Sunday, October 08, 2006

Story 36 – Story of Prahlada – 10

Prahlaada’s behavior was mentioned by the gurus to his father, Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu became very angry & thought that he himself had to kill his son. He called Prahlaada and asked as to depending on whose power you are doing such activities.

The vishnubhaktha prahlaada replied thus:
“O Father! He is not just my power; he is your power as well. He is the power of the entire world. Who is he? He is the supreme cause of all entities starting from a molecule to Brahma. He is the paramatman. He is the time which is beyond the world. He is the deha shakthi, manah shakthi and indriya shakthi. Why all this; he is the entire world. He through his own power creates the world, protects the world & destroys the world. O father! Renounce the asura bhaava. Fix the mind with stead thought of the Lord; know that here there is nothing apart from the ultimate reality of Lord. This sama bhaava will lead you to the ultimate reality of Lord”


The ultimate reality of Lord is the supreme cause of the world as the creator, protector and destroyer of the world. The world is in fact a mere illusion in the ultimate reality of Lord. As the substratum of the illusory changing world, the Lord of the nature of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss is the supreme cause of the world. Any cause is the power of the effect. Even as the pot which is created from the mud by the potter is controlled by the potter, similarly the world which is an illusion creation of the Lord is controlled by the Lord. Thus Prahlaada says that the ultimate reality of Lord who is all-pervasive (indicated by the word Vishnu denoting sarva vyaapitva) is the power behind everything in the world. This has been indicated in many ways in the Gita by the Lord that “I am the power behind all powers; I am the brightness in the sun etc.”

The world if we see is controlled by three factors of time, space and causation. All these three require a substratum in which these illusions seem to exist. Time is just a illusion because it is ever changing & any changing entity requires a changeless substratum. Thus Ishwara or Lord is that substratum in which time, space and causation seem to rise. Once these three rise in the ultimate reality of Lord, they lead to the dual perception through creation of the world that we currently perceive. The Lord who creates the three entities of time, space and causation has to be above these three. Hence he is beyond time, beyond space and beyond causation. The lord is beyond time because there is never a time when he was not there – he was there yesterday, he is there today & he will be there tomorrow. The Lord is beyond space because he is all-pervasive – there is no place where the Lord is not there. This is why the scriptures proclaim that the Lord is present inside and outside of all beings – hence the name of Vishnu meaning all-pervasive. The Lord is all-pervasive because he is the cause of space. Any cause pervades its effect even as the cause of mud pervades the effect of pot. In each and every place in the pot, there is mud. Similarly the Lord who created space is beyond space as he pervades space. The Lord is beyond causation because he is the supreme cause who is not at all cause – this is termed as the Uncaused cause in many systems.

Is it not possible that the Lord also was created?
In such a case, we will have to find out how the Lord was created & who created the Lord. Thus we will come to a conclusion that there is something which created the Lord. Now the question will arise as who created this “something”. This will lead on to a higher cause, higher cause etc. & thus to infinite regression. Thus we have to accept a cause which is never caused & is the cause for the illusory world. It is this supreme or first cause which Vedanta terms as Brahman or Ishwara or Lord.

Thus the Lord is beyond time, space and causation. Since the Lord is the controller of all beings, he is the power behind all powers in the world. It can be claimed that is Lord the controller of energy that science speaks about? Yes, of course. Energy is considered as a constant or that which is never created but just transformed. Any transformation is a change. Any change is possible only when there is a changeless substratum.

A car is seen as moving only because of the changeless road. A variable is considered as a variable only because of the various constants which it assumes at different times. Thus any change is possible only in a changeless substratum. This changeless substratum if we analyze is Consciousness. Without consciousness, there cannot be any energy. Energy is possible only when a person is conscious. It is this conscious principle that resides in the various beings in the world which is called as Brahman or Lord in Vedanta. Thus any power in the world is possible only because of the power of the all-pervasive Lord.

