Evening, April 10, 1967
Today I shall speak before you of the history of a boy devotee. His name is Prahlad Maharaj. He was born in a family which was stubbornly atheistic. There are two kinds of men in this world: one is called demon, and the other is called godly, or the demigods. What is the difference between them? The main difference is that the demigods or godly persons are devoted to the Supreme Lord, and the demons are atheistic. They do not believe in God. They are materialists. These two classes of men are always there in this world. At the present moment, due to this Age of Kali, the number of demons has increased, but the classification is there from the history of the Creation. This incident which I am narrating to you occurred very, very long ago, a few million years after the time of the Creation.
This boy Prahlad Maharaj happened to be the son of the most atheistic person and the most materially powerful as well so you will be interested to hear this history. This boy, because the society was materialistic, had no opportunity to glorify the Supreme Lord. The characteristic of a great soul is that he is very eager to broadcast glorification of the Supreme Lord. Just like Lord Jesus Christ: he was very much eager to broadcast the glorification of God, but people crucified him; people misunderstood him. Demoniac people. This is going on. Now Prahlad Maharaj was a five-year-old boy and, when he was in school, as soon as there was some recreation period, when the teacher was off, he would say to his friends, "My dear friends, come on, we shall speak something of Krishna Consciousness." I am just opening a scene, this is Srimad Bhagwatam, 7th Canto, 6th Chapter. The devotee Prahlad is saying: "My dear boys, my dear friends, this is the time, in this young age, to prosecute Krishna Consciousness." Before that he had discussions with his little friends, but they said, "Oh we shall now play why take up Krishna Consciousness?" In answer to which, Prahlad Maharaj is stating, "If you are intelligent then you must begin Krishna Consciousness from this childhood!"
Srimad Bhagwatam offers knowledge scientific knowledge about God. Bhagwatam means the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and Dharma means the regulative principle to understand Krishna Consciousness. Why? Because this life, this human form of life, is very rare. It is a great opportunity: "My dear friends, you are born as civilised human beings, so this is the greatest opportunity." Although it is temporary I do not know what is the length of my life. By calculation the human body is meant to exist in this age, not more than a hundred years. But as the Age of Kali advances, duration of life, memory, mercy, religiousness there are so many things, and they are all decreasing. Although it is temporary, yet you can achieve the highest perfection of life while in this human form.
Why is this so important? This is the opportunity you can understand what is the Supreme Lord, the All-Pervading Lord. For other life forms, it is not possible. By the gradual evolutionary process we are coming to this plane, and so this is the opportunity, this human form of life. By Nature's law, a life is ultimately given to you so that you can promote yourself to the spiritual life and go back to Home, back to Godhead.
The ultimate goal of life is Vishnu. In another verse, Prahlad Maharaj will say: "The people who are in this material world, enamored by the material energy, do not know what the goal of human life is." Why? "They have been enchanted by the glaring external energy. They have forgotten that they are spiritual energy." This is explained later on; but here he says, "This life is an opportunity to understand the ultimate goal of my perfection, Vishnu." Why should we be very anxious to know Vishnu, or God? Prahlad Maharaj gives a reason: "Because Vishnu is the dearmost Person. That we have forgotten." We are all seeking for some dear friend everyone is searching in this way. A man is searching for dear friendship in woman, and woman is searching for dear friendship in man. Or else a man is searching in man, and woman is searching in woman this is going on, searching after some dear friend, some sweet friend. Why? Because I want some co-operation of that dear friend to help me. This is part of the struggle for existence, and this is natural. But we do not know that our most dear friend is Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We are searching after some dear friend, but we do not know who this dear friend can be.
Those who have read Bhagavad Gita will find this nice verse in the Fifth Chapter: "If you make friendship with Krishna, the Supreme Lord, then you can understand perfectly that everything that exists in this world or another world is all the property of Krishna and He is the Proprietor and He is the Enjoyer of Everything." Why are you performing austerity? Why are you performing religious rituals? Why are you giving in charity? Why are you engaged in righteous activities? All these formulas whatever you have manufactured are meant for pleasing the Supreme Lord and nothing more. By your actions, by your righteous activities, when the Supreme Lord is pleased, you will get the result. The result is the thing. If you want to gain by your actions either material happiness or spiritual happiness, if you want to live in this planet or if you want to go to the other planets the moon planet, the sun planet there are so many planets whatever you like; if you want to be a human being, if you want to be a tiger, cat, dog, nonsense whatever you like, you will get. You will get: therefore He is the most sincere Friend.
Whatever you want from Him! But the intelligent man does not want anything which is materially contaminated.
