Hiraṇyakaśipu Terrorizes the Universe
This chapter fully describes how Hiraṇyakaśipu obtained power from Lord Brahmā and misused it by harassing all the living entities within this universe.
By severe austerities, Hiraṇyakaśipu satisfied Lord Brahmā and obtained the benedictions he desired. After he received these benedictions, his body, which had been almost entirely consumed, was revived with full beauty and a luster like gold. Nonetheless, he continued to be envious of Lord Viṣṇu, unable to forget Lord Viṣṇu’s having killed his brother. Hiraṇyakaśipu conquered everyone in the ten directions and the three worlds and brought all living entities, both demigods and asuras, under his control. Becoming the master of all places, including the residence of Indra, whom he had driven out, he began enjoying life in great luxury and thus became mad. All the demigods but Lord Viṣṇu, Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva came under his control and began serving him, but despite all his material power he was dissatisfied because he was always puffed up, proud of transgressing the Vedic regulations. All the brāhmaṇas were dissatisfied with him, and they cursed him with determination. Eventually, all the living entities within the universe, represented by the demigods and sages, prayed to the Supreme Lord for relief from Hiraṇyakaśipu’s rule.
Lord Viṣṇu informed the demigods that they and the other living entities would be saved from the fearful conditions created by Hiraṇyakaśipu. Since Hiraṇyakaśipu was the oppressor of all the demigods, the followers of the Vedas, the cows, the brāhmaṇas and the religious, saintly persons, and since he was envious of the Supreme Lord, he would naturally be killed very soon. Hiraṇyakaśipu’s last exploit would be to torment his own son Prahlāda, who was a mahā-bhāgavata, an exalted Vaiṣṇava. Then his life would end. When the demigods were thus reassured by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, everyone was satisfied, knowing that the miseries inflicted upon them by Hiraṇyakaśipu would come to an end.
evaṁ vṛtaḥ śata-dhṛtir
prādāt tat-tapasā prīto
varāṁs tasya sudurlabhān
śrī-nāradaḥ uvāca—Śrī Nārada Muni said; evam—thus; vṛtaḥ—solicited; śata-dhṛtiḥ—Lord Brahmā; hiraṇyakaśipoḥ—of Hiraṇyakaśipu; atha—then; prādāt—delivered; tat—his; tapasā—by the difficult austerities; prītaḥ—being pleased; varān—benedictions; tasya—unto Hiraṇyakaśipu; su-durlabhān—very rarely obtained.
Nārada Muni continued: Lord Brahmā was very much satisfied by Hiraṇyakaśipu’s austerities, which were difficult to perform. Therefore, when solicited for benedictions, he indeed granted them, although they were rarely to be achieved.
tāteme durlabhāḥ puṁsāṁ
yān vṛṇīṣe varān mama
tathāpi vitarāmy aṅga
varān yadyapi durlabhān
śrī-brahmā uvāca—Lord Brahmā said; tāta—O dear son; ime—all these; durlabhāḥ—very rarely obtained; puṁsām—by men; yān—those which; vṛṇīṣe—you ask; varān—benedictions; mama—from me; tathāpi—still; vitarāmi—I shall deliver; aṅga—O Hiraṇyakaśipu; varān—the benedictions; yadyapi—although; durlabhān—not generally available.
Lord Brahmā said: O Hiraṇyakaśipu, these benedictions for which you have asked are difficult to obtain for most men. Nonetheless, O my son, I shall grant you them although they are generally not available.
Material benedictions are not always exactly worthy of being called benedictions. If one possesses more and more, a benediction itself may become a curse, for just as achieving material opulence in this material world requires great strength and endeavor, maintaining it also requires great endeavor. Lord Brahmā informed Hiraṇyakaśipu that although he was ready to offer him whatever he had asked, the result of the benedictions would be very difficult for Hiraṇyakaśipu to maintain. Nonetheless, since Brahmā had promised, he wanted to grant all the benedictions asked. The word durlabhān indicates that one should not take benedictions one cannot enjoy peacefully.
tato jagāma bhagavān
tataḥ—thereafter; jagāma—departed; bhagavān—the most powerful, Lord Brahmā; amogha—without failure; anugrahaḥ—whose benediction; vibhuḥ—the Supreme within this universe; pūjitaḥ—being worshiped; asura-varyeṇa—by the most exalted demon (Hiraṇyakaśipu); stūyamānaḥ—being praised; prajā-īśvaraiḥ—by many demigods, the masters of different regions.
Then Lord Brahmā, who awards infallible benedictions, departed, being worshiped by the best of the demons, Hiraṇyakaśipu, and being praised by great sages and saintly persons.
evaṁ labdha-varo daityo
bibhrad dhemamayaṁ vapuḥ
bhagavaty akarod dveṣaṁ
bhrātur vadham anusmaran
evam—thus; labdha-varaḥ—having obtained his desired boon; daityaḥ—Hiraṇyakaśipu; bibhrat—acquiring; hema-mayam—possessing the luster of gold; vapuḥ—a body; bhagavati—unto Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; akarot—maintained; dveṣam—envy; bhrātuḥ vadham—the killing of his brother; anusmaran—always thinking of.
The demon Hiraṇyakaśipu, having thus been blessed by Lord Brahmā and having acquired a lustrous golden body, continued to remember the death of his brother and therefore be envious of Lord Viṣṇu.
A demoniac person, in spite of acquiring all the opulences possible to obtain in this universe, continues to be envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
sa vijitya diśaḥ sarvā
lokāṁś ca trīn mahāsuraḥ
ṛṣīn pitṛ-patīn manūn
vaśam ānīya viśva-jit
sthānāni saha tejasā
saḥ—he (Hiraṇyakaśipu); vijitya—conquering; diśaḥ—the directions; sarvāḥ—all; lokān—planetary systems; ca—and; trīn—three (upper, lower and middle); mahā-asuraḥ—the great demon; deva—the demigods; asura—the demons; manuṣya—of the human beings; indra—the kings; gandharva—the Gandharvas; garuḍa—the Garuḍas; uragān—the great serpents; siddha—the Siddhas; cāraṇa—the Cāraṇas; vidyādhrān—the Vidyādharas; ṛṣīn—the great sages and saintly persons; pitṛ-patīn—Yamarāja and the other leaders of the Pitās; manūn—all the different Manus; yakṣa—the Yakṣas; rakṣaḥ—the Rākṣasas; piśāca-īśān—the leaders of Piśācaloka; preta—of the Pretas; bhūta—and of the Bhūtas; patīn—the masters; api—also; sarva-sattva-patīn—the masters of all the different planets; jitvā—conquering; vaśam ānīya—bringing under control; viśva-jit—the conqueror of the whole universe; jahāra—usurped; loka-pālānām—of the demigods who manage the universal affairs; sthānāni—the places; saha—with; tejasā—all their power.
Hiraṇyakaśipu became the conqueror of the entire universe. Indeed, that great demon conquered all the planets in the three worlds—upper, middle and lower—including the planets of the human beings, the Gandharvas, the Garuḍas, the great serpents, the Siddhas, Cāraṇas and Vidyādharas, the great saints, Yamarāja, the Manus, the Yakṣas, the Rākṣasas, the Piśācas and their masters, and the masters of the ghosts and Bhūtas. He defeated the rulers of all the other planets where there are living entities and brought them under his control. Conquering the abodes of all, he seized their power and influence.
