“For a small boy to give up playing is impossible, but Prahlada Maharaja, being situated in first-class devotional service, was always absorbed in a trance of Krishna consciousness. Just as a materialistic person is always absorbed in thoughts of material gain, a maha-bhagavata like Prahlada Maharaja is always absorbed in thoughts of Krishna.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.4.37 Purport)
Friend1: You know, if today’s child psychologists were to read about Prahlada Maharaja’s symptoms described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, they would be concerned.
Friend2: I like how you use the word “symptoms,” as if there is some disease.
Friend1: Oh, but they would certainly categorize it that way. Think of how many books have been published on raising a child. “You should expect such and such to happen after such and such amount of time.”
Friend1: The first time they smile. The first laugh. Turning over, crawling, walking.
Friend2: Then talking. Mind you, if the child doesn’t meet the milestones at the arbitrarily determined times, there must be an issue.
Friend1: For sure. Bring the kid to a doctor. Hire a speech therapist.
Friend2: You can’t blame the parents, either. They only want the best for their children. I’ve heard of some cases where if a child didn’t attend sessions with a speech specialist, they would be put into a remedial class when they started school.
Friend1: That’s if they didn’t start talking by the designated age?
Friend1: With Prahlada they would certainly focus on his lack of interest in material life.
Friend2: At that age there is no reason to make such a highly philosophical distinction. Basically, Prahlada was not normal. He didn’t spend the day in play. He wasn’t interested in that side of life.
Friend1: A maha-bhagavata, as the saints describe him. Prahlada was enlightened since birth.
Friend2: Due in part to the efforts of Narada Muni, the spiritual master who provided instruction while the child was still in the womb.
Friend1: Here’s the thing. Couldn’t there be an accusation that Prahlada’s childhood was stolen from him?
Friend2: Haha. How does that work? Did he not pass through the period of childhood? He was born as an adult? That’s news to me.
Friend1: Stolen in the sense that he didn’t get to engage in limitless fun. Everything became serious too quickly. He should have been allowed to enjoy like the other children.
Friend2: Yeah, but no one was suppressing. In fact, it was the father who tried to steal Prahlada’s life for a different reason. Forget about childhood, the father couldn’t stand the boy’s preferred category of enjoyment.
Friend1: You mean bhakti-yoga, love and devotion to God.
Friend2: Yeah. It is not like Prahlada was completely disinterested in everything that exists. He was interested in devotion to God. This is something seasoned adults might not ever be attracted to. The appearance of such a person in this world should be taken as a great blessing. From a very early age they highlight the proper interest in life for the adults.
Friend1: Okay, but couldn’t the accusation be made that Narada Muni convinced Prahlada in that path, that the boy would have otherwise been just like the other children his age.
Friend2: It most certainly can, and Narada deserves credit for that. The accusations will be made by those who are still miserable and unhappy through associating with maya. They are in illusion themselves and thus can’t understand why a person would choose the transcendental path.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: Prahlada had the best childhood. Even with all the lethal attacks inflicted upon him by the envious father, the boy showed tolerance. He was forbearance personified, to the point of asking pardon from Narasimhadeva after the fact. Every person should end up with the same goal in life, whether as a child or an adult. Prahlada’s supposedly stolen childhood actually brought the greatest gift to this world.
No play interest showing,
Since Vedic teachings knowing.
Different from other children there,
Of Brahman equality aware.
Could not be made theft accusation,
Due to Narada’s teaching duration?
But Prahlada’s preference for all the best,
By his courage so many blessed.