Why Didn’t Prahlada Just Stay Quiet

[Lord Vishnu]“Narada Muni continued: When Prahlada Maharaja spoke about the path of self-realization in devotional service, thus being faithful to the camp of his father’s enemies, Hiranyakashipu, the King of the demons, heard Prahlada’s words and he laughingly said, ‘Thus is the intelligence of children spoiled by the words of the enemy.’” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.6)

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श्री-नारद उवाच
श्रुत्वा पुत्र-गिरो दैत्यः
जहास बुद्धिर् बालानां
भिद्यते पर-बुद्धिभिः

śrī-nārada uvāca
śrutvā putra-giro daityaḥ
jahāsa buddhir bālānāṁ
bhidyate para-buddhibhiḥ

Friend1: Do you follow any of the drama involving a new supreme court pick?

Friend2: For the United States overall or under like a state jurisdiction?

Friend1: For the highest court in the land, where there are only nine seats at present.

Friend2: Oh. Not really. Granted, there only seems to be drama when the person making the pick has a specific political affiliation.

Friend1: Right; I hear you. It’s all about legislating from the bench.

Friend2: Which they shouldn’t do. A judge is supposed to be impartial. On the Supreme Court, they are supposed to look at the Constitution for reference. Personal preference should have no bearing. When the news headlines later say that the court sided with such and such group, that actually should never be the case.

Friend1: The headline should always be the same, “The Supreme Court sides with the Constitution.”

[the constitution]Friend2: You took the words right out of my mouth. The courts have now become a way to circumvent elections. If your party took a drubbing in the last round, have no fear. The courts are always there to side in your favor.

Friend1: Along those lines, one of the great concerns of the person making the selection is that the justice will end up being entirely different.

Friend2: Oh yeah, definitely. That’s why people don’t mess around anymore. They go for someone with a judicial track record. No more picking someone because of their expertise in practicing law. You can’t take that chance.

Friend1: Because despite how they appear on the surface, when placed in a position of authority, they might behave differently.

Friend2: And then you are out of luck. These are lifetime appointments.

Friend1: I’m bringing this up today as a transition for discussing the behavior of Prahlada Maharaja, specifically how it is described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam.

Friend2: Okay.

Friend1: Prahlada is famous for being bold. At only five years of age, he did not hesitate in voicing his preference for bhakti. He was devoted to Vishnu, the personal God, despite the father being antagonistic to the highest degree.

[Lord Vishnu]Friend2: Never mind the father. There was scant a person to be found who would exhibit such devotion. Even the demigods were afraid of Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada’s father.

Friend1: There is the well-known incident of the father putting Prahlada on his lap and asking the boy what the most important subject was learned in school.

Friend2: To which Prahlada’s reply discussed the embarrassment of having accepted a material body and thereby becoming attached to sense gratification.

Friend1: That was the beginning, the initial spark, so to speak, to ignite the father’s rage.

Friend2: Yes, and the boy did not relent. He stayed committed. He was firm in his conviction.

Friend1: Here is my question. Would it not have been better to remain quiet?

Friend2: For who? Prahlada or Hiranyakashipu?

Friend1: Prahlada. Just don’t say anything. Pretend to be just like the father, i.e. show interest in statecraft, in maintaining world domination.

Friend2: Oh, so that’s why you opened with the Supreme Court pick issue. Basically, get hired for the job by maintaining a veil of secrecy. Once you are in a safe position, you can be your true self.

Friend1: Don’t even need secrecy. Just lie. Pretend to be what the other person wants. Prahlada could have pleased the father with fake enthusiasm about following the asura path. Then, once he became king he could go back to devotional service.

Friend2: That is an interesting proposition.

Friend1: Many would relate to the situation. They are stuck working in an office for upwards of forty hours per week. They mingle with colleagues and the like who are interested in smoking, drinking, women hunting and chasing the almighty dollar. The devotees have no interest in such things, and yet they keep quiet to get along.

Friend2: I get what you are saying, but I think the situation is not entirely analogous. Prahlada was asked about a specific topic. He told the truth. He wasn’t afraid of the reception. He didn’t care, in fact. Whether one person or one thousand agrees with me on the need for worshiping Vishnu, my dedication will remain the same. Sure, you feel a little better when others find the transcendental light, when they get on the path towards liberation, but fierce opposition on the other side is no reason to shrink in fear. Prahlada is celebrated specifically for his boldness. Based on the initial response, you could say it was a grave error.

Friend1: Because Hiranyakashipu didn’t even argue, really. He got so mad that he eventually tried to kill his own son.

Friend2: Many attempts. Being nice doesn’t always mean saying things that are pleasing to another person. Prahlada was being the kindest person towards his father. The person revealing the folly of chasing enjoyment in illusion is the most benevolent. Prahlada knew the real truth. He was a tattva-darshi, and so he had no issue being honest in his dealings with others.

In Closing:

Like lying in interview setting,

In order for position getting.

Why not Prahlada just to agree?

And then later when kingdom to see.

To bhakti practices returning,

Wrath of others not earning.

Asked directly, so truth be told,

Let Krishna handle whatever to unfold.

Categories: conversations, the story of prahlada

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