We welcome you to todayâ€™s observance of Lord Nrsimhaâ€™s appearance.
The appearance and activities of the Lord in the world are a great mystery. Therefore in the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says:
janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so â€™rjuna
â€œOne who understands the transcendental appearance and activities of the Lord does not have to take birth again within the material world but goes back home, back to Godhead.â€ (Bg 4.9)
To understand the appearance and activities of the Lord is not so easy for ordinary people. Or, as Srila Prabhupada said, â€œIt is simple for the simple but difficult for the crooked.â€ If one is a simple devotee and hears submissively from Vedic authorities, he can understand the transcendental science. Therefore the Vedic literature enjoins, tad vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigaccet: in order to understand the transcendental science, one must approach a spiritual master. In any subject, we require a teacher. If we want to learn how to play harmonium, we require a teacher. If we want to learn how to make a puri, we require a teacher. If we want to learn how to program a computer, we need a teacher. So, for every field of activity, we need a teacher. Why, then, should we not need a teacher for the most important subject: how to realize God, to understand God?
There are two words in Sanskritâ€”jnana and vijnana. Jnana is translated as knowledge, and vijnana is translated variously as applied knowledge or science or realization. Thus jnana may be called theoretical knowledge and vijnana realized knowledge. In the process of spiritual realization we learn by hearing. Lord Krsna begins His instructions in the Bhagavad-gita with tac chrnu; He tells Arjuna, â€œTac chrnuâ€”hear from Me.â€ So, Krsna is the supreme authority. In explaining the spiritual science in the Bhagavad-gita, He advises, evam parampara-praptam imam rajarsayo viduh: to understand the transcendental science one must receive the knowledge through disciplic succession. If we try to understand the knowledge by our own independent study of the books, we will fail. So Krsna advises that we receive the knowledge through parampara. Parampara means literally one after another. And in the context of Vedic knowledge, parampara means the chain of masters and disciples who follow one after the other, through which the knowledge is passed down to us. The original speaker of the Bhagavad-gita is Krsna. He taught the knowledge to Arjuna and others. One of the others was Lord Brahma, and in that disciplic succession Lord Brahma instructed Narada, Narada instructed Vyasa, and Vyasa instructed Madhvacarya, and so the knowledge was passed down from master to disciple in an unbroken chain. And in more recent times, the same knowledge has been passed to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and then our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada.
The disciplic succession helps us to understand the original teachings of Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic literatures. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna explains that less intelligent persons . . . To be precise, Lord Krsna uses the word mudha, which means less intelligent, foolish rascal. Avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum asritamâ€”such people think that in the beginning Krsna is impersonal and that for some time He assumes what they believe to be a physical body as Krsna. This, of course, is the impersonalist theory, that ultimately God is impersonal, assuming various shapes and forms for temporary manifestation, but that ultimately God is impersonal and that our goal is to merge and become one with God, become one with the impersonal light. So, Krsna says that such people are mudhas, because they do not know His eternal nature, which is changeless and supreme. In other words, Krsna is eternally Krsna. Krsna is eternally the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is not some impersonal light that comes in the form of Krsna and then goes back and becomes light again; He is always the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
We living entities are also, eternally, individuals. While he is incarcerated in prison, a prisoner is an individual, and when he is released he remains an individual. The only difference is that in prison he was bound by so many restrictions and punished in so many ways, and when he is released from the prison he is free. He is no longer subject to the rigors and punishments administered by the prison. But he is still an individual. In the same way, as conditioned souls in bondage we are individuals, and when we are liberated we will continue to be individuals. It is just that then we will be free.
So Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is always an individual, and when He comes into the material world He is the same Supreme Person. Srila Prabhupada gives the example that sometimes the governor may visit the prison. He may come to inspect the prison; he may come to show mercy to the prisoners. But although he is in the prison, he is not subjected to the same rules as the prisoners. He is always free. Similarly, when Lord Krsna, or any of His incarnations, comes into the material world, although He may appear to be like a conditioned soul, He is not. He is not bound by the laws of material nature but is always free.
