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Hiranyakasipu's spiritual master, Sukracarya, had two sons named Sanda and Amarka, to whom Prahlada Maharaja was entrusted for education

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Expressions researched:
"Sanda and Amarka" |"two sons of Sukracarya"

Notes from the compiler: Vedabase query: "Sanda Amarka Prahlada" @ 20

Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Canto 7

The sons of Hiraṇyakaśipu's spiritual master, Śukrācārya, began teaching Prahlāda in their own way, but Prahlāda Mahārāja did not accept their instructions. While the teachers were absent from the classroom, Prahlāda Mahārāja began to preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the school, and by his instructions all his class friends, the sons of the demons, became devotees like him.
SB 7.5 Summary:

Prahlāda Mahārāja did not carry out the orders of his teachers, for he was always engaged in worshiping Lord Viṣṇu. As described in this chapter, Hiraṇyakaśipu tried to kill Prahlāda Mahārāja, even by having a snake bite him and by putting him under the feet of elephants, yet he was unsuccessful.

Hiraṇyakaśipu's spiritual master, Śukrācārya, had two sons named Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, to whom Prahlāda Mahārāja was entrusted for education. Although the teachers tried to educate the boy Prahlāda in politics, economics and other material activities, he did not care for their instructions. Instead, he continued to be a pure devotee. Prahlāda Mahārāja never liked the idea of discriminating between one's friends and enemies. Because he was spiritually inclined, he was equal toward everyone.

Once upon a time, Hiraṇyakaśipu inquired from his son what the best thing was that he had learned from his teachers. Prahlāda Mahārāja replied that a man engrossed in the material consciousness of duality, thinking, "This is mine, and that belongs to my enemy," should give up his householder life and go to the forest to worship the Supreme Lord.

When Hiraṇyakaśipu heard from his son about devotional service, he decided that this small boy had been polluted by some friend in school. Thus he advised the teachers to take care of the boy so that he would not become a Kṛṣṇa conscious devotee. However, when the teachers inquired from Prahlāda Mahārāja why he was going against their teachings, Prahlāda Mahārāja taught the teachers that the mentality of ownership is false and that he was therefore trying to become an unalloyed devotee of Lord Viṣṇu. The teachers, being very angry at this answer, chastised and threatened the boy with many fearful conditions. They taught him to the best of their ability and then brought him before his father.

Hiraṇyakaśipu affectionately took his son Prahlāda on his lap and then inquired from him what the best thing was that he had learned from his teachers. As usual, Prahlāda Mahārāja began praising the nine processes of devotional service, such as śravaṇam and kīrtanam. Thus the King of the demons, Hiraṇyakaśipu, being extremely angry, chastised the teachers, Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, for having wrongly trained Prahlāda Mahārāja. The so-called teachers informed the King that Prahlāda Mahārāja was automatically a devotee and did not listen to their instructions. When they proved themselves innocent, Hiraṇyakaśipu inquired from Prahlāda where he had learned viṣṇu-bhakti. Prahlāda Mahārāja replied that those who are attached to family life do not develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness, either personally or collectively. Instead, they suffer repeated birth and death in this material world and continue simply chewing the chewed. Prahlāda explained that the duty of every man is to take shelter of a pure devotee and thus become eligible to understand Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Enraged at this answer, Hiraṇyakaśipu threw Prahlāda Mahārāja from his lap. Since Prahlāda was so treacherous that he had become a devotee of Viṣṇu, who had killed his uncle Hiraṇyākṣa, Hiraṇyakaśipu asked his assistants to kill him. The assistants of Hiraṇyakaśipu struck Prahlāda with sharp weapons, threw him under the feet of elephants, subjected him to hellish conditions, threw him from the peak of a mountain and tried to kill him in thousands of other ways, but they were unsuccessful. Hiraṇyakaśipu therefore became increasingly afraid of his son Prahlāda Mahārāja and arrested him. The sons of Hiraṇyakaśipu's spiritual master, Śukrācārya, began teaching Prahlāda in their own way, but Prahlāda Mahārāja did not accept their instructions. While the teachers were absent from the classroom, Prahlāda Mahārāja began to preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the school, and by his instructions all his class friends, the sons of the demons, became devotees like him.

SB 7.5.2, Purport:

Prahlāda Mahārāja was already educated in devotional life, but when his father sent him to those two sons of Śukrācārya to be educated, they accepted him at their school along with the other sons of the asuras."

