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Posted at 22:20:20 IST on Mar 17, 2010

Srimad Bhagavatham is one of the most sacred and important of the Puranas present. It is considered as the Mahapurana amongst the 18 Puranaas.

The very word Bhagavatham means Song about the Lord, who is filled with Bhaga or aishwaryaas or auspicious qualities (astha aishwaryaas). Bhagavatham is not a mere epic that speaks just about the Lord and His leelas or plays, but it is an epic in which one can find the ultimate reality embedded in the form of stories. Each of the chapter in Bhagavatham, each story in the Bhagavatham has some deep import to be told with respect to the ultimate reality of Brahman or Consciousness or Self – one without a second. This makes Bhagavatham a very important work for ardent seekers of the reality.

Srimad Bhagavatham has a total of 18000 slokas split across 12 Skandaas. Each skanda is further split into various chapters. These chapters have slokas which explain the ultimate reality through various stories, descriptions of the Lord, His sportive plays among other things.

Srimad Bhagavatham is in the form of a dialogue between Suta and Saunaka Sages. Suta was the disciple of Vyaasa to whom Vyaasa taught the Puranaas and Vedas along with his own son Suka. Suta tells that Bhagavatham was taught by Suka to King Parikshit in 7 days learning which Parikshit attained the immortal state of Self or Consciousness here in this world itself (before being bit by the snake Takshakan).

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The Bhagavatha Saptaaham is famous and performed in various places (as Suka explained it to Parikshit in 7 days). These seven days the slokas of Bhagavatham is chanted followed by stories and commentaries.

Bhagavatham itself says about its purpose in the 12th Skanda:

Sarva Vedaantha saaram yad brahma aatmaikya lakshanam
Vasthu Adviteeyam tannishtam kaivalyam ekam prayojanam

In Prasanthi, it is His Story that is retold in His immediate presence…When Bhagavatha Saptaaha happens in Prasanthi, the audience is not alone the devotees, but includes the silent listener of all conversations, The One, who has embodied yet again in human form, Bhagawan Himself! …And here the stories are narrated in a customized style, without going by the slokas as given in Srimad Bhagavatham, instead going by selected stories from the epic with a mix of the story and mission of the life of the present Avatar.

On the scheduled morning, Bhagawan emerged at 9:27 to the chants of Vedam. Being the inaugural day of the week-long Bhagavatha Saptaaha Yajnam, Vedam continued even after the scheduled hour at 9. The proceedings for the morning began with lighting of the lamp by the Divine Hands, after which, the Pandit, Sri Ritu Raj ji Maharaj, and his escorts sought Divine Blessings to commence the commentary.  

As a prelude to the Commentary, invocatory prayer was offered to Bhagawan followed by various other Mantras invoking various "Gods and Goddesses". Beginning his commentary with an intro on Bhagavatham, the Pandit attributed the epic to Bhagawan hailing Him to be the Soul of the Epic.

Maharaj began the story with a dialogue between Bhagawan Sri Krishna and His devotee Udhdhava. When Udhadhava asked as to how he could offer worship to the Divine form of Krishna after He departs from physical form, Bhagawan replies that by worshipping and studying the Bhagavatham one would get the fruits of worshipping His Divine form.

Further elucidating on the greater efficacy of the epic and the greater importance of the event happening in the Divine Presence of Bhagawan Himself, Maharaj in his inimitable style went on narrating the birth of Sage Suka and the story as to how he was endowed with wisdom before his birth.

Scene shifted to Sage Narada narrating the story of a woman and her two sons to the sages, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanat Kumara and Sanat Sujata etc., bringing in the symbolic significance, summarizing that Sage Narada was instructed by a celestial voice that he should take up narrating the sacred Bhagavatham, for that alone would help in reviving and restoring Bhakti, Jnana, Vairagya to their pristine glory.

Next to come was an incident that happened in the banks of Tungabhadra involving Atmadeva, narrating the birth of Dunduli and Gokarna, Dunduli’s evil deeds and atrocities on Atmadeva etc.  Upon informing Gokarna about his travails, Gokarna brings greater wisdom by advising his father about the unfortunate family bonding, explaining in detail of the futility of material life, requesting his father to renounce the world and go to forest to and read the Tenth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam every day.

The Maharaj used a rare mix of Bhagavatha tales with the present day stories of Bhagawan and His ongoing Divine Mission set in motion for the greater benefit of the world.

The morning session came to an end at 11:05 when Bhagawan called for Arathi before retiring to Yajur Mandiram.