“When a demon like Hiranyakashipu, despite his elevated position due to severe austerities, begins to tease a devotee, he begins falling down, and the results of his austerities dwindle. One who oppresses a pure devotee loses all the results of his austerities, penances and pious activities. Since Hiranyakashipu was now inclined to chastise his most exalted devotee son, Prahlada Maharaja, his opulences began dwindling.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.4.43 Purport)
Friend1: The demigods, the devas, are like deputies in the universal government of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Friend2: Sure. That is a comparison often used by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. You see something similar in modern-day affairs. There is an important event occurring in a foreign country. The leader cannot attend everything; he can’t be everywhere, so he sends an emissary. The representative is treated very well at the event, almost as if the leader himself were visiting.
Friend1: It’s the material world, after all. As they say, someone needs to make sure the lights are on. Paying the bills. Doing the work of the world. The devas maintain the necessary components, like the elements.
Friend2: The planets, the bodies of water, the weather, and so forth. The Vedas reveal that there is indeed intelligence to what we often attribute to randomness.
Friend1: Well, we know there is intelligence based on the identifiable and predictable properties. Something like modern science can only exist if there was intelligence that went into the configuration of that which is studied.
Friend2: Notice that there is no end to the discovery. That is why science is said to be based on progress. You can only progress from something that is flawed. This means that science is always flawed; otherwise progress wouldn’t exist.
Friend1: It’s not that the properties themselves are changing. Gravity existed before Newton discovered it.
Friend2: It would be more accurate to say that he identified it. As you said, the force of nature already existed. The same with atomic theory. The interesting truth is that Vedic literature already described it, many thousands of years ago.
Friend1: Everyone could have saved so much time by consulting Shrimad Bhagavatam and other related works.
Friend2: Sadly, the aversion caused by a false hope of disproving God kept them away.
Friend1: Or the issue of dogmatic insistence, that I don’t want to follow just because you are so enthusiastically recommending it.
Friend2: Bhagavan is so merciful that if you maintain enmity for him, if you want to keep studying his material nature, he will provide for you almost limitless potential. Keep studying, lifetime after lifetime. You won’t get any closer to understanding Him, but that is not something you desire anyway.
Friend1: There is the intelligence of the creator, Lord Brahma, that goes into the initial configuration of the various species, which are nothing more than body types to hold a conditioned soul. Then there is the direct oversight of the produced nature by the devas. The demigods have an important role.
Friend1: You could say they are carrying out the work of Bhagavan, who remains above.
Friend2: Yes, He does not play a direct role in the realm of illusion, maya.
Friend1: Here is my question for you. Why didn’t Hiranyakashipu suffer great harm by harassing the demigods?
Friend2: Are you saying that he didn’t? I thought the devas eventually petitioned Lord Vishnu to do something about the dreadful situation, about Hiranyakashipu essentially taking over the world and making life difficult for saintly people?
Friend1: Bhagavan did agree to remedy the situation, but I’ve heard it said that the actual downfall of the king was caused by the harassment towards Prahlada Maharaja.
Friend2: I would sure hope so. A five-year old boy whose only crime was worshiping Vishnu in peace – he deserved lethal attacks from the father? Hiranyakashipu’s were the most heinous acts of violence, and he deserved the eventual attack in return from Narasimhadeva.
Friend1: I don’t disagree that Hiranyakashipu is a bad guy. My question is why the harassment of the devas, of usurping their position unjustly, did not cause the downfall in the first place.
Friend2: For starters, Vishnu is always helping the demigods. We can’t say that Narasimhadeva appeared only due to the attacks on Prahlada. Secondly, the rivalry with the demigods can fall into the material category.
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: It is something like ousting someone from the CEO position in a publicly traded company. Taking the job from a person who was there previously. It is competition over material power, and so Vishnu usually doesn’t take an interest. After all, time acts on everyone. Kala would have eventually taken care of Hiranyakashipu, too. In that sense there was nothing unique about the situation. The suras and the asuras have been fighting since before anyone can remember.
Friend1: The good guys and the bad guys.
Friend2: Notice just how much Hiranyakashipu lost by harassing Prahlada. Everything acquired through austerities, penances and pious deeds was wiped away rather quickly. That shows how serious an offense interfering with devotional activities is.
After Daitya harassing them so,
Petition to Vishnu to go.
But downfall to come in time,
When spotlight on son to shine.
Why not from original crime?
Because already accounted by time.
Offense against bhakti serious more,
King lost everything desired for.