Five Qualities of a Speaker of Srimad Bhagavatam
Bhagavann matih anapekshah suhrido
Deeneshu sānukampoyam yah
Bahudhā bodhan caturah,
Vaktā sammānito munibhih
This verse appears in the section of Bhāgavat Mahātamya in Skanda Puran.
Suta Gosvami is narrating the importance of Srimad Bhagavatam to all the Sages headed by Sage Saunaka at Naimisharanya. During the narration he has mentioned the qualities of a speaker and the four superior categories s and four inferior categories of listeners of Srimad Bhagvatam.
The most important quality of the Speaker should be that He is Krishnārthi ,meaning that He only desires to speak about Sri Krishna. The only qualification of a Listener is that he is also Krishnārthi, only eager to hear about Sri Krishna. When both these conditions are met then the Krishna Katha does not remain a katha rather it becomes a powerful medium that enables both the listener and the speaker to enter in to the Divine Pastimes of Sri Krishna.
While elaborating on this topic, Sri Suta Gosvami mentions the following Five Qualifications of the Speaker of Srimad Bhagavatam:
- Bhagavan Matih : The foremost and the the most important quality of the Speaker has to be Bhagavan matih , meaning his mind (matih) should always reside in the thoughts of Bhagawan Sri Krishna and absolutely nothing else.
If his mind is on money, followers, praises or any other worldly topics then the speaker is not qualified. Such a speaker will only waste the time and delude the minds of the listener to worldly topics, under the pretext of telling Krishna Katha.
- Anapekshah : This means that The Speaker of Srimad Bhagavatam does not desire anything in return after speaking on topics of Krishna Katha. He speaks for the joy of reciting the Divine Pastimes of the Lord. The Joy itself makes him narrate the pastimes with intense fervor of devotion. He does not recite the Srimad Bhagavatam for any material remuneration, or to display his scholarly erudition.
- Suhridah : Meaning – Friendly to all. This quality is the nature of the of a true Vaishnava. He considers everyone as his own because he knows that everyone has come from his Beloved, Sri Krishna. Therefore a Vaishnava considers everyone as his friend. With this feeling of oneness with all, he happily recites Krishna katha, everywhere he goes.
- Deeneshu Sanukampoyam yah : Meaning- He who is extremely compassionate toward the poor, lowly and those living in pitiable conditions. A Vaishnava will naturally be more compassionate because he considers everyone as a part of his Vaishnava family.He is always thinking of helping everyone to bring them out of there pitiable conditions. He knows the easiest way to remove miseries from the lives of people is to remind them of their eternal relationship with Sri Krishna. The suffering of living beings can be immediately removed by narrating Krishna Katha. So, the Speaker of Srimad Bhagavatam is always more eager to talk about Sri Krishna amongst these people.
- Bahudha bodhan caturah : The Speaker of Srimad Bhagvatam should be expert in other Vedic Scriptures and Schools of Philosophy. He should be well versed in Ramayana Mahabharata, Narada Bhakti sutras and other Vaishnava literatures.
If the Speaker has all the above mentioned qualities, then he is respected by all the great Munis and Saints. Whenever he recites the Srimad Bhagavatam, his katha is definitely attended by all the twelve great Vaishnavas like Sukadeva, Suta Gosvami , Parashar, Vibhisana, Pundarika, Bheesma and also other great Saints and Sages in subtle bodies.
Categories of Listeners of Srimad Bhagavatam
Pravaro Chatako Hanso śuka Meena
Avarah Vrika Bhurunda Vrishabh Unśtra
The Topmost Listeners are classified in these four categories:
- Chātaka : This is a type of bird which has a very unique nature. It makes a sound “pyāon pyāon” meaning “give me water , give me water”. It keeps calling the clouds for water. It eagerly waits for the swati constellation, because it only drinks the raindrops that fall during that constellation. Even if someone tries to offer it the most sacred ganges water, this bird will not drink it. It will rather die than drink any other types of water.