The word garuḍa in this verse indicates that there are planets of great birds like Garuḍa. Similarly, the word uraga indicates that there are planets of enormous serpents. Such a description of the various planets of the universe may challenge modern scientists who think that all planets but this earth are vacant. These scientists claim to have launched excursions to the moon, where they have found no living entities but only big craters full of dust and stone, although in fact the moon is so brilliant that it acts like the sun in illuminating the entire universe. Of course, it is not possible to convince modern scientists of the Vedic information about the universe. Nonetheless, we are not very much impressed by the words of scientists who say that all other planets are vacant and that only the earth is full of living entities.
adhyāste sma tri-piṣṭapam
deva-udyāna—of the famous garden of the demigods; śriyā—by the opulences; juṣṭam—enriched; adhyāste sma—remained in; tri-piṣṭapam—the higher planetary system, where various demigods live; mahendra-bhavanam—the palace of Indra, the King of heaven; sākṣāt—directly; nirmitam—constructed; viśvakarmaṇā—by the famous architect of the demigods, Viśvakarmā; trailokya—of all the three worlds; lakṣmī-āyatanam—the residence of the goddess of fortune; adhyuvāsa—lived in; akhila-ṛddhi-mat—possessing the opulence of the entire universe.
Hiraṇyakaśipu, who possessed all opulence, began residing in heaven, with its famous Nandana garden, which is enjoyed by the demigods. In fact, he resided in the most opulent palace of Indra, the King of heaven. The palace had been directly constructed by the demigod architect Viśvakarmā and was as beautifully made as if the goddess of fortune of the entire universe resided there.
From this description it appears that all the heavenly planets of the upper planetary system are thousands upon thousands of times more opulent than the lower planetary system in which we live. Viśvakarmā, the famous heavenly architect, is known as the constructor of many wonderful buildings in the upper planets, where there are not only beautiful buildings, but also many opulent gardens and parks, which are described as nandana-devodyāna, gardens quite fit to be enjoyed by the demigods. This description of the upper planetary system and its opulences is to be understood from authoritative scriptures like the Vedic literatures. Telescopes and the other imperfect instruments of scientists are inadequate for evaluating the upper planetary system. Although such instruments are needed because the vision of the so-called scientists is imperfect, the instruments themselves are also imperfect. Therefore the upper planets cannot be appraised by imperfect men using imperfect man-made instruments. Direct information received from the Vedic literature, however, is perfect, We therefore cannot accept the statement that there are no opulent residences on planets other than this earth.
kūjadbhir nūpurair devyaḥ
śabda-yantya itas tataḥ
sudatīḥ sundaraṁ mukham
tasmin mahendra-bhavane mahā-balo
mahā-manā nirjita-loka eka-rāṭ
reme ’bhivandyāṅghri-yugaḥ surādibhiḥ
yatra—where (the residential quarters of King Indra); vidruma-sopānāḥ—steps made of coral; mahā-mārakatāḥ—emerald; bhuvaḥ—floors; yatra—where; sphāṭika—crystal; kuḍyāni—walls; vaidūrya—of vaidūrya stone; stambha—of pillars; paṅktayaḥ—lines; yatra—where; citra—wonderful; vitānāni—canopies; padmarāga—bedecked with rubies; āsanāni—seats; ca—also; payaḥ—of milk; phena—the foam; nibhāḥ—just like; śayyāḥ—beds; muktādāma—of pearls; paricchadāḥ—having borders; kūjadbhiḥ—jingling; nūpuraiḥ—with ankle bells; devyaḥ—celestial ladies; śabda-yantyaḥ—making sweet vibrations; itaḥ tataḥ—here and there; ratna-sthalīṣu—in places bedecked with jewels and gems; paśyanti—see; su-datīḥ—having nice teeth; sundaram—very beautiful; mukham—faces; tasmin—in that; mahendra-bhavane—the residential quarters of the heavenly King; mahā-balaḥ—the most powerful; mahā-manāḥ—highly thoughtful; nirjita-lokaḥ—having everyone under his control; eka-rāṭ—the powerful dictator; reme—enjoyed; abhivandya—worshiped; aṅghri-yugaḥ—whose two feet; sura-ādibhiḥ—by the demigods; pratāpitaiḥ—being disturbed; ūrjita—more than expected; caṇḍa—severe; śāsanaḥ—whose ruling.
The steps of King Indra’s residence were made of coral, the floor was bedecked with invaluable emeralds, the walls were of crystal, and the columns of vaidūrya stone. The wonderful canopies were beautifully decorated, the seats were bedecked with rubies, and the silk bedding, as white as foam, was decorated with pearls. The ladies of the palace, who were blessed with beautiful teeth and the most wonderfully beautiful faces, walked here and there in the palace, their ankle bells tinkling melodiously, and saw their own beautiful reflections in the gems. The demigods, however, being very much oppressed, had to bow down and offer obeisances at the feet of Hiraṇyakaśipu, who chastised the demigods very severely and for no reason. Thus Hiraṇyakaśipu lived in the palace and severely ruled everyone.
Hiraṇyakaśipu was so powerful in the heavenly planets that all the demigods except Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and Lord Viṣṇu were forced to engage in his service. Indeed, they were afraid of being severely punished if they disobeyed him. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī has compared Hiraṇyakaśipu to Mahārāja Vena, who was also atheistic and scornful of the ritualistic ceremonies mentioned in the Vedas. Yet Mahārāja Vena was afraid of some of the great sages such as Bhṛgu, whereas Hiraṇyakaśipu ruled in such a way that everyone feared him but Lord Viṣṇu, Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva. Hiraṇyakaśipu was so alert against being burnt to ashes by the anger of great sages like Bhṛgu that by dint of austerity he surpassed their power and placed even them under his subordination. It appears that even in the higher planetary systems, to which people are promoted by pious activities, disturbances are created by asuras like Hiraṇyakaśipu. No one in the three worlds can live in peace and prosperity without disturbance.
tam aṅga mattaṁ madhunoru-gandhinā
tribhis tapo-yoga-balaujasāṁ padam
tam—him (Hiraṇyakaśipu); aṅga—O dear King; mattam—intoxicated; madhunā—by wine; uru-gandhinā—strong-smelling; vivṛtta—rolling; tāmra-akṣam—having eyes like copper; aśeṣa-dhiṣṇya-pāḥ—the principal men of all the planets; upāsata—worshiped; upāyana—full with paraphernalia; pāṇibhiḥ—by their own hands; vinā—without; tribhiḥ—the three principal deities (Lord Viṣṇu, Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva); tapaḥ—of austerity; yoga—mystic power; bala—bodily strength; ojasām—and power of the senses; padam—the abode.
O my dear King, Hiraṇyakaśipu was always drunk on strong-smelling wines and liquors, and therefore his coppery eyes were always rolling. Nonetheless, because he had powerfully executed great austerities in mystic yoga, although he was abominable, all but the three principal demigods—Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and Lord Viṣṇu—personally worshiped him to please him by bringing him various presentations with their own hands.
