Chathuhshloki Bhaagavatham [Brief]

By Major V Ramanujam

1. The glory of Bhaagavatha Puraanam is given in the Uttara Kaanda of Padma Puraanam through dialogues between Narada & Bhakthi and Narada & Sanaka and his 3 brothers and also through the story of Mukthi or Salvation of Dhundukaari, son of Aathmadeva, by exposition of Bhaagavatham by Gokarna.

2. Bhaagavatha Puraanam has 18,000 shlokaas and is divided into 12 Skandaas (chapters/books), in the form of dialogue between King Parikshith ang sage Sukadeva, son of Rishi Veda Vyaasa .

3. Spirit or Aathma is pure and beyond the material Sheaths (Pancha koshaas) and is Pure Consciousness or Awareness, though dwelling within the human body. It is due to delusion (Maaya) that it gets the notions of “I” and “Mine” (Ahamkaara and Mamakaara). Rid of delusion and raising above the Pancha Koshaas, “I”, “Mine” and Trigunaas, Man revels himself in the glory of his Self or Aathma.

4. Brahma resorts to perform Tapas: Brahma appeared from the navel (naabhi) of Sri Hari. The latter entrusted him with the work of Creation. However much Brahma meditated, he could not get the vision of Parabrahman to facilitate him to create the universe. At that time, he heard the command of the Lord to perform Tapas (penance). Obediently Brahma controlled his breath, mind and senses and practiced Tapas for a 1000 divine years (equivalent to 360,000 human years). Obviously for that period Brahma was in a state of Asambhuthi and Kaarana Brahman.

5. Brahma gets divine vision:  Pleased with Brahma’s Tapas, Sri Hari showed him in His own Abode, seated on a magnificent throne in full majesty and splendor, surrounded by His 25 Shaktis or Potencies (the Spirit or Purusha, Prakrithi, the Mahat tatva, the Ego, the Mind, the ten Indriyaas, the five Subtle Elements and the five Gross Elements, all in a personal form) and His 6 eternal and divine attributes called Bhagaas (Lordship, Righteousness, Renown, Prosperity, Wisdom and Dispassion).

6. On Tapas, a side remark by the Lord: Sri Hari conveys to Brahma that Tapas is His very heart and very dear to Him (Tapo mey hrudayam, saakshaath Aathmaaham tapo anagha!)He loves those who perform Tapas! Pleased with his Tapas, Sri Hari asked Brahma to seek a boon.

7. Brahma’s Prayer: Brahma in all modesty prayed to Sri Hari to bless him with an insight of the Absolute (Maayaateetha, unmanifested form) and Relative (Maayaapahutha, manifested with Nama, roopa and Guna) aspects of the Lord. He sought to know how the Lord creates, sustains and re-absorbs all beings. He prayed that while creating and classifying the Jivaas as per their traits, let him not get attached to any of them or become proud of his own immunity from birth etc.

8. Sri Hari’s Boons: Thus beseeched by Brahma, Lord Sri Hari then told him that by His Grace, Brahma will receive the most esoteric Knowledge and Realisation of Creation. The Truth about Devotion, the Knowledge, nature and Character, manifestation, virtues and doing etc of Sri Hari. Equipped with that knowledge, Brahman then becomes Kaarya Brahma or Sambhuthi and goes ahead with Creation as Hiranyagarbha.

9. Chathuhshloki Bhaagavatham: In what has come to be known as Chathuh shloki Bhaagavatham, Lord Hari then tells Brahma about His nature etc briefly in four shlokaas (numbers 32 to 35, Discourse 9, Second Skanda of Bhaagavatham).

10. Shloka 32: Eternity: Prior to this Creation, I alone existed and that too in my Absolute State. Other than me there was nothing – Gross or Subtle or cause of both, viz., Prakruthi, the Primordial Matter. I exist even after the Creation as well in the form of this phenomenal world and I am also that which remains, after all this has disappeared (has been re-absorbed by me).

11. Shloka 33: Maaya: That which makes it possible for something inexplicable to appear in my Being (as if apart from Me)without any corresponding Reality and which obscures (hides) my Being (in spite of my being present everywhere)should be regarded as my Maaya. ( Strange that we imagine a snake on the rope in darkness, whereas the truth is the rope and not the snake!)(We appreciate the wonders of the world, without appreciating the power who instilled that wonder in the wonder!

12. Shloka 34: Omnipotency: Material and Efficient Cause (Upaadaana and Naimitthika Kaarana) of all Creation: Even though the beings are “materially made up” of the five great Elements (which are Me only), yet the elements are said to have “entered” them, similarly, I can be said to have “entered” them, while in reality, there is no being other than me! Nothing exists other than Me!

13. Shloka 35: Parabrahman is the only Truth and he is Omnipresent: Seekers into Truth of Aathma should enquire and find out that Truth (Sri Hari) alone exists everywhere and at all times.(Hands hold, legs move, wind blows, Sun shines day in and day out without break; all because of the God behind them, not because of them per se!)

14. Assurance: Finally the Lord concludes that if Brahma firmly establishes this Doctrine about Parabrahman in his mind, he will never be overtaken by Ego etc.

15. Conclusion: The Chathuh shloki Bhaagavatham is a brief summary of the entire Bhaagavatham, in four cryptic verses! Bhaagavatha Puraanam only elaborates the contents of these four shlokaas with examples from real life to make the incomprehensible easily understood.

Jai Shri Krishna