotional platform and executes pure devotional service. By such activities one can diminish the threefold miserable conditions of material life.
Here the word acyuta-priya is very significant. Dhruva Mahārāja’s character and reputation are great because he is very dear to Acyuta, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Lord are pleasing to hear, hearing about His devotees, who are very dear to the Supreme Person, is also pleasing and potent. If one simply reads over and over again about Dhruva Mahārāja by hearing and reading this chapter, one can attain the highest perfection of life in any way he desires; most importantly, he gets the chance to become a great devotee. To become a great devotee means to finish all miserable conditions of materialistic life.
Anyone who hears this narration of Dhruva Mahārāja acquires exalted qualities like him. For anyone who desires greatness, prowess or influence, here is the process by which to acquire them, and for thoughtful men who want adoration, here is the proper means.
In the material world everyone is after profit, respectability and reputation, everyone wants the supreme exalted position, and everyone wants to hear about the great qualities of exalted persons. All ambitions which are desirable for great persons can be fulfilled simply by reading and understanding the narration of Dhruva Mahārāja’s activities.
Persons who have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord should recite this narration of Dhruva Mahārāja without taking remuneration. Specifically, recitation is recommended on the full moon or dark moon day, on the day after Ekādaśī, on the appearance of the Śravaṇa star, at the end of a particular tithi, or the occasion of Vyatīpāta, at the end of the month, or on Sunday. Such recitation should of course be performed before a favorable audience. When recitation is performed this way, without professional motive, the reciter and audience become perfect.
Professional reciters may ask money to extinguish the blazing fire within their bellies, but they cannot make any spiritual improvement or become perfect. It is therefore strictly forbidden to recite Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as a profession to earn a livelihood. Only one who is completely surrendered at the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, depending fully on Him for personal maintenance or even for maintenance of his family, can attain perfection by recitation of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which is full of narrations of the pastimes of the Lord and His devotees. The process can be summarized as follows: the audience must be faithfully receptive to the Bhāgavata message, and the reciter should completely depend on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Bhāgavata recitation must not be a business. If done in the right way, not only does the reciter achieve perfect satisfaction, but the Lord also is very satisfied with the reciter and the audience, and thus both are liberated from material bondage simply by the process of hearing.
The narration of Dhruva Mahārāja is sublime knowledge for the attainment of immortality. Persons unaware of the Absolute Truth can be led to the path of truth. Those who out of transcendental kindness take on the responsibility of becoming master-protectors of the poor living entities automatically gain the interest and blessings of the demigods.
Jñānam ajñāta means knowledge which is unknown almost throughout the entire world. No one knows actually what is the Absolute Truth. Materialists are very proud of their advancement in education, in philosophical speculation and in scientific knowledge, but no one actually knows what the Absolute Truth is. The great sage Maitreya, therefore, recommends that to enlighten people about the Absolute Truth (tattva), devotees should preach the teachings of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam throughout the entire world. Śrīla Vyāsadeva especially compiled this great literature of scientific knowledge because people are completely unaware of the Absolute Truth. In the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, First Canto, it is said that Vyāsadeva, the learned sage, compiled this great Bhāgavata Purāṇa just to stop the ignorance of the mass of people. Because people do not know the Absolute Truth, this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was specifically compiled by Vyāsadeva under the instruction of Nārada. Generally, even though people are interested in understanding the truth, they take to speculation and reach at most the conception of impersonal Brahman. But very few men actually know the Personality of Godhead.
