Srimad Bhagavatam 7.3.15-16
na dadarsa praticchanam
tapantam tapasa lokan
vilaksya vismitah praha
hasams tam hamsa-vahanah
Lord Brahma, who is carried by a swan airplane, at first could not see where Hiranyakasipu was, for Hiranyakasipu’s body was covered by an anthill and by grass and bamboo sticks. Because Hiranyakasipu had been there for a long time, the ants had devoured his skin, fat, flesh and blood. Then Lord Brahma and the demigods spotted him, resembling a cloud-covered sun, heating all the world by his austerity. Struck with wonder, Lord Brahma began to smile and then addressed him as follows.
The living entity can live merely by his own power, without the help of skin, marrow, bone, blood and so on, because it is said, asango ‘yam purusah – the living entity has nothing to do with the material covering. Hiranyakasipu performed a severe type of tapasya, austerity, for many long years. Indeed, it is said that he performed the tapasya for one hundred
heavenly years. Since one day of the demigods equals six of our months, certainly this was a very long time. By nature’s own way, his body had been almost consumed by earthworms, ants and other parasites, and therefore even Brahma was at first unable to see him. Later, however, Brahma could ascertain where Hiranyakasipu was, and Brahma was struck with wonder to see Hiranyakasipu’s extraordinary power to execute tapasya. Anyone would conclude that Hiranyakasipu was dead because his body was covered in so many ways, but Lord Brahma, the supreme living being in this universe, could
understand that Hiranyakasipu was alive but covered by material elements. It is also to be noted that although Hiranyakasipu performed this austerity for a long, long time, he was nonetheless known as a Daitya and Raksasa. It will be seen from verses to follow that even great saintly persons could not perform such a severe type of austerity. Why then was he called a Raksasa and Daitya? It is because whatever he did was for his own sense gratification. His son Prahlada Maharaj was only five years old, and so what could Prahlada do? Yet, simply by performing a little devotional service according to the instructions of Narada Muni, Prahlada became so dear to the Lord and the Lord came to save him, whereas Hiranyakasipu, inspite of all his austerities, was killed. This is the difference between devotional service and all other methods of perfection. One who performs severe austerities for sense gratification is fearful to the entire world, whereas
a devotee who performs even a slight amount of devotional service is a friend to everyone (suhridam sarva-bhutanam). Since the Lord is the well-wisher of every living entity and since a devotee assumes the qualities of the Lord, a devotee also acts for everyone’s good fortune by performing devotional service. Thus although Hiranyakasipu performed such a severe
austerity, he remained a Daitya and a Raksasa, whereas Prahlada Maharaj, although born of the same Daitya father, became the most exalted devotee and was personally protected by the Supreme Lord. Bhakti is therefore called sarvopadhivinirmuktam, indicating that a devotee is freed from all material designations, and anyabhilasita-sunyam, situated in a transcendental position, free from all material desires.
So today we are focusing on Lord Nrisimhadev and the pastime of His appearance. This afternoon at 2 o’clock or so we’ll have another class and we’ll go further into these subjects. So yes, Hiranyakasipu, he is Jay of the doorkeepers of Vaikuntha the Jay and Vijay. So he is a very special person, he is actually an associate of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But he committed, he and Vijay, they committed vaisnava aparadha. So they fell down from their positions. Of course they were cursed by the four Kumaras but it was not simply the matter that they were cursed. Ultimately the point is they committed aparadha. And then, wellithey fell into this material world, first as Hiranyaksa and Hiranyakasipu, then Ravana and Kumbhakarna, then Sisupal and Dantavakra. That was the curse: three births as demons. But then they made the 4th special appearance by the special arrangement of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They appeared as Jagay and Madhay.
