tasmā idaṁ bhāgavataṁ
proktaṁ bhagavatā prāha
prītaḥ putrāya bhūta-kṛt
tasmai—thereupon; idam—this; bhāgavatam—the glories of the Lord or the science of the Lord; purāṇam—Vedic supplement; daśa-lakṣaṇam—ten characteristics; proktam—described; bhagavatā—by the Personality of Godhead; prāha—said; prītaḥ—in satisfaction; putrāya—unto the son; bhūta-kṛt—the creator of the universe.
Thereupon the supplementary Vedic literature, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which was described by the Personality of Godhead and which contains ten characteristics, was told with satisfaction by the father [Brahmā] to his son Nārada.
Although the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was spoken in four verses, it had ten characteristics, which will be explained in the next chapter. In the four verses it is first said that the Lord existed before the creation, and thus the beginning of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam includes the Vedānta aphorism janmādy asya [SB 1.1.1]. Janmādy asya is the beginning, yet the four verses in which it is said that the Lord is the root of everything that be, beginning from the creation up to the supreme abode of the Lord, naturally explain the ten characteristics. One should not misunderstand by wrong interpretations that the Lord spoke only four verses and that therefore all the rest of the 17,994 verses are useless. The ten characteristics, as will be explained in the next chapter, require so many verses just to explain them properly. Brahmājī had also advised Nārada previously that he should expand the idea he had heard from Brahmājī. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu instructed this to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in a nutshell, but the disciple Rūpa Gosvāmī expanded this very elaborately, and the same subject was further expanded by Jīva Gosvāmī and even further by Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura. We are just trying to follow in the footsteps of all these authorities. So Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is not like ordinary fiction or mundane literature. It is unlimited in strength, and however one may expand it according to one's own ability, Bhāgavatam still cannot be finished by such expansion. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, being the sound representation of the Lord, is simultaneously explained in four verses and in four billion verses all the same, inasmuch as the Lord is smaller than the atom and bigger than the unlimited sky. Such is the potency of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
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