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I. The Bhagavatha
The name Bhagavatha can be applied to every account of the experiences of those who have contacted God and the Godly (Bhagavan and Bhaktha). God assumes many forms and enacts many activities. The name Bhagavatha is given to the descriptions of the experiences of those who have realised Him in those forms and of those who have been blessed by His grace and chosen as His instruments.
The great work known by that name is honoured by all masters of the Vedas. It is a panacea which cures physical, mental and spiritual illnesses. The Bhagavatha is saturated with sweetness of nectar; it shines with the splendour of God.
The principle of Avathara or the descent of God on earth, the incarnation of the formless with form, for the uplift of beings - this is the basic fact that makes the Bhagavatha authentic. By Bhagavatha we also mean those with attachment to God, those who seek the companionship of God. For such, the book, Bhagavatha, is most precious; it is the breath of their life. To be in the midst of such Bhagavathas is to foster one's own devotion. Unless you have a taste for God-ward thoughts, you will not derive joy therefrom. To create that taste, the Bhagavatha relates stories relating to incarnations to the earnest inquirer. Then, one develops the yearning to experience the thrill of God, through all the levels of consciousness. He who has this intense yearning can be a true Bhagavatha.
People believe that incarnations of God happen only for two reasons: the punishment of the wicked and the protection of the righteous. But, these represent only one aspect of the task. The granting of peace and joy, of a sense of fulfilment to seekers who have striven long - this too is the task.
The Avathar or form incarnate is only the concretisation of the yearning of the seekers. It is the solidified sweetness of the devotion of godly aspirants. The formless assumes the form for the sake of these aspirants and seekers.
They are the prime cause. The cow secretes milk for the sustenance of the calf. That is the chief beneficiary. But, as we see, others too benefit from that milk. So too, though the Bhakthas are the prime cause and their joy and sustenance the prime purpose, other incidental benefits also accrue, such as the fostering of Dharma, the suppression of evil, the overwhelming of the wicked.