Isn’t It Bad To Sing The Names Of Villains

[Narasimha killing]“O Keshava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari who have assumed the form of half-man, half-lion! All glories to You! Just as one can easily crush a wasp between one’s fingernails, so in the same way the body of the wasplike demon Hiranyakashipu has been ripped apart by the wonderful pointed nails on Your beautiful lotus hands.” (Shri Dashavatara-stotra, 4)

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Friend1: The holy name is non-different from the person it represents. This is at the foundation of the sankirtana process.

Friend2: Which is no different than the kirtanam mentioned by Prahlada Maharaja in his response to the father’s question.

Friend1: Wow, so glad you mentioned Prahlada and his father. That was going to be my question today.

Friend2: About sankirtana? I don’t think Prahlada had the opportunity for that. He was stuck in a hostile environment. Not sure he even had beads to chant on. He had to worship internally. Smaranam of Vishnu. Remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Friend1: The spark was shravanam, though.

Friend2: While in the womb of all places. Prahlada heard about bhakti-yoga, the science of self-realization, from Narada Muni, himself a realized soul.

Friend1: I’m assuming remembering the name of Vishnu is as good as chanting.

[Prahlada Maharaja praying]Friend2: The same equivalence exists. Remembering God the person is as good as seeing Him. Worshiping the deity in the temple is powerful for this reason. What was your question?

Friend1: Well, there is the formal worship of the person who eventually came to save Prahlada Maharaja from danger.

Friend2: Narasimha. The half-man/half-lion incarnation of Vishnu.

Friend1: With a transcendental form tailored to match the protections previously offered to Hiranyakashipu, the aggressor. The father was not kind and benevolent towards the son.

Friend2: He started out that way, but as soon as Prahlada showed signs of devotion, staunch at that, the father went in the other direction.

Friend1: It makes sense that we would celebrate Narasimhadeva. I love the arati song. It is beautifully composed and sung.

Friend2: I believe it is a combination of a verse from the Puranas and a song from Jayadeva Gosvami about the ten principal avataras of Vishnu.

Friend1: Nice. Well, what got me thinking the other day was that the name of the main bad guy is included in the song.

Friend2: Hiranyakashipu.

Friend1: Yes.

Friend2: I mean he did play a pretty important role in the pastime.

Friend1: I understand that. It just seemed strange to me because here I was, feeling something like transcendental bliss, but singing the name of a bad guy. Not just any villain, but the worst of the worst. A person who tried to kill his innocent five-year old son in unspeakable ways.

Friend2: A contradictory mood?

Friend1: Odd, more like it. I mean, shouldn’t the very sound of his name conjure up negative feelings? Shouldn’t we not even reference him? Shouldn’t all of this be about Prahlada and Narasimha, who is also known as Narahari?

Friend2: Those are good questions.

Friend1: What is the answer? If the holy name is non-different from Vishnu, does not the same apply to the asuras? Are we not connecting directly with Hiranyakashipu by singing his name on a daily basis?

Friend2: The name is not the same as him. That rule applies only to the Supreme Lord.

Friend1: What about consciousness? Are we not invoking a bad memory? Should not our focus be on the positive?

Friend2: There is context. Think about this for a second. If you play a part in one of God’s most famous pastimes, you will get your name sung into the infinite future. This must mean something. Hiranyakashipu has to be more than just your average bad guy.

Friend1: I understand that he is originally one of the gatekeepers in Vaikuntha, the spiritual realm. He gets cursed to take a few births as wicked characters on earth, eventually to earn liberation through the hands of Vishnu. Still, the song doesn’t reference Jaya or Vijaya. The name invoked is specifically that of the demon birth.

[Narasimha killing Hiranyakashipu]Friend2: Right, but there is always a juxtaposition. Moreover, the mention of the name actually helps to increase the glory of the Supreme Lord. That is to say Narahari is so amazing that he took down one of the most powerful villains in the world. The power of Prahlada’s devotion was at such a high level that not even Hiranyakashipu could squash it. In this way the mention of the name is integral to the worship process, specific to that form of the Lord.

In Closing:

Sitting on temple room floor,

With song Narahari to adore.

But why name of villain included,

Who by hatred of Vishnu deluded?

Glorious only the son,

Who by bhakti’s power won.

Juxtaposed to God giving glory,

All-auspicious the Narasimha story.

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