Vrindavan, 2016.05.20 (Harikatha.com): This year, 2016, the auspicious appearance day of Lord Nrsimhadeva is May 20. Srila Gurudeva gave an amazing discourse on the Lord’s appearance day in 1998, in Wales, and he is sharing this with you for the occasion this year. (To hear the audio lecture: 1998510UK_WALES_892.mp3)
Lord Nrsimha’s Mercy
ito nṛsiṁhaḥ parato nṛsiṁho, yato yato yāmi tato nṛsiṁhaḥ
bahir nṛsiṁho hṛdaye nṛsiṁho, nṛsiṁham ādiṁ sharaṇaṁ prapadye
ito nṛsiṁhaḥ parato nṛsiṁho. Nrisingha is here, Nrisingha is there; above, below, in front, in back, in all corners, and everywhere else. Wherever I go, wherever I walk, and travel, I see Nrisingha everywhere. He is in our heart, he is in the creepers and plants, and everywhere else. There is not a single place – even an atom – where he is not present.
Since he is everywhere, if you pray to him to save you, he will come at once and save you as he saved Prahlada Maharaja from Hiranyakashipu. He will take away all of your problems, as he took away all the problems of Prahlada Maharaja. He quickly destroyed Prahlada’s demonic father, Hiranyakashipu, who had been given a boon of immortality. Hiranyakashipu was strong like iron. He was blessed not to die in the sky, by weapons, demons, humans, animals, fire, poison, or any other force of this world. Still, Nrisinghadeva killed him very quickly.
nṛsiṁham ādiṁ sharaṇaṁ prapadye. We take shelter of Nrisinghadeva.
If you experience any difficulty or danger in your life, you can chant this mantra. Lord Nrisingha surely will save you; he has come only to save you. You can test this. If you are very faithful to him, as Prahlada Maharaja was faithful, he will take away all your difficulties in chanting, remembering, and becoming a pure devotee. He has come as the embodiment of Krishna’s mercy. So chant this mantra, especially today, and he will protect you from everything inauspicious.
Prahlada jaya jaya. Nrisingha jaya jaya, Nrisingha jaya jaya, Prahlada jaya jaya,
Nrsmadeva is always greedy to help us. He wants to help us, but we don’t want his help.
It is rare to find anyone who has such faith, and love and affection, for Krishna, as Prahlada Maharaja. Prahlada tried to teach his demonic father this beautiful truth.
naiṣāṁ matis tāvad urukramāṅghriṁ
spṛśaty anarthāpagamo yad arthaḥ
mahīyasāṁ pāda rajo bhiṣekaṁ
niṣkiñcanānāṁ na vṛṇīta yāvat
Unless they smear upon their bodies the dust of the lotus feet of a Vaisnava completely freed from material contamination, persons very much inclined toward materialistic life cannot be attached to the lotus feet of the Lord, who is glorified for his uncommon activities. Only by becoming Krishna conscious and taking shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord in this way can one be freed from material contamination. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.32)
Prahlada told his father that those in material consciousness are blind, and they are like dogs. Dogs think that they are intelligent, but they are not.
matir na kṛṣṇe parataḥ svato vā
adānta-gobhir viśatāṁ tamisraṁ
punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām
Prahlada Maharaja replied: Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Krishna are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both. (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 7.5.30)
Some dogs once found a dry bone, which had absolutely no juice. One of the dogs approached that bone, quickly grabbed it with his teeth, and ran away. He then looked back towards the other twenty dogs, who now began to pursue him in order to take that dry juiceless bone away from him. At last they all caught hold of him and began to viciously attack him.
That dog, now full of injuries and blood, gave up that bone. His tail going inside his legs, he watched from the sidelines as another dog, while trying to relish the bone, was also violently attacked.
We are like this. Our fathers and forefathers have tried to take the juice of material enjoyment from this world, tasting only dry bone. If you ask your grandfathers, who are eighty, ninety, or a hundred years old, if they are happy with their life’s accomplishments, they will all say, “No.” When you ask, “Why not?” they will reply, “I am now old. I can no longer enjoy the taste of wonderful foods because I cannot digest anything I eat. I am going to die. I am not happy.”
Ironically, their children consider, “Doing what we have seen our fathers and grandfathers do, we will now be very happy.”
