Prahlāda, the Best Among Exalted Devotees
Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva wanted to bestow benedictions upon Prahlāda Mahārāja, one after another, but Prahlāda Mahārāja, thinking them impediments on the path of spiritual progress, did not accept any of them. Instead, he fully surrendered at the Lord’s lotus feet. He said: “If anyone engaged in the devotional service of the Lord prays for personal sense gratification, he cannot be called a pure devotee or even a devotee. He may be called only a merchant engaged in the business of give and take. Similarly, a master who wants to please his servant after taking service from him is also not a real master.” Prahlāda Mahārāja, therefore, did not ask anything from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Rather, he said that if the Lord wanted to give him a benediction, he wanted the Lord to assure him that he would never be induced to take any benedictions for the sake of material desires. Exchanges of devotional service for lusty desires are always very prominent. As soon as lusty desires awaken, one’s senses, mind, life, soul, religious principles, patience, intelligence, shyness, beauty, strength, memory and truthfulness are all vanquished. One can render unalloyed devotional service only when there are no material desires in one’s mind.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead was greatly pleased with Prahlāda Mahārāja for his unalloyed devotion, yet the Lord provided him one material benediction—that he would be perfectly happy in this world and live his next life in Vaikuṇṭha. The Lord gave him the benediction that he would be the king of this material world until the end of the manvantara millennium and that although in this material world, he would have the facility to hear the glories of the Lord and depend fully on the Lord, performing service to Him in uncontaminated bhakti-yoga. The Lord advised Prahlāda to perform sacrifices through bhakti-yoga, for this is the duty of a king.
Prahlāda Mahārāja accepted whatever the Lord had offered him, and he prayed for the Lord to deliver his father. In response to this prayer, the Lord assured him that in the family of such a pure devotee as he, not only the devotee’s father but his forefathers for twenty-one generations are liberated. The Lord also asked Prahlāda to perform the ritualistic ceremonies appropriate after his father’s death.
Then Lord Brahmā, who was also present, offered many prayers to the Lord, expressing his obligation to the Lord for having offered benedictions to Prahlāda Mahārāja. The Lord advised Lord Brahmā not to offer benedictions to asuras as he had to Hiraṇyakaśipu, for such benedictions indulge them. Then Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva disappeared. On that day, Prahlāda Mahārāja was installed on the throne of the world by Lord Brahmā and Śukrācārya.
Thus Nārada Muni described the character of Prahlāda Mahārāja for Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja, and he further described the killing of Rāvaṇa by Lord Rāmacandra and the killing of Śiśupāla and Dantavakra in Dvāpara-yuga. Śiśupāla, of course, had merged into the existence of the Lord and thus achieved sāyujya-mukti. Nārada Muni praised Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja because the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, was the greatest well-wisher and friend of the Pāṇḍavas and almost always stayed in their house. Thus the fortune of the Pāṇḍavas was greater than that of Prahlāda Mahārāja.
bhakti-yogasya tat sarvam
smayamāna uvāca ha
śrī-nāradaḥ uvāca—Nārada Muni said; bhakti-yogasya—of the principles of devotional service; tat—those (blessings or benedictions offered by Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva); sarvam—each and every one of them; antarāyatayā—because of being impediments (on the path of bhakti-yoga); arbhakaḥ—Prahlāda Mahārāja, although only a boy; manyamānaḥ—considering; hṛṣīkeśam—unto Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva; smayamānaḥ—smiling; uvāca—said; ha—in the past.
The saint Nārada Muni continued: Although Prahlāda Mahārāja was only a boy, when he heard the benedictions offered by Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva he considered them impediments on the path of devotional service. Thus he smiled very mildly and spoke as follows.
Material achievements are not the ultimate goal of devotional service. The ultimate goal of devotional service is love of Godhead. Therefore although Prahlāda Mahārāja, Dhruva Mahārāja, Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja and many devotee kings were materially very opulent, they accepted their material opulence in the service of the Lord, not for their personal sense gratification. Of course, possessing material opulence is always fearful because under the influence of material opulence one may be misdirected from devotional service. Nonetheless, a pure devotee (anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyam [Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu
“One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service.” Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.11
mā māṁ pralobhayotpattyā
saktaṁkāmeṣu tair varaiḥ
mumukṣus tvām upāśritaḥ
śrī-prahrādaḥ uvāca—Prahlāda Mahārāja said (to the Supreme Personality of Godhead); mā—please do not; mām—me; pralobhaya—allure; utpattyā—because of my birth (in a demoniac family); saktam—(I am already) attached; kāmeṣu—to material enjoyment; taiḥ—by all those; varaiḥ—benedictions of material possessions; tat-saṅga-bhītaḥ—being afraid of such material association; nirviṇṇaḥ—completely detached from material desires; mumukṣuḥ—desiring to be liberated from material conditions of life; tvām—unto Your lotus feet; upāśritaḥ—I have taken shelter.
Prahlāda Mahārāja said: My dear Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, because I was born in an atheistic family I am naturally attached to material enjoyment. Therefore, kindly do not tempt me with these illusions. I am very much afraid of material conditions, and I desire to be liberated from materialistic life. It is for this reason that I have taken shelter of Your lotus feet.
Materialistic life means attachment to the body and everything in relationship to the body. This attachment is based on lusty desires for sense gratification, specifically sexual enjoyment. Kāmais tais tair hṛta-jñānāḥ: [Bg. 7.20] when one is too attached to material enjoyment, he is bereft of all knowledge (hṛta jñānāḥ). As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, those who are attached to material enjoyment are mostly inclined to worship the demigods to procure various material opulences. They are especially attached to worship of the goddess Durgā and Lord Śiva because this transcendental couple can offer their devotees all material opulence. Prahlāda Mahārāja, however, was detached from all material enjoyment. He therefore took shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva, and not the feet of any demigod. It is to be understood that if one really wants release from this material world, from the threefold miseries and from janma-mṛtyu jarā-vyādhi (birth, death, old age and disease), one must take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for without the Supreme Personality of Godhead one cannot get release from materialistic life. Atheistic men are very much attached to material enjoyment. Therefore if they get some opportunity to achieve more and more material enjoyment, they take it. Prahlāda Mahārāja, however, was very careful in this regard. Although born of a materialistic father, because he was a devotee he had no material desires (anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyam [Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.11]).
bhaktaṁ kāmeṣv acodayat
bhṛtya-lakṣaṇa-jijñāsuḥ—desiring to exhibit the symptoms of a pure devotee; bhaktam—the devotee; kāmeṣu—in the material world, where lusty desires predominate; acodayat—has sent; bhavān—Your Lordship; saṁsāra-bījeṣu—the root cause of being present in this material world; hṛdaya-granthiṣu—which (desire for material enjoyment) is in the cores of the hearts of all conditioned souls; prabho—O my worshipable Lord.
O my worshipable Lord, because the seed of lusty desires, which is the root cause of material existence, is within the core of everyone’s heart, You have sent me to this material world to exhibit the symptoms of a pure devotee.
Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu has given considerable discussion about nitya-siddha and sādhana-siddha devotees. Nitya-siddha devotees come from Vaikuṇṭha to this material world to teach, by their personal example, how to become a devotee. The living entities in this material world can take lessons from such nitya-siddha devotees and thus become inclined to return home, back to Godhead. A nitya-siddha devotee comes from Vaikuṇṭha upon the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and shows by his example how to become a pure devotee (anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyam [Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu
“One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service.” Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.11
nānyathā te ’khila-guro
yas ta āśiṣa āśāste
na sa bhṛtyaḥ sa vai vaṇik
na—not; anyathā—otherwise; te—of You; akhila-guro—O supreme instructor of the entire creation; ghaṭeta—such a thing can happen; karuṇā-ātmanaḥ—the Supreme Person, who is extremely kind to His devotees; yaḥ—any person who; te—from You; āśiṣaḥ—material benefits; āśāste—desires (in exchange for serving You); na—not; saḥ—such a person; bhṛtyaḥ—a servitor; saḥ—such a person; vai—indeed; vaṇik—a merchant (who wants to get material profit from his business).
Otherwise, O my Lord, O supreme instructor of the entire world, You are so kind to Your devotee that You could not induce him to do something unbeneficial for him. On the other hand, one who desires some material benefit in exchange for devotional service cannot be Your pure devotee. Indeed, he is no better than a merchant who wants profit in exchange for service.
It is sometimes found that one comes to a devotee or a temple of the Lord just to get some material benefit. Such a person is described here as a mercantile man. Bhagavad-gītā speaks of ārto jijñāsur arthārthī. The word ārta refers to one who is physically distressed, and arthārthī refers to one in need of money. Such persons are forced to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead for mitigation of their distress or to get some money by the benediction of the Lord. They have been described as sukṛtī, pious, because in their distress or need for money they have approached the Supreme Lord. Unless one is pious, one cannot approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead. However, although a pious man may receive some material benefit, one who is concerned with material benefits cannot be a pure devotee. When a pure devotee receives material opulences, this is not because of his pious activity but for the service of the Lord. When one engages in devotional service, one is automatically pious. Therefore, a pure devotee is anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyam [Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.11]. He has no desire for material profit, nor does the Lord induce him to try to profit materially. When a devotee needs something, the Supreme Personality of Godhead supplies it (yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham [Bg. 9.22]).
Sometimes materialists go to a temple to offer flowers and fruit to the Lord because they have learned from Bhagavad-gītā that if a devotee offers some flowers and fruits, the Lord accepts them. In Bhagavad-gītā (9.26) the Lord says:
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” Thus a man with a mercantile mentality thinks that if he can get some material benefit, like a large amount of money, simply by offering a little fruit and flower, this is good business. Such persons are not accepted as pure devotees. Because their desires are not purified, they are still mercantile men, even though they go to temples to make a show of being devotees. Sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ tat-paratvena nirmalam: [Cc. Madhya 19.170] only when one is fully freed from material desires can one be purified, and only in that purified state can one serve the Lord. Hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-sevanaṁ bhaktir ucyate. This is the pure devotional platform.
āśāsāno na vai bhṛtyaḥ
svāminy āśiṣa ātmanaḥ
na svāmī bhṛtyataḥ svāmyam
icchan yo rāti cāśiṣaḥ
āśāsānaḥ—a person who desires (in exchange for service); na—not; vai—indeed; bhṛtyaḥ—a qualified servant or pure devotee of the Lord; svāmini—from the master; āśiṣaḥ—material benefit; ātmanaḥ—for personal sense gratification; na—nor; svāmī—the master; bhṛtyataḥ—from the servant; svāmyam—the prestigious position of being the master; icchan—desiring; yaḥ—any such master who; rāti—bestows; ca—also; āśiṣaḥ—material profit.
A servant who desires material profits from his master is certainly not a qualified servant or pure devotee. Similarly, a master who bestows benedictions upon his servant because of a desire to maintain a prestigious position as master is also not a pure master.
