“When the Supreme Personality of Godhead is pleased with the living entity because of his devotional service, one becomes a pandita and does not make distinctions between enemies, friends and himself. Intelligently, he then thinks, ‘Every one of us is an eternal servant of God, and therefore we are not different from one another.’” (Prahlada Maharaja, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.12)
स यदानुव्रतः पुंसां
अन्य एष तथान्यो ’हम्
sa yadānuvrataḥ puṁsāṁ
anya eṣa tathānyo ’ham
1. People who are unfavorable to me
“I can’t stand that person. Every time I see them I want to scream. I remember the nonsense spewing from their mouth in our previous encounter. They are seriously the worst of the worst. Would you like it to be seated next to a murderer? What if someone insulted your family and caused them tremendous financial harm? Would you smile and pretend like nothing is wrong?
“No, I will not sit back and unify. I remember how this person behaved before. They are not deserving of mercy. They should be treated with the utmost contempt, day and night. I saw recently that a group of people was harassing them at the airport. It brought tears to my eyes. The people of this country are awesome.”
2. People who are favorable to me
“It doesn’t matter what this person says now. They could walk up and spit in my face. They could insult me to no end. They could punch me in the stomach, even. If they wanted money, I would give it to them.
“This is because I remember how much they supported me in the past. When I was really down, when no one else would lift a finger to make a phone call, they were right there. By my side, I gained the strength to carry on. I would have never made it without them. Therefore, I will always consider them a friend. I will never forget.”
These two cases represent the general interaction with others in our journey through life. We have those with whom there is no interaction, but when the neutrality breaks, the relationship will fall into one of the two above mentioned categories.
Prahlada Maharaja teaches that there should not be a distinction. Reach for a higher platform, one that is available to each of us. This seems to contradict another significant teaching in Vedic culture.
That instruction is to remain with saintly people and avoid the atheists. Sat-sanga and asat-tyaga. Sat is eternal. People who are interested in the eternal are also sat. Asat is the opposite. Focus is on only the temporary. What kind of house to buy. Where to place the furniture. Taking pictures to make others jealous. Working hard to accumulate wealth.
This is not to say any of those interests is unimportant, but the primary objective should be the eternal. This is the way towards advancement. Without sat-sanga, we have no hope. We will merge into the behavior of those around us, not knowing that there is a better way.
Prahlada’s teaching describes the mentality when reaching a higher platform of understanding. After significant association with the eternal, I should realize that friend and foe are alike. Their treatment of me does not make much of a difference in the long run.
Moreover, they are equal in the eyes of the Lord. Everyone is playing a role in service. The devotees are praising Narayana for His transcendental features. They highlight the glories in Prahlada Maharaja, who served God directly in His avatara of Narasimha.
The non-devotees are serving through the allegiance to maya. This is Narayana’s illusory energy which causes me to mistake a snake for a rope, to consider this birth the only one, and to not see the distinction between matter and spirit.
Atheism in one sense is the highest praise someone can offer to God. The followers are essentially telling Him that His energy of maya is so good at illusion that it tricks otherwise intelligent people into ignoring reality. What greater trick can anyone play?
A wise person like Prahlada appreciates every side, every angle of vision, and every viewpoint since there is always some connection to the Almighty. Prahlada never forgets Narayana, and so He is forever set in the position of liberation.
Forever in that position set,
And liberation automatically to get.
Since anywhere around to see,
A devotee that person to be.
All following in one way,
Even if as atheist to say.
For higher platform reaching,
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