“If on the full moon day of the month of Bhadra one places Shrimad-Bhagavatam on a golden throne and gives it as a gift, he will attain the supreme transcendental destination.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 12.13.13)
ददाति यो भागवतं
स याति परमां गतिम्
dadāti yo bhāgavataṁ
sa yāti paramāṁ gatim
Friend1: I heard some interesting history about the Shrimad Bhagavatam recently.
Friend2: Explain what that is.
Friend1: The Bhagavata Purana.
Friend2: Is that another name for it?
Friend1: Yes. It is a book. Actually, the Puranas are ancient stories. Timeless. Purana references something old.
Friend2: What language are we speaking of here?
Friend1: Sanskrit. This is the Vedic tradition. Commonly known today as Hinduism, but the genuine thing. It is sanatana-dharma, or the eternal way of living for the living being, the spirit soul. The idea is that there is originally one Veda. This is the single source of knowledge. As time passes within the span of a particular cycle of creation or population, the learning ability diminishes.
Friend2: Why is that?
Friend1: I don’t know, exactly. That is the influence of time. Further degradation due to separation from the original culture. Something like future generations within a family taking to drug and alcohol addiction and spoiling all the work of the ancestors.
Friend2: I see.
Friend1: Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is so kind that He accommodates the population. He helps them to understand by dividing the Veda into four; hence today what is known as the Vedas. The same principles presented through story form, if people prefer. There is the Mahabharata and the many Puranas.
Friend2: I see. These are like stories intended to teach lessons at the same time.
Friend1: Historical accounts, but ones that you can read repeatedly. They are not of the mundane variety, where you read once and then cast aside. Anyway, of the many Puranas the Bhagavata is considered the best. This is because the central focus is Bhagavan, the personal side of God, and service to Him.
Friend1: Anyway, so what I heard recently is that giving the Bhagavatam as a gift on a particular day in the year yields tremendous benefits.
Friend2: There is a verse in the Bhagavatam which describes this. The person making the donation achieves the supreme destination, paramam gatim.
Friend1: I heard even more interesting facts surrounding this practice. It is not that I simply have a bound copy printed off and then make the donation. The practice was for a learned brahmana to copy the work by hand. There weren’t many copies around in the days of yore.
Friend2: That is how seriously the work was taken. It is something like visiting a museum and seeing a valuable artifact. It had to be kept safe. You don’t want to cheapen the work by letting it get into the wrong hands.
Friend1: So, speaking of hands, do you think it is worth it if I copy the work myself and give it away in charity?
Friend2: Are you serious?
Friend1: It was an idea. I mean if I am automatically getting liberation as a result, why not?
Friend2: Do you know how to write Sanskrit?
Friend1: I do not.
Friend2: Then how are you going to copy thousands of verses by hand?
Friend1: Oh. I didn’t think of that. Should I learn, then? I’m assuming the benefit is there because by coming in contact with the words, the sacred sound gets automatically produced within the mind. Thus I am hearing Bhagavatam. From hearing I achieve liberation.
Friend2: Absolutely, but you don’t have to go that far. Why endeavor to an extraordinary length, when all you have to do is become a devotee of Krishna? He promises in the Bhagavad-gita that His devotees reach the same supreme destination.
मां हि पार्थ व्यपाश्रित्य
ये ऽपि स्युः पाप-योनयः
स्त्रियो वैश्यास् तथा शूद्रास्
ते ऽपि यान्ति परां गतिम्
māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya
ye ‘pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ
striyo vaiśyās tathā śūdrās
te ‘pi yānti parāṁ gatim
“O son of Pritha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth-women, vaishyas [merchants], as well as shudras [workers]—can approach the supreme destination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.32)
It doesn’t matter what you are, either. You could be illiterate. You could be lacking ability in composition, but if you are devoted to the all-attractive one, the same benefit awaits.
Spirits forever to lift,
From Bhagavatam as gift.
Sacred sounds to hear,
Hurdle of samsara to clear.
Copying thus with promise made,
But not needed in endeavor to wade.
Just devotee of Krishna become,
And same benefit to come.