If Prahlada learnt bhakti by hearing from Narada in his mother’s womb, why did Narada say to the devatas before this that the child in the womb is a great devotee?
Transcribed by: Shalini Ahluwalia
Question : We say that Prahlad Maharaj heard in the womb from Narad Muni and thats how he knew spiritual knowledge but then NArad Muni told the devatas who were attacking Kayadu that the child in her womb – Prahlad – is a great devotee, don’t attack him. So was Prahlad a devotee from before his birth itself or did he become a devotee by hearing from Narad Muni.
Answer: No, he is definitely a devotee from before and Vishwanath Chakravarthy Thakur says that he is partially sadhan-siddha and partially nitya-siddha. So that means definitely there was devotional inclination from previous life. Now the question comes up if somebody is a devotee from previous life what is carried over to this life? There are specific exceptions like Gajendra who remembered not only the bhakti from a previous life but also remembered the verses. The verses which are described in Gajendra’s prayers are actually what he is understanding was when Gajendra was in a previous life. But if we look at the general principle what does Krishna say in the sixth chapter in the 43rd and 44th verses? It is two things ;
tatra tam buddhi-samyogam
yatate ca tato bhuyah
tatra tam buddhi-samyogamlabhate paurva-dehikam – So buddhi samyogam – by the connection of buddhi whatever was there in the poorva deh – that one gets. And then what happens yatate tato bhuyah – one starts endeavouring for self-realisation. This is 43rd verse and 44th verse is
hriyate hy avaso ‘pi sah
So what happens is there is an attraction to Krishna, the attraction to transcendence, to spiritual reality, something beyond this world, that comes from the past life to this life. But whether specific facts and information will be remembered or not that will vary according to case to case. Even those who have been very advanced devotees in their previous life and we can see that they have tremendous attraction to transcendence, very little attraction to material things in this life, its not necessary that they will remember even if they had memorised some verses, they may not remember facts, they will just remember the generic points – ok, there is something beyond this world, I have to look beyond this world. That is what is generally carried. Our paap and punyaa determines our swabhaav , our inner orientations, that is carried to this life to next life. Similarly our bhakti essentially means our attraction to Krishna, so that attraction to transcendence ultimately culminating in Krishna, that is carried from one life to another. The specific information may not be carried. So now if we look at the way the Bhagavatam flows the fifth chapter introduces Prahlad Maharaj, then sixth chapter in seventh canto is – Prahlad instructs his schoolmates. And in seventh chapter is what Prahlad learned in the womb. So now if we see sixth chapter gives proper philosophy, it talks about how life is temporary, how human life is precious and then it talks about the glory of devotional service. These are specific philosophical points. So the broad principle of devotion is something carried over from this life to another. And that principle of being attracted to Krishna that was there with Prahlad but when the specific principles, specific points, specific teachings of philosophy, that he learned from Narad Muni. That carried out from the womb to outside. So in general we may not carry the specific information, there are many people who when they come to the temple and they hear the ringing of the bell or they hear kirtana, they feel déjà-vu.I have heard this somewhere before, this seems so attractive. In this life they have never had any experience of it and they feel their hair standing on their arms. (?? Check sentence, not clear). Its not that they are advanced devotees but it is purvabhyasena tenaiva hriyate hy avaso ‘pi sah. So they may not be able to verbalise what is it, where had I heard this, where had I got this from, but the attraction comes on its own. So Prahlad from his previous life had an attraction to Krishna and thats why he is a devotee. But the specific philosophical points which he told his schoolmates that he learnt from Narad Muni in his mother’s womb.
Thank you, Hare Krishna!