„O Srimad-Bhagavatam, O my only friend, O my companion, O my teacher, O my great wealth, O my deliverer, O my good fortune, O my bliss, I offer respectful obeisances unto You. O Srimad-Bhagavatam, O giver of saintliness to the unsaintly, O uplifter of the very fallen, please do not ever leave me. Please become manifested upon my heart and my throat, accompanied by pure love of Krishna.“ 1
This prayer written by Srila Sanatana Goswami reveals the relationship of an advanced Vaishnava with the Srimad Bhagavatam. He calls the holy book his friend, companion, and teacher! Reading these lines I ask myself, “what is my relationship to the Bhagavatam?” I feel ashamed. It's just a book, a book that stands in the bookshelf and collects dust. Ok, I am also studying it from time to time. But do I really value my time with this book? And what does it mean to have a friendship with a book?
The Srimad Bhagavatam is not an ordinary book, it is actually non different from the Lord. This scripture named Srimad-Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of God. This Bhagavata Purana is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Krishna. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the age of Kali shall get light from this Purana. 2
Holy scriptures are meant to give guidance to the conditioned soul. It can be compared to a manual. If you buy a new computer or a washing machine, along with it there will be a manual that gives you guidance on how to use the machine properly. Similarly, when God creates this world, He gives guidance in the form of holy scriptures to the living entities on how to deal with the material nature. According to the consciousness and desires of people there are different scriptures. If someone really wants to go back home back to Godhead, the Srimad Bhagavatam offers all support on how to do that by kicking out all kind of cheating religion and promoting only pure devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Understanding the significance of the Bhagavatam Srila Sanatana Goswami prays: please never leave me! But is it the Bhagavatam who leaves us? No, it's us. I leave the Bhagavatam. The Bhagavatam, the Lord, is always with us. It is we who turn away from Him. While studying for four months I was so absorbed and took a vow to not let a single day pass without seriously studying the Bhagavatam. But back in the battlefield of my managerial responsibility here in Zurich I again fall into the trap of `I am too busy for studying`! Of course, we might be really busy, but at the end of the day it is all about setting the right priorities! There are so many things we do every day without fail because they are just essential to us. Every day we find time to sleep several hours, to clean our teeth, to pass stool, to take a bath and to eat three times a day. We may argue that we need to do these things in order to maintain our body. Fine, but what about maintaining our spiritual life? Why do I not find time to read a few lines of the Srimad Bhagavatam, that literature that is non different from the Lord and who is giving me true nourishment for my soul in the form of amazing philosophy and relishable Krishna Katha?
I am so grateful that the Bhakti Vaibhava Course has started again and that I am able to follow some of the material even when I am not physically present in Vrindavana. Now that I am receiving the recordings, submitting my weekly homework and learning Sanskrit Slokas, I am again back on track. Life is so much better with the companionship of the holy scripture, the Srimad Bhagavatam! Hopefully, I will someday realize how this scripture is actually my only true friend, my great wealth!
1 - From Krishna-Lila-Stava by Srila Sanatana Goswami
2 - Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.40/43