The devotees of this category are always eager to hear Krishna Katha. They are eager and thirsty to hear only and only about their Beloved Sri Krishna’s nectarean pastimes. If someone tells them that to listen to some Katha on any other topics that are not related to Lord Sri Krishna, then these devotees reject it. They would prefer dying remembering Krishna’s names than hearing any mundane topic.
- Hansa Bird or Swan : The Hansa is gifted with the ability to separate milk mixed in water. This quality signifies that it can separate the essence from non-essence in a mixture.
Devotees of this category know how to derive the essence of the Katha.
Nowadays, many speakers speak on the Srimad Bhagavatam. These programs are usually arranged by people in modes of passion and ignorance. The Speaker, also does these programs for money. They try to make the program interesting by speaking worldly stuff during the Bhagvatam Katha. The entire program has some stories on Krishna, some bhajans on bollywood tunes and worst, the bhajans are not even written & composed by Saints.These kind of Srimad Bhagavatam Recital programs are entirely in the mode of ignorance and passion, because the purpose is not to please Krishna, but to please the Organizers and Sponsors.
A devotee of Hansa category knows that the essence of Krishna Katha is that it will inspire you to surrender at the Lotus feet of the Lord. The devotee listens to the Katha with rapt attention, he separates the most essential gist of the Katha from the rest of the worldly talks and gets involved in chanting with rigorous intensity and lives his life only to serve and please Sri Krishna.
- śuka or Parrot : śuka or parrot has the quality of learning words and repeating them as it is, in a very sweet voice. The Devotee in this category listens to Krishna Katha very attentively and whenever he tells it to someone he repeats the Katha as it is, without any adulteration. His recitation is filled with sweetness of the joy that he feels by thinking of Sri Krishna.
The Devotee in this category represents The Ideal Disciple, for he can maintain the continuation of pure knowledge as imparted by the Teacher.The Speaker of Srimad Bhagavatam, Sri Sukadeva Goswami is named thus, as he has sung the Bhagavatam in the same manner as he received it from Srila Vyāsdeva.
- Meena or Fish: Fish cannot survive without water. It also cannot survive in muddy waters.
The Devotee in this category loves to hear Krishna Katha so much, that he feels that he will lose his life energy, if he doesn’t get to hear about Sri Krishna’s pastimes. He doesn’t lose the thought of Sri Krishna even momentarily.
Similarly, if a devotee of this category is put into a company of materialists, He feels suffocated just like the fish in muddy water. It becomes difficult for him to deal with worldly talks and worldly people. He only prefers to associate with other like minded Krishna Devotees who support his pure mind to always swim in the nectarean ocean of Krishna Katha.
In Summary, the four qualities of top category of listeners are :
- Hankering for Krishna Katha like the Chātaka bird.
2.Wisdom to take only the essence of the Krishna Katha like the Hansa bird.
- Attentiveness, Memorization and Repeating Krishna Katha as it is, just like the śuka.
- Love for Krishna Katha just like the Fish’s love for water.
The Lower Categories of Listeners are also of Four types:
- Vrika or the Wolf : These kind of listeners do not have much interest in spiritual topics. They come late to the Katha. They go through the crowd, sit in the front, talk unnecessarily, sometimes argue and create nuisance throughout the Katha.
- Bhurunda bird: This is a kind of bird which lives in the Himalayas. It listens to the topics discussed amongst the Sages. It goes and preaches these things to others, but it doesn’t practice anything for himself.These kind of listeners talk on spiritual topics as if they know everything, but they never indulge into actual spiritual practice.
- Vriśhabha or Bull : These types of listeners only care about the Prasā They do not want to hear anything on spiritual topics, but will come with family and friends just to eat the prasādam. Food is the only thing that matters to them.
- Unśtra or Camel : The Camel has a habit of chewing leaves with thorns. It relishes the taste of blood while chewing this way. The listeners of this category hear the Katha but they get inspired only by the negative characters of the Katha. For example, if they hear Mahābhārat Katha , they will get inspired by Shakuni and his love for his sister Gāndhā Or, they may only talk about Krishna’s rasa-lila in a perverted manner and so on.
(Written by Smita Venkatesh)