Although Prahlāda Mahārāja was obliged to hear the instructions of Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, he did not like the philosophy of friends and enemies, which forms the basis of politics. He was not interested in this philosophy.
SB 7.5.3, Purport:

Prahlāda certainly heard and recited the topics of politics and economics taught by the teachers, but he understood that political philosophy involves considering someone a friend and someone else an enemy, and thus he did not like it."

Politics involves accepting one group of men as enemies and another group as friends. Everything in politics is based on this philosophy, and the entire world, especially at the present, is engrossed in it. The public is concerned with friendly countries and friendly groups or enemy countries and enemy groups, but as stated in Bhagavad-gītā, a learned person does not make distinctions between enemies and friends. Devotees, especially, do not create friends and enemies. A devotee sees that every living being is part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa (mamaivāṁśo jīva-bhūtaḥ (BG 15.7)). Therefore a devotee treats friends and enemies equally by trying to educate them both in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Of course, atheistic men do not follow the instructions of pure devotees, but instead consider a devotee their enemy. A devotee, however, never creates a situation of friendship and enmity. Although Prahlāda Mahārāja was obliged to hear the instructions of Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, he did not like the philosophy of friends and enemies, which forms the basis of politics. He was not interested in this philosophy.

Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, the priests of the demons, were eager to know from Prahlāda Mahārāja who the Vaiṣṇavas were that came to instruct him in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
SB 7.5.8, Purport:

When Hiraṇyakaśipu's servants brought the boy Prahlāda back to the guru-kula (the place where the brāhmaṇas taught the boys), the priests of the demons, Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, pacified him. With very mild voices and affectionate words, they inquired from him as follows."

Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, the priests of the demons, were eager to know from Prahlāda Mahārāja who the Vaiṣṇavas were that came to instruct him in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Their purpose was to discover the names of these Vaiṣṇavas. In the beginning they did not threaten the boy because when threatened he might not identify the real culprits.

The word śukra means "semen." The sons of Śukrācārya were brāhmaṇas by birthright, but an actual brāhmaṇa is one who possesses the brahminical qualities. The brāhmaṇas Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, being seminal sons of Śukrācārya, did not actually possess real brahminical qualifications, for they engaged as servants of Hiraṇyakaśipu. An actual brāhmaṇa is very much satisfied to see anyone, not to speak of his disciple, become a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
SB 7.5.15, Purport:

The great saint Nārada Muni continued: The great soul Prahlāda Mahārāja became silent after saying this to his teachers, Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, the seminal sons of Śukrācārya. These so-called brāhmaṇas then became angry at him. Because they were servants of Hiraṇyakaśipu, they were very sorry, and to chastise Prahlāda Mahārāja they spoke as follows."

The word śukra means "semen." The sons of Śukrācārya were brāhmaṇas by birthright, but an actual brāhmaṇa is one who possesses the brahminical qualities. The brāhmaṇas Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, being seminal sons of Śukrācārya, did not actually possess real brahminical qualifications, for they engaged as servants of Hiraṇyakaśipu. An actual brāhmaṇa is very much satisfied to see anyone, not to speak of his disciple, become a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Such brāhmaṇas are meant to satisfy the supreme master. A brāhmaṇa is strictly prohibited from becoming a servant of anyone else, for that is the business of dogs and śūdras. A dog must satisfy his master, but a brāhmaṇa does not have to satisfy anyone; he is simply meant to satisfy Kṛṣṇa (ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanam (CC Madhya 19.167)). That is the real qualification of a brāhmaṇa. Because Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka were seminal brāhmaṇas and had become servants of such a master as Hiraṇyakaśipu, they unnecessarily wanted to chastise Prahlāda Mahārāja.

When the two seminal brāhmaṇas Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka failed to extract from Prahlāda Mahārāja the cause for his having opinions different from those of his father, they called for a stick with which to chastise him to satisfy their master, Hiraṇyakaśipu.
SB 7.5.16, Purport:

Oh, please bring me a stick! This Prahlāda is damaging our name and fame. Because of his bad intelligence, he has become like a cinder in the dynasty of the demons. Now he needs to be treated by the fourth of the four kinds of political diplomacy."

