tasma idam bhagavatam
proktam bhagavata praha
pritah putraya bhuta-krt
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Thereupon the supplementary Vedic literature, Srimad-Bhagavatam, which was described by the Personality of Godhead and which contains ten characteristics, was told with satisfaction by the father [Brahma] to his son Narada.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Although the Srimad-Bhagavatam was spoken in four verses, it had ten characteristics, which will be explained in the next chapter. In the four verses it is first said that the Lord existed before the creation, and thus the beginning of the Srimad-Bhagavatam includes the Vedanta aphorism janmady asya. Janmady asya is the beginning, yet the four verses in which it is said that the Lord is the root of everything that be, beginning from the creation up to the supreme abode of the Lord, naturally explain the ten characteristics. One should not misunderstand by wrong interpretations that the Lord spoke only four verses and that therefore all the rest of the 17,994 verses are useless. The ten characteristics, as will be explained in the next chapter, require so many verses just to explain them properly. Brahmaji had also advised Narada previously that he should expand the idea he had heard from Brahmaji. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed this to Srila Rupa Gosvami in a nutshell, but the disciple Rupa Gosvami expanded this very elaborately, and the same subject was further expanded by Jiva Gosvami and even further by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. We are just trying to follow in the footsteps of all these authorities. So Srimad-Bhagavatam is not like ordinary fiction or mundane literature. It is unlimited in strength, and however one may expand it according to one’s own ability, Bhagavatam still cannot be finished by such expansion. Srimad-Bhagavatam, being the sound representation of the Lord, is simultaneously explained in four verses and in four billion verses all the same, inasmuch as the Lord is smaller than the atom and bigger than the unlimited sky. Such is the potency of Srimad-Bhagavatam.