devarṣa etad icchāmo
vedituṁ tava suvrata
yad ātmajāya śuddhāya
pitādāt sādhave hy agham
śrī-yudhiṣṭhiraḥ uvāca—Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira inquired; deva-ṛṣe—O best saintly person among the demigods; etat—this; icchāmaḥ—we wish; veditum—to know; tava—from you; su-vrata—having the determination for spiritual advancement; yat—because; ātma-jāya—unto his own son; śuddhāya—who was pure and exalted; pitā—the father, Hiraṇyakaśipu; adāt—gave; sādhave—a great saint; hi—indeed; agham—trouble.
Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira said: O best of the saints among the demigods, O best of spiritual leaders, how did Hiraṇyakaśipu give so much trouble to Prahlāda Mahārāja, the pure and exalted saint, although Prahlāda was his own son? I wish to know about this subject from you.
To know about the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the characteristics of His pure devotee, one must inquire from authorities like Devarṣi Nārada. One cannot inquire about transcendental subject matters from a layman. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.25.25), satāṁ prasaṅgān mama vīrya-saṁvido bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ: only by association with devotees can one authoritatively understand the position of the Lord and His devotees. A devotee like Nārada Muni is addressed as suvrata. Su means “good,” and vrata means “vow.” Thus the word suvrata refers to a person who has nothing to do with the material world, which is always bad. One cannot understand anything spiritual from a materialistic scholar puffed up with academic knowledge. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (18.55), bhaktyā mām abhijānāti: one must try to understand Kṛṣṇa by devotional service and from a devotee. Therefore Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja was quite right in wanting to learn further about Prahlāda Mahārāja from Śrī Nārada Muni.
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