By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Today is the appearance day of Lord Nṛsiṁha-deva. It is called Nṛsiṁha-caturdaśī. So this is very instructive struggle between the atheist and the theist. This story of Prahlāda Mahārāja is eternally true. There is always a struggle between the atheist and the theist. If a person becomes God conscious, Kṛṣṇa conscious, so he will find many enemies, because the world is full of demons. What to speak of the devotee of Kṛṣṇa, even Kṛṣṇa, when He personally came, He had to kill so many demons. There was His maternal uncle, His mother's brother, very keenly related. Still, he wanted to kill Kṛṣṇa. As soon as any son was born to Devakī, immediately he killed, because he did not know who will be Kṛṣṇa. The prediction was that the eighth child of his sister will kill Kaṁsa. So he began to kill all the children. At last, Kṛṣṇa came. But he could not kill Kṛṣṇa. He was killed by Kṛṣṇa.
So nobody can kill God. The demons, godless society, they simply want to kill God. But actually, God is never killed, but the demon is killed by God. That is the law of nature. This is the instruction from Prahlāda Mahārāja's life. We can understand that, as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, mṛtyuḥ sarva-haraś cāham (BG 10.34). In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that "I am also death in the shape of taking away everything, whatever you possess." We are very much proud of possessing material things, material acquisitions, but when Kṛṣṇa comes... Just like Mahārāja..., Prahlāda Mahārāja saw, Hiraṇyakaśipu, his father, also saw Nṛsiṁha-deva. This Hiraṇyakaśipu was very clever as the materialists, scientists, are very clever. Cleverly they are inventing so many things. What is the idea? The idea is, "We shall live forever and enjoy sense gratification more and more." This is called atheistic advancement of civilization. So Hiraṇyakaśipu was typical materialist. Hiraṇya means gold, and kaśipu means soft bed, cushion. So materialist persons, they are very much fond of gold and enjoying sex. That is their business. So Hiraṇyakaśipu is the typical example of this materialistic person. And Prahlāda Mahārāja, prakṛṣṭa-rūpeṇa āhlāda. Āhlāda means transcendental bliss. Ānanda-cinmaya-rasa-pratibhāvitābhiḥ (Bs. 5.37). Living entities' real identification is prahlāda, blissfulness. But on account of material association, we are in miserable condition of life.
So this Hiraṇyakaśipu wanted to become immortal, and he underwent penances, severe penances, so much so, the whole universe became trembled, so that Brahmā, Lord Brahmā, had to come to pacify him, "What do you want?" So he wanted to become immortal. Lord Brahmā said that "Although I have got very long duration of life..." The duration of life of Brahmājī is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, sahasra-yuga-paryantam arhad yad brahmaṇo viduḥ (BG 8.17). Sahasra-yuga, one group of yugas—Satya, Treta, Dvāpara, Kali—it becomes about forty-three lakhs of years. And multiply these forty-three lakhs of years by one thousand, that duration of time is Brahmā's twelve hours, one day. Sahasra-yuga-paryantam arhad yad brahmaṇo viduḥ. So that Brahmā who lives for millions of trillions of years, still, he has to die. Janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi-duḥkha-doṣānu-darśanam (BG 13.9).
Wherever you go within this material world, either in the Brahmaloka or in the Pātālaloka, you have to die. That is the problem. Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā, "Real problem is janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi, birth, death, old age and disease." Just try to... So Hiraṇyakaśipu wanted to solve these in a materialistic way, but that is not possible. So in a negative way he wanted that "I shall not die on the land. I shall not die in the air. I shall not die in the water. I shall not be killed by any man-made weapon." In so many ways, negatively he thought that he has become immortal. But Kṛṣṇa is so intelligent that keeping all the words or the blessings given by Lord Brahmā to Hiraṇyakaśipu, He killed him. Just like Hiraṇyakaśipu wanted that he would not be killed either at day or in night. So Hiraṇyakaśipu was killed neither at day, neither in night, but just in the beginning of evening, which is neither day nor night. Then he wanted that he shall not be killed in the air, in the water or in the land. So Hiraṇyakaśipu was killed on the lap of the Lord. So he wanted that he would not be killed by any weapons made by man, so Lord killed him with His nails. Yes.
tava kara-kamala-vare nakham adbhuta-śṛṅgaṁdalita-hiraṇyakaśipu-tanu-bhṛṅgamkeśava dhṛta-narahari-rūpa jaya jagadīśa hare
(Gītā Govinda, Śrī Daśāvatāra Stotra 4)
So we cannot cheat God. That is not possible. However scientifically you may be advanced, God is always more intelligent than ourself. We should always remember. So that is the difference between demon and devotee. Devotee knows that "God is great. I am His eternal servant," so he remains a humble servant of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore he has no danger. Even if he has danger, he will be saved. Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā, kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati (BG 9.31). Kaunteya pratijānīhi: "Arjuna, you can declare it all over the world that anyone who has taken shelter at My lotus feet, become devotee, he will never be vanquished." Ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ (BG 18.66). So these are the assurances. But the atheist class of men like Hiraṇyakaśipu cannot understand this. That is the defect. They challenge always God. The dissension between the father and the son was that the son was believer in God, Kṛṣṇa, and the father was not. So at the end, the father saw what is God in the form of death. At that time he could not save him. So that is the difference between theist and atheist. The atheist always challenges, "Where is God? Can you show me?" Well, you will see. Not now. Just at the maturation of your all sinful activities, when death will come, you will see Him. This is going on.
