A significant, perceivable benefit of chanting Hare Krishna is that the process fills our heart with the quality of fearlessness. The Vedic scriptures narrate many examples of devotees who were fearless in the face of adversities because of constant chanting and remembrance of Krishna.
Prahalad was a five year old child who loved Vishnu, God. His father Hiranyakashipu abhorred God and threatened his child with dire consequences if he didn’t give up his worship of the Lord. Little Prahalad however was spontaneously attracted to the Lord just as a piece of iron is drawn to a magnet. Not only did Prahalad continue rendering pure devotional service to the Lord, he also implored his demoniac father to change his wicked ways and take shelter of the compassionate Lord. This incensed Hiranyakashipu further who then unleashed a series of horrendous acts of torture against his innocent son. During the whole ordeal, Prahalad remained peaceful, absorbed in remembering Krishna and internally fully surrendering to the Lord.
The episode of Prahalad mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam highlights the principle of fearlessness awakened by love. The fire of love for the Lord, burning in the heart of Prahalad burnt away any traces of fear; he transcended all bodily designations, and fears associated with it. At one time, Hiranyakashipu threw him from a huge mountain top. We once went on a pilgrimage to that place at Ahobilam in South India, and devotees felt giddy at the mountain top. At that spot however, Prahalad, absorbed in the loving remembrance of Krishna was blissful. He had complete faith in the Lord even as he was thrown into a pit of snakes. Radhanath Swami explains, “As the external situations turned from bad to worse, Prahalad was internally having the most intimate love affair with the Supreme Lord. The pure, intense remembrance of the Lord not only made Prahalad fearless, but also increased his love for the Lord.”
Radhanath Swami’s guru, Srila Prabhupada was at Kolkatta during the Second World War when the Japanese were bombing the city. As fear and uncertainty loomed large on the faces of the citizens, Srila Prabhupada was peaceful cooking and rendering various services to his dear Lord Krishna. He would often quote a traditional saying, “mare Krishna rakhe ke; rakhe Krishna, mare ke”, which means, “If Krishna wants to kill you, who can protect you and if He wants to protect you, who can kill you”
Even on the bodily platform, when there is love, people become fearless. We see army men bravely lay down their lives for the mother land. They feel proud and happy to die for a noble cause. They transcend fear and embrace death, being motivated by love for the country. Even Socrates, when administered poison by the king, remarked stoically, “first you have to catch me”. He was beyond the bodily duality, hence he felt no fear.
Imagine if we rise above not merely the bodily platform, but to the level of Krishna consciousness, how much more love and fearlessness we will develop.
While imploring us to aspire to develop this love for Krishna, Radhanath Swami also warns that this love will be tested by the Lord through various temptations and distractions. Without tests, we can’t grow in our love for the Lord. Without going through fire, the gold is not purified. Tests in our spiritual lives help us shine our consciousness; this fills our heart with rich love and compassion for all.
Little Prahalad, who endured so much suffering for the pleasure of the Lord is our hero and role model; we aspire to follow his footsteps and develop pure love for Krishna. Fearlessness then is an insignificant by product.