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Srimad BhAgavtam:Commentaries-1

From: A. Bharat (
Date: Thu Sep 02 1999 - 07:08:04 PDT

Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 07:21:33 +0100 (BST)
From: Bharat Asur <>
Subject: Sri BH

Dear BhAgavatottama-
While we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Sri Krishna
this year,Mani suggested I should give a short write-up
about the various commentaries on Srimad Bhagavatham
which has been the source book for so many Vaishnava
Sampradayas in the past.In summarising the
facts available,my main sources are Pandit Baldev
Upadhyay's series of volumes on Bhagavata Darsan,
and Sri N.Raghunathan's superb translation and
notes on Srimad Bhagavatham.

There is a saying in Sanskrit <vidyAvatAm BhAgavatE
parIksha> -it is the touchstone of one's learning.
Hence it has attracted a host of commentators
through the centuries,belonging to all schools
of Krishna worshippers.

1.SrIdhara swamI - "BhAvArtha-dIpikA"

This is the oldest and most influential commentary
available today,though he himself refers to an earlier
commentary by ChitsukhAchArya.He was a Nrisimha upAsaka
and advaitin.He also wrote commentaries on Sri VishNu
PurANam and GItA.His philosophical leanings haven't
prevented AchAryAs of other schools from praising his
commentary.In fact excepting where they differ,most of
them have simply repeated his words.Sri Chaitanya had
great regard for him .It is narrated by Sri NAbhAdAs
in his BhaktamAl,that SrIdhara wrote the commentary at
the command of his guru ParamAnanda at KASI,and as a
test it was placed before Lord BindumAdhava with other
books,and after a 'prahara' the curtain was removed
to find SrIdhara's work right on top of the other
SrIdhara's period is considered to be 1300-1350 AD

2.SudarSana SUrI - "Suka-pakshIyam"

This is a short commentary by Sri Sruta-prakASikAcharya.
It was later elaborated by -

3.VIrarAghava - "BhAgavata-ChandrikA"

He was the son of SrISailaguru belonging to SrIvatsa gotra
and belonged to the 14th cent.This is a very detailed commentary
where every single word of the original text is explained.


4.Vijayadhvaja - "Pada-RatnAvalI"
The founder of Dvaita schoolSri Ananda TIrtha has written
a work called "BhAgavatha-tAtparya-nirNaya" which is not
a regular commentary.Hence his follower Vijayadhvaja wrote
a full commentary in which he has acknowledged his debt to
the works of Sri AnandatIrtha and another AchArya Vijaya-
Tirtha(whose work is not extant).The text is conspicuous
for its substantial additions,as well as variant readings.


5.VallabhAchArya - "SubodhinI"

Sri Vallabha belongs to the SuddhAdvaita school.His
commentary,excepting touching upon a few earlier
Skandhas,is almost totally on the DaSama Skandha.The
commentary is simple and totally devotional.Another
AchArya of this school Giridhar MaharAj has also
written a commentary which goes much deeper into
the individual sectors and elaborates and
supplements the earlier book.


6.SukadEvAchArya - "SiddhAnta-pradIpa"

He was a follower of SrI NimbArka,the founder of the
school,and his commentary is comprehensive,while
others of the school have written commentaries on
specific sections like RAsa-LIlA.


7.SanAtana GOswAmI - "Brhad-vaishNava-tOshiNI"

While sri Chaitanya considered SrIdhara's commentary
as adequate,some of his followers wrote various
commentaries,of which this is the oldest and
considered the most authoritative.It however
deals with the DaSama Skandha only.

8.JIva GOswAmI - "Krama-Sandarbha"

He was the son of Roopa and nephew of SanAtana
GoswAmI- who were the immediate disciples of
Sri Chaitanya.He was a geat scholar and
he wrote the commentary in seven sections,each
called a "sandarbha",of which this was the

9.ViSvanAtha ChakravarthI - "SArArtha-DarSinI"

He has written a simple commentary in which he
has put together the gist of the commentaries
of SrIdhara SwAmI,Prabhu Chaitanya and his guru.
while he is generally in sympathy with the school
sometimes he takes an independent stand.

Out of the above main works,with the exception of
Brhad-VaishNava-tOshiNI,the other eight were
published together from VrndAvan in 1958.I have
seen a copy in Madras Sanskrit college library.
But it is not generally available.

There were many other commentaries on SrImad BhAgavatham
which are referred to here and there.For example
JIva GOswAmI mentions works like,Hanumad-BhAshya,
DipikA,BhAvArtha-DIpikA,Paramahamsa-PriyA and

There was a great devotional poet called SrIHari
who was a brahmin belonging to KASyapa gOtra,and
who lived on the banks of GOdAvarI.He wrote a
poem of 5000 SlOkas as a commentary on the first
half of DaSama Skandha.Called "Hari-bhakti-rasAyanam"
its date is taken to be 1759 AD.While being a
commentary it is also an independent imaginative
To show that both these could be possible
simultaneously  let us see this example:
As is well-known,while VasudEva carried the baby
Krishna to Gokula on his head,the deep and roaring
Yamuna suddenly became shallow to allow his passage.
While narrating this incident the poet reasons
within himself:why did she suddenly come down to
the level of Vasudeva's throat or waist or knee
at various places? Because she knew that the baby
Krishna had already started wondering how He would
be able have water-sports with the Gopis in the
future if the river was so deep;and so in order
to set His mind at rest she gave a preview of her
ability to adapt herself to circumstances!-

<AgAdhE jalE-syAh katham vAmbu-kElir
 mamA-grE vidhEyE-ti SankAm pramArshtum
 kvachi-jjAnu-daghnA kvachi-nnAbhi-daghnA
 kvachit-kanTha-daghnA cha sA kim tadAnIm ?>

EmberumAnAr TiruvaDigaLE SaraNam!