by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar | 1896 | 137,618 words | ISBN-10: 818514141X | ISBN-13: 9788185141411
This page relates “the story of prahlada”, the 4th part of chapter 5 of Laghu-yoga-vasistha (English translation). This ancient Sanskrit book contains epic legendry (similair to puranas and itihasa) and deals with the Advaita-vedanta (non-dual) branch of Indian philosophy. It is authored by sage (rishi) Valmiki and condensed (laghu) from an even larger work, forming a discourse between Vasistha (Vasishtha) and Rama. This part is included in the chapter “upashanti-prakarana”.
Summary. This story illustrates the theory that through the grace of Īśvara also, will the higher spiritual state be attained.
Now hearken again to another story. One going by the name of Prahlāda also attained the true Self of Jñāna through his intelligence. We shall now proceed to describe it. After his father Hiraṇyakaśipu, the king of Dānavas, expired, the sore-grieved son gave vent to the following words with a palpitating heart. “Countless were the numbers of Dānavas born in my race, such as my father and others. They had bodies which cast into insignificance even Mahāmeru itself. They were able to do or undo even the lotus-born Brahmā with his powers. But before Viṣṇu wearing the Tulsi garland, they fell easy victims to the fiery ire of Viṣṇu, like cotton before the wind. Such Dānavas in numbers exceeding the countless fine sands of a river, perished like hills pulverized by the fierce gales of the wind at the end of time. There is none now who is not afraid of Viṣṇu. There is only one means of conquering the effulgent Viṣṇu, my enemy, wearing the discus. Think however we may, there is no higher goal than this. The real refuge can be sought only in Viṣṇu residing in the ocean of milk. Therefore let my mind from this moment seek an asylum in the state of Nārāyaṇa (Viṣṇu). May I through devotional meditation, be “He” and inseparable from Him. May the grand Mantra Nārāyaṇa namah” which confers upon its devotees whatever they long for, be inextricably inter woven and commingled within me, like the Ākāśa pervaded by the wind. Those who salute and worship Viṣṇu will be able to attain their desired results of emancipation, only when they contemplate upon Viṣṇu as themselves. Otherwise such results will not accrue. Following that path, I will worship and meditate upon Viṣṇu as myself. This body is no other than the form (or manifestation) of Viṣṇu. He who is bound by this body in the form of Prāṇa-Vāyu is Viṣṇu, the supreme of the supreme. That which goes before Prāṇa-Vāyu abides externally as the second Viṣṇu. Therefore collecting mentally all articles of worship, I shall always worship Viṣṇu as above. With this purpose in view, he created, through his mind, rubied vessels, incense, lamp, waving lights, golden cloths, rubied ornaments, unfading golden flowers, nectar like food and other innumerable articles of worship and then worshiped with them, Viṣṇu as resting in the lap of Adiśeṣa (serpent) both within and without, with true love in its divine place. From that time forward, be began to ever worship the feet of Viṣṇu, the one partless Brahman. Thereafter, all the Dānavas bearing axes began like Prahlāda to be the slave of Hari (Viṣṇu), abandoning all their bad qualities. Are not thus the qualities (good or bad) of a king imbibed by his subjects?
On hearing which, the Asuras, sons of Diti and their king Prahlāda, after giving up their anger against Viṣṇu became his devout followers. Indra and the other Devas marvelled with fear at this unprecedented event and were sceptical as to how these vicious personages were able to secure the love of Viṣṇu. Therefore they went to Viṣṇu, sleeping his long (Yoga) sleep in the sea of milk and having seen and eulogized him, addressed him thus:
‘If all the Daityas of fiery nature after meditating upon thee become merged in thee, then there cannot be but Māyā everywhere. The murderous tendencies of the powerful Daityas are diametrically opposed to the extinction of rebirths in Saṃsāra or devotion to Viṣṇu, as any two opposites are. To say that extremely wicked persons merge into the virtuous qualities is nothing but empty words. Oh all-permeant Viṣṇu, will it be possible for all Caṇḍālas (out-castes) to be filled with devotion towards thee?’
