Ved Vyasa is considered the compiler of the four Vedas. But as there were many restrictions on common people, women, and the low-caste Shudras, Ved Vyasa later wrote the Mahabharata and the Bhagavatam. In this way, the dominant influence of the high-caste Brahmins of the Aryan period was contained in these subsequent Hindu scriptures. The Srimad Bhagavatam was written for common man, who is not well versed in complex philosophies and academic deliberations. The teachings are therefore quite simple and straightforward:
- Only as much as is needed by the stomach, you may take and eat. If one takes more than that, it is sinful.
- One who sees eternal soul in all beings and sees all beings in the soul is the man of spirituality.
- For one who attains excellence in his trade or profession, it is not for any personal ego satisfaction or selfish gain; rather, it is for the service and well-being of all.
- One who uses his knowledge or strength for his own selfish ends may be destroyed, as Ravana was destroyed, even though he was a Brahmin of very high knowledge and a king with great power.
- According to the teachings of the Bhagavatam, the loftiest Vedantic thought is vasudhaiva kutumbakam—the whole world is but a family. In all beings there pervades the same cosmic spirit. There is none alien, so we need have no enmity toward anyone.
Only in the human form is one in a position to offer devotional prayers to God. Human birth is, therefore, considered as the most precious birth. By remembering God, one remembers the divine virtues of God. Man then gradually attains these virtues, such as truth, purity, compassion, forgiveness, renunciation, contentment, equanimity, austerity, peace, reading the scriptures, brilliance, courage, power, enthusiasm, pride, humility, and many more.
The main purpose of a religion is to impart spiritual and moral teachings. Srimad Bhagavatam has simply excelled in this great mission. The teachings are presented in a very simple and earthly manner. The earlier scriptures of Vedas and Upanishads were inaccessible to women and persons belonging to lower castes; the subsequent scriptures, especially the Srimad Bhagavatam corrected this anomaly right away. Its teachings often dwell on most ordinary, daily activities like eating habits, personal behavior, and relationship with other beings etc., guiding individuals to improve the quality of their lives and adding value to the tasks they undertake, regardless of big or small. Even though Srimad Bhagavatam is most theistic and underlines God incarnation, it also recognises the basic Hindu concept of the transcendental, formless Divine behind all these manifestations, thus maintaining a sense of harmony between different philosophical ideas and opinions.
Srimad Bhagavatam also introduced the concept of “grace”. When one surrenders completely and sincerely at the lotus feet of the Lord, one may obtain the grace of God. With His grace, all previous harmful effects of the bad karmas may be mitigated. This is in contrast with the Jainism and Buddhism philosophy, where there is no room for such mercy and benevolence. All karmas must be fully accounted for. With the phenomenon of grace, Hindu philosophy moved toward mental reform and transformation as the goal, replacing proper justice and punishment.
We also often forget our vows and pledges, repeatedly committing iniquities and sins; Srimad Bhagavatam warns of such wrongful behavior. Even the most powerful persons have succumbed under the spell of lust. One may therefore avoid becoming intimate with anyone but their lawful spouse. The institute of marriage has been vindicated fully.
NOTE: All quotes are adapted from: Lokram P. Dodeja. Srimad
Bhagavad (Sindhi Language). Pune, India, 1950.