“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Prahlada, O most pure, O great saintly person, your father has been purified, along with twenty-one forefathers in your family. Because you were born in this family, the entire dynasty has been purified.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.10.18)
Girish: How are you doing, man?
Shankar: Not bad. How about yourself?
Girish: Well, everything was going fine, but then I got hit with bad news.
Shankar: Oh no. What happened?
Girish: I found out that my grandfather passed away.
Shankar: I’m so sorry to hear that. What happened?
Girish: One of those sudden things. He was really fit, too. It’s just shocking.
Shankar: I remember meeting him a few times. He was a true gentlemen.
Girish: That’s a great way to describe him. I can’t think of any sins attached to him. He was a stand-up guy, very wise, and so loving.
Shankar: They don’t make people like that anymore. In my family too, one of my grandfathers was like that. No one dared speak up to him because he commanded so much authority. It was like he never did anything wrong.
Girish: Yeah, he will be sorely missed.
Shankar: So how are you handling the situation?
Girish: I tend to go through the same pattern with these things. At first I’m a little in denial. So I don’t really change much. I don’t start crying right away. But as time goes on I start to remember more and more. Then that remembrance makes me sad. I’m in that stage right now.
Shankar: Yeah, you can’t help but think back to all that they did for you and the experiences you shared with them.
Girish: That’s precisely where I am in my head. I keep thinking of how he gave me so much and I didn’t give him back anything at all.
Shankar: That’s natural to think like that. You’re the grandson, so how much can you really do?
Girish: It really makes you think. I mean he influenced me in ways that I can’t even appreciate. He was there for me when I was younger. You know, I don’t think he ever said a negative word to me my whole life. He was always supportive. He always praised me. He gave me so much support, and yet I wasn’t very friendly with him. I’m weird like that. The people I respect the most I talk to the least, for fear of offending them.
Shankar: That makes sense. Friendship is to be made amongst equals. You know, if you really think about all that we owe other people, it’s astounding.
Girish: Yeah, and grandparents, aunts and uncles have it tougher I think. When you give love to your children, you get to see the results yourself. But the grandparents can do so much for us when we’re little, and then as life goes on they don’t see us as much. The child can very quickly forget the love that was offered, even though they enjoy the benefits. So it’s true selflessness to show such care for a young one.
Shankar: Wasn’t your grandfather the one who first mentioned the Bhagavad-gita to you?
Girish: Yes. If it wasn’t for him, I likely would never have taken an interest in that book. That work which contains the highest philosophy known to man, which helps me to deal with everything in life, including death, came to me through him. You know I still have a copy of the Gita that he originally purchased in my room?
Girish: Yes. I remember looking through it as a child and being enamored by the different pictures. Especially the one about the changing bodies. I remember thinking it was weird that you get shorter as you get older.
Shankar: If there’s any painting that will make you think, it’s that one.
Girish: And my grandfather always encouraged me in practicing bhakti-yoga. He used to give high praises to His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. I realize that life is relatively easy for me, and it is due to loving family members like my grandfather. At the same time, I feel so helpless. I want to repay them, but I’m not sure how to do it.
Shankar: Yeah, and telling them how great they are only embarrasses them.
Girish: Right. I don’t need to tell them. I need to show them.
Shankar: Well, you know of Prahlada, right?
Girish: Yes, I’m somewhat familiar with his story.
Shankar: The answer to your problem lies with him.
Girish: How so?
Shankar: Prahlada had a very sinful father. That father was so bad that Krishna, the Supreme Lord, had to come Himself to deal with him. Prahlada was a young, innocent child, and so he needed protection. Though Prahlada wasn’t sorry that Krishna came and dealt with his father, the boy still asked for pardon. He was worried that his father would suffer a horrible fate in the future.
Girish: That’s a pretty great son.
Shankar: Yeah, the father Hiranyakashipu was so bad. And Krishna, in His incarnation of Narasimhadeva, told Prahlada that not only was the father liberated, but so too were twenty-one previous generations.
Girish: That’s great. Is it because Krishna came and intervened?
Shankar: Well, there’s that but it’s also because of Prahlada himself. The boon applies to anyone who sincerely takes up devotional service, bhakti-yoga.
Girish: I see.
Shankar: So the best way to repay the kindness offered to you by your ancestors is to be Krishna conscious. Every time you chant the holy names with purity, everyone who had a role in making that consciousness happen gets a share of the reward.
Girish: I was thinking that the other day. As I was saying, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” I was thinking that so many other people helped me to find this and that they should get something for it.
Shankar: They will; don’t worry about that. Narasimhadeva guarantees it.
Girish: Yeah, I guess bhakti-yoga really is the best activity for the soul.
Shankar: It transcends birth and death. It makes you a better person and it pays back the honorable with supreme honor. It’s a win-win.
Because of grandparents love giving,
Easily in this life now living.
How that gift to them to repay?
Embarrassed when kind words to say.
Lesson from Prahlada shown,
In serving ancestors your own.
Kindness of Narasimha just see,
To liberate generations His guarantee.