sa vai nivṛtti-nirataḥ
kasya vā bṛhatīm etām
śaunakaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śaunaka asked; saḥ—he; vai—of course; nivṛtti—on the path of self-realization; nirataḥ—always engaged; sarvatra—in every respect; upekṣakaḥ—indifferent; muniḥ—sage; kasya—for what reason; vā—or; bṛhatīm—vast; etām—this; ātma-ārāmaḥ—one who is pleased in himself; samabhyasat—undergo the studies.
Śrī Śaunaka asked Sūta Gosvāmī: Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī was already on the path of self-realization, and thus he was pleased with his own self. So why did he take the trouble to undergo the study of such a vast literature?
For the people in general the highest perfection of life is to cease from material activities and be fixed on the path of self-realization. Those who take pleasure in sense enjoyment, or those who are fixed in material bodily welfare work, are called karmīs. Out of thousands and millions of such karmīs, one may become an ātmārāma by self-realization. Ātmā means self, and ārāma means to take pleasure. Everyone is searching after the highest pleasure, but the standard of pleasure of one may be different from the standard of another. Therefore, the standard of pleasure enjoyed by the karmīs is different from that of the ātmārāmas. The ātmārāmas are completely indifferent to material enjoyment in every respect. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī had already attained that stage, and still he was attracted to undergo the trouble of studying the great Bhāgavatam literature. This means that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is a postgraduate study even for the ātmārāmas, who have surpassed all the studies of Vedic knowledge.
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