Now, Krsna is the original form of Godhead (krsnas tu bhagavan svayam). He comes to the material world and speaks the Bhagavad-gita and engages in various pastimes with His devotees. And He comes, for specific purposes, in many other forms as well, of which one is Nrsimha avatara. The Sanskrit word avatara means one who descends. All of Krsnaâ€™s forms are eternal and liberated, not different from Krsna. They are actually Krsna Himself manifest in different features. The example is given of a gem, which has many facets that reflect the light differently and so appear to be of different colorsâ€”red or green or yellow or whateverâ€”but the gem is one. Similarly, God is one; Krsna is one. Krsna is the complete manifestation of Godhead, but He also appears in other forms that are basically the same as Him, although some of His qualities as Krsna are not manifest in the other incarnations.
Lord Nrsimhadeva, according to scripture, is one of the fullest manifestations of Godhead. He has almost the same opulence as Krsna. Krsna is the most completeâ€”He is completely completeâ€”but after Him, Lord Ramacandra and Lord Nrsimhadeva are the fullest manifestations of the opulence of Godhead.
The story of Lord Nrsimhadeva is most interesting and instructive. This history dates back millions of years to a previous age in which a great demon named Hiranyakasipu performed severe austerities. He stood on his toes with his hands upstretched for more than a hundred years. Sometimes, as an exercise or test, we might hold our arms out, and we get tired very quickly. I donâ€™t think many of us could last more than fifteen minutes, if that long. But Hiranyakasipu did severe austerities, standing on his toes outdoors, in the elements, tolerating the heat and cold, the scorching sun, torrential rains, and severe winds. He tolerated all the disturbances of nature, standing on his toes with his arms upstretched for one hundred years. To perform such a feat of austerity takes tremendous willpower and strength and determination. And as a result of austerity, one gets power. That is always the result of austerity: one gets power. But Hiranyakasipuâ€™s austerities were so severe that he had the power to disturb the universe, and the universe was in fact disturbed.
Lord Brahma, the chief of the demigods, or devas, came to the earth to induce Hiranyakasipu to give up his austerities, and so he offered him a boon. Hiranyakasipu was pleased. Yet although the demon wanted to be deathless, Lord Brahma informed him, â€œI cannot make you immortal, because I myself am mortal.â€ Still, Hiranyakasipu was very intelligent, and proud of his intelligence, so he thought that he could become immortal indirectly, by obtaining so many other boons. He asked that he should not be killed by any created being. And Lord Brahma agreed: â€œGranted.â€ He asked that he should not die inside his residence or outside, during the day or at night, on the ground or in the sky. And again, â€œGranted.â€ And he asked, â€œLet me not be killed by any weapon, or any demigod, demon, man, or beast.â€ And again Lord Brahma agreed. So, in various ways, Hiranyakasipu thought that he could eliminate all the logical possibilities for his death. He thought he could be assured of immortality indirectly.
After receiving the boons from Brahma, Hiranyakasipu was confident of his invincibility, and he declared war on the demigods. He was so powerful that he was successful in his campaign, and he actually captured the heavenly planet called Indraloka, or Svargaloka. He occupied the throne of King Indra and was being served by all of the demigods except for Brahma and Siva. The demigods were in a very distressed condition, and they prayed to the Supreme Lord, Visnu, or Krsna, for relief.
Earlier, when Hiranyakasipu had left his palace to perform severe austerities, in the fighting between the demigods and the demons the demigods had become successful. So, King Indra arrested Hiranyakasipuâ€™s pregnant wife. He intended to take her to his heavenly kingdom, and thinking that she bore another demon, another Hiranyakasipu, within her womb, he planned to kill the child at birth. But just then Narada appeared on the scene, and he stopped Indra and the other demigods. He said, â€œNo, the child within the womb is a great devotee, a maha-bhagavata,â€ and took charge of Kayadhu, Hiranyakasipuâ€™s wife. He escorted her to his asrama and gave her shelter there. While she was there and her unborn child, Prahlada, was in her womb, Narada instructed her in Krsna consciousness, and Prahlada, within the womb, heard the instructions.
