Narasimha Avatar – Part 6 – The confrontation


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When Sukracharya realized that his other students were slowly being influenced by Prahlada speaking to them and they were also inclined to become devotees of Vishnu, he immediately went to Hiranyakasipu and informed him of this.

An enraged Hiranyakasipu immediately summoned Prahlada to him and scolded him “You are an obstinate fool to have defied and violated my power and rule over you. Today I shall send you to Yamaraja’s abode. You know that when I am angry all three worlds tremble. By whose power have you become so impudent that you appear fearless and overstep my power to rule you?”

A smiling Prahlada replied ”My dear king, the source of my power and strength is the same as that of yours and all of us in the three worlds. The one and only original source of strength is Lord Vishnu himself. He is the power of the senses, the power of the mind, the power of the body. He is the one who creates this cosmic manifestation, preserves it and destroys it as well.”

Further enraged by this cheeky reply of the young prince, the asura king roared “You are trying to minimize my value as if you were better than me at controlling the senses. You have described a supreme being other than me, a supreme being who is above everything, who is the controller of everything and who is all-pervading? But where is he? If he is everywhere, is he present in this pillar?”

Obsessed and blinded with anger Hiranyakasipu stuck his fist against the pillar immediately next to him.

Then from within the pillar came a fearful sound such as one which appeared to resound throughout the three worlds. From within it emerged a wonderful form which nobody had ever seen before. The form was neither that of a man nor that of a lion. It was none other than Vishnu in the form of the Narasimha.

Hiranyakasipu studied this form carefully. The angry eyes resembled molten gold, the shining mane which expanded the dimensions of his fearful face, the deadly teeth, the tongue which moved about like a dueling sword, the erect and motionless ears, the nostrils and gaping mouth which appeared like a cave, the fearfully parted jaws; all of this was awe-inspiring.

Confident with the knowledge that he had Brahma’s boon, Hiranyakasipu attacked the beast with his club, who immediately parried the blow and picked up the asura king in his hands. And then as if playing with him, Narasimha immediately put down the asura. Hiranyakasipu once again attacked his foe with a sword and this time around lifted the asura and put him on his thighs and sat down on the doorway of the assembly hall where the confrontation was taking place.

And then with the nails on his hand, Narasimha tore the asura to pieces and killed the tyrant king.

The boon granted by Brahma to the asura was 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.

Therefore by appearing in the form of Narasimha, at dusk, and killing the asura on the doorway of his assembly hall, Vishnu managed to overcome all the conditions of the boon.

Once Hiranyakasipu was killed, the demigods and all the other rulers immediately paid obeisance to Vishnu in his fearful form as Narasimha and showered praise on his strength, powers and divinity. However, Narasimha’s anger had still not subsided and therefore Narada requested Prahlada to go forward and appease him.

Prahlada immediately prostrated in front of the half-lion and seeing his devotion Narasimha placed his hand affectionately on his head. By this touch, Prahlada was immediately cleansed of all material contaminations and desires.

Thus ends the story of the first time that the doorkeepers Jaya and Vijaya were granted salvation at the hands of their lord Vishnu. They were reborn again as the brothers Kumbhakarna and Ravana who formed an important part of the story of Rama and yet again as Sisupala and Dantavakra who were in turn killed by Krishna.


Narasimha Avatar – Part 5 – The story of Prahlada’s birth


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In Sukracharya’s ashram, when the other students learnt about Prahlada’s story, they approached him and wanted to learn from him. He then instructed them about the uselessness of leading a materialistic life and how absolute devotion to Lord Vishnu was the only way in which one could attain salvation.

He then went on to inform his friends that he had received this knowledge from Narada Muni and that it was based on logic and philosophy and was free from all material contamination. When his young friends asked Prahlada as to how he had managed to get this knowledge from the great Narada, he went on to narrate the story of his birth to them.


When Hiranyakasipu, the asura king was engaged in severe penance near the Mandara mountain, Indra, the king of the demigods attacked the asuras to subdue them and conquer them. After defeating the asura armies, Indra then captured Hiranyakasipu’s wife, who at that point of time was pregnant with Prahlada. At this point, Narada intervened and told Indra that even though the queen bore Hiranyakasipu’s child, the child itself was sinless and faultless and that he would go on to become a great devotee of Vishnu.