So, we notice that in those four births what were the main characteristics they displayed. Of course they were engaged in so many sinful activities. But a long with just the normal activities as meat-eating, intoxication, illicit sex, gambling, they were very much fixed up in vaisnava aparadha. Hiranyakasipu offended Prahlada Maharaj, Ravana offended Mother Sita, Sisupal offended different devotees, perhaps, mainly Maharaj Yudhisthira and Jagay and Madhay they offended many devotees, so many devotees and ultimately Lord Nityananda. So their program started with vaisnav aparadha. Of course there are many lessons we can learn from the pastime but this is one of the most important lessons. Their program began with vaisnava aparadha: they offended the four Kumaras; and their program finished with vaisnava aparadha when they offended Lord Nityananda. So one lesson we should learn is we should be very careful of vaisnava aparadha. Actually in
his next birth when he was Ravana, when he was killed by Lord Ramacandra, then Lord Ramacandra, He was so mindful of the point of committing offence that after he had killed Ravana and they had crossed back from Lanka, back to the beach of India, then Lord Ram did special puja, worship of Lord Siva, ’cause Ravana, he was a devotee, not really a devotee but a worshipper of Lord Siva. And of course, Ravana is a first-class demon, number one but still somehow or other he had a relationship with Lord Siva and therefore Lord Rama was feeling bad, not really about Ravana, but feeling bad that He may have offended Lord Siva. So therefore He worshipped Siva, He worshipped Siva lingam on the beach there at what is now called Ramesvaram.
So vaisnav aparadh, or any type of aparadh is not to be taken lightly and all these horrible things that Jay and Vijay went through, the root of it all was aparadh. So when they fell into this material world there was a terrible storm: it was raining blood; blood, stool, puss, urine. So this is the sign that some big demon is taking birth. Once one devotee asked Prabhupada, he said: “But Prabhupad, today so many demons are taking birth”. And Prabhupad said: “Oh, you’re expecting it to rain blood? But the demons taking birth now, they are very small demons. But these two Jay and Vijay, Hiranyaksa and Hiranyakasipu, they are very big demons. They took over the entire universe.
So from his childhood Hiranyakasipu was showing those symptoms. Yes he was very horrible child and he grew up to be a horrible young man. And he had that ambition: “I want to live forever, I want to control the whole universe but Lord Brahma is controlling the universe”. So Hiranyakasipu made this program so he could take over the post of Lord Brahma. So as described here, Hiranyakasipu, he performed severe austerities: standing on the tips of his toes with his hands upraised above his head and he stood there for one hundred years of the demigods. So here in the purport Srila Prabhupada says that for the demigods, their one day is equal to our six months. So now if that is the case and he stood there for one hundred of their years by our calculation of time he stood there for one hundred times about a hundred and eighty of our years. That is i what is that? Eighteen thousand our years. Oh! You can try standing on your toes with your hands up. See how long you can stand like that.
So actually it’s extremely difficult. So it was very severe austerity. We cannot do even a fraction of that. And as described here, he was there for such a long time and anthill grew up around him. And those ants, they were eating his body. And so on his body there was no flesh. Interesting point here, in the versei in the last line mamsa means “flesh” or “meat”. This is
the standard Sanskrit term for meat. And it is a compound word: mam means “me”, sah means “he”. Me, he. Me, I am eating he and later he will eat me. Mamsa. Anyway those ants, carnivorous ants they ate his flesh, they drank all his blood. So he was somehow maintaining his life in the marrow of his bone. It was very astonishing that he could do that – he was so powerful. And it was all he was thinking: “I want to take over the post of Brahma. How? By the mercy of Lord Brahma”. Through doing these austerities with his mind fixed on Brahma, Brahma would come and give his mercy.
And in this chapter, in some of the previous verses some of the other demigods… they are explaining to Lord Brahma that this is actually his plan. Don’t go there and grant him his wish. He just wants to kill you and take over your position. But Lord Brahma felt flattered by these austerities of Hiranyakasipu. “He is doing it for me, so I must reciprocate”. So like this.
Flattery will get you anywhere. Even though he was told, this person Hiranyakasipu, he is specifically doing this to kick you out of your position and take over. But still Lord Brahma went there and gave him whatever he wanted. And at the end of the whole pastime Lord Nrisimhadev tells Lord Brahma: “Don’t give benedictions like this again”. So it is very dangerous to be in material consciousness because you can become bewildered. Of course Lord Brahma is a great devotee, he is not just some conditioned soul but somehow by the arrangement of the Lord, he became influenced by the material energy in this particular situation. So then… well… it’s very famous episode… Lord Brahma said: “You have done this austerity for me. What can I do for you?” Hiranyakasipu immediately said: “I want to be immortal”. And Lord Brahma, of course he is a devotee and he knows that as a devotee, I am immortal but he felt that I cannot tell this Hiranyakasipu: “If you want to
become immortal, become a devotee”. Lesson number 1: pick up your japa-mala and chant Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Because Hiranyakasipu would not have accepted that. So
therefore Lord Brahma addressed him on the material platform: “Even I am not immortal. How can I give you something I don’t have?” So, of course, Lord Brahma as a great devotee, as the head of our sampradaya, he understood that he could give him immortality but that would have been the 9th offence. If he had told him, yes, you chant Hare Krsna, follow
the four regulative principles. Then you’ll become immortal.