These words of the Devas were replied to by our Lord Viṣṇu thus: “Oh Devas, do not be afraid. The victorious Prahlāda has rendered himself no more liable to rebirths. Freed from his murderous propensities, he has reached Mokṣa through his Tattva-jñāna vision. Therefore do not suppose that there is any deception practised by him. If good persons incline their minds towards vice, then manifold evils will ensue; but if the vicious incline towards the virtuous path, then incalculable good will result. Therefore may all of you fare well.’ With this blessing, the great Viṣṇu disappeared at that very spot. Thereupon all the Devas left the Milky ocean full of surging waves for Suvarloka and there be came quite friendly to their antagonists, the Dānavas. With unceasing devotion towards the Lord, the cooling effect of which infiltrated deep into his marrow, Prahlāda was filled with a rapturous and ever-increasing love and always worshipped Him. Through the steady application of his whirling organs in such a worship supreme discrimination, bliss and indifference towards objects, etc., were greatly developed. With the development of the four means (of liberation), etc., all his mind’s attractions towards sensual objects ceased. Will a pearl encased in the mother-of-pearl be attracted and blurred by the mud in which it lies? Therefore his mind became quiescent, without sinking into sensual objects.
Finding that the mind of the beneficent Prahlāda was oscillating like a cradle between the cognition of the all-full Reality and the enjoyment of sensual pleasures, Viṣṇu the lord of the three worlds manifested himself in the solitary worshipping state (viz., the heart of Prahlāda) from which prayers were offered through his mind and acquainted him with his visit, when the Lord of the Asuras doubled his worship to the Primeval Cause of the Trinity and eulogized him thus with true love: ‘Oh thou, the original state of all rare things in the incomparable mansion of the three worlds; Oh thou, the ever-resplendent Brahman without the dawning and the setting of the sun in thee; Oh thou who art the eye of mercy to all thy votaries, salutation, salutations, a thousand salutations to thee. Oh thou who art Jñāna itself with Līlā (thy consort) by thee to create the world; Oh thou beneficent Principle, who dost not depend for thy existence upon the fourteen worlda; Oh thou who slept the sleep of yoga on the banian tree; Oh thou who art the Tattva (Reality, the prototype of all grace and the lord of all earths, salutations, salutations, a thousand salutations to thee. Oh thou, who art the blighting frost to the lotus containing the petals of malevolent Asuras; O: thou, who art the sun to the full blown lotus of Devas walking in the path of the Vedas; O thou, who art the be in the grand lotus of the heart of those who have destroyed all ideas of heterogeneity; Oh thou, who art the Lord of all souls, salutations, salutations, a thousand salutations to thee.’
At these various eulogies of Prahlāda, Viṣṇu with a gladsome look deigned to speak thus: ‘Oh Prahlāda of true love, thou art free to demand of me a boon which will not make thee be subject to the trammels of rebirths.’
To which Prahlāda said thus: “O thou Supreme Principle who residest in the hearts of all, please vouchsafe to confer on me that bliss wherein there are no pains.’
Thereupon Viṣṇu blessed him by laying his lotus-like hand upon his head with these words: ‘May the final Ātmic enquiry arise in thee in order that thou mayest attain quiescence in the Brahmic bliss of the pure Parabrahm, after thy mind is freed from the delusions of the world.’
