Chapter 36 — Prahlada’s Hymn to the Soul

Prahlada continued:—

I thank you, O lord and great spirit who is beyond all things and is found in myself by my good fortune. Except you, O my Lord, I have no other friend in the three worlds who embraces and looks upon me when I pray to you. It is you who preserves and destroys all and who gives all things to everybody. It is you who makes us move and work and praise your holy name. Now you are found and seen by me, and now you go away from me.

You fill all beings in the world with your essence. You are present in all places, but where have you fled and gone from me? Great is the distance between us, even as the distance of the places of our birth. It is my good fortune, O friend, that has brought you near me today and presented you to my sight.

I hail you, O blissful One who is my maker and preserver. I think that you are the stalk of this fruit of the world, and you are the eternal and pure soul of all. I thank the holder of the lotus and discus, and you also who bears the crescent half moon on your forehead, great Shiva. I thank the lord of gods, Indra, and also Brahma, who is born of the lotus.

Use of words makes a distinction between you and ourselves. But this is a false impression, like that between waves and their element water. You show yourself in the shapes of the endless varieties of beings. Existence and extinction are your two states from all eternity. 10 I thank you who is the creator and beholder of all and who manifests innumerable forms. I thank you who is the whole nature yourself.

11 I have undergone many tribulations in the long course of past lives. By your will I became deprived of my strength and at last was burnt away. 12 I have seen luminous worlds and observed many visible and invisible things, but you are not to be found in them, so I gained nothing. 13 All things composed of earth, stone and wood are formations of water. There is nothing here that is permanent, O God, beside yourself. You being obtained there is nothing else to desire.

14 I thank you Lord who is obtained, seen and known by me this day, and who shall be preserved by me and never obliterated from my mind. 15 Your bright form, interwoven by the rays of light, is visible to us by inverting our sight into the innermost recesses of our heart. 16 As the feeling of heat and cold is perceived by touch, and as the fragrance of the flower is felt in the oil with which it is mixed, so I feel your presence by your coming in contact with my heart. 17 As the sound of music enters into the heart through the ears and makes the heart strings thrill and the hairs of the body stand on end, so is your presence perceived in our hearts also. 18 As the objects of taste are felt by the tip of the tongue which conveys their taste to the mind, so is your presence felt by my heart when you touch it with your love.

19 A man takes up a sweet scenting flower, perceptible only by the sense of smell, and decorates his outer body with it How can one slight to look and lay hold of his inner soul which shoots through every sense of his body? 20 How can we in any way forget the Supreme Spirit which is well known to us by means of the teachings of the Vedas, Vedanta, Sidhantas and the Puranas, as also by the logic of schools and the hymns of the Vedas? 21 These things which are pleasant to the bodily senses do not gladden my heart when it is filled by your translucent presence.

22 By your effulgent light the sun shines so brightly. By your benign luster the moon dispenses her cooling beams. 23 You have made these bulky rocks and upheld the heavenly bodies. You have supported the stable earth and lifted the spacious firmament. 24 Fortunately you have become myself and I have become one with yourself. I am identical with you and you with me, and there is no difference between us.

25 I thank the great spirit that is expressed by turns by the words “myself” and “yourself” and “mine” and “yours.” 26 I thank the infinite God who dwells in my mind without personal ego. I thank the formless Lord who dwells in my tranquil soul. 27 O Lord, you dwell in my formless, tranquil, transparent and conscious soul, just as you reside in your own spirit which is unbounded by the limitations of time and space.

28 By you the mind has its action, the senses have their sensations, the body has all its powers, and the vital and respiration breaths have their inflations and deflations. 29 The organs of the body are led by the rope of desire to their various actions. Being united with flesh, blood and bones, the body’s organs are driven like the wheels of a car by the charioteer of the mind. 30 I am the consciousness of my body. I am not the body itself or my egoism of it. Therefore let it rise or fall. It is of no advantage or disadvantage to me.

31 I was born at the same time as my ego. It was long afterwards that I had knowledge of my soul. Last of all I had my unconsciousness in the manner of the world approaching its dissolution at the end. 32 Long have I travelled in the lengthy journey of the world. I am weary with fatigue and now rest in quiet, like the cooling fire of the last doomsday conflagration.

33 I thank the Lord who is all and yet without all and everything. I thank you, my soul that likewise is me. I thank you above those scriptures and teachers that teach the subjective ego and the objective you. 34 I hail the all the witnessing power of that providential spirit that has made these ample and endless provisions for others, without touching or enjoying them itself. 35 You are the spirit that dwells in all bodies in the form of the fragrance of flowers, like breath in bellows and oil residing in sesame seeds.

36 How wonderful is this magic scene of yours that you appear in everything and preserve and destroy it in the end without having any personality of your own. 37 At times you make my soul rejoice by manifesting all things before it, like a lighted lamp. You also make my soul joyful when it is extinguished like a lamp after its enjoyment of phenomena. 38 This universal frame is situated in an atom of yourself, just like a big banyan tree is contained in the embryo of a grain of its fig. 39 You are seen, O Lord, in a thousand forms that glide under our sight, like the various forms of elephants, horses, carts and other things are seen in clouds passing in the sky. 40 You are both the existence and absence of all things that are either present or lost to our view. Yet you are quite apart from all worldly existences. You are aloof from all entities and non-entities in the world.