Suppose a man thinks, “I will drink a great quantity of wine.” What will happen to him? He will become like a madman. He will faint and fall in a drain, at which time he will think, “I am sitting on a golden throne. I am the monarch of all.” Dogs will approach him, smell his body, and think, “What a good smell!” They will taste him with their tongues and thus wash his face. Thus, there is no real pleasure in worldly objects of enjoyment.
Prahlada Maharaja explained this truth to Hiranyakashipu, hearing which, Hiranyakashipu became furious and decided to kill him. Hiranyakashipu tried several methods to kill him, which all subsequently failed, and he concluded, “I cannot kill him. I fear that my death will come from him. It is I who will die.”
In the meantime, his very dear sister named Holika approached him and said, “My dear brother, why are you so anxious and worried? Can I help you?”
He replied, “No one in this world can help me.”
Holika then said, “I can help you. What do you want?”
He said, “I want my son to be killed.”
She said, “I can do this very easily. I performed severe austerities and received a benediction that I will not burn in fire. I now have this power, so I will bring that boy into a fire and he will burn very easily.”
Hiranyakashipu began to laugh and said, “O sister, you have saved me.”
Holika replied, “Yes. Tomorrow, you should arrange a heap of dry wood. I will then take that boy on my lap and sit on the heap of wood. Some ghee and oil should be poured on the wood, and at once the fire will go so high that in a minute he will be burned. I will then come out of the flames.”
The next morning, a very big heap of dry wood was brought and abundant ghee poured on it. Holika took Prahlada and said, “My dear nephew, nephew, nephew; please come and sit on my lap. I will give you much milk to drink.”
She then sat comfortably in the midst of the dry wood, and took Prahlada Maharaja on her lap. At once a fire was started all around, and the flames very quickly created a great sound and began to touch the sky.
All the spectators watched as both Holika and Prahlada were covered by fire, and considered that they must both have been burned to death. Hiranyakashipu was quite satisfied, thinking that his sister would come to him laughing, and that Prahlada would be finished.
However, everyone present very soon saw Prahlada Maharaja walk out of the fire. Holika, on the other hand, was burned to ashes, never to return.
Hiranyakashipu asked Prahlada, “How were you saved?”
Prahlada replied, “When I was sitting there, I saw my aunty burn within a moment. At the same time, someone came to me and clothed me in an ice-like covering. I was easily saved, but I was so worried for my dead aunty.”
Hiranyakashipu’s fury rose.
Prahlada’s teachers, the two sons of Hiranyakashipu’s guru, drew near Hiranyakashipu and asked him, “Why are you worried? You have conquered the entire world. You have conquered air, fire, all five elements. You can easily fly in the air, and you can take a thunderbolt and defeat Indra. So why are you worried? Wait a little. Our father will soon come and solve this problem.
Prahlada was again sent to school. Then, one day the teachers, desirous to engage in some household jobs, told him, “Prahlada, you should be the monitor and see that the other children do not do anything wrong. The boys can be somewhat naughty, so you must control them. We will return soon.”
Prahlada began teaching his fellow students about Krishna consciousness, but the boys initially resisted with the excuse that they would take up Krishna consciousness in their old age. They told Prahlada that now was the time to play. Prahlada replied,
All the students were inspired, but at the same time they had some doubt. “We accept that what you are telling is true,” they said. “Now we have great faith in you; but we want to know where you learned all these truths. You always remain within the palace, where it is very difficult to associate with any great personality.”
Prahlada tells his history
With a view to removing the doubts of his classmates, Prahlada said, “Some time ago, when my father was angry with Lord Vishnu for killing his brother, Hiranyaksha, he began to consider, ‘My brother has been killed by Varahadeva, an incarnation of Vishnu. If I take revenge against Vishnu now, he will surely kill me. So, I should first become immortal.’ He began to perform severe austerities at Mandarachala Mountain, where he fully fasted from eating and drinking. He fasted even from dry leaves, and even water and air, for 60,000 years. He entered into a trance and was thus oblivious to the fact that his body had been eaten by ants and only his bones remained.”
In Satya-yuga, one’s life could reside in one’s bones, without the rest of the body. Nowadays, if we do not eat anything we will die in two or three days, but at that time it was different.
“In the meantime the demigods became worried. In Hiranyakashipu’s absence, therefore, the demigods, headed by King Indra, made an attempt to subdue all the demons in warfare. A great battle ensued between the demons and demigods, wherein the generals of Hiranyakashipu were smashed. The victorious demigods plundered my father’s palace and destroyed everything within it. Then Indra, King of heaven, arrested my mother, the queen, planning to take her to a heavenly planet.”
