The Great Devotee Prahlada Maharaja Shows the way to freedom from material existence.
so’ham priyasya suhrdah paradevataya
lila-kathas tava Narsimha virincha-gitah
anjas titarmy anugrnan guna-vipramukto
durgani te pada-yugalaya-hamsa-sangah
“O my Lord Narsimhadeva, by engaging in Your transcendental loving service in the association of devotees who are liberated souls [hamsas], I shall become completely uncontaminated by the association of the three modes of material nature and be able to chant the glories of Your Lordship, who are so dear to me. I shall chant Your glories, following exactly in the footsteps of Lord Brahma and his disciplic succession. In this way I shall undoubtedly be able to cross the ocean of nescience.” Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.18
Virinca means Lord Brahma and his followers. We are members of the Gaudiya-sampradaya, which means we also belong to the Brahma-sampradaya. Sampradaya means spiritual lineage. Our sampradaya begins from Lord Brahma. There are four Vaishnava sampradayas: Brahma sampradaya, Rudra-sampradaya, Kumara sampradaya, and Lakshmi-sampradaya. If we do not accept one of these sampradayas in disciplic succession, then our attempt to advance in spiritual life will fail. The Padma Purana says, sampradaya-vihina ye mantras te nishala matah: “If your mantra is not received from a bona fide sampradaya, it will not bear fruit.” You cannot manufacture your own prayers; you must follow the footprints of the mahajanas, or great souls. The leaders of the four Vaishnava sampradayas are all mahajanas: Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva, the Kumaras, and
Lakshmidevi. Lakshmidevi is the spiritual potency of Lord Vishnu, or Lord Narayana. She’s always engaged in massaging the lotus feet of Narayana. She is known as Sri, which means opulence, fortune, beauty. She is the reservoir of all these things. Her sampradaya is called the Sri-sampradaya. It is also called the Ramanuja-sampradaya because the main guru in her line was Ramanuja. Members of the Ramanuja-sampradaya worship Lakshmi-Narayana. Each of the four Vaishnava sampradayas worships the Lord along with His spiritual potency. Just as we worship Radha-Krishna, the Ramanuja-sampradaya worships Lakshmi-Narayana or Sita-Rama. Everyone should follow a Vaishnava sampradaya.
Prahlada Maharaja is also a mahajana, because he follows other mahajanas. Here he says to Lord Narsimha, Lord Krishna’s half-man, half-lion incarnation, “I shall relish hearing the narration of Your pastimes.” The narration he speaks of is not written by some mundane drama writer or novel writer. No, not that. That is useless. You should not touch such narrations. If some ordinary person has written something about Krishna’s lila, Krishna’s pastimes, you should not touch it. Krishna’s lila must be narrated by an authorized person in the sampradaya. Otherwise it is useless. You should not touch it. Therefore Prahlada especially mentions, lilakathas tava Narsimha virinca-gitah: “narrations of Your pastimes given by mahajanas like Brahma.”
We offer prayers Lord Brahma composed called the Brahma-samhita. We cannot offer prayers written by some nonsense person. No. Virinca-gitah: “spoken by Brahma.” There is power in such prayers. If you recite prayers composed by mahajanas, that recitation has spiritual power.
Mr. Max Mueller is very famous as a translator of the Vedas. Many scholars have read his translations, but none of them could understand the purpose of the Vedas because he’s not in the line of a sampradaya. Nayam atma pravacanena labhyo na medhaya na bahuna srutena (Katha Upanishad 1.2.23). This is the injunction given in the Vedas. Ayam atma refers to God realization or self-realization. In slightly different wording it is said, nayam atma bala-hinena labhyah: “One who has no spiritual strength cannot understand God.” Na medhaya: If you have a very good fertile brain for manufacturing concocted ideas, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to understand Krishna. That is not possible. Only one who is favored by Krishna and His confidential devotee can understand.
