Festival,  Philosophy

Prahlada Maharaja’s Teachings on Devotion

Prahlada-instructs-his-classmates-on-the-science-of-bhakti-yogaWisdom does not depend on age, but on knowledge received from a superior source. This is illustrated by the example of the great boy devotee, Prahlada Maharaja. Prahlada, at the tender age of five years, was able to instruct his schoolmates in the transcendental subject of self-realization. He received this knowledge in the womb of his mother through his spiritual master, Narada Muni. These universal instructions teach us sense-control, peace of mind and ultimately reaching the highest goal of life – pure love of God. Some of the salient aspects of Prahlada Maharaja’s teachings are highlighted below.

The Ultimate Perfection of Human Life

In speaking to his friends, who were all sons of demons, Prahlāda Mahārāja stressed that every living entity, especially in human society, must be interested in spiritual realization from the very beginning of life. The human body is most rarely achieved, and although temporary like other bodies, it is valuable because one can promote oneself in spiritual life and go back home, back to Godhead.

Starting Spiritual life at an Early Age

Prahlada further advised that one should not be very much interested in material enjoyment; instead, one should be satisfied with whatever material profits are easily obtainable, and because the duration of one’s life is very short, one should utilize every moment for spiritual advancement. One may wrongly think, “In the beginning of our lives let us enjoy material facilities, and in old age, we may become Kṛṣṇa conscious.” Such materialistic thoughts are always useless because in old age one cannot be trained in the spiritual way of life. Therefore, from the very beginning of life, one should engage in devotional service.

Material Education versus Real Education

Education sets the humans apart from the animals. However, material education is infected by the three modes of nature, but spiritual education, for which there is a great need in human society, is transcendental. Even those who are apparently advanced in material education seem to suffer from the propensity of “This is mine, and this is yours.” That is the mentality of animals, which leads to more and more materialism and bondage. They cannot give up the association of their families, even in old age or invalidity, for they are attached to sense enjoyment. In fact, Prahlada Maharaja says that the so-called householders are simply shackled in family life and furthermore they want their children to be shackled in the same way. In the process, the real goal of life is lost and the invaluable opportunity of human form wasted.

The really educated (spiritual) person, on the other hand, would want to know about his actual position in this world and the reason for his sufferings in life. He would then start asking meaningful questions such as, “Who am I?” “What is the goal of my life?” This would ultimately pave the way for reestablishing his intimate relationship with the Supreme Lord and be liberated from material bondage. The definite example is Ajāmila. Ajāmila separated himself from the Supreme Personality of Godhead by performing many sinful activities and was condemned by Yamarāja to be very severely punished, but because at the time of death he chanted the name of Nārāyaṇa, although he was calling not for the Supreme Lord Nārāyaṇa but for his son named Nārāyaṇa, he was saved from the hands of Yamarāja.

Sri Krishna Sankirtanam

One’s duty is to revive one’s relationship with Nārāyaṇa. A slight endeavor in this direction will make the attempt successful, whereas one will never be successful in pleasing his so-called family, society, and nation, even if one endeavors to sacrifice his life. The simple endeavor involved in the devotional service of śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 7.5.23], hearing and chanting the holy name of the Lord, can make one successful in pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has therefore bestowed His blessings by saying, paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam: “All glories to Śrī Kṛṣṇa saṅkīrtana!” If one wants to derive the actual benefit from this human form, he must take to the chanting of the holy name of the Lord.

Realizing that God is Everywhere

Maharaja Prahlada informed his classmates that The Lord is present in three features—as Brahman (all-pervading), Paramātmā (Super Soul) and Bhagavān (the Supreme Personality of Godhead). Not only is the Supreme Personality of Godhead present as the Supersoul of all living entities; at the same time, He pervades everything in the entire creation. He exists in all circumstances and at all times. He exists in the heart of Lord Brahmā and also in the cores of the hearts of the hogs, dogs, trees, plants and so on. He is present everywhere. He is present not only in the heart of the living entity but also in material things, even in the atoms, protons, and electrons being explored by material scientists. However, Krishna or Viṣṇu exists beyond Brahman. Bhagavad-gītā confirms that without Kṛṣṇa, there could be no existence of Brahman or Paramātmā. Therefore, Bhagavān, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the ultimate realization of the Absolute Truth. The supreme cause is Kṛṣṇa, and devotees who have surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead can realize Him and His presence within the universe and within the atom; for others, it is not possible.

Realizing The Supreme Made Easy through Surrender

Prahlāda Mahārāja’s classmates, who were born of Daitya (asura) families, thought that realizing the Absolute was extremely difficult. Actually, however, this is not so. The Absolute, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is most intimately related to all living entities. Therefore if one understands the Vaiṣṇava philosophy, which explains how He is present everywhere and how He acts everywhere, to worship the Supreme Lord or to realize Him is not at all difficult. Realization of the Lord, however, is possible only in the association of devotees.

The living entity in the material condition wanders through many varieties of life and many varieties of circumstances, but if he comes in contact with a pure devotee and is intelligent enough to take instructions from the pure devotee regarding the process of devotional service, he can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the origin of Brahman and Paramātmā, without difficulty. By accepting the lotus feet of Prahlāda Mahārāja, who is in the paramparā (disciplic) succession, one will be able to understand the mode of spiritual life. In accepting this mode of activity, there is no need for material qualifications. Spiritual life is open to all and so is the Supreme Lord.

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