“This Bhagavata Purana is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Krishna to His own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the age of Kali shall get light from this Purana.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.3.43)
कृष्णे स्वधामोपगते धर्मज्ञानादिभि: सह ।
कलौ नष्टदृशामेष पुराणार्कोऽधुनोदित: ॥
kalau naṣṭa-dṛśām eṣa
“Have you heard of this trick that people employ with shastra? I don’t know if trick is the best word to describe it, but it is something like out of a board game. You know, where you pick a card and see what it says. Or maybe like the fortune cookie from a restaurant. You open it up, read what the slip of paper says, and then try to attach significance to it, to see if it turns out to be relevant.
“With shastra, the game is to flip to any page. Do this at random. Then read what that page has to say. Whatever problem you are suffering from at the time, the content from that page will address it. You will find some sort of resolution.
“I have heard this working with the Ramayana, Bhagavad-gita, and other related literature of the Vedic tradition. Is there any validity to this? Is it some game that people created to entice others into reading, in the hopes that they will associate with transcendental knowledge?”
Whether there is a specific game associated with the practice or not, to read any page of shastra, as presented by someone who is devoted to the Supreme Lord, has a benefit impossible to accurately measure. It is on the same level as having a moment of association with a saintly person.
न स्वर्गं नापुनर्-भवम्
मर्त्यानां किम् उताशिषः
na svargaṁ nāpunar-bhavam
martyānāṁ kim utāśiṣaḥ
“The value of a moment’s association with a devotee of the Lord cannot even be compared to the attainment of heavenly planets or liberation from matter, and what to speak of worldly benedictions in the form of material prosperity, which is for those who are meant for death.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.18.13)
The page is written instruction, documented dialogue, or narration of historical incidents. Translating the printed characters into sounds that play either out loud or in our head is like accessing a tape recording of the original transfer of information. We have direct access, in the words originally spoken, though they may be thousands of years old.
“One can certainly see directly the presence of Lord Shri Krishna in the pages of Bhagavatam if one has heard it from a self-realized great soul like Shukadeva Gosvami. One cannot, however, learn Bhagavatam from a bogus hired reciter whose aim of life is to earn some money out of such recitation and employ the earning in sex indulgence. No one can learn Shrimad-Bhagavatam who is associated with persons engaged in sex life.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.3.44 Purport)
It is the opinion of the acharyas that the root of all problems in the material world is forgetfulness of our identity, the Supreme Lord, and our eternal relationship to Him. This forgetfulness is the cause of birth. The source of every trouble is birth. Birth is the cause of death. Kala, which is time, makes its presence known through the effects of karma, which is fueled by desire. Fuel is pumping the engine, and the fuel in this case is the desire to live independent of God.
जातस्य हि ध्रुवो मृत्युर्
ध्रुवं जन्म मृतस्य च
तस्माद् अपरिहार्ये ऽर्थे
न त्वं शोचितुम् अर्हसि
jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur
dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca
tasmād aparihārye ‘rthe
na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi
“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)
Therefore, if we turn to any page from shastra, be it at random or with a specific intention in mind, we will find a solution. This is because we are connecting directly with the Supreme Lord, who is attractive in every way. The attractiveness applies to His personal self, His teachings, and His dealings with others. Name, form, and attributes – these are transcendental for Krishna and should be remembered at all times.
Reading a page from shastra might not give me the answers to an upcoming exam at school. It might not provide the solution for juggling multiple responsibilities at home. It might not make others treat us nicely or in a fair manner.
But the effect on consciousness will be everlasting. The troubles will come and go. They will carry temporary significance, but our association with Krishna will endure, due to the link in consciousness.
बहु-शाखा ह्य् अनन्ताश् च
bahu-śākhā hy anantāś ca
“Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.41)
Relief from maya’s war,
Random page turn for.
Solution in shastra found,
From wisdom profound.
On presence of Krishna based,
Like Purana giving a face.
Since my friend finally to see,
Determined devotion to be.