In the Skanda Purāṇa there is this description: upāyanaṁ daduḥ sarve vinā devān hiraṇyakaḥ. Hiraṇyakaśipu was so powerful that everyone but the three principal demigods—namely Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and Lord Viṣṇu—engaged in his service. Madhvācārya says, ādityā vasavo rudrās tri-vidhā hi surā yataḥ. There are three kinds of demigods—the Ādityas, the Vasus and the Rudras—beneath whom are the other demigods, like the Maruts and Sādhyas (marutaś caiva viśve ca sādhyāś caiva ca tad-gatāḥ). Therefore all the demigods are called tri-piṣṭapa, and the same word tri applies to Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and Lord Viṣṇu.
jagur mahendrāsanam ojasā sthitaṁ
viśvāvasus tumburur asmad-ādayaḥ
gandharva-siddhā ṛṣayo ’stuvan muhur
vidyādharāś cāpsarasaś ca pāṇḍava
jaguḥ—sung of the glories; mahendra-āsanam—the throne of King Indra; ojasā—by personal power; sthitam—situated on; viśvāvasuḥ—the chief singer of the Gandharvas; tumburuḥ—another Gandharva singer; asmat-ādayaḥ—including ourselves (Nārada and others also glorified Hiraṇyakaśipu); gandharva—the inhabitants of Gandharva-loka; siddhāḥ—the inhabitants of Siddhaloka; ṛṣayaḥ—the great sages and saintly persons; astuvan—offered prayers; muhuḥ—again and again; vidyādharāḥ—the inhabitants of Vidyādhara-loka; ca—and; apsarasaḥ—the inhabitants of Apsaroloka; ca—and; pāṇḍava—O descendant of Pāṇḍu.
O Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, descendant of Pāṇḍu, by dint of his personal power, Hiraṇyakaśipu, being situated on the throne of King Indra, controlled the inhabitants of all the other planets. The two Gandharvas Viśvāvasu and Tumburu, I myself and the Vidyādharas, Apsarās and sages all offered prayers to him again and again just to glorify him.
The asuras sometimes become so powerful that they can engage even Nārada Muni and similar devotees in their service. This does not mean that Nārada was subordinate to Hiraṇyakaśipu. Sometimes, however, it so happens in this material world that great personalities, even great devotees, can also be controlled by the asuras.
sa eva varṇāśramibhiḥ
agrahīt svena tejasā
saḥ—he (Hiraṇyakaśipu); eva—indeed; varṇa-āśramibhiḥ—by persons who strictly followed the regulative principles of the four varṇas and four āśramas; kratubhiḥ—by ritualistic ceremonies; bhūri—abundant; dakṣiṇaiḥ—offered with gifts; ijyamānaḥ—being worshiped; haviḥ-bhāgān—the portions of the oblations; agrahīt—usurped; svena—by his own; tejasā—prowess.
Being worshiped by sacrifices offered with great gifts by those who strictly followed the principles of varṇa and āśrama, Hiraṇyakaśipu, instead of offering shares of the oblations to the demigods, accepted them himself.
tathā kāma-dughā gāvo
akṛṣṭa-pacyā—bearing grains without being cultivated or plowed; tasya—of Hiraṇyakaśipu; āsīt—was; sapta-dvīpa-vatī—consisting of seven islands; mahī—the earth; tathā—so much so; kāma-dughāḥ—which can deliver as much milk as one desires; gāvaḥ—cows; nānā—various; āścarya-padam—wonderful things; nabhaḥ—the sky.
As if in fear of Hiraṇyakaśipu, the planet earth, which consists of seven islands, delivered food grains without being plowed. Thus it resembled cows like the surabhi of the spiritual world or the kāma-dughā of heaven. The earth yielded sufficient food grains, the cows supplied abundant milk, and outer space was beautifully decorated with wonderful phenomena.
ratnākarāś ca ratnaughāṁs
tat-patnyaś cohur ūrmibhiḥ
ratnākarāḥ—the seas and oceans; ca—and; ratna-oghān—various kinds of gems and valuable stones; tat-patnyaḥ—the wives of the oceans and seas, namely the rivers; ca—also; ūhuḥ—carried; ūrmibhiḥ—by their waves; kṣāra—the salt ocean; sīdhu—the ocean of wine; ghṛta—the ocean of clarified butter; kṣaudra—the ocean of sugarcane juice; dadhi—the ocean of yogurt; kṣīra—the ocean of milk; amṛta—and the very sweet ocean; udakāḥ—water.
By the flowing of their waves, the various oceans of the universe, along with their tributaries, the rivers, which are compared to their wives, supplied various kinds of gems and jewels for Hiraṇyakaśipu’s use. These oceans were the oceans of salt water, sugarcane juice, wine, clarified butter, milk, yogurt, and sweet water.
The water of the seas and oceans of this planet, of which we have experience, are salty, but other planets within the universe contain oceans of sugarcane juice, liquor, ghee, milk and sweet water. The rivers are figuratively described as wives of the oceans and seas because they glide down to the oceans and seas as tributaries, like the wives attached to their husbands. Modern scientists attempt excursions to other planets, but they have no information of how many different types of oceans and seas there are within the universe. According to their experience, the moon is full of dust, but this does not explain how it gives us soothing rays from a distance of millions of miles. As far as we are concerned, we follow the authority of Vyāsadeva and Śukadeva Gosvāmī, who have described the universal situation according to the Vedic literature. These authorities differ from modern scientists who conclude from their imperfect sensual experience that only this planet is inhabited by living beings whereas the other planets are all vacant or full of dust.
śailā droṇībhir ākrīḍaṁ
sarvartuṣu guṇān drumāḥ
eka eva pṛthag guṇān
śailāḥ—the hills and mountains; droṇībhiḥ—with the valleys between them; ākrīḍam—pleasure grounds for Hiraṇyakaśipu; sarva—all; ṛtuṣu—in the seasons of the year; guṇān—different qualities (fruits and flowers); drumāḥ—the plants and trees; dadhāra—executed; loka-pālānām—of the other demigods in charge of different departments of natural activity; ekaḥ—alone; eva—indeed; pṛthak—different; guṇān—qualities.
The valleys between the mountains became fields of pleasure for Hiraṇyakaśipu, by whose influence all the trees and plants produced fruits and flowers profusely in all seasons. The qualities of pouring water, drying and burning, which are all qualities of the three departmental heads of the universe—namely Indra, Vāyu and Agni—were all directed by Hiraṇyakaśipu alone, without assistance from the demigods.
It is said in the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, tejo-vāri-mṛdāṁ yathā vinimayaḥ: this material world is conducted by fire, water and earth, which combine and take shape. Here it is mentioned that the three modes of nature (pṛthag guṇān) act under the direction of different demigods. For example, King Indra is in charge of pouring water, the demigod Vāyu controls the air and dries up the water, whereas the demigod controlling fire burns everything. Hiraṇyakaśipu, however, by dint of his austere performance of mystic yoga, became so powerful that he alone took charge of everything, without assistance from the demigods.
sa itthaṁ nirjita-kakub
eka-rāḍ viṣayān priyān
saḥ—he (Hiraṇyakaśipu); ittham—thus; nirjita—conquered; kakup—all directions within the universe; eka-rāṭ—the one emperor of the whole universe; viṣayān—material sense objects; priyān—very pleasing; yathā-upajoṣam—as much as possible; bhuñjānaḥ—enjoying; na—did not; atṛpyat—was satisfied; ajita-indriyaḥ—being unable to control the senses.
In spite of achieving the power to control in all directions and in spite of enjoying all types of dear sense gratification as much as possible, Hiraṇyakaśipu was dissatisfied because instead of controlling his senses he remained their servant.
