Chapter 1: Questions by the Sages
(1) Let there be the salutation of the original appearance of Him, Vâsudeva, the Fortunate One, from whom, being present here and in the beyond, for the purpose of recollection and full independence, the Vedic knowledge was imparted in the heart of the first created being [Lord Brahmâ]. About Him the enlightened [as surely also the ordinary] souls are, like with a mirage of water to the [fire of the] sun, in a state of illusion wherein, through the action and reaction of the modes of material nature, there is the illusion of the factual. I meditate upon Him who is always self-sufficient, the transcendental [supreme and absolute] truth and the negation free from illusion.
(2) In this book deceitful religiosity [of ulterior motives] is rejected. One finds in it the highest that can be comprehended by selfless, truth-loving people. Herein that is offered what factually implies the well-being that uproots the threefold miseries [as caused by oneself, others and by nature]. What would be the need of other stories when one in this book finds the beautiful story of the Fortunate One that was compiled by the great sage [Vyâsadeva] which, with the help of the pious ones who are diligently of service, forthwith establishes the Controller in the heart. (3) It is the ripened fruit from the desire tree of the Vedic literatures that flowing from the lips of S’ukadeva manifested as sweet nectar perfect in every way. O you expert and thoughtful ones delighting in devotion, ever relish the home of the S’rîmad Bhâgavatam!
(4) In the forest of Naimishâranya, a spot favored by Vishnu, sages headed by the sage S’aunaka performed a thousand-year sacrifice for the Lord of heaven and the devotees on earth. (5) One morning, burning the sacrificial fire, the sages asked with due respect S’rîla Sûta Gosvâmî, who was offered a seat of honor, the following: (6) “You, free from all vice as you are and familiar with the stories and historical records, are said to be well versed in the religious scriptures that you explained as well. (7) As the eldest of the scholars of the Vedas you know Vyâsadeva, the Lord among them – and Sûta, you know as well the other ones well versed in physical and metaphysical knowledge. (8) Please your honor tell us therefore, because you are well-informed, pure and simple by their grace, about the secrets you as a submissive disciple have learned from those spiritual masters. (9) Being blessed therefore with a long life, please tell us in simple terms from your heart of goodness what you could ascertain to be the absolute and ultimate good that all people deserve. (10) In general, o honorable one, the people in this age of Kali are lazy, misguided, unlucky and above all disturbed. (11) There are many scriptures with as many prescribed duties that each separately demand attention. Therefore o sage, tell us for the good of all living beings what, to the best of your knowledge, would be the essence that satisfies the soul. (12) You are blessed Sûta because you know the purpose for which the Supreme One, the protector of the devotees, appeared in the womb of Devakî as the son of Vasudeva. (13) Please Sûta you should, according to the tradition, tell us who are aching for it about His incarnation for the good and upliftment of all living beings. (14) Entangled in the complications of birth and death we will find liberation even if we are not fully aware engaged in respecting the name of the Lord who is feared by fear itself. (15) O Sûta, those who have taken shelter of the lotus feet of the great sages who are absorbed in devotion immediately find purification by simply associating with them, whereas such purification with the water of the Ganges is only achieved when one cultivates it. (16) Is there anyone eager for liberation who wouldn’t rather want to hear about the Lord His worshipable, virtuous deeds and glories as the sanctifier for the Age of Quarrel [Kali]? (17) He is hailed by the great souls for His transcendental glories. Please tell us, eager believers, about the pastimes of His descend in time. (18) Describe for that reason to us, o sagacious one, the auspicious adventures and pastimes of the multiple incarnations of the Supreme Controller His personal energies. (19) We who know to appreciate the taste are never tired of continually praying and hearing about the adventures of The One Glorified that delight us time and again. (20) In the guise of a human being He with Balarâma [His elder brother] was of a superhuman performance. (21) Knowing of the onset of the Age of Kali, we for a longer period have assembled to sacrifice here at this place reserved for the devotees and take time to listen to the stories about the Lord. (22) We by providence have met your goodness who can help us as a captain on a ship through this insurmountable age of Kali that constitutes such a threat to one’s good qualities. (23) Please tell us to whom we should turn to to take shelter now the Lord of Yoga, S’rî Krishna, who is the Absolute Truth and the protector of the religion, has left for His abode.”