yah svanubhavam akhila-sruti-saram ekam
adhyatma-dipam atititirsatam tamo ’ndham
samsarinam karunayaha purana-guhyam
tam vyasa-sunum upayami gurum muninam
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto him [Suka], the spiritual master of all sages, the son of Vyasadeva, who, out of his great compassion for those gross materialists who struggle to cross over the darkest regions of material existence, spoke this most confidential supplement to the cream of Vedic knowledge, after having personally assimilated it by experience.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
In this prayer, Srila Suta Gosvami practically summarizes the complete introduction of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the natural supplementary commentary on the Vedanta-sutras. The Vedanta-sutras, or the Brahma-sutras, were compiled by Vyasadeva with a view to presenting just the cream of Vedic knowledge. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the natural commentary on this cream. Srila Sukadeva Gosvami was a thoroughly realized master on the Vedanta-sutra, and consequently he also personally realized the commentary, Srimad-Bhagavatam. And just to show his boundless mercy upon bewildered materialistic men who want to cross completely over nescience, he recited for the first time this confidential knowledge.
There is no point in arguing that a materialistic man can be happy. No materialistic creature — be he the great Brahma or an insignificant ant — can be happy. Everyone tries to make a permanent plan for happiness, but everyone is baffled by the laws of material nature. Therefore the materialistic world is called the darkest region of God’s creation. Yet the unhappy materialists can get out of it simply by desiring to get out. Unfortunately they are so foolish that they do not want to escape. Therefore they are compared to the camel who relishes thorny twigs because he likes the taste of the twigs mixed with blood. He does not realize that it is his own blood and that his tongue is being cut by the thorns. Similarly, to the materialist his own blood is as sweet as honey, and although he is always harassed by his own material creations, he does not wish to escape. Such materialists are called karmis. Out of hundreds of thousands of karmis, only a few may feel tired of material engagement and desire to get out of the labyrinth. Such intelligent persons are called jñanis. The Vedanta-sutra is directed to such jñanis. But Srila Vyasadeva, being the incarnation of the Supreme Lord, could foresee the misuse of the Vedanta-sutra by unscrupulous men, and, therefore, he personally supplemented the Vedanta-sutra with the Bhagavata Purana. It is clearly said that this Bhagavatam is the original commentary on the Brahma-sutras. Srila Vyasadeva also instructed the Bhagavatam to his own son, Srila Sukadeva Gosvami, who was already at the liberated stage of transcendence. Srila Sukadeva realized it personally and then explained it. By the mercy of Srila Sukadeva, the Bhagavata-vedanta-sutra is available for all those sincere souls who want to get out of material existence.
Srimad-Bhagavatam is the one unrivaled commentary on Vedanta-sutra. Sripada Sankaracarya intentionally did not touch it because he knew that the natural commentary would be difficult for him to surpass. He wrote his Sariraka-bhasya, and his so-called followers deprecated the Bhagavatam as some “new” presentation. One should not be misled by such propaganda directed against the Bhagavatam by the Mayavada school. From this introductory sloka, the beginning student should know that Srimad-Bhagavatam is the only transcendental literature meant for those who are paramahamsas and completely freed from the material disease called malice. The Mayavadis are envious of the Personality of Godhead despite Sripada Sankaracarya’s admission that Narayana, the Personality of Godhead, is above the material creation. The envious Mayavadi cannot have access to the Bhagavatam, but those who are really anxious to get out of this material existence may take shelter of this Bhagavatam because it is uttered by the liberated Srila Sukadeva Gosvami. It is the transcendental torchlight by which one can see perfectly the transcendental Absolute Truth realized as Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan.