sattvaikatāna-gatayo vacasāṁ pravāhaiḥ
nārādhituṁ puru-guṇair adhunāpi pipruḥ
kiṁ toṣṭum arhati sa me harir ugra-jāteḥ
Prahlāda Mahārāja prayed: How is it possible for me, who have been born in a family of asuras, to offer suitable prayers to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead? Even until now, all the demigods, headed by Lord Brahmā, and all the saintly persons, could not satisfy the Lord by streams of excellent words, although such persons are very qualified, being in the mode of goodness. Then what is to be said of me? I am not at all qualified.
A Vaiṣṇava who is fully qualified to serve the Lord still thinks himself extremely low while offering prayers to the Lord. For example, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, the author of Caitanya-caritāmṛta, says:
jagāi mādhāi haite muñi se pāpiṣṭha
purīṣera kīṭa haite muñi se laghiṣṭha
(Cc. Ādi 5.205)
Thus he considers himself unqualified, lower than the worms in stool, and more sinful than Jagāi and Mādhāi. A pure Vaiṣṇava actually thinks of himself in this way. Similarly, although Prahlāda Mahārāja was a pure, exalted Vaiṣṇava, he thought himself most unqualified to offer prayers to the Supreme Lord. Mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ. Every pure Vaiṣṇava should think like this. One should not be falsely proud of his Vaiṣṇava qualifications. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has therefore instructed us:
tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
“One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.” Unless one is meek and humble, to make progress in spiritual life is very difficult.
I thank everyone for being here this evening. It is my very great fortune to be amongst all of you once again. This evening we are celebrating the appearance of Lord Nrsimhadev. This verse is being offered to the Lord by his dear devotee Prahlad Maharaja. In this chapter, Lord Nrsimhadev not only accepts the praise of Prahlad but reciprocates by praising Prahlad. Everything Prahlad Maharaja is explaining in his prayers to Lord Nrsimhadev is being spoken for the ultimate welfare of all living beings. And whatever Nrsimhadev responded by speaking to Prahlad is for all of our ultimate benefit. The Lord personally said that because Prahlad maharaja is such a humble, gentle, tolerant, truthful, self controlled devotee, therefore anyone who understands his character and makes a sincere effort to follow in his footsteps will achieve the highest goal of life. What is that highest goal of life? Pure unalloyed devotional service to the Supreme Lord. I will speak very briefly, because of shortage of time, of the wonderful incidents that has brought us to this place in Srimad Bhagvatam.
Is God impartial or partial beautifully explained by Radhanath Swami
Maharaja Pariksit was inquiring from Sukhdev Goswami about how the Lord is equal to all living beings. He is not partial to anyone, but it appears he is partial to his devotees. Sukhdev Goswami explains that living entities in this conditioned state is under the three modes of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance, and therefore they are always under the conceptions of dualities – friend, enemy; pain, pleasure; happiness, distress; good, bad. The three modes of material nature continuously create dualities we have to face in our lives both within and without.
But Supreme Personality of Godhead is above the modes of material nature. Maya daksena prakter suyate sa characharam. Maya, which is the energy in which the three modes of material nature exist, is eternally under the control of Krishna. Therefore Krishna never sees within the mundane realm of duality. Therefore the Lord being supremely transcendental is equal to everyone. He is the well wisher of everyone. He reciprocates according to how we approach him. And then he explains, even the great demons, even these great demons when they are killed by the Lord, which is the best thing for them. They get liberated. They achieve such an exalted stage of life; that is the Lord’s mercy. So yes, we should not think in a narrow materialistic way that God is good to some and bad to others. The Lord is good to everyone. He knows what is best for everyone and according to our desires, according to our actions the Lord reciprocates either directly through his spiritual energy or indirectly through his material energies.
Material suffering is due to persons who implicate themselves in karmic activities and the Lord in his impartial way just allows them to go ahead and live their lives according to their independent will and implicate themselves in these laws of karma. The laws of karma are equal to everyone. If you commit sinful activity you are going to get the reaction no matter who you are. That is impartiality. If you commit pious activities you are going to get the fruits of those activities no matter who you are. And sarva dharman pratijiya mam ekam sharanam vraja. If you surrender to the Lord it doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a women or eastern or western, literate or illiterate, doesn’t matter what caste, material designations, if you surrender to the Lord you will achieve the ultimate mercy of the lord. The real happiness that everyone is searching for is equally available for everyone but according to our activities in this life and previous lives it simply creates an environment around us more easy or more difficult to achieve.
Sisupal attaining liberation
Yudhisthira maharaja asks Narada muni and Pariksit maharaja asks Sukhdev Goswami. First that, how is it? Yudhisthira asks this: how is it that I saw Sisupal, when he was killed, he was the most envious tyrant in the world, attain liberation? We all saw his body enter into Krishna’s body. So Narada Muni explains how anyone, whoever they are, if they become absorbed in Krishna, they become purified. Although Sisupal was so envious, but somehow he was envious of Krishna, therefore constantly he was thinking of Krishna with hatred. Every moment of the day he was speaking against Krishna because his mind was absorbed in thinking of Krishna. om apavitrah pavitro va because Krishna is all pure, he ultimately becomes purified by always remembering Krishna. In fact Narada Muni tells Yudhisthira Maharaja that I wish I could be so absorbed in Krishna as Sisupal was. That was his humility. And then he told a beautiful story which I will have to very much summarize. He told a story of a very very great devotee Prahlad.
The story of Prahlad Maharaja begins
Prahlad maharaja had such wonderful characteristics. Even as a child he always was thinking about Krishna. When he would feel separation from Krishna he would cry and weep like a baby. When he would feel the presence of Krishna he would dance in jubilation. Ecstatic symptoms were decorating his body at all times. He was polite, well mannered, humble, respectful, self controlled, tolerant. He was equally loving every living being. But his father horribly tormented and tried in so many ways to murder him. When Pariksit Maharaja heard this from Sukhdev Goswami he was amazed how is this possible? We do not see in this world. If a child is obedient and respectful why would a parent try to kill him? Every parent has affection for their child. Sometimes a parent would chastise the child but actually the parent is chastising the child to teach the child a good lesson out of affection. What kind of horrible situation would curb a father to murder and torture his son? To answer the question, Sukhdev goswami told this beautiful story.
Explanation of Hiranyakashipu’s enemity
Hiranyakashipu, he was lamenting over the death of his brother Hiranyaksha, who was killed by Lord Varahadev. He was trying to pacify the wife of Hiranyaksha and his own mother Diti. He spoke some very very nice philosophy in which he explains the difference between the body and soul. There is really nothing to lament because the soul never dies. In one sense the body never dies, it just transforms into different elements. Actually, nothing dies. It is just a conception of change that we call death. And he explained a beautiful story of a bird, a Kurari bird. This is the story which Yamraja told to the wives of Suyagya who died in a battlefield, because the queens could not give up the dead body of their husband. They were so attached to it. So Yamraja came as a little boy because people like to listen to philosophy of little boys. Because when an old sannyasi speaks people fall asleep. But when children speak philosophy very, very interesting. He tells the story of this bird who had a very nice family and whose wife was pierced and killed by a hunter and the husband bird was so much distressed, he was just wailing and crying. How would I live without my wife? Who would speak sweet words like my wife? Who would take care of my needs? How would I go on without my wife? And just crying so loud that the hunter pierced his head too. In this way Yamaraja was explaining that the nature of this world is things do not happen the way we want, but we must go on with our lives and we must strive for the highest purpose in our lives.
So Hiranyakashipu spoke according to the Vedas and pacified his relatives but then he expressed his own vengeful anger that Vishnu killed my brother, Vishnu would die. I would cut his head from his trunk and offer that blood to my brother who liked the taste of blood very much. When he went to perform tapasya at the Mandara Mountain in a valley, such severe austerity he performed. For 100 celestial years he stood on the tips of his toes with his arms raised without eating, drinking, he did not even breathe. He attained such super natural powers. At first the demigods they were just afraid but then fire came from his head. It was so hot, so hot that the heat was unbearable in the lower, middle and higher planets. Ultimately the demigods went to Brahma and said you have to do something about this Hiranyakashipu. So lord Brahma, he prayed to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the Lord spoke to him and told him that Hiranyakashipu ultimately he would die when he would persecute his own son. So Brahma came down and put some water from his kamandalu. Actually he could not find Hiranyakashipu. He was under an ant hill that formed around him and the ants had completely eaten his flesh but by his yogic power he was keeping his life force alive in the skeleton of his bones. So when Brahma sprinkled his celestial water on him, Hiranyakashipu manifested his healthy, full fledge, very powerful form. And he prayed to Brahma as the supreme personality and offered his prostrated obeisances and offered beautiful prayers in the praise of Brahma, not because he loved Brahma but because he wanted benedictions from Brahma. This is materialistic worship. We worship the Lord or even the demigods because we want something from them. So Brahma was obliged. He asked for several benedictions. He wanted to be immortal but Brahma told him I am not immortal so how can I make you immortal. So he wanted to trick him because he was very intelligent that I would not die by any living entity, by any species of life, either the demigod or the human beings or the yakshas or the kinnaras or the gandharvas. I would not die by any weapon, I would not die either on day or night, I would not die either in water or land or in the air. I would not die either inside or outside. Haribol! So Brahma bestowed all these benedictions. Hiranyakashipu felt himself indestructible and he sent his army to terrorize the whole world. These terrorist today are very small compared to him and see what trouble they cause. But Hiranyakashipu and his people were really powerful terrorists; they would not allow any religious principle to be followed in any shape or form. Anything that was good they would destroy, they would destroy the places of cow, they would destroy the places of brahmins. Ultimately the demigods went to the Lord. Actually that is when the Lord said I would come when he would harass my devotees. So they waited. Hiranyakashipu had four sons. One of them, the best of them was Prahlad.
The beautiful character of Prahlad.
Hiranyakashipu sent Prahlad, when he was only 5 years of age, to the gurukula. The guru was Sukhracharya, who was the ritualistic teacher of Hiranyakashipu. Sukracharya had two sons Shanda and Amarka. They were running the gurukul. They were teaching all subjects such as politics, economics, diplomacy and everything that was connected, and Prahlad maharaja who was so humble, so obedient, and so nice that they considered him their best student. They were so proud of him. So one day they brought him before Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu, when he saw his little son his heart melted. He picked up Prahlad and embraced him and affectionately placed him on his lap and affectionately smelled his head with tears flowing from his eyes and wanted to ask his son a very easy
question to answer. He said, ‘My dear son, of all subjects you have learnt in school, what do you consider be the best of knowledge?’ And Prahlad maharaja after offering obeisances to his father and offering him all respectful words he answered his question. He said, ‘My dear father, O best of the demons.’ That’s praise actually. He said, ‘A person who cannot control his mind or senses, a person who is submerged in materialistic thinking, in materialistic household life finds himself in a very deep dark well of suffering where there is no water and no one can hear him. There is only suffering. Therefore my dear father, get out of this well. Go to the forest in Vrindavan and worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead.’ Little Prahlad is telling like that to Hiranyakashipu.
Hiranyakashipu was shocked. He began to laugh very loudly. He said how the enemy has inflicted the heart of my son. He called Shanda and Amarka. He said some how or the other vaishnavas have infiltrated your school and is polluting my little innocent son. Now take him back to school and guard him carefully and teach him proper knowledge. So they took him back to school. They said Prahlad, ‘Where did you hear these things from?” Prahlad maharaja replied,
sa eṣa ātmā sva-parety abuddhibhir
muhyanti yad-vartmani veda-vādino
brahmādayo hy eṣa bhinatti me matim
‘That all you are teaching me, that this is who your friend is, and how to best exploit your friend, and this is who your enemy is, and how to somehow defeat, destroy your enemy. That is what politics is all about. You are telling me all about how the goal of life is economic development, to make money, to have power. But I cannot see things in terms of friends and enemy. Just doesn’t makes sense to me. It doesn’t sit in my heart. Why? Because the Supreme Personality of Godhead is like a magnet and I am like a piece of iron and I am immensely attracted to him.’
‘Huh! Pick up a stick. Let us beat him, let us torture him.’ So they try to create fear in his heart. Then they put him in school. You are such a nice student, so nice student. For many many days they taught him all the classes that Hiranyakashipu approved of and Prahlad maharaja seemed to be so obedient, so respectful, so submissive. It seemed he learned everything perfectly. So they were very proud, ‘Let’s take him to his father. His father will certainly reward us.’ They brought him to his mother Kayadu and she bathed him, put nice cloths on him and ornaments and brought him before Hiranyakashipu. Little Prahlad offered his prostrated obeisances to his father. His father picked him up and embraced him, placed him on his lap, smelled his head. With tears in his eyes he said, ‘O Prahlad! You have been doing so well in school. Please tell me what is the best subject you have learned.’
Devotional service explained.
And Prahlad maharaja in his innocence, simplicity and total humility he replied,
śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ
‘My dear father there are nine processes of devotional service: hearing, chanting, remembering the glories of the Supreme Lord, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming his servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto him. And one who follows these nine processes of devotional service will achieve the greatest perfection.’
matir na kṛṣṇe parataḥ svato vā
mitho ’bhipadyeta gṛha-vratānām
adānta-gobhir viśatāṁ tamisraṁ
punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām
‘Those who have uncontrolled mind and senses, they cannot understand the absolute truth. Due to their materialistic conditioning they continue to chew that which has been already chewed in the form of material enjoyment such as the objects of the senses and prestige, mental gratification, profit, adoration and distinction and sensual and gross sensual satisfaction that comes through the eyes, the ear, the nose, the flesh.’ So he explained that all these pleasures, by trying to enjoy, is simply chewing that what has been already chewed. Prabhupada explains we have been chewing these things since time immemorial for 8,400,000 millions of life and again we are trying to get some juice out of it. Prahlad continued that those who do not control their mind and senses in pursuing this chewing the chewed, they cannot understand either by their own efforts or even that of others.
‘My dear father the ultimate goal of life is Vishnu. But people are blindly following blind people. They are simply leading them to the ditch of material suffering. That one should smear the dust of the feet of the great vaishnavas on ones body. Every limb one should do abhishek with the dust of the great devotees who have no material attachments to this world, who are completely attached to the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. That is the best I have learned in school.’ Hiranyakashipu was outraged.
Prahlad maharaja ostracized
He was beyond his control to hear this from his son. With utter rage he pushed his son off his lap and threw him to the ground and then he ordered that he must be killed by whatever means, whether he is eating, sleeping or awake, anytime, any day kill him. He is my enemy. Kill him. Hiranyakashipu was so angry. He said this Prahlad is killer of my brother because he has taken shelter of Vishnu who killed my brother. Kill him immediately. So this rakshasa soldiers who were horrible creatures were very, very powerful. They just dragged Prahlad. They first took sharpened tridents, swords, staggers, weapons and tried to stab him to death. Prahlad did not even try to protect himself. Mare krsna rakhe ke, rakhe krsna mare ke….he was just depending on Krishna. Krishna you want to kill me, then I am happy to die; if you want to protect me, then what they can do to hurt me. He was simply immersed in remembering Krishna, chanting Krishna’s names. They couldn’t kill him. They threw him in a pit of venomous snakes. Even they would not bite him. They took him to the top of the mountain peak and threw him off the cliff. They threw him under the feet of a mad stampeding elephants. They fed him deadly poison, they put him on fire, they try to freeze him in fridged cold, they threw him under the ocean and put a mountain on the top to hold him there. According to Bhagvatam, they tired thousands of ways to kill him. But they couldn’t. Hiranyakashipu was watching it all and he was becoming very, very frustrated. When they practically ran out of ideas to kill him, Hiranyakashipu felt terrible fear in his heart. He said I cannot kill him then he would be the cause of death to me. He was very, very disturbed. Hiranyakashipu thought that this son of mine is like a thorn bush that grows in a forest of sandalwood trees. Then what happened is that thorn bush is used to be the handle of the axe. The axe is Vishnu , the handle is the thorn and it chops down the whole forest of sandalwood trees. So similarly Prahlad is like that handle, Vishnu is like the axe and it would destroy our whole dynasty.
Hiranyakashipu gives the example that if a yogi cannot control his mind and senses, the mind and senses destroy him. Similarly if I cannot control Prahlad, then he would be the cause of my destruction. So they try every possible means of killing. But they couldn’t. Hiranyakashipu became so depressed. He lost all of his luster. He became totally overcome with moroseness. Shanda and Amarka saw this, they told Hiranyakashipu, ‘O king! When you just move one of your eyebrows, all the demigods tremble in your fear, Why should you be afraid of a 5yr old boy? He is innocent. He would change his ways. Don’t take him so seriously. Let us take him back to school and after some time when he grows up little of his immature age, he would become a very good servant of yours.’ So then Hiranyakashipu got some hope.
Reasons for Prahlad’s devotion to Vishnu
Again Prahlad listened very carefully, at least he appeared to be very respectful, very submissive and the teachers were really thinking he is really catching on. They were thinking he was becoming deprogrammed from this bhakti cult. So one day the teachers they left the students to perform some of their household duties. That was their play time. All the sons of demons came together and said, ‘Prahlad, let us play together.’ And Prahlad began to give Bhagavat discourse. He said I want to speak to you. So they gathered around him.
kaumāra ācaret prājño
dharmān bhāgavatān iha
durlabhaṁ mānuṣaṁ janma
tad apy adhruvam arthadam
He began his teaching this way. That you are all children. This human form is so precious. Every moment is so valuable. Why should you waste any time in your human life? You don’t know you may die. Now is the time in this tender age of childhood to take to the path of pure devotional service. It is natural energy of every living entity. It is our own form of happiness. Please my friends, now become very serious about your spiritual lives.
Prahlad Maharaja then spoke to his students. So beautiful, so perfectly the whole philosophy on how to achieve the perfection of love of Krishna. Srila Prabhupada was very fond of giving classes from those verses. This little five year old Prahlad is teaching to his classmates so perfectly the essence of philosophy of life. Even the greatest acharyas in the world history worship these teaching. We only have eight minutes. We would not speak on these teachings. But the students they all became vaishnavas. They all became great devotees. They asked Prahlad how you learned these things because you are in the same school as us. We are your only friends, and besides, when you come to school and stay with us you are in the palace of Hiranyakashipu. Where did you learn this wonderful philosophy of pure devotion to Vishnu? Then he revealed the truth.
He said when my father went to mandara mountain valley and was performing tapasya, the demigods kidnapped my mother. The pregnant mother is holding the child who is the son of Hiranyakashipu. Like father, like son. We would wait till he is born then we would destroy him. Abortion was not even a consideration. We will wait till he is born then destroy him. Then on the way to the heavenly planets Narada Muni stopped them and said he is actually a Maha-Bhagavat. You should not touch him. He is the great devotee of Vishnu. So the demigods accepted. They offered prayers and circumblated the child within the womb of the wife of Hiranyakashipu. Narada Muni took her to his ashram and spoke Bhagvatam, the since of self realization. The mother heard everything and the little womb also heard everything.
When Hiranyakashipu came home, he sent her back to him. In the association of her husband she forgot the teachings, but Prahlad never forgot a word. In this way Prahlad made all his classmates great devotees of the lord immersed in hearing and chanting of the Lord’s glories. When Shanda and Amarka came into the class and saw them all chanting and dancing in ecstasy they became very, very disturbed. They brought Prahlad and threw him to his father and said he has ruined our whole school and told him all the details.
Appearance of Nrsimhadev
At that point Hiranyakashipu was outraged beyond any control. He said, ‘You rascal, you killer of my brother, you deserve to die in my hands. How dare you think that you are so great that you are not under my control? You speak someone who is a greater controller than me. Where is this person? Tell me who you call the supreme controller Vishnu?’ Prahlad replied, ‘My father he is everywhere. The same power, the same person who gives you power and me power and everyone power is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vishnu, and he is residing everywhere my father.’ Hiranyakashipu could not believe he could answer that question in that way. He became so outraged, he said, ‘You say he is everywhere. Is he in the column of my palace?’ Prahlad said, ‘Yes, everywhere my father.’ Then Hiranyakashipu cried out in a voice that thundered in all directions and said, ‘Let me see him protect you, because at this moment I am going to kill you.’ He drew his sword and as he was just about to run and sever Prahlad’s head, he in defiance with his fist he pounded on the pillar. As soon as he pounded on the pillar, the pillar began to tremble and this loud screeching sound echoed throughout the entire universe.
Hiranyakashipu had never heard anything like this. He stood there looking at the trembling pillar and then (makes sound)..the pillar broke and manifested Nrsimhadev Bhagavan. He was half man, half lion; his eyes were glowing like molten gold in anger; his mane was erect in all directions; he was so huge, his mane was scattering in the clouds in the sky; his mouth and his nostrils was like gaping deep dark caves; his tongue was moving about like dualing sword; he had a thick broad chest, thin waist and with many, many arms with razor sharp nails. And he roared, and that roaring, Hiranyakashipu could not tolerate it. All the demigods heard the roaring in the heavenly planets and came down in their airplanes to see what is this. Nobody had ever seen a form like this. Hiranyakashipu came to the conclusion that this is my enemy Vishnu. No one can defeat me; today he would enter the abode of Yamaraja. This was the false pride. He drew his sword from the shield and attacked just like a little insect flying into the fire. Then the fight went on. It is explained that he appeared sometime around noon and they fought for many hours. Hiranyakashipu was fighting so ferociously and Nrsimhadev was playing with him like a cat plays with mouse. Nrsimhadev grabbed him and then Hiranyakashipu was squiggling around and got loosed from his grip. The Lord is afraid of me; he cannot keep me. He was convinced he would kill Nrsimhadev. Convinced! Sometimes he was in the air, sometimes he was on the ground, sometimes flying in all the directions, displaying all kinds of mysticism, but Nrsimhadev was just laughing, laughing so loud.
The whole time Hiranyakashipu had his eyes closed because he could not bear to see the form of the Lord. Then the Lord grabbed him and Hiranyakashipu was shaking with all of his powers and Nrsimhadev just took him in His hands and sat right in the doorway of the palace, placed Hiranyakashipu on his lap. It was just at the time of sunset. It was neither day nor night; he was neither inside or outside; Nrsimhadev was neither an animal nor a man or any living entity. He was the Supreme Lord. He was neither on the air, water or land; he was on the lap of the Lord and Brahma’s benediction no weapon. So Nrsimhadev took his own nails and (makes noise), tore his stomach open, took out his heart and threw it on the ground and took out his intestines and put on himself as garland of victory and threw that wasp Hiranyakashipu on the ground as piece of garbage. Nrsimhadev bhagavan ki jai!
At that time tens and thousands of rakshasas, armed military soldiers with weapons, attacked and the Lord just with the tip of his nail destroyed all of them. And then after everyone was finished Nrsimhadev entered the palace and sat on Hiranyakashipu’s throne growling. At that time Brahma, Siva, the Kinnaras, the Vidyadharas they all came together to offer prayers to Lord Nrsimhadev. But besides all their prayers the Lord was still trembling and growling in anger. Then Lord Brahma said to Prahlad that he came specifically for you. Please pacify him. Little Prahlad was completely fearless. He was like a little cub who knew the love of the mother lion. That was Lord Chaitanya’s prayer. He went before Nrsimhadev and offered his humble obeisances and when the Lord saw little Prahlad he placed his hand on Prahlad’s head. Immediately Prahlad becomes completely transcendentally infused with his mercy and the Lord became satisfied.
Then Prahlad offered beautiful prayers. He introduces himself as coming in the family of demons. In today’s prayer he is presenting to the Lord how is it possible to offer suitable prayers to you? I have been born in a family of asuras. To offer prayers to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead even till now all the demigods headed by lord Brahma and all the saintly persons could not satisfy the Lord by stream of excellent words. Although such persons are very qualified being in the mode of goodness then what is to be said of me. I am not at all qualified. In this beautiful purport Srila Prabhupada revels who really Prahlad is. What really is his qualification? Narada Muni tells Yudhisthira Maharaja that wherever there is discussion of the Supreme Lord and his devotees the topic of Prahlad will always come up. How exalted! But he is considering himself most fallen, most unqualified. Prabhupada explains here that a vaishnava who is fully qualified to serve the Lord still thinks himself to be very low. He then gives the example of Krsnadas Kaviraja Goswami who considered himself to be lower than the worm in the stool, more sinful than Jagai and Madhai. And Prabhupada explains he wasn’t just saying this, he was feeling it. That is the nature of the devotee. Trnad api sunicena, taror api sahisnuna amanina manedena kirtaniya sada hari…to be humble than a blade of grass, to be tolerant like a tree, eager to offer all respects to others and expect nothing in return.
Prabhupada quotes this verse and listen carefully to Prabhupada’s conclusion. He says unless one is meek and humble in this way, to make progress in spiritual life is very difficult. Mahajano yena gatha sampatha. Prahlad maharaja is one of the great mahajans. To follow in his footsteps is the only true path to spiritual perfection. In this material existence we are so much programmed and conditioned to think that the more great we think we are, the more successful we are. We want to become proud. But here we find that unless somehow or the other with our good intelligence, with good association, with good sadhana we learn to overcome this tendency, then it is very, very difficult to make any progress. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura says that humility and simplicity are the fundamental basic principles that we must accept to actually make spiritual advancement, because these are the qualities that the Lord appreciates. And all of our spiritual progress is according to how we please the Lord.
