“Smelling the fragrance of Rama and Lakshmana, like a dog smelling a tiger, certainly you will not be able to stand.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.31-32)
न हि गन्धमुपाघ्राय रामलक्ष्मणयोस्त्वया ||
शक्यं संदर्शने स्थातुं शुना शार्दूलयोरिव |
na hi gandhamupāghrāya rāmalakṣmaṇayostvayā ||
śakyaṃ saṃdarśane sthātuṃ śunā śārdūlayoriva |
Friend1: One of the offenses to the chanting of the holy name is to explain its glories to someone who is faithless.
Friend2: Don’t waste your time. No point to the exercise. By descending to their level of intelligence, you will actually harm yourself.
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: You might be taken in by their arguments based on mental speculation. You might get angry as a result of frustration, which is something a self-realized person should avoid. But there is one thing in particular which is the most harmful.
Friend1: What is that?
Friend2: You will hear offensive language directed at the Supreme Lord. This is something like when in school another student makes derogatory remarks about your mother. “What did you say? Don’t you dare talk about my mother.”
Friend1: Oh, for sure. Basically, you are risking speaking with an enemy about devotional principles.
Friend1: Let’s transition to the story of Prahlada Maharaja. He was in a Daitya family. That race was known as demons.
Friend2: Descending from the womb of Diti. The conditions and mindset at the time of conception are important. Diti urged sexual interaction at an inappropriate time; hence the poor quality of the offspring.
Friend1: Prahlada was exceptional in the sense that he didn’t follow the ways of the Daitya class. He was also not afraid of speaking the truth, to the point of asserting the superiority of worship to Vishnu in front of the great enemy to religion that was the father.
Friend1: For that openness, Prahlada received the reward of lethal punishment, attempted many times and to the severest degree.
Friend2: With failure at each turn.
Friend1: The question I have relates to this treatment. Prahlada spoke of the glories of Vishnu, who is the personal God. The leader of the Daityas became so upset to the point of wanting to kill his own son. Were not the other students in school at similar risk?
Friend2: Why would they be? They were not praising the enemy, so to speak.
Friend1: No, but they were listening to Prahlada. During recess, the exalted saint of only five years of age held sessions, so to speak, on the futility of material pursuit. No slide deck or elaborate demonstration. He merely highlighted the need for renunciation with the purpose of realizing the self and the Supreme Self.
Friend2: Yes, and what a wonderful benediction those other students received. They didn’t have to travel far to associate with a saintly person. They had one right in their classroom.
Friend1: Okay, but getting back to the risk angle. Were not the children in danger of being punished the same way that Prahlada was?
Friend2: Two ways you can look at this. One is that Prahlada was still there teaching. He obviously survived the obstruction against him. This was a clear illustration of the power of yoga.
Friend1: I guess you could say that.
Friend2: The other viewpoint is that those connected to the Supreme Lord in consciousness become fearless. You can take Sita Devi as an example. The devoted wife of Shri Rama, she was not afraid of Hiranyakashipu’s future counterpart named Ravana. She was held captive against her will, surrounded by menacing female ogres ready to kill and eat her. And yet she still spoke strong words to Ravana, comparing him to a scared dog.
Friend1: As a woman, what could she really do to defend herself? Yet she was not worried about the consequences to speaking the truth.
Friend2: And so the students weren’t afraid, either. If you know that the spirit soul can never be killed, that the body is only a temporary covering carrying temporary identifications, then even someone powerful like Hiranyakashipu can’t shake you. Try as they might, the undefeated force known as Narasimha is there to provide support at the foundation.
Rama’s wife without fear,
Speaking words biting and clear.
Directly to enemy’s face done,
Who once as scared dog to run.
Prahlada in same way speaking,
Welfare for fellow students seeking.
Bhakti with this power to instill,
That devotional spirit never to kill.