“Prahlada Maharaja, a small child of only five years, became the object of envy for his great father, Hiranyakashipu, only because of his becoming a pure devotee of the Lord. The demon father employed all his weapons to kill the devotee son, Prahlada, but by the grace of the Lord he was saved from all sorts of dangerous actions by his father.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.15.16 Purport)
Friend1: Let’s talk about Hiranyakashipu today.
Friend2: Sure. Which angle? Demigod worship? Wanting to stay king forever? Hating Lord Vishnu? Seeking immunity from death?
Friend1: All good topics, for sure. Makes you think. The villain of villains has their own place in Vedic literature. That is to say they can be studied for equally as long as the good guys.
Friend2: Well, there is the protagonist to the antagonist, the hero to the villain.
Friend1: The son Prahlada. Yes, that is sort of where I was going with the discussion.
Friend2: The idea of succeeding the father? Grooming the child to become a ruler of the same weight, wherein the entire world is afraid?
Friend1: Well, I’m just thinking about how parents are with their children. Making goofy faces. Smiling all the time. Talking in funny voices.
Friend2: It’s a fun time. When they get older the children move away. Independence means loosening the attachment to the parents in some way.
Friend1: So there are certainly many promises made. “I will love you forever. I will always be there for you. You are everything to me.”
Friend2: The parents are making these promises?
Friend1: Usually, there aren’t vows made to kill the child. “Just you wait. I’m going to throw you off a cliff. I’m going to put you into a pit of snakes. My sister, right here, she will take you into fire.”
Friend2: Yes, one would hope none of those things are said.
Friend1: Yet that is precisely what Hiranyakashipu did. He subjected his five year old son to the greatest torture.
Friend2: And it wasn’t even meant to be that. Not like the father was trying to extract intelligence secrets from the boy. There wasn’t a hope of making the kid relent.
Friend1: Lethal force. The intention was to kill. In a special case, Prahlada survived every attempt.
Friend2: He had Vishnu on his side. This was the person that Hiranyakashipu truly hated.
Friend1: A historical incident, but also highly symbolic. Illustrating the mindset of the asura, to be against God.
Friend2: So strongly to the point that if devotion is found within the kingdom, within the same family, that won’t change the mindset.
Friend1: That’s really the question I had today. How could a father do that to a son? I’m not sure most people would be capable of it.
Friend2: Well, we sort of answered that already. Being so strongly against Vishnu.
Friend1: Is that it, though? Nothing wrong genetically? Mental instability, perhaps.
Friend2: It’s sense gratification. It’s pursuing personal interest over anyone else’s. It’s not believing in the afterlife. If this life is the only one, then I escape punishment for bad behavior. Think of Hiranyakashipu’s mindset. “Who is going to attack me? Who will be able to defeat me, after receiving those amazing boons from Lord Brahma, the creator? I will never die, so even if there is an afterlife, I have no chance of seeing it. No way to get punishment.”
Friend1: I guess that is the meaning to maya, the illusory energy of God.
Friend2: Illusion is the perfect word. Not seeing things as they truly are. The visual proof came sure enough. It was gruesome. The punishment was commensurate with the crimes. The appearance of Narasimhadeva validated the truth revealed by Shri Rama in the Ramayana.
Friend1: What does He say? Is that when Rama is speaking to Khara?
Friend2: “Just as a tree starts to blossom during the proper season, so the doer of sinful deeds inevitably reaps the horrible fruit of their actions at the appropriate time.” (Lord Rama speaking to Khara, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 29.8)
Yes. Justice did not arrive immediately, so Hiranyakashipu thought he was safe. He thought he had license to continue in the murder attempts against Prahlada. Only sense gratification was on his mind, and even with everything available to him he was never happy. Meanwhile, Prahlada was in danger the entire time and yet had no stress. Makes you think about what is important in life.
Typically the son a keeper,
But not when into sin deeper.
Like Hiranyakashipu under sway,
Not knowing proper way.
So for son murder attempting,
Not even own family exempting.
Someone protecting, a power higher,
So that boy to survive even fire.