Hiranyakasipu then started nurturing ambitions of becoming immortal. He wanted to be unconquerable, free from old age and dwindling of any of his bodily senses. Therefore, in the valley of the Mandara hill, he began performing austerities and severe penance. Due to the severity of his penance, fire started emanating from Hiranyakasipu’s head and the resultant smoke spread throughout the sky, encompassing the upper and lower planets, the oceans and rivers were agitated, the surface of the earth started trembling and there was general chaos all around.
Distressed by these occurrences, the demigods rushed to Lord Brahma, the creator and informed him that Hiranyakasipu was undertaking this severe penance to endeavor all the powers that Brahma had and ultimately replace him as the creator and lord of all the worlds. On hearing this, Brahma accompanied by Bhrigu, Daksha and other sages proceeded to the place where the asura was performing his austerities.
At first Brahma could not locate him as the asura’s body was covered by an anthill, grass and bamboo sticks. The ants had devoured his skin, fat, flesh and blood and all that was left of him were mere bones. When Brahma and the sages spotted him, they could only see a halo resembling a cloud-covered sun, heating the entire world with his austerity.
Addressing him, Brahma said O son of Kasyapa Muni, I am pleased with the extent of your austerities. You may now ask whatever you desire and I shall try to fulfill your wish. Saying so, he sprinkled some water from his kamandalu (water pot) on Hiranyakasipu’s body. As soon as the water touched the asura’s body, he emerged from the anthill a completely young man, not aged by the scores of years that he had spent in his penance.
Overcome with gratitude at Brahma recognizing his penance and austerities, Hiranyakasipu bowed down before him, paid his obeisance and told him O my lord, if you will kindly grant me the boon I desire, please let me not meet death from any of the living entities created by you.
Grant me that I not die within any residence or outside any residence, during the daytime or at night, nor on the ground or in the sky, nor by any weapon, nor by any human being or animal.
Grant me that I not meet death from any entity, living or non-living, that I not be killed by any demigod or demon or any snake from the lower worlds.
Lord Brahma was so pleased with the asura’s penance and austerities that even though the boons he asked for were very rarely achieved by anybody, he went ahead and granted them to the asura.