“If a mother leaves her small child in his bed or cradle and goes away to attend to some family duties, the child immediately understands that his mother has gone away, and therefore he cries. But as soon as the mother returns and cares for the child, the child laughs and becomes jubilant. Similarly, Prahlada Maharaja, being always absorbed in thoughts of Krishna, sometimes felt separation, thinking, ‘Where is Krishna?’” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.4.39 Purport)
Though a small child, Prahlada was advanced beyond his years. Though born in a Daitya family, his qualities bore no resemblance to the people around him. While the other children were interested in playing, Prahlada was deep in meditation. Since it was in bhakti, there were still emotions exhibited. This was due to thinking of the personal God, whose many names include Govinda, which means “the one who pleases the senses.”
Tomorrow is a big day. You have to get up at a certain time. You are expected at the office for a meeting with potential investors. Being first-time parents, you and your wife are aware of the newly presented difficulties with sleep, especially in the nighttime.
As a precautionary measure, you sleep in the living room on this particular night. A few hours in, you are awoken by the sound of the baby crying. This was preceded by the mother walking to the bathroom. As soon as that door closed, the baby started crying. She was right behind. There was no extended period of absence. As soon as the baby felt that she was alone, that her mother was no longer there, a loud sound accompanied by tears.
An amazing thing happened next. The mother quickly emerged, opening the door and ready to return to the room. As soon as the baby saw her, she stopped crying. It’s as if there was nothing ever wrong. Only the association was missing. Now everything was okay again.
In a similar manner, in contemplating the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Prahlada Maharaja would sometimes cry. The Sanskrit words are vaikuntha-chinta. Prahlada was physically in the kingdom run by his father, Hiranyakashipu. The Supreme Lord in the personal form was far away, in the spiritual realm of Vaikuntha.
The meaning of that word is a place free of anxieties. The devotee was okay most of the time, but there was crying as soon as he thought that Govinda was far away, i.e. not nearby. Who wouldn’t feel pains of separation when not in the company of someone who is so endearing?
You are behind the wheel, driving a long distance. The wife is in the passenger seat. There is no music playing. The radio is not on. Nothing remarkable occurring on the road. Suddenly, you bust into laughter. The wife asks:
“What happened? What are you thinking about? Is it something I said?”
Actually, you are remembering a past incident involving one of your friends. It’s one of those where anytime it comes to mind you can’t help but smile. It was very funny, and since the incident occurred so long ago, there is a fondness in recalling the association of the people involved.
Prahlada Maharaja was the same way. Sometimes by thinking of Govinda the boy would laugh. Actually, Krishna is the greatest prankster. What He would do in Vrindavana as a child was so clever and endearing that the victims of his play would not seek punishment against Him. They didn’t mind that He broke into their homes to steal butter and pinch the babies sleeping soundly.
3. Chant very loudly
There could be sadness from separation and laughter from recalling past incidents. There is also the feeling of inspiration, when a person recalls the gunas, the transcendental glories, of the Supreme Lord. Accompanying this surge in energy is a desire to chant very loudly, invoking prayers like the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The behavior illustrates the dynamic and vibrant nature of life in liberation, which is referred to as moksha in Sanskrit. The end is actually the beginning, and it doesn’t have to involve sitting still in the lotus position while taking up residence in a remote cave situated high atop a cold mountain.
Not required a mountain’s cave,
Since locally memory to save.
That Govinda situated near,
To child Prahlada most dear.
Sometimes in separation to cry,
Supreme so far away why?
Laughing pastimes recalling when,
Inspired to chant very loudly then.