By KK Shanmukhan
WITH the news of Vishnu killing his elder brother, Hiranyakasipu’s pride was hurt. His anger and thirst for revenge flamed up. He undertook rigorous penance unto Lord Brahma. With no alternative, Lord Brahma appeared before him and asked for his wish. “I should not be killed by anybody”, was his demand. “This cannot be done”, replied Brahma, the procreator, “for every living being should inevitably die one day.” “If so, listen to my conditions?”, he said. “What are they?” asked Brahma.
“That I should not be killed by the Devas, the Gandharvas, the Apsaras, the men, the animals or the birds. I should not die either on the earth or in the air. No death will approach me during day or night.” “May that be so”, said the pleased and thoughtful Brahma and disappeared.
Subsequent to the conferment of Brahma’s boon Hiranyakasipu’s vanity and cruelty grew beyond barriers. He straight away darted to Vaikunta to encounter with Vishnu. Having seen his enemy invisible there he went in all directions, obviously killing people. Destroying that stood on his way and creating tremor to all. Finally, concluding that Vishnu was hiding or absconding for fear of him, Hiranyakasipu returned to his capital.
He had proclaimed an order that no person will utter the name of Vishnu in his country.
Once when Hiranyakasipu went for penance for a short while, Indra abducted Kayathu, the Asura king’s pregnant wife in her sleep. The determination of the king of Gods was to slaughter her so that she did not give birth to another Hiranyakasipu. In Indra’s perception, the child would be many times as dangerous as Hiranyakasipu.
Narada, the all knowing saint was passing above Indra. He descended and asked Indra what his mission was. When the latter told the saint about his idea, the saint was aghast. The omniscient told Indra: “King of Gods, you are doing a heinous act. You are thoroughly mistaken. The boy who is in pregnancy of this virtuous lady is the root cause of our future victory, for he shall be an astute devotee of Narayana(Vishnu). You may, therefore, give the lady to me and I shall keep her in my ashram for some time and condition embryo’s tender mind with devotion and righteousness and then re-deposit them at Hiranyakasipu’s palace, without anyone’s knowledge.” Narada did as he promised to Indra.
Hiranyakasipu was very happy on his return from meditation that a son was born to him. He brought him with utmost care.
When the boy reached the age of schooling Sukracharya, the chief preceptor of the Asuras was summoned and with the special instructions he was sent along with the guru to his ashram.
Prahlada taught his friends morals, the importance of devotion towards Naranyan, the importance of worshipping their own guru, etc.
Some of the students were reluctant to receive what Prahlada was vouching. Some of them reported the matter to the Guru. Sukracharya was afraid to admit this. He could never expect Prahlada, the most brilliant student of his to behave like this. He warned them that it is Hiranyakasipu that was the Lord of the entire world. Still Prahlada did not change his stand. Finally, fed up, the Acharya reported the matter to the Asura king. Hiranyakasipu, cajoled his son, gave counsel to him, pardoned him and advised the guru to change his attitude. If the boy was still adamant, the guru could give slight punishment.
Since there was no change in the attitude of Prahlada, the guru started to give small punishments to the student. But unforfunately, when the guru wielded sticks to beat him, all the beatings befell on the guru himself. No tactics of the guru worked and he could not take things as they were. He again went to the king with the boy.
Many times did the Asura king and his preceptor tried to change the mind of Prahlada. Disgusted and baffled, Hiranyakasipu decided to execute his son. Certain commandos were appointed for this. But he failed in his mission.
This infuriated the Asura king further. His anger emitted fire from his eyes, face and his entire body. He yelled to the boy with upraised sword: “You fool, do tell me where your Narayana is!” “O, father great, He, my Narayana, dwells everywhere. Even in this pillar and in this dust.” “Is he in this pillar?” roared the father. “Yes, father” replied the boy in affirmation and humility.
It was evening. The Asura king sprang towards the wall and with his mace struck at the pillar. The pillar broke down. Alas! Suddendly he could hear a terrible roar which pierced his ears. A monster half lion and half man, he could not see exactly because his vision was already lost in the glazing aura, sprang on him. As a vulture sweeping its prey, the monster swung upon him, lifted him and placed in his laps. He Himself sat on the threshold. The monster with thunderous uproar pierced the chest of Hiranyakasipu and drank his blood.
Lord Brahma bade Prahlada towards Him. Prahalada approached the Lord with supplicant hands and praising him in hymns. Lord Narasimha was pleased and blessed his devotee!