Hearing this Indra allowed Narada to take the queen to his ashram to remain there under his protection. At the ashram, as was the norm the queen provided service to Narada who in turn was benevolent enough to partake with instructions and information on religion and other related subjects to her. Because of the long duration of her stay there, all the information that Narada gave to her were assimilated by Prahlada from within his mother’s womb itself.

Therefore when the young prince was born, he was already a great devotee of Vishnu and followed the path of abstaining from materialistic pleasures even from a very young age, despite the fact that he was an asura prince.


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Narasimha Avatar – Part 4 – An introduction to Prahlada


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Despite having acquired the boon which was beyond anybody else’s reach Hiranyakasipu still remembered his brother Hiranyaksha’s death and continued to harbor hopes of avenging the same from Vishnu.

He soon conquered all the three worlds by virtue of his strength and possessing the confidence that nobody could defeat him anymore. The human beings, the Gandharvas, the Garudas, the serpents, the Siddhas, Caranas, Vidhyadharas, the great saints, Yamaraja, the Manus, the Yakshas, the Rakshasas, the Pisachas and their masters, the masters of the ghosts and the Bhuthas, all of them were conquered by him. He started residing in the most beautiful of all of Indra’s palaces which was designed by Viswakarma. All the demigods were forced to pay obeisance to him and bow down to him despite being severely chastised by him.

Thus for a very long time, the three worlds and its inhabitants were subject to the opulences of his rule which transgressed the laws and regulations mentioned in the shastras. Everyone including the rulers of the various planets were extremely distressed with this situation and the severe punishment inflicted upon them by the demon king. They therefore started praying to Vishnu to deliver them from the asura.

Vishnu answered their prayers and informed them that he was aware of all the atrocities committed by Hiranyakasipu, and the he would soon stop them very soon. He asked them to be a little more patient with him. He then goes on to tell them that as soon as Hiranyakasipu teases and tests his own son, Prahalada, a great devotee of his, who is peaceful and sober and has no enemy, then he will immediately kill Hiranyakasipu despite Brahma’s benediction given to him.


Hiranyakasipu had four sons of which Prahlada was undoubtedly the best and he was also a staunch devotee of Vishnu. He had an extremely good character and was very determined to understand the Absolute Truth. He was kind to every living entity and was a friend to everybody. To respected persons he was a servant, to the poor he was a father, to his equals he was a brother, and he considered all his teachers, wise men and older brothers as representatives of God himself. Although he was born in a family of asuras, he never exhibited any of their material desires or opulence and had devoted his entire life to the service of Vishnu.

Despite his father Hiranyakasipu’s continued attempts to weave him away from the devotion displayed to Vishnu by various methods, Prahlada’s unstinting love for the lord continued unabated. Even though Sukracharya, the spiritual guru of the asuras and Prahlada’s teacher did everything in his power to teach the young prince subjects such as political science, governance and other similar sciences. At the end of his stint at Sukracharya’s gurukula, when Hiranyakasipu asked his son as to what he had learnt there, the young prince went on to narrate the various methods in which a true devotee worshipped Lord Vishnu.

Enraged by this when the king abused his spiritual guru, Sukracharya responded stating that whatever your son has just narrated were not taught by me to him. His devotion has been spontaneously developed by him. On hearing this reply, the king addressed his son and asked him as to where he received such sacrilegious education from. Prahlada replied stating that such devotional inclination towards Vishnu is not something that can be taught by any person to another. It is something that is developed by individuals who have given up all materialistic desires and focus their concentration on understanding the Absolute Truth.

Enraged by the insolence of his son, Hiranyakasipu immediately ordered his servants to kill the young Prahlada. Branding him a traitor and an enemy who worshipped Vishnu, his brother’s killer, the asura king broke off all ties with his own son.

