Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyana Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Badger, California: May 14, 2003 (evening)
Today is a very auspicious day. It is the appearance day of Śrī Nṛsiṁhadeva. I came here in the morning and requested that throughout the day at least twelve speakers discuss this subject. Now I think it would have been better had they not spoken anything, but just read the verses and the purports given by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Swami Mahārāja. This would have been a million times better. I do not appreciate that they discussed topics that were not on the subject of Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva. I wanted that the chapters on the pastimes of Śrī Prahlāda be read – from the first chapter to the end of the last chapter. I indicated this, but the speakers did not do so. I am very worried; how will they be able to preach if they cannot follow my instructions?
This was not the appearance day of Jaya and Vijaya; that part should have been told in outline. The speakers should have simply read Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and its purports given by Śrīla Swami Mahārāja.
I head that one speaker said in his class that Rāvaṇa has ten heads. What was the purpose of telling this today? Another bogus speaker also spoke out of subject, by saying that Rāvaṇa attended the svayaṁvara of Sītā What was the purpose of saying this? I don't know. They should have spoken about the teachings of Prahlāda to the children of the demons. That would have been very good, and I would have been very happy.
Why did they speak out of subject? I don't know. How can they preach my mission? They should not speak out of subject any time.
I know that if I had told Mahibharata, Rādhā-kānta, or Atul-kṛṣṇa prabhu, they would have done better then these speakers. I don't want that in the future they do all these unwanted things. I thought that they would read all Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam; that's what I told, but they haven‘t done. Perhaps he [Āśrama Mahārāja] followed something, and Araṇya Mahārāja also spoke something. But for hours and hours speakers were out of subject, and telling bogus things. I think you shouldn't speak anything that I haven't told. Otherwise you will speak so much out of subject and bogus things that are not written in Bhāgavatam, Rāmāyaṇa or anywhere. Try to follow my example. I never leave the appropriate subject, and only speak what is written thoroughly in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other scriptures. Only hear from bona fide persons. I wanted that all the best things be told. Be alert and very careful about this.
Now I am coming to the subject.
When Prahlāda Mahārāja returned from the school of the atheist teachers Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka and spoke to his father about the principles of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, his father angrily told his teachers, "I will take your heads. Why did you teach Prahlāda about devotional service to Viṣṇu?"
Trembling, the teachers replied, "We have not taught Prahlāda this. We don't know why he is speaking about it. You can ask him whether we taught him this."
Hiraṇyakaśipu turned to Prahlāda and asked, "Where have you learned this? If these two haven't told you this, then who has told you? Why are you boldly saying these things about surrendering to Viṣṇu, my enemy?"
Then Prahlāda Mahārāja began to speak.
Śrīla Gurudeva (asking one devotee):- Do you remember this sloka? You should speak on this topic. I wanted that these subjects should be spoken but not sure what they spoke.
matir na kṛṣṇe parataḥ svato vā
mitho ’bhipadyeta gṛha-vratānām
adānta-gobhir viśatāṁ tamisraṁ
punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām
[Materialistic persons are simply mulling over that which has already been mulled and chewing that which has already been chewed. Because their senses are not controlled they are proceeding towards the dreadful hell of this material existence, repeatedly trying to enjoy that which has already been consumed. The intelligence of such materially attached persons can neither be turned towards Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa by their own endeavor, by the instruction of others, or by the association of similar materialistic persons.]
Prahlāda said : “O my dear father – those whose consciousness is not fixed on Kṛṣṇa but on other things – even if they take help from others, even if they come together – they will not be able to understand what is the goal of their life and what is in their self-interest. The real self-interest is to engage in hari-bhajana. Their problem is that they have uncontrolled senses – they are gṛha-vratā– they have taken a vow to remain in this world and somehow find happiness. Following their uncontrolled senses they are chewing something which has already being chewed. There is no real enjoyment or rasa in this world, but we are very foolish that we are endeavoring so hard to get to get one drop of happiness. Following this path they are going toward the darkest region of ignorance and they will go to hell and suffer their reactions.”
Śrīla Gurudeva: Who will go? Guru and disciple both will go to hell." Then ‘na te.…”
na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ
durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninaḥ
andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānās
te ‘pīśa-tantryām uru-dāmni baddhāḥ
[Persons who are strongly entrapped by the consciousness of enjoying material life, and who have therefore accepted as their leader or guru a similar blind man attached to external sense objects, cannot understand that the goal of life is to give up this material life and engage in the service of Lord Viṣṇu. As blind men guided by another blind man miss the right path and fall into a ditch, materially attached men led by another materially attached man are bound by the ropes of fruitive labor, which are made of very strong cords, and they continue again and again in materialistic life, suffering the threefold miseries.*]
Prahlāda continued “They don’t know that their real self-interest, the ultimate goal of life, is to worship Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Instead they place all their false hopes in trying to enjoy this world and place all their hopes in material things. They are blind and they are following other similar blind persons and the result is that they will fall in the ditch.”
