“The son of Shukracharya, Hiranyakashipu’s spiritual master, said: O enemy of King Indra, O King! Whatever your son Prahlada has said was not taught to him by me or anyone else. His spontaneous devotional service has naturally developed in him. Therefore, please give up your anger and do not unnecessarily accuse us. It is not good to insult a brahmana in this way.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.28)
न मत्-प्रणीतं न पर-प्रणीतं
सुतो वदत्य् एष तवेन्द्र-शत्रो
नैसर्गिकीयं मतिर् अस्य राजन्
नियच्छ मन्युं कद् अदाः स्म मा नः
na mat-praṇītaṁ na para-praṇītaṁ
suto vadaty eṣa tavendra-śatro
naisargikīyaṁ matir asya rājan
niyaccha manyuṁ kad adāḥ sma mā naḥ
The father was livid. He couldn’t tolerate it. There was an enemy among them. He had carefully protected himself from foreign attack. There were safeguards in place. Like with an important computer server running in the background to support a high-volume website, there were multiple points of failover.
The IT specialist sets up a failover cluster to safeguard against a bad disk or server. With multiple disks of the same type joined together, if one of them should happen to crash, the system does not go down. Then there is backup and restore. If someone should happen to illegally infiltrate the system, bypassing the authentication mechanisms, there is a way to use an older copy of the data to restore everything to a valid state.
There is also the potential issue of a physical disaster. If the area in which the server runs gets hit by a massive hurricane or earthquake and there is no electricity for days, what will happen to everything? If a recently-updated copy exists in some other location, maybe hundreds of miles away, then there is some added level of protection.
Hiranyakashipu had to pay attention to this issue precisely because there was reason for many people to come after him. He had forced his way into the post of ruler of the world. This involves the use of physical force, or at least the threat of it.
If others should attack, there were the boons granted by Lord Brahma, the creator. Hiranyakashipu was supposedly safe in conflict in so many different situations, but here it looked like the enemy was attacking from within. The son, Prahlada, did not share the same values as the father. Frustrated beyond belief, Hiranyakashipu started a blame game which failed to finger the actual culprit.
1. The teachers
Shanda and Amarka were sons to Shukracharya, who was the family priest of the Daityas. Just as in modern times one family may have the same lawyer or doctor providing services to multiple generations of members, so in Vedic culture it is not uncommon to see a single spiritual leader providing guidance to an entire dynasty of important leaders.
Shukracharya was supposedly a brahmana, someone in the priestly order, and the sons were to be as good as him. Thus when they took charge of teaching Prahlada, Hiranyakashipu expected results. Namely, the boy’s inclination towards devotional life, bhakti-yoga, was supposed to vanish.
That did not occur, and so the king thought that the teachers were the problem. They were like a dreaded disease that afflicts a sinful person. The teachers were accused of being fake-friends. Well-wishers by dress, but eventually their true colors began to show. They had poisoned Prahlada’s mind.
2. The other children
The teachers did not like being falsely accused in this way, but they were just as baffled by the situation. Another speculation was that the other children in school taught Prahlada. Such as when your child begins to use unclean words or speak in an offensive way due to making a new friend at school, perhaps Prahlada got in with the wrong crowd. Maybe they taught him about the importance of dedicating this life to Vishnu and setting aside interest in material advancement.
3. The father
If the teachers had the liberty to speak honestly, they might be inclined to put the blame on the father:
“How dare you accuse us? We are brahmanas. Our father is your spiritual master. Maybe this entire problem is due to you. Perhaps your sinful ways are finally manifesting in a disease in the form of an unqualified son. He was born in your house, after all.”
In claiming innocence, the teachers actually paid a high compliment to Prahlada. They said that the boy’s inclination towards bhakti was natural. This means that there was nothing anyone could do about it. The teachers sure did try. A program to guide the student in a different direction, but he was stubborn; at least in their eyes.
The actual enemy to the Daityas was Narada Muni, the celebrated saint who travels the three worlds and sings the glories of Narayana, which is one name for God. The source of men is also the source of strength in everyone, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita [7.8].
Prahlada’s controversial education that seemed to spontaneously appear was due to accepting instruction directly from Narada Muni. The transfer took place while the boy was in the womb. What the schoolteachers couldn’t accomplish through physical interaction in an environment suitable for learning took place when there was the formidable barrier in place of the mother’s stomach.
The incident highlights the potency of transcendental sound. It can penetrate any area and have a lasting effect, even in someone born in the Daitya dynasty. The demons had a devotee in their midst, and they didn’t know what to do about it.
From father’s anger rising,
To others chastising.
At teachers falsely laying blame,
Or from other students came.
Prahlada in that house born,
Thus not king deserving scorn?
Truth from Narada Muni teaching,
Sacred sound inside womb reaching.