Narasimha Chaturdashi 2023

[Narasimha]“Prahlada Maharaja said: My dear King, the source of my strength, of which you are asking, is also the source of yours. Indeed, the original source of all kinds of strength is one. He is not only your strength or mine, but the only strength for everyone. Without Him, no one can get any strength. Whether moving or not moving, superior or inferior, everyone, including Lord Brahma, is controlled by the strength of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.8.7)

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श्री-प्रह्राद उवाच
न केवलं मे भवतश् च राजन्
स वै बलं बलिनां चापरेषाम्
परे ’वरे ’मी स्थिर-जङ्गमा ये
ब्रह्मादयो येन वशं प्रणीताः

śrī-prahrāda uvāca
na kevalaṁ me bhavataś ca rājan
sa vai balaṁ balināṁ cāpareṣām
pare ’vare ’mī sthira-jaṅgamā ye
brahmādayo yena vaśaṁ praṇītāḥ

On the occasion of Narasimha Chaturdashi, we celebrate the wonderful favor bestowed upon the greatest of the Daitya demons. The Supreme Personality of Godhead embarrassed that otherwise powerful leader in a variety of ways, through direct intervention.

In the normal course of affairs, God is neutral. He does not typically take an interest in either pious or sinful activities. The Vaishnava acharyas consider both classifications to be more or less the same, for this reason. Pious deeds lead to a specific destination in a perishable realm, and sinful deeds point in the opposite direction.

There is already great embarrassment brought on by the influence of time. I am proud of how I look at the moment. I spend some extra time in front of the mirror in the morning. In a few short years, however, everything can change. Due to stress, poor eating habits, or simply the climate of the local area, my face show signs of accelerated aging.

The greatest embarrassment of all is losing everything that I tried so desperately to protect. In this regard, Hiranyakashipu had the most over which to be concerned. He had amassed great influence. He was essentially the proprietor of the world. He thought that he was unbeatable. Everyone would hesitate against him in a fight, whereas he had no reason to hesitate. That is, until a special person happened to show himself.

1. The presence of Prahlada

This was a great embarrassment for the leader of the Daityas, because the son was nothing like the father. The defining characteristic to Hiranyakashipu’s temporary identity was hatred of Vishnu. He was a Daitya by birth and by spirit.

[Vishnu and Hiranyaksha]There was a rivalry with Vishnu due to the death of Hiranyaksha, who was Hiranyakashipu’s brother. Just imagine the dismay when learning that the son born to the king was favorable towards the father’s greatest enemy.

2. Protected Prahlada

In Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna explains that He does not create enemies. He does not draw distinctions precisely because every living entity is like family to Him. Our son or daughter may get into bad sorts, having fallen into harm’s way through bad choices. This does not mean that we abandon them or like them any less than our other children.

समो ऽहं सर्व-भूतेषु
न मे द्वेष्यो ऽस्ति न प्रियः
ये भजन्ति तु मां भक्त्या
मयि ते तेषु चाप्य् अहम्

samo ‘haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu
na me dveṣyo ‘sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā
mayi te teṣu cāpy aham

“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)

Those devoted to Krishna get special protection. Krishna is a dedicated friend to them. This is because they make the choice in His direction. It looks like favoritism, but it really isn’t. One person decides to accept the heat and light of the sun on a given day, and another person refuses. This does not mean that the sun is favoring the one person over the other.

Hiranyakashipu’s hatred ran deep. He wanted Prahlada dead. Even though Prahlada was his son, Hiranyakashipu considered him to be like a snake. Feed him long enough and he will eventually bite back. He will not be respectful of those taking care of him.

Prahlada knew that it is Vishnu who actually protects. Therefore, Hiranyakashipu faced terrible embarrassment in his foiled plans. Every time he tried to have Prahlada killed, the child managed to survive.

3. Emerged from a pillar

Prahlada tried to explain the truth to the father. The source of strength is the same in every person. This means that there is another factor at play in how that strength manifests. It is not due entirely to human effort.

रसो ऽहम् अप्सु कौन्तेय
प्रभास्मि शशि-सूर्ययोः
प्रणवः सर्व-वेदेषु
शब्दः खे पौरुषं नृषु

raso ‘ham apsu kaunteya
prabhāsmi śaśi-sūryayoḥ
praṇavaḥ sarva-vedeṣu
śabdaḥ khe pauruṣaṁ nṛṣu

“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)

Of all places, Vishnu emerged from a pillar. Hiranyakashipu had to undergo tremendous austerities in order to catch the attention of Lord Brahma, the creator. Hiranyakashipu struggled in trying to eliminate Prahlada. The Daitya leader was proud of his standing as most feared person in the world.

That is, until Vishnu manifested from the pillar. This was the location that Hiranyakashipu had mocked moments prior. If Vishnu were indeed everywhere, as Prahlada had proclaimed, then is He in the pillar, as well? Where is the evidence?

4. Handed defeat from fingernails

Hiranyakashipu was fortunate in that he received visual confirmation. This was not necessary, as Prahlada already had the proper understanding without such insistence. That powerful Daitya king ended up being killed by fingernails.

[Narasimha]Not your traditional weapon. Not your traditional way to complete life. Not your everyday occurrence. Hiranyakashipu was special to receive the direct vision of the awesome, terrifying, and auspicious avatara known as Narasimha.

In Closing:

Not your traditional way,
Not to occur every day.

After the child to mock,
From pillar a shock.

To his very core shaking,
Death through fingernails taking.

Proving that strength from single source,
Narasimha with lesson by force.

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