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The timeless wisdom of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> is expressed in the ancient Sanskrit Vedas. Originally preserved through oral tradition, the Vedas were first put into writing five thousand years ago by Srila Vyasadeva, “the literary incarnation of God.”

After compiling the Vedas, Vyasadeva set forth their essence in the aphorisms known as Vedanta-sutras.

Five thousand years ago Vyasadeva put the Vedas in writing for the people in this age, Kali-yuga.

He divided the Vedas into four: Rig, Sama, Atharva and Yajur.

Then he gave the charge of these Vedas to his different disciples.

Then Vyasadeva summarized all Vedic knowledge for scholars and philosophers in what is called the Vedanta-sutra. This is the last word of the Vedas.

Vyasadeva was not very satisfied even after compiling many Puranas and Upanisads, and even after writing the Vedanta-sutra.

Then his spiritual master, Narada, instructed him, “Explain the Vedanta-sutra.” Vedanta means “ultimate knowledge,” and the ultimate knowledge is Krsna. Krsna says that throughout all the Vedas one has to understand Him: vedanta-krd veda-vid eva caham.

Krsna says, “I am the compiler of the Vedanta-sutra, and I am the knower of the Vedas.”

Therefore the ultimate objective is Krsna. The Vedanta-sutra simply hints at what is Brahman, the Absolute Truth:

“The Absolute Truth is that from whom everything emanates.”

This is a summary, but it is explained in detail in Srimad-Bhagavatam. If everything is emanating from the Absolute Truth, then what is the nature of the Absolute Truth? That is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam.

The Absolute Truth must be consciousness. He is self-effulgent (svarat).

We develop our consciousness and knowledge by receiving knowledge from others, but for Him it is said that He is self-effulgent.

The whole summary of Vedic knowledge is the Vedanta-sutra, and the Vedanta-sutra is explained by the writer himself in Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana) is Vyasadeva’s commentary on his own Vedanta-sutras.

After compiling the Bhagavatam, Vyasa imparted it to his son, Sukadeva Gosvami.

Sukadeva Gosvami later recited the entire Bhagavatam to Maharaja Pariksit in an assembly of learned saints on the banks of the Ganges at Hastinapura (now <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Delhi</st1:place></st1:City>).

Maharaja Pariksit was the emperor of the world and was a great rajarsi (saintly king). Having received a curse that he would die within the seven days, he renounced his entire kingdom and retired to the bank of the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Ganges</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">River</st1:PlaceType></st1:place> to fast until death and received spiritual enlightenment.

The Bhagavatam begins with Emperor Pariksit’s inquiry to Sukadeva: Maharaja Pariksit: “You are the spiritual master of great saints and devotees. I am therefore begging you to show the way of perfection for all persons, and especially for one who is about to die. Please let me know what a man should hear, chant, remember and worship, and what he should not do. Please explain all this to me.”

Sukadeva often relates historical episodes and give accounts of lengthy philosophical discussions between such great souls as Narada Muni and Vasudeva.

At a later date, the sage Suta Goswami, [who was present at the <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Ganges</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">River</st1:PlaceType> assembly] repeated the Bhagavatam before a gathering of Sages in the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceType w:st="on">forest</st1:PlaceType> of <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Naimisaranya</st1:PlaceName></st1:place>. [These sages, concerned about the spiritual welfare of the people in general, gathered to perform a long, continuous chain of penances to counteract the degrading influence of the oncoming age of Kali.] In response to the sages’ request Suta Gosvami repeated from memory the entire Srimad-Bhagavatam, as spoken by Sukadeva to Pariksit.


Suta Goswami sometimes responds directly to questions put by Saunaka Rsi, the spokesman for the sages gathered at Naimisaranya.

One therefore simultaneously hears two dialogues: 1) between Maharaja Pariksit and Sukadeva Goswami on the bank of the <st1:place w:st="on">Ganges</st1:place>, and, 2) between the Suta Goswami and Saunaka Rsi, the spokesman for the sages gathered at Naimisaranya.

With this understanding of the history of the Bhagavatam, the reader will easily be able to follow its intermingling of dialogues, and events from various sources.

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