On hearing their king’s orders, the asuras immediately started striking Prahlada with their weapons and surprisingly they could not even scratch the young prince despite the fierce weapons they used. Such was the power of his prayers and devotion to Vishnu. Hiranyakasipu then tried having his son trampled by elephants, throwing him in a snake pit filled with venomous snakes, hurling him from the top of a tall hill, administering him poison, starving him, subjecting him to severe cold, winds, fire and water, but none of these methods even disturbed Prahlada.

Defeated despite all his attempts to kill Prahlada, Hiranyakasipu then ordered that his son be further educated by Sukracharya with the hope that due to passage of time, his devotion to  Vishnu would be reduced and he would go on to become a good king of the asuras.

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Narasimha Avatar – Part 3 – Hiranyakasipu desires immortality


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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.

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Narasimha Avatar – Part 2 – The story of Suyajna


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After performing the ritualistic observances for his brother’s death, Hiranyakasipu starts to console his nephews, his sister-in-law and his mother by narrating the story of King Suyajna.


In the state known as Usinara there was a celebrated King named Suyajna. When the King was killed in battle by his enemies, his kinsmen sat down around the dead body and began to lament the death of their friend.

His golden, bejeweled armor smashed, his ornaments and garlands fallen from their places, his hair scattered and his eyes lusterless, the slain King lay on the battlefield, his entire body smeared with blood, his heart pierced by the arrows of the enemy. When he died he had wanted to show his prowess, and thus he had bitten his lips, and his teeth remained in that position. His beautiful lotus-like face was now black and covered with dust from the battlefield. His arms, with his sword and other weapons, were cut and broken.

When the queens of the King of Usinara saw their husband lying in that position, they began crying, “O lord, now that you have been killed, we also have been killed.” Repeating these words again and again, they fell down, pounding their breasts, at the feet of the dead King.

As the queens loudly cried, their tears glided down their breasts, becoming reddened by kunkuma powder, and fell upon the feet of their husband. Their hair became disarrayed, their ornaments fell, and in a way that evoked sympathy from the hearts of others, the queens began lamenting their husband’s death.

While the queens were lamenting for the dead body of the King, their loud cries were heard even from the abode of Yamaraja. Assuming the body of a boy, Yamaraja personally approached the relatives of the dead body and advised them as follows.

These persons, who are older than me, have full experience that hundreds and thousands of living entities have taken birth and died. Thus they should understand that they also are apt to die, yet still they are bewildered. The conditioned soul comes from an unknown place and returns after death to that same unknown place. There is no exception to this rule, which is conducted by material nature. Knowing this, why do they uselessly lament?

He told the queens that it is only by the will of the Supreme Lord that the entire world is created, maintained and annihilated. To explain about the protection offered by the Supreme Lord, Yamaraja, in the guise of a boy, told them about how when loses his money on a public street, where everyone can see it, and yet his money is protected by destiny and not seen by others. Thus the man who lost it gets it back.

On the other hand, if the Lord does not give protection, even money maintained very securely at home is lost. If the Supreme Lord gives one protection, even though one has no protector and is in the jungle, one remains alive, whereas a person well protected at home by relatives and others sometimes dies, no one being able to protect him.

Yamaraja continued: O lamenters, you are all fools! The person named Suyajna, for whom you lament, is still lying before you and has not gone anywhere. Then what is the cause for your lamentation? Previously he heard you and replied to you, but now, not finding him, you are lamenting. This is contradictory behavior, for you have never actually seen the person within the body who heard you and replied. There is no need for your lamentation, for the body you have always seen is lying here.

You are all so foolish that you lament but do not see your own death. Afflicted by a poor fund of knowledge, you do not know that even if you lament for your dead husband for hundreds of years, you will never get him back alive, and in the meantime your lives will be finished.

Thus understanding that everything material was temporary, the queens of Suyajna and his relatives allowed the ritualistic funeral ceremonies of the slain King.


Diti, the mother of Hiranyakasipu and Hiranyaksha, heard the instructions of Hiranyakasipu along with her daughter-in-law, Rushabhanu, Hiranyaksha’s wife. She then forgot her grief over her son’s death and thus engaged her mind and attention in understanding the real philosophy of life.

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