Thereupon the immaculate Viṣṇu retired from the spot at which Prahlāda of great discrimination paid him respects by eulogising him and showering flowers on him. After Puruṣottama (the supreme of all Puruṣas) disappeared like a wave in the vast ocean, the king of Dānavas seated himself in Padma (lotus) posture and after having uttered the praises of the Lord, soliloquized within himself thus: ‘The incomparable Lord has deigned to bless me with the Ātmic enquiry enabling one to overcome rebirth. Let me cogitate upon the questions, ‘Who am I?’ ‘What was I before’ ‘What is the nature of this “I” which identifying itself with the phenomena of this world (and body) stays and runs, cries and laughs, exults and is afflicted?’ I am not this diverse world. How can this inert world be called the “I”, as the former is external to the latter and is composed of hills, stones, preity things, earth, trees and others? Neither can the ephemeral body be called the “I”, as the former proceeds from Asat only, is inert and has locomotion through Prāṇa Vāyu. Nor is the property of sound this “I”, since this property is impermanent, issues out of the void, has no form or intelligence and feeds the ear with its paltry food. Nor is the property of touch this “I”, since the former cannot be perceived except through the skin, perishes in a moment without any real existence, and is itself without any intelligence, being guided by the all-pervading Jñāna. Nor is the property of taste this “I”, since the former is ever fluctuating, inert, full of desires, perishable in a moment, the food of the tongue and arises out of material things. Nor is the inert property of form this “I”, which dies in the “knower” who though acting in this perishable world and sight is yet no participator in it. Nor is the property of odor this “I”, since the former is perceived through the inert inclined-nose only and is inert. Now have I cognised my Reality as shining both within and without, as the one pure Jñāna of pure Sat and without rebirth, being freed from all ideas of “I” and “mine,” from all Saṃkalpas and from all the delusions of the five organs, without the least despondency of heart. This is perfectly certain. Ha, Ha, now have I known my true Self. Is this the Ātmic Reality which shines, in the path of spiritual knowledge, in the intelligence of one divested of all diversities? In the one Tattva-jñāna which is no other than the “I” pervading everywhere without fluctuation, all the universes from the sun down to a pot shine. Like sparks of fire which shine through the heat in the burn ing fire, so I find, in my present illuminated state, that all the organs performed diverse actions through me only. All Jīvas from Brahmā downwards will shine as my Reality alone in the one space at the end of a Kalpa when all the universe goes into Pralaya; how then can exist the ideas of “I” or “he” which pertain to the mind? How can “I” which now shines as the one full Jñāna throughout this illimitable universe, possess the modifications of this reasoning mind, with a state allotted to it in the body. Therefore my spiritual vision of quiescent Jñāna which is eternal, blissful and in comparable is in all the worlds. All the manifested appearances are only the spiritual vision of the one subtle ideation. As all Jīvas are no other than “I”, the invisible Jñāna and Pratyagātman that has no other object than itself to lean upon, I offer salutations to them all on account of (their non-divisibility from) my own Self.
Out of the differenceless Jñāna which has no thoughts other than its Self, which is pure, equal in all, without difference, beyond and without the three divisions of time past, present and future arose the diverse transcendental potencies(Śaktis). Naught else is but the non-dual Jñāna without attractions to any, which is equal unto itself alone. As it is above all words, a principle equal unto Ātma cannot be found in words. If the imperishable non-desires should become replete in one, which are invisible and pure and yet like the illusory worldly things, then there will remain equal vision overall, like a waveless ocean. But a mind whirling in actions associated with activity and passivity will be bound, like a bird caught in a net. Therefore all persons who are afflicted with love and hatred and are thereby dizzy in mind, cling to this earth like vermin.
O thou illuminated dweller in the mind of all souls, I have been able to attain Thee only after a very long period. Who was ever able to come by this all-full benefit except those who have attained Thee? Thou art fit to be enquired into through the holy sentences of the Vedas and Gurus. Thou art the identity of Kūṭastha and Brahman. Thou art devoid of all differences. Thou shinest as of the nature of Sacidānanda. Many salutations to Thee who art “That” into which all things merge. Thou art the Eternal Jñāna wherein “I” am “Thou” and “Thou” art “I”. Prostrations to thee my Lord, the Paramātma who is self-existent and the Lord of Devas in this mundane egg. Prostrations to thee of the nature of light, unobscured by low thoughts, like a full moon without clouds to bedim it. Prostrations to myself which has attained its Reality, shining as itself in a blissful state and as the one Cidākāśa without the obscuration of thoughts. Though seeming to be mobile or immobile or quiescent, it is yet without such actions. Though performing all actions, it is yet without desires therein. Like the breeze fanning the soft tendrils, this Jñāna-Ātma causes Antaḥkaraṇa (the lower mind) having Manas etc. to move. Like a team of horses led by a charioteer, It alone will ever goad on the painful organs to work. It is He who is sought after by the bodies and organs. It is He who is praised by the organ of speech. It is He who is meditated upon by the mind. It is He who causes birth and death to be bridged over. It is He who can be easily attained to. It is He who can cognise all. It is He who is the bee producing the humming sound in the heart-lotus of all creatures. I have no love or hatred towards sensual enjoyments. Let me attain those things, I am destined to get; let me not long after those things, I am not destined to get. Originally I became oblivious of discrimination and other blissful things through my inimical Ajñāna, but now I am in possession of them, through Jñāna. Having destroyed my mind sunk in Saṃsāra with my discrimination that had labored hard in the Śāstras, having freed myself from all the painful Ahaṃkāra, having annihilated all conceptions of duality by meditating upon non-duality, I am now the incomparable Kevala (solitary one) in an immovable state. My reality is the Kevala and all-full Jñāna-Ātma comparable only unto itself, without mental actions, egoism, Manas, or any other actions. Where has that solitary mortal bird of Ahaṃkāra flown to, freeing itself from the trammels of desires, and flying out of the cage of this body. According to the holy sentences which postulate that “Thou” art “I” and “I” am “Thou”, there has been again an identification brought about between “Thou” and “I”. Though possessing the whole world’s wealth, thou art yet devoid of it. Therefore thou wilt never shine to (or be cognized by) those persons who are like the blind unable to perceive the rapturous beauty of a fair damsel. Victory to thee, imperishable God. Victory to thee, the state of final quiescence. Victory to thee, beyond the reach of all Vedas. Victory to Thee, the source of all Vedas. Victory to Thee, the cause of creation. Victory to Thee, the causeless cause. Victory to Thee, the perishable cause. Victory to Thee, the imperishable cause.’
