“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
It didn’t have to come to that. The graphic presentation, for the world to see, for generations to reference through the beautiful accounts and descriptions of works like Bhagavata Purana and Vishnu Purana, need not have had a reserved showing.
The Daitya king named Hiranyakashipu had clear indications of both the existence and supremacy of God. These were interspersed throughout his lifetime, but he ended up insisting on proof from Prahlada. The father struck a pillar in a mocking tone, as if Prahlada could not do anything to give proof to the doubting soul.
अज्ञश् चाश्रद्दधानश् च
नायं लोको ऽस्ति न परो
न सुखं संशयात्मनः
ajñaś cāśraddadhānaś ca
nāyaṁ loko ‘sti na paro
na sukhaṁ saṁśayātmanaḥ
“But ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the revealed scriptures do not attain God consciousness. For the doubting soul there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.40)
1. Vishnu killing his brother
The story starts with Hiranyaksha. Because of him the earth was submerged. That great planet was underneath the water. Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, descended as the avatara named Varaha. This had the appearance of a boar.
Varahadeva rescued the earth from the water. He killed the demon Hiranyaksha. The associated weapons are always with Vishnu. The sudarshana-chakra assisted the husband of Lakshmi. As it is an extension of Vishnu, it is non-different from Him.
सोऽयं समस्तजगतां सुहृदेक आत्मा
सत्त्वेन यन्मृडयते भगवान् भगेन ।
तेनैव मे दृशमनुस्पृशताद्यथाहं
स्रक्ष्यामि पूर्ववदिदं प्रणतप्रियोऽसौ ॥
so ’yaṁ samasta-jagatāṁ suhṛd eka ātmā
sattvena yan mṛḍayate bhagavān bhagena
tenaiva me dṛśam anuspṛśatād yathāhaṁ
srakṣyāmi pūrvavad idaṁ praṇata-priyo ’sau
“The Lord, the personal enjoyer of all sacrifices, now discharged His beloved Sudarshana, which was capable of dispersing the magical forces displayed by the demon.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.19.22)
Hiranyakashipu was devastated by the loss. That demon happened to be his brother. Hiranyakashipu vowed to get revenge on Vishnu, but he should have taken it as a sign. His brother was quite powerful. Only someone more powerful could have killed him.
2. Having to supplicate Brahma
The rise to fame, fortune, and world domination occurred through the favor of Lord Brahma. Hiranyakashipu was not self-made. He did not suddenly fall into great power and strength. Actually, he had to specifically ask for it.
He first tried immortality, but Brahma, the creator, is unable to offer it. Hiranyakashipu then tried to create immortality in another way. Building something through a collection of parts. The problem is that a one percent vulnerability is enough to nullify the proposition.
Hiranyakashipu’s approach gave a subtle indication that Brahma was superior. Though Brahma is not God, the presence of a benefactor should have given the Daitya leader reason to pause. How can I claim that there is no God when I must take advantage of benedictions offered by others?
3. Prahlada’s devotion
While the demigods feared Hiranyakashipu, there was devotion found within his own kingdom. Hiranyakashipu’s son, the boy named Prahlada, was devoted to Vishnu since birth. How could this take place? Was it the fault of the teachers?
They claimed innocence. They had not instructed the children on the ways of the science of self-realization. If Hiranyakashipu could not control the behavior of the people in his own kingdom, how could he ever become equal to God?
4. Prahlada’s survival
This was the dominant factor in the events leading up to the arrival of Vishnu in person. Hiranyakashipu tried to physically extract the devotion out of Prahlada. The father tried to kill the son, in so many ways. None of them worked.
There was subtle acknowledgment of respect, but not much. Hiranyakashipu was impressed enough to wonder how Prahlada was surviving. What was his secret? Where were these magic spells coming from?
Hiranyakashipu did not like the response. Prahlada explained that the source of strength is the same in every person, that Vishnu is ultimately in charge. There was already enough proof, but Hiranyakashipu was too blind to see. In the end, he finally received the evidence he was looking for, in the ghastly form of Narasimha, who is the protector of Prahlada.
A nonbeliever was he,
But proof finally to see.
When after the pillar shook,
Vishnu form of Narasimha took.
Indications previously there,
But Daitya king unaware.
Better Prahlada’s way taking,
And life of devotion making.
Categories: the four