“I am also the gambling of cheats, and of the splendid I am the splendor. I am victory, I am adventure, and I am the strength of the strong.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.36)
द्यूतं छलयताम् अस्मि
तेजस् तेजस्विनाम् अहम्
जयो ऽस्मि व्यवसायो ऽस्मि
सत्त्वं सत्त्ववताम् अहम्
dyūtaṁ chalayatām asmi
tejas tejasvinām aham
jayo ‘smi vyavasāyo ‘smi
sattvaṁ sattvavatām aham
Man has strength. He has ability. Evidence is abundant. Any exercise of free will that bears the desired fruit is proof. Getting up in the morning. Taking a shower. Moving from one place to another. Operating a motor vehicle. Persuading someone else to your side of an argument.
At the same time, there are varying levels of success. No one has a perfect record. A long time ago a king named Hiranyakashipu thought that he was the sole doer, for even his amazing protections had the initial trigger of personal effort. He thought he could stop the clouds from moving, but from the dealings with the son named Prahlada there were many areas of failure.
Namely, the king failed to remove certain things that were unwanted from his perspective. The first and foremost was worship of Vishnu, which is one name for God. The feverish pursuit to rise to the top, to subjugate others considered as rivals, to ensure everyone else was under his control was rooted in the competition with the Supreme Lord.
If there were a God, Hiranyakashipu would defeat Him. If others were to show allegiance to Vishnu, that would not be tolerated, even if it happened to come from someone within the family. Prahlada was only five years old at the time, so what chance did he have to defend his choice?
2. Discourses on the science of self-realization
Prahlada was neither afraid nor timid when questioned. It would be one thing if he agreed to worship in secret, to not make a mockery of the king by defying his orders. Instead, Prahlada would tell anyone who asked what the most important objective is in life. He discoursed on atma-tattva, the truth about the soul, and how to achieve the best end for the individual, svartha-gatim.
Hiranyakashipu’s focus was on changing the son’s mind, but what he didn’t anticipate was Prahlada persuading others to the Divine way of life. This powerful ruler, who was feared throughout the three worlds, couldn’t prevent the dissemination of transcendental knowledge from occurring right under his nose.
3. Praise of the Supreme Lord
One of the benefits of being king is that others sing your praises. Mostly out of fear, but if you happen to be a good guy, the exercise might be spontaneous. In the kingdom of Shri Rama, for example, the people would surround Him with jubilant worship at the beginning of the day. Similar to what is seen in established temples, the Supreme Lord would be treated like the chief resident of the community.
Prahlada praised Vishnu to the point that he advised others to follow the same path. The father was outraged. He did not want to hear about bhakti-yoga. He considered Vishnu to be the enemy, the person who killed his brother, Hiranyaksha, many years prior.
4. Meditation in yoga
The response to Prahlada’s insolence was the method of diplomacy known as danda. Brute force. Argumentum ad baculum. Get rid of the problem. The only issue was that Prahlada kept on meditating. Hiranyakashipu could do nothing to stop this. Though the demigods lived in fear of him, Prahlada steadfastly remained dedicated to the person who resides within each person’s heart.
5. Challenge to his authority
While Prahlada was humble and respectful, he did not hold back in telling the truth. In a sense, he was a challenge to the authority of the father. In other words, Hiranyakashipu could not control his own son. He had power over the demigods, but not over a five year old child.
Of course the reason for the failure was the same as the cause of the success in other areas. As confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna is the strength of the strong. He is the determining factor in the manifestation of an outcome. False ego tricks the individual into believing personal effort is the sole influencing agent, but so many times the same action is taken without a uniform result. Krishna was the cause for Prahlada’s strength in meditation and also for the failure in strength in the demoniac father.
A moment worth taking pause,
That at both sides Krishna the cause.
Where father to domination ascent,
But insolence of son could not prevent.
Worship of Vishnu taking place,
Bhakti spirit impossible to erase.
Failures to king an obvious sign,
That values with dharma not to align.
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