This is an example of asuric life. Atheists can advance materially and create an extremely comfortable situation for the senses, but because they are controlled by the senses, they cannot be satisfied. This is the effect of modern civilization. Materialists are very much advanced in enjoying money and women, yet dissatisfaction prevails within human society because human society cannot be happy and peaceful without Kṛṣṇa consciousness. As far as material sense gratification is concerned, materialists may go on increasing their enjoyment as far as they can imagine, but because people in such a material condition are servants of their senses, they cannot be satisfied. Hiraṇyakaśipu was a vivid example of this dissatisfied state of humanity.
kālo mahān vyatīyāya
evam—thus; aiśvarya-mattasya—of one who was intoxicated by opulences; dṛptasya—greatly proud; ut-śāstra-vartinaḥ—transgressing the regulative principles mentioned in the śāstras; kālaḥ—duration of time; mahān—a great; vyatīyāya—passed; brahma-śāpam—a curse by exalted brāhmaṇas; upeyuṣaḥ—having obtained.
Hiraṇyakaśipu thus passed a long time being very much proud of his opulences and transgressing the laws and regulations mentioned in the authoritative śāstras. He was therefore subjected to a curse by the four Kumāras, who were great brāhmaṇas.
There have been many instances in which demons, after achieving material opulences, have become extremely proud, so much so that they have transgressed the laws and regulations given in the authoritative śāstras. Hiraṇyakaśipu acted in this way. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (16.23):
“He who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination.” The word śāstra refers to that which controls our activities. We cannot violate or transgress the laws and regulative principles mentioned in the śāstras. Bhagavad-gītā repeatedly confirms this.
“One should understand what is duty and what is not duty by the regulations of the scriptures. Knowing such rules and regulations, one should act so that he may gradually be elevated.” (Bg. 16.24) One should act according to the direction of the śāstra, but the material energy is so powerful that as soon as one becomes materially opulent, he begins to transgress the śāstric laws. As soon as one transgresses the laws of śāstra, he immediately enters upon the path of destruction.
sarve lokāḥ sapālakāḥ
śaraṇaṁ yayur acyutam
tasya—of him (Hiraṇyakaśipu); ugra-daṇḍa—by the very fearful chastisement; saṁvignāḥ—disturbed; sarve—all; lokāḥ—the planets; sa-pālakāḥ—with their principal rulers; anyatra—anywhere else; alabdha—not obtaining; śaraṇāḥ—shelter; śaraṇam—for shelter; yayuḥ—approached; acyutam—the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Everyone, including the rulers of the various planets, was extremely distressed because of the severe punishment inflicted upon them by Hiraṇyakaśipu. Fearful and disturbed, unable to find any other shelter, they at last surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu.
“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.” The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is actually the best friend of everyone. In a condition of distress or misery, one wants to seek shelter of a well-wishing friend. The well-wishing friend of the perfect order is Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Therefore all the inhabitants of the various planets, being unable to find any other shelter, were obliged to seek shelter at the lotus feet of the supreme friend. If from the very beginning we seek shelter of the supreme friend, there will be no cause of danger. It is said that if a dog is swimming in the water and one wants to cross the ocean by catching hold of the dog’s tail, certainly he is foolish. Similarly, if in distress one seeks shelter of a demigod, he is foolish, for his efforts will be fruitless. In all circumstances, one should seek shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then there will be no danger under any circumstances.
tasyai namo ’stu kāṣṭhāyai
yatrātmā harir īśvaraḥ
yad gatvā na nivartante
śāntāḥ sannyāsino ’malāḥ
iti te saṁyatātmānaḥ
tasyai—unto that; namaḥ—our respectful obeisances; astu—let there be; kāṣṭhāyai—direction; yatra—wherein; ātmā—the Supersoul; hariḥ—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; īśvaraḥ—the supreme controller; yat—which; gatvā—approaching; na—never; nivartante—return; śāntāḥ—peaceful; sannyāsinaḥ—saintly persons in the renounced order of life; amalāḥ—pure; iti—thus; te—they; saṁyata-ātmānaḥ—having controlled minds; samāhita—steadied; dhiyaḥ—intelligences; amalāḥ—purified; upatasthuḥ—worshiped; hṛṣīkeśam—the master of the senses; vinidrāḥ—without sleeping; vāyu-bhojanāḥ—eating only air.
“Let us offer our respectful obeisances unto that direction where the Supreme Personality of Godhead is situated, where those purified souls in the renounced order of life, the great saintly persons, go, and from which, having gone, they never return.” Without sleep, fully controlling their minds, and living on only their breath, the predominating deities of the various planets began worshiping Hṛṣīkeśa with this meditation.
The two words tasyai kāṣṭhāyai are very significant. Everywhere, in every direction, in every heart and in every atom, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is situated in His features as Brahman and Paramātmā. Then what is the purpose of saying tasyai kāṣṭhāyai—“in that direction where Hari is situated?” During Hiraṇyakaśipu’s time, his influence was everywhere, but he could not force his influence into the places where the Supreme Personality of Godhead had His pastimes. For example, on this earth there are such places as Vṛndāvana and Ayodhyā, which are called dhāmas. In the dhāma, there is no influence from Kali-yuga or any demon. If one takes shelter of such a dhāma, worship of the Lord becomes very easy, and resultant spiritual advancement quickly takes place. In fact, in India one may still go to Vṛndāvana and similar places to achieve the results of spiritual activities quickly.
teṣām āvirabhūd vāṇī
teṣām—in front of all of them; āvirabhūt—appeared; vāṇī—a voice; arūpā—without a form; megha-niḥsvanā—resounding like the sound of a cloud; sannādayantī—causing to vibrate; kakubhaḥ—all directions; sādhūnām—of the saintly persons; abhayaṅkarī—driving away the fearful situation.
Then there appeared before them a transcendental sound vibration, emanating from a personality not visible to material eyes. The voice was as grave as the sound of a cloud, and it was very encouraging, driving away all fear.
mā bhaiṣṭa vibudha-śreṣṭhāḥ
sarveṣāṁ bhadram astu vaḥ
mad-darśanaṁ hi bhūtānāṁ
jñātam etasya daurātmyaṁ
tasya śāntiṁ kariṣyāmi
kālaṁ tāvat pratīkṣata
mā—do not; bhaiṣṭa—fear; vibudha-śreṣṭhāḥ—O best of learned persons; sarveṣām—of all; bhadram—the good fortune; astu—let there be; vaḥ—unto you; mat-darśanam—the seeing of Me (or offering of prayers to Me or hearing about Me, all of which are absolute); hi—indeed; bhūtānām—of all living entities; sarva-śreya—of all good fortune; upapattaye—for the attainment; jñātam—known; etasya—of this; daurātmyam—the nefarious activities; daiteya-apasadasya—of the great demon, Hiraṇyakaśipu; yat—which; tasya—of this; śāntim—cessation; kariṣyāmi—I shall make; kālam—time; tāvat—until that; pratīkṣata—just wait.
The voice of the Lord vibrated as follows: O best of learned persons, do not fear! I wish all good fortune to you. Become My devotees by hearing and chanting about Me and offering Me prayers, for these are certainly meant to award benedictions to all living entities. I know all about the activities of Hiraṇyakaśipu and shall surely stop them very soon. Please wait patiently until that time.
