“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.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.4.40 Purport)
Attempt to conduct basic research on a contentious issue and you are bound to run into websites tagged with the modern-day term, astroturf. They look innocuous on the surface. They may present themselves to be an unbiased authority, to provide checks to facts presented by different sides. In truth, they are a propaganda machine intended to push forward a specific point of view.
One of the common methods of persuasion displayed is piling on. The telltale sign is phrases such as the following:
“The overwhelming evidence says.” “This has been thoroughly debunked.” “The highly discredited author.” “The deniers of science.”
There isn’t any real evidence presented. The sites don’t actually give the methodology to how a particular theory was debunked. The specific author or proponent targeted as lacking credit is labeled as such by opponents, who themselves rely on dubious tactics to get their point across.
Peer pressure is the foundation. Why would you, as a neutral observer, want to go against the crowd? Why stick to a point of view that supposedly is in the minority? Why risk being called a fool by everyone on the majority side?
On the reverse end, wouldn’t it be great to not care what other people thought? If you knew something was right, supported through both sound philosophy and physical evidence, why should what others say make a difference?
To move forward in this path is easier said than done. With Prahlada Maharaja’s situation described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, practically everyone was against him. A supporter could not be found in the kingdom run by his father, Hiranyakashipu, but that did not dissuade Prahlada.
He beautifully exhibited the traits of life in liberation, which is known as mukti in Sanskrit. What is typically understood to arrive only in the afterlife was there from the time of birth for the great devotee, who was instructed by Narada Muni prior to emerging from the womb of his mother.
1. Sing as if no one is listening
Don’t necessarily have the best singing voice? Can’t accompany an established singer to create a beautiful melody? Not really confident of your abilities?
In the end, who cares? Just sing for the sake of enjoyment. Imagine there is no one around. Take your favorite song and reproduce it from memory.
Prahlada behaved this way when remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Indeed, there were people listening. They could not stand to hear the glories of Vishnu, the person they considered to be the greatest enemy. Now one of the sons to the king was showing allegiance. Something had to be done, although Prahlada could not be dissuaded.
2. Dance as if no one is watching
Attend a wedding reception in modern times and someone is sure to cajole you into stepping onto the dance floor. You would rather not, as dancing is not your thing. You are extremely self-conscious, as so many people are in attendance.
Yet dancing is as natural as singing. A way to express emotion, the ideal situation is when no one else is watching. Why risk volleys of abuse for mistakes here and there? If you don’t have the moves of a professional, as shown in film and theater, maybe it is better to remain seated.
Devotees of the Supreme Lord are known to dance in jubilation. They particularly get excited when completing a task for Vishnu. Sometimes there is the false alarm, where it seems like success has been found, but in truth there is more work to do. This happened one time to Shri Hanuman, who thought he had found Shri Rama’s missing wife, Sita Devi.
Hanuman was so excited that he kissed his tail. Being in the monkey form, he was already out of place in the city of Lanka. The moment was while searching through the royal palaces undetected. Yet he couldn’t help himself. He thought that the dangerous and lengthy mission had reached a successful end. He would have more work to do to please Vishnu’s avatara of Rama, but the sentiment was there all the same.
Prahlada was in a similar mindset when remembering Bhagavan. There was the risk of others finding out and referring to him as a madman. He could risk punishment by getting reported to the father, but there was no fear. The boy loved God without concern for outside opinion.
3. Love as if no one will ever hurt you
There is always the chance that the object of affection will not reciprocate. This potential for failure may inhibit the exercise of love in the first place. Who wants to get hurt? Who wants to have their ego smashed to pieces?
True love, prema, is extended without concern for the reception. Based on this definition, there can only be one recipient. Prahlada connected with Bhagavan in yoga, and the prema was there from the beginning. Visual confirmation was lacking at first, but Prahlada did not mind. Embodying the attitude of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, whatever Vishnu would choose to do in return would be accepted. In other words, the prema was without motivation and without interruption.
4. Live as if it were heaven on earth
How to develop this attitude when everyone around is against your desired way of life? Prahlada appeared in a family of Daityas, who had a history of antagonism towards Vishnu. Essentially, atheism was in their blood.
Yet Prahlada lived in Vaikuntha. He created the atmosphere for himself through practicing bhakti-yoga. That he was in a place otherwise inauspicious made no difference to him. He did not need to wait for ascension to another realm after death. The heaven he created was so welcoming that Vishnu Himself would soon appear, in the amazing manifestation known as Narasimha.
Dancing like no one around,
Loudly with singing sound.
Loving with nothing expecting,
These signs of liberation detecting.
In Prahlada who by Vishnu blessed,
Situation of Hiranyakashipu addressed.
Not to be pressured by peers,
Inspiration for anyone who hears.