Catur-sloki of Srimad Bhagavatam – As Discussed in Bhagavad-sandarbha and Sri Caitanya-caritamrita – by Vismatmadeva dasa
The catur-sloki Bhagavatam is accepted by the various Vedantic traditions as one of the main sections in the Bhagavata Purana. These four verses are considered to be the original Bhagavata Purana in seed form, and to contain the meaning of the whole text. They describe the nature of the Absolute and its relation to the phenomenal world; thus naturally we find tensions among the various interpretations of the Vedantic schools. In this essay, I suggest that the catur-sloki Bhagavatam describe the Supreme Personality of Godhead – the Absolute, as inconceivably one with and different from His multifarious energies. I discuss the catur-sloki Bhagavatam based on Jiva Gosvami’s explanations in Bhagavat-sandarbha. I also hint at Sri Krishna Caitanya’s explanations of the catur-sloki Bhagavatam as presented by Krishnadas Kaviraja Gosvami in Sri Caitanya-caritamrita. This essay may interest readers who would like to know more about the Gaudiya-Vaishnava doctrine and to examine how the Gaudiya-Vaishnava tradition responds to seemingly contradictory statements in the revealed scriptures (sabdha) that refer to the Absolute or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I will not discuss the reliability of revealed scripture in itself, because that is beyond the scope of this paper.