May 15 marks the anniversary of the appearance of Lord Nrsimhadeva, Lord Krsna's half-man, half-lion incarnation. Lord Nrsimhadeva appeared to protect His devotee Prahlada from being killed by his demonic father, Hiranyakasipu. Srila Prabhupada gave the following talk after watching a play about the appearance of Lord Nrsimhadeva. The talk was given on May 5, 1974, in Bombay.
This is a very instructive history about the struggle between the atheist and the theist. The story of Prahlada Maharaja is eternally true. There is always a struggle between the atheist and the theist. If a person becomes God conscious, Krsna conscious, he will find he has many enemies, because the world is full of demons.
What to speak of the devotee of Krsna, even Krsna, when He personally came, had to kill so many demons. Even His maternal uncle, Kamsa, wanted to kill Him. As soon as any son was born to Krsna's mother, Devaki, Kamsa killed him. There had been a prediction that the eighth child of Kamsa's sister, Devaki, would kill Kamsa. So Kamsa killed all her children. At last Krsna came. But Kamsa could not kill Krsna. He was killed by Krsna.
Nobody can kill God. The demons, the 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 Prahlada Maharaja's life. As Krsna states in theBhagavad-gita, mrtyuh sarva-haras caham: "I am also death, in the shape of taking away everything whatever you possess."
Hiranyakasipu was very clever, just as the materialists and 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.
Hiranyakasipu was a typical materialist. Hiranya means "gold," and kasipu means "soft bed" or "cushion." Materialistic persons are very much fond of gold and sex. That is their business.
Prahlada Maharaja's name comes from ahlada, which means "transcendental bliss." The living entity's real identification is prahlada, blissfulness. But because of material association, we are in a miserable condition of life.
Hiranyakasipu wanted to become immortal, so he underwent such severe penances that the whole universe trembled. Lord Brahma had to come to pacify him "What do you want?"
Hiranyakasipu said, "I want to become immortal!"
Lord Brahma replied, "Although I have a very long duration of life, even I am not immortal, so I cannot grant you immortality."
The duration of life of Brahmaji is stated in the Bhagavad-gita: sahasra-yuga-paryantam arhad yad brahmano viduh. This means that Brahma's day is sahasra-yuga. Sahasra-yuga means one thousand times the duration of the four yugas Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali or one thousand times 4.3 million years. This comes to 4.3 billion years, which is twelve hours for Brahma. And he lives for a hundred years of such days.
So although Brahma lives for trillions of years, still he has to die. Wherever you go within this material world, either in Brahma-loka or in Patala-loka, you have to die. That is the problem. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, "The real problem is janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi: birth, death, old age, and disease."
Hiranyakasipu wanted to solve these problems in a materialistic way, but that is not possible. When Brahma said he could not make Hiranyakasipu immortal, Hiranyakasipu tried to secure immortality by trickery. He asked Brahma to grant that he not be killed in any of these ways: by any weapon; during the day or night; on land, in water, or in the sky; inside or outside; or by any man or beast.
So Hiranyakasipu thought he was immortal. But to protect Prahlada Maharaja, Lord Nrsimhadeva killed Hiranyakasipu without violating the boons granted by Lord Brahma. Nrsimhadeva was neither man nor beast but half man, half lion. Placing Hiranyakasipu on His lap, the Lord killed him with His fingernails, on the threshhold of the demon's palace, at dusk.
Prahlada is the opposite of Hiranyakasipu. He is the Lord's devotee. In any condition, a devotee always remains a humble servant of Krsna. Therefore he has no danger. Even if he has danger, he will be saved. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati: "Arjuna, you can declare it all over the world that anyone who has taken shelter at My lotus feet who has become My devotee will never be vanquished." And Krsna says:
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear."
So these are the assurances. But the atheistic class of men like Hiranyakasipu cannot understand this. That is their defect. They always challenge God. The dissension between the father (Hiranyakasipu) and the son (Prahlada) was that the son was a believer in God, Krsna, and the father was not. So at the end the father saw God in the form of death. At that time he could not save himself.
That is the difference between theist and atheist. The atheist always challenges, "Where is God? Can you show me?"
"Well, you will see Him. Not now. Just at the maturation of your sinful activities when death comes you will see Him."
Prahlada Maharaja is one of our gurus. There are twelve gurus called mahajanas:
svayambhur naradah sambhuh
kaumarah kapilo manuh
prahlado janako bhismo
balir vaiyasakhir vayam
"Lord Brahma, Bhagavan Narada, Lord Siva, the four Kumaras, Lord Kapila [the son of Devahuti], Svayambhuva Manu, Prahlada Maharaja, Janaka Maharaja, Grandfather Bhisma, Bali Maharaja, Sukadeva Gosvami, and I [Yamaraja]."