Recitation of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is specifically meant to enlighten people about the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although there is no fundamental difference between impersonal Brahman, localized Paramātmā and the Supreme Person, factual immortality cannot be obtained unless and until one attains the stage of associating with the Supreme Person. Devotional service, which leads to the association of the Supreme Lord, is actual immortality. Pure devotees, out of compassion for the fallen souls, are kṛpālu, very kind to people in general; they distribute this Bhāgavata knowledge all over the world. A kindhearted devotee is called dīna-nātha, protector of the poor, ignorant mass of people. Lord Kṛṣṇa is also known as dīna-nātha or dīna-bandhu, the master or actual friend of the poor living entities, and His pure devotee also takes the same position of dīna-nātha. The dīna-nāthas, or devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa, who preach the path of devotional service, become the favorites of the demigods. Generally people are interested in worshiping the demigods, especially Lord Śiva, in order to obtain material benefits, but a pure devotee, who engages in preaching the principles of devotional service, as prescribed in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, does not need to separately worship the demigods; the demigods are automatically pleased with him and offer all the blessings within their capacity. As by watering the root of a tree the leaves and branches are automatically watered, so, by executing pure devotional service to the Lord, the branches, twigs and leaves of the Lord, known as demigods, are automatically pleased with the devotee, and they offer all benedictions.
Any person who describes the great characteristics of King Pṛthu with faith and determination—whether he reads or hears of them himself or helps others to hear of them—is certain to attain the very planet which Mahārāja Pṛthu attained. In other words, such a person also returns home to the Vaikuṇṭha planets, back to Godhead.
If one hears of the characteristics of Pṛthu Mahārāja and is a brāhmaṇa, he becomes perfectly qualified with brahminical powers; if he is a kṣatriya, he becomes a king of the world; if he is a vaiśya, he becomes a master of other vaiśyas and many animals; and if he is a śūdra, he becomes the topmost devotee.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is recommended that one should become a devotee regardless of one’s condition. Whether one is without desire (akāma) or with desire (sakāma), or whether one desires liberation (mokṣa-kāma), he is advised to worship the Supreme Lord and execute devotional service unto Him. By so doing, one attains all perfection in any field of life. The process of devotional service—especially hearing and chanting—is so powerful that it can bring a person to the perfectional stage. In this verse brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras are mentioned, but here it should be understood that that reference is to the brāhmaṇa who is born in a brahminical family, the kṣatriya who is born in a kṣatriya family, the vaiśya who is born in a vaiśya family and the śūdra in a śūdra family. But whether one is a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra, he can attain perfection simply by hearing and chanting.
It does not matter whether one is a man or woman. Anyone who, with great respect, hears this narration of Mahārāja Pṛthu will become the father of many children if he is without children and will become the richest of men if he is without money.
Materialistic persons who are very fond of money and great families worship different demigods to attain their desires, especially goddess Durgā, Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā. Such materialistic persons are called śriyaiśvarya-prajepsavaḥ. Śrī means “beauty,” aiśvarya means “riches,” prajā means “children,” and īpsavaḥ means “desiring.” As described in the Second Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, one has to worship various demigods for different types of benedictions. However, here it is indicated that simply by hearing of the life and character of Mahārāja Pṛthu, one can have both riches and children in enormous quantities. One simply has to read and understand the history, the life and activities of Pṛthu Mahārāja. It is advised that one read them at least three times. Those who are materially afflicted will so benefit by hearing of the Supreme Lord and His devotees that they need not go to any demigod. The word suprajatamaḥ (“surrounded by many children”) is very significant in this verse, for one may have many children but may not have any qualified children. Here, however, it is stated (su-prajatamaḥ) that all the children thus attained would be qualified in education, wealth, beauty and strength—everything complete.
Also, one who hears this narration three times will become very reputable if he is not recognized in society, and he will become a great scholar if he is illiterate. In other words, hearing of the narrations of Pṛthu Mahārāja is so auspicious that it drives away all bad luck.
In the material world, everyone wants some profit, some adoration and some reputation. By associating in different ways with the Supreme Personality of godhead or His devotee, one can very easily become opulent in every respect. Even if one is not known or recognized by society, he becomes very famous and important if he takes to devotional service and preaching. As far as education is concerned, one can become recognized in society as a great learned scholar simply by hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Bhagavad-gītā, wherein the pastimes of the Lord and His devotees are described. This material world is full of dangers at every step, but a devotee has no fear because devotional service is so auspicious that it automatically counteracts all kinds of bad luck. Since hearing about Pṛthu Mahārāja is one of the items of devotional service (śravaṇam), naturally hearing about him brings all good fortune.