Since the Lord is the cause behind the illusory world, thus the world is the Lord alone even as the illusory snake seen in the rope is snake only. Thus scriptures in many ways speak about the world being filled with the Lord. If we really analyze and understand that the world is nothing but the Lord, then there will be no dual perceptions. When there will be no dual perceptions, there will be no likes and dislikes. Likes and dislikes cause attachment and aversion. It is attachment and aversion which causes a person to suffer in life by doing more and more actions that leads to immersing in the ocean of samsaara characterized by birth and death. Thus if there is no dual perception, then there will be no more suffering. Thus Bhagavatham speaks about sama bhaavana or seeing oneness everywhere in many places. The Lord as well speaks about this in the 6th chapter of Gita wherein he says Arjuna to see everything in the Lord and the Lord in everything. Thus seeing oneness everywhere is the key to removal of sorrows and sufferings in the world. It is as a result of seeing the Lord as pervading the world that a person overcomes the ignorance of his own very nature Lord thereby realizing the ultimate reality of Lord as the non-dual entity (only entity that really exists).

Hearing prahlaada’s words, Hiranyakashipu spoke thus
“You are surely going to die. Only people who are about to die go on blabbering illogical things. Tell me where is your Ishwara; is he in this pillar? I am going to chop off your head. Let me see whether your Ishwara is going to save you or not”.

Thus Hiranyakashipu jumped from his throne and slightly hit the pillar. Suddenly there was a huge sound. It was as if the entire world was shattering to pieces. Hiranyakashipu trembled hearing the sound. In order to prove the words of his devotee and to prove his all-pervasive nature, the Lord came out of the pillar in a terrible form. This was the form of Narasimha – half man and half lion. Hiranyakashipu understood that the Lord has taken a form to kill me. But still he took his mace and attacked Narasimha. Narasimha caught hold of Hiranyakashipu, took him to the steps on the door – it was sandhya time (neither day nor night). Narasimha tore open Hiranyakashipu’s body with his nails and thus killed Hiranyakashipu.


Here we find the promise of the Lord to protect his devotee as well as to show Hiranyakashipu the reality of all-pervasive Consciousness.

The Lord mentions in Gita thus:
Ananyaaschintayantho maam ye janaah pari upaasathe
Teshaam nitya abhiyuktaanaam yoga kshemam vahaami aham

He who thinks about me alone (without any other thoughts) and sees me everywhere, for such a person who is steadfast in Me I take care of his yoga and kshema (good and bad).

Sarva dharmaan parityajya maam ekam sharanam vraja
Aham tvaa sarva paapebhyoh mokshayishyaami maa shuchah

Renounce all activities & take refuge in Me alone – I will take care of all your sins, do not worry.

These are just some of the promises that the Lord makes towards his devotees. Scriptures speak about the Lord being a servant towards his devotees. We can find this compassionate nature of the Lord in the various puranic stories like this. A person who is really devoted to the Lord is always protected by the Lord even as a mother protects his son. The highest and pure relationship that we can think about in the world is that of a mother towards her children. Even higher is the relationship between Guru-shishya and the Lord-his devotee. In these two relationships, there is no tinge of personal desire. Love is so pure that one person thinks about the other only. If the devotee always thinks about the Lord alone, offering all actions unto the Lord and seeing the Lord as pervading everything, the Lord also sees to it that the devotee is thoroughly protected. The Lord is the controller of the entire world as the substratum of the world. Thus there is nothing that cannot be controlled by the Lord. Therefore it is but very easy for the Lord to do anything to protect the devotee.

Even though it is quite clear that the Lord pervades everything in and out & he alone really exists, still it is tough to apprehend this reality if a person is overcome by passions and desires. Such a person is ever engrossed in worldly pleasures instead of seeking the ultimate reality of Lord. A person whose mind goes behind worldly pleasures is called an asura. Asuric tendencies of the mind are those tendencies which tend a seeker to be diverted from the ultimate reality of Lord towards the worldly temporary sensual pleasures. As mentioned in the various puranas, the asuras are killed by the devas with the help of the Lord. As long as there is no devotion towards the ultimate reality of Lord, there cannot be any overpowering the asuras. When there is pure devotion towards the ultimate reality of Lord, the Lord is present to give strength to the mind through the devas or good habits-qualities-activities. The devas then easily overpower the asuras through the help and power of the ultimate reality of Lord.