The demigods considered that Prahlada was probably a demon, like his father, so they planned to kill him as soon as he took birth from his mother’s womb. In the meantime, the sage Narada was coming from heaven and asked them, “Why are you doing such nonsense? You are demigods and you are taking a lady in this way? She cannot fight with you, so why are you taking her? Moreover, there is a great devotee in her womb.”
Prahlada continued, “When the great saint Narada Muni spoke thus, King Indra immediately released my mother. Because of my being a devotee of the Lord, all the demigods circumambulated her. Then, after they left for their celestial kingdom, Narada brought my mother to his ashram, assured her of all protection, and taught me, within her womb, the truths of bhakti.”
Further Teachings of Prahlada
Prahlada continued: “We can never be happy by our material activities. No one has ever become happy by such engagement. If you want to be happy in life, go to an expert guru and at once take initiation and a spiritual name from him. Then, under his guidance, try to follow the rules and regulations of devotion.”
One must accept the bona fide spiritual master and render service unto him with great devotion and faith. Whatever one has in one’s possession should be offered to the spiritual master, and in the association of saintly persons and devotees one should worship the Lord, hear the glories of the Lord with faith, glorify the transcendental qualities and activities of the Lord, always meditate on the Lord’s lotus feet, and worship the Deity of the Lord strictly according to the injunctions of the shastra and guru. (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 7.7.30-31)
The boys told Prahlada, “This seems very difficult. We cannot do these things.”
Prahlada assured his classmates, “There is nothing difficult in chanting Krishna’s names, remembering him, and engaging in devotional activities for his pleasure. We are eternal servants of God, Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore devotional service is our natural activity. We must accept that Krishna is our holy master, father, mother and all other relations. After going to a guru and receiving initiation, we then begin to learn spiritual activities and develop to the exalted stage of uttama-bhakti (the topmost pure devotion). Guru will tell us everything about how to advance in devotion.”
Guru will tell us that there are sixty four kinds of bhakti, among which nine are prominent:
śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam
iti puṁsārpitā viṣṇau bhaktiś cen nava-lakṣaṇā
kriyeta bhagavaty addhā tan manye’dhītam uttamam
Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Vishnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming his servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto him (in other words, serving him with the body, mind and words) – these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krishna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge. (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 7.5.23-24)
Of these nine kinds of bhakti, five are most important: One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Srimad-Bhagavatam, reside at Mathura or Braj-Vrindavan, and worship the Deity with faith and veneration.
Among all devotional activities, if one is not committing offenses and is touched by any of the five limbs – chanting the holy name, being in the association of a qualified Vaisnava or guru, worshiping the Deity very faithfully, living in a holy place like Vrndavana, and hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam – he can attain all success.
These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Krishna.
Most important among all the limbs of bhakti, which is also the root of bhakti, is harinama-sankirtana.
tara madhye sarva-srestha nama-sankirtana
niraparadhe nama laile paya prema-dhana
Of the nine processes of devotional service, the most important is to always chant the holy name of the Lord. If one does so, avoiding the ten kinds of offenses, one very easily obtains the most valuable love of Godhead.”]
Prahlada told the boys, “We should begin harinama-sankirtana today.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Antya-lila, 4.71)
The boys asked, “How can we do this? Do we have to be expert in playing musical instruments Do we have to bring any instruments?”
Prahlada replied, “There is no need. Krishna has given us the very beautiful karatalas (hand cymbols) of our hands. We can clap our hands. Krishna has also given us our tongue and mouth to sing in a sweet voice.”
Prahlada Maharaja then instructed them, “Repeat after me. ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare,’”
The boys told Prahlada, “We are tired. We want something easier. This is so long. We want an easy kirtana.”
Prahlada told them, “Repeat after me again: ‘Haribol, haribol, haribol.’”
The boys all blissfully engaged with Prahlada in Harinama sankirtana.
Hiranyakashipu’s Last Try
After some time Hiranyakashipu overheard what was taking place. Grabbing Prahlada’s hands, he demanded:
Hiranyakashipu said, “What nonsense are you doing?! You are so disobedient! You are like a dull stone, with no intelligence at all. I am from an aristocratic dynasty. You have become like the handle of an axe that is trying to chop down my entire dynasty. I will teach you a lesson! I am now going to kill you! Let us see who will save you now!”
