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tathapi brumahe prasnams
tava rajan yatha-srutam
sambhasaniyo hi bhavan
atmanah suddhim icchata
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
My dear King, although you know everything, you have posed some questions, which I shall try to answer according to what I have learned by hearing from authorities. I cannot remain silent in this regard, for a personality like you is just fit to be spoken to by one who desires self-purification.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
A saintly person doesn’t wish to speak to anyone and everyone, and he is therefore grave and silent. Generally a common man does not need to be advised. Unless one is prepared to take instructions, it is said that a saintly person should not address him, although sometimes, because of great kindness, a saintly person speaks to ordinary men. As for Prahlada Maharaja, however, since he was not a common, ordinary man, whatever questions he posed would have to be answered, even by a great and exalted personality. Therefore the saintly brahmana did not remain silent, but began to answer. These answers, however, were not concocted by him. This is indicated by the words yatha-srutam, meaning “as I have heard from the authorities.” In the parampara system, when the questions are bona fide the answers are bona fide. No one should attempt to create or manufacture answers. One must refer to the sastras and give answers according to Vedic understanding. The words yatha-srutam refer to Vedic knowledge. The Vedas are known as sruti because this knowledge is received from authorities. The statements of the Vedas are known as sruti-pramana. One should quote evidence from the sruti — the Vedas or Vedic literature — and then one’s statements will be correct. Otherwise one’s words will proceed from mental concoction.