Q: I have heard and read that if we become Pure Devotee then 100 generations (both past and future) in our family gets liberated. Is it just a symbolic statement or actual fact? If it is a fact, what it practically implies? I mean from details point of view, who are considered as family members and what happen to them after liberation etc.
A: The number of generations that get liberated depends upon the stature of the devotee. In Srila Prabhupader Upadesamrta (“The Nectarean Instructions of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada”), the following fact is presented by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur.
“When a great saint, a pure devotee, appears in a family, his ancestors and descendants for a *hundred* generations are elevated. When a devotee of middle stature (madhyam bhagavat) appears in a family, his ancestors and descendants for *fourteen* generations are elevated. When a neophyte devotee appears in a family, his ancestors and descendants for *three* generations are elevated.”
In the case of Prahlada Maharaja, the Lord offers him the following benediction:
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: "My dear Prahlada, O most pure, O great saintly person, your father has been purified, along with *twenty-one* forefathers in your family. Because you were born in this family, the entire dynasty has been purified." [SB 7.10.18]
Another reference is -
"... if someone becomes a pure Vaisnava, or devotee of the Lord, ten generations of his family before his birth and ten generations after will be liberated.” [Krsna Book, Ch 64, Story of King Nrga]
The above statements directly answer your question about who the family members are. They are the past and the future generations with respect to the devotee’s immediate family.
These numbers (associated with the ancestors and the descendants) are authoritatively presented in the scriptures and are therefore meant to be taken literally (not symbolically).
In a room conversation (cited below), Srila Prabhupada clarifies that the *liberation* awarded to the family members is tantamount to an opportunity to become a devotee.
Pusta Krsna: One who becomes a devotee, the statement is that fourteen generations of his family, past, present and future, become liberated. So what kind of liberation does the family members of a pure Vaisnava get?
Prabhupada: Liberation means -- that is explained by Caitanya Mahaprabhu -- to become devotee. That is liberation. To become a devotee is itself liberation. (break)
Answer by H.H.Romapada Swami