Thus did the noble son of Hiraṇyakaśipu meditate through his pure mind and enjoy bliss in the supreme differenceless Nirvikalpa Samādhi of great omniscience. As he seated him self statue-like in Nirvikalpa Samādhi for 5000 years and remained steadfast in one vision (or thought) only, there prevailed anarchy in the world of Pātāla of which he was the the king and all the Asuras in it were, like shoals of fishes in a muddy pool preyed upon by vultures and other birds of prey.
While so, Viṣṇu, the protector of all worlds and its laws, awoke from his yoga sleep in the ocean of milk and began to contemplate upon the safe concerns of the world in his heart of protection thus: ‘The whole creation of Brahmā has begun to decline through Prahlāda going into the quiescent state, wherein no difference exists. The stainful Dānavas who are the night-rovers bearing axes having ceased to exist, all the Devas will be deprived of war in their absence and will become quiescent and attain Mokṣa. With the quiescence of Devas, all the Yajñas done on earth in their honor as well as Tapas, etc., will be barren of results, and therefore fade away from earth. With the cessation of the laborious performance of these Yajñas, and other actions, the universe will have to come to a stand still. And then all created objects will cease to exist. Should all the created objects such as the sun, moon, etc. disappear, then we shall have to give up this form of ours and reach the non-differentiated state of “That”. Were all the archaic universes to perish before their allotted time, then no real benefit (or law) will reign in this world. To remedy the defect, we have to resort to the following expedient. May the Asuras prosper long. In their longevity only lies war. With the opportunity of war, Devas will rise in great numbers. With their advent, Yajñas and Tapas will be performed. With their performance, the incomparable mundane existence will arise. May therefore Prahlāda, the lord of , live until the end of the Kalpa in this his present garb of body, inasmuch as the whole creation will cease to exist with the extinction of the Asuras, etc.’
Therefore in order to continue and maintain the divine law of justice of the great Lord (Parameśvara), the red-eyed Viṣṇu quitted his serpent couch and approached Prahlāda in his world of Pātāla which was like unto Satya-Loka itself. Seated on his vehicle of Garuḍa (eagle), having on his right hand Lakṣmī of red arms waving the chowris and saluted by the Munis and Devas and accoutred on both sides by the five weapons, the beneficent Viṣṇu caused his Pāñcajanya (conch) to be sounded in order to intimate to Prahlāda his arrival. Through the terrible reverberating sound which pierced the earth, the skies and the quarters, Prahlāda who was merged in the primal state of “That”, slowly recovered consciousness on this plane. The Caitanya Śakti (or consciousness potency) issuing first out of Brahmarandhra pervaded, as before, the Nāḍīs to all the parts of his body and when it got to the nine apertures of the body, Prahlāda became conscious of this (physical) plane. Then his Caitanya (consciousness) began to perceive material objects, only after it shone as the reflection in the glass of the internal Prāṇa. Hence that intelligence of his which manifested itself in objects, may be compared to the reflected image in a mirror and thus assumed the attributes of Manas. As he recovered consciousness little by little like a lotus unfolding its petals gradually, his beautiful eyes opened. Then the beneficent Prāṇa and Apāna began to percolate all throughout his Nāḍīs (nerves) and organs, thus producing a complete perception of the world. Like a lotus fanned by the mild zephyrs, Prahlāda began to move in his position. In the twinkling of an eye, his mind became gross and his eyes, mind, Prāṇa and body began to glow with life with their respective functions. Then this patient personage appeared in sight of Viṣṇu of rare grace. Seeing, with his full-blown eyes, Viṣṇu before him, his mind became all-full (with self-satisfaction).
