“For iron to be attracted by a magnet is natural. Similarly, for all living entities to be attracted toward Krishna is natural, and therefore the Lord’s real name is Krishna, meaning He who attracts everyone and everything.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.14 Purport)
It’s one of those neat tricks to show children. They can’t believe what they are seeing. There is eagerness to try it out for themselves. There are also some questions along the way:
“How is there no other force? Where is the rope holding the two objects together? Is it electricity? Is it glue? There must be some kind of adhesive. But that only explains the attachment after the fact. We see that if you put the objects close enough, they will automatically come together. Take the opposite ends and no matter how much you try there will be repulsion.”
Prahlada Maharaja uses the attraction between iron and a magnet to explain the natural affinity towards service to the Supreme Lord, who carries a disc in His hand. This references one particular personal manifestation of the Divine. Known as Vishnu, He has four hands, is opulently adorned, and has a permanent home in the spiritual realm of Vaikuntha.
Krishna is another manifestation of the same person. The same identity, but with a different transcendental form. His name explains everything: Krishna is all-attractive. Everyone is attracted to Him, regardless if they are aware of His name and image. Everyone follows Him in all respects.
ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते
तांस् तथैव भजाम्य् अहम्
मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः
ye yathā māṁ prapadyante
tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ
“All of them – as they surrender unto Me – I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.11)
The reason this is true is because nothing is separate in its existence from God. It appears that nature operates independently, but there is an underlying force. It looks like the body only moves when I make the decision to, but in truth my situation is something like being seated on a machine.
हृद्-देशे ऽर्जुन तिष्ठति
hṛd-deśe ‘rjuna tiṣṭhati
“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.61)
The dividing line between the atheist and the devotee, the asura and the sura, is the side to which they are attracted; all energies emanate from Krishna regardless. In the kingdom of Hiranyakashipu, practically everyone was focused on the illusory energy. Something like a false reality created intentionally to meet specific desires, the attraction can increase to such a level that even after hearing of Vishnu and the transcendental side to living a person remains obstinate.
Prahlada was a rare exception. He happened to appear in the king’s family, and the devotion to Vishnu was not accepted. The teachers were ordered to change the situation, to try to deprogram the knowledge that some unknown person must have fed into the young child.
Prahlada explained that the attraction is natural, that every person feels the same way on the inside. This truth is exhibited in the amazing transformation that takes place in people who were previously engaged in every kind of sinful activity. Voluntarily, without any remuneration, they give up habits like smoking, drinking, gambling and eating meat. The renunciation is dovetailed with dedicated practice in devotion, through chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
If the attraction weren’t there from the beginning, if a situation similar to an iron to magnet did not already exist, then the transformation would not be possible. The child eventually learns how to talk because the capability is there. Education and training are wonderful, but the same will not work on a dog or a cat.
To convince others of the truth is not easy. Someone brave and courageous like the king’s son tried his best, though the success rate was not very high. This was not taken as a failure, as Prahlada continued in his devotion. The attraction was impossible to break; even lethal force applied by the crown could not bring him down.
Nothing could bring him down,
Not even force from the crown.
Like iron to magnet attracted,
Prahlada with survival protracted.
Since to devotional life dedicated,
That spirit never eliminated.
Everyone following in every respect,
Bhakti when maya viewing suspect.
Categories: the story of prahlada