In due course, Kayadhu was returned to Hiranyakasipu, and Prahlada was raised by his father, who arranged for him to study under two so-called brahmanas. One day, as is common between elders and children, Hiranyakasipu called for Prahlada and asked him, â€œWhat is the best of all the subjects that you have studied from your teachers?â€ And Prahlada Maharaja replied:
tat sadhu manye â€™sura-varya dehinam
sada samudvigna-dhiyam asad-grahat
hitvatma-patam grham andha-kupam
vanam gato yad dharim asrayeta
â€œO best of the asuras, King of the demons, as far as I have learned from my spiritual master, any person who has accepted a temporary body and temporary household life is certainly embarrassed by anxiety because of having fallen in a dark well where there is no water but only suffering. One should give up this position and go to the forest [vana]. More clearly, one should go to Vrndavana, where only Krsna consciousness is prevalent, and should thus take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.â€ (SB 7.5.5)
When Hiranyakasipu heard Prahladaâ€™s words, which were faithful to Lord Visnu, he laughed and sent Prahlada to be properly educated by his teachers. The demon considered Visnu to be his enemy, and he thought that Prahladaâ€™s intelligence had been spoiled by Vaisnavas, who may have infiltrated the school in disguise. In due course, when his teachers were satisfied that Prahlada was sufficiently educated in politics and diplomacy, they presented him before Hiranyakasipu.
Hiranyaksipu asked Prahlada, â€œFor so long you have been hearing so many subjects from your teachers. What is the best of the knowledge you have learned from them?â€
And Prahlada replied (SB 7.5.23):
sravanam kirtanam visnoh
arcanam vandanam dasyam
He said that the best thing he had learned was devotional service to Lord Visnu, the nine processes of devotional service, and that one who engages in pure devotional service to the Lord is the most learned person.
Now, there is a lesson here for us. Not only should we adults be educated in Krsna consciousness, but we should educate our children in Krsna consciousness as well.
When Hiranyakasipu heard Prahladaâ€™s answer, he became furious. He thought that Prahladaâ€™s teachers had joined the enemy camp and taught the boy devotional service.
Hiranyakasipuâ€™s animosity toward Visnu can be traced back to the dawn of creation, when the first demons, Hiranyakasipu and his brother, Hiranyaksa, took birth. Actually, they appeared as twins, but Hiranyaksa was the first to be bornâ€”and the first to create a disturbance in the universe. In response, the Lord appeared as Varahadeva, the boar incarnation, and killed Hiranyaksa. And so his twin brother, Hiranyakasipu, enraged and outraged, resolved to avenge his brotherâ€™s death and kill Visnu.
Now we, sitting in this auspicious assembly of devotees, may think, â€œHow preposterous! How can anyone kill Visnu? Visnu is God.â€ But in the past (and even now), demons and demigods had great mystic powers. They could do things that we cannot doâ€”things that we can hardly imagine. So Hiranyakasipu thought that Visnu had mystic powers, just like he and so many other demons and demigods and yogis did, but he could not recognize Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And when God appears in the world, He appears in a body that often resembles ours, and by looking at it, one cannot tell that He has a transcendental body or that He has immense potencies. For example, if the prime minister of India came into the temple and we did not know what he looked like, we would not be able to recognize that he was the prime minister. He would look like anyone else in the temple room. Still, he would have potencies that we do not have. If he wanted, he could order his army into Pakistan. He could drop the atomic bomb. He has potencies that we donâ€™t have, although by appearances he would look like any other person in the room. So, Krsna looks like a human being, but He has immense potenciesâ€”the internal energy, the external energy, and the marginal potency. They are all Krsnaâ€™s energies, and they are all under His control.