Thereupon Viṣṇu, with great grace, looked at Prahlāda and blessed him thus: ‘Oh immaculate Prahlāda, go and look after your wealth which is praised and coveted by Indra, the lord of Devas. Also look after your body. Why do you think of abandoning this, your body at such a premature period as this? So long as you are not haunted by the Saṃkalpa of attraction and repulsion towards objects, what matters it whether your body exists or not? Now get you up from Samādhi. May you, O Prahlāda, be in the Jīvanmukti state. May you, until the end of this Kalpa, administer due justice in this world with this body of yours in the Jīvanmukti state, but without groaning under the load of Saṃsāra. Why do you now in vain die (or disappear from this world), when neither the fires nor the twelve suns burn the universe out of existence (and the Kalpa has not yet closed)? Is not death welcome to those only whose minds, being pampered by the bondige-giving desires, do ever travel in that path and get agitated under the load of Saṃsāra? The lives of those only are blissful, who, having mastered egoism and desires, do cast their eyes equally upon all, which vision confers infinite bliss. The lives of those only are blissful who, devoid of love and hatred and having rendered their minds cool, are witness to all actions, though performing them. He who is attracted towards objects as well as the objects themselves are both bondage-giving; the severance (of the mind) from objects constitutes quiescence. It is only when this quiescence is mastered that Mokṣa is attained. Now inasmuch as you have reached that state, you should state yourself on your victorious throne (of the quiescent mind) and reign over your kingdom. You shall presently be invested with the regal diadem in the midst of the reverberating sound of conches and of the auspicious acts and praises of the Devas. May you reign till the end of this Kalpa.’
So saying he ordered auspicious waters to be brought with which he anointed the king; and then with his hands adorned with conch and discus, he decorated the king’s head with a precious rubied crown in the midst of the eulogies of Devas, hosts and then addressed the king thus: ‘Mayest thou live and reign, so long as the immoveable Mahāmeru, the earth, the sun and the moon endure and then enter the supreme state.’
With these words Viṣṇu disappeared in a moment with all the Deva hosts, like the instantaneous disappearance of a false Māyāvic creation.”
At these words of Vasiṣṭha, Rāma questioned him thus “How did the king of the Asuras, after attaining Jñāna and becoming merged in the true Brahman, return (unto the normal state) at the conch-sound of Viṣṇu? In the case of all Jīvanmuktas without the load of Saṃsāra in whom the pure Vāsanās are like a burnt seed, such a seed in their heart will never be productive of rebirth. But these pure Vāsanās inasmuch as they are pure, all-pervading, subject to manifestion, origin, etc., associated with Sattvaguṇa, full of the pure Ātmic Dhyāna (contemplation), and without beginning will always be in Jīvanmuktas like Vāsanās in Suṣupti. Even after the lapse of a thousand years, so long as the body is in existence, the pure Vāsanās will be latent in the heart and will melt away gradually. It is only through these pure Vāsanās that Jīvanmuktas are awakened to an external perception of objects.”
Footnotes and references:
He is the son of Kaśyapa and Diti and subjected his son Prahlāda to untold cruelties for which he was torn to pieces by Viṣṇu as Narasiṃha Avatāra.
Tulsi, a small shrub, the holy basil.
This is called the eight-lettered Mantra, “Om Namo Nārāyaṇāya.”
Daityas, sons of Diti and Dānavas, sons of Danu are both Asuras, through Kaśyapa their father.
Besides the seven lokas Bhū(r), Buvar, etc., there are the seven Talas: Atala, Vitala, etc., up to Patala.
Allusion is here made to Viṣṇu arising on the waters on the banyan leaf at the beginning of a creation.
This is said to be the Anahata Śabdha or the sound said to arise from the heart as stated in our Upaniṣads.
This shows that in the opposition of the two principles, Devas-Asuras in the world, lies the preservation of the universe.
Satyaloka the 7th, viz., Brahmāloka.
Garuḍa stands for a Manvantara.
Brahmarandhra is the Brahmā hole through which liberation is reached.