Discussions from Srimad Bhagavatam 7.6.1-7.6.5
An Early Start
In Srimad Bhagavatam, seventh canto, chapter six, Prahlada Maharaja instructs his class friends, who were all sons of demons, that every living entity, especially human society, must be interested in spiritual realization from the very beginning of life. He stressed that children should be taught that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the worshipable Deity for everyone. Prahlada Maharaja said that although the human form is temporary, it is rarely achieved. So if one is intelligent, one should endeavor to utilize his/her human life by performing devotional service and giving up all other engagements. Even a small amount of devotional service in this lifetime can give one complete perfection.
Life’s Ultimate Purpose
In the purport of SB 7.6.1, Srila Prabhupada explains that the ultimate purpose of Vedic civilization and reading the Vedas is to attain the perfect stage of devotional service in the human form of life. But in today’s modern world, the human society is losing interest in the perfection of life. The Vedic system recommends that from the age of five years, a child is ready to engage perfectly in devotional service. It’s a shame that in recent years, children are not being trained in Vedic culture but are being educated only for sense gratification. Prahlada Maharaja urges his fellow classmates to take up devotional service, which can save a human being from being degraded to lower forms of life. He instructs that all children and youth in schools, colleges and universities should be taught to hear the wisdom of Bhagavad Gita.
Nine Ways of Devotional Service
In SB 7.5.23, Prahlada Maharaja states that bhagavata-dharma consists of shravanam, kirtanam, vishnoh smaranam, pada-sevanam, archanam, vandanam, dasyam, sakhyam and atma-nivedanam. Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphrenalia and pastimes of the Lord, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him, is the dharma of a devotee. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krishna through these nine processes of devotional service should be understood to be most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge.
The Easy, Sublime Process
In fact, it is stated in the Shastra that following bhagavat-dharma is fairly easy in this age of Kali.
harer nama harer namaharer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
[Cc. Adi 17.21]
“One need only chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Everyone engaged in the practice of chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra will be completely cleansed, from the core of his heart, and be saved from the cycle of birth and death.”
Devotional Service is Natural
Prahlada Maharaja was a pure devotee of the Lord. He said that devotional service is natural because Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the most beloved, master of the soul, and the well-wisher of all living beings. This is confirmed by the Lord in Bhagavad Gita (5.29):
jnatva mam shantim rcchati
“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.”
When one understands these three facts—that the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, is the proprietor of the entire creation, that He is the best well-wishing friend of all living entities, and that He is the supreme enjoyer of everything—one becomes peaceful and happy. In this world, people are suffering because they have forgotten their intimate relationship with God. By the process of devotional service, they can revive their eternal relationship with God, which will make their lives purposeful and successful.
Prahlada Maharaja’s classmates were from demoniac families, so He instructed them that the happiness perceived with reference to the sense objects, by contact with the body, can be obtained in any form of life, according to one’s fruitive activities. Such happiness is automatically obtained without endeavor, just as we obtain distress. In the purport, Srila Prabhupada explains that no one invites distress in order to suffer, but still distress comes. Similarly, if we do not endeavor to obtain the advantages of material happiness, we shall obtain them automatically. Thus there is no need to waste time and energy fighting against distress or working very hard. Material happiness and distress come as soon as we accept a material body, regardless of what form. We cannot avoid such happiness and distress under any circumstances. Our only business in the human form of life should be to revive our relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and thus become qualified to return home, back to Godhead.
Pursuit of Illusion
In SB 7.6.4, Prahlada Maharaja elaborates that materialistic persons, who busily engage in economic development all day and all night, trying to increase their material opulence, waste their time and energy and do not receive actual profit. They perform at the bodily platform and strive to fulfill their bodily needs and material comforts. This is due to lack of spiritual education. Majority of people are unaware of the real goal of life. Unless they direct their endeavor towards Krishna consciousness, they will not achieve self-realization and will not be able to find a solution to life’s real problems such as birth, death, old-age and disease.
Prahlada Maharaja states in the beginning of chapter six of the seventh canto of Srimad Bhagavatam that ‘kaumara acharet prajnah’. The word prajna refers to one who is experienced and who can distinguish between right and wrong. Such a person should not waste his energy and valuable human lifetime simply working like a cat or dog to develop his economic condition. All the people from different strata of human society such as, brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya and shudra should engage in devotional service while maintaining a healthy body and a strong mind/intelligence so that they can distinguish between the goal of life and a life full of problems. If one can follow Prahlada Maharaja’s instructions, one’s life will be successful and one can go back home, back to Godhead.