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Story Of Prahlada And Dattatreya

We all know that Prahlada as child had darshan of the Narasimha avatar of Bhagwan Vishnu. But when he grew up and became king he also had the darshan of the Bhagwan Dattatreya. Here is the story of Prahlada and Dattatreya.

As a king, Prahlada enjoyed many pleasures. From worldly point of view he lacked nothing. Yet in an unknown corner of his heart, a thorn of discontent had taken root and gradually it began to trouble him. Questions like what is the essential nature of this world, what is my true nature and other Vedantic questions perplexed him. After deep deliberations and advice by scholars, he undertook a journey around the world to find answers to his questions. In due course of time he reached Sahyadri regions on the bank of Cauvery River in South India.

On the banks of Kaveri River, Prahlada saw a sage rolling in sand and mud. Prahlada felt that he was not an ordinary man. Immediately he approached the sage and with humility he prostrated him. He politely asked, “Munidra! I have a doubt. Please listen and reveal me the truth. Mahatma! You are looking very strange. Your body shines like gold even if you are in mud. Your body is quite hale and hearty. What is the cause of this? Your also have some distinguishing qualities. You talk very little. Some scold you by seeing your appearance and some other prostrate before you by praising you, but you seem very indifferent to both. You neither scold the former nor praise the later. Your conduct is contrary to the ways of world. You don’t seem to be bound even by the rules of righteousness. Please teach me the truth.”

The sage told the king that with an unworldly attitude he can remove what little doubt he has about the nature of the world.

The Sage said:

Prahlada! I have taken innumerable births before as animals, birds, insects etc. without a thought of righteousness and unrighteousness. I am not going to describe all such births. But one thing I can say human birth is best among all such births. Human birth is door to eternal bliss and also to eternal suffering. The choice is ours. Committing sins in this world results in low births and performance of meritorious deeds leads to self realization. Moreover a man lives in bliss if he performs meritorious deeds. One should not be attracted towards worldly pleasures as it makes men perform sins. And sins opens the gate of eternal suffering.

People think that they are knowledgeable and strive to obtain happiness. But they fail to recognize the bliss which is there within them. And they are caught in the wheel of samsara which is unreal, dualistic and frightful.

Prahlada! All days are not same in this life. One day money and fame comes and another day it goes away. There is no stability in worldly life. It swings like a pendulum. People should learn to be stable in all situations. It is best to give up craving for wealth.

If I do not have something, I do not ask for it. If something is given to me, I don’t refuse it. I don’t worry at all if I get nothing. I don’t allow sorrows and afflictions to trouble me. I don’t allow even happiness to enter me. Sometimes I get little or no food. Sometimes I get food plentifully. Sometimes I get tasteless food. At some other times I get five kinds of sweets along with food. Sometimes I am given food accompanied by abuses and insults. Sometimes I am offered food with kindness and with due respect.

As you see I am lying in the mud now. But one day I may sit on a throne like a king. But both the situations do not bother me. I always live in the state of oneness.

My dear son! The entire world is subject to maya. That is why I do not bother about the actions of people.

Prahlada now had a clearer view of the world. He felt light hearted as his doubts were cleared. He closed his eyes and bowed before the sage. When he opened his eyes slowly he saw before him Bhagwan Dattatreya with sweet and gentle smile on his face.