Srimad Bhagavatam 12.07.03 - Protection of the Devotees (download mp3)
by Satyanarayan Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
babhruḥ śiṣyo ’thāṅgirasaḥ
saindhavāyana eva ca
adhīyetāṁ saṁhite dve
Babhru and Saindhavāyana, disciples of Śunaka, studied the two divisions of their spiritual master’s compilation of the Atharva Veda. Saindhavāyana’s disciple Sāvarṇa and disciples of other great sages also studied this edition of the Atharva Veda.
nakṣatrakalpaḥ śāntiś ca
śṛṇu paurāṇikān mune
Nakṣatrakalpa, Śāntikalpa, Kaśyapa, Āṅgirasa and others were also among the ācāryas of the Atharva Veda. Now, O sage, listen as I name the authorities on Purāṇic literature.
trayyāruṇiḥ kaśyapaś ca
ṣaḍ vai paurāṇikā ime
Trayyāruṇi, Kaśyapa, Sāvarṇi, Akṛtavraṇa, Vaiśampāyana and Hārīta are the six masters of the Purāṇas.
saṁhitāṁ mat-pitur mukhāt
ekaikām aham eteṣāṁ
śiṣyaḥ sarvāḥ samadhyagām
Each of them studied one of the six anthologies of the Purāṇas from my father, Romaharṣaṇa, who was a disciple of Śrīla Vyāsadeva. I became the disciple of these six authorities and thoroughly learned all their presentations of Purāṇic wisdom.
kaśyapo ’haṁ ca sāvarṇī
Romaharṣaṇa, a disciple of Vedavyāsa, divided the Purāṇas into four basic compilations. The sage Kaśyapa and I, along with Sāvarṇi and Akṛtavraṇa, a disciple of Rāma, learned these four divisions.
śṛṇuṣva buddhim āśritya
O Śaunaka, please hear with attention the characteristics of a Purāṇa, which have been defined by the most eminent learned brāhmaṇas in accordance with Vedic literature.
sargo ’syātha visargaś ca
saṁsthā hetur apāśrayaḥ
daśabhir lakṣaṇair yuktaṁ
purāṇaṁ tad-vido viduḥ
kecit pañca-vidhaṁ brahman
O brāhmaṇa, authorities on the matter understand a Purāṇa to contain ten characteristic topics: the creation of this universe, the subsequent creation of worlds and beings, the maintenance of all living beings, their sustenance, the rule of various Manus, the dynasties of great kings, the activities of such kings, annihilation, motivation and the supreme shelter. Other scholars state that the great Purāṇas deal with these ten topics, while lesser Purāṇas may deal with five.
The ten subjects of a great Purāṇa are also described in the Second Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.10.1):
atra sargo visargaś ca
sthānaṁ poṣaṇam ūtayaḥ
nirodho muktir āśrayaḥ
“Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam there are ten divisions of statements regarding the following: the creation of the universe, subcreation, planetary systems, protection by the Lord, the creative impetus, the change of Manus, the science of God, returning home (back to Godhead), liberation and the summum bonum.”
According to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, Purāṇas such as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam deal with these ten topics, whereas lesser Purāṇas deal with only five. As stated in Vedic literature:
sargaś ca pratisargaś ca
vaṁśo manvantarāṇi ca
“Creation, secondary creation, the dynasties of kings, the reigns of Manus and the activities of various dynasties are the five characteristics of a Purāṇa.” Purāṇas covering five categories of knowledge are understood to be secondary Purāṇic literature.
Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has explained that the ten principal topics of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam are found within each of the twelve cantos. One should not try to assign each of the ten topics to a particular canto. Nor should the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam be artificially interpreted to show that it deals with the topics successively. The simple fact is that all aspects of knowledge important to human beings, summarized in the ten categories mentioned above, are described with various degrees of emphasis and analysis throughout the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.