In the Bhagavad Gita you will find that Krishna says, you can elevate yourself to the highest planet, which is known as Brahmaloka where the duration of life is millions and millions of years. You cannot figure it; your arithmetic will be ineffective. The statement in the Bhagavad Gita is that Brahma's duration of life is so great that four million, two hundred thousand years make one day to him. Krishna says, whatever position you may like, beginning from the ant right up to Brahma, you can have. But the repetition of birth and death will be there. But if, some way or other, by discharging Krishna Consciousness in Devotional Service "if you come to Me, then you don't have to come back again to this miserable material existence."
Prahlad Maharaj said the same thing: that we are searching after the most dear friend, Krishna, the Supreme Lord. Why is He the most dear Friend? By nature He is dear. Why? Well, what is the dearmost thing within yourself? Have you analyzed? You are yourself the dearmost thing. I am sitting here, but if there is fire alarm, I shall at once take care of myself. "How can I save myself?" You forget your friends, you forget even your children "let me first of all save myself." Self preservation is the first law of Nature.
Atma, self, of the grossest type means this body, and in the subtler sphere the mind is atma, and in the real sense atma means the soul. We are all very fond of our atma, either this body or this mind or the soul. In the gross stage we are very fond of protecting this body, and in a subtler stage we are very fond of protecting the mind; and, above this mental, intellectual plane, where the atmosphere is spiritualised, there we understand: "I am not this mind, and not this body. Aham Brahmasmi I am the part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. That is the platform of real understanding.
Now, Prahlad Maharaj says that, of all living entities, Vishnu is the Supreme Well-Wisher. Therefore we are searching after Him. It's just like the child crying. What is it longing for? It is longing for the mother. But it has no language to express this. By nature it has its body, born of the mother's body, and so there is an intimate relation with the mother's body. The child won't like any other woman. The child is crying, but when the woman who is the child's mother comes and takes it up, at once it becomes pacified. It has no language to express all this, but the real demand is there. Similarly, we are trying to protect this body. Everyone is. This is self preservation. It is a natural law of the living entity, just as eating is a natural law and sleeping is a natural law. I am defending the body because within the body there is soul.
What is this soul? The soul is the part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. As you want to protect this hand or this finger, because it is the part and parcel of this whole body, so therefore we are trying to save ourselves because this is the defending process of the Supreme. The Supreme does not require any defense it is our Love towards Him, now perverted. Just like the finger and the hand toward the whole body: as soon as I want the hand to come here, it comes, and as soon as I want the finger to play on the drum, it plays. This is the natural position. We are searching after God, to be dovetailed in that Supreme; but we do not know it, under the spell of illusory energy. That is our mistake. Now, here is an opportunity, in human life. You have come to understand about Krishna Consciousness, about your real goal of life, because you are human beings. I cannot invite the cats and dogs to sit down here. That is the difference between cats and dogs and human beings. A human being can understand the necessity of life. If I lose the opportunity, it is a great catastrophe.
Prahlad Maharaj said, "God is the dearmost Personality of All. We have to search after God." Then, what about these material necessities of life? Prahlad Maharaj replied to this, "You are after sense gratification, I know that." This sense gratification is achieved by the contact of this body. A hog has got his certain type of body, and his sense gratification is eating stool. The thing which is most obnoxious to you because you at once, after evacuating, leave that place to get free from the bad smell but the hog is waiting. As soon as you evacuate, he will at once enjoy. Why are other animals not attracted? Because the form of pleasure-seeking is due to that particular body. We have different types of sense gratification according to the particular type of body. It is said here, "My dear friends, sense gratification is achieved according to the particular type of body." Everyone who has this material body, is subject to sense gratification. Don't think that the hogs eating stools are unhappy. No, they are getting fat in that way. They are very happy.
Now, if a hog can achieve sense gratification, why not a human being? But that is not our achievement. That is by Nature, it is given; the facilities of the hog's body are offered by Nature, and the facilities of a dog's body are also offered by Nature; and, too, the facilities of the human body are also offered by Nature, or God. Why should you bother yourself for facilities which you are destined to receive in any case, by Nature's law? In every form of life these bodily demands are supplied, by the arrangement of Nature. How is this gratification arranged? Just as it is arranged for distress: Do you like fever? No. Why does it come? I do not know. But it does come, does it not? Yes. Did you try for it? No. So how does it come? By Nature. That is the only answer. Similarly, if miseries come by Nature, your happiness also comes by Nature. Don't bother about it. That is the instruction of Prahlad Maharaj. If you can attain the miseries of life without effort, similarly, you can have your happiness of life also without effort.
Then, what is your real business in this human form of life? You have to cultivate this Krishna Consciousness. Other things will be obtained by Nature's law, or God's law. Even if I don't try, whatever I have to achieve by my past work and through my particular type of body, will be supplied. At any stage or form of life, facility is given for sense gratification. As you do not try for misery, so also happiness will take place outside your control. Your real business, therefore, is to seek out the higher goal of human life.
Editor's Note: This is the first of a short series of lectures on the life and teachings of Prahlad Maharaj, delivered by the Swami in April and May of this year.