Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
May 10, 1998
Respected Harikatha Readers,
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
This year, 2017, the auspicious appearance day of Lord Nrsimhadeva is May 9th and 10th around the world. 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 click here.)
Just as Srila Sukadeva Gosvami's speaking of Srimad-Bhagavatam 5,000 years ago is as fresh and relevant today, just as Srila Rupa Gosvami's books, written 500 years ago, nourish us today, just as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's songs, written 100 years ago, nurture us each day, so there is no difference between the 'old' or 'new' discourses of Srila Gurudeva. In all of them he is speaking to us anew, each and every day.
Your aspiring servants, the Harikatha team]
Lord Nrsimha's Mercy
Ito nrsimhah parato nrsimho, yato yato yami tato nrsimhah
bahir nrsimhah hrdaye nrsimho, nrsimham adhim saranam prapadye
Ito Nrismhah parato nrsimho. Nrsimha is here, Nrsimha is there; above, below, in front, in back, in all corners, and everywhere else. Wherever I go, wherever I walk, and travel, I see Nrismha 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 Hiranyakasipu. 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, Hiranyakasipu, who had been given a boon of immortality. Hiranyakasipu 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, Nrsimhadeva killed him very quickly.
Nrismham adhim saranam prapadye. We take shelter of Nrsimhadeva.
If you experience any difficulty or danger in your life, you can chant this mantra. Lord Nrismha 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 Krsna's mercy. So chant this mantra, especially today, and He will protect you from everything inauspicious.
[Srila Gurudeva sang the mantra again, along with the assembled devotees, and proceeded to sing with them the mantra below.]
Prahlada jaya jaya. Nrsimha jaya jaya, Nrsimha 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 Krsna, as Prahlada Maharaja. Prahlada tried to teach his demonic father this beautiful truth.
naisam matis tavad urukramanghrim
sprsaty anarthapagamo yad-arthah
niskincananam na vrrnita yavat
["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 Krsna conscious and taking shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord in this way can one be freed from material contamination."]
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 krsne paratah svato va
mitho 'bhipadyeta grha-vratanam
adanta-gobhir visatam tamisram
punah punas carvita-carvananam
["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 Krsna are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both."]
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 Hiranyakasipu, hearing which, Hiranyakasipu became furious and decided to kill him. Hiranyakasipu 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."
Hiranyakasipu 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. Hiranyakasipu 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.
Hiranyakasipu 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." Hiranyakasipu's fury rose.
Prahlada's teachers, the two sons of the depressed Hiranyakasipu's guru, drew near Hiranyakasipu 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 Krsna consciousness, but the boys initially resisted with the excuse that they would take up Krsna consciousness in their old age. They told Prahlada that now was the time to play.
Prahlada replied, "We may die at an early age. We may even die when we are seven, eight, nine, or ten. If you die at a young age, you will not become old."
"In order to marry and become happy with family, and in order to nourish and support one's children, a person thinks, 'I will build a first-class house and make a very beautiful garden. I will have strong, beautiful dogs, and I will enjoy.'"
"This is a waste of time. We don't want to suffer, but suffering comes to us by our past births' impressions. We don't want to become old, but old age also comes. If you have performed any pious activity in the past, your present happiness will come automatically. Maintenance of your life, your good wife, good children, and everything else will come automatically. Since happiness comes automatically as a result of our past lives' activities, why are you making so many efforts to become happy? Why not chant Krsna's name and remember Him from the beginning of life?"
Prahlada continued, "Now you are boys of three, four, five, six, and seven years of age. Now you are free from worldly entanglements and your hearts are like plain sheets of paper, without anything written there. Later, when you mature, you may marry a beautiful lady. At that time, if you want to leave this world to perform bhajana, she will weep. How will you be able to give up such a beautiful, qualified wife?"
"Moreover, if you also have some children, beautiful sons or daughters, you will be engaged in serving them. Even if you try to give them up, you will not be able to do so. If the children call out to you in their sweet voices and broken language, 'Father, Father, Father,' how will you ever be able to give them up? You will think, 'I must support all these children. They are babies and cannot do anything. If I give up my household life, they will all die.' You may also lament, 'Oh, my beautiful dog and cow can't live without me.' Suppose you make a good garden with many trees and flowers, and later you decide to give it up to associate with devotees to chant and remember Krsna. You will then consider, 'Who will take care of this garden if I leave? All the flowers will die.' You will not be able to leave."