Anyway, Hiranyakasipu thought that Visnu was a demigod who had mystic powers, but that He still could be killedâ€”and he was determined to kill Him. So when Prahlada answered, â€œThe best thing that I have learned is to serve Lord Visnu,â€ Hiranyakasipu became furious. He blamed Prahladaâ€™s teachers: â€œYou have taught him devotional service to Visnu.â€ But the teachers replied, â€œNo, we havenâ€™t. And we havenâ€™t allowed anyone else to teach him, either. Do not wrongly accuse us.â€ â€œThen how did the boy become Krsna conscious?â€ â€œWe donâ€™t know. He seems to be naturally Krsna consciousness. If you want to know, you should ask him.â€
Then Hiranyakasipu asked Prahlada, and Prahlada replied in three verses that are very famous in Srimad-Bhagavatam. In effect, he said, â€œMy dear father, one cannot become Krsna consciousness by oneâ€™s own efforts, by the efforts of others, or by the combined efforts of oneself and others.â€ Now, logically one would think that there is no other way to become Krsna consciousness. Logically, it would have to be through oneâ€™s own efforts or the efforts of others or the combined efforts of oneself with others. But here, all the logical possibilities were excluded. So it became an even greater mystery.
Finally, Prahlada answered (SB 7.5.32):
naisam matis tavad urukramamgrim
sprsaty anarthapagamo yad-arthah
niskicananam na vrnita yavat
â€œThe only way one can become Krsna consciousness is by being blessed by the dust of the lotus feet of a pure devotee who is completely free from material contamination.â€ Indirectly, as Srila Prabhupada has remarked, Sri Prahlada was telling his father, â€œMy dear father, you donâ€™t need to worry about becoming Krsna consciousness, because only someone who bows down to the lotus feet of a pure devotee can become Krsna conscious, and you are so puffed up, you will never bow down to anyone. So you donâ€™t have to worry about becoming Krsna conscious. That is not a possibility for you.â€ Of course, Hiranyakasipu was no happier with Prahladaâ€™s explanation of how he became Krsna conscious than by his statement that devotional service to Visnu was the best thing that he had ever learned.
Indignant and angry, Hiranyakasipu ordered his servants to kill Prahlada. He was prepared to kill his own son, an innocent child of five years. And he tried in so many ways. After the demons, his servants, had tried to pierce and chop Prahladaâ€™s tender body with their tridents, and failed, Hiranyakasipu contrived various other means. He hurled Prahlada from a mountain, but Krsna saved him. He gave him poison, but Krsna saved him. He threw heavy stones to crush him, but Krsna protected him. Whatever methods he used, failed, and he was surprised, because he had subdued the most powerful demigods in the universe. Except for Brahma and Siva, all the demigods had come under his control. And here, although Prahlada was just five years old and his father was such a powerful tyrant, still Hiranyakasipu could not touch him. Finally, the demon asked Prahlada, â€œWhere do you get your strength? You know that when I am angry, the three worlds tremble. By whose power do you defy me?â€
Prahlada replied, â€œMy strength comes from the same source as yoursâ€”from God.â€ Hiranyakasipu then resolved to kill Prahlada himself. He retorted, â€œOh, from God?â€ because he thought that he himself was the cause of all his strength and austerities. â€œAll right, where is this God of yours?â€ Prahlada replied, â€œHe is everywhere.â€ Hiranyakasipu challenged, â€œOh, He is everywhere. Then is He in this pillar?â€ And Prahlada replied, â€œYes.â€ Enraged, Hiranyakasipu took up his sword and with great anger struck his fist against the column. And out of the pillar emerged . . . â€œGrrr!â€ . . . this half-man half-lion incarnation of the Lord, Nrsimhadeva. And He played with the demon. He fought with him, but He was just really playing with him. And when He had enough, He captured him, placed him on His lap, and in the doorway of the assembly hall, tore the demon to pieces with the nails of his hand. The body of Hiranyakasipu that was so strong that it could not be pierced even by the thunderbolt of Indra was pierced by the nails of the Lord. It was so powerful from his austerities that it was like stone. And Lord Nrsimhadevaâ€™s nails were like chisels that cracked open the stone. Then the Lord He pulled out his heart, and He draped his intestines around His neck as a garland. â€œGrrr!â€
This is also one of the rasas, vibhatsa-rasa. In English it is called ghastly rasa. But because the Lord is absolute, everything about the Lord is beautiful. Every feature of the Lord is beautiful. When Krsna would return from the pasturing grounds in the evening, accompanied by Balarama and the cowherd boys, He would be playing on His flute; beads of perspiration would decorate His forehead, and dust raised by the cowsâ€™ hooves would adorn His hair. When the gopis would see this image of Krsna in their minds, they would become stunned. He was so beautiful. In the same way, Lord Nrsimhadeva also looked beautiful with drops of blood sprinkled on his face and mane, His eyes gleaming like fire, and with the garland of Hiranyakasipuâ€™s intestines around His neck. He looked beautiful, actually beautiful.
