“Prahlada Maharaja, who was truly the supreme learned person, then addressed his class friends in very sweet language. Smiling, he began to teach them about the uselessness of the materialistic way of life. Being very kind to them, he instructed them as follows.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.55)
अथ ताञ्श्लक्ष्णया वाचा प्रत्याहूय महाबुध: ।
उवाच विद्वांस्तन्निष्ठां कृपया प्रहसन्निव ॥
atha tāñ ślakṣṇayā vācā
uvāca vidvāṁs tan-niṣṭhāṁ
kṛpayā prahasann iva
“I am all for teaching others about the science of self-realization. There is never an inappropriate age, if you ask me. The sooner we learn about the mortality of the specific body-spirit relationship, that everything is destined for destruction, the better off we are. Nothing is more important than spiritual life; it is the boon of the human existence.
“At the same time, I do feel that it is inappropriate to bring up God in every context. For instance, if we are involved in routine work, such as to earn a living, it is off-putting to hear someone bring up the Lord’s name in everything they do.
“It is almost like a shield for their inappropriate behavior. They chastise someone else for not bringing up their faith enough. They castigate others for their imperfections, attributing the deficiencies to lack of connection with the Almighty.
“The same people will then tarnish others; sometimes in public. They will defame, dishonor, and disparage. If they ever mistakenly accuse someone of wrongdoing, they later ask for forgiveness. They remind everyone that they are ‘imperfect.’
“It could be that someone simply does not vocalize everything. They are just as religious; maybe even more so. They love God more than I do, but they rarely mention His name. How are we supposed to know someone’s righteousness based only on how they speak?
“In this context, could we not say that Prahlada’s behavior in school was similar? These were children of asuras; I will grant you that. But they were in a learning institution. Why should they have to hear about dharma and the difference between matter and spirit? Why did Prahlada have to bring others down with his doomsday outlook on a material existence?’
The distinction with Prahlada is that he was not engaged in material life. He was completely renounced, though he had not yet reached an age where an official decision could be made. He was not interested to learn about administering a kingdom for the sake of personal satisfaction, as had been the family business.
This means that his preaching was of a different standard. If one person is engaged in the business of law, and they constantly speak about their religion to someone who is within the same field, it could be said that they are using God as an excuse for everything they do, good or bad. A skeptical person might think along these lines:
“Hey, I am just as religious as you are, pal. I might not vocalize it as much, but don’t think you are any better than me. In fact, I have kept track of the many mistakes you have made. That is the plight of the human being. I don’t have anything to prove to you. Who are you to stand in judgment of me?”
Prahlada was appealing to the better judgment of the classmates. Rather than be dragged into a miserable existence, focus on the transcendental light. He was guiding them towards eternal life, and it is never an inappropriate time to provide such instruction to those who are willing to listen.
If out of politeness or fear of negative reaction he simply remained silent, that may have earned him a higher estimation from others, but no viable purpose would be served. Prahlada had the good fortune to hear the science of self-realization while within the womb.
This demonstrates the potency of shabda-brahman. Even prior to fully developing intelligence when taking birth and receiving subsequent instruction, there is the potential to assimilate the teachings. The instructor in Prahlada’s case was bona fide, as he had a direct link to Lord Brahma, the creator.
Narada Muni’s powerful words made a lasting and meaningful impact on Prahlada. The child continued the tradition by instructing the children of the asuras. This was to the chagrin of his own father, who was the greatest atheist in the world, asura-varya.
Prahlada understood that Vishnu is the source of strength in everyone. Vishnu is the fuel behind the tireless and fearless devotion of Prahlada, and He also enables a Daitya like Hiranyakashipu to overwhelm others.
Prahlada is both theoretically and practically aware of the source of his strength, while Hiranyakashipu is forever in denial. The lack of knowledge makes a person vulnerable to overstepping, to becoming puffed up by the false ego, and working in ways that bring destruction.
The strength within Hiranyakashipu was no match for the source of everyone’s strength, when He manifest from the pillar as Narasimhadeva. This was the visible evidence of the truth that the king denied for so long, but of which Prahlada was fully aware.
Prahlada fully aware,
When Vishnu standing there.
The source the entire time,
Of strength in everyone to find.
So that knowledge to others spread,
To sidestep misery and dread.
Never an inappropriate time,
For wisdom recipient to find.