We see the Lord helping out those who seek him not just through the various stories in the puranas but through the lives of various saints as well in our very lives. Any person who is devoted to the ultimate reality of Lord can experience the presence of the Lord in his/her life each and every moment. Through these various stories, Bhagavatham is telling each one of us that if we really seek the ultimate reality of Lord leaving everything & just seeking the Lord alone, the Lord will reveal his benign form to us.

What is the form of the Lord?
The Lord even though is formless is all-pervasive as the cause pervading the effect. Thus the Lord is present everywhere. In order to prove the devotee Prahlaada’s words & to show Hiranyakashipu that the ultimate reality of Lord is present everywhere, the Lord came out of the pillar.

When the mind is filled with desire for worldly pleasures, it doesn’t apprehend the truth propounded by the scriptures that the Lord is present everywhere. The more and more a person indulges in worldly pleasure, the more and more he goes away from the Lord – he then disbelieves the Lord and doesn’t seek the eternal Lord. This mind or the ego is killed by the Lord through showing the seeker the validity of the statements in the scriptures. Thus for the ego of Hiranyakashipu, the Lord revealed his all-pervasive form. Seeing the form of the Lord, the ego was hurt as it was going to be killed. The ego is the individuality in each person. Even though we all are the ultimate reality of non-dual Lord alone but the ego exists separately so long as there is identification with the body-mind complex. This ego or individuality doesn’t like itself to be killed as when the Lord is realized individuality vanishes & all-pervasive Lord is realized. Thus hiranyakashipu was afraid. Once the Lord is sought and the Lord reveals his form there is no escape. Thus the Lord through showing Hiranyakashipu that he is present everywhere killed the ego thereby liberating the Self underlying the ego of hiranyakashipu.

Thus we don’t find here the killing of a person but killing of the individualistic ego in order to realize the universal Self or the ultimate reality of Lord. It is only through realization of the all-pervasive Lord that individuality vanishes – and only when individuality vanishes can the seeker get rid of the illusory bondages arising the world & causing sorrow-sufferings in the world. Thus it is essential for a seeker to seek the ultimate reality of Lord who is present everywhere so that the Lord kills the ego thereby making the seeker realize his own very nature of non-dual Lord.

We will see as to how everybody around reacted to the Lord’s avatar of Narasimha in the next day.

Seeing the roaring and raging Narasimha, everybody was afraid except Prahlaada. Prahlaada, the devotee-child, did a saasthanga pranaama and praised the Lord thus with shivering and wavering voice:
“O Lord! Here whatever is seen as the world, that all is you only. This world-leela is quite amazing. The pleasure in the heaven and other higher worlds are good indeed. People in the world all eye the pleasure in heaven. Those pleasures were available for my father by mere words as everything was under his control. Such a person as my father was killed so shortly by you. I know that everything in the world ranging from pleasures on earth to the Brahma Loka (the highest that a person can attain in all the worlds) are all temporary. Hence I only want you. Please take me close to yourself”.


Any worldly person who is attached and associated with worldly possessions will be subject to fear. So long as a person considers himself as the body-mind complex, there will be fear of death among other things. A worldly person is afraid that he might lose his possessions which include wealth, power, people etc. People without much strength fear the mighty. People who are poor fear the rich. Thus everyone in the world is affected by the disease of FEAR.

Patanjali proclaims thus about fear in the Yoga Sutras thus:
Svarasavaahi vidhusho api tathaa rudo abhiniveshah
For an ignorant and a learned person as well, there is always fear of death.