In political affairs, when a person disobediently agitates against the government, four principles are used to suppress him—legal orders, pacification, the offer of a post, or, finally, weapons. When there are no other arguments, he is punished. In logic, this is called argumentum ad baculum. When the two seminal brāhmaṇas Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka failed to extract from Prahlāda Mahārāja the cause for his having opinions different from those of his father, they called for a stick with which to chastise him to satisfy their master, Hiraṇyakaśipu. Because Prahlāda had become a devotee, they considered him to be contaminated by bad intelligence and to be the worst descendant in the family of demons. As it is said, where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise. In a society or family in which everyone is a demon, for someone to become a Vaiṣṇava is certainly folly. Thus Prahlāda Mahārāja was charged with bad intelligence because he was among demons, including his teachers, who were supposedly brāhmaṇas.

The seminal brāhmaṇas Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka compared the dynasty of the Daitya Hiraṇyakaśipu to a sandalwood forest and compared Prahlāda Mahārāja to a hard, strong thorn tree that could provide the handle of an axe.
SB 7.5.17, Purport:

This rascal Prahlāda has appeared like a thorn tree in a forest of sandalwood. To cut down sandalwood trees, an axe is needed, and the wood of the thorn tree is very suitable for the handle of such an axe. Lord Viṣṇu is the axe for cutting down the sandalwood forest of the family of demons, and this Prahlāda is the handle for that axe."

Thorn trees generally grow in deserted places, not in sandalwood forests, but the seminal brāhmaṇas Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka compared the dynasty of the Daitya Hiraṇyakaśipu to a sandalwood forest and compared Prahlāda Mahārāja to a hard, strong thorn tree that could provide the handle of an axe. They compared Lord Viṣṇu to the axe itself. An axe alone cannot cut a thorn tree; it needs a handle, which may be made of the wood of a thorn tree. Thus the thorn tree of demoniac civilization can be cut to pieces by the axe of viṣṇu-bhakti, devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa. Some of the members of the demoniac civilization, like Prahlāda Mahārāja, may become the handle for the axe, to assist Lord Viṣṇu, and thus the entire forest of demoniac civilization can be cut to pieces.

SB 7.5.18, Purport:

Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, the teachers of Prahlāda Mahārāja, chastised and threatened their disciple in various ways and began teaching him about the paths of religion, economic development and sense gratification. This is the way they educated him."

The teachers Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka tried to induce Prahlāda Mahārāja to accept the materialistic way of life, but actually their attempt was a failure.
SB 7.5.18, Purport, Purport:

No one is interested in liberation, and bhagavad-bhakti, devotional service to the Lord, is above even liberation. Therefore the process of devotional service, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is extremely difficult to understand. This will be explained later by Prahlāda Mahārāja. The teachers Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka tried to induce Prahlāda Mahārāja to accept the materialistic way of life, but actually their attempt was a failure.

The teachers appointed by Hiraṇyakaśipu taught Prahlāda Mahārāja how to be a diplomat so that he could rule over the citizens very nicely.
SB 7.5.19, Purport:

After some time, the teachers Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka thought that Prahlāda Mahārāja was sufficiently educated in the diplomatic affairs of pacifying public leaders, appeasing them by giving them lucrative posts, dividing and ruling over them, and punishing them in cases of disobedience. Then, one day, after Prahlāda's mother had personally washed the boy and dressed him nicely with sufficient ornaments, they presented him before his father."

It is essential for a student who is going to be a ruler or king to learn the four diplomatic principles. There is always rivalry between a king and his citizens. Therefore, when a citizen agitates the public against the king, the duty of the king is to call him and try to pacify him with sweet words, saying, "You are very important in the state. Why should you disturb the public with some new cause for agitation?" If the citizen is not pacified, the king should then offer him some lucrative post as a governor or minister-any post that draws a high salary—so that he may be agreeable. If the enemy still goes on agitating the public, the king should try to create dissension in the enemy's camp, but if he still continues, the king should employ argumentum ad baculum—severe punishment—by putting him in jail or placing him before a firing squad. The teachers appointed by Hiraṇyakaśipu taught Prahlāda Mahārāja how to be a diplomat so that he could rule over the citizens very nicely.

Prahlāda Mahārāja's gurus were of two kinds: Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, the sons of Śukrācārya in the seminal disciplic succession, were the gurus appointed by his father, but his other guru was the exalted Nārada Muni, who had instructed Prahlāda when Prahlāda was within the womb of his mother.
SB 7.5.22, Purport:

Hiraṇyakaśipu said: My dear Prahlāda, my dear son, O long—lived one, for so much time you have heard many things from your teachers. Now please repeat to me whatever you think is the best of that knowledge."