Śrīla Gurudeva: Then Hiraṇyakaśipu became very angry and told Prahlāda, “You want to say that I am blind and my guru Śukrācārya is also blind, and Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka are bogus persons. You think you know better than them. I will kill you.” Then Prahlāda Mahārāja told:
naiṣāṁ matis tāvad urukramāṅghriṁ
spṛśaty anarthāpagamo yad-arthaḥ
niṣkiñcanānāṁ na vṛṇīta yāvat
[The lotus feet of Urukrama, who is glorified for His uncommon activities, destroy all anarthas in the heart. However, those who are very materialistic cannot be attached to His lotus feet until they smear their bodies with the dust from the lotus feet of great souls who are absorbed in bhagavat-prema and who are completely freed from material attachments.]
"Yes, you both are blind, your guru and you. You are demons, I know that you are blind and if you are not taking the dust of the lotus feet of highly qualified Vaiṣṇavas, then your mati, intelligence cannot be changed.”
Atula-kṛṣṇa dāsa: How can your intelligence be fixed on the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa if you have not bathed in the dust of the lotus feet of any elevated Vaiṣṇava. It will not be possible.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Who are niṣkiñcana?
Atula-kṛṣṇa dāsa: Niṣkiñcana are those who have no possession and Kṛṣṇa is their only possession. In their heart is Śrī Kṛṣṇa, their only possession.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Good. I wanted all these things to be explained here but bogus speakers told so many things out of subject. I don't know how they will preach in the future. I don't want these things.
What became afterwards?
Hiraṇyakaśipu became furious and, taking his sword and club, he ordered his men, "Bring mad elephants and poisonous snakes. Throw them on him so that they will kill him! Bring poison and forcibly give it to him! Bring my sister to put him in a fire. Throw him from a mountain into the ocean and bind him to a stone so that he will drown!" They did that; thousands of soldiers came to kill him, but they could not accomplish the result they desired. Hiraṇyakaśipu became anxious and fearful, thinking, "I wanted to kill him, but he is not dying. And it may be that I will be killed by him."
Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka arrived and consoled him. They said, "Don't be worried, you have controlled Indra and all the other demigods, and Prahlāda is like a mosquito compared to them. Why are you so anxious? Wait a little; our father Śukrācārya has gone away for meditation. He will return shortly and make Prahlāda a very good boy. Don't worry."
They took Prahlāda with them to their school and began again to teach him politics, duplicity, hypocrisy, diplomacy, how to earn money and how to rule a country – to divide and control. Prahlāda did not say anything in the class; he was simply remembering his Lord Kṛṣṇa.
One day the teachers told Prahlāda, "We are going out for an important job, so for some time you should watch over these boys, like a monitor. We will return very soon."
With their teachers absent the boys began to play here and there. Prahlāda requested them, "Don't do so. Please hear; I will tell you something that will make your life happy." Prahlāda Mahārāja then began to tell what the speakers did not touch. I am very worried.
Syamarani dāsī: The children wanted to play and engage in self-realization when they are older.
kaumāra ācaret prājño
dharmān bhāgavatān iha
durlabhaṁ mānuṣaṁ janma
tad apy adhruvam arthadam
[Prahlāda Mahārāja said: One who is sufficiently intelligent should use the human form of body from the very beginning of life—in other words, from the tender age of childhood—to practice the activities of devotional service, giving up all other engagements. The human body is most rarely achieved, and although temporary like other bodies, it is meaningful because in human life one can perform devotional service. Even a slight amount of sincere devotional service can give one complete perfection.]
We should pursue self-realization from an early age. Suppose if we have 100 years to live, 50 years are wasted in sleeping, then 10 years are wasted playing foolishly as a child, 10 years in material educations, 10 years in sense gratification – getting married, having children etc. 20 years are wasted in old age. So don’t pursue economic development or money as that doesn’t bring happiness.
kaumāra ācaret prājño
dharmān bhāgavatān iha
durlabhaṁ mānuṣaṁ janma
tad apy adhruvam arthadam
Prahlāda is telling his friends – this human form of life is very rarely achieved after many millions of lifetimes.
Śrīla Gurudeva: You should think that Prahlāda Mahārāja is instructing you all and try to follow all these instructions in your life. Then you should help others. If you are not following then yourself, how can you teach others?
