First line of Upadesas
SrI mad Bhagavata was first given as Upadesa by Vishnu to Brahma.
Brahma passed this knowledge on to Narada.
Narada passed this on to Vyasa. Vyasa passed it on to his son Suka. Suka, in turn, mentioned it to King Parikshit. Suta Muni who was present at that time heard this along with Parikshit.
Suta Muni passed on this treasure to Saunaka and a number of other Rishis who were performing penance at Naimisaranya forest.
Second line of Upadesas
Sankarshana passed on Bhagavata to Sanatkumara, who passed it on to Sankhyayana, who, in turn, passed it on to Parasara, Maitreya and Brihaspati.
Maitreya passed on Bhagavata to Vidura. Srimad Bhagavata thus spread all over.
What was the purpose of Sri mad Bhagavata?
Vyasa, even after collating the Vedas and writing his various illustrious works, found that he did not get inner peace. He was desperately seeking this inner peace. As he was contemplating on this, Narada Muni came and enquired about his welfare. Vyasa asked Narada why his mind was still not at peace, even after all his works extensively deal with the teachings of the Vedas.
Narada replied that he was yet to write a work mainly highlighting God Maha Vishnu's Leelas. In the approaching Kali Yuga, people can realise God mostly through Bhakti Marga and by Narna Sankirtana. The other paths like Karma, Dhyana and Jnyana would become difficult to practice. He added that Vyasa must bring out one such work which would be of help to ordinary people. This alone will help him attain the inner peace. Based on this advice Vyasa started this monumental work called 'Srimad Bhagavata'.
When an expert in a given field gives his opinion on any matter within that field, it is common practice to accept the same as truth. Taking into consideration Vyasa's background as mentioned above and his faith, Srimad Bhagavata shows the way to achieve total inner Peace and Bliss.
Greatness (Mahima) of Srimad Bhagavata
In the hierarchy of Hindu religious scriptures, study and understanding of Vedas is very difficult in the present Kali Yuga. This is due to the fact that the understanding of and importance given to Dharmic way of life is minimal. Value attached to adherence of Truth, Non-violence, Charity.and control over senses is low. Sadhanas in Jnyana Yoga, Dhyana Yoga and Karma Yoga are therefore difficult. Even though Bhakti Yoga is recommended as a preferred path for this period, it is difficult to follow rituals like Pooja, Homa etc. Devotion and service to Bhagavatas is considered as equal to devotion and Bhakti to God. Bhagavan Nama Sankirtana is mentioned by wise ones as an important step in spiritual advancement in Kali Yuga.
Srimad Bhagavata meets the requirements of common man today since it describes the lives of many devotees of God and mentions how they received God's Grace. This makes it easier to understand and follow the path of Bhakti.
Hindu religion considers Veda as 'Swayambhu' it existed by itself and was not written or created by anyone. There was no time when Veda was not there, and there will not be a time in future when Veda will not be there. Veda is beyond time and has no beginning or end. On this account, it is considered as God Himself. Srimad Bhagavata has the unique distinction of sharing this aspect of Veda. That is why many consider Srimad Bhagavata as equal to Veda.
Like in all other Hindu religious and philosophical literatures, Srimad Bhagavata also contains hidden treasures of Veda. To understand these treasures correctly and in proper context, one requires direct Upadesa from a Guru.