Sometimes people are very much eager to see God. In considering the word mad-darśanam, “seeing Me,” which is mentioned in this verse, one should note that in Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says, bhaktyā mām abhijānāti [Bg. 18.55]. In other words, the ability to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead or to see Him or talk with Him depends on one’s advancement in devotional service, which is called bhakti. In bhakti there are nine different activities: śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam/ arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam [SB 7.5.23]. Because all these devotional activities are absolute, there is no fundamental difference between worshiping the Deity in the temple, seeing Him and chanting His glories. Indeed, all of these are ways of seeing Him, for everything done in devotional service is a means of direct contact with the Lord. The vibration of the Lord’s voice appeared in the presence of all the devotees, and although the person vibrating the sound was unseen to them, they were meeting or seeing the Lord because they were offering prayers and because the vibration of the Lord was present. Contrary to the laws of the material world, there is no difference between seeing the Lord, offering prayers and hearing the transcendental vibration. Pure devotees, therefore, are fully satisfied by glorifying the Lord. Such glorification is called kīrtana. Performing kīrtana and hearing the vibration of the sound Hare Kṛṣṇa is actually seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly. One must realize this position, and then one will be able to understand the absolute nature of the Lord’s activities.
yadā deveṣu vedeṣu
goṣu vipreṣu sādhuṣu
dharme mayi ca vidveṣaḥ
sa vā āśu vinaśyati
yadā—when; deveṣu—unto the demigods; vedeṣu—unto the Vedic scriptures; goṣu—unto the cows; vipreṣu—unto the brāhmaṇas; sādhuṣu—unto the saintly persons; dharme—unto religious principles; mayi—unto Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; ca—and; vidveṣaḥ—envious; saḥ—such a person; vai—indeed; āśu—very soon; vinaśyati—is vanquished.
When one is envious of the demigods, who represent the Supreme Personality of Godhead, of the Vedas, which give all knowledge, of the cows, brāhmaṇas, Vaiṣṇavas and religious principles, and ultimately of Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he and his civilization will be vanquished without delay.
prahrādāya yadā druhyed
dhaniṣye ’pi varorjitam
nirvairāya—who is without enemies; praśāntāya—very sober and peaceful; sva-sutāya—unto his own son; mahā-ātmane—who is a great devotee; prahrādāya—Prahlāda Mahārāja; yadā—when; druhyet—will commit violence; haniṣye—I shall kill; api—although; vara-ūrjitam—blessed by the boons of Lord Brahmā.
When Hiraṇyakaśipu teases the great devotee Prahlāda, his own son, who is peaceful and sober and who has no enemy, I shall kill Hiraṇyakaśipu immediately, despite the benedictions of Brahmā.
Of all sinful activities, an offense to a pure devotee, or Vaiṣṇava, is the most severe. An offense at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava is so disastrous that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has compared it to a mad elephant that enters a garden and causes great havoc by uprooting many plants and trees. If one is an offender at the lotus feet of a brāhmaṇa or Vaiṣṇava, his offenses uproot all his auspicious activities. One should therefore very carefully guard against committing vaiṣṇava-aparādha, or offenses at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava. Here the Lord clearly says that although Hiraṇyakaśipu had received benedictions from Lord Brahmā, these benedictions would be null and void as soon as he committed an offense at the lotus feet of Prahlāda Mahārāja, his own son. A Vaiṣṇava like Prahlāda Mahārāja is described herein as nirvaira, having no enemies. Elsewhere in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.25.21) it is said, ajāta-śatravaḥ śāntāḥ sādhavaḥ sādhu-bhūṣaṇāḥ: a devotee has no enemies, he is peaceful, he abides by the scriptures, and all his characteristics are sublime. A devotee does not create enmity with anyone, but if someone becomes his enemy, that person will be vanquished by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, despite whatever benedictions he may have received from other sources. Hiraṇyakaśipu was certainly enjoying the fruitful results of his austerities, but here the Lord says that as soon as he committed an offense at the lotus feet of Prahlāda Mahārāja he would be ruined. One’s longevity, opulence, beauty, education and whatever else one may possess as a result of pious activities cannot protect one if one commits an offense at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava. Despite whatever one possesses, if one offends the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava he will be vanquished.
ity uktā loka-guruṇā
taṁ praṇamya divaukasaḥ
menire cāsuraṁ hatam
śrī-nāradaḥ uvāca—the great saint Nārada Muni said; iti—thus; uktāḥ—addressed; loka-guruṇā—by the supreme spiritual master of everyone; tam—unto Him; praṇamya—offering obeisances; divaukasaḥ—all the demigods; nyavartanta—returned; gata-udvegāḥ—relieved of all anxieties; menire—they considered; ca—also; asuram—the demon (Hiraṇyakaśipu); hatam—killed.
The great saint Nārada Muni continued: When the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the spiritual master of everyone, thus reassured all the demigods living in the heavenly planets, they offered their respectful obeisances unto Him and returned, confident that the demon Hiraṇyakaśipu was now practically dead.
The less intelligent men who are always busy worshiping the demigods should note that when the demigods are harassed by the demons, they approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead for relief. Since the demigods resort to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, why should the worshipers of the demigods not approach the Supreme Lord for whatever benefits they desire? Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.3.10) says:
“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.” Whether one is a karmī, jñānī or yogī, if one wants a particular benediction fulfilled, even if it be material, one should approach the Supreme Lord and pray to Him, for then it will be fulfilled. There is no need to approach any demigod separately for the fulfillment of any desire.
tasya daitya-pateḥ putrāś
prahrādo ’bhūn mahāṁs teṣāṁ
tasya—of him (Hiraṇyakaśipu); daitya-pateḥ—the King of the Daityas; putrāḥ—sons; catvāraḥ—four; parama-adbhutāḥ—very qualified and wonderful; prahrādaḥ—the one named Prahlāda; abhūt—was; mahān—the greatest; teṣām—of all of them; guṇaiḥ—with transcendental qualities; mahat-upāsakaḥ—being an unalloyed devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Hiraṇyakaśipu had four wonderful, well-qualified sons, of whom the one named Prahlāda was the best. Indeed, Prahlāda was a reservoir of all transcendental qualities because he was an unalloyed devotee of the Personality of Godhead.
“In one who has unflinching devotional faith in Kṛṣṇa, all the good qualities of Kṛṣṇa and the demigods are consistently manifest.” (Bhāg. 5.18.12) Prahlāda Mahārāja is praised herein for having all good qualities because of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, a pure devotee, who has no motives, has all good qualities, material and spiritual. If one is spiritually advanced, being a staunch, liberal devotee of the Lord, all good qualities are manifest in his body. On the other hand, harāv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guṇāḥ: if one is not a devotee, even if he has some materially good qualities, they have no value. That is the verdict of the Vedas.
bhrātṛvat sadṛśe snigdho
brahmaṇyaḥ—cultured as a good brāhmaṇa; śīla-sampannaḥ—possessing all good qualities; satya-sandhaḥ—determined to understand the Absolute Truth; jita-indriyaḥ—fully controlling the senses and mind; ātma-vat—like the Supersoul; sarva-bhūtānām—of all living entities; eka-priya—the one beloved; suhṛt-tamaḥ—the best friend; dāsa-vat—like a menial servant; sannata—always obedient; ārya-aṅghriḥ—at the lotus feet of great persons; pitṛ-vat—exactly like a father; dīna-vatsalaḥ—kind to the poor; bhrātṛ-vat—exactly like a brother; sadṛśe—to his equals; snigdhaḥ—very affectionate; guruṣu—unto the spiritual masters; īśvara-bhāvanaḥ—who considered exactly like the Supreme Personality of Godhead; vidyā—education; artha—riches; rūpa—beauty; janma—aristocracy or nobility; āḍhyaḥ—endowed with; māna—pride; stambha—impudence; vivarjitaḥ—completely free from.
