The Bhâgavata is the most popular of all Purânas and it is held in the highest esteem by Vaishnavas in all parts of India. It was the most authoritative book with such religious teachers as Shri Chaitanya. Several commentaries have been written on this great work. It is however strange that there has been so much discussion about the authoritative character of the work. The readers are all familiar with that discussion and I need not refer to it further than to say that the discussion does not in any way affect the intrinsic merit of the book, and the verdict of the public is so certain in this respect that the book will continue to be the most popular of all Purânas, despite any thing that may be said as to its authorship or the period of its appearance.
The Padma Purâna devotes a chapter to the worship of this Purâna and calls it the most exalted of all the Purânas and the book is actually worshipped in many Hindu houses. The Purâna is recited all over India by learned Pandits and Sâdhus and its subject matter is familiar to every Hindu.
PROFESSOR WILSON SAYS: — "Bhâgavata is a work of great celebrity in India and exercises a more direct and powerful influence upon the opinions and feelings of the people than perhaps any other of the Purânas. It is placed fifth in all the lists but the Padma Purâna ranks it as the eighteenth, as the extracted substance of all the rest. According to the usual specification it consists of eighteen thousand slokas, distributed amongst three hundred and thirty-two chapters divided into twelve Skandhas or books. It is named Bhâgavata from its being dedicated to the glorification of Bhagavat or Vishnu."
Referring to the Tenth Skandha, Professor Wilson says "The tenth book is the characteristic part of the Purâna, and the portion upon which its popularity is founded. It has been translated into, perhaps, all the languages in India, and is a favourite work with all descriptions of people."
Much as the book commands the respect of the Hindus, it has brought upon itself the ridicule and sarcasm of those that attack Hinduism. It is the Tenth Skandha which has given the greatest handle to all adverse criticism and it is the one Skandha in the whole book which is so little understood by foreigners, unacquainted with the genius of the Hindu religion, particularly with its love aspect which is the peculium of all real devotees in every great religion. But the modern professors of great religions, being lost in their material surroundings, have entirely lost sight of that aspect. The songs of Solomon will stand out in all ages as an expression of enthusiastic and rapturous love of the human soul for the Divine Lord, whether the Christians of the modern day understand them or not. The Divvans and Sufis bore the highest love to their divine Lover, whether or not the Mohammedans of the present day follow the outpourings of their heart.
Love in religion is a Science. It is the natural outcome of the human soul, when it is freed from impurities and cured of distractions.