SB 1.1 - The qualification of Sūta Gosvāmī

One day after finishing their morning duties and offering a great seat of esteem to Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī, the great sages made inquiries. The elevated seat of respect is called vyāsāsana, or the seat of Vyāsa. Vyāsa is the original spiritual preceptor for all men, and all other preceptors are considered to be his representatives. Vyāsa taught the Bhāgavatam to Śuka, and Sūta heard it from Śuka. All the ācāryas in disciplic succession follow their predecessors who delivered the spiritual message unbroken to them. Those who listen to the Bhāgavatam may put questions to the speaker in order to elicit the clear meaning, but this should not be done in a challenging spirit. One must submit questions with a great regard for the speaker and the subject matter.

The sages said that Sūta was completely free from all vice, and was well versed in all religious scriptures, the Purāṇas and the itihāsās, for he had gone thru them under proper guidance. A Gosvāmī or a bona fide representative of Vyāsa must be free from the vices of illicit sex, meat eating, intoxication and gambling. He must also be well versed in all revealed scriptures. The Purāṇas and histories like Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa are also parts of the Vedas. One can assimilate the knowledge of the Vedas only by hearing (śravaṇam) and explaining (kīrtanam). Only one who has grasped the knowledge from the right source by submissive hearing can properly explain the subject. Sūta had great affection for his gurus, and so they must have revealed all confidential subjects to him. While rejecting those who extract their own ideas from these confidential topics, the sages chose Sūta to speak about them. Being the eldest learned Vedāntist, Sūta was acquainted with the knowledge of Vyāsa, and also knew other sages who are fully versed in all kinds of physical and metaphysical knowledge.

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is the natural commentary on Vedānta-sūtras. It is called natural because Vyāsa is author of both the Bhāgavatam and the Vedānta-sūtras. Besides Vyāsa, there are other sages who are the authors of different philosophical systems, namely Gautama, Kaṇāda, Kapila, Patañjali, and Jaimini. There is also the atheistic system of Aṣṭāvakra. Theism is completely explained in the Vedānta-sūtra, whereas in other systems of philosophical speculations, no mention is given to the ultimate cause of all causes. And because Sūta was submissive, his spiritual masters have endowed him with all favors. The sages asked Sūta to thus tell them what he had learned from his gurus. The secret of success in spiritual life is in satisfying the guru and thereby getting his blessings. Viśvanātha Cakravartī has sung that only by pleasing the guru can one please the Lord, and when he is dissatisfied there is only havoc on the path of spiritual realization.