Why does the Krishna book publically present confidential tenth canto pastimes?
Transcription By: Rahul Kambhampati P
Edited By: Priyanka Amit Kumar Mataji
Question: If the tenth canto cannot be read without reading the first 9 cantos, then why did Srila Prabhupada present the tenth canto as Krishna book, and how we can read the Krishna book without reading the first 9 cantos of Bhagavatam?
Answer: The purpose is not to put a ban on the tenth canto. It is in fact, to give a systematic philosophical understanding, by which we are able to see the tenth canto pastimes in a proper light.
Generally, most people while reading Bhagavatam do not read the purport, they read stories and on reading the tenth canto’s stories, Krishna appears to be an ordinary human being to them. This is not completely appropriate understanding. Further, the pastimes of Krishna with the gopis appear to be immoral, which is even worse.
Krishna in (Bg9.11) says avajananti mam mudha. There are three words Jananti, ajananti, and avajananti. Jananti is to know, if one knows his tatvatah, then one will be liberated. Ajananti is not to know him, and it is appalling, avajananti means, if one knows him incorrectly, then one will be ruined. In Bg9.12, Krishna says Moghāśā mogha-karmāṇomogha jnana vicetasaḥ – one will lose everything.
The tenth canto if read directly, can be misunderstood, because one may not have the proper philosophical understanding which the previous nine cantos would offer. However, Srila Prabhupada in his Krishna book, buffers all the pastimes with adequate philosophical contextualization by which, we are able to understand that it is not some ordinary entertainment. Rather it is supreme reality of selfless, pure, spiritual love being manifested between the Supreme lord and his topmost devotees.
Srila Prabhupada did want the Krishna book to be distributed widely. The reason being, he had presented the pastimes of Krishna in a condensed book format where the pastimes were contextual to the stories, thereby the chances of misunderstanding were negligible.
And even if it is discouraged to read the tenth canto without reading the first nine, people still read it, as Krishna book. Further, there are so many other sources say movies ,T.V. programs, comics, folk stories narrated by improper Vaishnavas, etc, through which one gets to hear Krishna’s pastimes
And in any case, Krishna’s pastimes are misunderstood because of lack of proper philosophical understanding. In order to rectify such misunderstandings, it was important that the pastimes of Krishna were given in an accessible and comprehensive form.
In any case the number of people following the advice that they would understand about Krishna only when they read the first 9 cantos, would be very less, consequently, Srila Prabhupada made it accessible by presenting that in a condensed book format, where in the description of pastimes is contextual to the stories. The book is very small when compared to the nine cantos of Srimad Bhagavatam, and gives comprehensive philosophy.
Of course, this is the broader understanding, from the immediate perspective of Srila Prabhupada literary plan to outreach the general masses; he had a massive project of translating Srimad Bhagavatam. He being in an advance stage was not sure whether he would stay with us long enough to be able to complete the full Bhagavatam.
Further, he regarded Krishna’s pastimes as most important, and giving the correct understanding of those pastimes was all the more critical. He decided not to run the risk of not being able to present it, and therefore did not wait for the completion of the previous 9 cantos. He gave the tenth canto‘s essence in Krishna book. He wanted it to be widely distributed, so that the philosophy and pastimes together could be understood.
Through the philosophy, one understands God’s greatness and it brings humility, and through the pastimes god’s sweetness which brings affection. The presence of humility and affection together causes a very strong attraction. Prabhupada had said that just by reading the Krishna book we can develop love for Krishna.
Simultaneously, he gave detailed explanation and commentary for the 9th canto and eventually came to the 10th canto. On reading Krishna book, not only that the preliminary misunderstandings which one may have, can be cleared in fact, a proper frame work for understanding Krishna’s pastimes can be attained.
Further, on reading the 10 canto of Srimad Bhagavatam one can get a deeper and clearer understanding. Hence, Srila Prabhupada wrote the Krishna book, as the accessible form of the 10th canto, while removing the potential misunderstandings that can occur and those already present, in the minds of people.
Devotees were distributing any canto on airports. They asked Srila Prabhupada – if one has to read the first 2 cantos before reading other cantos, why we are selling to karmis further cantos?
Srila Prabhupada answered: In Bhagavatam it is factually offensive to jump to higher cantos without realization. but my purports contain basic elementary information of Bhagavad Gita. So purports in all of the cantos contain the lotus feet of Krsna in form of parts of 1st canto. So you can read from any of my book. Reminder of 1st canto is there in all cantos’ purports.
This is the miraculous touch of an empowered acarya. Both neophytes and advanced devotees can benefit from any of Srila Prabhupada’ṣ books. Anyone can read Krsna book, which is the 10th canto, as it is beneficial for both neophytes and advanced devotees.
His Holiness Radhanath Swami Maharaj