Hiranyakashipu (the brother of Hiranyaksha who was killed by the
Varaha Avatar of
Lord Vishnu) wanted to take
revenge on the devotees and in particular on
Lord Vishnu. He wanted to
become the master of all the three worlds - Heaven, Earth & Pathala.
He went to Mount Mandarachala and began penance which continued for
years. Due to the intensity of Penance, Lord Brahma appeared before
Hiranyakashipu. He asked Lord Brahma for immortality as a reward
for his years of penance . Brahma, however, declined, saying "All
living beings must face death Hiranyakashipu. You can, however,
choose your death wish."
Hiranyakashipu then asked for three conditions, as his death wish,
"'O Brahma, let not death come to me either by man or beast, nor
devil, nor god shall cause my death by day or by night with steel or
stone or wood, indoors or outdoors, or earth or in sky. Grant me
undisputed lordship over the world". Brahma agreed and
Hiranyakashipu got his death wishes granted. Thus he became
After securing his death wishes Hiranyakashipu conquered
the worlds and became a demon tyrant. He banned all pujas
Lord Vishnu and
declared himself a God. The devotees of Vishnu approached
Lord Vishnu for help.
Lord Vishnu asked them
to be patient. Hiranyakashipu's wife Kayadhu gave birth to
Prahlad in the Ashrama of Narada. Prahlad grew up and
became an ardent devotee of
however, wanted his son to be a strong and ruthless King
like himself. Realizing that Prahlad always prayed to
Hiranyakashipu tried to school his son against the influence
Lord Vishnu. All their
efforts to influence Prahlad against
Lord Vishnu failed and
Prahlad was still as devoted as ever to
Hiranyakashipu ordered his servants to kill Prahlad if he
refused to accept the supremacy of his father. They tried to
kill him by throwing down a mountain, drowning, poisoning,
and burning him. They failed in all their attempts because
Lord Vishnu was
protecting his devotee. King Hiranyakashipu was very angry
on hearing the reports on the failed attempts on the life of
his son, Prahlad.
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One day the king challenged his son in the open court:
"Prahlad! Is my enemy, whom you worship, present anywhere
Prahlad replied, "Vishnu
is omnipresent. There's not a single place where he's not
Hiranyakashipu's fury was at its climax. He heated an iron
pillar and then asked Prahlad, "Can you embrace this
pillar if your
Vishnu is in it also?"
Prahlad did not hesitate for a moment but rushed towards the
pillar and embraced it. The heated iron did not burn him.
The king got up from his throne in fury and hit the pillar
with his mace.
And to his surprise! The pillar cracked with a thundering
Vishnu appeared there
in the form of
One half of his body was of a lion and the other half of a
man. He had matted hair on his head, large moustaches on the
face and terrible teeth in the mouth. His paws had terrible
nails on them.
Hiranyakashipu remembered his first death wish, "To be
killed by some one who is neither human nor beast." It was
also the twilight hour, neither day nor night, the second
The demon king hit
Narasimha with his mace
Narasimha brushed it
aside swiftly. It was twilight and
Narasimha caught hold
of the demon Hiranyakashipu.
He sat on the threshold of the court room, placed the body of the
demon on his thighs, and pierced his nails into the body of the
demon and broke open his stomach. The demon was killed on the spot
in a moment. The place was neither inside nor outside. This was
Hiranyakashipu's third death wish.
Lord Narasimha was furious and
roared. However, he was pacified when Prahlad touched his feet and
Lakshmi also tried to cool
Lord Narasimha then made
Prahlad the King.