Prema-prayojana dāsa: The human form of life is also temporary like other births, but this human birth is arthadam – it has the power to give something the other births cannot give - “dharmān bhāgavatā ni ha”. In the human form of life, one can engage in bhagavat-dharma, prema-dharma, loving devotional service to Kṛṣṇa. This is done from the very beginning from your life. As one grows older, one collects saṁskāra which will be obstacles to perform bhajana at an older age. There will be deep attachment to family and household possessions.
Śrīla Gurudeva: ‘tat-prayāso na kartavyo.….”
tat-prayāso na kartavyo
yata āyur-vyayaḥ param
na tathā vindate kṣemaṁ
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (7.6.4)
[Endeavors merely for sense gratification or material happiness through economic development are not to be performed, for they result only in a loss of time and energy, with no actual profit. If one's endeavors are directed toward Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one can surely attain the spiritual platform of self-realization. There is no such benefit from engaging oneself in economic development.]
Just as distress comes without any endeavor, happiness also comes without endeavor. If you are working hard in this world to attain material happiness, it is a waste of time because all will come according to karma, so don’t waste your time in this.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Have you explained about 100 year? You should tell that.
Prema-prayojana dāsa: If you don’t take to the path of devotion – then 50 years of your life will be wasted in sleeping, the first 10 years will be wasted in playing games, 10 years will be spent in education in learning some skill or profession to maintain your life, and the last 20 years you will be old and many diseases will be there, so how will you engage in bhajana?
Śrīla Gurudeva: At the time how can you give up your newly married wife and weeping small children?
Prema-prayojana dāsa: When you collected so many material attachments, how can you give them up. Even if you try to give them up, it will come in your mind again and again.
Śrīla Gurudeva: If your father is so old. How can you give him up? Your little children will be very lovingly calling, "Papa, Mama." How will you be able to give up absorption in them? Your beautiful gardens and beautiful dogs – how will you give them up? So it is better to give up everything material, and chant and remember Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Prahlad told his classmates: "If you want to be happy, then practice bhakti-yoga, devotional service, to Lord Kṛṣṇa."
What was that?
Śrīpād Madhava Mahārāja: The classmates asked, “How can we practice bhakti yoga?”
Prahlad: It is very simple and doesn’t require much endeavor:
guru-śuśrūṣayā bhaktyā sarva-labdhārpaṇena ca
saṅgena sādhu-bhaktānām īśvarārādhanena ca
[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]
You have to serve your spiritual master with śuśrūṣayā bhakti. Just like it has been mentioned in the scriptures Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (6.23):
yasya deve parā bhaktir
yathā deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāh
[The conclusive essence of the śrutis is only revealed to those great souls who have para-bhakti unto Śrī Bhagavān and who have an equal amount of bhakti for Śrī Gurudeva.]
The amount of parā-bhakti one has towards Bhagavan should be the same as towards Gurudeva. Gurudeva is not mortal. Then surely the meanings and essence of scriptures will come in the heart.
Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka are not bona fide gurus, nor is their father Śukrācārya because they are absorbed in material things. Guru is not attached to material things. He is expert in all the scriptures and he is a realized soul. If you go and serve him then very easily you can understand. Whatever you have, you should offer at the feet of gurudeva. You should engage with the Vaiṣṇavas as per the six exchanges as mentioned by Śrīla Rupa Gosvāmī
Śrīla Gurudeva: The students asked, "Prahlāda, you are always attending this school of Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, so where did you learn this philosophy?"
Śrīpād Madhava Mahārāja: Prahlāda Mahārāja replied, "I never learned anything from these bogus gurus. My guru is Śrī Nārada Ṛṣi. When I was in my mother's womb I learned all this philosophy from Śrī Nārada."
Śrīla Gurudeva: Prahlāda asked, "Are you convinced?"
The children replied, "Oh yes, we are all convinced."
"Then come with me and perform saṅkīrtana, the congregational chanting of the Lord’s holy names." He then began saṅkīrtana.
ṣrī kṛṣṇa gopāla hare mukunda
govinda he nanda-kiśora kṛṣṇa
hā śrī yaśodā-tanaya prasīda
śrī vallavī-jīvana rādhikeśa
govinda jaya jaya gopāla jaya jaya
rādhā ramana hari govinda jaya jaya
Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare
Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare
[The devotees present also began kirtana, but they were stopped by the loud voice of Śrīpād Aśrama Mahārāja acting as Hiraṇyakaśipu, who was in turn "ripped open" by Śrīpād Mahibharata dāsa, acting as Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva in that two-minute drama.]
Thank you for this good demonstration.
In a moment, Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva pulled Hiraṇyakaśipu's intestines out, put them around His neck and began to roar. His mane began to fly in the air and made it seem as though the whole world would be finished. He was so furious that Lord Brahmā, Lord Śaṅkara, Śrī Lakṣmī-devī and all other great personalities who arrived to watch the scene thought, "Oh, he will destroy the whole universe." They requested Lord Brahmā, "You are His son; you should go and pacify Him.”
