Are Gita and Bhagavatam meant for less intelligent people because they are parts of smriti?
Transcription (edited) by- Vrindavaneshvari Devi Dasi and Keshavgopal Das
Question – Are the Bhagvad Gita and Shrimad-Bhagvatam meant for less intelligent people?
As Prabhupada says in his introduction of Sri Ishopanishad that after Vyasdeva composed the Vedas, he composed Puranas and the Mahabharata for the less intelligent people. Bhagvatam is one of the Puranas and Bhagvat Gita appears in the Mahabharata, so are these also meant for the less intelligent?
- Both Bhagvad Gita and Srimad Bhagvatam are meant for both most intelligent and less intelligent people.
- Srimad Bhagvatam is a book which contains the highest spiritual truth, meant of non-envious people. It can be relished by everyone.
- The stories of the Mahabharata are there to attract the less intelligent people to illumine them with the highest knowledge of Bhagvad Gita, but Bhagvad Gita’s profundity can put even the wisest of people into devotional and intellectual rapture.
Answer (long)– No. It is stated by Srila Jeeva Goswami based on various scriptural sources that Vyasdeva after writing the eighteen Puranas (including the Shrimad Bhagvatam) felt very dejected and that’s why he again wrote (or edited) what he had written before. Instead of giving mixed devotion as given by him in other saatvik Puranas, this time he focused on giving pure devotion in the Bhagvatam and thus he revealed the glory of Lord Krishna.
It is to be noted that the version of Bhagvatam we know today as the Amala Purana is not the Bhagvatam which was originally written by Srila Vyasadeva as one of the eighteen Puranas but it is the edited version by Srila Vyasadeva himself which focuses on the rejection of Kaitava Dharma (cheating religion) and focuses on pure spiritual truth.
vedyaṁ vāstavam atra vastu śivadaṁ tāpa-trayonmūlanam
Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhāgavata Purāṇa propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are fully pure in heart.
Srimad Bhagvatam is the culmination of all Vedic knowledge. It contains the highest truth. It is also said, nirmatsarāṇāṁ satāṁ (SB 1.1.2) i.e. it is meant for non-envious people. It can be relished by everyone, both by very advanced souls and even by people who are less intelligent.
Srimad Bhagvatam is the commentary on the Vedanta Sutra which gives the final word in the Vedic literature. Srimad Bhagvatam is a book of huge expanse which both simple and most intelligent people can appreciate.
Similarly we can understand for Mahabharata. It is a vast book whose stories attract even the less intelligent people but once such people are attracted, the Bhagwat Gita is available for the reader as the most shining jewel in the broad setting of Mahabharata. Bhagwad Gita reveals the spiritual knowledge that is to be treasured. Bhagwad Gita is not just the knowledge of Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha, themes which are illustrated in the various stories of the Mahabharata, but it is the knowledge of pure devotion (bhakti) and establishes bhakti as the highest truth that needs to be treasured.
Even Sripad Shankaracharya, who knows that Bhagvad-Gita is a part of Mahabharata (a Smriti Shastra), mentions following in the Gita-mahatmya:
sarvo panishado gavo
dogdha gopala nandanah
partho vatsah sudhir bhokta
dugdham gita amritam mahat
All the Upanishads are like a cow. Just as the essence of the cow is milk, similarly the essence of all Upanishadic knowledge is the Bhagwat Gita, the Gitopanishad.
Although, the setting of the Mahabharata is used to attract the less intelligent people to illumine them with the highest knowledge of Bhagvad Gita, but Bhagvad Gita’s profundity can put even the wisest of people into devotional and intellectual rapture.