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Bhakti Ratnavali – A Short Version of Srimad Bhagavata Purana – Origin Story

Bhakti Ratnavali in Hindu religion is an anthology of selected verses from the Srimad Bhagavata Purana. The selection of the verses is credited to anthologist Vishnupuri, who himself has composed a few additional lines not found in the original Bhagavata Purana. The book also contains a complete commentary of the verses.

Bhakti Ratnavali contains 398 out of the 18,000 verses of Srimad Bhagavata Purana. The work deals with the theory and practice of devotion to Lord Vishnu.

Swami Vishnupuri, though hailing from Tirhauta (Mithila, Bihar), lived in Varanasi. He was a contemporary of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1485 AD – 1533 AD). Chaitanya and Vishnupuri had met when the former visited Varanasi on a pilgrimage. Vishnupuri was charmed by him. He too impressed Chaitanya by his learning and devotion.

Once, a disciple of Vishnupuri, on pilgrimage to Puri, while returning, asked Chaitanya for any message of Vishnupuri. Chaitanya wished to convey to the disciple’s master a request for a Ratnavali (a necklace of gems).

Vishnupuri, however, understood the true import of the request, and so he composed Bhakti Ratnavali (necklace of the gems of devotion) with his own commentary Kantimala.
The anthology was divided into thirteen cantos called strings. Chaitanya was delighted on receiving this necklace, praised it, and then offered it to Lord Jagannatha.

Ratnavali is not an abridged form of Bhagavata but a well-designed and meticulously arranged selection. The commentary exhibits Vishnupuri’s deep study ad careful exposition. He has added seven verses composed by him – four in the first canto and three in the last.

In the former, the anthologist describes his own task, and comments on the excellence of the anthology and its need, wishing the work to be useful to those devotees who lack leisure to study the complete Bhagavata Purana. The last three verses show his humility and his hope that the devotees will welcome this work.

The thirteen cantos successively deal with bhakti (devotion), its causes, nine modes of devotion – nama samarana (remembering god’s name), kirtana (singing hymns), gunakathana (praising god’s virtues), guna sravana (listening to god’s virtues), satsanga (company of the virtuous), all mentioned in Bhagavata (7.5.23). The last canto is Sarngati (refuge in the Lord).

SourceBhakti Ratnavali – A Book of devotion as it is by Mahapurush Shree Mahadeva by Prabhananda Pathak, 2008 – Promilla and Co Publishers
Bhakti Ratnavali Of Swami Vishnupuri (1991), Translated by Swami Tapasyananda, Colombia, South Asia Books.
Encyclopedia of Hinduism - Volume 2 - page 244