So, what happened here? What happened to Brahmaâ€™s boons? Well, the Lord is so intelligent that He kept all the boons intact and still killed the demon. He killed him at twilightâ€”not during the day or at night. He placed him on his lapâ€”neither on the earth nor in the sky. He killed him at the doorway to the palaceâ€”not inside or outside. He pierced him with his nailsâ€”not with any weapon. And He assumed a unique form that was half-man and half-lionâ€”neither man nor demigod nor beast.
We may think that we are so clever that we can cheat God, but we should know that God is always more intelligent than we. Hiranyakasipu was extraordinarily intelligent, but still, God was more intelligent. Srila Prabhupada remarked that Hiranyakasipu wanted to protect himself from the bomb. He made all these arrangements to protect himself from the bomb, but he forgot about the nails. [laughter] He never thought that he may be killed by Krsnaâ€™s nails. So no matter how clever we are, how intelligent we are, God is more intelligent than we are. And mrtyuh sarva-haras caham: Krsna manifests Himself as death for those who deny Him. â€œWhere is your God? Show me God. There is no God. I am God. You are God. Everyone is God.â€ For those who want to deny God, God manifests Himself as death, and no one can defy death. When death comes, you have to surrenderâ€”â€œas sure as death.â€
So Krsna gives us the choice. At the end of the Bhagavad-gita He says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: â€œSurrender to Me. Give up all varieties of religiousness, all extraneous duties, and just surrender to Me.â€ And that is our choice. We can surrender to Krsna in His beautiful form of Syamasundara, His threefold bending form, playing on His flute. And if we donâ€™t want to surrender to Krsna, or Lord Nrsimhadeva, voluntarily, then Krsna will come as death (mrtyuh sarva-haras caham) and take everything away. All right, we do not want to give this to Krsna; we do not want to give that to Krsna. We want to hold on: â€œWhat will happen if I give this away?â€ We want to hold on to it. But, if you donâ€™t give it voluntarily to Krsna, mrtyuh sarva-haras caham: He will come as death and take away everything. That is what happened to Hiranyakasipu.
Then Krsna gave everything to Prahlada, who wanted nothing. Prahlada wanted nothing for himself. In fact, when Hiranyakasipu asked Prahlada to accept a benediction, Prahlada refused. He said, â€œWhy are You tempting me? I have not come to serve You so that You would give me something in return. I just want to serve You for Your pleasure. So donâ€™t tempt me with material things.â€ But Lord Nrsimhadeva insisted: â€œNo, I want you to accept something.â€ Then Prahlada replied, â€œAll right, I pray that my father be liberated.â€ Just see the kindness of a Vaisnava. His father was so envious of him that he tried to kill him, his own son, an innocent child of five years; he tried to kill him brutally. But Prahlada did not become Hiranyakasipuâ€™s enemy. He remained his friend. Devotees are always the friends of every living entity. So Prahlada prayed for his demonic fatherâ€™s deliverance. Then Lord Nrsimhadeva said, â€œYou are the heir to the demonsâ€™ opulence. I order you to occupy the throne and rule the kingdom.â€ But Prahlada replied, â€œI donâ€™t want material opulence, because then I may become puffed up like my father and forget You. To the contrary, I desire to be liberated from materialistic life.â€ And Lord Nrsimhadeva assured him, â€œIt does not matter that you are in the material world. Just always engage in hearing and chanting and remembering Me, and being fully free from material bondage, you will come to Meâ€â€”back home, back to Godhead. And so Prahlada became Prahlada Maharaja.