So Hiranyakasipu, he would have become very angry. So therefore Lord Brahma said: “Well, you know, I can’t give you that, ask for something else”. So Hiranyakasipu asked: “I do not want to die during the day, I do not want to die in the night”. And Lord Brahma said: “Tatasthu! Let it be!” And, oh, Hiranyakasipu asked: “I do not want to be killed by any demigod or human being or an animal or anything created by you. I do not want to be killed, I don’t want to die on land or in the air or in water. I don’t want to be killed inside a building or outside a building. I don’t want to be killed by any weapon. I don’t want to be killed from any disease. He was really trying to think quick, all the different ways how I can be killed. And all the time the Lord Brahma was saying: “Yes, yes, very good”. So eventually Hiranyakasipu, he ran out of ideas how he could be killed. And he thought: “That’s it. If I can’t die in any way, that means I’m immortal”. Of course he did not cover all the possibilities. He died not during the day and not during the night but at dusk, around sunset time. So it’s not day, it’s not
He died not inside and not outside but in the doorway of the palace. It’s not inside, not outside. He died not by any weapon but by the nails, the claws of the Lord. He was killed not by any man or by beast but by the Supreme Personality of Godhead and like this. So the Lord is very intelligent – He respected the benedictions of Brahma but still He killed Hiranyakasipu. So Hiranyakasipu then, he got this blessing, all these blessings from Lord Brahma, and then it’s not described in the Bhagavatam but in other Puranas it’s described.
When he’d got all the benedictions that he wanted, he screamed out: “Death, close your portals (your doors), I, Hiranyakasipu am immortal. So then he took up a program of terrorizing the universe, killing devotees and killing anybody who opposed him. In fact he was terrorizing so much, even great devotees would come and offer their respect to him. It’s described in the Bhagavatam how Narada Muni would come and offer him obeisances and speak prayers to Hiranyakasipu that you are the most powerful. You are the controller of the universe. These things were true actually and it was not
that Narada Muni was attracting to worshiping Hiranyakasipu but he was just being diplomatic. So Hiranyakasipu took over the universe, everything except the planet of Brahma, the planet of Lord Siva. Everything else he was controlling directly and he made all arrangements for the universal functions for his sense gratification. The plants, all the plants were producing their fruits and flowers 12 months in the year, the oceans were producing jewels all the time and presenting them personally to Hiranyakasipu. And Hiranyakasipu was always doing things for his sense gratification.
The Bhagavatam explains, he was permanently intoxicated. For materialists to be in normal consciousness is not good enough. They must be in some different type of consciousness. So therefore intoxication is very popular. Get into some illusory state of mind where I think things are very nice. So we’ll read another verse later this afternoon. In the purport there Srila Prabhupada says about Hiranyakasipu: “Hiranyakasipu was the perfect representative of the materialistic life”. He was the founder-acarya. So the Bhagavatam describes: his eyes were always rolling in intoxication and he always smelled of liquor. This is staunch materialist. But he was not happy. So he had a number of children. Most famous of those children of course is Prahlad Maharaj. So Hiranyakasipu, he wanted Prahlad to take over the kingdom in due course.
So Hiranyakasipu wanted eventually to retire from universal management, sort of take sannyasa and dedicate himself cent percent to sense gratification so that he wouldn’t have to worry about running the universe. He could just drink all day and all night. So he sent Prahlad to the best school. It was the special school for the demons. And there they were taught how to lie but in such ways that people believe you with a big smile on your face. So people think: “Very nice!”, how to cheat people also with big smile. So that people feel that it’s very good. How to manipulate people and all different, sort of, rules fori like there’s one practice “Divide and rule”. So all these things Prahlad was being instructed in. And one day Hiranyakasipu
asked the teachers: “Please bring Prahlad, I want to see how he’s doing in school”. So he sat Prahlad on his lap, he petted him on the head, he smelled his head and he asked him: “My dear son, Prahlad, please tell me, what is the best thing you have learnt at school”. He was hoping, he was expecting Prahlad would say: “The best thing I have learnt is how to cheat people with a big smile on the face, how to poison your enemies”. But Prahlad did not say that.
