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HIRANYAKASIPU

Hiranyakasipu is an Asura from the Puranic scriptures of Hinduism. He was subsequently killed by the Narasimha Avatara of Lord Vishnu. His tale depicts the futility of desiring power over others and the strength of God's protection over his fully surrendered devotees.

hiranyakasipu
Hiranyakasipu, was an unconquerable king of the demons of whom friends and foe were dreaded. Hiranyakasipu was blessed by Lord Brahma that death cannot touch him for he undertook a penance for years and years which was very difficult. Even death cannot touch him. Then we might wonder what is the need for the penance? He was blessed with lot of wealth and power in plenty for he only wished death comes to him not at the hands of man or beast, not in the morning or night, and not inside his house or outside and Brahma has granted that boon. No wonder he is held in such a fear by the people of his country. Seeing Hiranyakasipu entering the palace with his ministers and guards, the people who were gossiping this quickly dispersed to take their places. The King had been on a tour of the city's temples.

His face was stern and decisive. Once the court was in order, Hiranyakasipu called his minister to read out his latest manifesto. The Minister stood up and read that in their kingdom, Their Majesty the King, their benefactor and protector, will be recognized and worshipped as the one and only God no other God will be worshipped by the people in the country. The King also ordered to remove all the idols of the existing deities in temples and only the idols of him will be installed instead. Hiranyakasipu also ordered that no harm will befall the people who follow the rule but if disobeyed they will be sentenced to death immediately. The people trembled with fear on hearing this declaration. They ran to their houses and removed all the idols kept in the prayer rooms. The idols in the temples were also replaced by those of Hiranyakasipu. Hiranyakasipu was now God in the entire kingdom!

But however in the nearby quarters of one of the interior chambers of the palace, a little boy of seven or eight years sat with his eyes closed and his hands folded and he was uttering one sentence repeatedly again and again which was, "Om Namoh Narayana!"

The boy was dressed in white silks and costly ornaments fit for a prince, the little child was like the young moon himself. With sharp and delicate features, a dimpled chin, curly locks and cherubic features, he was totally lost out of the world. Only the slight movement of his petal like lips and almost unnoticeable quiver of his long eyelashes indicated that he was a living being.

Can we guess who this child could be so brave enough to keep uttering the name of another God where a law has proclaimed, saying only to worship the King. To our surprise it was in the palace of the king himself. The boy was only disturbed when he heard his grandmother calling him, "Prahlad!" for that was his name. As soon as he saw his grandma he ran to touch her feet while she embraced him lovingly. "Haven't you heard the King, your father's orders child?" "What may that be grandma?" "Don't take Narayana's name anymore!" Your father has stated himself God of this kingdom. He alone is to be worshipped." "Not take Narayana's name!" wondered Prahlad. "I have known only one God since the time I was born. Even when he was in his mother's womb he has heard no other name being worshipped but only of the God Narayana. He cannot take the fact of calling his father God. Prahlad's mother, who died shortly after giving birth to him, read aloud all the scriptures to him while he was still in her womb. She never wanted the qualities of the demon Hiranyakasipu to be inherited by her child and so she taught him only to trust in Lord Narayana.


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She had constantly prayed to the Lord with total devotion, until one day she had a dream. "Fear not for your child. No harm shall befall him. He has been blessed by me." It was Lord Narayana himself. But his grandmother with tears rolling down his cheeks asked Prahalada not to worship any other God but to pray and worship only his father. Prahalada wiping his grandmother's tears consoled her by saying, "Don't worry grandma," said Prahlad. "Lord Narayana will take care of everything." The country was under total vigil by the guards of Hiranyakasipu and whenever they found anybody worshipping any other God but Hiranya they immediately brought him to court and was punished to death. But the guards were very surprised for even after the strict vigil everyday they were getting to hear the sound of Om Namoh Narayana! They were trying to trace the voice of where it is coming from but were unable to. They didn't give up but searched continuously. One day, they found that the sound was coming from the King's palace itself. After a month, the king called his men to find out whether his orders has been strictly implemented. "Yes, your Majesty," they said, "except one solitary voice which keeps uttering the praise of Lord Narayana."The King was shocked to hear this and was very angry. His eyes were red and his hand instantaneously pulled out his sword asking the guards to bring the person who was uttering the name of Narayana. The guards trembled with fear and conveyed that the sound was coming from the palace of the King himself. So the king immediately ordered his people to go and search his palace and to bring whomsoever it may be to the court, even without a moments delay. They searched and found out it was the King's son. Prahlad was brought before the King.Hiranyakasipu was shocked to see his own son Prahalada who was not following the orders of the King. He told his son to stop worshipping his silly God and declared that he is more powerful than the God. Prahalada was very strong in his view and he said that he knows only one God Narayana and he is supposed to be the god of the Universe. The king ordered to take the boy out of his sight and arranged for new teachers to make him think right.

Four teachers were appointed to teach him that Hiranya was the most powerful of the Gods. At the end of a year Prahlad still refused to accept it. The King even went to the extent of poisoning his own son but even after eating the poisoned food, Prahlad was still alive. Again the father asked his son, atleast now tell who is your God? But Prahalada gave the same old answer "Narayana". The King even went to the extent of asking Prahalda to tell atleast once that he is his God and then decided to leave him to fate. But still the answer was Narayana from Prahalada. Prahlad would not budge. The King ordered his men to throw Prahalada down the mountains but fortunately Prahalad did not even get a scratch on his body for he landed on a bed of roses and said "nothing can change my mind for Narayana is always my God". Hiranya wondered of the happenings. Hiranya was getting wild and kept thumping his fist on the table.

The King Hiranya was very badly frustrated and confused not knowing how to get his son follow his order. Finally he decided to trample his son by the elephants and ordered his men to make arrangements for it the very evening. The people of Hirankasipu also gathered in the place and were very astonished and they all cursed the king in their hearts saying he is the demon King, who has gone to the extent of killing his own son by making the elephant trample. The King came out to watch the destruction of his own son. The elephants were brought to the court and Prahlad before kneeling worshipped his God Narayana chanting the mantra, "Om Namoh Narayana!" Prahlad then kneeled with his eyes closed and his hands folded in front of him and then the king ordered to go ahead. But suddenly an astonishing incident took place where Prahlad was blessed by the uplifted trunks of the elephants as they passed him one by one. Hiranya thanked his father for only because of all this he was able to know the power of Lord Narayana. With humility he asked his father to give up his vanity and join him in worshipping Lord for Narayana will surely forgive the cruel demon king. But Hiranya bursted out in anger and dragged Prahalada by the hand and shouted, "Narayana, Narayana, Narayana. All the time you take his name. Tell me where he is?" He whirled on his feet, "Is he in this pillar?" Hiranya took his sword and struck the pillar and to the surprise of the people and Hiranyakasipu, Narayana came out of the pillar in the form of Narasimha with the body of Nara or man and the face of a Simha or lion. He killed Hiranykasipu thus granting the earlier wish of the demon King by being killed neither in the day nor night as it was twilight. Finally the Lord Narasimha asked Prahlada to seek whatever he wants and Prahalad with humbleness requested to forgive his father. Narasimha smiled and nodded his head. When Prahlad was crowned King, he was known to be the most kind and just among the rulers of his time.