“Prahlada Maharaja said: My dear King, the source of my strength, of which you are asking, is also the source of yours. Indeed, the original source of all kinds of strength is one. He is not only your strength or mine, but the only strength for everyone. Without Him, no one can get any strength. Whether moving or not moving, superior or inferior, everyone, including Lord Brahma, is controlled by the strength of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.8.7)
न केवलं मे भवतश् च राजन्
स वै बलं बलिनां चापरेषाम्
परे ’वरे ’मी स्थिर-जङ्गमा ये
ब्रह्मादयो येन वशं प्रणीताः
na kevalaṁ me bhavataś ca rājan
sa vai balaṁ balināṁ cāpareṣām
pare ’vare ’mī sthira-jaṅgamā ye
brahmādayo yena vaśaṁ praṇītāḥ
Friend1: I know you have many instances in history. Prahlada Maharaja. Shankaracharya. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Friend2: What is the category, here? Learned scholars? Fearless proponents of the Vedic tradition?
Friend1: People who become spiritual guides at a young age. Prahlada wasn’t necessarily acknowledged as such, but there can be no denying it. He was the leader of his friends in school. He spoke nothing but the real truth when questioned by his atheistic father, Hiranyakashipu.
Friend2: That is one of the many appealing aspects to that historical account. How can a five-year old child be so wise? How can he see the light, when the mature ones, the adults, have gone astray?
Friend1: I have a broader question on that topic. How can any young person become a spiritual guide?
Friend2: You have to define “young.”
Friend1: In comparison to others, especially those with whom they are interacting. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is a little on the older side at twenty-four. That is still rather young to officially become a sannyasi.
Friend2: Which is something like a full-time worker in devotion. A beggar, but by choice. Perhaps you could compare it to moving into a monastery, but there you have some support. We’re talking genuine sannyasa here, where there is no fixed residence and no guarantee of food for the upcoming day.
Friend1: Is that what makes up for the perceived lack of credibility? That they are a sannyasi, which is something a lot of older people don’t have the courage to take up.
Friend2: Who says there is an issue with credibility?
Friend1: That is generally the knock on young people. They have not lived long enough to know anything. Their life experiences are small in number. What are they going to teach someone who has seen so much more?
Friend2: That is true. Young kids think they know it all. I remember being that way.
Friend1: Me, too. Of course, I realize now that was silly. My perspective is totally different today. There you go. Perspective. How does a young person know what everyone is going through in order to relate to them?
Friend2: These are great questions. The foundation is the descending knowledge, the system of parampara. When I am young I don’t know that fire will burn my hand. I could try to experience it for myself, but I take the word of my parents. I can go the rest of my life without making a physical test of it. I can pass on the same information to others.
Friend1: Right, but that is simple. Life and death is much more complex. These spiritual guides are talking on the self. They present it as a science. Why should I take them seriously?
Friend2: Because the science of matter and exploiting it hasn’t gotten you very far, has it? You are open to hearing new ideas precisely because something is missing. The age of the source of the enlightening wisdom should not be a factor. It should not matter to which family they are born or what part of the world they live in.
Friend1: I guess that’s true, but I’m speaking on the credibility angle.
Friend2: The wisdom itself is the credibility. There is always some kind of skepticism. In the Bhagavad-gita we find that Arjuna receives the most important information from someone who moments prior was his good friend. Krishna shows the universal form, the virata-rupa, just to make sure there are no doubts. The person who was stealing butter from the neighbors during childhood is now the most trusted authority to someone who is bewildered.
Friend2: And any person can accept the torch moving forward. Just repeat Krishna’s upadesha, His instructions.
At that age what can I teach?
Vedanta surely out of reach.
So much of life to experience yet,
How then as teacher set?
Because from parampara descending,
Prahlada Vedic principles defending.
Guru even a youth can become,
Showing how higher destination won.