When Hiranyakasipu called his son before him, he challenged his son just like modern-day atheists. After Hiranyakasipu gained his benedictions from Lord Brahma, he went on a rampage to destroy all forms of worship to Lord Visnu. But, although he had control over everyone in the universe, he failed to control his son, Sri Prahlāda.
During his conversation with Prahlāda, Hiranyakasipu asked his son two questions. These challenging questions are still, even today, asked by atheists.
The first challenge was “Where do you get your strength?”
Sri Prahlāda had denied the authority of His father, and his father had asked him the question.
My son Prahlāda, you rascal, you know that when I am angry all the planets of the three worlds tremble, along with their chief rulers. By whose power has a rascal like you become so impudent that you appear fearless and overstep my power to rule you?
(Srimad Bhagavatam 7.8.6)
Prahlāda replied to his father that he gets his power from the same place where his father gets his strength.
Prahlāda Mahārāja 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 Brahmā, is controlled by the strength of the Supreme Personality of Godhead”
(Srimad Bhagavatam 7.8.7)
This is the nature or materialists. They think that everything is run by their power or strength. Nothing is running with their hand in it, But in the Bhagavad-Gita as it is, Krsna is saying:
“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (BG 9.4)
But Materialist think that they are in control of everything.
Just Like this King Hiranyakasipu. He thought he controlled everything and that he was the Ultimate Power. But Prahlāda told him that his power emanates from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It’s not that he is independent of the strength of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The Second common challenge by Atheists is “Where is your God” or “Can you show me God?”
O most unfortunate Prahlāda, you have always described a supreme being other than me, a supreme being who is above everything, who is the controller of everyone, and who is all-pervading. But where is He? If He is everywhere, then why is He not present before me in this pillar?
(Srimad Bhagavatam 7.8.12)
Atheists can not believe that God can be everywhere. God is Absolute. He is Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent.
Omnipresence means that he is everywhere.
Omniscient means that he knows everything.
Omnipotent means that he can perform any task with any of His Senses. He can eat with eyes, and He can smell with His ears. He can talk with His mind and people will hear him. That is Omnipotent.
So Prahlāda told his father that God, Visnu or Krsna is everywhere.
So the King Challenged his son.
IS YOUR GOD IN THE PILLAR?
And Prahlāda said
YES, HE IS IN THE PILLAR.
BUT Hiranyakasipu, who is an atheist, did not believe his son. He wanted to see God for himself. But you can see God just like that. God is not someone that you can demand to see. You have to have some purity to see God. Prahlāda was pure and free from a mixture of material desires. Therefore he could see Visnu in a Pillar.
In the purport, Srimad Bhagavatam 7.8.12 Srila Prabhupada writes:
“Demons sometimes declare to a devotee that they cannot accept the existence of God because they cannot see Him. But what the demon does not know is stated by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad-Gītā (7.25):
nāhaṁ prakāśaḥ sarvasya yogamāyā-samāvṛtaḥ. “I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them, I am covered by yogamāyā.”
The Lord is open to being seen by devotees, but non-devotees cannot see Him. The qualification for seeing God is stated in Brahma-saṁhitā (5.38):
premānjana-churita-bhakti-vilocanena santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti.
A devotee who has developed a genuine love for Kṛṣṇa can always see Him everywhere, whereas a demon, not having a clear understanding of the Supreme Lord, cannot see Him.
When Hiraṇyakaśipu was threatening to kill Prahlāda Mahārāja, Prahlāda certainly saw the column standing before him and his father. He saw that the Lord was present in the pillar to encourage him not to fear his demoniac father’s words. The Lord was present to protect him. Hiraṇyakaśipu marked Prahlāda’s observation and asked him, “Where is your God?” Prahlāda Mahārāja replied, “He is everywhere.” Then Hiraṇyakaśipu asked, “Why is He not in this pillar before me?” Thus in all circumstances, the devotee can always see the Supreme Lord, whereas the non-devotee cannot”