Monday, November 12, 2012

22 Bhagavatha - Narasimha and Prahlada

The Dwarapalakas of Vishnu were born as asuras Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha, due to the curse of the sages Sanatkumaras. Hiranyaksha, who was younger, was killed by Vishnu as Varaha. Hiranyakashipu who felt miserable, consoles his brother's wife Rushabhanu, and also his sons. He comforts his mother Diti, with words steeped in Dharma. "Do not grieve for Hiranyakasha whose death was brave and praiseworthy. The soul is eternal and transcendant, taintless and free from decay. Living beings dwell together and are parted by Providence on account of their past actions."
But Hirankashipu himself was agonised and vows to avenge his brother. He implores the danavas in his court: "You all shall go to earth and destroy everything that sustains the memory of Lord Hari."
Hiranyakashipu, in the quest for invincibility, practices austerities of the severest type until Brahma appeared. Blessing Hiranyakashipu, whose body was eaten away by ants, Brahma sprinkles water on him.    He emerges as fire from fuel, endowed with great power, youth and an appearance like gold. He hails Brahma as the Supreme and seeks boons. "Let not my death be through any being created by you. Let there be no death indoors or outdoors, by day or by night, nor by weapons, neither in earth nor in air, neither from men nor animals, neither from animate or inanimate things, nor from gods, asuras or the nagas. Let me have undisputed Lordship." 
Meanwhile, Prahlada was born to his wife kayadhu. He was born with Lord Hari firmly established in his mind.
Hiranyakashipu, armed with the boons secured from Brahma, subjugates the three worlds and establishes himself as the sovereign ruler. 
When Prahlada was five years old, Hiranyakashipu sends Prahlada to the sons of Shukracharya, Shanda  and Amarka for their education. Prahlada who was a devotee by nature, grasped all that he was taught but  never approved of it.
Once, the teachers brings Prahlada to the court of Hiranyakashipu. The king lovingly takes Prahlada on his lap and asks him what he regarded as good for him.  Prahlada replies that all embodied souls should seek refuge in the Lord.
Hiranyakashipu gets angry and rebukes the gurus. The gurus refuse to have taught any such thing. Prahlada is sent away again for proper training.
His gurus intimidate him with caning and teach him what was mandated by the king. But Prahlada saw Hari in those gurus too and in his surroundings.  He was averse to the distinction between a friend and a foe. In the course of his stay in the hermitage of the gurus, Prahlada preaches the glory of the Lord to the other asura children too.
Repeatedly, Prahlada was asked by his father after regular intervals about his learning, and every time, Prahlada tells only about the glory of Hari, who was present everywhere. At this point, Hiranyakashipu could not take it any longer and begins his attempts to kill Prahlada by various methods.  Every time he is miraculously saved, Hari being entrenched in his heart. 
Hiranyakashipu screams, "you are my son and you are preaching to me about Hari? Where is your protector?"
Prahlada replies, " He is everywhere. In every atom."
Hiranyakashipu says, " If he is everywhere, why don't I see him in this pillar?"
Prahlada replies with conviction, " Of course, he is present."
Hiranyakashipu, drawing his sword,  sprang up from his throne and knocked at the pillar with his fist. He heard an explosion as though the cosmic shell had cracked. Out of the pillar, roaring like thunder, emerges an incandescent figure, a queer beast, neither an animal nor a man. It was the Lord, in the man-lion form of Narasimha.  With a shrill laughter, he seized the demon, who was darting up and down with the swiftness of a hawk, and at the doorway of the hall, slung him across his thighs. It was evening then. And with his sharp nails and teeth, tore apart the asura, whose skin could not be scratched even by Indra's vajra. He also had satisfied all the conditions which he had sought as a boon.
The devas lead by Brahma and even Lakshmi feared to go near Narasimha, as his anger did not subside. Brahma asks Prahlada to speak to Narasimha. Prahlada goes near the Lord and prostrates. Looking at Prahlada, Narasimha's anger vanished.  He took Prahlada on his lap and started to lick him, as a lion would do to its cub.
Prahlada extolls him.  Narasimha, pleased with his foremost devotee, offers to give him any boon which he would seek. Prahlada replies that he is a devotee without any craving or desire. "One who seeks worldly blessings from you, is but a businessman. If you still wish to bestow a boon, let it be that no desire may ever sprout in my heart.  And also forgive my father, who was ignorant of your divine glory and spoke ill of you."
Narasimha says, "Your father and twenty-one generations before him have been purified because you were born unto this home, my child.  Perform his obsequies and also occupy the throne of your father.  With your mind fixed on me, dear son, perform your duties as directed by the exponents of the vedas. You will be a role model for all my devotees."
Narasimha also asks Brahma to desist from giving any more of such boons to the asuras, as they are evil by nature. Then Narasimha disappeared.
Prahlada is crowned king and he rules according to dharma.

1 comment:

billybonewhacker said...

This is a truly beautiful story of the mercy and magnificence of God.all praises to Lord Hari

Srimad Bhagavatham