As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (7.20), kāmais tais tair hṛta jñānāḥ prapadyante ’nya-devatāḥ. “Those whose minds are distorted by material desires surrender unto demigods.” A demigod cannot become master, for the real master is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The demigods, to keep their prestigious positions, bestow upon their worshipers whatever benedictions the worshipers want. For example, once it was found that an asura took a benediction from Lord Śiva by which the asura would be able to kill someone simply by placing his hands on that person’s head. Such benedictions are possible to receive from the demigods. If one worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead, however, the Lord will never offer him such condemned benedictions. On the contrary, it is said in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.88.8), yasyāham anugṛhnāmi hariṣye tad-dhanaṁ śanaiḥ. If one is too materialistic but at the same time wants to be a servant of the Supreme Lord, the Lord, because of His supreme compassion for the devotee, takes away all his material opulences and obliges him to be a pure devotee of the Lord. Prahlāda Mahārāja distinguishes between the pure devotee and the pure master. The Lord is the pure master, the supreme master, whereas an unalloyed devotee with no material motives is the pure servant. One who has materialistic motivations cannot become a servant, and one who unnecessarily bestows benedictions upon his servant to keep his own prestigious position is not a real master.
ahaṁ tv akāmas tvad-bhaktas
tvaṁ ca svāmy anapāśrayaḥ
aham—as far as I am concerned; tu—indeed; akāmaḥ—without material desire; tvat-bhaktaḥ—fully attached to You without motivation; tvam ca—Your Lordship also; svāmī—the real master; anapāśrayaḥ—without motivation (You do not become the master with motivation); na—not; anyathā—without being in such a relationship as master and servant; iha—here; āvayoḥ—our; arthaḥ—any motivation (the Lord is the pure master, and Prahlāda Mahārāja is the pure devotee with no materialistic motivation); rāja—of a king; sevakayoḥ—and the servitor; iva—like (just as a king exacts taxes for the benefit of the servant or the citizens pay taxes for the benefit of the king).
O my Lord, I am Your unmotivated servant, and You are my eternal master. There is no need of our being anything other than master and servant. You are naturally my master, and I am naturally Your servant. We have no other relationship.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya—kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’: [Cc. Madhya 20.108] every living being is eternally a servant of the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa. Lord Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (5.29), bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ sarva-loka-maheśvaram: “I am the proprietor of all planets, and I am the supreme enjoyer.” This is the natural position of the Lord, and the natural position of the living being is to surrender unto Him (sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja [Bg. 18.66]). If this relationship continues, then real happiness exists eternally between the master and servant. Unfortunately, when this eternal relationship is disturbed, the living entity wants to become separately happy and thinks that the master is his order supplier. In this way there cannot be happiness. Nor should the master cater to the desires of the servant. If he does, he is not the real master. The real master commands, “You must do this,” and the real servant immediately obeys the order. Unless this relationship between the Supreme Lord and the subordinate living entity is established, there can be no real happiness. The living entity is āśraya, always subordinate, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead is viṣaya, the supreme objective, the goal of life. Unfortunate persons trapped in this material world do not know this. Na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇum: [SB 7.5.31] illusioned by the material energy, everyone in this material world is unaware that the only aim of life is to approach Lord Viṣṇu.
In the Padma Purāṇa Lord Śiva explains to his wife, Parvatī, the goddess Durgā, that the highest goal of life is to satisfy Lord Viṣṇu, who can be satisfied only when His servant is satisfied. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore teaches, gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ. One must become a servant of the servant. Prahlāda Mahārāja also prayed to Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva that he might be engaged as the servant of the Lord’s servant. This is the prescribed method of devotional service. As soon as a devotee wants the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be his order supplier, the Lord immediately refuses to become the master of such a motivated devotee. In Bhagavad-gītā (4.11) the Lord says, ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham. “As one surrenders unto Me, I reward him accordingly.” Materialistic persons are generally inclined to material profits. As long as one continues in such an adulterated position, he does not receive the benefit of returning home, back to Godhead.
yadi dāsyasi me kāmān
varāṁs tvaṁ varadarṣabha
kāmānāṁ hṛdy asaṁrohaṁ
bhavatas tu vṛṇe varam
yadi—if; dāsyasi—want to give; me—me; kāmān—anything desirable; varān—as Your benediction; tvam—You; varada-ṛṣabha—O Supreme Personality of Godhead, who can give any benediction; kāmānām—of all desires for material happiness; hṛdi—within the core of my heart; asaṁroham—no growth; bhava taḥ—from You; tu—then; vṛṇe—I pray for; varam—such a benediction.
O my Lord, best of the givers of benediction, if You at all want to bestow a desirable benediction upon me, then I pray from Your Lordship that within the core of my heart there be no material desires.
“O my Lord, I do not want from You any amount of wealth, nor many followers, nor a beautiful wife, for these are all materialistic desires. But if I have to ask You for any benediction, I pray that in whatever forms of life I may take my birth, under any circumstances, I will not be bereft of Your transcendental devotional service.” Devotees are always on the positive platform, in contrast to the Māyāvādīs, who want to make everything impersonal or void. One cannot remain void (śūnyavādī); rather, one must possess something. Therefore, the devotee, on the positive side, wants to possess something, and this possession is very nicely described by Prahlāda Mahārāja, who says, “If I must take some benediction from You, I pray that within the core of my heart there may be no material desires.” The desire to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not at all material.
indriyāṇi manaḥ prāṇa
ātmā dharmo dhṛtir matiḥ
hrīḥ śrīs tejaḥ smṛtiḥ satyaṁ
yasya naśyanti janmanā
indriyāṇi—the senses; manaḥ—the mind; prāṇaḥ—the life air; ātmā—the body; dharmaḥ—religion; dhṛtiḥ—patience; matiḥ—intelligence; hrīḥ—shyness; śrīḥ—opulence; tejaḥ—strength; smṛtiḥ—memory; satyam—truthfulness; yasya—of which lusty desires; naśyanti—are vanquished; janmanā—from the very beginning of birth.
O my Lord, because of lusty desires from the very beginning of one’s birth, the functions of one’s senses, mind, life, body, religion, patience, intelligence, shyness, opulence, strength, memory and truthfulness are vanquished.
As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, kāmaṁ hṛd-rogam. Materialistic life means that one is afflicted by a formidable disease called lusty desire. Liberation means freedom from lusty desires because it is only due to such desires that one must accept repeated birth and death. As long as one’s lusty desires are unfulfilled, one must take birth after birth to fulfill them. Because of material desires, therefore, one performs various types of activities and receives various types of bodies with which to try to fulfill desires that are never satisfied. The only remedy is to take to devotional service, which begins when one is free from all material desires. Anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyam. Anya-abhilāṣitā means “material desire,” and śūnyam means “free from.” The spiritual soul has spiritual activities and spiritual desires, as described by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu: mama janmani janmanīśvare bhavatād bhaktir ahaitukī tvayi. Unalloyed devotion to the service of the Lord is the only spiritual desire. To fulfill this spiritual desire, however, one must be free from all material desires. Desirelessness means freedom from material desires. This is described by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī as Anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyam. As soon as one has material desires, one loses his spiritual identity. Then all the paraphernalia of one’s life, including one’s senses, body, religion, patience and intelligence, are deviated from one’s original Kṛṣṇa consciousness. As soon as one has material desires, one cannot properly use his senses, intelligence, mind and so on for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Māyāvādī philosophers want to become impersonal, senseless and mindless, but that is not possible. The living entity must be living, always existing with desires, ambitions and so on. These should be purified, however, so that one can desire spiritually and be spiritually ambitious, without material contamination. In every living entity these propensities exist because he is a living entity. When materially contaminated, however, one is put into the hands of material misery (janma-mṛtyu jarā-vyādhi). If one wants to stop repeated birth and death, one must take to the devotional service of the Lord.
“Bhakti, or devotional service, means engaging all our senses in the service of the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of all the senses. When the spirit soul renders service unto the Supreme, there are two side effects. One is freed from all material designations, and, simply by being employed in the service of the Lord, one’s senses are purified.”
vimuñcati yadā kāmān
mānavo manasi sthitān
tarhy eva puṇḍarīkākṣa
vimuñcati—gives up; yadā—whenever; kāmān—all material desires; mānavaḥ—human society; manasi—within the mind; sthitān—situated; tarhi—at that time only; eva—indeed; puṇḍarīka-akṣa—O lotus-eyed Lord; bhagavattvāya—to be equally as opulent as the Lord; kalpate—becomes eligible.
O my Lord, when a human being is able to give up all the material desires in his mind, he becomes eligible to possess wealth and opulence like Yours.
Atheistic men sometimes criticize a devotee by saying, “If you do not want to take any benediction from the Lord and if the servant of the Lord is as opulent as the Lord Himself, why do you ask for the benediction of being engaged as the Lord’s servant?” Śrīdhara Svāmī comments, bhagavattvāya bhagavat-samān aiśvaryāya. Bhagavattva, becoming as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, does not mean becoming one with Him or equal to Him, although in the spiritual world the servant is equally as opulent as the master. The servant of the Lord is engaged in the service of the Lord as a servant, friend, father, mother or conjugal lover, all of whom are equally as opulent as the Lord. This is acintya-bhedābheda-tattva. The master and servant are different yet equal in opulence. This is the meaning of simultaneous difference from the Supreme Lord and oneness with Him.
oṁ namo bhagavate tubhyaṁ
oṁ—O my Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead; namaḥ—I offer my respectful obeisances; bhagavate—unto the Supreme Person; tubhyam—unto You; puruṣāya—unto the Supreme Person; mahā-ātmane—unto the Supreme Soul, or the Supersoul; haraye—unto the Lord, who vanquishes all the miseries of devotees; adbhuta-siṁhāya—unto Your wonderful lionlike form as Nṛsiṁhadeva; brahmaṇe—unto the Supreme Brahman; parama-ātmane—unto the Supreme Soul.
O my Lord, full of six opulences, O Supreme Person! O Supreme Soul, killer of all miseries! O Supreme Person in the form of a wonderful lion and man, let me offer my respectful obeisances unto You.
In the previous verse Prahlāda Mahārāja has explained that a devotee can achieve the platform of bhagavattva, being as good as the Supreme Person, but this does not mean that the devotee loses his position as a servant. A pure servant of the Lord, although as opulent as the Lord, is still meant to offer respectful obeisances to the Lord in service. Prahlāda Mahārāja was engaged in pacifying the Lord, and therefore he did not consider himself equal to the Lord. He defined his position as a servant and offered respectful obeisances unto the Lord.
naikāntino me mayi jātv ihāśiṣa
āśāsate ’mutra ca ye bhavad-vidhāḥ
tathāpi manvantaram etad atra
daityeśvarāṇām anubhuṅkṣva bhogān
śrī-bhagavān uvāca—the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; na—not; ekāntinaḥ—unalloyed, without desires except for the one desire for devotional service; me—from Me; mayi—unto Me; jātu—any time; iha—within this material world; āśiṣaḥ—benedictions; āśāsate—intent desire; amutra—in the next life; ca—and; ye—all such devotees who; bhavat-vidhāḥ—like you; tathāpi—still; manvantaram—the duration of time until the end of the life of one Manu; etat—this; atra—within this material world; daitya-īśvarāṇām—of the opulences of materialistic persons; anubhuṅkṣva—you can enjoy; bhogān—all material opulences.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Prahlāda, a devotee like you never desires any kind of material opulences, either in this life or in the next. Nonetheless, I order you to enjoy the opulences of the demons in this material world, acting as their king until the end of the duration of time occupied by Manu.
