“Prahlada Maharaja continued: My dear friends born of demoniac families, the happiness perceived with reference to the sense objects by contact with the body can be obtained in any form of life, according to one’s past fruitive activities. Such happiness is automatically obtained without endeavor, just as we obtain distress.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.6.3)
The evolutionary chain. Jumping from one form to another. The science of self-realization, rooted in the Vedas, gives the proper understanding of this mysterious concept. It is not the bodies which effect a change. They are composed of matter, after all, which is dull and lifeless. Matter in this sense is spread into different categories, or elements, some of which are subtle and some of which are gross.
“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego – altogether these eight comprise My separated material energies.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.4)
It is the soul which travels from one body type to another. That is the real meaning to evolution, and those body types correspond to species. The human birth is considered the most auspicious, but not for any of the reasons that immediately come to mind. In fact, lacking one key ingredient the experience in the human birth is quite similar to what occurs in other species.
The living being is spirit soul, and part of their constitution is blissfulness, ananda. In every species there is the search for happiness, to match the soul’s blissful nature. Prahlada Maharaja, an expert teacher in the spiritual science at a very young age, once told his classmates that there is no reason to separately endeavor for happiness. Neither should there be great effort made to prevent the counterpart, distress. Both arrive on their own.
1. Hunger and satisfaction
You ate to your satisfaction the night before. In fact, you probably went over the line. The wife cooked so much and you didn’t want anything to go to waste. You ate whatever she put on the table. She’s been getting on you about gaining some weight. She doesn’t like that you are thin.
The food was prepared nicely and it tasted good, so you indulged. You felt the satisfaction that comes with eating. You didn’t have to labor too much to get this feeling. It is there in other species, as well, though the fare may be different. The tiger preys on other animals, the early bird looks for the worm, and the rabbit is content eating spinach. Despite the variety in species, the feeling of satisfaction from eating is more or less the same.
Then you wake up the next morning, having sworn the previous night to take it easy going forward. The problem is that hunger has returned. How is this possible? You ate so much in the last meal. The body does not take that into consideration. The stomach is now empty and expecting more food. The longer in the day you go without eating, the more intense the feeling of hunger gets. Once again, there was no need to endeavor for this experience; it arrived as if on a schedule.
2. Sleepiness and wakefulness
There is a big game on television. It’s important to you, which is what counts. It’s a playoff game. If your team loses, they are eliminated. If they win, they fight on to the next round. This is the reason you watch sports, for the real-life drama.
The problem is that your body wants to sleep. The drowsiness is so intense that you zone out every few seconds. Despite the best efforts to remain awake, you can’t. You are compelled to sleep. Record the game and watch it in the morning. Hopefully none of your friends will spoil the outcome before then.
On the other side is wakefulness. It’s the middle of the afternoon. You want to sleep. You figure rest will do you some good. The problem is you are wide awake. The body is ready to continue working. You never asked for this experience. You didn’t make a separate endeavor to feel either one: sleepiness or wakefulness.
3. Noise and silence
There is a car alarm blaring outside. It’s coming from the neighbor’s driveway. Obviously, they are out somewhere. Who knows what triggered the alarm. Sometimes a few raindrops is all it takes. The problem is you want the alarm to stop. The noise is very annoying. You want peace and quiet.
On another day it’s too quiet at night. You are accustomed to having the fan on while falling asleep. Without any white noise, you’re keeping awake when you don’t want to. When will some noise come to rescue you?
4. Fear and relief
I’m so afraid of failing that examination tomorrow. I should have nothing to worry about. I have studied plenty. I did well in school this year. Everything comes down to the final, however. Not until I actually pass the test will I feel any relief.
Later on I see that I have passed the test. The relief is wonderful. I just want to lay in bed and do nothing. No more worrying. Of course, I know that’s not true. Pretty soon something else will be a cause of concern. I will worry about the outcome and only get relief when things are settled.
5. Birth and death
No one asked me where I wanted to take birth. They didn’t let me choose my parents or my country of origin. It just happened. Here I am. No use complaining about it now. In fact, every kind of happiness and distress already mentioned begins with the event of birth.
Death is inevitable. It’s a moment of great sadness for those who are left behind. They no longer have the association of the departed. This event was guaranteed as soon as there was birth. Nothing could be done to prevent it.
“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)
Prahlada Maharaja wasn’t trying to kill anyone’s buzz. He wasn’t trying to get his classmates to become depressed in a period of their lives where there is general happiness and a carefree attitude. Rather, the knowledge of the arrival of happiness and distress without endeavor is meant to make a person more dhira, or sober. Knowledge is a platform from which a person can reach new heights.
These heights relate to the consciousness, and it is the potential to fully purify that consciousness which makes the human birth the most auspicious. Prahlada was special; he had that consciousness from the moment of birth. He heard from the spiritual master while within the womb, and he remembered everything after taking birth.
He tried to impart the same wisdom to his classmates, who were sons of demons, or Daityas. Prahlada’s father was the best of the Daityas, and unfortunately he was the most steadfast against Prahlada’s recommended way of life. The great happiness that the father enjoyed through ruling the world ended suddenly and tragically at the hands of the Supreme Lord. Prahlada, on the other hand, maintained real happiness throughout life, during both the ups and downs that a material existence brings. This was because he had devotion to God, which brings something to last well beyond the temporary material existence.
Prahlada to his classmates telling,
That from birth duality foretelling.
How happiness and sadness to come,
As if on their own, with endeavor none.
Like at night from fatigue rest to take,
And in day staying wide awake.
From bhakti something much better to get,
In supreme bliss the consciousness set.
Categories: the five