Hiranyakashipu asked Prahlada Maharaja, “Where is your Lord? Is he present in this pillar?”
Prahlada Maharaja fearlessly replied, “Yes, my Lord is present everywhere.”
To convince Hiranyakashipu that the statement of Prahlada Maharaja was unmistakably true, the Lord appeared from the pillar, with flames emanating from his mane. By manifesting his form as Nrisinghadeva, the Lord also preserved the truth of Lord Brahma’s promise that Hiranyakashipu was not to be killed by any animal or any man. The Lord appeared in a form that could not be said to be fully a man or a lion. He was extremely angry, and no one could pacify him. Brahma, Sankara, and all other demigods present became worried regarding how to pacify him.
After offering him their beautiful prayers of glorification from a little afar, they requested Lakshmi Devi, “Please go and pacify your husband.”
She replied, “Today I am afraid to go. He may also kill me.”
Next they requested Brahma, “You should go; he is like your father.”
Brahma replied, “Today, I cannot go.”
Then they told Lord Siva, “You are a friend of Krishna. You should go.” Siva replied, “Today we are not at all friends.”
Finally, Brahma requested Prahlada, “You should go. He is like your father.”
Prahlada Maharaja immediately went to Lord Nrisinghadeva and jumped upon his lap. Nrisinghadeva at once became pacified and tears fell from his eyes. He had been so angry; but now, in a moment, he was fully pacified. He began licking Prahlada Maharaja, as animals do, and said, “I came so late, and I am upset about that. I want to give you a benediction.”
Prahlada replied, “I am not a businessman. I do not perform devotional service to You in order for You to give me something in return. This is business. If any desire is hiding somewhere in my heart, please remove it so that I can become your pure devotee. You have asked me to take a benediction. That makes me think there may be some material desire hidden in my heart – but I don’t know where it is hidden.”
Lord Nrisinghadeva said, “I know that you are pure; you never require anything. Still, I desire that you take any benediction.”
Prahlada Maharaja replied, “If You insist that I take a benediction, I desire that You deliver my father. He has offended You and me, and he has given great troubles to all the devotees. He has cut down all the green trees so that no one would be able to get any wood or fruit. He killed many cows so that no one would be able to get milk, ghee, and butter to be used for devotional activities like homas, fire sacrifices, and offering of bhoga to the Lord. He has also killed so many brahmanas, and in this way he has committed innumerable sins. Please forgive him.”
Lord Nrisinghadeva said, “Don’t worry about this at all. Your father has already been liberated. In fact twenty-one generations of your forefathers will be liberated.”
For the uttama-adhikari, twenty-one generations – forward and back – will be liberated. Regarding those who are madhyama-adhikari, who are always chanting, remembering and performing devotional activities, their relatives of fourteen generations will be liberated. Regarding those who are kanistha-adhikari, who are chanting, and remembering, who have taken initiation and are trying to engage in pure harinama and other devotional activities but cannot properly do so, seven generations of their relatives will be liberated.
“I want to give you a benediction. My darshan should not go in vain.”
Prahlada replied, “All these conditioned souls, who have forgotten You and who are engaged in many sinful activities are greatly suffering. I cannot tolerate their suffering. I desire that my pious and devotional activities be given to them, so that they may be liberated and become devotees. I want to take all the fruits of their sinful activities and suffer for them for millions of births.”
Nrisinghadeva said, “In this conversation, you have won and I am defeated. I am giving you the benediction that all persons who hear the hari-katha about Myself and yourself – the pastimes of Prahlada Maharaja and Nrisinghadeva – will be quickly liberated. They will not have to suffer.”
Those who hear, chant, and remember the sweet and powerful Hari-katha of Prahlada Maharaja and Lord Nrisinghadeva, who participate in today’s appearance day festival and performs abhisheka here in Badger, will all be liberated by Lord Nrisinghadeva. He promises to take away all their suffering and sorrows, and he will surely fulfill his promise. We can have very strong faith that he will not cheat us. Whatever he promises to do, he will surely do. Have strong faith that he will be merciful to us, that we will gradually develop our Krishna consciousness, and that he will give us inspiration to accept the path of pure bhakti.
Now let us first perform sankirtan, and then perform the abhisheka (auspicious bathing ceremony) of Lord Nrisinghadeva.
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