One Manu lives for a duration of time calculated to be an aggregate of seventy-one yuga cycles, each of which equals 4,300,000 years. Although atheistic men like to enjoy material opulences and they endeavor with great energy to build big residences, roads, cities and factories, unfortunately they cannot live more than eighty, ninety or at the utmost one hundred years. Although the materialist exerts so much energy to create a kingdom of hallucinations, he is unable to enjoy it for more than a few years. However, because Prahlāda Mahārāja was a devotee, the Lord allowed him to enjoy material opulence as the king of the materialists. Prahlāda Mahārāja had taken birth in the family of Hiraṇyakaśipu, who was the topmost materialist, and since Prahlāda was the bona fide heir of his father, the Supreme Lord allowed him to enjoy the kingdom created by his father for so many years that no materialist could calculate them. A devotee does not have to desire material opulence, but if he is a pure devotee, there is ample opportunity for him to enjoy material happiness also, without personal endeavor. Therefore, everyone is advised to take to devotional service under all circumstances. If one desires material opulence, he can also become a pure devotee, and his desires will be fulfilled. It is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.3.10):
“Whether one desires everything or nothing, or whether he desires to merge into the existence of the Lord, he is intelligent only if he worships Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by rendering transcendental loving service.”
kathā madīyā juṣamāṇaḥ priyās tvam
āveśya mām ātmani santam ekam
sarveṣu bhūteṣv adhiyajñam īśaṁ
yajasva yogena ca karma hinvan
kathāḥ—messages or instructions; madīyāḥ—given by Me; juṣamāṇaḥ—always hearing or contemplating; priyāḥ—extremely pleasing; tvam—yourself; āveśya—being fully absorbed in; mām—Me; ātmani—within the core of your heart; santam—existing; ekam—one (the same Supreme Soul); sarveṣu—in all; bhūteṣu—living entities; adhiyajñam—the enjoyer of all ritualistic ceremonies; īśam—the Supreme Lord; yajasva—worship; yogena—by bhakti-yoga, devotional service; ca—also; karma—fruitive activities; hinvan—giving up.
It does not matter that you are in the material world. You should always, continuously, hear the instructions and messages given by Me and always be absorbed in thought of Me, for I am the Supersoul existing in the core of everyone’s heart. Therefore, give up fruitive activities and worship Me.
When a devotee becomes materially very opulent, one should not think that he is enjoying the results of his fruitive activities. A devotee in this material world uses all material opulences for the service of the Lord because he is planning how to serve the Lord with these opulences, as advised by the Lord Himself. Whatever material opulence is within his possession he engages to expand the glories and service of the Lord. A devotee never performs any fruitive or ritualistic ceremony to enjoy the results of such karma. Rather, a devotee knows that karma-kāṇḍa is meant for the less intelligent man. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura says in his prema-bhakti-candrikā, karma-kāṇḍa, jñāna-kāṇḍa, kevala viṣera bhāṇḍa: both karma-kāṇḍa and jñāna-kāṇḍa—fruitive activities and speculation about the Supreme Lord—are like pots of poison. One who is attracted to karma-kāṇḍa and jñāna-kāṇḍa spoils his existence as a human being. Therefore a devotee is never interested in karma-kāṇḍa or jñāna-kāṇḍa, but is simply interested in favorable service to the Lord (ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanam), or cultivation of spiritual activities in devotional service.
bhogena puṇyaṁ kuśalena pāpaṁ
kalevaraṁ kāla-javena hitvā
kīrtiṁ viśuddhāṁ sura-loka-gītāṁ
vitāya mām eṣyasi mukta-bandhaḥ
bhogena—by feelings of material happiness; puṇyam—pious activities or their results; kuśalena—by acting piously (devotional service is the best of all pious activities); pāpam—all kinds of reactions to impious activities; kalevaram—the material body; kāla-javena—by the most powerful time factor; hitvā—giving up; kīrtim—reputation; viśuddhām—transcendental or fully purified; sura-loka-gītām—praised even in the heavenly planets; vitāya—spreading all through the universe; mām—unto Me; eṣyasi—you will come back; mukta-bandhaḥ—being liberated from all bondage.
My dear Prahlāda, while you are in this material world you will exhaust all the reactions of pious activity by feeling happiness, and by acting piously you will neutralize impious activity. Because of the powerful time factor, you will give up your body, but the glories of your activities will be sung in the upper planetary systems, and being fully freed from all bondage, you will return home, back to Godhead.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura says: evaṁ prahlādasyāṁśena sādhana-siddhatvaṁ nitya-siddhatvaṁ ca nāradādivaj jñeyam. There are two classes of devotees—the sādhana-siddha and the nitya-siddha. Prahlāda Mahārāja is a mixed siddha; that is, he is perfect partly because of executing devotional service and partly because of eternal perfection. Thus he is compared to such devotees as Nārada. Formerly, Nārada Muni was the son of a maidservant, and therefore in his next birth he attained perfection (sādhana-siddhi) because of having executed devotional service. Yet he is also a nitya-siddha because he never forgets the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The word kuśalena is very important. One should live in the material world very expertly. The material world is known as the world of duality because one sometimes has to act impiously and sometimes has to act piously. Although one does not want to act impiously, the world is so fashioned that there is always danger (padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadām). Thus even when performing devotional service a devotee has to create many enemies. Prahlāda Mahārāja himself had experience of this, for even his father became his enemy. A devotee should expertly manage to think always of the Supreme Lord so that the reactions of suffering cannot touch him. This is the expert management of pāpa-puṇya—pious and impious activities. An exalted devotee like Prahlāda Mahārāja is jīvan-mukta; he is liberated even in this very life in the material body.
ya etat kīrtayen mahyaṁ
tvayā gītam idaṁ naraḥ
tvāṁ ca māṁ ca smaran kāle
yaḥ—anyone who; etat—this activity; kīrtayet—chants; mahyam—unto Me; tvayā—by you; gītam—prayers offered; idam—this; naraḥ—human being; tvām—you; ca—as well as; mām ca—Me also; smaran—remembering; kāle—in due course of time; karma-bandhāt—from the bondage of material activities; pramucyate—becomes free.
One who always remembers your activities and My activities also, and who chants the prayers you have offered, becomes free, in due course of time, from the reactions of material activities.
Here it is stated that anyone who chants and hears about the activities of Prahlāda Mahārāja and, in relationship with Prahlāda’s activities, the activities of Nṛsiṁhadeva, gradually becomes free from all the bondage of fruitive activities. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (2.15, 2.56):
“O best among men [Arjuna], the person who is not disturbed by happiness and distress and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation.”
“One who is not disturbed in spite of the threefold miseries, who is not elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady mind.” A devotee should not be aggrieved in an awkward position, nor should he feel extraordinarily happy in material opulence. This is the way of expert management of material life. Because a devotee knows how to manage expertly, he is called jīvan-mukta. As Rūpa Gosvāmī explains in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu:
“A person acting in Kṛṣṇa consciousness (or, in other words, in the service of Kṛṣṇa) with his body, mind, intelligence and words is a liberated person even within this material world, although he may be engaged in many so-called material activities.” Because of constantly engaging in devotional service, in any condition of life, a devotee is free from all material bondage.
“Even one born in a family of meat-eaters is purified if he engages in devotional service.” (Bhāg. 11.14.21) Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī cites this verse in logically supporting that anyone who chants about the pure life and activities of Prahlāda Mahārāja is freed from the reactions of material activities.
varaṁ varaya etat te
yad anindat pitā me
tvām avidvāṁs teja aiśvaram
tvad-bhakte mayi cāghavān
tasmāt pitā me pūyeta
durantād dustarād aghāt
pūtas te ’pāṅga-saṁdṛṣṭas
śrī-prahrādaḥ uvāca—Prahlāda Mahārāja said; varam—benediction; varaye—I pray; etat—this; te—from You; varada-īśāt—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who offers benedictions even to such exalted demigods as Brahmā and Śiva; mahā-īśvara—O my Supreme Lord; yat—that; anindat—vilified; pitā—father; me—my; tvām—You; avidvān—without knowledge of; tejaḥ—strength; aiśvaram—supremacy; viddha—being polluted; amarṣa—with anger; āśayaḥ—within the heart; sākṣāt—directly; sarva-loka-gurum—unto the supreme spiritual master of all living beings; prabhum—unto the supreme master; bhrātṛ-hā—the killer of his brother; iti—thus; mṛṣā-dṛṣṭiḥ—falsely envious because of a false conception; tvat-bhakte—unto Your devotee; mayi—unto me; ca—and; agha-vān—who committed heavily sinful activities; tasmāt—from that; pitā—father; me—my; pūyeta—may be purified; durantāt—very great; dustarāt—difficult to pass over; aghāt—from all sinful activities; pūtaḥ—(although he was) purified; te—of You; apāṅga—by the glance over him; saṁdṛṣṭaḥ—being looked at; tadā—at that time; kṛpaṇa-vatsala—O You who are merciful to the materialistic.
Prahlāda Mahārāja said: O Supreme Lord, because You are so merciful to the fallen souls, I ask You for only one benediction. I know that my father, at the time of his death, had already been purified by Your glance upon him, but because of his ignorance of Your beautiful power and supremacy, he was unnecessarily angry at You, falsely thinking that You were the killer of his brother. Thus he directly blasphemed Your Lordship, the spiritual master of all living beings, and committed heavily sinful activities directed against me, Your devotee. I wish that he be excused for these sinful activities.
Although Hiraṇyakaśipu was purified as soon as he came in contact with the Lord’s lap and the Lord saw him, Prahlāda Mahārāja still wanted to hear from the Lord’s own mouth that his father had been purified by the Lord’s causeless mercy. Prahlāda Mahārāja offered this prayer to the Lord for the sake of his father. As a Vaiṣṇava son, despite all the inconveniences imposed upon him by his father, he could not forget his father’s affection.
triḥ-saptabhiḥ pitā pūtaḥ
pitṛbhiḥ saha te ’nagha
yat sādho ’sya kule jāto
bhavān vai kula-pāvanaḥ
śrī-bhagavān uvāca—the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; triḥ-saptabhiḥ—seven multiplied by three (that is to say, twenty-one); pitā—father; pūtaḥ—purified; pitṛbhiḥ—with your forefathers; saha—all together; te—your; anagha—O most sinless personality (Prahlāda Mahārāja); yat—because; sādho—O great saintly person; asya—of this person; kule—in the dynasty; jātaḥ—took birth; bhavān—you; vai—indeed; kula-pāvanaḥ—the purifier of the whole dynasty.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Prahlāda, O most pure, O great saintly person, your father has been purified, along with twenty-one forefathers in your family. Because you were born in this family, the entire dynasty has been purified.
