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.

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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.

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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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Narasimha Avatar – Part 1 – The revenge of Hiranyakasipu


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Hiranyakasipu, the asura king and brother of Hiranyaksha was the earthly incarnation of Vijaya, one of Vishnu’s doorkeepers (read about that story here). When Vishnu as Varaha, the boar, killed Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakasipu was enraged and began to lament the death of his brother. Addressing his associates and assembled demons, he spoke thus.

O friends, fellow demons, hear what I have to say attentively and act accordingly. Our enemies, the demigods have combined to kill my dear brother Hiranyaksha. Although the Supreme Lord Vishnu has always remained equal to both the demons and the demigods, this time around he has taken the side of the demigods, assumed the form of a boar and killed my brother.

Although he is the Supreme Power, he has allowed himself to be influenced by maya and to please his devotees, the demigods, he has killed Hiranyaksha. I take an oath to sever his head from his trunk with my trident and thus please the soul of my brother who was so fond of sucking blood.

When the root of a tree is cut and the tree falls down, its branches and twigs automatically dry up. Similarly, when I have killed this diplomatic Vishnu, the demigods, for whom Lord Vishnu is the life and soul, will lose the source of their life and wither away.

Speaking thus, Hiranyakasipu also gave instructions to his demon associates to go down to earth and kill all the Brahmins. His rationale was that the brahminical culture was to satisfy Lord Vishnu by the personification of sacrificial and ritualistic ceremonies, when they would be killed, nobody on earth would encourage the Kshatriyas to perform yagnas and please the demigods and that would automatically accelerate their demise. He specifically instructed them to go to places where there was good protection for cows and brahmanas and where the Vedas were studied in terms of the varnashrama principles. These places were to be set on fire and all the trees in these places uprooted so that the very source of the brahminical culture were uprooted from earth.

The demons being followers of the great Hiranyakasipu and also having a natural tendency to enjoy destructive activities took his instructions to heart and started engaging in destroying all brahminical related things on earth. They set fire to the cities, villages, pasturing grounds, cow pens, gardens, agricultural fields and natural forests. They burned the hermitages of the saintly persons, the important mines that produced valuable metals, the residential quarters of the agriculturalists, the mountain villages, and the villages of the cow protectors, the cowherds. They also burned the government capitals.

Some of the demons took digging instruments and broke down the bridges, the protective walls and the gates of the cities. Some took axes and began cutting the important trees that produced mango, jackfruit and other sources of food. Some of the demons took firebrands and set fire to the residential quarters of the citizens.

Thus disturbed again and again by the unnatural occurrences caused by the followers of Hiranyakasipu, all the people had to cease the activities of Vedic culture.

Observing all the occurrences and not receiving the results of yagnas, the demigods also started being disturbed. Unobserved by the demons and humans, they started wandering on earth to discover the true reason for these disturbances.

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Varaha Avatar – Part 5 – Varaha Appears


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<<Part 4 of the story>>

In the meantime, given that the humans who resided on earth had become very sinful over the ages, they regularly indulged in battles and wars and used deadly weapons which not only annihilated each other but also ended up in the earth itself being inflicted with severe damage. They used such devastating weapons that the earth trembled every time they were used, and it was being ravaged to a large extent. All the omens portended that it was time something catastrophic was due to occur on earth as a result of these actions.

Hiranyaksha realized quite soon that the easiest way to draw Vishnu into a fight would be to trouble his devotees, a majority of whom were humans residing on earth. Empowered by the boon of Brahma which rendered him immortal to any retribution from humans, he then started unleashing his reign of terror on earth and its residents. He however used such powerful weapons that the earth tilted from its axis and it slipped and fell deep into the celestial ocean. This situation played very well to the demon’s advantage, who then hid the earth deep in the ocean’s dark recesses.

