Parana Bhagwata Bhakta Prahlad
BY: SUN STAFF
Sep 20, CANADA (SUN) While researching vintage music magazines with stories about the Hare Krishnas, we came across the International Times (IT) No. 45, November 29 - December 12, 1968. Inside was a two-page spread entitled Parana Bhagwata Bhakta Prahlad, featuring original paintings by Goursundar das Adhikary and Govinda devi dasi, photographed and captioned by Gurudas Adhikary.
This beautiful collection of images depicts the story of Prahlad Maharaja and his demoniac father, Hiranyakashipu. The transcendental pastimes of the Lord’s pure devotees are somewhat incongruous, set in the context of this 1968 counterculture music newspaper, but they are altogether delightful.
With references to Vaikuntha and the Boar incarnation, one can only imagine what the hippies thought and felt as they looked at these wonderful images and read the story of pure bhakti defying the demons.
Following is the entire contents of Parana Bhagwata Bhakta Prahlad.
Parana Bhagwata Bhakta Prahlad
"This event takes place long before the dawn of our modern recorded history. In each of the four Vedic ages, a particular method for spiritual advancement is foremost. The age in which this incident takes place is an age in which the average life-span is 10,000 years. Austerities and penances constituted the path of realizing the self and freeing the self from material bondage. The story opens on one of the Vaikuntha (spiritual) planets, as we see:
The four Kumaros, sons of Lord Brahma, going to the abode of Lord Narayana, a four-armed empowered expansion of Lord Krishna.
At the gate, the gate-keepers, Jaya and Vijaya, halt the four Kumaros, failing to realize that these youthful appearing boys are, in reality, thousands and thousands of years old. When Jaya and Vijaya refuse them entry, the Kumaros curse the gate-keepers to be reborn in the material universe, on earth planet.
Jaya and Vijaya and the four Kumaros pay their respects to Lord Narayana. Since the curse of the Kumaros has taken hold, the gate-keepers are now given a choice of spending their exile on earth as either demons or devotees. If they choose the demonic way of life, they will stay in the material existence for three lives. And if they choose to act as devotees, they will spend seven lives on earth. The gate-keepers want very much to return to the spiritual sky, so they choose to act as demons for three lives.
This panel is a ‘photograph’ showing the disembodied souls of Jaya and Vijaya descending from the spiritual realm into the material realm, traversing through the eight separating layers of nescience, which are from top to bottom: false ego, intelligence, mind, ether, air, fire, water and earth.
This shows the moment of birth of the demon Hiranyakashipu, which causes a great cataclysm. (The other gate-keepers became a great demon who was dispatched quickly by the Boar Incarnation.)
This is the wife of Hiranyakashipu, being taken by the demigods to do away with the Garbhaka (unborn baby), for fear that it will turn out to be a worse demon than its father. Narada Muni, the great sage, with veena and clapper, requests that she should not be taken, and asks to instruct her in spiritual science so that the Garbhaka, in the womb, may also hear Transcendental Knowledge. This is how Prahlad learns the aspects of devotion, Bhaktiyoga, before leaving the womb.
Hiranyakashipu undergoing great austerities and penances, by standing on his toes for one hundred years. Out of the sky appears Lord Bahmaji on his mount of lotus swan.
Here Hiranyakashipu offers his respectful obeisances. And then, because of the demon’s great penances, Lord Brahma offers to grant a boon. Hiranyakashipu asks to be granted the boon of immortality. Lord Brahma says that he cannot grant this boon as he himself does not possess immortality. So Hiranyakashipu, who is very clever in political and economic affairs, asks that he be not killed A) by man or beast; B) by anyone created by Lord Brahma (the creator god); C) by any man-made weapon; D) by night or by day; E) on the land or on sea; F) inside or outside; &) on the ground or in the sky. Lord Brahma grants all these stipulations to Hiranyakashipu.
Hiranyakashipu is now king of the three material worlds, the higher, middle and lower material planets. Due to his unconquerable powerful nature, granted to him by Lord Brahma, he is a tyrant feared by one and all. In this panel, he is giving his son Prahlad to the so-called Brahmin teachers for learning the martial arts and material sciences.
Hiranyakashipu asks Prahlad (the greatest of devotees) what he has learned. Prahlad repeats, verbatim, what he has been taught, and then says, ‘But it is all nonsense’. He says that this mundane education, devoid of any spiritual teaching, is directed toward the temporary, not the permanent; that it is like a flower without a scent or a dressed up corpse; and in the end will vanish like the torn cloud; that we can be truly happy by devoting ourselves to the knowledge of the Eternal Principle, in serving the Lotus Feet of Sri Hari (Lord Krishna).
Demons are great atheists, and even the sound vibration of the numerous names of the Lord send them into uncontrollable fear or anger. So Hiranyakashipu threw his son down in a rage, and condemned him as a traitor to his kingdom and orders his death. (Hiranyakashipu is a sworn enemy of the Lord, Who, as the Boar Incarnation, slew his brother, the other gate-keeper).
Demons are called from the lower planets, to inflict pain and misery upon Prahlad who is simply chanting the Transcendental Names of Krishna, and is unaffected.
Child Prahlad, remembering Krishna always, cannot be perturbed by material phenomena.
No elephant will crush him underfoot, as he is always under the protection of Lord Krishna.
No snake can bite him.
No fire can burn him.
Prahlad, in a continuous state of Transcendental Ecstasy, is under the protection of Lord Nrsinghadev (another name of Lord Sri Krishna) through…
…storm and hail.
And into Krishna’s waiting arms falls the pure devotee, when pushed off any precipice of material nature. (Krishna says, ‘My devotee is never vanquished!’).
Prahlad is given poisoned food, his mother protests in vain. But Lord Krishna nullifies its effect, and once again Prahlad is saved from his father’s devices."