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Bhakta’s story


The story of Prahlada and Narasimhavatar


Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha were sons of Diti and Kashyapa. Vishnu in Varaha Avatar recovered earth from Hiranyaksha, and killed him in a thousand year long war. Hiranyakashipu became furious at the death of his younger brother Hiranyaksha and resolved to kill Vishnu at any cost. To be more strong to meet his opponent he began to pray to Brahma by a very tough Tapasya. Brahma was pleased at these prayers and offered to grant a boon.

Hiranyakashibu wanted to avoid all chance for death by an opponent. In his crookedness he thought he would become more powerful by being invincible. So he demanded “I want to be invincible, and grant me the boon that I may not be killed in night or day; that I may not be killed by man or beast; and that I may not be killed in the sky, the water or the earth.”

Brahma granted all the desired boon to his devotee without any reservation. Hiranyakashibu was more than happy and thought that he had nothing to fear anymore; since he had become so powerful, he conquered all the three worlds and kicked the gods out of heaven. He stopped all sacrifices for God. Hiranyakashibu’s cruelty increased in every passing day and he demanded everybody to worship him as God.

While Hiranyakashibu was out for penance to propitiate Brahma, Indra found a great opportunity and kidnapped his wife Kayadu, who was carrying a child, and tried to kill the child in the womb, who may succeed his notorious father. Sage Narada came to know about this, rushed to Indra and prevented the misdeed by preaching him good sense. Sage Narada assured Indra that the child will not be like his notorious father and he is ready to take care of that. Then Narada brought the pregnant Kayadu to his ashram. Before she left for her house Narada spoke softly to the child in the womb and sung songs in praise of Lord Vishnu. The child in the womb responded; then Sage Narada taught the child Dharmashartra, the method of cultivating virtue in life and the glory of the Lord.

When Prahlada was born to Kayadu, it so happened that right from infancy he was devoted to God Vishnu. So the king of the Daityas, Hiranyakashibu appointed two teachers called Shanda and Amarka, to teach him good sense to the child. Both of them were very stern disciplinarians, they tried their best to convince Prahlada that everybody worships his father Hiranyakashibu as God and that he should also accept him as God. But Prahlada do not care their word and worshipped Lord Vishnu as God. Not only that Prahlada also influenced other children to worship Lord Vishnu as God. To clear themselves, the teachers told the terrible fact to the king, that his son was not only worshipping Vishnu himself, but also spoiling the other children as well.

The monarch became very much enraged when he heard this and called the boy to his presence. He tried by gentle persuasions to dissuade Prahlada from the worship of Vishnu and taught him that he, the mighty king who dethroned Indra, was the only God to worship. But it was of no use. The child declared, again and again, that the Omnipotent, Omnipresent Vishnu, the Lord of the universe, was the only Being to be worshipped — for even he, the king, held his throne and life only so long as it please Vishnu. The rage of the king Hiranyakashibu knew no bounds, and he ordered the boy to be immediately killed by any cruel means.

Daityas tried to slain Prahlada, but that failed. Hiranyakashibu ordered him to be trampled underfoot by an elephant. The enraged elephant could not do the task. Poison, fire, starvation, throwing into well, enchantments, and other measures were then tried on the child one after another, but of no use. Nothing could change his mind which firmly dwelt Vishnu.

Then, Hiranyakashipu called Prahlada to him. “How is it that you escaped each time I tried to kill you?,” he asked.

“Because Vishnu saved me,” replied Prahlada. “Vishnu is everywhere.”

“What do you mean everywhere?,” retorted Hiranyakashipu in anger. He pointed to a crystal pillar inside the palace and asked, “Is Vishnu inside this pillar as well?”

“Yes,” replied Prahlada.

“Very well, then I am going to kick the pillar,” said Hiranyakashhipu.

When Hiranyakashipu kicked the pillar, it broke and Vishnu as Narasimha (half-man and half-lion) emerged from the pillar. Narasimha caught hold of Hiranyakashipu and placed the demon across his thighs. And with his claws, he tore apart the demon’s chest and so killed him. Brahma’s boon had been that Hiranyakashipu would not be killed by man or beast; it was half-man and half-beast. The boon had said that the asura would not be killed in the sky, the water or the earth; Hiranyakashipu was killed on Vishnu’s thighs, which were not the sky, the water or the earth. And finally, the boon had promised that Hiranyakashipu would not be killed by night or day; since the incident took place in the evening, it was neither night nor day.

The gods and sages descended from heaven and offered hymns to Narasimha which was still furious. Prahlada fell down at the feet of Lord Narasimha and broke forth into exquisite hymns of praise and devotion. The angry mood of Narasimha slowly came down and a divine Voice then heard "Ask, Prahlada ask for anything thou desires"; “ thou art My favourite child; therefore ask for anything thou mayest wish."

Prahlada choked with feelings replied, "Lord, I have seen Thee. What else can I want? Do thou not tempt me with earthly or heavenly boons."

Again the Voice said: "Yet ask something, my son."

Prahlada replied, "That intense love, O Lord, which the ignorant bear to worldly things, may I have the same love for Thee, but only for love's sake!"

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