The word triḥ-saptabhiḥ means seven multiplied by three. In one’s family one can count back four or five generations—to one’s great-grandfather or even one’s great-grandfather’s father—but since the Lord mentions twenty-one forefathers, this indicates that the benediction expands to other families also. Before the present family in which one has taken birth, one must have been born in other families. Thus when a Vaiṣṇava takes birth in a family, by the grace of the Lord he purifies not only that family but also the families of his previous births.
yatra yatra ca mad-bhaktāḥ
te pūyante ’pi kīkaṭāḥ
yatra yatra—wherever and whenever; ca—also; mat-bhaktāḥ—My devotees; praśāntāḥ—extremely peaceful; sama-darśinaḥ—equipoised; sādhavaḥ—decorated with all good qualities; samudācārāḥ—equally magnanimous; te—all of them; pūyante—are purified; api—even; kīkaṭāḥ—a degraded country or the inhabitants of such a place.
Whenever and wherever there are peaceful, equipoised devotees who are well behaved and decorated with all good qualities, that place and the dynasties there, even if condemned, are purified.
Wherever exalted devotees stay, not only they and their dynasties but the entire country is purified.
sarvātmanā na hiṁsanti
sarva-ātmanā—in all respects, even in the modes of anger and jealousy; na—never; hiṁsanti—they are envious; bhūta-grāmeṣu—among all species of life; kiñcana—toward any one of them; ucca-avaceṣu—the lower and higher living entities; daitya-indra—O my dear Prahlāda, King of the Daityas; mat-bhāva—because of devotional service unto Me; vigata—given up; spṛhāḥ—all material modes of anger and greed.
My dear Prahlāda, King of the Daityas, because of being attached to devotional service to Me, My devotee does not distinguish between lower and higher living entities. In all respects, he is never jealous of anyone.
bhavanti puruṣā loke
mad-bhaktās tvām anuvratāḥ
bhavān me khalu bhaktānāṁ
bhavanti—become; puruṣāḥ—persons; loke—in this world; mat-bhaktāḥ—My pure devotees; tvām—you; anuvratāḥ—following in your footsteps; bhavān—you; me—My; khalu—indeed; bhaktānām—of all devotees; sarveṣām—in different mellows; pratirūpa-dhṛk—tangible example.
Those who follow your example will naturally become My pure devotees. You are the best example of My devotee, and others should follow in your footsteps.
There are many, many devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and they have been enumerated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.3.20) as follows:
Of the twelve authorized devotees—Lord Brahmā, Nārada, Lord Śiva, Kapila, Manu and so on—Prahlāda Mahārāja is understood to be the best example.
kuru tvaṁ preta-kṛtyāni
pituḥ pūtasya sarvaśaḥ
lokān yāsyati suprajāḥ
kuru—perform; tvam—you; preta-kṛtyāni—the ritualistic ceremony performed after death; pituḥ—of your father; pūtasya—already purified; sarvaśaḥ—in all respects; mat-aṅga—My body; sparśanena—by touching; aṅga—My dear child; lokān—to planets; yāsyati—he will be elevated; su-prajāḥ—to become a devotee-citizen.
My dear child, your father has already been purified just by the touch of My body at the time of his death. Nonetheless, the duty of a son is to perform the śrāddha ritualistic ceremony after his father’s death so that his father may be promoted to a planetary system where he may become a good citizen and devotee.
In this regard, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura says that although Hiraṇyakaśipu was already purified, he had to take birth on a higher planetary system to become a devotee again. Prahlāda Mahārāja was advised to perform the ritualistic ceremony as a matter of etiquette, for the Supreme Personality of Godhead under no circumstances wants to stop the regulative principles. Madhva Muni also instructs:
When the demons Madhu and Kaiṭabha were killed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, their kinsmen also observed the ritualistic ceremonies so that these demons could return home, back to Godhead.
pitryaṁ ca sthānam ātiṣṭha
mayy āveśya manas tāta
kuru karmāṇi mat-paraḥ
pitryam—paternal; ca—also; sthānam—place, throne; ātiṣṭha—sit upon; yathā-uktam—as described; brahmavādibhiḥ—by the followers of Vedic civilization; mayi—unto Me; āveśya—being fully absorbed; manaḥ—the mind; tāta—My dear boy; kuru—just execute; karmāṇi—the regulative duties; mat-paraḥ—just for the sake of My work.
After performing the ritualistic ceremonies, take charge of your father’s kingdom. Sit upon the throne and do not be disturbed by materialistic activities. Please keep your mind fixed upon Me. Without transgressing the injunctions of the Vedas, as a matter of formality you may perform your particular duties.
When one becomes a devotee, he no longer has any duty to the Vedic regulative principles. One has many duties to perform, but if one becomes fully devoted to the Lord, he no longer has any such obligations. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.5.41):
One who has fully surrendered to the lotus feet of the Lord is no longer a debtor to his forefathers, the great sages, human society, the common man or any living entity.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead nonetheless advised Prahlāda Mahārāja to follow the regulative principles, for since he was going to be the king, others would follow his example. Thus Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva advised Prahlāda Mahārāja to engage in his political duties so that people would become the Lord’s devotees.
“Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.” (Bg. 3.21) One should not be attached to any materialistic activities, but a devotee may perform such activities as an example to show the common man that one should not deviate from the Vedic injunctions.
prahrādo ’pi tathā cakre
pitur yat sāmparāyikam
yathāha bhagavān rājann
śrī-nāradaḥ uvāca—Nārada Muni said; prahrādaḥ—Prahlāda Mahārāja; api—also; tathā—in that way; cakre—executed; pituḥ—of his father; yat—whatever; sāmparāyikam—ritualistic ceremonies performed after death; yathā—even as; āha—order; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; rājan—O King Yudhiṣṭhira; abhiṣiktaḥ—he was enthroned in the kingdom; dvi-jātibhiḥ—by the brāhmaṇas present.
Śrī Nārada Muni continued: Thus, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead ordered, Prahlāda Mahārāja performed the ritualistic ceremonies for his father. O King Yudhiṣṭhira, he was then enthroned in the kingdom of Hiraṇyakaśipu, as directed by the brāhmaṇas.
It is essential that society be divided into four groups of men—brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras. Here we see that although Prahlāda was perfect in every respect, he nonetheless followed the instructions of the brāhmaṇas who performed the Vedic rituals. Therefore in society there must be a very intelligent class of leaders who are well versed in the Vedic knowledge so that they can guide the entire populace to follow the Vedic principles and thus gradually become most perfect and eligible to return home, back to Godhead.
brahmā narahariṁ harim
stutvā vāgbhiḥ pavitrābhiḥ
prāha devādibhir vṛtaḥ
prasāda-sumukham—whose face was bright because the Supreme Lord was pleased; dṛṣṭvā—seeing this situation; brahmā—Lord Brahmā; nara-harim—unto Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva; harim—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; stutvā—offering prayers; vāgbhiḥ—by transcendental words; pavitrābhiḥ—without any material contamination; prāha—addressed (the Lord); deva-ādibhiḥ—by other demigods; vṛtaḥ—surrounded.
Lord Brahmā, surrounded by the other demigods, was bright-faced because the Lord was pleased. Thus he offered prayers to the Lord with transcendental words.
diṣṭyā te nihataḥ pāpo
śrī-brahmā uvāca—Lord Brahmā said; deva-deva—O my Lord, Lord of all the demigods; akhila-adhyakṣa—owner of the whole universe; bhūta-bhāvana—O cause of all living entities; pūrva-ja—O original Personality of Godhead; diṣṭyā—by Your example or because of our good fortune; te—by You; nihataḥ—killed; pāpaḥ—most sinful; loka-santāpanaḥ—giving trouble to the entire universe; asuraḥ—the demon Hiraṇyakaśipu.
Lord Brahmā said: O Supreme Lord of all lords, proprietor of the entire universe, O benedictor of all living entities, O original person [ādi-puruṣa], because of our good fortune You have now killed this sinful demon, who was giving trouble to the entire universe.
The word pūrvaja is described in Bhagavad-gītā (10.8): ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate. All the demigods, including Lord Brahmā, are manifested from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore the original person, the cause of all causes, is Govinda, the ādi-puruṣam.
yo ’sau labdha-varo matto
na vadhyo mama sṛṣṭibhiḥ
yaḥ—the person who; asau—he (Hiraṇyakaśipu); labdha-varaḥ—being given the extraordinary benediction; mattaḥ—from me; na vadhyaḥ—not to be killed; mama sṛṣṭibhiḥ—by any living being created by me; tapaḥ-yoga-bala—by austerity, mystic power and strength; unnaddhaḥ—thus being very proud; samasta—all; nigamān—Vedic injunctions; ahan—disregarded, transgressed.
This demon, Hiraṇyakaśipu, received from me the benediction that he would not be killed by any living being within my creation. With this assurance and with strength derived from austerities and mystic power, he became excessively proud and transgressed all the Vedic injunctions.
diṣṭyā tat-tanayaḥ sādhur
tvayā vimocito mṛtyor
diṣṭyā tvāṁ samito ’dhunā
diṣṭyā—by fortune; tat-tanayaḥ—his son; sādhuḥ—who is a great saintly person; mahā-bhāgavataḥ—a great and exalted devotee; arbhakaḥ—although a child; tvayā—by Your Lordship; vimocitaḥ—released; mṛtyoḥ—from the clutches of death; diṣṭyā—also by great fortune; tvām samitaḥ—perfectly under Your shelter; adhunā—now.
By great fortune, Hiraṇyakaśipu’s son Prahlāda Mahārāja has now been released from death, for although he is a child, he is an exalted devotee. Now he is fully under the protection of Your lotus feet.
etad vapus te bhagavan
sarvato goptṛ santrāsān
mṛtyor api jighāṁsataḥ
etat—this; vapuḥ—body; te—Your; bhagavan—O Supreme Personality of Godhead; dhyāyataḥ—those who meditate upon; parama-ātmanaḥ—of the Supreme Person; sarvataḥ—from everywhere; goptṛ—the protector; santrāsāt—from all kinds of fear; mṛtyoḥ api—even from fear of death; jighāṁsataḥ—if one is envied by an enemy.
My dear Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, You are the Supreme Soul. If one meditates upon Your transcendental body, You naturally protect him from all sources of fear, even the imminent danger of death.
Everyone is sure to die, for no one is excused from the hands of death, which is but a feature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (mṛtyuḥ sarva-haraś cāham). When one becomes a devotee, however, he is not destined to die according to a limited duration of life. Everyone has a limited duration of life, but a devotee’s lifetime can be extended by the mercy of the Supreme Lord, who is able to nullify the results of one’s karma. Karmāṇi nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhājāṁ [Bs. 5.54]. This is the statement of Brahma-saṁhitā (5.54). A devotee is not under the laws of karma. Therefore even a devotee’s scheduled death can be avoided by the causeless mercy of the Supreme Lord. God protects the devotee even from the extreme danger of death.
maivaṁ vibho ’surāṇāṁ te
ahīnām amṛtaṁ yathā
śrī-bhagavān uvāca—the Supreme Personality of Godhead replied (to Brahmā); mā—do not; evam—thus; vibho—O great person; asurāṇām—unto the demons; te—by you; pradeyaḥ—bestow benedictions; padma-sambhava—O Lord Brahmā, born from the lotus flower; varaḥ—benediction; krūra-nisargāṇām—persons who are by nature very cruel and jealous; ahīnām—to snakes; amṛtam—nectar or milk; yathā—just as.
