"Prahlada Maharaja said: My dear King, the source of my strength, of which you are asking, is also the source of yours. Indeed, the original source of all kinds of strength is one. He is not only your strength or mine, but the only strength for everyone. Without Him, no one can get any strength. Whether moving or not moving, superior or inferior, everyone, including Lord Brahma, is controlled by the strength of the Supreme Personality of Godhead." (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.8.7)Download this episode (right click and save)
You’ve likely heard the argument before. You believe in the Almighty yourself. It’s something you just know. Deep down, even in the most difficult moments of life, you can’t bring yourself to believe that this amazing creation came about through randomness. There is intelligence in every space, from the smallest to the largest. And is there any evidence of something intelligent resulting from the complete lack of intelligence?
The counterargument is one that insists on evidence:
“Show me God. Give me empirical proof. Observation and experiment. Draw up some way that I can believe with my own eyes that there is this higher being managing everything. Otherwise, I just don’t see it. I think it’s in the same category as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Something to make people feel better, a way to comfort themselves from the inevitable and harsh end known as death.”
Never mind that visual evidence is lacking in so many areas where trust is extended. The past alone can never be experienced, especially that which took place prior to our birth. There is no experiment to prove that human beings can influence the weather, yet so many accept that theory from the scientists who push it.
From Vedic literature we have examples of unbelievable events, witnessed directly by the eyes, without a change in mentality. The promise from the atheists is that they will believe when they see, but so many people saw and still didn’t change their ways.
1. Rama’s serpent-headed arrows
Ravana was actually a devotee appearing on earth to play the role of worst villain. In that capacity he could act as best adversary to the Supreme Lord, illustrating so many important concepts along the way, with the final outcome of liberation and return to the spiritual world.
The ten-headed one with the terrifying scream became powerful through the help of heavenly figures, but he never bothered to ponder who empowered his benefactors. Ravana was proud of his ability, but when he heard about someone with even more power, he still refused to believe.
Ravana sent fourteen thousand of his men to do away with a single fighter. Shri Rama, the very Supreme Lord the atheists insist doesn’t exist, was living in the forest of Dandaka. The greatest bow-warrior in the world, Rama defended Himself singlehandedly against Ravana’s men, who were the aggressors.
Akampana saw what happened and reported back to Ravana. The arrows released from Rama’s bow were like heat-seeking missiles. They followed the Rakshasas, which are ogre-like creatures, wherever they went. The tips of the arrows turned into serpents. This was the vision of all-devouring death arriving in a special way.
Ravana didn’t see firsthand, but he knew Akampana wasn’t lying. That didn’t change anything. Ravana just exercised caution going forward. To enjoy in the material world the conditioned living entity will make one plan after another, spanning many lifetimes even, until they finally accept the supremacy of God and try to know Him in truth.
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)
2. Krishna’s universal form
The same Rama was on earth at a later time in the form of the all-attractive one, Shri Krishna. A storyline here was struggle in a large royal family. One time Krishna went to Duryodhana to broker peace. This was supreme kindness on display, as Duryodhana was such a wicked character that the only means of diplomacy he deserved was danda, or force.
Still, Krishna set the proper example by trying to avoid hostilities, as the kingdom rightfully belonged to the Pandavas. Duryodhana and his side of the family had unjustly usurped what didn’t belong to them. Duryodhana quickly came up with a wicked plan during this visit. He thought that if Krishna were bound, the Pandavas would lose their nerve, that they would become dejected and thus be a weakened opponent.
Shri Krishna is the Supersoul residing within every heart, so he knew what was intended before it was attempted. He showed Duryodhana a version of the universal form. For all intents and purposes, this is the visual proof of God. It is everything that exists put into a single image. Impossible to fathom, but Duryodhana saw it.
Like with Ravana, nothing changed. Duryodhana remained obstinate. Perhaps Krishna was an expert magician. Even if the well-wisher of the Pandavas were something special, for the time being there was no worry. Krishna was to remain neutral in the conflict, to act only as Arjuna’s charioteer.
All-devouring death was approaching nonetheless, and it is one way that everyone gets a glimpse of the Divine.
3. Prahlada’s many escapes from death
King Hiranyakashipu was supremely powerful like Ravana, and he was done in by his young son, of all people. Seeing pure devotion in the boy at a very early age, the father could not stand it. He finally decided to have Prahlada killed.
There was a problem. Nothing could be done. Each attempt was a failure. These escapes by the child were pretty amazing. Prahlada survived deadly weapons coming his way. He made it through sitting in a fire pit. He was thrown off a cliff and lived to tell about it.
Hiranyakashipu couldn’t understand what was going on. He didn’t realize that God was protecting His dear devotee. The king thought that maybe Prahlada had practiced some mysticism to increase his power. In that case maybe the king could take a lesson or two.
The boy was honest. He revealed that the source of his strength was the same as it is in everyone else, that God is within and directing the wanderings of the living beings, who are seated as on a machine.
“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.61)
Once again, visual evidence had no impact. Hiranyakashipu laughed at the idea of God being everywhere, including in the pillar standing next to them. A few moments later the same Krishna appeared, but this time in a ghastly form. One way or another, Hiranyakashipu was going to see God.
Atheists most defiant to be,
In some way God destined to see.
Case of Rama’s arrows like snakes,
Ravana’s many men not to escape.
Duryodhana foolishly thinking to bind,
Then spectacular virata-rupa to find.
Prahlada teaching, but father not believing,
So Narahari in amazing form revealing.