[The qualities of Mahārāja Prahlāda, the son of Hiraṇyakaśipu, are described herewith.] He was completely cultured as a qualified brāhmaṇa, having very good character and being determined to understand the Absolute Truth. He had full control of his senses and mind. Like the Supersoul, he was kind to every living entity and was the best friend of everyone. To respectable persons he acted exactly like a menial servant, to the poor he was like a father, to his equals he was attached like a sympathetic brother, and he considered his teachers, spiritual masters and older Godbrothers to be as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He was completely free from unnatural pride that might have arisen from his good education, riches, beauty, aristocracy and so on.
These are some of the qualifications of a Vaiṣṇava. A Vaiṣṇava is automatically a brāhmaṇa because a Vaiṣṇava has all the good qualities of a brāhmaṇa.
“Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, wisdom, knowledge, and religiousness—these are the qualities by which the brāhmaṇas work.” (Bg. 18.42) These qualities are manifest in the body of a Vaiṣṇava. Therefore a perfect Vaiṣṇava is also a perfect brāhmaṇa, as indicated here by the words brahmaṇyaḥ śīla-sampannaḥ. A Vaiṣṇava is always determined to understand the Absolute Truth, and to understand the Absolute Truth one needs to have full control over his senses and mind. Prahlāda Mahārāja possessed all these qualities. A Vaiṣṇava is always a well-wisher to everyone. The six Gosvāmīs, for example, are described in this way: dhīrādhīra jana-priyau. They were popular with both the gentle and the ruffians. A Vaiṣṇava must be equal to everyone, regardless of one’s position. Ātmavat: a Vaiṣṇava should be like Paramātmā. Īśvaraḥ sama-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe ’rjuna tiṣṭhati. Paramātmā does not hate anyone; indeed, He is in the heart of a brāhmaṇa, but he is also even in the heart of a pig. As the moon never refuses to distribute its pleasing rays even to the home of a caṇḍāla, a Vaiṣṇava never refuses to act for everyone’s welfare. Therefore a Vaiṣṇava is always obedient to the spiritual master (ārya). The word ārya refers to one who is advanced in knowledge. One who is deficient in knowledge cannot be called ārya. At the present, however, the word ārya is used to refer to those who are godless. This is the unfortunate situation of Kali-yuga.
The word guru refers to the spiritual master who initiates his disciple into advancement in the science of Kṛṣṇa, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, as stated by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura (śrī-bhagavan-mantropadeśake gurāv ity arthaḥ).
nodvigna-citto vyasaneṣu niḥspṛhaḥ
śruteṣu dṛṣṭeṣu guṇeṣv avastu-dṛk
praśānta-kāmo rahitāsuro ’suraḥ
na—not; udvigna—agitated; cittaḥ—whose consciousness; vyasaneṣu—in dangerous conditions; niḥspṛhaḥ—without desire; śruteṣu—in things heard of (especially elevation to heavenly planets because of pious activities); dṛṣṭeṣu—as well as in temporal things seen; guṇeṣu—the objects of sense gratification under the modes of material nature; avastu-dṛk—seeing as if insubstantial; dānta—controlling; indriya—the senses; prāṇa—the living force; śarīra—the body; dhīḥ—and intelligence; sadā—always; praśānta—quieted; kāmaḥ—whose material desires; rahita—completely devoid of; asuraḥ—demoniac nature; asuraḥ—although born in a demoniac family.
Although Prahlāda Mahārāja was born in a family of asuras, he himself was not an asura but a great devotee of Lord Viṣṇu. Unlike the other asuras, he was never envious of Vaiṣṇavas. He was not agitated when put into danger, and he was neither directly nor indirectly interested in the fruitive activities described in the Vedas. Indeed, he considered everything material to be useless, and therefore he was completely devoid of material desires. He always controlled his senses and life air, and being of steady intelligence and determination, he subdued all lusty desires.
From this verse we discover that a man is not qualified or disqualified simply by birth. Prahlāda Mahārāja was an asura by birth, yet he possessed all the qualities of a perfect brāhmaṇa (brahmaṇyaḥ śīla-sampannaḥ). Anyone can become a fully qualified brāhmaṇa under the direction of a spiritual master. Prahlāda Mahārāja provided a vivid example of how to think of the spiritual master and accept his directions calmly.
yasmin mahad-guṇā rājan
gṛhyante kavibhir muhuḥ
na te ’dhunā pidhīyante
yasmin—in whom; mahat-guṇāḥ—exalted transcendental qualities; rājan—O King; gṛhyante—are glorified; kavibhiḥ—by persons who are thoughtful and advanced in knowledge; muhuḥ—always; na—not; te—these; adhunā—today; pidhīyante—are obscured; yathā—just as; bhagavati—in the Supreme Personality of Godhead; īśvare—the supreme controller.
O King, Prahlāda Mahārāja’s good qualities are still glorified by learned saints and Vaiṣṇavas. As all good qualities are always found existing in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they also exist forever in His devotee Prahlāda Mahārāja.
From authoritative scripture it is learned that Prahlāda Mahārāja still lives in Vaikuṇṭhaloka as well as within this material world on the planet Sutala. This transcendental quality of existing simultaneously in different places is another qualification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Goloka eva nivasaty akhilātma-bhūtaḥ: [Bs. 5.37] the Lord appears in the core of everyone’s heart, yet He exists on His own planet, Goloka Vṛndāvana. A devotee acquires qualities almost the same as those of the Lord because of unalloyed devotional service. Ordinary living beings cannot be so qualified, but a devotee can be qualified like the Supreme Personality of Godhead, not in full but partially.
ripavo ’pi surā nṛpa
kim utānye bhavādṛśāḥ
yam—whom; sādhu-gāthā-sadasi—in an assembly where saintly persons gather or exalted characteristics are discussed; ripavaḥ—persons who were supposed to have been Prahlāda Mahārāja’s enemies (even such a devotee as Prahlāda Mahārāja had enemies, including even his own father); api—even; surāḥ—the demigods (the demigods are enemies of the demons, and since Prahlāda Mahārāja was born in a family of demons, the demigods should have been his enemies); nṛpa—O King Yudhiṣṭhira; pratimānam—a substantial example of the best among the devotees; prakurvanti—they make; kim uta—what to speak of; anye—others; bhavādṛśāḥ—exalted personalities such as yourself.
In any assembly where there are discourses about saints and devotees, O King Yudhiṣṭhira, even the enemies of the demons, namely the demigods, what to speak of you, would cite Prahlāda Mahārāja as an example of a great devotee.
guṇair alam asaṅkhyeyair
māhātmyaṁ tasya sūcyate
yasya naisargikī ratiḥ
guṇaiḥ—with spiritual qualities; alam—what need; asaṅkhyeyaiḥ—which are innumerable; māhātmyam—the greatness; tasya—of him (Prahlāda Mahārāja); sūcyate—is indicated; vāsudeve—to Lord Kṛṣṇa, the son of Vasudeva; bhagavati—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; yasya—of whom; naisargikī—natural; ratiḥ—attachment.