So it is very instructive lesson, Prahlāda Mahārāja. Now it is getting late; otherwise, I would have recited some of the verses recited by Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja. Prahlāda Mahārāja is one of our gurus. There are twelve gurus, or mahājana.
svayaṁbhur nāradaḥ śaṁbhuḥ
kaumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ
prahlādo janako bhīṣmo
balir vaiyāsakhir vayam
Actually, if we want to make progress in spiritual life, we have to follow the mahājanas, the great personalities. They are mentioned in the śāstras, svayaṁbhur nāradaḥ śaṁbhuḥ. Svayambhu means Brahmā. Lord Brahmā is svayaṁbhu. Without father and mother, he became manifest. Therefore his name is Svayambhu. Of course, his father is Nārāyaṇa, but not in the usual way. Therefore his name is Svayambhu. Nārada. Nārada Muni is also one of the mahājanas. And Śambhu, Lord Śiva. Kapila, Kapiladeva, the son of Devahūti. Svayaṁbhur nāradaḥ śaṁbhuḥ kapilo manuḥ. And Prahlāda Mahārāja. Prahlāda Mahārāja is our guru in the disciplic succession. So mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ (CC Madhya 17.186). Dharmasya tattvaṁ nihitaṁ guhāyāṁ mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ. We cannot chalk out what is the path of religion. It is very difficult to find out, because there are many different scriptures and there are many philosophers. Nāsau munir yasya mataṁ na bhinnam (CC Madhya 17.186). Each philosopher has got different opinion. So how to get real path of religious way? That is recommended in the śāstra, that mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ. You have to follow the footsteps of great personalities. And Prahlāda Mahārāja is one of them.
So Prahlāda Mahārāja was born in a demon's family. His father was a demon. Prahlāda Mahārāja used to address his father as asura-varya, "the best of the demons." You have seen... He was patting his son, "My dear son, do like this, do like that. Tell me what you have learned, the best thing." Prahlāda Mahārāja said, tat sādhu manye 'sura-varya dehinām. He didn't..., never said, "My dear father." "My dear the best of the demons." Tat sādhu manye. "I think that is very nice." What is that? Hitvātma-pātaṁ gṛham āndha-kupaṁ vanaṁ gato yad dharim āśrayeta (SB 7.5.5), that "This worldly life, materialistic life, is self-killing just like a dark well. So one should give it up and go to the forest and take shelter of Kṛṣṇa. That is the best way of life." So his father became very angry. So the atheist and the theist, they will never agree. But theist also never will submit to the atheist. This is the principle. Prahlāda Mahārāja was put into so many troubles by his father, but he never forgot chanting namo bhagavate vāsudevāya namaḥ. He never forgot.
So we should take lessons from this story, that even in dangerous position, we should not be forgetful of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa will save us. It is said in the Bhagavad-gītā,
yaṁ labdhvā cāparaṁ lābhaṁ
manyate nādhikaṁ tataḥ
yasmin sthite guruṇāpi
duḥkhena na vicālyate
Kṛṣṇa consciousness is so nice that if one gets Kṛṣṇa consciousness, yaṁ labdhvā cāparaṁ lābhaṁ, aparaṁ lābhaṁ, any other benefit or gain is never considered. This is so nice. We are hankering after getting this, that, this, that, this, that, so many things. Dehi, dehi, dehi, dehi. But as soon as you get Kṛṣṇa consciousness, you will be satisfied. As Dhruva Mahārāja said, svāmin kṛtārtho 'smi varaṁ na yāce (CC Madhya 22.42). Just like Prahlāda Mahārāja. He was offered all benediction: "My dear Prahlāda, whatever you like, you can ask." He never asked anything. But he was so kind. That is the example of a Vaiṣṇava son in the family. Despite so much troubles given by his father, still, he begged from Narasiṁha-deva, "My Lord, my father has committed so many offenses. Kindly give him liberation." He did not ask anything for himself. So Hiraṇya..., Narahari, Nṛsiṁha-deva, immediately said, "Why do you speak of your father? Your father's father, his father, fourteen generations—all liberated because a son like you is in this family." So this is the benefit. If a son becomes a pure Vaiṣṇava, devotee, he can deliver fourteen generations. That is a special prerogative because he is born in a certain family. So what we can give service to the family, nation, materially? If we become devotee, we can give best service to the nation, to the family, to the humanity. That is the philosophy.
So our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is preaching this philosophy, that "You take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness; your life will be perfect." And the method is very simple. It can be..., there is no secrecy. Just like this evening I was talking with a boy. He has got a mantra, very secret. But we say we have no secret mantra. Our mantra, Hare Kṛṣṇa, is open to everyone. Why it should be secret? If by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra we can approach God, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, why it should remain secret? It should be distributed like anything so that everyone can go. So there is no secrecy. A secret mantra we don't approve. It must be very open. There is no secret. The śāstra never says that mantra can be secret.
harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā
(CC Adi 17.21)
In this age of Kali... Kali means the age of quarrel, age of misunderstanding, age of disagreement. So in this age it is very difficult to come to the right conclusion by philosophy and other methods. Therefore in the śāstra it has been openly declared,
harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā
(CC Adi 17.21)
Three times. Three times means yajña-dāna-tapaḥ-kriyā. There are many other things: meditation, sacrifices, worship in the temple. So in this age all these things are impossible to be performed, but even a child can chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. That is proved here. Whenever there is Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, even the child can take part, old man can take part. So this is the only method for God realization. There is no expenditure, but the gain is very, very great. That was the teaching of Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja, and we are following his footsteps. Let us stick to his principle, mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ (CC Madhya 17.186), and thus become more and more advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, May 5, 1974)