Holi 2023

[Prahlada fire]“Prahlada Maharaja, a small child of only five years, became the object of envy for his great father, Hiranyakashipu, only because of his becoming a pure devotee of the Lord. The demon father employed all his weapons to kill the devotee son, Prahlada, but by the grace of the Lord he was saved from all sorts of dangerous actions by his father. He was thrown in a fire, in boiling oil, from the top of a hill, underneath the legs of an elephant, and he was administered poison.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.15.16 Purport)

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What if you really wanted something? What if you completely expected something to take place, only for the exact opposite in the end result? What if you were counting on a specific outcome, so certain of it based on your track record of success, only to see an abysmal failure? The occasion of Holi celebrates one of the most well-known failures in history. It turned out to be a cause for celebration for saintly people and those aligned with principles in decency, kindness, honesty, and virtue.

Imagine the situation of an expecting father. They will be a parent for the first time. They have hopes and expectations along the following lines:

“I cannot wait for what is in store. This is an exciting time. A brand new person entering this world. I will show them the way. I will teach them right and wrong. I will guide them along the proper path. I want them to follow in my line. I will be so proud to one day pass the torch to my son. That will be the crowning achievement to a life well lived.”

Several years into the relationship, things are not going well. The same father shares the following lament:

“Wow, I cannot believe how difficult it has been. This child has completely different interests. They are the exact opposite to mine. It is like my greatest enemy has taken birth in my home. I am feeding it on a regular basis. Sort of like taking care of a snake, knowing all the while that it can bite you at any time, for no good reason. This is the worst possible thing to happen to me.”

This helps to explain the predicament of Hiranyakashipu. The distinction here is that the father had what he considered the best job in the world. He was at the summit of living. More influential than the supposedly richest person in the world, Hiranyakashipu had the administrators of the material world living in terror.

Imagine the vital elements like air, water, and fire obstructed in their movement. Everyone has to submit to the will of a single, miserly person. This was the power received through boons, through the grace of Lord Brahma, the creator.

As much power as Hiranyakashipu possessed, he was helpless with regards to the interests of his son. Prahlada was inclined towards spiritual life. If others were to make an early assessment, they would likely predict that he was headed for the life of a sadhu. Prahlada appeared to show no interest in the temporary world, especially not in acquiring power, fame, prestige, and wealth through leadership of the Daitya kingdom.

What would a father do in such a situation? The Daitya leader was certainly not the first person to find such a predicament. A father might decide to let things go. After all, every person is an individual. Even though children are dependents, they are spirit soul on the inside. They have the same potential to exercise free will as the parents do.

[Lakshmi-Narayana]Being on the demoniac side, of an impious nature, Hiranyakashipu could not tolerate Prahlada. The father wanted the son eliminated, for good. There was no point to further reasoning. The teachers were useless. They could not deprogram the boy away from devotion to Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

One of the methods of elimination was sending Prahlada into a fire. A five-year old boy under the control of grown-adults of evil intent. What chance did Prahlada stand? How was he going to fight back? There was no police to call since the police were as evil as the father. The father was the government. No court could overrule or intervene.

[Prahlada fire]Except an amazing thing occurred. The plan failed. Not only did Prahlada survive, but the perpetrator in that specific scheme perished. Hiranyakashipu could not kill Prahlada, no matter how much he tried. Whether employing the help of his sister or palace guards, the weapons had no impact on the child united with the Supreme in consciousness. That particular failure was so spectacular that it is still celebrated today, known as one of the greatest triumphs of the devotees of Vishnu in this world.

In Closing:

As one of greatest triumphs known,
In surviving that fire alone.

Prahlada as boy taken,
By caring father forsaken.

Eliminate since with Vishnu aligned,
Worst enemy as son to find.

Case of evil with devotion clashes,
But alive emerged from ashes.

Categories: holi, holiday

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