Fearful, Lord Brahmā objected, "Oh, this time I cannot go.”
The demigods then they requested Lord Śaṅkara to pacify Him, but he said, "I cannot go."
After that they asked Lakṣmī-devī, "Lakṣmī-devī, you are always serving and massaging him in the spiritual world. Please go and pacify him."
She replied, "Today I cannot go."
Brahmā and others then requested Prahlāda, "You can do it; you should go."
Hearing this, Prahlāda, very boldly and with no fear at all, jumped onto the lap of Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva. Seeing Prahlāda, Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva began to weep bitterly with many tears flowing from His lotus eyes. He began licking Prahlāda's body, as a lion licks his cubs – because He was in the form of half-animal-half-man. After that He told Prahlāda, "I am very upset that I have delayed. Your father gave you so much trouble – he even tried to kill you – and I delayed. Excuse Me for this delay and take any benediction you like."
Prahlāda Mahārāja said, "I am not a business person. I don't want to beg anything, or take any boon in exchange for my service to You."
"Prahlāda you must ask a boon, because you’re seeing Me must not go in vain. You must ask any boon – to please me; otherwise I will not be pleased."
Prahlāda said, "Please excuse my father and liberate him."
"It has been done."
"How has it been done?"
"Twenty-one generations of an uttamā-adhikāri, topmost Vaiṣṇava will be liberated, even if the generations of family members are not devotees. For those who are madhyama-adhikāri, second class devotees, their fathers and mothers of fourteen generations will be liberated. If one is even a kaniṣṭta, neophyte devotee, but sincerely chanting and remembering Kṛṣṇa, then seven generations will easily be liberated. Your father is in the first generation; therefore he will surely be liberated. Now ask for any benediction."
Prahlāda said, "If You want to give me a benediction, grant me that I should live in this world for many years, suffering everyone's problems which they have received due to the reactions of their sinful activities, and their pain of the endless chain of birth and death – so that all will be liberated – from top to bottom."
"How can this be?" Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva asked.
Śrī Prahlāda said, "You can do this very easily, because Youcan come for Your devotees. All the living beings are part and parcel of You, and they are Your eternal servants. So I know that You can certainly liberate them."
Lord Nṛsiṁha deva then said, "If anyone hears, remember, or tells others about our pastimes, they will certainly be liberated. They will be liberated gradually – first taking shelter of Śrī Gurudeva by instruction and initiation."
Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja never asked for salvation or sayujya-mukti, the impersonal liberation of merging onto the Supreme Lord's effulgence. He rejected everything material, and therefore he is a high class parama-bhagavata, great devotee.
Nṛsiṁhadeva told him, "You will be the ideal example." People will say, “Always be a great devotee like Prahlāda Mahārāja,” He is a devotee like Prahlāda Mahārāja." When the subject of bhakti, pure devotional service comes, people will say, "Oh, Prahlāda Mahārāja was maha-bhagavata, a pure devotee. So many difficulties in life came, but he tolerated them all. He never cursed his father or replied in harsh words."
We should try to realize these truths and try to practice bhakti-yoga like Prahlāda Mahārāja.
I wanted the speakers to elaborately discuss this today in class. I am very worried; I am disappointed. This subject should be dealt with, giving up others. In the future you should be careful about this. I wanted to glorify Prahlāda Mahārāja, but so many other subjects entered.
Why did Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva appear from a pillar? He did so to make the words of His devotee true. Before being killed, Hiraṇyakaśipu had asked Prahlāda, "Where is your Lord? Have you ever seen him?"
Prahlāda had replied, "Oh yes, He is everywhere. There is no place where He is not. He is in the atom, in the heart of all living beings – everywhere.”
Do you believe this?
Then know that Lord Kṛṣṇa is watching you, everywhere and in all circumstances. If you are stealing anything or doing any nonsense, others may not realize what you are doing, but He knows. He is everywhere.
Then Hiraṇyakaśipu said, "Is He in this pillar?"
Prahlāda replied, "Certainly."
Hiraṇyakaśipu then picked up his club and, with his fist, he crushed the pillar. A loud roaring sound at once came from the pillar.
[Aśrama Mahārāja roars]
Frightened, Hiraṇyakaśipu began looking around to see, "From where is this sound coming?" He then saw that it was coming from the pillar.
satyaṁ vidhātuṁ nija-bhṛtya-bhāṣitaṁ
vyāptiṁ ca bhūteṣv akhileṣu cātmanaḥ
stambhe sabhāyāṁ na mṛgaṁ na mānuṣam
[To prove that the statement of His servant Prahlāda Mahārāja was substantial—in other words, to prove that the Supreme Lord is present everywhere, even within the pillar of an assembly hall—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, exhibited a wonderful form never before seen. The form was neither that of a man nor that of a lion. Thus the Lord appeared in His wonderful form in the assembly hall.]
Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva is so merciful that he came to fulfill the four Kumaras' curse of Jaya and Vijaya, the two gatekeepers in Vaikuṇṭha who were cursed to come to this world as Hiraṇyakaśipu and his brother, and to fulfill the boon which Brahmā gave Hiraṇyakaśipu. Hiraṇyakaśipu could not be killed by anyone in creation, nor in the night, or in the day, nor in any month of the year, nor by any weapon. To make Lord Brahmā's words true, Lord Nṛsiṁha deva came in the evening, at sunset, which is neither day nor night. He did not die in the sky or on the earth, for Lord Nṛsiṁha deva picked him up and put him on His lap. He did not die inside a room or outside, for Lord Nṛsiṁha deva killed him in a doorway. And he did not die by any weapon – for Lord Nṛsiṁha deva killed him with His nails. He ripped Hiraṇyakaśipu apart and took out his intestines.
So Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva came out from the pillar and Hiraṇyakaśipu saw that He is everywhere. You may think, "I am alone when doing nonsense," but He will see. His eyes are the sun and moon; He is in all the atoms of air.
Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva wanted to test Prahlāda by offering him boons, to see if he was willing to be cheated by them. He offered to give him the sāyujya-mukti that was given to Śiśupāla. He offered to give him that salvation which so many sages and Maharishis, saintly kings, in the line of Śaṅkaracarya cannot achieve in thousands of births. Nṛsiṁha deva was willing to give this to Prahlāda very easily, but Prahlāda refused it all. He again and again requested Prahlāda to accept this, but he refused.
sāmīpyaikatvam apy uta
dīyamānaṁ na gṛhṇanti
vinā mat-sevanaṁ janāḥ
[“My devotees do not accept sālokya, sārṣṭi, sārūpya, sāmīpya or oneness with Me—even if I offer these liberations—in preference to serving Me.”]
Prahlāda said, "I am not a business person. I will not take a boon from you in exchange for my service to You. What to speak of this sāyujya-mukti, impersonal liberation, I don't even have a personal desire to be in the spiritual planets of Vaikuntha. I don't want anything as renumeration."
Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva asked, "What do you want?"
Śrī Prahlāda said, "Please be merciful to all living beings. By that I will be pleased, and you will also be pleased. Because you are bhakta-vatsala, you have an unlimited desire to please your devotees and you know that all living beings are your personal eternal servants, please be merciful and give that benediction to all. And, if you want, I will stay in this world forever, suffering for all their sinful reactions." ." But he never took that. He also said:
ye ṣuyeṣuvra jāmyaham
teṣu teṣv acyutā bhaktir
Śrī Viṣṇu Purāṇa (1.20.38)
[“O master, in all the thousands of births through which I must wander in this world, please let me have unfailing devotion to You, the infallible Supreme Lord.”]
"O Acyuta, infallible Lord, I don't mind accepting hundreds of thousands of births – but I want that wherever I will be, I must receive the elevated association of your pure devotees and always worship You. I don't want anything else."
Śrī Lakṣmīdevī, Garuḍa, Lord Brahmā, Lord Śaṅkara and many other great personalities were present, but Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva gave preference to Prahlāda Mahārāja. He said, "I could not cheat you. You have conquered Me. I don't favor Saṅkaṣaṇa, or My Lakṣmī-devī, or My messenger and carrier, Garuḍa, or Lord Brahmā, as much as I favor a devotee like you. Therefore I cannot cheat you. So you have conquered Me."
Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja never cared for any problem that arose in his life, and he accomplished his mission in a very short time. His father wanted to kill him, but he never cared. If death is to come, it will come; and you will not be able to do anything to protect yourself. Prahlāda Mahārāja was very bold; you should also be bold like him. I am telling all these truths, for you. If death is coming, or so many problems and sufferings are coming, try to keep your feet on the head of them all. Don't be upset. Try to do bhajana, chanting and remembering Kṛṣṇa without any hesitation and not considering any obstacles. This is the teaching of Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja.
Prahlāda and Balī Mahārāja
When Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s incarnation, Lord Vāmana deva, came to the palace of Balī Mahārāja in the form of a dwarf-brāhmaṇa, his feet and legs were naturally very small. He told Balī Mahārāja, "I want something from you."
Balī Mahārāja became happy and said, "Ask for any boon – a very beautiful wife, a kingdom, heaven, wealth, reputation or a position. I can easily give you this."
Lord Vāmana deva replied, "I am a brāhmaṇa boy. I am always satisfied. I don't want anything unnecessary. I want only three steps of land, so that I may sit there and do bhajana."
