(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 16 August 2017, Ljubljana, Slovenia, Srila Prabhupada Vyasa Puja Evening Lecture)
Sometimes there are devotees, that when you ask them, “What have you read?”, they say, “Oh, many of Prabhupada’s books.” Then they give you a whole list of all small books: Elevation to Krsna Consciousness, The Perfection of Yoga. Then they say, “Well, I am trying to finish the Bhagavad-gita…” and then I ask, “Bhagavatam?” and they reply, “Well… not yet but I am planning to start it.”
Bhagavatam is the central core of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement. It is Bhagavatam that is the essence of all our literature. The Bhagavad-gita is simply the introduction. It gives us the basic philosophy. It describes the position of isvara (the Supreme Lord). It describes the position of the jiva (the living entity). It describes prakriti (material nature). It describes karma (cause and effect). It describes kala (time). Like this, Bhagavad-gita gives us the five main topics and the relationship between all those: (1) the relationship between the jiva and the Supreme Lord, (2) the living entity situated in prakriti – in the material world, (3) how to get out of this material world, (4) how the living entity is marginal energy and can be also in the spiritual world, (5) how in the material world everything is under the influence of time and under the influence of karma. All these things are explained in the Bhagavad-gita and it establishes our constitutional position as the eternal servant of Krsna.
That is very nice but it does not say much about Krsna. Although all knowledge is given in the Bhagavad-gita for going back to Godhead and for attaining the transcendental platform, what is missing is the nectar of Krsna’s pastimes on this planet, the nectar of Krsna’s activities. That is in the Bhagavatam! But one cannot understand Krsna’s pastimes on this planet unless one has read about the all the other incarnations of the Lord because one must understand how Krsna he expands himself – advaitam acyutam anādim ananta-rūpam (Śrī Brahma-saṁhitā 5.33) – in his endless forms. So one must understand the endless forms of Krsna through the Bhagavatam and then Bhagavatam in the tenth canto describes to us everything about Krsna. Bhagavatam is the book of this movement!