Material Existence And The River
Srila Sanatana Goswami
hanteti pāra-cara pīpṛhi mūḍham adya
“My dear Lord, You are always transcendentally situated on the other side of the river of death. However, because of the reactions to our activities, we are suffering on this side. Indeed, we have fallen into this river and are repeatedly experiencing the pains of birth and death and eating horrible things. Now kindly glance toward us—not only upon me but also upon all others who are suffering—and by Your causeless mercy and compassion, deliver and maintain us.”
— Bhāg 7.9.41
Material existence is like the river Vaitarani, the gateway to the court of Death. In general, material life on earth is full of suffering, no less than life in the subterranean realms of hell. Therefore, although immune to these dangers, for our benefit Prahlada speaks as if he fears the troubles expected in various births and deaths. Prahlada presents himself as befooled like most people in this world, who deal with one another either as enemies or as friends and who are thereby bewildered in all circumstances. Prahlada addresses Lord Narsimha as pāra cara, He who is situated on the other side of the Vaitarani River, or in other words, in the eternally free realm of Vaikuntha. Expressing his own pain at seeing the suffering of other souls in the material world, Prahlada requests the Lord to please carry them across the Vaitarani to safety. He then further prays:
ko nv atra te ’khila-guro bhagavan prayāsa
uttāraṇe ’sya bhava-sambhava-lopa-hetoḥ
mūḍheṣu vai mahad-anugraha ārta-bandho
kiṁ tena te priya-janān anusevatāṁ naḥ
“O my Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, original spiritual master of the entire world, what is the difficulty for You, who manage the affairs of the universe, in delivering the fallen souls engaged in Your devotional service? You are the friend of all suffering humanity, and for great personalities it is necessary to show mercy to the fallen and foolish. Therefore I think that You will surely show Your causeless mercy to persons like us, who engage in Your service.” (Bhāg 7.9.42)
Here Prahlada addresses Lord Narsimha as the spiritual master of all souls, implying that it is quite fitting for Him to show mercy to everyone without exception. For the Lord to deliver every soul in existence should not be a great endeavour, because He creates, maintains, and destroys universes as a mere sport. And it should be even less difficult for the Lord to deliver His own devotees and their servants, like Prahlada, who considers himself a
fallen demon whose only saving grace is being Narada Muni’s faithful disciple.
—Śrī Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, Volume One. Translated by Gopīparāṇadhana Dāsa.