By hearing the narration of Pṛthu Mahārāja, one can become great, increase his duration of life, gain promotion to the heavenly planets and counteract the contaminations of this age of Kali. In addition, one can promote the causes of religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation. Therefore from all sides it is advisable for a materialistic person who is interested in such things to read and hear the narrations of the life and character of Pṛthu Mahārāja.
If a king, who is desirous of attaining victory and ruling power, chants the narration of Pṛthu Mahārāja three times before going forth on his chariot, all subordinate kings will automatically render all kinds of taxes unto him—as they rendered them unto Mahārāja Pṛthu—simply upon his order.
Since a kṣatriya king naturally desires to rule the world, he wishes to make all other kings subordinate to him. This was also the position many years ago when Pṛthu Mahārāja was ruling over the earth. At that time he was the only emperor on this planet. Even five thousand years ago, Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira and Mahārāja Parīkṣit were the sole emperors of this planet. Sometimes the subordinate kings rebelled, and it was necessary for the emperor to go and chastise them. This process of chanting the narrations of the life and character of Pṛthu Mahārāja is recommended for conquering kings if they want to fulfill their desire to rule the world.
The great sage Maitreya continued: My dear Vidura, I have as far as possible spoken the narrations about Pṛthu Mahārāja, which enrich one’s devotional attitude. Whoever takes advantage of these benefits also goes back home, back to Godhead, like Mahārāja Pṛthu.
Whoever, with great reverence and adoration, regularly reads, chants and describes the history of Mahārāja Pṛthu’s activities will certainly increase unflinching faith and attraction for the lotus feet of the Lord. The Lord’s lotus feet are the boat by which one can cross the ocean of nescience.
The word bhava-sindhu-pota-pāde is significant in this verse. The lotus feet of the Lord are known as mahat-padam; this means that the total source of material existence rests on the lotus feet of the Lord. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (10.8), ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ: everything is emanating from Him. This cosmic manifestation, which is compared to an ocean of nescience, is also resting on the lotus feet of the Lord. As such, this great ocean of nescience is minimized by a person who is a pure devotee. One who has taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord need not cross over the ocean, for he has already crossed it by virtue of his position at the Lord’s lotus feet. By hearing and chanting of the glories of the Lord or the Lord’s devotee, one can become firmly fixed in the service of the lotus feet of the Lord. This position can also be achieved very easily by narrating the history of the life of Pṛthu Mahārāja regularly every day.
My dear sons of the King, just execute your occupational duty as kings with a pure heart. Just chant this prayer fixing your mind on the lotus feet of the Lord. That will bring you all good fortune, for the Lord will be very much pleased with you
My dear princes, in the form of a prayer I have delineated the yoga system of chanting the holy name. All of you should take this important stotra within your minds and promise to keep it in order to become great sages. By acting silently like a great sage and by giving attention and reverence, you should practice this method.
A devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa whose mind is always absorbed in Him, who with great attention and reverence chants this stotra (prayer), will achieve the greatest perfection of life without delay.
Although rendering devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and worshiping Him are very difficult, if one vibrates or simply reads this stotra (prayer) composed and sung by me, he will very easily be able to invoke the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the dearmost objective of all auspicious benedictions. A human being who sings this song sung by me can please the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such a devotee, being fixed in the Lord’s devotional service, can acquire whatever he wants from the Supreme Lord.
A devotee who rises early in the morning and with folded hands chants these prayers sung by Lord Śiva and gives facility to others to hear them certainly becomes free from all bondage to fruitive activities.
My dear sons of the King, the prayers I have recited to you are meant for pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supersoul. I advise you to recite these prayers, which are as effective as great austerities. In this way, when you are mature, your life will be successful, and you will certainly achieve all your desired objectives without fail
The Lord continued: Those who remember you every evening of every day will become friendly with their brothers and with all other living entities.