There is much to learn from the story of Hiranyakasipu and Prahlada and Lord Nrsimhadeva, and there is much to relish in hearing the glories of the Lord and the deliverance of devotees and the destruction of the demons. After Hiranyakasipu was killed by Lord Nrsimhadeva, Lord Nrsimhadeva remained sitting on the throne, and He was furious. All the great demigods were afraid. No one could pacify the Lord; no one could get Him to give up His anger. In the end Lord Brahma requested Prahlada, â€œYou go forward and appease the Lord.â€ And Prahlada was not afraid. He was a pure devotee. He thought Lord Nrsimhadeva looked beautiful.
He recited many beautiful prayers to Lord Nrsimhadeva, and in one he said, â€œMy dear Lord, even saintly persons take pleasure when a snake or a scorpion is killed.â€
tad yaccha manyum asuras ca hatas tvayadya
modeta sadhur api vrscika-sarpa-hatya
lokas ca nirvrtim itah pratiyanti sarve
rupam nrsimha vibhayaya janah smaranti
â€œMy Lord Nrsimhadeva, please, therefore, cease Your anger now that my father, the great demon Hiranyakasipu, has been killed. Since even saintly persons take pleasure in the killing of a scorpion or a snake, all the worlds have achieved great satisfaction because of the death of this demon. Now they are confident of their happiness, and they will always remember Your auspicious incarnation in order to be free from fear.â€ (SB 7.9.14)
What is the purport of this verse? Lord Nrsimhadeva was angry. Although He had killed Hiranyakasipu, still, as Srila Prabhupada explains, He was concerned that people might blame Him, that Prahladaâ€™s relatives might blame Him: â€œYou killed Prahladaâ€™s father. He is just a five year old boy, and You killed his father.â€ So, to assure the Lord that no one would blame Him for His action, Prahlada said, â€œDonâ€™t worry, my Lord. You have killed him, it is true. But he was like a snake or a scorpion.â€ Snakes and scorpions are very envious and dangerous. So Prahlada said in effect: â€œEven saintly persons, who are known to be nonviolent and friendly toward everyone, take pleasure when a snake or a scorpion is killed. Because snakes and scorpions are so envious that they will attack and kill even innocent persons, they should be killedâ€”to save them from committing further sinful activities. So we bear no animosity towards You. We feel no ill will. No one will consider that You have done anything wrong. In fact, everyone is pleased.â€ So devotees take pleasure in hearing how the Lord kills the demons and how He delivers the devotees, and both pastimes are recounted wonderfully in the story of Lord Nrsimhadeva.
Are there any questions?
Devotee: Maharaja, similar to this story of Hiranyakasipu, there are so many other demons that performed austerities for many, many years. Once they get their boon from Brahma or Siva, they all turn so demoniac. So, was is it the acquisition of these great powers that turns them demoniac or are they such demons to start with that even austerities donâ€™t do anything to benefit them, that instead of taking to spiritual life they become more demonic.
Giriraj Swami: Good questions. The first is, Do they become demons after they get their boons? And the next is, How is it that they perform austerities and donâ€™t make spiritual advancement? The answer, in principle, is the same for both questions. Nothing in the material world is good or bad; it all depends on how we use it. Austerities can be used for spiritual advancement, and they can also be used to gain material power. No one can be successful in any endeavour without making sacrifices and performing austerities, not even a businessman. One of our friends came to visit recently, and he had lost weight. So I asked, â€œWhat happened? You seem to have lost weight.â€ He replied, â€œWell, my business has been doing very well.â€ I said, â€œYou have lost weight because your business is doing well?â€ And he replied, â€œYes, I have doing such good business that I have not been coming home for lunch. I prefer to keep making money, so I have lost weight.â€ Any activity requires austerity for success. If you want to do well in school, you have to study. You have to make sacrifices. You could be out playing, but you make sacrifices. You attend classes, you read books, and you prepare for the exams.
But the fruit of the austerity can be used either for spiritual or for material purposes. Devotees perform austerities to make spiritual advancement. Materialists also perform austerities, but for material development. It is not that they become demons. They may have been demons from the beginning, and when they got what they wanted, their demoniac propensities became manifest. But is also true that ordinary persons or even devotees, if they are weak and come in contact with too much opulence, may fall down. I told this story the other day. An ordinary family won the lottery, and the family became completely disturbed. Until then they had been relatively peaceful and happy, but after they got the lottery money there was so much tension. What to do with the money? How to save the money? How to protect it? How to spend it? And in the end the wife was saying that they had been happier before they won the lottery.
