“Narayana, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the well-wisher and friend of all living entities, formerly explained this transcendental knowledge to the great saint Narada. Such knowledge is extremely difficult to understand without the mercy of a saintly person like Narada, but everyone who has taken shelter of Narada’s disciplic succession can understand this confidential knowledge.” (Prahlada Maharaja, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.6.27)
ज्ञानं तद् एतद् अमलं दुरवापम् आह
नारायणो नर-सखः किल नारदाय
एकान्तिनां भगवतस् तद् अकिञ्चनानां
jñānaṁ tad etad amalaṁ duravāpam āha
nārāyaṇo nara-sakhaḥ kila nāradāya
ekāntināṁ bhagavatas tad akiñcanānāṁ
Prahlada Maharaja used the two Sanskrit words when speaking to the children of the Daityas. He specifically wanted them to know the nature of Narayana, who was considered an enemy to the state by the very leader, Hiranyakashipu.
That conception was false, and even the close relationship to the leader as father was not going to prevent Prahlada from speaking the truth. The source of men, Narayana, is indeed the friend of man, nara-sakha.
1. Stays with them as Supersoul
Individual is jiva. The full term is jivatma. Conditioned, meaning a vulnerability to illusion. Like dropping a handful of mustards seeds on the edge of a knife. Some seeds will fall one way, and some will end up on the other side.
Another analogy is to the beach. Close to the water, sometimes the waves wash over and sometimes there is no contact. It is as if the condition is determined by chance. Not much can be done, either way.
Except in the human birth the jiva has the best opportunity for returning to eternal, spiritual life. No more falling on the sword. No more succumbing to illusion. One who reaches the supreme destination never has to return.
न तद् भासयते सूर्यो
न शशाङ्को न पावकः
यद् गत्वा न निवर्तन्ते
तद् धाम परमं मम
na tad bhāsayate sūryo
na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ
yad gatvā na nivartante
tad dhāma paramaṁ mama
“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.6)
Narayana is a sakha to the naras because He stays with them. He is Supersoul. Also an atma, but parama, or supreme. Whereas jivatma is susceptible to illusion, Paramatma is always in a superior position. Though this expansion of the Divine is not visible to the eyes, it is as much potent as Narayana Himself, who is known to be opulently adorned and show four arms.
2. Of the same quality
Narayana is my friend because He is of a similar quality. I am completely spiritual, though I do not realize it. I mistakenly identify with the temporary matter and fail to notice how I existed prior to this birth. I will continue on after this lifetime finishes, wherein the body that is like a coat gets taken off and replaced with another.
Narayana is never under the dichotomy of body and spirit. He is my friend because He shows me what returning to the complete spiritual consciousness can be like. In other words, I can become as blissful as He is, though I will never be completely equal to Him.
3. He is available to everyone
The audience for this discussion is significant. Prahlada was speaking to sons of Daityas, which are demons. In other words, based on the body type these children did not have a very good chance of thinking beyond material life. In order to properly understand spirit, you eventually have to accept and realize the presence of Narayana.
Since He is the friend to all human beings, Narayana can be understood even by Daityas. This can only be true if they are spiritual beings, as well. Prahlada could see past the distinctions. He was the son of the greatest Daitya. Prahlada’s father was the most influential atheist, but that did not prevent the boy from understanding Narayana.
4. He sends His representatives
The reason was the contact with Narada Muni. Receiving instruction from the travelling preacher was as good as meeting Narayana face-to-face. The teacher in this regard does not discriminate. He does not choose only those of the priestly community to receive instruction.
Spreading the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the most blissful engagement, and it also does the most good for everyone involved. Prahlada took joy in speaking of Narayana, and the Daitya children were most benefitted by that association.
For that association recommended,
In impromptu class attended.
By Prahlada Maharaja the speaker,
Giving advice to every seeker.
To happiness and meaning real,
For bhakti life the strong appeal.
Since Narayana a friend to all,
Even a Daitya to Him can call.