Hitting The Mark

[Lord Vishnu]“Then Lord Brahma, who awards infallible benedictions, departed, being worshiped by the best of the demons, Hiranyakashipu, and being praised by great sages and saintly persons.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.4.3)

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ततो जगाम भगवान्
अमोघानुग्रहो विभुः
पूजितो ’सुर-वर्येण
स्तूयमानः प्रजेश्वरैः

tato jagāma bhagavān
amoghānugraho vibhuḥ
pūjito ’sura-varyeṇa
stūyamānaḥ prajeśvaraiḥ

The Sanskrit word amogha says that the benedictions coming from Lord Brahma, who can sometimes be addressed as Bhagavan, hit their mark. That is to say they do not fail. This means that Hiranyakashipu had approached the right person. The standing position maintained for so long, without any food or breathing, was worth it. The severe austerity ended up pleasing the person who is worshiped by so many great personalities, in this world and others.

What exactly did Hiranyakashipu ask for? A new car? A palatial mansion? Food and wine to last a lifetime? Knowing the exalted status of the person being worshiped, upon successful supplication the future terror of the world asked for something he thought to be quite clever.

Near-immortality. A little contemplation on the issue reveals that such a thing can never exist, the paradox, but Hiranyakashipu thought he would outsmart nature itself. Make one equal to two; put a square peg in a round hole. Immunity from death in a variety of situations. Protection against all kinds of attackers. Brahma is the creator, after all. He uses the three modes of nature to generate the different kinds of suits to be worn by the conditioned souls.

[square peg-round hole]These are expansions of pure spirit, amshas coming from a source. The conditioned state is forgetting the original and eternal nature. Forgetfulness has an immediate consequence: leaving the spiritual world. To enter a new world requires a specific kind of suit. Something like needing a special vessel for travelling in outer space, in earth there are different kinds of residence.

To live in the water requires a form like a fish. Breathing takes place differently underwater than it does on land. To fly through the air requires a different proportion of the material elements. So many conditions that Brahma creates up to 8,400,000 different vessels.

Hiranyakashipu wanted protection against everything Brahma could conjure up. Not to limit the creator’s creativity. Not to stifle his ingenuity. Not to put a halt to generating new population on earth. Simply give protection against everything created. Brahma could offer this boon because he was directly responsible for creation.

Hiranyakashipu also wanted protection against various weapons. As a king he was aware of the primary modes of combat. From something as simple as a rock to the most complex arrows released by expert marksmen, let there be immunity from fatal injury.

A person might be surprised to learn that Brahma left after having agreed to every request. These boons were difficult to obtain, and they would not necessarily bring peace to the king. After all, there could be the lingering doubt that something was overlooked. Like that feeling after leaving the house and thinking that the stove was not turned off, maybe the king could meet death, after all.

Of course the great oversight was not realizing that someone empowers Lord Brahma. This is explained in detail in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. There are four verses in particular, known as the chatuh-shloki, which give the sum and substance of the entire work. It is spoken by Lord Vishnu to Brahma.

The creative power comes from the Supreme Lord. He was there before anything existed and He will remain after everything is gone. He is the beginning, middle and end, as also explained in the Bhagavad-gita.

Hiranyakashipu intentionally didn’t approach Vishnu due to an intense rivalry. In truth, there were no ill feelings on the other side. Vishnu is not affected by hatred or adoration directed at Him. He is atmarama, or satisfied in the self. But the king could not let go of a past incident, where the demoniac brother named Hiranyaksha was killed by Vishnu’s avatara of Varaha.

[Lord Vishnu]That was for the good of the entire universe. This is Bhagavan’s work. Every person connected receives auspiciousness, even if they are unaware. Hiranyakashipu would soon be the beneficiary, despite harboring such hatred for God.

In Closing:

Because Brahma empowered sufficient,

In granting boons not deficient.

So Hiranyakashipu approaching right,

For desired protections in sight.

Though properly the mark hitting,

Meaning still body one day quitting.

Since from Vishnu the potency coming,

Only then a benefactor becoming.

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Categories: the story of prahlada

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