Prahlada continued, "It is better that you chant and remember Krsna from childhood, when you are free from all these worldly entanglements." 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 Visnu for killing his brother, Hiranyaksa, He began to consider, 'My brother has been killed by Varahadeva, an incarnation of Visnu. If I take revenge against Visnu now, he will surely kill me. So, I should first become immortal.' He began to perform severe austerities at Mandaracala 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 Hiranyakasipu'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 Hiranyakasipu 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 would take 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 asrama, 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."
sraddhaya tat-kathayam 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, 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 sastra and guru."]
The boys told Prahlada, "This seems very difficult. We cannot do these things."
sarvesam api bhutanam
harir atmesvarah priyah
bhatair mahadbhih sva-kataih
["The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, is the soul and the Supersoul of all living entities. Every living entity is a manifestation of His energy in terms of the living soul and the material body. Therefore the Lord is the most dear, and He is the supreme controller."]
Prahlada assured his classmates, "There is nothing difficult in chanting Krsna's names, remembering Him, and engaging in devotional activities for His pleasure. We are eternal servants of God, Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore devotional service is our natural activity. We must accept that Krsna 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:
sravanam kirtanam visnoh
arcanam vandanam dasyam
iti pumsarpita visnau
bhaktis cen nava-laksana
kriyeta bhagavaty addha
tan manye 'dhitam uttamam
["Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Visnu, 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 Krsna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge."]
Among these nine kinds of bhakti, five are most important:
sadhu-sanga, nama-kirtana, bhagavata-sravana
mathura-vasa, sri-murtira sraddhaya sevana
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila, 22.128)
["One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Srimad-Bhagavatam, reside at Mathura and worship the Deity with faith and veneration."]
Amongst 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.
sakala-sadhana-srestha ei panca anga
krsna-prema janmaya ei pancera alpa-sanga
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila, 22.129)
["These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Krsna."]
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
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Antya-lila, 4.71)
["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."
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. Krsna has given us the very beautiful karatalas (hand cymbols) of our hands. We can clap our hands. Krsna has also given us our tongue and mouth to sing in a sweet voice."
Prahlada Maharaja then instructed them, "Repeat after me. 'Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna 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.
Hiranyakasipu's Last Try
After some time Hiranyakasipu overheard what was taking place. Grabbing Prahlada's hands, he demanded:
he durvinta mandatman
nesye tvadya yama-ksayam
["O most impudent, most unintelligent disruptor of the family, O lowest of mankind, you have violated my power to rule you, and therefore you are an obstinate fool. Today I shall send you to the place of Yamaraja."]
Hiranyakasipu 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!"
["My son Prahlada, you rascal, you know that when I am angry all the planets of the three worlds tremble, along with their chief rulers. By whose power has a rascal like you become so impudent that you appear fearless and overstep my power to rule you? (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 7.8.6)]
["Prahlada Maharaja said: My dear King, the source of my strength, of which you are asking, is also the source of yours. Indeed, the original source of all kinds of strength is one. He is not only your strength or mine, but the only strength for everyone. Without Him, no one can get any strength. Whether moving or not moving, superior or inferior, everyone, including Lord Brahma, is controlled by the strength of the Supreme Personality of Godhead." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 7.8.7)]
Hiranyakasipu asked Prahlada Maharaja, "Where is your Lord? Is He present in this pillar?"
Prahlada Maharaja fearlessly replied, "Yes, my Lord is present everywhere."
satyam vidhatum nija-bhrtya-bhasitam
vyaptim ca bhutesv akhilesu catmanah
stambhe sabhayam na mrgam na manusam
["To prove that the statement of His servant Prahlada Maharaja 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."]
To convince Hiranyakasipu 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 Nrsimhadeva, the Lord also preserved the truth of Lord Brahma's promise that Hiranyakasipu 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 Laksmi-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 Krsna. 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 Nrsimhadeva and jumped upon His lap. Nrsimhadeva 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 Nrsimhadeva 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 hommas, 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 Nrsimhadeva 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 darsana 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."
Nrsimhadeva 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 Nrsimhadeva – 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 Nrsimhadeva, who participate in today's Appearance Day festival and performs abhiseka will all be liberated by Lord Nrsimhadeva. 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 Krsna consciousness, and that He will give us inspiration to accept the path of pure bhakti.
Now let us first perform sankirtana, and then perform the abhiseka (auspicious bathing ceremony) of Lord Nrsimhadeva.
All translations of Srimad-Bhagavatam quotes: Courtesy of BBT International. ©BBT
Transcriber and Proofreader: Vasanti dasi
Typist: Govinda-priya dasi
Editor: Syamarani dasi