41 O my soul, forsake the pride and anger of your mind and all the foulness and slyness of your heart, because the high-minded never fall into the faults and errors of common people. 42 Think over and over upon the actions of your past life and the long series of your wicked acts. Then with a sigh blush to think upon what you have been before and cease to do such acts anymore. 43 The bustle of your life is past. Gone are your bad days when you were wrapped in the net of your tangled thoughts on all sides. 44 Now you are a monarch in the city of your body. You have the desire of your mind presented before you. You are set beyond the reach of pleasure and pain and you are as free as the air which nobody can grasp. 45 Now you have subdued the difficult to manage horses of your bodily organs. You have mastered the incapable of being subdued elephant of your mind. You have crushed your enemy of worldly enjoyment. So now rule as the sole sovereign over the empire of your body and mind.

46 You are now become like the glorious sun shining within and without us day by day. You traverse the unlimited fields of air by your continued rising and setting at every place in our meditation of you.

47 O Lord, you are ever asleep, and by your own power, you rise also. Then you look on the luxuriant world as a lover looks on his beloved. 48 These luxuries, like honey, are brought from great distances by the bees of the bodily organs. The spirit tastes the sweets by looking upon them through the windows of its eyes. 49 The seat of the intellectual world in the head is always dark. There is a path in it made by the breathings of inspiration and respiration which leads the soul to the sight of Brahma.

50 O Lord, you are the scent of your flower-like body. You are the nectar juice of your moonlike frame, the moisture of this bodily tree, and the coolness of its cold humors. 51 You are the juice, milk and butter that support the body. You being gone, the body is dried up and becomes fuel to feed the fire. 52 You are the flavor of fruits and the light of all luminous bodies. It is you who perceives and knows all things and gives light to the visual organ of sight. 53 You are the vibration of the wind and the force of our elephantine minds. You are the acuteness of the flame of our intelligence. 54 You give us the gift of speech, stop our breath, and make it break forth again on occasion.

55 All these various series of worldly productions bear the same relation to you as the varieties of jewelry relate to the gold of which they are made. 56 You are called by the words “I”, “you”, “he”, and the like. It is you yourself who calls yourself such as it pleases yourself. 57 You are seen in the appearances of all the productions of nature, just as we see the forms of men, horses and elephants in the clouds when they glide softly on the wings of the gentle winds. 58 You invariably show yourself in all your creatures on earth, just as a blazing fire presents the figures of horses and elephants in its bright flames. 59 You are the unbroken thread by which the orbs of worlds are strung together like a chain of pearls. You are the field that grows the harvest of creation by the moisture of your intellect.

60 Things that were nonexistent and unproduced before creation have come to light from their hidden state of reality by your agency, just as the flavor of meat becomes evident by the process of cooking. 61 The beauties of existences are imperceptible without the soul, just as the graces of a beauty are not apparent to one devoid of his eyesight. 62 All substances are nothing whatever without your inherence in them, just as the reflection of the face in the mirror is to no purpose without the real face or figure of the person. 63 Without you the body is a lifeless mass, like a block of wood or stone. The body is imperceptible without the soul, like the shadow of a tree without sunlight.

64 The succession of pain and pleasure ceases to be felt by one who feels you within himself, just as the shades of darkness, the twinkling of stars, and the coldness of frost cease to exist in bright sunlight. 65 It is by a glance of your eye that the feelings of pain and pleasure rise in the mind, just as the rising sunbeams tinges the sky with its variegated colors. 66 Living beings perish in a moment at the deprivation of your presence, just as a burning lamp is extinguished in darkness at the extinction of its light. 67 The gloom of darkness is conspicuous with the lack of light but coming in contact with light, it vanishes from view. 68 So the appearances of pain and pleasure present themselves before the mind during your absence from it and vanish into nothing at the advance of your light.

69 The temporary feelings of pleasure and pain can find no room in the fullness of heavenly joy, just as a minute moment of time is of no account in the abyss of eternity. 70 The thoughts of pleasure and pain are like the short lived fancies of a fairyland or castles in air. They appear by turns at your pleasure, but they disappear altogether as soon as your form is seen in the mind. 71 By your light in our visual organs, things appear to sight at the moment of our waking. You reproduce them into being. It is also by your light poured into our minds that they are seen in our dream, as if they are all asleep in death.

72 What good can we derive from these false and transient appearances in nature? No one can string together the seeming lotuses that are formed by the foaming froth of the waves. 73 No substantial good can come to us from transitory mortal things, just as nobody can string together the transient flashes of lightning into a necklace. 74 Should the rationalist take the false ideas of pain and pleasure for sober realities, then what distinction can there be between them and the irrational realists? 75 Should you, like the nominalist (who believes there is nothing general except names), take everything which bears a name to be a real entity, then I will tell you no more than you are too fond to will to give fictitious names to imaginary things. 76 But the soul is indivisible without desire or egoism. We know nothing whether it is a real substance or not, yet its agency is acknowledged on all hands in our bodily actions.

77 All joys that are boundless in your spiritual body be yours who is ever disposed to tranquility, who is beyond the knowledge of the Vedas, and who is yet the theme of all scriptures. 78 All joy to you who is both born and unborn with the body, who is decaying and without decay in your nature, who is the unsubstantial substance of all qualities, and who is known and unknown to everybody. 79 I exult now and am calm again. I move and am still afterwards. I am victorious and live to win my liberation by your grace. Therefore I hail you who is myself.

80 When you are situated in me, my soul is free from all troubles and feelings and passions. It is placed in perfect rest. There is no more fear of danger or difficulty or of life and death, nor any craving for prosperity when I am absorbed in everlasting bliss with you.