“The Mundaka Upanishad confirms that the Supreme Lord, in whom everything is resting, can be realized only by those who engage constantly in thinking of Him. This constant thinking of Krishna is smaranam, one of the methods of devotional service. It is only by devotional service to Krishna that one can understand his position and get rid of this material body.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 10.12-13 Purport)
Friend2: Remembering Vishnu.
Friend1: Why not Krishna?
Friend2: Same thing.
Friend1: Why is the word Vishnu mentioned, then?
Friend2: I can only speculate, but the words were spoken by Prahlada Maharaja.
Friend1: I know.
Friend2: They were directed at the father, Hiranyakashipu. The father was known to have enmity with God in His form of Vishnu.
Friend1: The Lord had killed his brother, right?
Friend2: Yeah. Hiranyaksha. Hiranyakashipu thus held a grudge. There was no ill-will from Vishnu’s side. He does not stay angry with anyone.
Friend2: So perhaps Prahlada mentioned Vishnu to really get at the father, to strike at the heart of his atheism.
Friend1: You could say smaranam is like dhyana. Remembering Vishnu is like meditating on Him.
Friend2: For sure.
Friend1: Here is my issue. Have you ever been to bhakti-yoga programs where the people dance during kirtana?
Friend2: Of course.
Friend1: Do you dance, too?
Friend2: Not really. It’s not my thing. Sometimes people will force you into it.
Friend1: There you go! That’s the problem I have. Here we are reading about Prahlada Maharaja and the need to meditate and remember Vishnu.
Friend2: Prahlada’s whole strength was from that remembrance. He did not have the opportunity for kirtana, in the standard sense. Actually, whenever he spoke about Vishnu and bhakti-yoga, that was kirtana also, but you know what I mean.
Friend1: So take someone like Prahlada and transport them to the modern day. Imagine they are somewhere meditating on Vishnu, their beloved Supreme Lord. Then another person comes and tries to force him into dancing to kirtana. To me, that’s not cool. I get that you like to dance, but it doesn’t mean you should force other people. You shouldn’t break their meditation.
Friend2: That’s simply the way of the world today. It’s the reason sankirtana is recommended. Arjuna wanted to retreat to a remote area and practice renunciation. This was prior to the Bharata war, and Krishna dissuaded him. Meditation was difficult to do five thousand years ago, and today even more so.
Friend1: You’re veering off subject. It’s not about meditation being difficult. Those who know the benefits of vishnoh-smaranam, who likely recommend it to others, are the same ones thwarting that very remembrance.
Friend2: Listen, it’s done innocently. They don’t know any better. You’re right. You shouldn’t break someone’s meditation. Still, you should be tolerant, especially of those who are on the righteous path. Prahlada tolerated his atheist father, who tried to kill him in so many ways. That was a special circumstance, as the five-year old boy had no other recourse. He did not have the physical strength to fight back. The only defense he had was remembrance of Vishnu. Similarly, if you really want to meditate, God will give you ample opportunity. For the dancing thing, if you can make someone else happy, if you can encourage their devotional efforts in the manner they prefer, then why not?
My arm in kirtana program to take,
Unhappy that my meditation to break.
Prahlada the one to father recommended,
Vishnu Himself that dhyana defended.
Why for others then to get in the way?
Let them in their happiness stay.
Tolerate like Prahlada their innocence should,
That on the path towards perfection understood.