Prahalad Maharaj’s prayers are very instructive; they also reveal his deep humility and love for the Lord. Besides, we learn how we could also please the Lord by our prayers.
It was clear to all that the Lord is very angry and in His most ferocious form of Lord Narasimhadeva, He was unapproachable. All the demigods headed by Lord Brahma tried to pacify the Lord but the Lord continued to remain angry. Then Brahmaji requested Mother Laksmi to appease the Lord. Even she was reluctant, for she had never seen her Lord and consort in this terrifying form.
At that time Brahma requested little Prahalad to pacify the Lord. Fearlessly, the five year old boy came forward; immediately the Lord was pleased and affectionately He rubbed His lotus hands on Prahalad’s head. Prahalad then offered beautiful prayers that reveal the glory of the path of pure devotional service.
Although it was now obvious to all that what all of them, the royal demigods put together could not do, five year old Prahalad did; he pleased the Lord. Yet Prahalad is conscientious; he is aware that he is simply an insignificant servant of all the gods and their devotees. He is careful to remember that he belongs to a low, demoniac family that is opposed to rendering loving service to God. He begins his prayers by expressing his disqualifications, and simultaneously glorifying the demigods, the very personalities with whom moments ago, the Lord expressed his dissatisfaction with.
Later, after he concludes his prayers, the Lord being pleased asks him to take any benediction he desires. Prahalad immediately exclaims, in a series of a second set of prayers, “My dear Lord, please don’t tempt me with these allurements, I already have lot of material desires in my heart. If at all you want to give me a benediction, then please bless me that I can be free of all material desires, and I can get shelter at Your lotus feet.”
Prahalad pleads he doesn’t want to become a merchant in his relationship with God. Furthermore he explains that devotees who approach God for material desires are not pure devotees and even a master who satisfies the material desires of his devotee with a desire to maintain his prestigious position, is not a pure master either. He begs the Lord to let his relationship with Him remain as that of a servant and master.
In this section, Srila Prabhupada writes a brilliant purport wherein he reveals the psychology of a materialistic person who approaches God for benedictions. He explains that sometimes people read the Lord’s assurance that He is pleased by the simple offering of a flower, fruit or water (Bhagavad Gita 9.26). On knowing this, certain materialistic persons calculate, “Oh, God is so easy to please, let me offer a simple flower and get rich material benefits in exchange. This is a good transaction”. Srila Prabhupada warns that God is not foolish; He has said elsewhere that He reciprocates with people the way they approach Him (Bhagavad Gita 4.11). Therefore if people are calculative in their dealings with Krishna, eventually they themselves will be cheated.
Hearing Prahalad’s determination to not succumb to material desires, the Lord insists that it’s His order that Prahalad accepts benedictions. Lord Narasimhadeva assures him that he would not be entangled by material activities; he should simply remember the Lord and constantly hear His pastimes in the association of devotees. That way Prahalad would always remain spiritually strong.
Then Prahalad begins his third set of prayers; he says, “My dear Lord if at all You want to give benedictions, please forgive my father for his animosity towards You. Please award him liberation.” Although Hiranyakashipu had tormented little Prahalad with endless atrocities, he totally forgave his father. Moreover he wished his father well, remembering his affection. Once Hiranyakashipu had fondly rubbed and smelt Prahalad’s head with affection, and Prahalad now reminds the Lord how his father did love him. Pleased with this humility and love, the Lord guarantees Prahalad that his twenty one generations would be liberated and wherever there are sincere devotees, the Lord is always present and would unswervingly award His mercy.
At the conclusion of this pastime, Brahma once again offered prayers of gratitude to the Lord. After warning Brahma to never give such benedictions to the demons, the Lord disappeared from the scene. No sooner did the Lord leave, Prahalad immediately offered full prostrated obeisances to Brahma and respected him as his grand spiritual master.
Although once again Brahma was humbled in front of all, and the Lord had held him responsible for displeasing Him, yet Prahalad doesn’t forget the etiquette, and his relationship with his spiritual masters. Just because he was favoured the most, Prahalad doesn’t become proud or consider himself better than the others who had been dismissed by the Lord. Prahalad continues to maintain the same mood, and thereby he reveals the substance of his character. He was totally unaffected by the glory and respect; although he was the ‘chosen one’, he remained fixed in his position as the servant of God, and the servant of God’s servants.
This section from the Srimad Bhagavatam is very instructive for spiritual aspirants who wonder how we could ever please the Lord and attract His grace. Prahalad has taught us the path; love and respect all, and desire nothing material from the Lord. This is the simple and sublime path of pure devotional service.
The author is a celibate teacher at ISKCON ashram at Chowpatty, Mumbai