Prahlada and Pantheism

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The Prahlada story illustrates the main theme of Pantheism. Let us explore how.

Popular movies Star Wars, Avatar and The Matrix are based on a common theme. For instance, this theme goes back to the works of influential thinkers of the eighteenth century such as Goethe, Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Whitman. Besides, writers like Thoreau and Emerson who influenced early American political thought use this theme in their works. The roots of modern environmental movement to go back to the reflection of the same idea in the works of Robinson Jeffers. Stanford Encylopedia calls this idea as “Pantheism” which is the general view that God is identical with the Cosmos.

Good and Evil are part of the cosmos. They are therefore automatically within God who maintains a balance between them. Devotion to God entails respecting rivers, plants, animals and the entire planet. Vedic texts from a distant past express these ideas lucidly. Does this mean that Pantheism was prevalent, at that time? A story from the Puranas, the story wing of Vedic literature, provides an interesting answer.

The story of Prahlad

Long time ago, the worlds had just been created. At that time, a child was born in the family of evil doors. Prahlada, the child, imbibed the ideals of Pantheism in an early age. He could not tolerate the cruelty of his father to other creature. On account of this, conflicts arose between the Emperor Hiranyakashipu and his son for sometime.

A day arrived when the father declared to Prahlada that Pantheism is bogus. Prahlada expressed his confidence that God is present everywhere. In addition, he affirmed that God resides in the pillar in their front. The enraged father split the pillar open to prove to Prahlada that there is no God there. God appeared from the pillar taking a form which had not evolved in nature. God vanished after re-establishing order between the good and the evil by taking the life of Hiranyakashipu. He installed Prahlada as the emperor.

The Lion is ferocious and yet gentle with its cubs. Nature's fury is similar also. The Prahlada Narasimha story is an illustration of this.
Prahlada, God and the Cosmos

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