Guiding Light: Nityam Bhagavata Sevaya

Dr. S. AinavoluUpdated: Tuesday, November 01, 2022, 05:51 PM IST
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A manuscript page from the Bhagavat Purana | Wikimedia

Shrimad Bhagavata Purana is a compilation of stories of the devotees of the God Almighty. Bhagavan is the name ascribed to God, Bhagavat is the one who is devoted, and Bhagavata is about those devoted. Bhagavata gives information about God’s avatars (incarnations) in one place and narrates the important happenings during various avatars. Bhagavata existed earlier in concise forms but a full revelation to the general world is said to have happened during the last seven days of king Pareekshit.

Pandavas in Mahabharata had to “move on” as they aged and Yudhistira declared Arjuna’s son late Abhimanyu’s son Pareekshit as his successor. The generational gap became inevitable as near and dear were lost in the war of Kurukshetra. Pareekshit was a real “dwija” (twice-born), as he was killed in his mother Uttara’s womb by Ashwathama’s arrow but was saved by Lord Krishna. The child after birth was examining everyone closely (doing “pareeksha”!) who was his saviour, and hence the name Pareekshit stuck with him. He proved to be the able successor.

The Kalipurusha was to enter and create the modern troubles of “dharma glani”, a breakdown of the order that we witness, but Pareekshit contained him. He permitted Kali to reside only in four places viz. alcohol, gambling, illicit relations, and animal slaughter. Additionally, Gold became the fifth place where Kali exerted as it creates animosity between people. Kali’s influence could spread only when the dharmic regime of Pareekshit comes to an end and it happened shortly after and in a strange manner.

Returning from hunting the wild animals Pareekshit became thirsty and sought water from meditating sage Shamika who was oblivious to this mundane happening. Miffed Pareekshit dropped a dead snake in the sage’s neck and gets cursed by the sage’s son Shrungi that the king may get killed by the Takshaka snake after seven days. These seven days were spent listening to the stories of the devotees of God as narrated by Shukacharya, the son of Veda Vyasa. From this came the tradition of “Bhagavata Saptaham”, narrating the Bhagavata Purana in seven days. Additionally, the general populace shall benefit and embrace Bhakti easily when they listen to the stories and episodes from Bhagavata Puranam regularly. Hence, is the adage “nityam Bhagavata sevaya”.

Dr S Ainavolu is a professor at VPSoM, DYPU, Navi Mumbai. Views are personal. You can read more at https://www.ainavolu.in/

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