The Personality of Godhead replied: My dear Lord Brahmā, O great lord born from the lotus flower, just as it is dangerous to feed milk to a snake, so it is dangerous to give benedictions to demons, who are by nature ferocious and jealous. I warn you not to give such benedictions to any demon again.
ity uktvā bhagavān rājaṁs
tataś cāntardadhe hariḥ
śrī-nāradaḥ uvāca—Nārada Muni said; iti uktvā—saying this; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; rājan—O King Yudhiṣṭhira; tataḥ—from that place; ca—also; antardadhe—disappeared; hariḥ—the Lord; adṛśyaḥ—without being visible; sarva-bhūtānām—by all kinds of living entities; pūjitaḥ—being worshiped; parameṣṭhinā—by Lord Brahmā.
Nārada Muni continued: O King Yudhiṣṭhira, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is not visible to an ordinary human being, spoke in this way, instructing Lord Brahmā. Then, being worshiped by Brahmā, the Lord disappeared from that place.
tataḥ sampūjya śirasā
bhavaṁ prajāpatīn devān
tataḥ—thereafter; sampūjya—worshiping; śirasā—by bowing the head; vavande—offered prayers; parameṣṭhinam—to Lord Brahmā; bhavam—to Lord Śiva; prajāpatīn—to the great demigods entrusted with increasing the population; devān—to all the great demigods; prahrādaḥ—Prahlāda Mahārāja; bhagavat-kalāḥ—influential parts of the Lord.
Prahlāda Mahārāja then worshiped and offered prayers to all the demigods, such as Brahmā, Śiva and the Prajāpatis, who are all parts of the Lord.
tataḥ kāvyādibhiḥ sārdhaṁ
daityānāṁ dānavānāṁ ca
prahrādam akarot patim
tataḥ—thereafter; kāvya-ādibhiḥ—with Śukrācārya and others; sārdham—and with; munibhiḥ—great saintly persons; kamala-āsanaḥ—Lord Brahmā; daityānām—of all the demons; dānavānām—of all the giants; ca—and; prahrādam—Prahlāda Mahārāja; akarot—created; patim—the master or king.
Thereafter, along with Śukrācārya and other great saints, Lord Brahmā, whose seat is on the lotus flower, made Prahlāda the king of all the demons and giants in the universe.
By the grace of Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva, Prahlāda Mahārāja became a greater king than his father, Hiraṇyakaśipu. Prahlāda’s inauguration was performed by Lord Brahmā in the presence of other saintly persons and demigods.
pratinandya tato devāḥ
sva-dhāmāni yayū rājan
pratinandya—congratulating; tataḥ—thereafter; devāḥ—all the demigods; prayujya—having offered; parama-āśiṣaḥ—exalted benedictions; sva-dhāmāni—to their respective abodes; yayuḥ—returned; rājan—O King Yudhiṣṭhira; brahma-ādyāḥ—all the demigods, headed by Lord Brahmā; pratipūjitāḥ—being thoroughly worshiped (by Prahlāda Mahārāja).
O King Yudhiṣṭhira, after all the demigods, headed by Lord Brahmā, were properly worshiped by Prahlāda Mahārāja, they offered Prahlāda their utmost benedictions and then returned to their respective abodes.
evaṁ ca pārṣadau viṣṇoḥ
putratvaṁ prāpitau diteḥ
hṛdi sthitena hariṇā
vaira-bhāvena tau hatau
evam—in this way; ca—also; pārṣadau—the two personal associates; viṣṇoḥ—of Lord Viṣṇu; putratvam—becoming the sons; prāpitau—having gotten; diteḥ—of Diti; hṛdi—within the core of the heart; sthitena—being situated; hariṇā—by the Supreme Lord; vaira-bhāvena—by conceiving as an enemy; tau—both of them; hatau—were killed.
Thus the two associates of Lord Viṣṇu who had become Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu, the sons of Diti, were both killed. By illusion they had thought that the Supreme Lord, who is situated in everyone’s heart, was their enemy.
The discourse concerning Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva and Prahlāda Mahārāja began when Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira asked Nārada how Śiśupāla had merged into the body of Kṛṣṇa. Śiśupāla and Dantavakra were the same Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu. Here Nārada Muni is relating how in three different births the associates of Lord Viṣṇu were killed by Lord Viṣṇu Himself. First they were the demons Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu.
punaś ca vipra-śāpena
rākṣasau tau babhūvatuḥ
hatau tau rāma-vikramaiḥ
punaḥ—again; ca—also; vipra-śāpena—being cursed by the brāhmaṇas; rākṣasau—the two Rākṣasas; tau—both of them; babhūvatuḥ—incarnated as; kumbhakarṇa-daśa-grīvau—known as Kumbhakarṇa and the ten-headed Rāvaṇa (in their next birth); hatau—they also were killed; tau—both of them; rāma-vikramaiḥ—by the extraordinary strength of Lord Rāmacandra.
Being cursed by the brāhmaṇas, the same two associates took birth again as Kumbhakarṇa and the ten-headed Rāvaṇa. These two Rākṣasas were killed by Lord Rāmacandra’s extraordinary power.
śayānau yudhi nirbhinna-
tac-cittau jahatur dehaṁ
śayānau—being laid down; yudhi—on the battlefield; nirbhinna—being pierced; hṛdayau—in the core of the heart; rāma-śāyakaiḥ—by the arrows of Lord Rāmacandra; tat-cittau—thinking or being conscious of Lord Rāmacandra; jahatuḥ—gave up; deham—body; yathā—even as; prāktana-janmani—in their previous births.
Pierced by the arrows of Lord Rāmacandra, both Kumbhakarṇa and Rāvaṇa lay on the ground and left their bodies, fully absorbed in thought of the Lord, just as they had in their previous births as Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu.
tāv ihātha punar jātau
paśyatas te samīyatuḥ
tau—both of them; iha—in this human society; atha—in this way; punaḥ—again; jātau—took their births; śiśupāla—Śiśupāla; karūṣa-jau—Dantavakra; harau—unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead; vaira-anubandhena—by the bondage of considering the Lord an enemy; paśyataḥ—were looking on; te—while you; samīyatuḥ—merged or went into the lotus feet of the Lord.
They both took birth again in human society as Śiśupāla and Dantavakra and continued in the same enmity toward the Lord. It is they who merged into the body of the Lord in your presence.
Vairānubandhena. Acting like the Lord’s enemy is also beneficial for the living entity. Kāmād dveṣād bhayāt snehād. Whether in lusty desire, anger, fear or envy of the Lord, somehow or other, as recommended by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī (tasmāt kenāpy upāyena), one should become attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and ultimately achieve the goal of returning home, back to Godhead. What, then, is to be said of one who is related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead as a servant, friend, father, mother or conjugal lover?
enaḥ pūrva-kṛtaṁ yat tad
jahus te ’nte tad-ātmānaḥ
kīṭaḥ peśaskṛto yathā
enaḥ—this sinful activity (of blaspheming the Supreme Lord); pūrva-kṛtam—executed in previous births; yat—which; tat—that; rājānaḥ—kings; kṛṣṇa-vairiṇaḥ—always acting as enemies of Kṛṣṇa; jahuḥ—gave up; te—all of them; ante—at the time of death; tat-ātmānaḥ—attaining the same spiritual body and form; kīṭaḥ—a worm; peśaskṛtaḥ—(captured by) a black drone; yathā—just like.
Not only Śiśupāla and Dantavakra but also many, many other kings who acted as enemies of Kṛṣṇa attained salvation at the time of death. Because they thought of the Lord, they received spiritual bodies and forms the same as His, just as worms captured by a black drone obtain the same type of body as the drone.
The mystery of yogic meditation is explained here. Real yogīs always meditate on the form of Viṣṇu within their hearts. Consequently, at the time of death they give up their bodies while thinking of the form of Viṣṇu and thus attain Viṣṇuloka, Vaikuṇṭhaloka, where they receive bodily features the same as those of the Lord. From the Sixth Canto we have already learned that when the Viṣṇudūtas came from Vaikuṇṭha to deliver Ajāmila, they looked exactly like Viṣṇu, with four hands and the same features as Viṣṇu. Therefore, we may conclude that if one practices thinking of Viṣṇu and is fully absorbed in thinking of Him at the time of death, one returns home, back to Godhead. Even enemies of Kṛṣṇa who thought of Kṛṣṇa in fear (bhaya), such as King Kaṁsa, received bodies in a spiritual identity similar to that of the Lord.
yathā yathā bhagavato
nṛpāś caidyādayaḥ sātmyaṁ
hares tac-cintayā yayuḥ
yathā yathā—just as; bhagavataḥ—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; bhaktyā—by devotional service; paramayā—supreme; abhidā—incessantly thinking of such activities; nṛpāḥ—kings; caidya-ādayaḥ—Śiśupāla, Dantavakra and others; sātmyam—the same form; hareḥ—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; tat-cintayā—by constantly thinking of Him; yayuḥ—returned home, back to Godhead.
By devotional service, pure devotees who incessantly think of the Supreme Personality of Godhead receive bodies similar to His. This is known as sārūpya-mukti. Although Śiśupāla, Dantavakra and other kings thought of Kṛṣṇa as an enemy, they also achieved the same result.
In Caitanya-caritāmṛta, in connection with Lord Caitanya’s instructions to Sanātana Gosvāmī, it is explained that a devotee should externally execute his routine devotional service in a regular way but should always inwardly think of the particular mellow in which he is attracted to the service of the Lord. This constant thought of the Lord makes the devotee eligible to return home, back to Godhead. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (4.9), tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti: after giving up his body, a devotee does not again receive a material body, but goes back to Godhead and receives a spiritual body resembling those of the Lord’s eternal associates whose activities he followed. However the devotee likes to serve the Lord, he may constantly think of the Lord’s associates—the cowherd boys, the gopīs, the Lord’s father and mother, His servants and the trees, land, animals, plants and water in the Lord’s abode. Because of constantly thinking of these features, one acquires a transcendental position. Kings like Śiśupāla, Dantavakra, Kaṁsa, Pauṇḍraka, Narakāsura and Sālva were all similarly delivered. This is confirmed by Madhvācārya:
Pauṇḍraka, Narakāsura, Sālva and Kaṁsa were all inimical toward the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but because all these kings constantly thought of Him, they achieved the same liberation—sārūpya-mukti. The jñāna-bhakta, the devotee who follows the path of jñāna, also attains the same destination. If even the enemies of the Lord achieve salvation by constantly thinking about the Lord, what is to be said of pure devotees who always engage in the Lord’s service and who think of nothing but the Lord in every activity?
ākhyātaṁ sarvam etat te
yan māṁ tvaṁ paripṛṣṭavān
hareḥ sātmyam api dviṣām
ākhyātam—described; sarvam—everything; etat—this; te—unto you; yat—whatever; mām—unto me; tvam—you; paripṛṣṭavān—inquired; damaghoṣa-suta-ādīnām—of the son of Damaghoṣa (Śiśupāla) and others; hareḥ—of the Lord; sātmyam—equal bodily features; api—even; dviṣām—although they were inimical.