In this verse, Hiraṇyakaśipu inquires from his son what he has learned from his guru. Prahlāda Mahārāja's gurus were of two kinds—Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, the sons of Śukrācārya in the seminal disciplic succession, were the gurus appointed by his father, but his other guru was the exalted Nārada Muni, who had instructed Prahlāda when Prahlāda was within the womb of his mother. Prahlāda Mahārāja responded to the inquiry of his father with the instructions he had received from his spiritual master, Nārada. Thus there was again a difference of opinion because Prahlāda Mahārāja wanted to relate the best thing he had learned from his spiritual master, whereas Hiraṇyakaśipu expected to hear about the politics and diplomacy Prahlāda had learned from Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka. Now the dissension between the father and son became increasingly intense as Prahlāda Mahārāja began to say what he had learned from his guru Nārada Muni.

Hiraṇyakaśipu thought: I have devised many means of killing Prahlāda, but despite all my endeavors, he could not be killed.
SB 7.5.45, Purport:

Hiraṇyakaśipu thought: I have used many ill names in chastising this boy Prahlāda and have devised many means of killing him, but despite all my endeavors, he could not be killed. Indeed, he saved himself by his own powers, without being affected in the least by these treacherous and abominable actions."

Then Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, the two sons of Śukrācārya, spoke to him in secret.
SB 7.5.48, Purport:

Thinking in this way, the King of the Daityas, morose and bereft of bodily luster, remained silent with his face downward. Then Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, the two sons of Śukrācārya, spoke to him in secret."

We do not find any reason for you to be morose and full of anxiety for Prahlāda is nothing but a child and cannot be a cause of anxiety.
SB 7.5.49, Purport:

O lord, we know that when you simply move your eyebrows, all the commanders of the various planets are most afraid. Without the help of any assistant, you have conquered all the three worlds. Therefore, we do not find any reason for you to be morose and full of anxiety. As for Prahlāda, he is nothing but a child and cannot be a cause of anxiety. After all, his bad or good qualities have no value."

Until the return of our spiritual master, Śukrācārya, arrest this child with the ropes of Varuṇa so that he will not flee in fear.
SB 7.5.50, Purport:

Until the return of our spiritual master, Śukrācārya, arrest this child with the ropes of Varuṇa so that he will not flee in fear. In any case, by the time he is somewhat grown up and has assimilated our instructions or served our spiritual master, he will change in his intelligence. Thus there need be no cause for anxiety."

SB 7.5.51, Purport:

After hearing these instructions of Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, the sons of his spiritual master, Hiraṇyakaśipu agreed and requested them to instruct Prahlāda in that system of occupational duty which is followed by royal householder families."

Thereafter, Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka systematically and unceasingly taught Prahlāda Mahārāja, who was very submissive and humble, about mundane religion, economic development and sense gratification.
SB 7.5.52, Purport:

Thereafter, Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka systematically and unceasingly taught Prahlāda Mahārāja, who was very submissive and humble, about mundane religion, economic development and sense gratification."

There are four processes for human society—dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa—and they culminate in liberation. Human society must follow a process of religion to advance, and on the basis of religion one should try to develop his economic condition so that he can fulfill his needs for sense gratification according to the religious rules and regulations. Then liberation from material bondage will be easier to attain. That is the Vedic process. When one is above the stages of dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa, one becomes a devotee. He is then on the platform from which he is guaranteed not to fall again to material existence (yad gatvā na nivartante (BG 15.6)). As advised in Bhagavad-gītā if one transcends these four processes and is actually liberated, one engages in devotional service. Then he is guaranteed not to fall to material existence again.

Prahlāda, however, being situated above such instructions, did not like them, for such instructions are based on the duality of worldly affairs, which involve one in a materialistic way of life marked by birth, death, old age and disease.
SB 7.5.53, Purport:

The teachers Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka instructed Prahlāda Mahārāja in the three kinds of material advancement called religion, economic development and sense gratification. Prahlāda, however, being situated above such instructions, did not like them, for such instructions are based on the duality of worldly affairs, which involve one in a materialistic way of life marked by birth, death, old age and disease."