Yes, Prahlad’s prayers when he was only five years old constituted the very essence of all knowledge. Lord Nrsimhadev was so very pleased with Prahlad. He offered him any benedictions. He offered him heavenly planets, liberation, mystic powers, everything and anything, and Prahlad refused to take any benedictions. Prahlad said if I am serving you with any expectation that you are going to give me something material in return, then I am not a devotee; then I am a merchant doing business with you. Giving and receiving, this is trading for me. To be a devotee means unconditional, unmotivated service to you. I am serving for your satisfaction my Lord. Can you imagine! Srila Prabhupada explains in this regard Prahlad’s mentality. Even when he was tormented in the most difficult ways, he never blamed Krishna. Bhagvatam describes, even when we are put in inconceivable difficult situation and we offer obeisances with a grateful heart to the Lord, such a person will always receive the mercy of the Lord. This is Prahlad! How much he went through and yet remained faithful to the Lord and did not want anything beside the Lord’s pleasure. That is real religion.
Nrsimhadev gave Prahlad a benediction on His own accord. He said you would live in this world and I would coronate you as king and replace your father. And you would rule the world for one manvantara and you would never forget me. And you will always engage in my service, and at the end of your life you would come back to Godhead, Vaikunta. Prahlad maharaja accepted, but he revealed his heart to the Lord. He said I don’t want to be in the Himalayas doing solitary worship of you; I don’t even want to go back to Godhead. As long as there is even one person who is suffering because of forgetfulness of you, let me be in this world to serve them. Prabhupada quotes from the puranas that actually Prahlad simultaneously lives in vaikunta and in this world helping people become Krishna conscious in the Sutala Loka. That was his desire, that was his compassion, that was the spirit Prabhupada tried to impregnate within our hearts. There is nothing that pleases the Lord more then the spirit of compassion to others. Para dukha dukhi. To be pained to see others in forgetfulness of God.
Look at Prahlad. Even his father who took the role of a demon, he was willing to stay in this palace and preach to him, to all of his classmates. He did not care about his own happiness, distress, life or death. He was an instrument of Krishna’s compassion, and that is the highest service to the Lord. And what is the greatest way to show that compassion to this world? By spreading the glories of the holy names. Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains that the essence of all religions is to chant the names of the Lord and to be an instrument of Lord’s compassion to the fallen souls. Prahlad Maharaja illustrated that, exemplified in such a glorious way, and Prahlad asked only one thing of Nrsimhadev. He said my father hated you; he blasphemed you even at the point of his death. It grieves my heart; please free him of his offences. What type of a saint is Prahlad! Asks nothing for himself although he is offered everything in all the material and spiritual worlds. He only asked benediction for the person who hated him and tried to kill him. Nrsimhadev’s heart melted. He said, Prahlad he died in my hands. Anyone who becomes a pure devotee following in your footsteps, all of their forefathers for 21 generations will be liberated. You will be now liberated from this class also (laughs). Srila Prabhupada explains that one who becomes a genuine selfless devotee 21 generations of one’s relative are liberated. That means all of your relatives in this life, all your relatives in past life and all you relatives in your past life before that for 21 generations all your mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and all your relatives will be liberated if you just become pure in your heart. This benediction was not only given to Prahlad, it was given to all living beings who follow in his footsteps. So on this most holy event of Nrsimha Chaturdasi, let us thank Srila Prabhupada from the core of our hearts for giving us such an aspiration, pure undivided devotion to the Lord. He has given us Prahlad Maharaja and all the acharyas as examples of ideals to follow in our lives. The ideals of humility, compassion and love. That is what Prahlad’s whole life constitutes. Tolerance, forgiveness, humility, compassion and his love for the Lord. Let us pray that we can follow in the holy footprints of Prahlad Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada and other great vaishnavas and cleanse our hearts and cleanse the world with the chanting of the holy names.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
After this benediction Nrsimhadev disappeared and on his order Prahlad performed the last rites for his father to show his love, and after performing the last rites on this very day, today, Prahlad was coroneted as the king of the world.