Crows and Swans
Therefore Prahlada Maharaja is giving a warning when he says, “I shall recite the narration of Your pastimes that is composed by Brahma.” That is the secret of success. You cannot compose whimsically. Therefore the next words are very important. Pada-yugalayahamsa- sangah: “fully absorbed in meditating on Your lotus feet in the association of liberated souls.” Krishna’s feet are compared to a lotus. “Lotus feet,” we say. Where there are lotuses, there are hamsas, swans. Here the word swan means liberated souls. There is a difference between crows and swans. Crows gather in a filthy place, where rotten things are kept. The crow will not go where there are lotuses; the hamsa, swan, will go there. Even in the bird society there are classes: crow society, swan society, pigeon society, sparrow society. Everyone belongs to a society. But one society is different from another society. Similarly, where there is Krishna-katha, discussion of topics about Krishna, the crowlike men will not come. Where there is cinema, where there is prostitute dance, where there is drinking, the crowlike men will gather.
na yad vacas citra-padam harer yaso
jagat-pavitram pragrnita karhicit
tad vayasam tirtham usanti manasa
na yatra hamsa niramanty usik-ksayah
“Those words which do not describe the glories of the Lord, who alone can sanctify the atmosphere of the whole universe, are considered by saintly persons to be like unto a place of pilgrimage for crows. Since the all-perfect persons are inhabitants of the transcendental abode, they do not derive any pleasure there.” (Srimad- Bhagavatam 1.5.10)
The class of men who are like crows prefer any artistically written literature that does not glorify the Lord. But saintly persons will accept the Vedic literature, which is sung by Lord Brahma or Lord Shiva or another devotee, even if it is written in broken language. That is the secret of success. If your writing exactly follows the mahajanas, then it will be liked by highly advanced saintly persons. Otherwise, it is rejected as suitable only for crows.
Therefore one must be warned, as Prahlada Maharaja is warning us. We should not indulge in reading speculation or literature that is never touched by the mahajanas.
Why are we giving so much stress on Bhagavad-gita? Because it is spoken by Krishna. Similarly, anything written by Krishna’s pure devotee is important. Otherwise it’s not important.
We should be engaged in devotional service to Krishna always. Reading books is very good engagement, but the books must be written by authorities on Krishna. Otherwise, reading newspapers or ordinary books twenty-four hours a day is simply a waste of time. But if we read authorized literature, then what will happen? Ajas titarmy anugrnan guna-vipramukto: We shall be free from material entanglement.
Bhagavad-gita and Bhagavan Krishna are identical. There is no difference. If you read with the intention that “I shall be able to associate with devotees and Krishna,” then Bhagavad-gita is nondifferent from Krishna. There is no difference. If you are a bona fide devotee, when you read Bhagavad-gita you must know that Krishna is there. If you are a pure devotee, when you chant Hare Krishna, Krishna is there on your tongue, dancing. Don’t think otherwise. Krishna is there. If you are chanting Hare Krishna without offense there are ten kinds of offense then you must know that Krishna is there.
The same applies to reading lilakatha, the pastimes of Krishna and His devotees. We are today reading the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the lilakatha of Krishna and His devotee Prahlada Maharaja. Lila is the dealings between the devotee and the Lord. The whole subject of Srimad-Bhagavatam is Bhagavan and bhakta. Bhagavan is the Lord, and bhakta is the devotee. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam you won’t find any newspaper items “There was an earthquake in London,” and this and that. You don’t find all these things. It is not vayasa-tirtham, not for the enjoyment of the crowlike men. It is for swanlike persons, hamsas.
Extracting Spirit From Matter
Why is the word hamsa used for a liberated person? Hamsa means swan. If you give the hamsa milk mixed with water, the hamsa has the capacity to drink the milk and reject the water. And paramahamsa means a person who, although in the material world, has kicked out material things and taken Krishna. Krishna is everywhere, even in the material world. The hamsa can take Krishna, not the crows.
