Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyana Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Badger, California: May 14, 2003 (evening) Part 2
(Part 1 -On the Subject of Śrī Prahlāda)

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,

ahaṁ bhakta-parādhīno
hy asvatantra iva dvija
sādhubhir grasta-hṛday
bhaktair bhakta-jana-priyaḥ
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
smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ
sakhyam ātma-nivedanam
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.5.23

[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.

Gaura Premanandi

Transcriber: Hari-kathā Team 2021
Revised Edition
Submitted by: Sundara Gopāla dāsa
May 24th, 2021

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