“Being beyond the range of limited sense perception [adhokshaja], You are the eternally irreproachable factor covered by the curtain of deluding energy. You are invisible to the foolish observer, exactly as an actor dressed as a player is not recognized.” (Queen Kunti speaking to Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.19)
न लक्ष्यसे मूढ-दृशा
नटो नाट्यधरो यथा
na lakṣyase mūḍha-dṛśā
naṭo nāṭyadharo yathā
Hiranyakashipu is the ideal case. There were many prior and countless after, but Vedic literature provides the historical account for a reason. Much to learn from someone who tried to conquer the world. He almost succeeded, but as he would soon learn, just one percent vulnerability is enough to bring everything down.
There was some intelligence at the surface. Deep down inside every person makes this acknowledgment, though outwardly they put forth a denial. More importantly, the behavior signals a different kind of attitude.
The cause is maya, who is the illusory energy pervading the material world. Something like the ability of an expert actor to indulge the audience members for a set period of time. They are otherwise knowledgeable; they understand that a scripted performance is before them. Nevertheless, there is the potential to be captivated to the point of shedding tears, laughing uproariously, or reassessing life’s meaning.
1. There is no intelligent controller
The universe was around prior to my birth. I have no way to validate through personal experience, but sound logic and reasoning dictate that just as I continue to live after someone else passes on, civilization itself is not dependent on the viability of any single individual.
Despite knowing that I am not everything, somehow I reach the conclusion that there is no intelligent controller:
“God is just a myth. In the most innocent case, He is a concept meant to serve as a coping mechanism. Man has a difficult time dealing with inevitable death, so they invented God as a way to get assurance that something good will happen after the forced exit from the body.
“At the most sinister level, religion is a way to control people. Something like a tyrannical government, the evil rise to the top. They virtue-signal as a way of life. Though they are likely the greatest sinners in the way it is defined, they spend day and night targeting others.
“I don’t buy any of it. There is no wizard living in the sky controlling everything. There is no old man looking down on us and judging. I gave up believing in fairytales a long time ago.”
2. I can remain in the temporary situation forever
Modern scientists are clever in this area. They understand that forwarding the idea of immortality won’t work; it is a tough sell. The next best option is to say that they are working on it:
“Give us some time. Just see how much progress we have made so far. Science can do things never thought possible before. We have indeed made the impossible possible, so why not immortality as well? Pretty soon man will be able to live forever.”
Not limited to the realm of science, a person makes a subtle acknowledgment of the same based on the way they live. Hiranyakashipu embodied this attitude. He considered that no one was watching. He could simply take and take without consequences. He used his intelligence to supplicate the creator, Lord Brahma. Brahma gave important boons, which Hiranyakashipu used for world domination.
The king then thought he could stay in that post forever. If there is no intelligent controller, then there is also no witness to activities. This means that whatever can be done outside the eye of a higher authority will go unpunished. As Hiranyakashipu was essentially the highest authority, at least so far as he could imagine, there would be no interference in the enjoyment commensurate with assuming the top post.
3. The presence of God can be removed by the application of force
Maya gives subtle hints that she is actually an illusory force. The meaning is that a person does not necessarily have to be instructed openly about the science of self-realization in order to doubt the way of life in ignorance.
As an example, despite being king of the world Hiranyakashipu was completely miserable. This is because his senses were not under control. Mental speculation tied to lack of a belief in God leads to the idea that a person should indulge their senses as much as possible. What is the need for restriction if there is no afterlife?
The issue is that the control of the senses is directly tied to happiness and peace of mind. Hiranyakashipu was in such a degraded condition that he felt compelled to stamp out the presence of God wherever it was found. It happened to exist within his very home, through the devotion of his saintly son named Prahlada.
Hiranyakashipu used the most violent means to eliminate Prahlada, who was stubborn in his decision to continue in bhakti. The king lost and the son won. The boy was not interested in a rivalry or seeing the demise of his father. The father certainly considered the son to be an enemy.
The king had the special fortune of finally seeing God face to face. The antagonism was so strong that Hiranyakashipu couldn’t go a moment without thinking of the intelligent controller, whose many names include Vishnu. The final interaction was a little different than expected, though. Whilst Prahlada worshiped in peace and affection, the father saw Vishnu as gruesome death. Narasimhadeva was a force that could not be overpowered. Using just the nails on his hands He tore away at the byproducts of illusion.
Just give us some more time,
Then immortality to find.
Is watching a higher controller, please,
Creation for life’s tensions to ease.
Hiranyakashipu in this way thinking,
Further into sense demands sinking.
Finally at death’s hour observing,
Supreme as gruesome punishment deserving.
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