“The vibration of the Lord’s voice appeared in the presence of all the devotees, and although the person vibrating the sound was unseen to them, they were meeting or seeing the Lord because they were offering prayers and because the vibration of the Lord was present. Contrary to the laws of the material world, there is no difference between seeing the Lord, offering prayers and hearing the transcendental vibration.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.4.25-26 Purport)
Though only a voice from the sky, the connection qualified as a meeting. Moments prior there was hopelessness, despair, fear, and concern over the situation in the universe. A bad guy’s bad guy had taken such a high post that the administrators of the elements were under his control.
The Vedic philosophy is intelligent design and more. In addition to an intelligent being responsible for the construction of the world and the different kinds of bodies the jiva souls can reside in, there is intelligence behind the subsequent maintenance. That is to say nature is not considered an impersonal force, an energy which acts only at random.
Hiranyakashipu was blessed by the creator, Brahma, to the point that he became in charge of the nature. The intelligent beings behind the various elements, the guardians of the planets, and every other chief administrator deputed by the Supreme Lord approached Him for redress. They were afraid of Hiranyakashipu’s influence, and the subsequent meeting proved that different kinds of activities in devotion are the same in the grand scheme.
1. Hearing the transcendental vibration
The meeting was through sound. An akasha-vani answered the prayers. The demigods knew in which direction to turn, though in fact the Divine is everywhere. Not a single space is missing His presence, as He is responsible for the atom, paramanu. As explained in the Bhagavad-gita, though He doesn’t have eyes, hands and legs in the traditional sense, the spiritual version related to His transcendental body is distributed everywhere.
Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has a form visible to the eyes, but it was not displayed on this occasion. A voice served as delivery confirmation of the appeal. That was sufficient for qualifying as a meeting with God, which was desired.
2. Offering prayers
The prayers came before and after. That is to say even prior to the appearance of an akasha-vani a person can connect with God. Saying nice things in His favor is not necessary. He is atmarama, after all. Satisfied in the self, He is not dependent on any person’s kind words for His happiness.
समो ऽहं सर्व-भूतेषु
न मे द्वेष्यो ऽस्ति न प्रियः
ये भजन्ति तु मां भक्त्या
मयि ते तेषु चाप्य् अहम्
samo ‘haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu
na me dveṣyo ‘sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā
mayi te teṣu cāpy aham
“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)
Yet the devotees are considered friends. The prayers offered in a genuine spirit are certainly appreciated by Him. The guardians of the planets offered prayers to earn His favor and later the saintly son of Hiranyakashipu would offer kind prayers in front of a direct manifestation of Bhagavan known as Narasimha.
3. Seeing the Lord
Prahlada saw the Lord face to face, but the connection was always there. The voice from the sky assured the demigods that everything would be taken care of in the proper time. The meaning is that the rise to prominence of a sinful person is not indicative of a failure in the system of karma. The proper rewards to action arrive in season, like the flowers blossoming on trees.
अवश्यं लभते जन्तुः फलं पापस्य कर्मणः।
घोरं पर्यागते काले द्रुमाः पुष्पमिवार्तवम्।।
avaśyaṃ labhate jantuḥ phalaṃ pāpasya karmaṇaḥ।
ghoraṃ paryāgate kāle drumāḥ puṣpamivārtavam।।
“Just as a tree starts to blossom during the proper season, so the doer of sinful deeds inevitably reaps the horrible fruit of their actions at the appropriate time.” (Lord Rama speaking to Khara, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 29.8)
Interestingly, Hiranyakashipu could not see Bhagavan even when the Lord was standing before Him. The understanding is that prior qualification is required. Prahlada received the proper instruction while within the womb from Narada Muni. In that case sound also did the work.
And so even today sound is sufficient for purifying the consciousness. Sound arrives in the form of Shrimad Bhagavatam, the ripened fruit of Vedic literature. There is the guru-vani, the voice of the spiritual master, penetrating through time and the thick knot of ignorance due to association with maya. There is the sound which simultaneously acts as a prayer, ensuring a meeting with Bhagavan for those who are devoted: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Physical presence not required,
Sound itself can inspire.
Vishnu the demigods greeting,
From voice alone a meeting.
As if offering prayers the same,
From meditation to Prahlada came.
Great advantage for wise to take,
Maha-mantra for bhakti’s sake.