Bhagavata Purana lays emphasis on dharma, bhakti and Advaita
WORDS: MADHURI. Y
Bhagavata Purana also known as Srimad Bhagavatam is a classic Vedic philosophical treatise and includes stories on Lord Krishna. Counted among the 18 Mahapuranas, the date of its composition is around 1800 BC to 5000 BC.
Also called Fifth Veda, it comprises 12 books with 332 chapters; and 16,000 to 18,000 verses. The most popular is the 10th book dealing with Lord Krishna’s life.
Bhagavata Purana stresses on bhakti to God and speaks about Advaita or non-duality of the soul; and jiva or individual soul being part of Brahman (the impersonal one).
The sage poet Veda Vyasa wrote Bhagavata Purana. Before writing Bhagavata, Vyasa codified the Vedas dividing it into 4 parts (in honorific sense Veda Vyasa means “the one who classified the Vedas”); and of course, giving Mahabharata as gift to mankind.
Book One speaks about the dialogue between sages Vyasa and Narada. The two discuss Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. Narada says, ‘I meditated on “Self in Self through Self and understood what bhakti is.”’
After discussion with Narada, Vyasa wrote Bhagavata Purana which he taught to his son Shuka who as a recluse once saw King Parikshit dying on the banks of Ganges. Parikshit asks Shuka what he should do with death approaching. Shuka tells the King to control the mind and contemplate on AUM
(the vibration that connects the entire universe) so as to merge with supreme universal consciousness. Book Seven is dedicated to Hiranyakasipu and his son Prahlada. It narrates the demon’s death at the hands of Narasimha, incarnation of Vishnu. Prahlada is considered top-notch devotee of Vishnu and personifies bhakti. It also deals with Advaita or non-dualism of the Brahman, the “immutable Self.”
Bhagavatam describes how Yadavas indulged in infighting leading to destruction of Yadava dynasty. The end comes from a brutal internecine war, described as a drunken fight.
Krishna too leaves for Vaikuntha following the carnage.
Bhagavatam emphasises detachment and virtuousness. It gives out the essence of Dharma (universal principle of law, order, harmony, and truth); Advaita (Brahman, the supreme soul); and bhakti (highest expression of spiritual love) as means to attain salvation.