SB 1.2 - Vyāsa's teaching Śukadeva Bhāgavatam

Vyāsa wanted to teach Śuka Bhāgavatam, and so to entice him to return, he asked his disciples to recite texts from Bhāgavatam whenever they went into the forest. Śuka happened to hear those disciples and became attracted, and returned to his father’s hermitage to learn Bhāgavatam. By the power of yoga, Śuka had entered into the minds of all living beings. So Sūta desired that Śuka enter his heart also and speak the Bhāgavatam thru his mouth. He who could enter the trees and pacify his father by answering back could also enter his (Sūta’s) heart and please the intellect of the hearers by the Bhāgavatam.

Śuka, out of great compassion for the fallen souls spoke Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, the confidential supplement to the cream of Vedic knowledge (akhila śruti sāram), after having personally assimilated it by experience. The Vedānta sūtras were complied by Vyāsa with a view to present just the cream of Vedic knowledge. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is the natural commentary on this cream. Śuka was thoroughly realized in Vedānta, and also personally realized the commentary, Bhāgavatam. Everyone is baffled by the laws of material nature in their plans to become happy. The unfortunate souls do not want to get out the dark region of nescience. Such materialists, who although harassed by their material creations do not wish to escape, are called karmīs. Out of millions of karmīs, only a few may feel tired of material entanglement and desire to get out of it. Such intelligent persons are called jñānīs. The Vedānta-sūtra is directed to such jñānīs. Foreseeing the misuse of Vedānta by unscrupulous men, Vyāsa supplemented it with the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, and he also taught it to his son, Śuka. Śuka realized it personally and then explained it.

Bhāgavatam is the one unrivaled commentary on Vedānta. Śaṅkara intentionally did not touch it because he knew that the natural commentary would be difficult for him to surpass. Śaṅkara wrote his Śārīraka-bhāṣya on Vedānta, and his followers deprecated the Bhāgavatam as some new presentation. One should not be misled by such propaganda and should know that the Bhāgavatam is the only transcendental literature meant for the paramahaṁsas. The envious Māyāvādīs have no access to the Bhāgavatam, but those who are anxious to get out of material existence may take shelter of this great work, because it is uttered by the liberated Śukadeva Gosvāmī. It is the transcendental torchlight by which one can perfectly see the Absolute Truth realized as Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān.

For those who desire liberation, the Bhāgavatam helps to cross over the dense ignorance with great ease by revealing the jīva. This is a secondary result of the Bhāgavatam. For the pure devotees, Bhāgavatam contains the essence of all the śrutis, of all the Upaniṣads, and is the essence for those who relish it with the ear by hearing. This was indicated in SB 1.1.3 where it is said that Bhāgavatam is the ripened fruit of the tree of the Vedas. For Śukadeva as well, Bhāgavatam revealed the power of abundant rasa. It also produced Śuka’s power, so much so that he became the guru of all the sages such as Nārada and Vyāsa who were seated in the assembly of Parīkṣit and taught them Bhāgavatam as if it had not been heard before.