Balī Mahārāja began to laugh and joke with that young brāhmaṇa. He said, "You are just a boy – a child – and your intelligence is also very small like that of a child. I want to give you everything imaginable, but you do not want that. But alright, I shall give you the three steps of land, as you desire.”
Lord Vāmana deva asked Balī Mahārāja to do saṅkalpa (a ceremony to make a vow) that would consecrate the offering and finalize it.
Balī Mahārāja's guru Śukrācārya was actually a materialist, and was thus worried about his own security. He warned Balī, "Be careful. Don't make a vow to give him anything. Don't believe him. He is Viṣṇu, not a dwarf. He is the imperishable Supreme Personality of Godhead Viṣṇu. Accepting Kaśyapa Muni as his father and Aditi as his mother, He has now appeared to fulfill the interests of the demigods. He is cheating you. Give something that will not be harmful to you. Give something, but not in a way that he can take everything."
Balī Mahārāja replied, "If he is Viṣṇu, he will somehow take everything anyway. Everything already belongs to Viṣṇu, God; so why should I not give what he asks? And, if he is not Viṣṇu, he will not be able to take anything except the three steps of land."
Lord Vāmana deva then said, "If Śukrācārya does not assist you in making the vow, I will do so personally. Now take some water from this vessel and do saṅkalpa."
While Balī Mahārāja was preparing to do the saṅkalpa , Śukrācārya thought, "He did not obey me, and now Viṣṇu will take everything. I must prevent that water from coming out of the vessel so that the vow will not be completed."
Because the water was not coming out, Lord Vāmana deva took a small stick and pierced a hole in the spout of that vessel, and blood at once began to flow from it. From where had the blood come? Śukrācārya was a powerful mystic yogi. He had made himself become very small and had entered the vessel to stop the water from pouring from the spout – and now he had become blind in one eye. Of course, because he always had one eye on worldly things and not transcendental truths, he was actually blind in one eye even before this incident.
Persons who create problems for those who are coming to do bhajana and to accept a guru are blind in one eye. So don't give any such problems to your husband, children, wife, friends or anyone else. If any associate of yours wants to do bhajana, tell them they are doing very well and say, "I bless you. I will help you." If your husband or wife is trying to do bhajana, don't stop him or her. If you do so, you will become blind in one eye.
After the vow was completed, clever Lord Vāmana deva at once became so tall that his body extended from the Earth to the sky. By this pastime he became also known as Trivikrama, for he took three giant steps. His first step encompassed the entire lower half of the universe and his second step covered the upper half. Now it seemed that there was nothing remaining for Balī Mahārāja to give. Vāmana deva asked, "Where should I put my third step?"
Śrī Vāmana deva was very clever, and Balī Mahārāja was also clever. Balī replied, "I am fully surrendering to you. Please take my body; place your foot on my head." He did ātma-nivedana full surrender of the body, words, mind and heart. But what was the result? Vāmana deva arrested him and bound him with the ropes of Varuṇa. There was a great roar of lamentation in all directions, but Balī Mahārāja was nonetheless fixed in his determination to serve and love the Lord.
It appeared that Lord Vāmana deva was punishing Balī Mahārāja, especially when He ordered that Balī would now have to go to the lower planetary system to reside. Balī would lose his usurped kingdom. But it was not an ordinary hellish planet to which the Lord sent Balī. This planet had been created for Balī by the Lord’s own desire, and it was more opulent than any heaven. He even had the famous demigod architect, Viśvakarmā, build Balī Mahārāja a palace that was far more opulent than that of the King of heaven.
Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja at once arrived, along with Lord Brahmā, and asked Vāmana deva, "What are you doing Lord? He has given you everything, and you are binding him?” This was an indirect glorification. Tears came in the eyes of Prahlāda Mahārāja out of ecstatic affection for the Lord, and he also had great affection for Balī Mahārāja. Balī Mahārāja was the son of Virocana, who was the son of Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja. Balī Mahārāja was thus the grandson of Prahlāda Mahārāja.
Lord Vāmana deva saw Prahlāda Mahārāja was weeping due to his love for his family member, and he therefore very humbly said, "O Balī Mahārāja, you may ask for any benediction."
Being very clever, Balī Mahārāja replied, "In my palace in Sutala there are 49 gates. There is no certainty by which gate or lane I will go out or in. I request the benediction that you stand at the gate of whatever lane I pass – all the time, day and night. Thus, he made Śrī Vāmana deva gatekeeper, and Vāmana deva, Viṣṇu, happily accepted this.
