If virtues like devotion to God, chastity, honesty, respect for elders and affection and reverence for parents have still managed to survive in India, it is the result of the influence of the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Bhagavatam.
The Ramayana teaches us that we should not swerve from the path of truth, and also presents to us the picture of an ideal son, a model brother and an ideal wife, besides expounding several other principles of moral conduct. In the Mahabharata, we come across persons worthy of emulation, like Yudhishtira, Arjuna, Vidura and Akroora, who are all embodiments of dharma. The Bhagavatam is a perennial spring of bhakti. While reading it, or listening to its exposition, one’s heart melts with bhakti. There is an unfading freshness about it every time we listen to an exposition of the Bhagavatam.
About the Bhagavatam, it is said:
शुकमुखादमृतद्रव सम्युतम् ।
पिबत भागवतम् रसमालयम्
मुहुर्हॊ रसिका भुवि भावुका: ॥
Pibata Bhagavatam rasam-aalayam,
Muhuraho rasikaa bhuvi bhavukaah.
The Vedic tree (nigamakalpataru, निगमकल्पतरु) has several branches, and they are karmaas, duties like yajna, anushtaana, etc. Its fruit (phalam,फलम्) is bhakti. The sweetest fruit of a tree is the one which is bitten by a parrot (suka, शुक) or a squirrel. The juice from the fruit of the Bhagavatam flows through the lips of Sri Suka, the sage who narrated the Bhagavatam. If we have a soft heart, it cannot but melt when listening to the Bhagavatam. Tears of joy and bhakti will flow from our eyes.
Devotion is the only wealth of enduring value that we can acquire in this life. It is, therefore, necessary that we should not miss any opportunity to listen to the exposition of the Bhagavatam and the Puraanaas, so that we may develop devotion. The study or exposition of the Bhagavatam is much more in vogue in North India than in the South. It is regarded by North Indians as the Book of Books. A publication containing only topics of devotion is being published from Gorakhpur. The publishers are very particular that its pages should not be marred by commercial advertisements. Therefore, from cover to cover, this publication contains only articles dealing with bhakti, mostly drawn from the Bhagavatam. It also contains color pictures depicting the stories in the Bhagavatam. Though there is no other attraction in this volume, being solely devoted to the propagation of bhakti, it is sold in thousands.
The Ramayana speaks about the sanctity of Ramanaama. The Bhagavatam, though dealing entirely with Vishnu bhakti, tells about the sanctity of Siva naama in the Daksha Yagna episode. Let us continue to be devoted to Rama naama and Siva naama, and let the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Bhagavatam continue to inspire and guide us in our day-to-day life, as they have been doing for countless years in the past.
February 10, 1958.