Death here only means the state of non-existence of oneself or non-possession of worldly objects. Any person who is immersed in the ocean of samsaara and not acknowledging the ultimate reality of Lord thereby not progressing in the spiritual path will be subject to fear. But for the real devotee of the Lord, there is no fear at all. He doesn’t fear anything because he knows that the ultimate reality of Lord – the controller of the illusory world – is there to protect him. He doesn’t fear anything also because he knows that there is no duality whatsoever & there is only the ultimate reality of Lord present here. We find such a devotee in Prahlaada. When everybody around were afraid of Narasimha’s terrible form as well as his anger, Prahlaada went near to the Lord & prostrated.

Scriptures speak about how to treat a mahatma in the world – they speak about completely prostrating to such a Mahatma. Sa astanga pranaama is quite popular wherein instead of just prostrating through the hand, the devotee totally falls on the feet of the Mahatma. This total falling denotes total surrender of the Ego. The toughest thing for a person to do in the world is falling down at the feet of another person because of the Ego or individualistic thought. When it comes to prostrating the car/bus which helps in transportation, we find it tough as the EGO falls down during such actions. On the other hand we find great Mahatmas like AMMA prostrating to anything and everything as they are filled with the presence of the ultimate reality of Lord. What we in fact consider as falling is not falling but it is respecting the things in the world as forms of the ultimate reality of Lord. For such a devotee who prostrates to anything and everything, nature will be there to protect him. Whenever he gets into any trouble or requires any help, nature or Maya of the Lord protects him through different means.

It is essential for each one of us to understand this symbolic activity of prostrating everything in the world as respect to the ultimate reality of Lord. Through this prostration we not only keep the ego in check but we remember the Lord as pervading everything.

Prahlaada, the real devotee that he was, prostrated at the feet of the Lord and praised the Lord. A real devotee has nothing but praises of the Lord alone – whatever he speaks is praise of the Lord alone – a devotee doesn’t know anything other than the lord – thus his words will nothing but praises of the glory of the all-pervasive Lord.

As explained earlier, a devotee doesn’t require anything in the world ranging from pleasures on earth to heaven to brahma loka. Scriptures speak about the highest that can be attained in all the worlds as going to Brahma Loka. For a devotee even brahma loka is of no use. A real devotee doesn’t crave for anything other than the ultimate reality of lord. What the devotee requests from the Lord is constant remembrance of the Lord and merging into the ultimate reality of Lord. This is what we see Prahlaada asking the Lord. It is quite easy to get carried away by the sensual pleasures but it requires great strength to overcome the passions and seek the ultimate reality of Lord alone. It is only possible through vairagya or dispassion towards the world through the knowledge that the world is temporary & can give sorrow alone. When a devotee finds the world as a temporary creation of the Lord, he seeks the creator who is permanent & knowing whom there will be eternal bliss. Thus through vairagya rises constant contemplation or nidhidhyaasana of the ultimate reality of Lord.

The devotee doesn’t want anything other than the Lord but if he requests anything from the Lord then it is only this that the Lord may be present always with the devotee. We all, if we seek eternal bliss, should seek the ultimate reality of lord while renouncing and not going behind illusory worldly pleasures. The moment a person seeks the ultimate reality of Lord through constant contemplation of the Lord alone, the devotee realizes the ultimate reality of Lord knowing which there nothing else to be known remains.

Narada speaks thus about this:
Sa keerthyamaanah sheeghram eva aavirbhavathi anubhaavayathi bhakthaan

For a devotee who constantly seeks the Lord, the Lord soon reveals himself & makes the devotee realize his own very nature of Lord.

Lord speaks thus about the gati of a real devotee thus:
Ye tu sarvaani karmaani mayi sanyasya matparaah
Ananyenaiva yogena maam dhyaayantha upaasathe
Teshaam aham sammudhartha mrityu samsaara saagaraath
Bhavaami nachiraat partha mayi aaveshitha chetasaam

For the devotee who has renounced all actions by offering them to me, always indulging in my thought, always contemplating on me and having his mind totally fixed on me, I myself will become the savior for such a devotee from the ocean of samsaara & I will save him soon.

We will see as to what happened to Prahlaada thereby ending this beautiful story of Prahlaada and Narasimha in Bhagavatham in the next day.

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