It can happen that even a devotee who is not strong enough can become bewildered by material opulence. Therefore in general devotees live simply. They do not want to become confused or bewildered or agitated by material possessions. When Lord Nrsimhadeva offered him material benedictions, Prahlada considered them impediments on the path of devotional service. He prayed:
ma mam pralobhayotpattya
saktamkamesu tair varaih
mumuksus tvam upasritah
â€œMy dear Lord, because I was born in an atheistic family I am naturally attached to material enjoyment. Therefore, kindly do not tempt me with these illusions. I am very much afraid of material conditions, and I desire to be liberated from materialistic life. It is for this reason that I have taken shelter of Your lotus feet.â€ (SB 7.10.2)
And if devotees do get some opulence, they give it to Krsna. There is a saying that Prabhupada used to quote: If you give a brahmana a lakh of rupees, still he will be a beggarâ€”because he wonâ€™t save that lakh of rupees (a hundred thousand rupees), but he will spend it for others. He will spend it for God, and so the next day he will still be a beggar. Or, as Srila Prabhupada told us, â€œMake a million dollars for Krsna one day, and spend a million dollars for Krsna the next day.â€ So we donâ€™t hoard. If we do, there is a chance we will become preoccupied with our wealth, at least to some degree, and forget Krsna.
Devotee: All the forms of Krsna are eternal. So the form of Lord Nrsimhadeva is also eternal and used to exist even before He appeared before Hiranyakasipu. Is that true?
Giriraj Swami: Yes. All the forms of Krsna are eternal, but They have appearance pastimes. Even Krsna appeared as the son of Vasudeva and Devaki in Kamsaâ€™s prison, but that was just a play. He exists eternally, but as a pastime He appeared to take birth. Similarly, all the incarnations of Godhead have appearance pastimes. Just like in tonightâ€™s play, an actor will play the part of Lord Nrsimhadeva and appear from a pillar. But the actor existed before the play began. Someone may appear on the stage, but he existed before the dramatic performance began. Similarly, the Lord enacts appearance pastimes, but He always exists.
Devotee: You mentioned that Hiranyakasipu was told that he could not become a devotee because he would not take the dust of a pure devotee, but before that there was the verse matir na krsne paratah svato va. Prahlada also said that because Hiranyakasipu was too attached to material opulence, he could not become a devotee.
Giriraj Swami: Very good point. Of those three important verses, matir na krsne paratah svato va is one.
matir na krsne paratah svato va
mitho ‘bhipadyeta grha-vratanam
adanta-gobhir visatam tamisram
punah punas carvita-carvananam
â€œBecause 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.â€ (SB 7.5.30)
Prahlada is saying that people who are too entrapped in the bodily concept of life and too attached to material opulence cannot bow down to the pure devotee and become Krsna conscious. And Queen Kunti says the same thing in her prayers to Lord Krsna:
naivarhaty abhidhatum vai
â€œMy Lord, Your Lordship can easily be approached, but only by those who are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of [material] progress, trying to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education and bodily beauty, cannot approach You with sincere feeling.â€ (SB 1.8.26)
To be akincana, materially exhausted or materially impoverished, means either that we have no possessions and live very simply or that we have no sense of false proprietorship and dedicate everything to Krsnaâ€™s service. For example, from one point of view this temple is material, but it is dedicated to the service of the Lord. Now, if we think, â€œI am the proprietor of this temple,â€ then we cannot get Krsna. But if we think, â€œThis temple is not mine; it is Krsnaâ€™s,â€ then we can get Him. Still, we have to be responsibleâ€”not that we think, â€œOh, this is Krsnaâ€™s temple. Let Krsna worry about it. Why should I be bothered?â€ No, we are Krsnaâ€™s servants. â€œYes, it is Krsnaâ€™s temple; it is not mine to enjoy. But I am Krsnaâ€™s servant, so I have to make sure that everything goes wellâ€”for Krsna.â€
May 22, 2005