“Prahlada Maharaja sometimes felt that the Lord was far away from him and therefore called Him loudly. When he saw that the Lord was before him, he was fully jubilant. Sometimes, thinking himself one with the Supreme, he imitated the Lord’s pastimes, and in separation from the Lord he would sometimes show symptoms of madness.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.4.40 Purport)
It is not out of the ordinary to hear a preacher say something like the following:
“You need a relationship with God. Look deep within and you will find Him. Once you do, don’t let go. Keep Him with you. Then you will feel the light. You will know what it’s like to walk the path of righteousness.”
Prahlada Maharaja, a historical personality described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, indeed lived this way. Amazingly, He had never met or seen the Supreme Lord face to face. He understood, however, the personal side to the Divine, and so there was a variety in moods with the relationship that resulted.
This is only natural. If you can’t see someone, you will think that they are not nearby. They could be in a different room, even, but the personal presence is lacking. A baby does not understand that the mother is simply using the bathroom for a few minutes. The thin door is all that separates them; the distance between them is not great.
The mother and child could actually be further apart within the same room, but the visual confirmation provides assurance. Sometimes Prahlada would feel as though Bhagavan were not there, so he would call out loudly. Not afraid of what others would think. Not concerned over being labeled a madman, the son of Hiranyakashipu wanted the issue of separation resolved.
2. Seeing the Lord before him
Problem solved. Now I see God before me. I’ve always understood that He is real, that He exists, but at least there is the comfort of knowing He is close by. Prahlada would become jubilant when this side of the relationship manifested. The antagonistic nature of those surrounding him was not an issue. That they all hated God and viewed Him as an enemy was of no concern, as long as Prahlada could see the person to whom everything was dedicated.
3. Thinking himself one with the Supreme
This is especially endearing behavior from children. They have a natural desire to imitate. It might be seen that a young child takes up a makeshift bow and arrow set. They go into the courtyard of the home and reenact pastimes of the Supreme Lord Rama from in the Ramayana.
In this mood there is oneness. The child thinks that they are the character being portrayed. Yet there is no negative effect. It is not that they are trying to become God. They are assuming His role for the purpose of play. Prahlada would imitate various pastimes to enjoy this aspect of the relationship.
The father, on the other hand, had only one side to the connection. At least there was some connection, which eventually saved him. Despite falling to the most regrettable condition of harassing innocent people, Hiranyakashipu received the favor of seeing the Supreme Lord, face-to-face, at the time of death. This was due to the devotion of his son Prahlada, who never stopped thinking of Bhagavan for a moment.
For a moment not stopping,
That connection not dropping.
When separation the fear,
In strong cry appeal.
Jubilant when seeing before,
Oneness imitation purpose for.
Father of different mindset holding,
So another fate unfolding.