Everything you asked me about how Śiśupāla and others attained salvation although they were inimical has now been explained to you by me.
kṛṣṇasya ca mahātmanaḥ
eṣā—all this; brahmaṇya-devasya—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is worshiped by all brāhmaṇas; kṛṣṇasya—of Kṛṣṇa, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead; ca—also; mahā-ātmanaḥ—the Supersoul; avatāra-kathā—narrations about His incarnations; puṇyā—pious, purifying; vadhaḥ—killing; yatra—wherein; ādi—in the beginning of the millennium; daityayoḥ—of the demons (Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu).
In this narration about Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, various expansions or incarnations of the Lord have been described, and the killing of the two demons Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu has also been described.
“I worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda, who is the original person—nondual, infallible, and without beginning. Although He expands into unlimited forms, He is still the original, and although He is the oldest person, He always appears as a fresh youth. Such eternal, blissful and all-knowing forms of the Lord cannot be understood by the academic wisdom of the Vedas, but they are always manifest to pure, unalloyed devotees.” (Brahma-saṁhitā 5.33) The Brahma-saṁhitā describes the avatāras. Indeed, all the avatāras are described in the authentic scriptures. No one can become an avatāra, or incarnation, although this has become fashionable in the age of Kali. The avatāras are described in the authentic scriptures (śāstras), and therefore before one risks accepting a pretender as an avatāra, one should refer to the śāstras. The śāstras say everywhere that Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead and that He has innumerable avatāras, or incarnations. Elsewhere in the Brahma-saṁhitā it is said, rāmādi-mūrtiṣu kalā-niyamena tiṣṭhan: [Bs. 5.39] Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Varāha and many others are consecutive expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. After Kṛṣṇa comes Balarāma, after Balarāma is Saṅkarṣaṇa, then Aniruddha, Pradyumna, Nārāyaṇa and then the puruṣa-avatāras—Mahā-Viṣṇu, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. All of them are avatāras.
One must hear about the avatāras. Narrations about such avatāras are called avatāra-kathā, the narrations of Kṛṣṇa’s expansions. Hearing and chanting these narrations is completely pious. Sṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ [SB 1.2.17]. One who hears and chants can become puṇya, purified of material contamination.
Whenever there are references to the avatāras, religious principles are established, and demons who are against Kṛṣṇa are killed. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is spreading all over the world with two aims—to establish Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and to kill all the pretenders who falsely present themselves as avatāras. The preachers of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement must carry this conviction very carefully within their hearts and kill the demons who in many tactful ways vilify the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa. If we take shelter of Nṛsiṁhadeva and Prahlāda Mahārāja, it will be easier to kill the demons who are against Kṛṣṇa and to thus reestablish Kṛṣṇa’s supremacy. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam: Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Lord, the original Lord. Prahlāda Mahārāja is our guru, and Kṛṣṇa is our worshipable God. As advised by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja. If we can be successful in getting the mercy of Prahlāda Mahārāja and also that of Nṛsiṁhadeva, then our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement will be extremely successful.
The demon Hiraṇyakaśipu had so many ways to try to become God himself, but although Prahlāda Mahārāja was chastised and threatened in many ways, he rigidly refused to accept his powerful demoniac father as God. Following in the footsteps of Prahlāda Mahārāja, we should reject all the rascals who pretend to be God. We must accept Kṛṣṇa and His incarnations, and no one else.
bhaktir jñānaṁ viraktiś ca
yāthārthyaṁ cāsya vai hareḥ
kālena vyatyayo mahān
prahrādasya—of Prahlāda Mahārāja; anucaritam—characteristics (understood by reading or describing his activities); mahā-bhāgavatasya—of the great and exalted devotee; ca—also; bhaktiḥ—devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead; jñānam—complete knowledge of the Transcendence (Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān); viraktiḥ—renunciation of material existence; ca—also; yāthārthyam—just to understand each of them perfectly; ca—and; asya—of this; vai—indeed; hareḥ—always in reference to the Supreme Personality of Godhead; sarga—of creation; sthiti—maintenance; apyaya—and annihilation; īśasya—of the master (the Supreme Personality of Godhead); guṇa—of the transcendental qualities and opulences; karma—and activities; anuvarṇanam—description within the disciplic succession; para-avareṣām—of different types of living entities known as demigods and demons; sthānānām—of the various planets or places to live; kālena—in due course of time; vyatyayaḥ—the annihilation of everything; mahān—although very great.
This narration describes the characteristics of the great and exalted devotee Prahlāda Mahārāja, his staunch devotional service, his perfect knowledge, and his perfect detachment from material contamination. It also describes the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the cause of creation, maintenance and annihilation. Prahlāda Mahārāja, in his prayers, has described the transcendental qualities of the Lord and has also described how the various abodes of the demigods and demons, regardless of how materially opulent, are destroyed by the mere direction of the Lord.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is filled with descriptions of the characteristics of various devotees, with reference to the service of the Lord. This Vedic literature is called Bhāgavatam because it deals with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His devotee. By studying Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam under the direction of the bona fide spiritual master, one can perfectly understand the science of Kṛṣṇa, the nature of the material and spiritual worlds, and the aim of life. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam amalaṁ purāṇam. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the spotless Vedic literature, as we have discussed in the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Therefore, simply by understanding Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, one can understand the science of the activities of the devotees, the activities of the demons, the permanent abode and the temporary abode. Through Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, everything is perfectly known.
dharmo bhāgavatānāṁ ca
bhagavān yena gamyate
ākhyāne ’smin samāmnātam
dharmaḥ—religious principles; bhāgavatānām—of the devotees; ca—and; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; yena—by which; gamyate—one can understand; ākhyāne—in the narration; asmin—this; samāmnātam—is perfectly described; ādhyātmikam—transcendence; aśeṣataḥ—without reservations.
The principles of religion by which one can actually understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead are called bhāgavata-dharma. In this narration, therefore, which deals with these principles, actual transcendence is properly described.
Through the principles of religion, one can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Brahman (the impersonal feature of the Supreme Lord) and Paramātmā (the localized aspect of the Lord). When one is well conversant with all these principles, he becomes a devotee and performs bhāgavata-dharma. Prahlāda Mahārāja, the spiritual master in the line of disciplic succession, advised that this bhāgavata-dharma be instructed to students from the very beginning of their education (kaumāra ācaret prājño dharmān bhāgavatān iha [SB 7.6.1]). To understand the science of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the real purpose of education. Śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ [SB 7.5.23]. One must simply hear about and describe Lord Viṣṇu and His various incarnations. This narration concerning Prahlāda Mahārāja and Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva, therefore, has properly described spiritual, transcendental subjects.
ya etat puṇyam ākhyānaṁ
kīrtayec chraddhayā śrutvā
yaḥ—anyone who; etat—this; puṇyam—pious; ākhyānam—narration; viṣṇoḥ—of Lord Viṣṇu; vīrya—the supreme power; upabṛṁhitam—in which is described; kīrtayet—chants or repeats; śraddhayā—with great faith; śrutvā—after properly hearing (from the right source); karma-pāśaiḥ—from the bondage of fruitive activities; vimucyate—becomes liberated.
One who hears and chants this narration about the omnipotence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu, is certainly liberated from material bondage without fail.
etad ya ādi-puruṣasya mṛgendra-līlāṁ
daityendra-yūtha-pa-vadhaṁ prayataḥ paṭheta
daityātmajasya ca satāṁ pravarasya puṇyaṁ
śrutvānubhāvam akuto-bhayam eti lokam
etat—this narration; yaḥ—anyone who; ādi-puruṣasya—of the original Personality of Godhead; mṛga-indra-līlām—pastimes as a lion and human being combined; daitya-indra—of the King of the demons; yūtha-pa—as strong as an elephant; vadham—the killing; prayataḥ—with great attention; paṭheta—reads; daitya-ātma-jasya—of Prahlāda Mahārāja, the son of the demon; ca—also; satām—among elevated devotees; pravarasya—the best; puṇyam—pious; śrutvā—hearing; anubhāvam—the activities; akutaḥ-bhayam—where there is no fear anywhere or at any time; eti—reaches; lokam—the spiritual world.
Prahlāda Mahārāja was the best among exalted devotees. Anyone who with great attention hears this narration concerning the activities of Prahlāda Mahārāja, the killing of Hiraṇyakaśipu, and the activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nṛsiṁhadeva, surely reaches the spiritual world, where there is no anxiety.
yūyaṁ nṛ-loke bata bhūri-bhāgā
lokaṁ punānā munayo ’bhiyanti
yeṣāṁ gṛhān āvasatīti sākṣād
gūḍhaṁ paraṁ brahma manuṣya-liṅgam
yūyam—all of you (the Pāṇḍavas); nṛ-loke—within this material world; bata—however; bhūri-bhāgāḥ—extremely fortunate; lokam—all the planets; punānāḥ—who can purify; munayaḥ—great saintly persons; abhiyanti—almost always come to visit; yeṣām—of whom; gṛhān—the house; āvasati—resides in; iti—thus; sākṣāt—directly; gūḍham—very confidential; param brahma—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; manuṣya-liṅgam—appearing just like a human being.
Nārada Muni continued: My dear Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, all of you [the Pāṇḍavas] are extremely fortunate, for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, lives in your palace just like a human being. Great saintly persons know this very well, and therefore they constantly visit this house.
After hearing about the activities of Prahlāda Mahārāja, a pure devotee should be very anxious to follow in his footsteps, but such a devotee might be disappointed, thinking that not every devotee can come to the standard of Prahlāda Mahārāja. This is the nature of a pure devotee; he always thinks himself to be the lowest, to be incompetent and unqualified. Thus after hearing the narration of Prahlāda Mahārāja’s activities, Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, who was on the same standard of devotional service as Prahlāda, might have been thinking of his own humble position. Nārada Muni, however, could understand Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira’s mind, and therefore he immediately encouraged him by saying that the Pāṇḍavas were not less fortunate; they were as good as Prahlāda Mahārāja because although Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva appeared for Prahlāda, the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His original form as Kṛṣṇa was always living with the Pāṇḍavas. Although the Pāṇḍavas, because of the influence of Kṛṣṇa’s yogamāyā, could not think of their fortunate position, every saintly person, including the great sage Nārada, could understand it, and therefore they constantly visited Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira.
Any pure devotee who is constantly conscious of Kṛṣṇa is naturally very fortunate. The word nṛ-loke, meaning “within the material world,” indicates that before the Pāṇḍavas there had been many, many devotees, such as the descendants of the Yadu dynasty and Vasiṣṭha, Marīci, Kaśyapa, Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, who were all extremely fortunate. The Pāṇḍavas, however, were better than all of them because Kṛṣṇa Himself lived with them constantly. Nārada Muni therefore specifically mentioned that within this material world (nṛ-loke) the Pāṇḍavas were the most fortunate.
sa vā ayaṁ brahma mahad-vimṛgya-
priyaḥ suhṛd vaḥ khalu mātuleya
ātmārhaṇīyo vidhi-kṛd guruś ca
saḥ—that (Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa); vā—also; ayam—this; brahma—the impersonal Brahman (which is an emanation from Kṛṣṇa); mahat—by great personalities; vimṛgya—searched for; kaivalya—oneness; nirvāṇa-sukha—of transcendental happiness; anubhūtiḥ—the source of practical experience; priyaḥ—very, very dear; suhṛt—well-wisher; vaḥ—of you; khalu—indeed; mātuleyaḥ—the son of a maternal uncle; ātmā—exactly like body and soul together; arhaṇīyaḥ—worshipable (because He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead); vidhi-kṛt—(yet He serves you as) an order carrier; guruḥ—your supreme advisor; ca—as well.