Who could list the innumerable transcendental qualities of Prahlāda Mahārāja? He had unflinching faith in Vāsudeva, Lord Kṛṣṇa [the son of Vasudeva], and unalloyed devotion to Him. His attachment to Lord Kṛṣṇa was natural because of his previous devotional service. Although his good qualities cannot be enumerated, they prove that he was a great soul [mahātmā].
In his prayers to the ten incarnations, Jayadeva Gosvāmī says, keśava dhṛta-narahari-rūpa jaya jagad-īśa hare. Prahlāda Mahārāja was a devotee of Lord Nṛsiṁha, who is Keśava, Kṛṣṇa Himself. Therefore when this verse says vāsudeve bhagavati, one should understand that Prahlāda Mahārāja’s attachment for Nṛsiṁhadeva was attachment for Kṛṣṇa, Vāsudeva, the son of Vasudeva. Prahlāda Mahārāja, therefore, is described as a great mahātmā. As the Lord Himself confirms in Bhagavad-gītā (7.19):
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” A great devotee of Kṛṣṇa, the son of Vasudeva, is a great soul very rarely to be found. Prahlāda Mahārāja’s attachment for Kṛṣṇa will be explained in the next verse. Kṛṣṇa-graha-gṛhītātmā. Prahlāda Mahārāja’s heart was always filled with thoughts of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore Prahlāda Mahārāja is the ideal devotee in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
na veda jagad īdṛśam
nyasta—having given up; krīḍanakaḥ—all sportive activities or tendencies for childhood play; bālaḥ—a boy; jaḍa-vat—as if dull, without activities; tat-manastayā—by being fully absorbed in Kṛṣṇa; kṛṣṇa-graha—by Kṛṣṇa, who is like a strong influence (like a graha, or planetary influence); gṛhīta-ātmā—whose mind was fully attracted; na—not; veda—understood; jagat—the entire material world; īdṛśam—like this.
From the very beginning of his childhood, Prahlāda Mahārāja was uninterested in childish playthings. Indeed, he gave them up altogether and remained silent and dull, being fully absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Since his mind was always affected by Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he could not understand how the world goes on being fully absorbed in the activities of sense gratification.
Prahlāda Mahārāja is the vivid example of a great person fully absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 8.274) it is said:
A fully Kṛṣṇa conscious person, although situated in this material world, does not see anything but Kṛṣṇa, anywhere and everywhere. This is the sign of a mahā-bhāgavata. The mahā-bhāgavata sees Kṛṣṇa everywhere because of his attitude of pure love for Kṛṣṇa. As confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.38):
“I worship the primeval Lord, Govinda, who is always seen by the devotee whose eyes are anointed with the pulp of love. He is seen in His eternal form of Śyāmasundara, situated within the heart of the devotee.” An exalted devotee, or mahātmā, who is rarely to be seen, remains fully conscious of Kṛṣṇa and constantly sees the Lord within the core of his heart. It is sometimes said that when one is influenced by evil stars like Saturn, Rāhu or Ketu, he cannot make advancement in any prospective activity. In just the opposite way, Prahlāda Mahārāja was influenced by Kṛṣṇa, the supreme planet, and thus he could not think of the material world and live without Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is the sign of a mahā-bhāgavata. Even if one is an enemy of Kṛṣṇa, a mahā-bhāgavata sees him to be also engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service. Another crude example is that everything appears yellow to the jaundiced eye. Similarly, to a mahā-bhāgavata, everyone but himself appears to be engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service.
Prahlāda Mahārāja is the approved mahā-bhāgavata, the supreme devotee. In the previous verse it was stated that he had natural attachment (naisargikī ratiḥ). The symptoms of such natural attachment for Kṛṣṇa are described in this verse. Although Prahlāda Mahārāja was only a boy, he had no interest in playing. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.2.42), viraktir anyatra ca: the symptom of perfect Kṛṣṇa consciousness is that one loses interest in all material activities. For a small boy to give up playing is impossible, but Prahlāda Mahārāja, being situated in first-class devotional service, was always absorbed in a trance of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Just as a materialistic person is always absorbed in thoughts of material gain, a mahā-bhāgavata like Prahlāda Mahārāja is always absorbed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa.
āsīnaḥ paryaṭann aśnan
śayānaḥ prapiban bruvan
āsīnaḥ—while sitting; paryaṭan—while walking; aśnan—while eating; śayānaḥ—while lying down; prapiban—while drinking; bruvan—while talking; na—not; anusandhatte—knew; etāni—all these activities; govinda—by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who enlivens the senses; parirambhitaḥ—being embraced.
Prahlāda Mahārāja was always absorbed in thought of Kṛṣṇa. Thus, being always embraced by the Lord, he did not know how his bodily necessities, such as sitting, walking, eating, lying down, drinking and talking, were being automatically performed.
A small child, while being cared for by his mother, does not know how the needs of the body for eating, sleeping, lying down, passing water and evacuating are being fulfilled. He is simply satisfied to be on the lap of his mother. Similarly, Prahlāda Mahārāja was exactly like a small child, being cared for by Govinda. The necessary activities of his body were performed without his knowledge. As a father and mother care for their child, Govinda cared for Prahlāda Mahārāja, who remained always absorbed in thoughts of Govinda. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Prahlāda Mahārāja is the vivid example of perfection in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
kvacid rudati vaikuṇṭha-
kvacid dhasati tac-cintā-
hlāda udgāyati kvacit
kvacit—sometimes; rudati—cries; vaikuṇṭha-cintā—by thoughts of Kṛṣṇa; śabala-cetanaḥ—whose mind was bewildered; kvacit—sometimes; hasati—laughs; tat-cintā—by thoughts of Him; āhlādaḥ—being jubilant; udgāyati—chants very loudly; kvacit—sometimes.
Because of advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he sometimes cried, sometimes laughed, sometimes expressed jubilation and sometimes sang loudly.
This verse further clarifies the comparison of a devotee to a child. If a mother leaves her small child in his bed or cradle and goes away to attend to some family duties, the child immediately understands that his mother has gone away, and therefore he cries. But as soon as the mother returns and cares for the child, the child laughs and becomes jubilant. Similarly, Prahlāda Mahārāja, being always absorbed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa, sometimes felt separation, thinking, “Where is Kṛṣṇa?” This is explained by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Śūnyāyitaṁ jagat sarvaṁ govinda-viraheṇa me. When an exalted devotee feels that Kṛṣṇa is invisible, having gone away, he cries in separation, and sometimes, when he sees that Kṛṣṇa has returned to care for him, he laughs, just as a child sometimes laughs upon understanding that his mother is taking care of him. These symptoms are called bhāva. In The Nectar of Devotion, various bhāvas, ecstatic conditions of a devotee, are fully described. These bhāvas are visible in the activities of a perfect devotee.
nadati kvacid utkaṇṭho
vilajjo nṛtyati kvacit
tanmayo ’nucakāra ha
nadati—exclaims loudly (addressing the Lord, “O Kṛṣṇa”); kvacit—sometimes; utkaṇṭhaḥ—being anxious; vilajjaḥ—without shame; nṛtyati—he dances; kvacit—sometimes; kvacit—sometimes; tat-bhāvanā—with thoughts of Kṛṣṇa; yuktaḥ—being absorbed; tat-mayaḥ—thinking as if he had become Kṛṣṇa; anucakāra—imitated; ha—indeed.