Those who will offer Me the prayers composed by Lord Śiva, both in the morning and in the evening, will be given benedictions by Me. In this way they can both fulfill their desires and attain good intelligence.
SB Canto 6
Viśvarūpa continued: O Indra, this mystic armor related to Lord Nārāyaṇa has been described by me to you. By putting on this protective covering, you will certainly be able to conquer the leaders of the demons.
If one employs this armor, whomever he sees with his eyes or touches with his feet is immediately freed from all the above-mentioned dangers.
This prayer, Nārāyaṇa-kavaca, constitutes subtle knowledge transcendentally connected with Nārāyaṇa. One who employs this prayer is never disturbed or put in danger by the government, by plunderers, by evil demons or by any type of disease.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: My dear Mahārāja Parīkṣit, one who employs this armor or hears about it with faith and veneration when afraid because of any conditions in the material world is immediately freed from all dangers and is worshiped by all living entities.
King Indra, who performed one hundred sacrifices, received this prayer of protection from Viśvarūpa. After conquering the demons, he enjoyed all the opulences of the three worlds.
This mystical mantric armor given by Viśvarūpa to Indra, the King of heaven, acted powerfully, with the effect that Indra was able to conquer the asuras and enjoy the opulence of the three worlds without impediments. In this regard, Madhvācārya points out:
- vidyāḥ karmāṇi ca sadā
- guroḥ prāptāḥ phala-pradāḥ
- anyathā naiva phaladāḥ
- prasannoktāḥ phala-pradāḥ
One must receive all kinds of mantras from a bona fide spiritual master; otherwise the mantras will not be fruitful. This is also indicated in Bhagavad-gītā (4.34):
- tad viddhi praṇipātena
- paripraśnena sevayā
- upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
- jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” All mantras should be received through the authorized guru, and the disciple must satisfy the guru in all respects, after surrendering at his lotus feet. In the Padma Purāṇa it is also said, sampradāya-vihīnā ye mantrās te niṣphalā matāḥ. There are four sampradāyas, or disciplic successions, namely the Brahma-sampradāya, the Rudra-sampradāya, the Śrī sampradāya and the Kumāra-sampradāya. If one wants to advance in spiritual power, one must receive his mantras from one of these bona fide sampradāyas; otherwise he will never successfully advance in spiritual life.
SB Canto 8
O Mahārāja Parīkṣit, pleasure of your dynasty, I have now described to you everything about the wonderful activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vāmanadeva. Those who hear about this are certainly freed from all the results of sinful activities.
If one hears about the uncommon activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His various incarnations, he is certainly elevated to the higher planetary system or even brought back home, back to Godhead.
Whenever the activities of Vāmanadeva are described in the course of a ritualistic ceremony, whether the ceremony be performed to please the demigods, to please one’s forefathers in Pitṛloka, or to celebrate a social event like a marriage, that ceremony should be understood to be extremely auspicious.
There are three kinds of ceremonies—specifically, ceremonies to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead or the demigods, those performed for social celebrations like marriages and birthdays, and those meant to please the forefathers, like the śrāddha ceremony. In all these ceremonies, large amounts of money are spent for various activities, but here it is suggested that if along with this there is recitation of the wonderful activities of Vāmanadeva, certainly the ceremony will be carried out successfully and will be free of all discrepancies.
SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)
O best of the Bhṛgus, this account concerning Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi conveys the transcendental potency of the Supreme Lord. Anyone who properly narrates or hears it will never again undergo material existence, which is based on the desire to perform fruitive activities.
“”My Lord, the nectar of Your words and the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those who are always aggrieved in this material world. These narrations are transmitted by exalted personalities, and they eradicate all sinful reactions. Whoever hears these narrations attains all good fortune. These narrations are broadcast all over the world and are filled with spiritual power. Those who spread the message of Godhead are certainly the most munificent welfare workers.””
This verse is Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.31.9.