“The devotees of the Lord are not defeated anywhere in the universe. It is stated, narayana-parah sarve: one who is narayana-para, or a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is not afraid anywhere, whether he is sent to hell or promoted to heaven (SB 6.17.28).” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.15.7 Purport)
“I have the company of friends and family, with whom I enjoy on a regular basis. They are my life support in many ways. If I am struggling, I can go to them for help. If I’m feeling lonely, I can give one of them a call and talk for hours on end. Though they are always around, I am afraid of what will happen in the future. What if I lose one of them suddenly? How will I cope? I want only the best for them, and I always worry about their futures as well. What if they don’t find happiness in life? Thus when I go to sleep each night, much of my contemplation revolves around fear.”
“I am completely alone right now. Seriously, if I passed on today, it might be days before someone in my family finds out. Any friends I’ve had over the years might not know until much later. We already go many months without speaking to one another. They each have their own interests to tend to. As a young adult, one of the ways to punish someone for wrongful behavior is to renounce their association. Give them the old ‘silent treatment.’ In adulthood, that really isn’t a weapon, since it is easier to avoid someone than it is to talk to them on a regular basis. If you’re angry with someone and not talking to them, they might not even notice. As I am all alone right now, I am afraid over the future. How long will this continue? Will I die this way?”
From these two situations we see that both the person who has so many things in life and the person who lacks them are fearful. Fear is due to uncertainty, and without the eyes of shastra to guide us, there is no way to understand this puzzle called life. We can try to gather as much information in our limited time as possible and then form conclusions after processing, but nuances creep in all the time. We have yet to figure out death, especially in how to prevent it. But we know that death is guaranteed. It is like we each have an hourglass of time that gets flipped at the time of birth. The sand is running as we speak, but we’re not exactly sure how much time is left.
From the aforementioned shastra, we learn that the devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not fearful anywhere. At the very least, they know of God as Narayana, which as a word means the source of all men. He is the original, and we are all different replicas. The original is similar in quality but vastly superior in the quantitative exercise of that quality.
The devotee knows that Narayana is the most powerful and that His influence spreads everywhere. Fear is due to forgetfulness of Him. Naturally, remembrance of Him removes that fear. Prahlada Maharaja gave a sterling example of this fearlessness. As a five year old son of a powerful king, he had every reason to feel comfortable in material opulence. All he had to do was tow the company line, listen to the royal teachers about how to grow up to be as fierce and successful a ruler as his father, and he would be set for life. For Prahlada, it was like growing up with a silver spoon in his mouth, winning the lottery at a young age.
Prahlada’s natural inclination was towards Narayana. He had no interest in money, power, fame or respect. He simply wanted to remain connected with God. He knew that even in royal opulence there is reason to fear. His father was always worried that his reign would end. He was always mindful of enemies. He was so paranoid that when Prahlada took to worshiping Narayana, he couldn’t handle it. The father, Hiranyakashipu, tried to change Prahlada’s ways using fear tactics. This didn’t work, so he resorted to physical punishment.
Prahlada was ready to accept this, if that’s what his fate determined. He knew that the soul is eternal and that the changing of bodies is like the shedding of clothes. We don’t change who we are by getting a haircut, and so birth and death don’t determine or deny existence. Narayana determines existence, and since He is eternal, so are His innumerable sparks. Prahlada thus wasn’t so worried about his personal fate. He didn’t fear dying since he knew that Narayana would remain with him going forward. He didn’t fear living, either, since he knew he could worship Narayana despite residing in the midst of the greatest enemy of God.
As Narayana was the cause for his fearlessness, He was also the great protector of Prahlada from the attacks of Hiranyakashipu. The boy wasn’t afraid anywhere, and in his strength he couldn’t be vanquished. In material affairs, the end result is always destruction; which means there is always defeat. Knowing this, why wouldn’t one always be fearful?
With the devotional consciousness, the guaranteed result to work is continued devotion, whether in this body or the next. Hence the ultimate end is success, which is a cause for joy rather than fear. Narayana is the only real source of pleasure in this world. Therefore He is also known by the name Rama. Since He is also all-attractive, He is known by the name Krishna. The fearless devotees of the Lord in this age hang on to His names to stay connected to Him: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Knowing Narayana on his side,
Why then in fear to reside?
Since keeping with his devotion still,
His son Prahlada father wanted to kill.
For boy no fear in continued living,
Knew devotion to stay alive after dying.
For innocent child Narahari protecting hand,
No fear when God’s true nature to understand.