May 2019
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Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia) 

We continue the very instructive story of Shri Prahlada, the prince of full dedication. This story is about a very powerful yet very ill-intentioned king, who is an opponent and offender of God. We shouldn’t say that he is a disbeliever; he believes in the existence of the Supreme, but he doesn’t accept it in a favorable way. And his son is very gentle in character and he is a great devotee, lover of God. This is a conflict situation, right – when the son doesn’t follow the desire of the father. ‘I want to make you just like me, an opponent of the Supreme, and you favor Him? Ah, you disgrace of the family!’ The father asked once: “What is the best that you have learned at school?” And Prahlada said: “Devotion to Vishnu – that is best in life.”

“Seated on his throne, Hiranyakashipu resentfully listened to the speech of his little boy. Blinded by rage, he threw Prahlada off his lap onto the ground with the intention of killing him. How could he tolerate this boy threatening the family lineage?! Seeing that Prahlada did not suffer any injury from his brutal act, Hiranyakashipu began to shout with eyes redden by anger: “Rakshasas, take this child immediately and kill him without delay, because I want him dead!” Upon hearing this, the rakshasas became confused: “What is the king saying? Who should be killed? This is his own son, Prahlada!” Hiranyakashipu saw their astonishment and loudly repeated: “Why are you hesitating? This miserable wretch is not my son, rather he is a killer of my brother! Otherwise how could he betray his own family by serving the feet of Vishnu, the slayer of my brother? How could he gave up his parents and well-wishers while only five years old? This traitor could one day betray Vishnu as well. What is the guarantee that he will keep his faith? And how could he be sure that the untrustworthy Vishnu will be true to his side?”

Even after receiving such clear orders, the rakshasas could not get the courage to kill Prahlada. Hiranyakashipu then proceeded to explain. “If some beneficial medicinal plant grows in the forest, we shall protect it carefully. In the same way, if the son of someone else is very favorable to us, we shall give him all protection and affection. On the other hand, we shall never protect a disease which has appeared in our body and which can destroy it. Rather we shall try to remove that infection. In the same way, if our own son becomes hostile to us, he must be given up at once. If one’s body is contaminated by infection and some limb starts to rot, it is necessary to cut off this limb and discard it in order to protect the rest of the body. Likewise if we wish to protect the dynasty of the daityas, the proper treatment is to remove this child. Just as the uncontrolled senses are the enemies of the yogi, this wicked Prahlada is my greatest enemy, even if he appears to be a friend and family member.”[1]

So, for the sake of higher integrity sometimes we have to sacrifice a lower, smaller principle. In order to save the body, sometimes we have to sacrifice one limb. In order to save our family, we have to sacrifice ourselves. In order to save our village, we have to sacrifice our family. In order to save our country, we have to sacrifice our village. So we should always try to see what the higher principle is and adjust to it. Although it is painful to bring this sacrifice, yet it should be done.

“Thus, encouraged by king Hiranyakashipu, all the rakshasas raised a frightening tumultuous sound. They shouted: “Kill him! Kill him!” while brandishing their spears. They cruelly tried to pierce the vital body parts of Prahlada, who was immersed in meditation on Shri Hari and did not pay any attention. However, just as those who have no accumulated credit of pious activities fall in their plans, all the efforts of the demons were in vain. In the same way that the Supreme Lord cannot be described by words, because He is free from all material qualities, Prahlada could not be hurt by any weapon. Due to his complete absorption in meditation on Shri Govinda, Prahlada sat on the lap of the Lord, thoroughly protected by Him from any attack. Though difficult to believe, such a thing is definitely possible. The Supreme Lord resides at the core of all things that exist, including the demons and their weapons, controlling everything. Without His consent no one can destroy anyone or protect anyone.”


(to be continued)


[1] From B.B.Tirtha Maharaj’s book The holy life of Prahlada

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