If we want to make progress in spiritual life, we have to follow the mahajanas, the great personalities. They are mentioned in the scriptures.
Prahlada Maharaja is our guru in the disciplic succession. The Mahabharata (Vana-parva 313.117) states:
tarko 'pratisthah srutayo vibhinna
nasav rsir yasya matam na bhinnam
dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhayam
mahajano yena gatah sa panthah
"Dry arguments are inconclusive. A great personality whose opinion does not differ from others is not considered a great sage. Simply by studying the Vedas, which are variegated, one cannot come to the right path by which religious principles are understood. The solid truth of religious principles is hidden in the heart of an unadulterated self-realized person. Consequently, as the scriptures confirm, one should accept whatever progressive path the mahajanas advocate."
We cannot chalk out the path of religion. It is very difficult to find out because there are many different scriptures and philosophers. Each philosopher has a different opinion. So how to get the real path of religion? You have to follow the footsteps of great personalities. And Prahlada Maharaja is one of them.
Prahlada Maharaja was born in a demon's family. His father was a demon. Prahlada Maharaja used to address his father as asura-varya "the best of the demons." Hiranyakasipu was patting his son, "My dear son, do like this, do like that. Tell me the best thing you have learned."
So Prahlada Maharaja said, tat sadhu manye 'sura-varya dehinam. He never said, "My dear father." He said, "My dear 'the best of the demons.' " Tat sadhu manye. "I think this is very nice." What is that? Hitvatma-patam andha-kupam vanam gato yad dharim asrayeta: "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 Krsna. That is the best way of life."
So his father became very angry. The atheist and the theist will never agree. The theist will never submit to the atheist. This is the principle. Prahlada Maharaja was put into so many troubles by his father, but he never forgot chanting om bhagavate vasudevaya namah. He never forgot.
We should learn from this story that even in a dangerous position we should not forget Krsna. Krsna will save us. It is said in the Bhagavad-gita (6.22),
yam labdhva caparam labham
manyate nadhikam tatah
yasmin sthito na duhkhena
"Established thus [in Krsna consciousness], one never departs from the truth, and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of the greatest difficulty."
Krsna consciousness is so nice that if one gets Krsna consciousness, 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. But as soon as you get Krsna consciousness, you will be satisfied. Just like Prahlada Maharaja. He was offered all benedictions. Lord Nrsimhadeva said, "My dear Prahlada, whatever you like, you can ask for." But Prahlada never asked for anything. And he was so kind. He is the example of a Vaisnava son in the family. Despite so much trouble given by his father, still he begged from Nrsimhadeva, "My Lord, my father has committed so many offenses. Kindly give him liberation." He did not ask anything for himself.
So Narahari, Nrsimhadeva, immediately said, "Why do you speak of your father? Your father's father, his father fourteen generations all will be liberated because a son like you is in this family." This is the benefit. If a son becomes a pure Vaisnava devotee, he can deliver fourteen generations.
What service can we give our family or nation materially? But if we become a devotee, we can give the best service to our nation, to our family, to humanity. That is the philosophy of Krsna consciousness.
Our Krsna consciousness movement is preaching this philosophy: "You take to Krsna consciousness, and your life will be perfect." And the method is very simple. There is no secrecy. This evening I was talking with a boy who has gotten a mantra and must keep it very secret. But we have no secret mantra. Our mantra, Hare Krsna, is open to everyone. Why should it be a secret? If by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra we can approach God, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, why should it remain secret? It should be distributed like anything so that everyone can go back to God. So there is no secrecy. We don't approve of any secret mantra. It must be very open. The sastra never says that a mantra can be secret.
In this age of Kali it is very difficult to come to the right conclusion by philosophy and other methods. "Kali" means the age of quarrel, misunderstanding, and disagreement. Therefore in the scripture it has been openly declared:
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
"In this age of Kali there is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative for spiritual progress than the holy name, the holy name, the holy name of the Lord."
Meditation, sacrifice, elaborate worship in the temple in this age these things are impossible to perform, but even a child can chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. That is proved by our experience. Whenever there is chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, even the child can take part, even an 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 Prahlada Maharaja, and we are following his footsteps. Let us stick to his principle and become more and more advanced in Krsna consciousness.
Thank you very much.