Prahlada could have asked anything but why did he pray to Lord Narasimhadeva to free his heart of all material desires. Lord Narasimhadeva had appeared for his pleasure, so, Prahlada could have easily asked for all material pleasures. But Prahlada who was just five years old was intelligent enough to understand that all material pleasures ultimately give great pain.
Many think that all powerful Lord Narasimhadeva whose nails are like sharp edged swords, appeared in this world to kill the demon, Hiranyakasipu. This can be one of the reasons. But the most important reason why Lord Narasimhadeva appeared was to bestow unlimited mercy upon Prahlada and to make Prahlada’s life glorious.
This pastime of the Lord gives us great hope. We hope that a day will come when, like little Prahlada, we will at least get little mercy of Lord Narasimhadeva. But unlike Prahlada, our desires are not spiritual. We hope the Lord will merciful fulfil our material desires.
Are we visiting temple for right reason?
On the appearance day of Lord Narasimhadeva i.e. Narasimha Chaturdashi, we fervently pray to the Lord for his favor. So, we see that on that day, people in large numbers flock to Lord Narasimhadeva temple and wait with bated breath for the door of the temple to open. Is it because we want to see the Lord? It can be one of the reasons but may not be the main reason.
Because Lord Narasimhadeva is there in the temple 365 days of the year. But people think themselves too busy to go to the temple. So, now the original question, why do people go to temple on some important festivals like Narasimha Chaturdashi.
People flock to temple on auspicious days because scriptures say that on the day of festivals, Lord is extra merciful. Just like on a rainy day, sky bathes mother earth with unlimited quantity of water, similarly on the day of festivals like Narasimha Chaturdashi, Lord profusely distributes his mercy.
So, lesser mortals like you and me think that Lord Narasimhadeva will be kind to us on the day he appeared. He will bless us, and his blessings will make sure that all the impediments which are coming in our way to actualize our cherished material goals will be destroyed. Once the obstacles are gone, material goals can be easily achieved.
And once we attain material success, we will attain happiness too. And then we will dance in delight like a child who after lots of crying gets a lollipop in his hand.
What if Lord refuses to fulfil our material desires?
Now, what if Lord does not fulfil our desires? He says, “You come to me, have my darshan but I will not give you anything in return.” In that situation, will we go to temple? Many of us will not then feel motivated to visit the Lord in the temple even on festival days.
Because, whatever we do in this world, we also want to find out, “What is there in it for me?” As long as Lord is fulfilling our desires, we think God is Great. And if he refuses to be our yes man then immediately, we sideline him from our life.
So, if we analyse our life carefully then we will find that we do not generally go to temple because we have love for the Lord. We go there because we have love for ourselves. Almost all the time we think about ourselves, and we want the Lord to fulfil all our worldly desires.
We are self-obsessed. Always, we want something from the Lord. We rarely come to temple to give something to the Lord without expecting anything in return. Many businessmen give money to be used in the service of the Lord. This is good.
But in the back of their mind, they think that if we give Rs 1000 to the Lord then in return he will give us 10 times or maybe 100 times more.
Lord may give us. It is not difficult for him to make us rich. But this is not love. This is business. Just like when we invest in a mutual fund, we calculate how much return we will get. Similarly, when we invest money in the service of the Lord, we think how much return we will get.
Burden of material desires
We always think about our pleasure, but have we ever thought what pleases the Lord?
If we reflect on the life of pure devotees, we will see that they never asked for anything from the Lord. They always thought about the Lord’s satisfaction, not their personal satisfaction.
Let us see what exalted devotee Prahlada, who always meditated on the beautiful form of the Lord and his holy names, asked when Lord Narasimhadeva appeared in front of him.
Although Lord Narasimhadeva had killed the tyrant, Hiranyaskasipu, who had terrorized the universe he was still angry. But when the Lord saw little Prahlada who always thought well of others, he was so pleased. Looking into the innocent eyes of Prahlada, the Supreme Lord immediately said, “You ask for anything and I am ready to give.”
Now, suppose that if Lord showing compassion upon us appears in front of us and says the same thing, “I will fulfil all your desires, you just ask it.” We will immediately note down all our wishes neatly on a piece of paper and will start reading to the Lord.
Writing is important so that we may not forget anything to ask. And since our desires are unlimited, I am not sure how many reams of papers we will need to jot down our desires.
But Prahlada was not like us. He did not carry the burden of material desires in his heart. His tender heart was pure. Standing in front of Lord Narasimhadeva, Prahlada’s heart was filled with delight.
When material life ends, spiritual life begins
Folding his hands reverentially, Prahlada first bowed down unto the lotus feet of Lord Narasimhadeva and then he humbly said, “My dear most merciful Lord, my only desire is to not have any material desire. Please free my heart from all material desires.”
“O my Lord, best of the givers of benediction, if You at all want to bestow a desirable benediction upon me, then I pray from Your Lordship that within the core of my heart there be no material desires.” Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, 7.10.7
All the assembled great personalities like Mother Lakshmi, Lord Shiva and Parvati, Brahmaji and his spiritual master, Narada Muni, were so happy to hear this prayer of Prahlada.
Material desires are the root cause of our suffering. Almost always, our mind keeps on contemplating on material desires. And also keeps on planning how to fulfil those.
Once we free ourselves from the shackles of these unholy thoughts, our material life will end, and spiritual life will begin i.e. miseries will end and happiness will begin.
Prahlada had asked the Lord to fulfil his desire which will free him from all present and future miseries. It will free him from the repeated cycle of birth and death. And most importantly, it will open the door of the spiritual world for him.
Desire to serve the Lord frees us from painful material desires
Hearing this desire of Prahlada, Lord Narasimhadeva who had decorated himself with the blood-soaked intestine of Hiranyakasipu became happy. The ferocious Lord had a big smile on his face.
The Supreme Lord said, “..the glories of your activities will be sung in the upper planetary systems, and being fully freed from all bondage, you will return home, back to Godhead.” Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.10.13
Hope a day will come when, like Prahlada, we will always think of the pleasure of the Lord. We will again and again pray to the Lord to free our heart and mind of all material desires and fill it with the desire to always serve the Lord without any ulterior motive.
When our heart blossoms with the desire to serve the Lord, painful material desires disappear.