The impersonal Brahman is Kṛṣṇa Himself because Kṛṣṇa is the source of the impersonal Brahman. He is the origin of the transcendental bliss sought by great saintly persons, yet He, the Supreme Person, is your most dear friend and constant well-wisher and is intimately related to you as the son of your maternal uncle. Indeed, He is always like your body and soul. He is worshipable, yet He acts as your servant and sometimes as your spiritual master.
There is always a difference of opinion about the Absolute Truth. One class of transcendentalists concludes that the Absolute Truth is impersonal, and another class concludes that the Absolute Truth is a person. In Bhagavad-gītā, the Absolute Truth is accepted as the Supreme Person. Indeed, that Supreme Person Himself, Lord Kṛṣṇa, instructs in Bhagavad-gītā, brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāham [Bg. 14.27], mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat [Bg. 7.7]. “The impersonal Brahman is My partial manifestation, and there is no truth superior to Me.” That same Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, acted as the supreme friend and relative of the Pāṇḍavas, and sometimes He even acted as their servant by carrying a letter from the Pāṇḍavas to Dhṛtarāṣṭra and Duryodhana. Because Kṛṣṇa was the well-wisher of the Pāṇḍavas, He also acted as guru by becoming the spiritual master of Arjuna. Arjuna accepted Kṛṣṇa as his spiritual master (śiṣyas te ’haṁ śādhi māṁ tvāṁ prapannam), and Kṛṣṇa sometimes chastised him. For example, the Lord said, aśocyān anvaśocas tvaṁ prajñā-vādāṁś ca bhāṣase: [Bg. 2.11] “while speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief.” The Lord also said, kutas tvā kaśmalam idaṁ viṣame samupasthitam: “My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you?” Such was the intimate relationship between the Pāṇḍavas and Kṛṣṇa. In the same way, a pure devotee of the Lord is always with Kṛṣṇa through thick and thin; his way of life is Kṛṣṇa. This is the statement of the authority Śrī Nārada Muni.
na yasya sākṣād bhava-padmajādibhī
rūpaṁ dhiyā vastutayopavarṇitam
maunena bhaktyopaśamena pūjitaḥ
prasīdatām eṣa sa sātvatāṁ patiḥ
na—not; yasya—of whom; sākṣāt—directly; bhava—Lord Śiva; padma-ja—Lord Brahmā (born from the lotus); ādibhiḥ—by them and others also; rūpam—the form; dhiyā—even by meditation; vastutayā—fundamentally; upavarṇitam—described and perceived; maunena—by samādhi, deep meditation; bhaktyā—by devotional service; upaśamena—by renunciation; pūjitaḥ—worshiped; prasīdatām—may He be pleased; eṣaḥ—this; saḥ—He; sātvatām—of the great devotees; patiḥ—the master.
Exalted persons like Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā could not properly describe the truth of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa. May the Lord, who is always worshiped as the protector of all devotees by great saints who observe vows of silence, meditation, devotional service and renunciation, be pleased with us.
The Absolute Truth is sought by different persons in different ways, yet He remains inconceivable. Nonetheless, devotees like the Pāṇḍavas, the gopīs, the cowherd boys, Mother Yaśodā, Nanda Mahārāja and all the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana do not need to practice conventional processes of meditation to attain the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for He remains with them through thick and thin. Therefore a saint like Nārada, understanding the difference between transcendentalists and pure devotees, always prays that the Lord will be pleased with him.
sa eṣa bhagavān rājan
vyatanod vihataṁ yaśaḥ
purā rudrasya devasya
saḥ eṣaḥ bhagavān—the same Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, who is Parabrahman; rājan—my dear King; vyatanot—expanded; vihatam—lost; yaśaḥ—reputation; purā—formerly in history; rudrasya—of Lord Śiva (the most powerful among the demigods); devasya—the demigod; mayena—by a demon named Maya; ananta—unlimited; māyinā—possessing technical knowledge.
My dear King Yudhiṣṭhira, long, long ago in history, a demon known as Maya Dānava, who was very expert in technical knowledge, reduced the reputation of Lord Śiva. In that situation, Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, saved Lord Śiva.
Lord Śiva is known as Mahādeva, the most exalted demigod. Thus Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura says that although Lord Brahmā did not know the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Śiva could have known them. This historical incident proves that Lord Śiva derives power from Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Parabrahman.
kasmin karmaṇi devasya
mayo ’hañ jagad-īśituḥ
yathā copacitā kīrtiḥ
rājā uvāca—King Yudhiṣṭhira inquired; kasmin—for what reason; karmaṇi—by which activities; devasya—of Lord Mahādeva (Śiva); mayaḥ—the great demon Maya Dānava; ahan—vanquished; jagat-īśituḥ—of Lord Śiva, who controls the power of the material energy and is the husband of Durgādevī; yathā—just as; ca—and; upacitā—again expanded; kīrtiḥ—reputation; kṛṣṇena—by Lord Kṛṣṇa; anena—this; kathyatām—please describe.
Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira said: For what reason did the demon Maya Dānava vanquish Lord Śiva’s reputation? How did Lord Kṛṣṇa save Lord Śiva and expand his reputation again? Kindly describe these incidents.
nirjitā asurā devair
mayaṁ śaraṇam āyayuḥ
śrī-nāradaḥ uvāca—Śrī Nārada Muni said; nirjitāḥ—being defeated; asurāḥ—all the demons; devaiḥ—by the demigods; yudhi—in battle; anena—by Lord Kṛṣṇa; upabṛṁhitaiḥ—increased in power; māyinām—of all the demons; parama-ācāryam—the best and largest; mayam—unto Maya Dānava; śaraṇam—shelter; āyayuḥ—took.
Nārada Muni said: When the demigods, who are always powerful by the mercy of Lord Kṛṣṇa, fought with the asuras, the asuras were defeated, and therefore they took shelter of Maya Dānava, the greatest of the demons.
sa nirmāya puras tisro
tābhis te ’sura-senānyo
lokāṁs trīn seśvarān nṛpa
smaranto nāśayāṁ cakruḥ
saḥ—that (great demon Maya Dānava); nirmāya—constructing; puraḥ—big residences; tisraḥ—three; haimī—made of gold; raupyā—made of silver; āyasīḥ—made of iron; vibhuḥ—very great, powerful; durlakṣya—immeasurable; apāya-saṁyogāḥ—whose movements in coming and going; durvitarkya—uncommon; paricchadāḥ—possessing paraphernalia; tābhiḥ—by all of them (the three residences, which resembled airplanes); te—they; asura-senā-anyaḥ—the commanders of the asuras; lokān trīn—the three worlds; sa-īśvarān—with their chief rulers; nṛpa—my dear King Yudhiṣṭhira; smarantaḥ—remembering; nāśayām cakruḥ—began to annihilate; pūrva—former; vairam—enmity; alakṣitāḥ—unseen by anyone else.
Maya Dānava, the great leader of the demons, prepared three invisible residences and gave them to the demons. These dwellings resembled airplanes made of gold, silver and iron, and they contained uncommon paraphernalia. My dear King Yudhiṣṭhira, because of these three dwellings the commanders of the demons remained invisible to the demigods. Taking advantage of this opportunity, the demons, remembering their former enmity, began to vanquish the three worlds—the upper, middle and lower planetary systems.
tatas te seśvarā lokā
trāhi nas tāvakān deva
tataḥ—thereafter; te—they (the demigods); sa-īśvarāḥ—with their rulers; lokāḥ—the planets; upāsādya—approaching; īśvaram—Lord Śiva; natāḥ—fell down in surrender; trāhi—please save; naḥ—us; tāvakān—near and dear to you and very frightened; deva—O Lord; vinaṣṭān—almost finished; tripura-ālayaiḥ—by the demons dwelling in those three planes.
Thereafter, when the demons had begun to destroy the higher planetary systems, the rulers of those planets went to Lord Śiva, fully surrendered unto him and said: Dear Lord, we demigods living in the three worlds are about to be vanquished. We are your followers. Kindly save us.
mā bhaiṣṭeti surān vibhuḥ
śaraṁ dhanuṣi sandhāya
pureṣv astraṁ vyamuñcata
atha—thereafter; anugṛhya—just to show them favor; bhagavān—the most powerful; mā—do not; bhaiṣṭa—be afraid; iti—thus; surān—unto the demigods; vibhuḥ—Lord Śiva; śaram—arrows; dhanuṣi—on the bow; sandhāya—fixing; pureṣu—at those three residences occupied by the demons; astram—weapons; vyamuñcata—released.
The most powerful and able Lord Śiva reassured them and said, “Do not be afraid.” He then fixed his arrows to his bow and released them toward the three residences occupied by the demons.
tato ’gni-varṇā iṣava
nādṛśyanta puro yataḥ
tataḥ—thereafter; agni-varṇāḥ—as brilliant as fire; iṣavaḥ—arrows; utpetuḥ—released; sūrya-maṇḍalāt—from the sun globe; yathā—just as; mayūkha-sandohāḥ—beams of light; na adṛśyanta—could not be seen; puraḥ—the three residences; yataḥ—because of this (being covered by the arrows of Lord Śiva).
The arrows released by Lord Śiva appeared like fiery beams emanating from the sun globe and covered the three residential airplanes, which could then no longer be seen.
taiḥ spṛṣṭā vyasavaḥ sarve
nipetuḥ sma puraukasaḥ
tān ānīya mahā-yogī
mayaḥ kūpa-rase ’kṣipat
taiḥ—by those (fiery arrows); spṛṣṭāḥ—being attacked or being touched; vyasavaḥ—without life; sarve—all the demons; nipetuḥ—fell down; sma—formerly; pura-okasaḥ—being the inhabitants of the above-mentioned three residential airplanes; tān—all of them; ānīya—bringing; mahā-yogī—the great mystic; mayaḥ—Maya Dānava; kūpa-rase—in the well of nectar (created by the great mystic Maya); akṣipat—put.
Attacked by Lord Śiva’s golden arrows, all the demoniac inhabitants of those three dwellings lost their lives and fell down. Then the great mystic Maya Dānava dropped the demons into a nectarean well that he had created.