The entire world is interested in the materialistic way of life. Indeed, practically 99.9 percent of the people in the three worlds are uninterested in liberation or spiritual education. Only the devotees of the Lord, headed by such great personalities as Prahlāda Mahārāja and Nārada Muni, are interested in the real education of spiritual life. One cannot understand the principles of religion while staying on the material platform. Therefore one must follow these great personalities. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 6.3.20):

svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ
kumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ
prahlādo janako bhīṣmo
balir vaiyāsakir vayam

One must follow in the footsteps of such great personalities as Lord Brahmā, Nārada, Lord Śiva, Kapila, Manu, the Kumāras, Prahlāda Mahārāja, Bhīṣma, Janaka, Bali Mahārāja, Śukadeva Gosvāmī and Yamarāja. Those interested in spiritual life should follow Prahlāda Mahārāja in rejecting the education of religion, economic development and sense gratification. One should be interested in spiritual education. Therefore the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is spreading all over the world, following in the footsteps of Prahlāda Mahārāja, who did not like any of the materialistic education he received from his teachers.

Dear Prahlāda, neither you nor we know any teacher or spiritual master other than Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, the sons of Śukrācārya. Would you kindly explain how it was possible for you to hear Nārada?
SB 7.6.29-30, Purport:

The sons of the demons replied: Dear Prahlāda, neither you nor we know any teacher or spiritual master other than Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, the sons of Śukrācārya. After all, we are children and they our controllers. For you especially, who always remain within the palace, it is very difficult to associate with a great personality. Dear friend, most gentle one, would you kindly explain how it was possible for you to hear Nārada? Kindly dispel our doubts in this regard."

All the sons of the demons did not like hearing from their so-called teachers Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, who were interested only in teaching them about diplomacy, politics, economic development and similar topics meant exclusively for sense gratification.
SB 7.8.1, Purport:

Nārada Muni continued: All the sons of the demons appreciated the transcendental instructions of Prahlāda Mahārāja and took them very seriously. They rejected the materialistic instructions given by their teachers, Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka."

This is the effect of the preaching of a pure devotee like Prahlāda Mahārāja. If a devotee is qualified, sincere and serious about Kṛṣṇa consciousness and if he follows the instructions of a bona fide spiritual master, as Prahlāda Mahārāja did when preaching the instructions he had received from Nārada Muni, his preaching is effective. As it is said in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 3.25.25):

satāṁ prasaṅgān mama vīrya-saṁvido
bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ

If one tries to understand the discourses given by the sat, or pure devotees, those instructions will be very pleasing to the ear and appealing to the heart. Thus if one is inspired to take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness and if one practices the process in his life, he is surely successful in returning home, back to Godhead. By the grace of Prahlāda Mahārāja, all his class friends, the sons of the demons, became Vaiṣṇavas. They did not like hearing from their so-called teachers Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, who were interested only in teaching them about diplomacy, politics, economic development and similar topics meant exclusively for sense gratification.

Lectures

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

So the test of advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is that one should be detestful, lose attachment to the material things. Therefore Prahlāda Mahārāja did not like the material education from Sanda and Amarka.
Lecture on SB 7.5.23-24 -- Vrndavana, March 31, 1976:

So Sanātana Gosvāmī therefore said, avaiṣṇava-mukhodgīrṇaṁ pūtaṁ hari-kathāmṛtaṁ, śravaṇaṁ naiva kartavyam: "One who is not Vaiṣṇava, from him one should not hear hari-kathāmṛtaṁ." Hari-kathā Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is hari-kathā, and it is amṛta, nectarine. But if it is recited or explained by some avaiṣṇava, one should not hear. It is forbidden. The example is given, sarpocchiṣṭaṁ payo yathā. So professional reciters or one who speaks and writes for living means it is strictly prohibited. Na vyākhyām upayuñjītaḥ. One should not make Bhāgavata recitation as a means of livelihood. That is, the process is not accepted. So śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ (SB 7.5.23). You should hear from Vaiṣṇava, at least one who is trying to become Vaiṣṇava, not professional man. Bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir anyatra syāt (SB 11.2.42).

So the test of advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is that one should be detestful, lose attachment to the material things. Therefore Prahlāda Mahārāja did not like the material education from Sanda and Amarka. He very plainly said to his father that "What I have heard from my spiritual master, Nārada Muni..." Spiritual master means Nārada Muni or his representative. Therefore we should follow the Nārada-pañcarātra instructions. Sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ tat-paratvena nirmalam (CC Madhya 19.170). According to Nārada-pañcarātra, one should be free from all designation.