Those who are in Krishna consciousness are being trained to become hamsas, or they are hamsas. They don’t care for any material thing. They are concerned with Krishna. Krishna is everywhere, but only the devotees can take Krishna from anywhere. How? What is the process? The process is devotional service. If you are engaged in devotional service anywhere, you are with Krishna.
iha yasya harer dasye
karmana manasa vaca
nikhilasv apy avasthasu
jivan-muktah sa ucyate
“A person acting in Krishna consciousness (or, in other words, in the service of Krishna) with his body, mind, intelligence, and words is a liberated person even within the material world, although he may be engaged in many so-called material activities.” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.187)
One who has the sincere desire to serve Krishna in any position, in any body, in any circumstance, is a jivan-mukta, or liberated soul. That is the position of the paramahamsa. Jivan-mukta means that although he’s living in the body, he’s a parama hamsa. He has nothing to do with the body. He has everything to do with Krishna.
We have to take shelter of such a person. Therefore it is said here, pada-yugalaya-hamsa-sangah: Associate with a devotee who is always living under the protection, the shelter, of Krishna’s lotus feet, like the hamsa. When there is a lotus the swans go down within the water and entangle themselves with the stems of the lotus. Our mind should be trained like the hamsa, taking shelter of Krishna’s lotus feet just as the swan entangles itself with the stem of a lotus flower.
If we associate with and become the servant of a hamsa who has nothing to do with this material world, who has taken the cream of the material world Krishna then our life will be successful. Anjas titarmi. Very easily we shall cross over the ocean of nescience.
Like Water in a Calf’s Hoof-Print
The Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.58) says,
samasrita ye pada-pallava-plavam
mahat-padam punya-yaso murareh
bhavambudhir vatsa-padam param padam
padam padam yad vipadam na tesam
“For those who have accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Murari, the enemy of the Mura demon, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf’s hoof-print. Their goal is param padam, Vaikuntha, the place where there are no material miseries, not the place where there is danger at every step.”
Bhavam budhih means the great ocean of nescience into which we have fallen and in which we are now very much struggling for existence. If you are thrown into the ocean, you may be a very good swimmer, but the condition is very dangerous. You’ll have to struggle. You cannot say, “I am a good swimmer. I shall very easily be able to cross the ocean.” No. That’s not possible. But you can cross the ocean of material existence if you take the shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord.
Krishna’s feet are the shelter of the whole material creation. The total material energy is called mahat-tattva. From mahat-tattva the whole cosmic manifestation has come, and the mahat-tattva comes from Krishna’s lotus feet. Therefore by taking shelter of Krishna’s lotus feet one can cross over material existence. Bhavam budhir vatsa-padam. The great ocean of nescience becomes a small spot of water, like that in the hoof-print of a calf.
In the previous verse, Prahlada Maharaja describes the material world as simply a place of lamentation. Sometimes we are so-called happy by getting desirable things, but mostly we are unhappy, associating with undesirable things. So in order to save oneself from these opposing elements, the best thing is suggested in today’s verse: to hear topics of Krishna from pure devotees.
Let us be engaged always in chanting Hare Krishna or reading the pastimes of the Lord, lila-katha. Srimad-Bhagavatam is full of lilakatha, the pastimes of Lord Krishna. Chanting Hare Krishna and reading about Krishna’s pastimes are the only way to get out of the miserable condition of this material world. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said,
trnad api su-nicena
taror iva sahisnuna
kirtaniyah sada harih
“One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.” (Sikshastaka, Verse 3)
When you read or hear or chant about the pastimes of the Lord, that is kirtana. And if you chant the Hare Krishna mantra with instruments, that is also kirtana. There is no difference. We must always engage in kirtana: kirtaniyah sada harih. We should chant the Hare Krishna mantra or read our books. Then we’ll be safe from maya. Otherwise, at any time, we’ll be victimized.
Thank you very much.