Sometimes, upon seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Prahlāda Mahārāja would loudly call in full anxiety. He sometimes lost his shyness in jubilation and began dancing in ecstasy, and sometimes, being fully absorbed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa, he felt oneness and imitated the pastimes of the Lord.
Prahlāda Mahārāja sometimes felt that the Lord was far away from him and therefore called Him loudly. When he saw that the Lord was before him, he was fully jubilant. Sometimes, thinking himself one with the Supreme, he imitated the Lord’s pastimes, and in separation from the Lord he would sometimes show symptoms of madness. These feelings of a devotee would not be appreciated by impersonalists. One must go further and further into spiritual understanding. The first realization is impersonal Brahman, but one must go still further to realize Paramātmā and eventually the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is worshiped by the transcendental feelings of a devotee in a relationship of śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya or mādhurya. Here the feelings of Prahlāda Mahārāja were in the mellow of vātsalya, filial love and affection. As a child cries when left by his mother, when Prahlāda Mahārāja felt that the Lord was away from him he began to cry (nadati). Again, a devotee like Prahlāda sometimes sees that the Lord is coming from a long distance to pacify him, like a mother responding to a child, saying, “My dear child, do not cry. I am coming.” Then the devotee, without being ashamed due to his surroundings and circumstances, begins to dance, thinking, “Here is my Lord! My Lord is coming!” Thus the devotee, in full ecstasy, sometimes imitates the pastimes of the Lord, just as the cowherd boys used to imitate the behavior of the jungle animals. However, he does not actually become the Lord. Prahlāda Mahārāja achieved the spiritual ecstasies described herein by his advancement in spiritual understanding.
kvacid utpulakas tūṣṇīm
kvacit—sometimes; utpulakaḥ—with the hairs of his body standing on end; tūṣṇīm—completely silent; āste—remains; saṁsparśa-nirvṛtaḥ—feeling great joy by contact with the Lord; aspanda—steady; praṇaya-ānanda—due to transcendental bliss from a relationship of love; salila—filled with tears; āmīlita—half-closed; īkṣaṇaḥ—whose eyes.
Sometimes, feeling the touch of the Lord’s lotus hands, he became spiritually jubilant and remained silent, his hairs standing on end and tears gliding down from his half-closed eyes because of his love for the Lord.
When a devotee feels separation from the Lord, he becomes eager to see where the Lord is, and sometimes when he feels pangs of separation, tears flow incessantly from his half-closed eyes. As stated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in His Śikṣāṣṭaka, yugāyitaṁ nimeṣeṇa cakṣuṣā prāvṛṣāyitam. The words cakṣuṣā prāvṛṣāyitam refer to tears falling incessantly from the devotee’s eyes. These symptoms, which appear in pure devotional ecstasy, were visible in the body of Prahlāda Mahārāja.
tanvan parāṁ nirvṛtim ātmano muhur
duḥsaṅga-dīnasya manaḥ śamaṁ vyadhāt
saḥ—he (Prahlāda Mahārāja); uttama-śloka-pada-aravindayoḥ—to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is worshiped by transcendental prayers; niṣevayā—by constant service; akiñcana—of devotees who have nothing to do with the material world; saṅga—in the association; labdhayā—obtained; tanvan—expanding; parām—highest; nirvṛtim—bliss; ātmanaḥ—of the spirit soul; muhuḥ—constantly; duḥsaṅga-dīnasya—of a person poor in spiritual understanding due to bad association; manaḥ—the mind; śamam—peaceful; vyadhāt—made.
Because of his association with perfect, unalloyed devotees who had nothing to do with anything material, Prahlāda Mahārāja constantly engaged in the service of the Lord’s lotus feet. By seeing his bodily features when he was in perfect ecstasy, persons very poor in spiritual understanding became purified. In other words, Prahlāda Mahārāja bestowed upon them transcendental bliss.
Apparently Prahlāda Mahārāja was placed in circumstances in which he was always tortured by his father. In such material conditions, one cannot have an undisturbed mind, but since bhakti is unconditional (ahaituky apratihatā), Prahlāda Mahārāja was never disturbed by the chastisements of Hiraṇyakaśipu. On the contrary, the bodily symptoms of his ecstatic love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead turned the minds of his friends, who had also been born in atheistic families. Instead of being disturbed by the torments of his father, Prahlāda influenced these friends and cleansed their minds. A devotee is never contaminated by material conditions, but persons subjected to material conditions can become spiritually advanced and blissful upon seeing the behavior of a pure devotee.
akarod agham ātmaje
tasmin—unto him; mahā-bhāgavate—an exalted devotee of the Lord; mahā-bhāge—most fortunate; mahā-ātmani—whose mind was very broad; hiraṇyakaśipuḥ—the demon Hiraṇyakaśipu; rājan—O King; akarot—performed; agham—very great sin; ātma-je—to his own son.
My dear King Yudhiṣṭhira, the demon Hiraṇyakaśipu tormented this exalted, fortunate devotee, although Prahlāda was his own son.
When a demon like Hiraṇyakaśipu, despite his elevated position due to severe austerities, begins to tease a devotee, he begins falling down, and the results of his austerities dwindle. One who oppresses a pure devotee loses all the results of his austerities, penances and pious activities. Since Hiraṇyakaśipu was now inclined to chastise his most exalted devotee son, Prahlāda Mahārāja, his opulences began dwindling.
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.
putrān vipratikūlān svān
naivāgham aparo yathā
putrān—sons; vipratikūlān—who act against the will of the father; svān—their own; pitaraḥ—fathers; putra-vatsalāḥ—being very affectionate to the children; upālabhante—chastise; śikṣa-artham—to teach them lessons; na—not; eva—indeed; agham—punishment; aparaḥ—an enemy; yathā—like.
A father and mother are always affectionate to their children. When the children are disobedient the parents chastise them, not due to enmity but only for the child’s instruction and welfare. How did Hiraṇyakaśipu, the father of Prahlāda Mahārāja, chastise such a noble son? This is what I am eager to know.
kim utānuvaśān sādhūṁs
etat kautūhalaṁ brahmann
asmākaṁ vidhama prabho
pituḥ putrāya yad dveṣo
kim uta—much less; anuvaśān—to obedient and perfect sons; sādhūn—great devotees; tādṛśān—of that sort; guru-devatān—honoring the father as the Supreme Personality of Godhead; etat—this; kautūhalam—doubt; brahman—O brāhmaṇa; asmākam—of us; vidhama—dissipate; prabho—O my lord; pituḥ—of the father; putrāya—unto the son; yat—which; dveṣaḥ—envy; maraṇāya—for killing; prayojitaḥ—applied.
Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira further inquired: How was it possible for a father to be so violent toward an exalted son who was obedient, well-behaved and respectful to his father? O brāhmaṇa, O master, I have never heard of such a contradiction as an affectionate father’s punishing his noble son with the intention of killing him. Kindly dissipate our doubts in this regard.
In the history of human society, an affectionate father is rarely found to chastise a noble and devoted son. Therefore Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira wanted Nārada Muni to dissipate his doubt.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Seventh Canto, Fourth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled, “Hiraṇyakaśipu Terrorizes the Universe.”
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