“Indignant and angry, his reddish eyes like molten copper, Hiranyakashipu said to his servants: O demons, take this boy away from me! He deserves to be killed. Kill him as soon as possible!” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.34)
वध्यताम् आश्व् अयं वध्यो
vadhyatām āśv ayaṁ vadhyo
That he had to conjure up so many tricks, thinking of this situation and that, should have been the first sign. What Lord Brahma was offering could not be perfect. Otherwise, there would have been only one request coming from the worshiper, Hiranyakashipu.
“Immortality. Let me live forever. No one will be able to kill me. I will remain in whatever post I choose, free of outside interference. The strongest beings in the world, combined into a singular attacking force still will not be able to penetrate my coat of armor created through your favor.”
Instead, the future terror of the world thought of different ways to protect himself. From different kinds of creatures. From different kinds of weapons. At every time of the day. Yet from the interaction with the amazing son named Prahlada, Hiranyakashipu should have realized that while the boons received from Brahma were significant, they did not equate to perfection.
1. The first incident with Prahlada
The names of the main characters to this historical account described in Vedic literature are not accidental. The great coordinator, the Supreme Lord, writes a better real-life script than any person can imagine. The name of Hiranyakashipu references gold and soft cushions. This is the materialist’s attitude. In this case there was the specific demon species known as Daitya.
Prahlada is always joyful in understanding the spiritual nature. The child had practically nothing to his name. Just the link in ancestry. Hiranyakashipu had so much and yet became quickly agitated at some innocent words spoken by his own son.
Prahlada described what he thought to be the most important instruction in this world. He stated that accepting a material body is a kind of embarrassment. Retreating to the forest and meditating on Shri Hari is a better option.
The father did not like this. Hari, who is also known as Vishnu, was the mortal enemy. Hiranyakashipu could never let go of the hatred. He didn’t believe in God and he specifically didn’t like hearing Vishnu praised. Despite the rapid ascendance to power, the king of the world lost his cool.
2. The second incident with Prahlada
Hiranyakashipu ordered the royal teachers to set the boy’s mind right. Guide him along the proper direction. Children are quite impressionable, after all. Put them in a specific setting for long enough a time and they will become a product of their environment. This explains how young children can be so easily scared into thinking that the planet will be destroyed within ten years or that mankind can somehow change the weather.
When the son returned sometime later, the father was heartened by the offering of respect. It was as if the past enmity vanished; the slate was wiped clean. The father asked about the most important topic learned in school.
This time Prahlada got more specific. He mentioned the nine processes of devotional service, bhakti-yoga. The first is shravanam, or hearing. Hiranyakashipu was an unwitting participant. He was hearing Hari-katha from a member of the family.
Once again the father became enraged. He threw Prahlada off his lap. The eyes became red. The supposed loving affection that was aroused only moments prior was now a forgotten memory. All the power in the world couldn’t help Hiranyakashipu from becoming angry with the words from a five-year-old child.
3. The failure to kill Prahlada
Brahma gave protections against death in so many situations. The problem now was that Hiranyakashipu wanted someone else killed. Prahlada had made no such deal with Brahma. There was no specific worship. Neither was there a lengthy exercise in mysticism.
No matter how hard he tried, Hiranyakashipu could not kill Prahlada. The task should have been easy, as Prahlada did not even fight back. Yet something was wrong in the situation. The child had some ability, and Hiranyakashipu wanted to know what was going on.
In truth, it was Hari offering the protection. The father could not believe this, but soon he would have to see the flaw in his situation up in his face. The undefeated time would arrive in a most gruesome form, one that was feared by everyone except Prahlada.
From early on should have known,
By amazing son’s reliance shown.
That while boons significant so,
Only so far could go.
That Brahma with immortality not,
And Prahlada some special power got.
Since Vishnu’s protection flawless,
Soon to punish offender lawless.