Why did Vāmana deva give this benediction to Balī Mahārāja? It was because of the Lord’s affection for Prahlāda Mahārāja. Otherwise, Balī Mahārāja hadn't done anything to deserve it. A donation of only a universe cannot bring this mercy of Viṣṇu. Do you understand? No one can satisfy the Lord by wealth, position or any other material offering. Vāmana deva gave the boon to be always present in Balī Mahārāja's palace – due to Prahlāda Mahārāja. He told Prahlāda, "Always remain there in Sutala and be happy with your relatives there; and I will also always be here."
Prahlāda and Bāṇāsura
Have you heard of King Bāṇāsura? He was a devotee of Lord Śiva and he had thousands of arms. Aniruddha, the grandson of Lord Kṛṣṇa, was in love with Bāṇāsura's daughter, Ūṣā. Aniruddha secretly went to Bāṇāsura’s palace to stealthily meet with her. Bāṇāsura found out and wanted him arrested. Aniruddha fought to protect himself, but he was finally defeated and arrested by Bāṇāsura and his army.
Nārada, who is also a clever personality, brought the news of this to Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Baladeva. He told them, “Bāṇāsura has captured your grandson.” At once, along with His entire army, Kṛṣṇa reached there and began to fight with Bāṇāsura. Bāṇāsura used his thousand arms to fight with many clubs, arrows and other weapons; but during that battle Kṛṣṇa cut off all his arms and hands except for four.
In the meantime, Bāṇāsura remembered his Lord, Śaṅkara (Lord Śiva) who immediately came and began to fight on Bāṇāsura’s side. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa shot a special arrow called Viṣṇu-jvara and Śaṅkara shot his Śiva-jvāra. Śaṅkara was defeated and then remembered Pārvatī, who came to that spot.
There was a demigoddess named Koṭarā who was worshiped by Bāṇāsura, and their relationship was as mother and son. Mother Koṭarā was upset that Bāṇāsura's life was in danger, so she appeared on the scene. With naked body and scattered hair, she stood before Lord Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Kṛṣṇa did not like the sight of this naked woman, and to avoid seeing her he turned his face. We see this demigoddess as a manifestation of the power of Śaṅkara, Pārvatī devi.
Kṛṣṇa then stopped His fighting and said, "O Śaṅkara, O Pārvatī, what do you want?"
They requested, "We want that he be spared. Please don't kill him."
Kṛṣṇa then said, "All right. I will bless him that he will be loyal to you, and he will properly worship you."
Why was all this enacted by the Lord? The reason is that Bāṇāsura was also in the dynasty of Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja. Ultimately, Kṛṣṇa did not favor Bāṇāsura because of Śaṅkara nor Pārvatī – nor for any reason other than Prahlāda Mahārāja.
Prahlāda and Rāvaṇa
While Lord Viṣṇu was in the palace of Balī Mahārāja, as the gatekeeper of his entire palace, Rāvaṇa came to conquer the world. Conquering almost everywhere, he arrived in Sutala and wanted to fight with Balī Mahārāja. He knew that Balī Mahārāja was a very strong personality and so he desired to defeat him. However, when Lord Viṣṇu saw Rāvaṇa coming, He simply kicked him with his toe – and at once Rāvaṇa flew very far away to Laṅkā. Why did He do this? It was because Rāvaṇa would have otherwise disturbed Prahlāda Mahārāja and his grandson Balī Mahārāja. He threw Rāvaṇa from there because of affection for Prahlāda Mahārāja.
Prahlāda and Durvāsā Muni
The Puranas relate still another history. Dvārakā was once invaded by a demon named Kush, and its residents became afraid. The demon wanted to kill all the inhabitants of Dvārakā, who thus began to weep. They begged the sage and powerful yogī Durvāsā Muni, "Please go, like the wind, and find our Lord. You must know where He is. Please ask Him to come at once and save us."
Durvāsā went to Sutala and prayed to Lord Viṣṇu, "The demon Kush has invaded Dvārakā and is about to kill all your citizens. Please come and save them."
Lord Viṣṇu told him,
hy asvatantra iva dvija
Śrīmad Bhagavatam 9.4.63
[Śrī Bhagavān said to Durvāsā Muni: “I am completely under the control of My devotees. Indeed, I am not at all independent. Because My devotees are completely devoid of material desires, I sit only within the cores of their hearts. What to speak of My devotee, even those who are devotees of My devotee are very dear to Me.”]
“I am not independent of My devotees. I am under their control. If you like, you can pray to Balī Mahārāja. If he orders Me to go, then I can go; otherwise I cannot.”
Durvāsā then approached Balī Mahārāja and said, "O Balī Mahārāja, please allow Lord Viṣṇu to go with me to save the residents of Dvārakā. Otherwise they will all die."
Balī Mahārāja replied, “You are capable of performing great tasks, and you know everything. You should know that it is not for me to say whether this clever and “tricky” personality should go or not. Lord Brahmā and Lord Śaṅkara always offer obeisances to His lotus feet. How can I order him to go? It is not so easy to order the Lord to do something.