The asuras are generally extremely powerful because of their mystic yogic power. However, as Lord Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (6.47):
“Of all yogīs, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.” The actual purpose of mystic yoga is to concentrate one’s attention fully on the Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, and always think of Him (mad-gatenāntarātmanā). To attain such perfection, one must undergo a certain process—haṭha-yoga—and through this yoga system the practitioner achieves some uncommon mystic power. The asuras, however, instead of becoming devotees of Kṛṣṇa, utilize this mystic power for their personal sense gratification. Maya Dānava, for example, is mentioned here as mahā-yogī, a great mystic, but his business was to help the asuras. Nowadays we are actually seeing that there are some yogīs who cater to the senses of materialists, and there are imposters who advertise themselves as God. Maya Dānava was such a person, a god among the demons, and he could perform some wonderful feats, one of which is described here: he made a well filled with nectar and dipped the asuras into that nectarean well. This nectar was known as mṛta-sanjīvayitari, for it could bring a dead body to life. Mṛta-sanjīvayitari is also an Āyur-vedic preparation. It is a kind of liquor that invigorates even a person on the verge of death.
vaidyutā iva vahnayaḥ
siddha-amṛta-rasa-spṛṣṭāḥ—the demons, thus being touched by the powerful mystic nectarean liquid; vajra-sārāḥ—their bodies becoming invincible to thunderbolts; mahā-ojasaḥ—being extremely strong; uttasthuḥ—again got up; megha-dalanāḥ—that which goes through the clouds; vaidyutāḥ—lightning (which penetrates the clouds); iva—like; vahnayaḥ—fiery.
When the dead bodies of the demons came in touch with the nectar, their bodies became invincible to thunderbolts. Endowed with great strength, they got up like lightning penetrating clouds.
tadāyaṁ bhagavān viṣṇus
vilokya—seeing; bhagna-saṅkalpam—disappointed; vimanaskam—extremely unhappy; vṛṣa-dhvajam—Lord Śiva; tadā—at that time; ayam—this; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; viṣṇuḥ—Lord Viṣṇu; tatra—about the well of nectar; upāyam—means (how to stop it); akalpayat—considered.
Seeing Lord Śiva very much aggrieved and disappointed, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu, considered how to stop this nuisance created by Maya Dānava.
vatsaś cāsīt tadā brahmā
svayaṁ viṣṇur ayaṁ hi gauḥ
praviśya tripuraṁ kāle
vatsaḥ—a calf; ca—also; āsīt—became; tadā—at that time; brahmā—Lord Brahmā; svayam—personally; viṣṇuḥ—Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; ayam—this; hi—indeed; gauḥ—a cow; praviśya—entering; tri-puram—the three residences; kāle—at noon; rasa-kūpa-amṛtam—the nectar contained in that well; papau—drank.
Then Lord Brahmā became a calf and Lord Viṣṇu a cow, and at noon they entered the residences and drank all the nectar in the well.
te ’surā hy api paśyanto
na nyaṣedhan vimohitāḥ
tad vijñāya mahā-yogī
rasa-pālān idaṁ jagau
smayan viśokaḥ śokārtān
smaran daiva-gatiṁ ca tām
te—those; asurāḥ—demons; hi—indeed; api—although; paśyantaḥ—seeing (the calf and cow drinking the nectar); na—not; nyaṣedhan—forbade them; vimohitāḥ—being bewildered by illusion; tat vijñāya—knowing this fully; mahā-yogī—the great mystic Maya Dānava; rasa-pālān—unto the demons who guarded the nectar; idam—this; jagau—said; smayan—being bewildered; viśokaḥ—not being very unhappy; śoka-ārtān—greatly lamenting; smaran—remembering; daiva-gatim—spiritual power; ca—also; tām—that.
The demons could see the calf and cow, but because of the illusion created by the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the demons could not forbid them. The great mystic Maya Dānava became aware that the calf and cow were drinking the nectar, and he could understand this to be the unseen power of providence. Thus he spoke to the demons, who were grievously lamenting.
devo ’suro naro ’nyo vā
neśvaro ’stīha kaścana
ātmano ’nyasya vā diṣṭaṁ
devaḥ—the demigods; asuraḥ—the demons; naraḥ—humans; anyaḥ—or anyone else; vā—either; na—not; īśvaraḥ—the supreme controller; asti—is; iha—in this world; kaścana—anyone; ātmanaḥ—one’s own; anyasya—another’s; vā—either; diṣṭam—destiny; daivena—which is given by the Supreme Lord; apohitum—to undo; dvayoḥ—of both of them.
Maya Dānava said: What has been destined by the Supreme Lord for oneself, for others, or for both oneself and others cannot be undone anywhere or by anyone, whether one be a demigod, a demon, a human being or anyone else.
The Supreme Lord is one—Kṛṣṇa, the viṣṇu-tattva. Kṛṣṇa expands Himself into viṣṇu-tattva personal expansions (svāṁśa), who control everything. Maya Dānava said, “However I plan, you plan or both of us plan, the Lord has planned what is to happen. No one’s plan will be successful without His sanction.” We may make our own various plans, but unless they are sanctioned by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu, they will never be successful. Hundreds and millions of plans are made by all kinds of living entities, but without the sanction of the Supreme Lord they are futile.
athāsau śaktibhiḥ svābhiḥ
śambhoḥ prādhānikaṁ vyadhāt
rathaṁ sūtaṁ dhvajaṁ vāhān
dhanur varma-śarādi yat
sannaddho ratham āsthāya
śaraṁ dhanur upādade
atha—thereafter; asau—He (Lord Kṛṣṇa); śaktibhiḥ—by His potencies; svābhiḥ—personal; śambhoḥ—of Lord Śiva; prādhānikam—ingredients; vyadhāt—created; dharma—religion; jñāna—knowledge; virakti—renunciation; ṛddhi—opulence; tapaḥ—austerity; vidyā—education; kriyā—activities; ādibhiḥ—by all these and other transcendental opulences; ratham—chariot; sūtam—charioteer; dhvajam—flag; vāhān—horses and elephants; dhanuḥ—bow; varma—shield; śara-ādi—arrows and so on; yat—everything that was required; sannaddhaḥ—equipped; ratham—on the chariot; āsthāya—seated; śaram—arrow; dhanuḥ—unto the bow; upādade—joined.
Nārada Muni continued: Thereafter, Lord Kṛṣṇa, by His own personal potency, consisting of religion, knowledge, renunciation, opulence, austerity, education and activities, equipped Lord Śiva with all the necessary paraphernalia, such as a chariot, a charioteer, a flag, horses, elephants, a bow, a shield and arrows. When Lord Śiva was fully equipped in this way, he sat down on the chariot with his arrows and bow to fight with the demons.
As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (12.13.16): vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ: Lord Śiva is the best of the Vaiṣṇavas, the devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Indeed, he is one of the mahājanas, the twelve authorities on Vaiṣṇava philosophy (svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ kumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ, etc. [SB 6.3.20]). Lord Kṛṣṇa is always prepared to help all the mahājanas and devotees in every respect (kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati). Although Lord Śiva is very powerful, he lost a battle to the asuras, and therefore he was morose and disappointed. However, because he is one of the chief devotees of the Lord, the Lord personally equipped him with all the paraphernalia for war. The devotee, therefore, must serve the Lord sincerely, and Kṛṣṇa is always in the background to protect him and, if need be, to equip him fully to fight with his enemy. For devotees there is no scarcity of knowledge or material requisites for spreading the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.
śaraṁ dhanuṣi sandhāya
dadāha tena durbhedyā
haro ’tha tripuro nṛpa
śaram—the arrows; dhanuṣi—on the bow; sandhāya—joining together; muhūrte abhijiti—at noon; īśvaraḥ—Lord Śiva; dadāha—set afire; tena—by them (the arrows); durbhedyāḥ—very difficult to pierce; haraḥ—Lord Śiva; atha—in this way; tri-puraḥ—the three residences of the demons; nṛpa—O King Yudhiṣṭhira.
My dear King Yudhiṣṭhira, the most powerful Lord Śiva joined the arrows to his bow, and at noon he set fire to all three residences of the demons and thus destroyed them.
divi dundubhayo nedur
avākirañ jagur hṛṣṭā
divi—in the sky; dundubhayaḥ—kettledrums; neduḥ—vibrated; vimāna—of airplanes; śata—hundreds and thousands; saṅkulāḥ—endowed; deva-ṛṣi—all the demigods and saints; pitṛ—the residents of Pitṛloka; siddha—the residents of Siddhaloka; īśāḥ—all the great personalities; jaya iti—vibrated the chant “let there be victory”; kusuma-utkaraiḥ—various kinds of flowers; avākiran—showered on the head of Lord Śiva; jaguḥ—chanted; hṛṣṭāḥ—in great pleasure; nanṛtuḥ—danced; ca—and; apsaraḥ-gaṇāḥ—the beautiful women of the heavenly planets.
Seated in their airplanes in the sky, the inhabitants of the higher planetary systems beat many kettledrums. The demigods, saints, Pitās, Siddhas and various great personalities showered flowers on the head of Lord Śiva, wishing him all victory, and the Apsarās began to chant and dance with great pleasure.
evaṁ dagdhvā puras tisro
bhagavān pura-hā nṛpa
svaṁ dhāma pratyapadyata
evam—thus; dagdhvā—burning to ashes; puraḥ tisraḥ—the three residences of the demons; bhagavān—the supreme powerful; pura-hā—who annihilated the residences of the asuras; nṛpa—O King Yudhiṣṭhira; brahma-ādibhiḥ—by Lord Brahmā and other demigods; stūyamānaḥ—being worshiped; svam—to his own; dhāma—abode; pratyapadyata—returned.
O King Yudhiṣṭhira, thus Lord Śiva is known as Tripurāri, the annihilator of the three dwellings of the demons, because he burnt these dwellings to ashes. Being worshiped by the demigods, headed by Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva returned to his own abode.
evaṁ vidhāny asya hareḥ sva-māyayā
viḍambamānasya nṛ-lokam ātmanaḥ
vīryāṇi gītāny ṛṣibhir jagad-guror
lokaṁ punānāny aparaṁ vadāmi kim
evam vidhāni—in this way; asya—of Kṛṣṇa; hareḥ—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; sva-māyayā—by His transcendental potencies; viḍambamānasya—acting like an ordinary human being; nṛ-lokam—within human society; ātmanaḥ—of Him; vīryāṇi—transcendental activities; gītāni—narrations; ṛṣibhiḥ—by great saintly persons; jagat-guroḥ—of the supreme master; lokam—all the planetary systems; punānāni—purifying; aparam—what else; vadāmi kim—can I say.
The Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, appeared as a human being, yet He performed many uncommon and wonderful pastimes by His own potency. How can I say more about His activities than what has already been said by great saintly persons? Everyone can be purified by His activities, simply by hearing about them from the right source.
Bhagavad-gītā and all the Vedic literatures fully explain that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, appears in human society as an ordinary human being but acts very uncommonly for the well-being of the entire world. One should not be influenced by the illusory energy and think Lord Kṛṣṇa to be an ordinary human being. Those who really seek the Absolute Truth come to the understanding that Kṛṣṇa is everything (vāsudevaḥ samam iti). Such great souls are very rare. Nonetheless, if one studies the entire Bhagavad-gītā as it is, Kṛṣṇa is very easy to understand. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is just trying to make Kṛṣṇa known all over the world as the Supreme Personality of Godhead (kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam). If people take this movement seriously, their lives as human beings will be successful.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Seventh Canto, Tenth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “Prahlāda, the Best Among Exalted Devotees.”
Link to this page: https://prabhupadabooks.com/sb/7/10-1
Previous: SB 7.9: Prahlada Pacifies Lord Nrsimhadeva with Prayers Next: SB 7.11: The Perfect Society: Four Social Classes