“The Haryashvas, the sons of Prajapati Daksha, were very well behaved, cultured sons, but unfortunately, because of the instructions of Narada Muni, they deviated from the order of their father. When Daksha heard this news, which was brought to him by Narada Muni, he began to lament. Although he was the father of such good sons, he had lost them all. Certainly this was lamentable.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 6.5.23)
नाशं निशम्य पुत्राणां
अन्वतप्यत कः शोचन्
सुप्रजस्त्वं शुचां पदम्
nāśaṁ niśamya putrāṇāṁ
anvatapyata kaḥ śocan
suprajastvaṁ śucāṁ padam
The punishment has a threefold effect. The first is to actually provide the offender with the appropriate consequence to their actions. This is in the eyes of the law-enforcers. Certain offenses are common to every society. Theft. Murder. Rape. Assaulting an innocent person.
The second effect is to prevent recidivism. Give the punishment but also hope for a turnaround in the future. Perhaps they will learn the error of their ways. They will avoid repeating the same offense in the future.
The third effect is to display to others the impact of following the same. If a person who illegally enters a home and takes what doesn’t belong to them gets a sufficient amount of jail-time in return, another person considering the same act will think twice:
“I don’t want to go to jail. That is not a pleasant fate. That person lost their freedom over a petty matter. They would have been better served controlling their envy and hatred. Just work to acquire the same fruits. Get an honest job. Follow the legal path.”
Problems arise when the punishers are themselves great offenders to the basic laws of humanity. This way of life is known as adharma, and those committed to it sometimes rise to the top in authority. They take aim at those following the Divine way of life, dharma, and the punishments offered could deter others from considering the same path.
1. Narada cursed
He is a great devotee of Narayana, which is one name for the personal God. Beyond an abstract that is susceptible to misinterpretation, a victim of a person’s whims, i.e. their emotions holding priority over their intellect, Narayana is a fixture that cannot be explained away through speculation. There is authority to that transcendental form, which has been displayed many times to worthy recipients.
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य
ग्लानिर् भवति भारत
तदात्मानं सृजाम्य् अहम्
yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
Narada has direct access to Narayana, but he doesn’t insist on constant physical association. Narada is ready to travel to distant places to bring the news from Vaikuntha, which is the spiritual world known for its lack of anxieties.
The power of the instruction is such that a person will be turned away from the temporary. Instead of chasing after sense enjoyment in illusion, they will take seriously the option of Divine life. The age of the students is not a factor, either.
One time Narada convinced children to abandon material life and remain celibate for the purpose of advancing the consciousness. These happened to be the offspring of one of the progenitors of man, Daksha. Prajapati then cursed Narada as a result, so outraged was he at the perceived offense of speaking the science of self-realization to those with the potential to carry on the family line.
2. Prahlada tortured
Narada Muni again at work, this time there was a single person on the receiving end. The five-year old Prahlada was so dedicated to bhakti-yoga, which is another way to describe the Divine life, that he was not afraid to voice his allegiance to anyone who would ask. The boy did not consider whether the person on the other end would be favorable to the same or not.
Prahlada’s father, Hiranyakashipu, happened to be the greatest enemy to the devotees of the Lord. He took revenge on the son choosing in favor of Vishnu by offering lethal punishment. Prahlada was tortured in unspeakable ways, but he survived unscathed.
3. Sita harassed by female ogres
This situation involves physical coercion. Sita Devi was a wedded princess. She married Shri Rama, the incarnation of Vishnu, in all righteousness, dharma. The Rakshasa king named Ravana had his choice of so many other women for companionship. He had so many beautiful queens already living in the kingdom of Lanka.
Yet Lakshmi Devi is something special. In addition to exceptional physical attributes are the glowing transcendental qualities, gunas, due to her attachment to the Supreme Lord. Sita Devi exemplified that devotion in every aspect of her behavior.
Ravana wanted to punish that devotion. For refusing his advances, Sita Devi had to endure female ogres harassing her day and night. They threatened to kill and then eat her. They conjured up horror stories about Rama, who was not in the area at the time. They made the dreadful situation exponentially worse for that chaste daughter of King Janaka.
4. Haridasa Thakura punished
A pure devotee of the Supreme Lord Krishna, Haridasa’s crime was genetics. He was born as a Muslim and in the place he lived those with such a title were not permitted to show allegiance to someone considered a Hindu god. Haridasa knew the truth, that there is only one Almighty and that Krishna is the best name to describe Him.
That peaceful and nonviolent devotee did not protest when the authorities decided to reprimand through physical punishment. Though he absorbed repeated blows to his back, Haridasa Thakura was not hurt. Krishna saved Him in the same way that Prahlada in a previous time was protected.
The message is anything but subtle. Take to the bhakti way of life and you could get cursed like Narada Muni to never remain in one place for too long. You could be separated from those dearest to you, and even a previously loving father can turn into the greatest enemy.
Just consider how these exceptional souls did not waver. This must mean that there is something substantial to the connection. Yoga is the real thing, the perfect match for the loving propensity that can never be removed from the soul. Once found, the shelter of the Supreme Lord, Hari-sharanam, never has to be abandoned, no matter how much external forces may attempt to interfere.
When through punishment to interfere,
Message sent loud and clear.
That if bhakti way to choose,
So much to point of life to lose.
But still Haridasa persevered,
Accepting lashes severe.
And Narada happily wandering,
Their stories worth pondering.
Categories: the four