Alarmed by this situation, the demi gods approached Vishnu, the preserver and requested him to save the earth from the atrocities committed by Hiranyaksha. Knowing that the time was opportune for his intervention, Vishnu then took the form of Varaha, the boar.

Emerging as a tiny boar (the size of a thumb) from the nostril of Brahma, Varaha grew and grew until he reached the size of a huge mountain. Some versions of this epic state that his thunderous roar was frightening and his mane was so fiery and fearsome that Varuna requested that he fold his mane so as not to scare the creatures that lived in the oceans.

In this fearsome form of Varaha, Vishnu then dived deep into the celestial ocean and retrieved the earth. Upon being stopped by Hiranyaksha, he thought to himself “Jaya can wait. Mother Earth needs to be placed back on her axis so that life on earth can resume to normal as soon as possible.” Varaha then rushed to the surface of the celestial ocean and put earth back on its axis.

He then turned his attention to Hiranyaksha and then fought him with his mace. After a fierce fight which apparently lasted for close to a thousand years, Varaha manages to finally overcome the demon. Just before he kills him, he reveals his true form, that of Vishnu so that Hiranyaksha is able to realize that he is finally being granted salvation from the curse of his earlier existence as Jaya.

Thus ended the reason for Vishnu taking the avatar in the form of a boar, the Varaha avatar.

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While some versions of the story state that Varaha balanced the earth on his two tusks while fighting Hiranyaksha, I find it a little more plausible that he first restored the earth back on its axis before fighting the demon. More so because almost all legends state that the fight lasted for more than a few years, and it made more sense that the earth was restored back to normal state sooner rather than later.

Some other versions also go on to state that Mother Earth falls in love with this form of Vishnu and Narakasura, the demon is a result of the union between Mother Earth and Varaha.

<<Part 4 of the story | CONCLUDED>>

Varaha Avatar – Part 4 – Hiranyaksha


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After a hundred year pregnancy when Diti gave birth to her twin sons, the event caused a lot of natural disturbances in the heavens and on earth. Ominous omens such as earthquakes, fires, comets, meteors and thunderbolts occurred; strong winds uprooted gigantic trees and tossed them around. The skies were filled with clouds, loud thunder and flashes of lightning; the oceans tossed and turned and their waves reached extreme heights.

Sage Kasyapa whose seed resulted in these two sons named the elder twin Hiranyakasipu and the other one Hiranyaksha. Hiranyakasipu was an ambitious man and wanted to bring all three worlds under his control and his younger brother, Hiranyaksha was more than willing to support him in all his endeavors. In fact he liked battle and fighting so much that he was always found brandishing a club on his shoulder ready to challenge anybody who dared to cross his path.

He had a foul temper and he was also extremely strong, both mentally and physically. He roamed all three physical worlds in search of Indra and the demigods to engage them in battle and defeat them. Even they were scared of him and went into hiding. Enraged by the fact that he couldn’t locate them, Hiranyaksha then dived into the deep ocean where even the aquatic animals were so scared of him that they didn’t dare cross his path.

Moving through the depths of the ocean for very many years, he finally reached Vibhavari, the capital of Varuna, the lord of the aquatic creatures and guardian of the lower regions of the universe. Poking fun at Varuna, the demon challenged him to fight him, to which Varuna cleverly replied that he had grown too old and now desisted from warfare. He also goaded the demon stating that his prowess in warfare was so legendary that none other than Lord Vishnu himself would prove to be a worthy adversary.

Knowing fully well that Vishnu would prove to be a strong adversary, Hiranyaksha then engaged in severe penance praying to Brahma. Pleased with his penance, when Brahma appeared to him, he asked for a boon stating that he should be immortal and should not be defeated by any god, man or animal and went on to narrate a long list of animals to Brahma.

However, he inadvertently forgot to include the boar in the list of animals that he stated. Given that Brahma had promised him a boon, the same was granted to the demon, which only went on to increase his confidence and the volume of atrocities that he was committing.

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