“Lord Brahma said: O son of Kashyapa Muni, please get up, please get up. All good fortune unto you. You are now perfect in the performance of your austerities, and therefore I may give you a benediction. You may now ask from me whatever you desire, and I shall try to fulfill your wish.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.3.17)
उत्तिष्ठोत्तिष्ठ भद्रं ते
तपः-सिद्धो ’सि काश्यप
वरदो ’हम् अनुप्राप्तो
व्रियताम् ईप्सितो वरः
uttiṣṭhottiṣṭha bhadraṁ te
tapaḥ-siddho ’si kāśyapa
varado ’ham anuprāpto
vriyatām īpsito varaḥ
“If you ask me, Lord Brahma really messed up. Giving those boons to Hiranyakashipu? Come on, man! You don’t enable a criminal. You don’t put power into the hands of an evil person. I don’t care how long he stood on one leg or whatever. It doesn’t matter if he was ready to sacrifice his life.
“Let him do it. For the safety of the world, keep the criminals in check. Brahma had no business getting involved. Did you see what the dude asked for? Hiranyakashipu wanted immortality. What do you think he would do with that power? He would harass every single person for all of eternity.
“Anyway, let’s forget Brahma for a second. The guy gave in. He caved. He made Hiranyakashipu immune from so many conditions and vulnerabilities. Then you have the other demigods. The saintly people on earth. They ran in fear. It was like they were in the witness protection program. They took on disguises.
“Why didn’t they fight back? Was it that they knew it was a losing cause? They knew they wouldn’t win? Don’t they have some power? It seems weird to me.”
The truth is that Hiranyakashipu did not receive immortality. Brahma is not able to offer a reward that is not available to himself. One percent vulnerability to death is enough. Moreover, the Supreme Lord is already the great devourer. He eliminates every single person through the undefeated force known as time.
प्रह्लादश् चास्मि दैत्यानां
कालः कलयताम् अहम्
मृगाणां च मृगेन्द्रो ऽहं
वैनतेयश् च पक्षिणाम्
prahlādaś cāsmi daityānāṁ
kālaḥ kalayatām aham
mṛgāṇāṁ ca mṛgendro ‘haṁ
vainateyaś ca pakṣiṇām
“Among the Daitya demons I am the devoted Prahlada; among subduers I am time; among the beasts I am the lion, and among birds I am Garuda, the feathered carrier of Vishnu.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.30)
In this case the demigods had someone on their side. The Supreme Lord would protect them. He would first work through the very son of Hiranyakashipu. Though born a Daitya, which is the demon race, Prahlada was saintly since birth.
Everything would take care of itself in due course. Prahlada would tolerate the attacks of Hiranyakashipu. The child would not turn to the dark side, no matter the force applied to him. The pressure was intense, but nothing could change Prahlada’s mind.
The demigods were indeed in fear. They assumed disguises. They were concerned with future wellbeing, as when yajnas cease there is no food supply to the heavenly region. This is one of the reasons the atheist class is so intent on removing dharma and its free exercise. Eliminate the good guys and you eliminate the opposition.
Prahlada knew that no one can remove Vishnu from the world. The Supreme Lord is the source of strength in every person, including Hiranyakashipu. This means that Vishnu could remove Hiranyakashipu’s strength, as well.
He did so in the cleverest way. Vishnu arrived on the scene in the amazing half-man/half-lion named Narasimha. This maintained Brahma’s boons of protection but also exploited the vulnerabilities in the Daitya leader. Everything eventually worked itself out, though for a while the rise of evil in the world was too much to take.
Despite immortality near,
Nothing to fear.
Hiranya to rise,
But brought down to size.
By all-devouring time,
In Narasimha to find.
Demigods helpless too,
Helped by Prahlada who.