I do not know what will happen to the residents of Dvārakā, but I will not order Him to go. I cannot allow it."
Balī Mahārāja did not want the Lord to leave him. He knew that the Lord can do anything by His inconceivable power. Thus, the Lord can stay in Sutala and at the same time He can go to Dvārakā and save the devotees there.
Why did Balī Mahārāja have such power? It is because Prahlāda Mahārāja was there. What an exalted devotee Prahlāda Mahārāja is.
Prahlāda, the Preacher
You may know that Prahlāda Mahārāja accepted the kingdom of the world from Lord Nṛsiṁha deva. He never accepted the boon of Vaikuṇṭha, salvation and so on, but he accepted the kingdom of the world. Why? He thought, "In this way I may easily preach devotion to the Lord everywhere." So if you have money, there is no harm in that. Use it in the service of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, to preach bhakti everywhere. Then Kṛṣṇa will be happy, all the devotees will be happy, Bhakti-devi will be happy and you will also be happy.
Prahlāda, the Warrior
Prahlāda Mahārāja once visited Naimiṣāraṇya, and there he saw a sage with matted locks, who had with him a bow and arrows and a sword. It is the duty of the Vedic king to maintain the proper religious and social system of varṇāśrama-dharma, and therefore Prahlāda asked him, "Why do you have weapons? You wear garments of a renunciate performing austerities, and at the same time you have a sword and bow and arrows. Why? I cannot allow you to do so. Either be a sage, or a kṣatriya warrior." If you don’t agree to follow my instruction, if you like you can fight with me and try to defeat me; but I will not allow you to do this. That person said, "I accept your challenge," and he became ready to fight.
They were fighting for one day, two days, three days, four days – and Prahlāda Mahārāja could not defeat him. He began to wonder, "Who is he? Why am I not able to defeat Him?" He then entered a trance of meditation. In that meditation he at once saw that the same garland he had made with his own hands and given that morning to his deity of Lord Nṛsiṁha deva, was on the neck of the person he was fighting. Prahlāda then realized, "Oh, He is a very big trickster!" and he began to laugh. He dropped his bow and arrow and exclaimed, “Lord!" The Supreme Lord then gave him darśana as Nṛsiṁhadeva.
Prahlāda Mahārāja asked him, "I have promised to defeat you, but I could not. What should I do?" Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva wanted to test him, otherwise who could fight against Him?
The Lord answered, "I am always defeated by you. Not only today, but always. You always defeat Me – by your devotion." How exalted a devotee is Prahlāda Mahārāja.
Prahlāda and Nārada
Nārada Muni was once traveling, from the places of one devotee to another, telling each one, "You are the greatest recipient of Śrī Kṛṣṇa's mercy. He had gone from worldly devotees to Lord Brahmā to Lord Śiva. Then he came to Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja and glorified him in many ways.
In another instance Śrī Nārada Muni prayed to Lord Viṣṇu, "I once received a curse from Dakṣa, who told me, “You will not be able to stay anywhere for more than a moment – for as long as it takes to milk a cow.'" Jarā, (old age personified) had previously come to Nārada and told him, "I want to marry you." He at once fled, on his way to Goloka Vṛndāvana, and Jarā, also cursed him in the same way.
Now Nārada begged Lord Viṣṇu, "I don't care about these curses. I want to remain always in Sutala and serve you there." Why did this incident take place? Prahlāda Mahārāja is there, and due to this Lord Viṣṇu always remains there.
Prahlāda and Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda
There are so many more teachings and glorifications of Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja, and that is why Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda said that everyone should read about the life of Prahlāda at least 108 times. He personally also gave at least 108 lectures about Prahlāda.
If you really want to be happy, don't try to gallop over Prahlāda Mahārāja to be in Vṛndāvana. Don't be mad for "goopi-prema." First be like Prahlāda, gradually be like Hanuman, then the Pandavas, then Uddhava and then any servant of the gopas and gopīs. You cannot attain gopī-prema before doing this. Try to follow all the instructions of Prahlāda:
śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ
[Prahlāda Mahārāja said: Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Viṣṇu, 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."]
Try to follow Prahlāda, and also follow your guru. Don’t disobey him. Always perform viśrambheṇa guroḥ sevā, intimate service to gurudeva. Follow all the instructions of the Gosvamis and be happy forever. My benediction to you: Today I will pray to Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Nṛsiṁha deva for you all.
Now we will see a drama about Lord Nṛsiṁha deva. It must be completed before dark. At once, take the mic.
Transcriber: Hari-kathā Team 2021
Submitted by: Sundara Gopāla dāsa
May 24th, 2021