He said: “Sravanam, kirtanam, visnoh smaranam, pada sevanam, arcanam, vandanam, dasyam, sakhyam, atma nivedanam. Iti pumsarpita visnoh and then I forget the rest but all these practices of devotional service to Visnu. Oh,
and Hiranyakasipu heard that. Oh this is just complete disaster. Just like you can imagine you are a devotee parent and you ask your little child: “What do you like most in your life?” And if the child says: “Oh, I like to eat meat!” Oh, the devotee parents will be shocked. So Hiranyakasipu was shocked. Now this happened twice. The first time he didn’t try to kill Prahlad. He thought: “What is wrong with these teachers. He’s an innocent little boy. So he… where he will get these ideas from? It must be from these teachers. So he called Sanda and Amarka, the teachers and he was just gonna kill them: “You’re teaching my son to be a devotee of my enemy!!” And Sanda and Amarka said: “No, no, no!! He definitely not learning these things from us”
So Hiranyakasipu sort of calmed down a little and he sent Prahlad back to the school. But he warned the teachers: “You, be careful!”. He said: “Obviously some vaisnavs are getting into your school”. So he told them, it’s in the Bhagavatam: “You watch out for vaisnavs in disguise!” So Prahlad went back to school and he got into it even more. Whenever the teachers
would go out of the roomi I don’t know what it is like here in Russia but when I was at school, whenever the teacher went out of the roomi oh it was a festival! It was a party! So when teachers would go out of the room there would be that big kirtan start. And there’s this nice painting in the 7th canto of the Bhagavatam: Prahlad is dancing in kirtan and all the other sons of the demons they are dancing in kirtan. And then the teachers would come back. As soon as the teacher would open the door in the room, all the boys would sit down – nothing is happening. So then Prahlad was called to Hiranyakasipu a second time.
What happened then is very dramatic and we will continue at 2 o’clock. What happened the second time. So yes, this is very amazing; the whole thing is a very amazing pastime. Here in the purport Srila Prabhupada is contrasting Prahlad Maharaj and Hiranyakasipu. Hiranyakasipu, he was extremely austere. Prahlad, he was just a little boy, he didn’t know much about very much. And he was not some sort renunciate, he was just a little boy, but he loved Krsna. So Prabhupad makes the point that Hiranyakasipu, despite his austerities, he could not get the mercy of the Lord. Despite his austerity he could not develop nice personal qualities. But Prahlad even with no austerity, simply because he loved the Lord he became a perfect pure devotee and he developed all wonderful personal qualities.
Lord Caitanya tells one story. This is a story of one washer man who was killed by Krsna in Mathura. Krsna and Balaram and cowherd-boys were entering Mathura. They met one washer man who was carrying the clothes of Kamsa. And those were beautiful clothes and Krsna asked: “My dear sir, wouldn’t you like to give us, cowherd-boys some of these nice clothes?” Oh, that washer man got very angry: “Who are you, little boys? You are just from the forest. These are the king’s clothes. You should go back to the forest and if you want some clothes, get some leaves and barks from the trees. What makes you think you can have the king’s clothes?!” So Krsna felt offended. He slapped the man in the face.
Now we might think, you slap someone in the face – it’s not that bad. But when Krsna hits someone in the face ioh, that’s different. That washer mani his head went flying off and Krsna and Balarama and the cowherd-boys, they took all those clothes and they dressed up very nicely. So Lord Caitanya’s describing this incident to the devotes and he told the devotees that that washer man was not an ordinary person. For many lifetimes he had been performing austerities so he could see God. And finally he saw God but because his heart was hard through so many austerities and because he was not a devotee when he got to see God he offended God. So like this, Hiranyakasipu, he had a very hard heart.
And it’s not through austerities that we please Krsna and get His mercy. Otherwise Hiranyakasipu would have got so much mercy. But he was killed by the Lord and he lost everything but Prahlad was accepted by the Lord and he got full mercy of the Lord. So we must be careful not to follow in the footsteps of Hiranyakasipu. So we have to chant nicely, follow the regulative principles nicely and render in a consistent nice way without deviating, without interruption. And if we do like that then following in the footsteps of Prahlad we can also get the mercy of the Lord. So we will continue with the narration at 2 o’clock.
Sri Nrisimhadev Bhagavan ki-jay!
Sri Prahlad Maharaj ki-jay!
Srila Prabhupada ki-jay!