The real message of Holi
By Kripalu Bhaktiyoga Tattvadarshan profile image Kripalu Bhaktiyoga Tattvadarshan
6 min read

The real message of Holi

Holi relates to the story of Bhakta Prahlad, a fully surrendered child devotee of the Supreme Lord. Holi is the harbinger of the auspicious message of...

It is the season of Holi, a Hindu festival best known across the globe as the festival of colors. It is celebrated with great energy and enthusiasm. People play Holi with colored water and colored powder known as gulal. People enjoy lots of wonderful sweets and other delicacies are enjoyed.

All Hindu festivals have a spiritual significance and Holi relates to the story of Bhakta Prahlad, a fully surrendered child devotee of the Supreme Lord. Holi is the harbinger of the auspicious message of omnipresence of God.

Prahlad was the youngest son of a demon King Hiranyakashipu. Since his childhood years, Prahlad had no interest in playing with other children his age. He would be forever lost in deep remembrance of the Lord. Lord Shri Krishna's grace and kindness had captivated his heart so much that he was not conscious of the outside world. He would go about performing the worldly chores such as eating, drinking, sleeping, sitting, walking etc., without even realizing that he was doing so.

Lord Shukracharya was the Guru of the demon clan. His two sons - Shand and Amark taught Prahlad and the other demon kids about diplomacy, economics etc. One day, Prahlad's father, the demon king Hiranyakashyapu asked Prahlad -"Son! What do you like?". Without blinking an eyelid, Prahlad answered saying "Father! I like going to the forest and performing uninterrupted devotion to Shri Krishna". Hearing this response, Hiranyakashyapu felt a pain more intense than what he felt on hearing the news of his beloved brother’s death at the hands of the Supreme Lord. Devotion to Shri Krishna the arch rival of Hiranyakashipu! The slayer of his brother!

Hiranyakashyapu ordered Shand and Amark to take Prahlad away to their ashram and teach him about the four diplomatic principles of saam (reasoning), daam (monetary allurement), dand (punishment), bhed (creating divisions) and the objective of the kings and their duty towards their subjects.

After completing his education in politics, diplomacy and statecraft, his Guru’s sons brought him back to his father’s palace to test him on his learnings in his Guru’s ashram. Prahlad paid respects to his father and Hiranyakashyapu lovingly took Prahlad in his lap with tears of love flowing from his eyes. He asked Prahlad, "Son, now tell me, what do you like? What have you learnt? What have you understood from your gurus?”

Prahlad professed 9 ways of worshipping God. Each of these ways has a emblem personality who worships in that way.

"Father! There are 9 ways (navadha bhakti) of performing devotion to Supreme Lord - Listening, singing, and remembering God's glories, names, and pastimes, serving His lotus feet, performing Vedic rituals to worship Him, and bowing to Him. Glorifying His names, forms, pastimes, and abodes, considering oneself to be His servant or His friend, and unconditionally surrendering to Him. First, surrender to God and then perform navadha bhakti. This is the knowledge that I have earned".

Hearing this, Hiranyakashyapu, pushed Prahlad away in anger. He ordered the generals of his mighty army to kill Prahlad. The generals tried many different ways to kill Prahlad - they pushed him off a cliff, tried to drown him, burn him to death, kill him with weapons, get him trampled by a herd of elephants, bitten by venomous snakes, ingest poison and numerous other ways, but Prahlad remained unscathed. Seeing this, Hiranyakashyapu got worried. He could not think of any other way to kill Prahlad. Heeding the advice of the Guru’s sons, he once again sent Prahlad to study. 

The Guru’s sons began teaching Prahlad about dharma i.e. performing duties towards family society, arth i.e. means to achieve economic, social, and political success and kaam i.e all sorts of enjoyments. Prahlad lived in the hermitage like a humble servant but did not like the knowledge being imparted by the Guru’s sons. One day, when his teachers had gone out for some household-related work, Prahlad started giving a sermon to his fellow classmates. Prahlad said to them “One must take the shelter of the lotus feet of Shri Krishna from early childhood. Leaving devotion to the future is a huge mistake. The Vedas say - do it now (i.e. do not procrastinate) for it is possible that you may not live to see tomorrow. This human form, even though extremely precious, is temporary. Therefore, one must commence Shri Krishna Bhakti right away and not leave it to the future. Taking shelter of the Lord's lotus feet is the only success of this human form. God is the master, friend, beloved, and soul of all living beings, so pleasing Him does not require a lot of effort”. 

Prahlad further told the kids that Shri Krishna's grace can only be obtained by selfless devotion, and rest all other means of spiritual upliftment would not yield the desired outcome of ultimate bliss. Following Varnashrama dharma leads to swarg where you can enjoy sensual pleasures for some time. Other forms such as immobile life forms (trees, plants, etc) and also mobile life forms (e.g. birds, animals, etc.) do not have the power to grasp the divine philosophy. Therefore, performing devotion to Lord Krishna is possible only in the human form. Prahlad reiterated, "Friends! In the human form the biggest objective is to attain Lord Krishna's unalloyed devotion".

The asura kids asked him – “Brother! Who imparted this knowledge to you and when?”

Prahlad then narrated the story of how he obtained this knowledge in his mother’s womb when his mother Kayadhu lived in the ashram of Sage Narad and Sage Narad narrated the philosophies from different scriptures and Prahlad heard all those lectures, memorized them, and surrendered himself to Lord Shri Krishna while being in his mother's womb. Lord Krishna appeared to him in His divine form inside his mother’s womb. Prahlad instructed those boys to practice devotion to Shri Krishna. 

Listening to Prahald’s discourses, their minds got affixed to God. Seeing this, their Guru got scared and informed Hiranyakashipu. Burning with rage, Hirnyakashipu decided to kill Prahlad with his own hands. Roaring, he asked Prahlad – “Where is your God? Prahlad said, “he is everywhere”. Hirnyakashipu said if He is omnipresent, is he in this pillar?" Prahlad responded saying, “Yes”. Filled with rage, Hiranyakashipu struck the pillar with great force, and from the pillar emerged the terrifying form of Lord Narsingh in the form of half man half lion. Lord Narsingh picked Hiranyakashipu like a toy and carried him to the entrance gates of the courtroom, where he placed him on his thighs and tore him apart with his nails. Seeing the terrifying form of the Lord, with blood on his hands and face filled with immense anger, no one including Mother Lakshmi, Lord Brahma, Vishnu, and Shankar could muster the courage to approach Him. Lord Brahma then sent Prahlad to pacify Him. Seeing Prahlad, Lord Narsingh’s anger was immediately pacified. He placed Prahlad's tiny feet in His palm, placed His other hand on his head, and danced in joy. When Prahlad received the Lord's touch, he became ecstatic, divine love started flowing through his heart, and tears of love started trickling down his eyes. 


God cares not if the place is pure or impure. God resides equally in all places. God is omnipresent. He proved His omnipresence by saving Prahlad from all dangers and finally by emerging from a pillar in a demon's palace. "God is omnipresent" is the real message of Holi. 

प्राणियों के सुहृत गोविंद राधे। विश्व में सर्वत्र व्याप्त बता दे॥
राधा गोविंद गीत​ 7024
prāṇiyoṁ ke suhr̥ta goviṁda rādhe।
viśva meṁ sarvatra vyāpta batā de॥
rādhā goviṁda gīta​ 7024

God resides in the hearts of all living beings and is also present in every particle of the world.

By Kripalu Bhaktiyoga Tattvadarshan profile image Kripalu Bhaktiyoga Tattvadarshan
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Festivals Divine Philosophy Divine Descensions Saint