Prahlad – His Father’s Redeemer

20 June 2024
8 mins read
Prahlad Lord Narasimha

When Prahlad Was Lost in Lord Vishnu’s Glories

“Don’t go now, my dear husband,” pleaded Queen Kayadhu. “You know I’m pregnant and I need you by my side.”

“I’m sorry, Kayadhu,” replied Hiranyakashipu. “I have a duty towards my brother. I have to go into the forest for intense tapas to please Lord Shiva. I need the boon of immortality to avenge my brother’s murder. I cannot rest in peace until I annihilate all the devas including their leader, Vishnu, my brother’s killer.” His eyes blazed fire with hate and anger.

When he saw his wife’s scared and forlorn face, he calmed down. “Don’t worry, my dear queen. My powerful Asura guards will keep you and our child safe. No harm will come to you. I will return more powerful than before.”

Kayadhu watched helplessly as her husband left her alone. She was scared for herself and her child. The enmity between the devas and asuras was so strong that each was always looking for weak spots in the other to attack and conquer. But, she was helpless. 

Just as she feared, the devas attacked Hiranyakashipu’s palace, looted and destroyed everything in it. Kayadhu was taken too. Indra, the king of the devas, wanted to kill her. But, Narada, the wise sage, came there just in time. He rebuked Indra, “How can you think of killing an innocent, harmless woman? Do you know she is pregnant?”

“All the better for us, Sage Narada. We can prevent the birth of another asura by killing her.”

“You fool! Your vision is stunted. The child growing in her womb is going to be one of Lord Vishnu’s greatest devotees. Don’t you dare harm her? Take her safely to my ashram. She can be there until her baby’s birth.”

Indra bowed humbly and complied with the sage’s request. And so, Kayadhu lived in Narada’s ashram, protected from marauders and plunderers. She helped the women in the ashram with their daily chores. She cooked and cleaned, and was peaceful and happy. 

Every day, Narada would tell tales of Lord Vishnu extolling His prowess and benevolence. It was not only Kayadhu who listened to and imbibed the lessons in these stories but also her son in her womb. The days passed, and Queen Kayadhu delivered Prahlad. 

In the meantime, Hiranyakashipu completed his tapas successfully. Lord Shiva appeared before him. “What do you want, Hiranyakashipu?”

“I want the boon of immortality.” 

“I cannot confer that boon on anyone. Ask me something else.”

“Then, make me invincible. No man or animal should be able to kill me. I should be safe from death during the day and night. I should not die indoors or outdoors. No weapon should harm me.”

Lord Shiva with a knowing smile replied, “Tathastu! So be it!” 

Prahlad’s Unrelenting Attempts to Teach His Father

His pride and arrogance at obtaining a powerful invincibility boon not only kindled his desire for revenge even more than ever but also drove his desire to conquer all three worlds. He returned to his palace, took a band of powerful asuras, and conquered and plundered the world.

He brought his wife and son home too, even though he was a bit riled that she had sought protection with Sage Narada, an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. But, he ignored that bit when he laid eyes on his newborn son. 

He was thrilled beyond words thinking his son would continue the Asura power and domination over the three worlds! He really felt he was the greatest man alive in the cosmos and he deserved to fulfill all his desires. 

The Asura realm celebrated. Hiranyakashipu’s power and dominion became so strong that he made a proclamation. “Only I should be worshipped henceforth. There is no other god but me. Kill anyone who worships anyone else.”

Hiranyakashipu’s arrogance and ego increased with each passing day.

His son, Prahlad, was different. Thanks to Sage Narada’s wisdom and knowledge, and his skill at imparting it, the child had become a devotee of Lord Vishnu while he was still in his mother’s womb. Nothing and no one could sway him from the path of Bhakti to his Lord. 

Prahlad openly opposed his father’s rule and worshipped no one else but Vishnu. His father was furious. 

“The entire cosmos fears and worships me. You are my son. Why should you worship that useless being? Worship me and become my successor. You will gain a lot!”

“Father, the ruler of the entire cosmos is Lord Vishnu. And I will worship no one but Him.”

“Do you know it was he who killed your uncle, my brother? Doesn’t that anger you and drive you to seek revenge?”

“I am truly sorry for your loss, dear father. But if He chose to kill my uncle, He must have had a good reason even if you and I cannot see it.”

Nothing could shake Prahlad’s devotion to Lord Vishnu. Soon, Hiranyakashipu began to fear his own son. Not because his son was strong and powerful. After all, he was a mere lad. But, he knew the power of the mind is far stronger than physical strength. Somewhere deep with him, Hiranyakashipu worried that maybe he should not have left his wife alone. Narada seems to have bewitched his wife and son.

He tried to convince Prahlad to shift loyalties. He used fear of punishment. He tried cajoling. He used manipulation, kind words, and more. But nothing worked. 

Finally, it was time for drastic steps. It was time to nip the problem in the bud. If it was seen that his own child was regarding his diktat, the fear and aggression he used to rule over his subjects would be seriously dented. His son had to die to keep his control over the three worlds.

Hiranyakashipu ordered the cook to poison his food thinking it would be a humane way of killing his son. But, miraculously, the poison was rendered useless and Prahlad did not die. Surprised but insistent, the Asura king told Prahlad’s teachers to invoke the demoness Kritiya to kill Prahlad. 

A distraught Kayadhu approached her husband, “How can you be so cruel that you kill your own son? Is there no love and compassion left in you? Do you feel nothing but hatred?”

“I hate Vishnu and all those who worship him.  No one can destroy me. It is my life’s purpose to destroy him no matter what! and I won’t let a little lad steal my thunder.”

“How can you destroy the undestroyable? You are so caught up in your own ego and desires that you cannot see the ultimate truth. I am cursed too that I am stuck between my husband and son. I pray to Lord Vishnu to give you wisdom.”

Kayadhu’s concern for her son was needless. When the demoness Kritiya’s staff touched Prahlad’s chest, it broke into a million pieces, leaving the boy unharmed. 

Now, Hiranyakashipu’s fear reached new levels. How was the boy able to save himself from death every time? There was no fatherly love left anymore. He just wanted to finish him off. That’s it!

The Asura king called his sister, Holika, who had the power of not being affected by fire, to help him. 

“Set up a burning pyre. I will hold Prahlad and sit in it. He will burn to death, and that will be the end of him.”

The Asura king shuddered at the thought of the pain that his son would suffer. But his desire to conquer Lord Vishnu was far greater. 

The pyre was lit and Holika and Prahlad sat amidst the burning flames. Strangely, the lad didn’t protest. Instead, he comforted his wailing mother. “Don’t worry, mother. Nothing will happen to me. Just keep your faith in Lord Vishnu.” 

And, nothing happened to Prahlad. But Holika in her eagerness to please her brother forgot that her boon would work only when she entered the fire alone. So, she was burned to a cinder.

Hiranyakashipu’s fear-filled awe for his son and hatred for Vishnu increased with each failed attempt to kill him. Soon, he reached the limits of his fear. 

He called his son to his chambers and screamed in frustration.

“Why do you pray to Vishnu so much? What does he have that I don’t? Why do you love him more than me?”

Prahlad was calmness personified, “Father, I love you a lot. But, your power is nothing compared to Lord Vishnu. The cosmos exists because of Him. He is infinite and beyond measure. He is omnipresent and is  found in each and everything in this world.”

At that moment, the overpowering hatred for Vishnu consumed Hiranyakashipu. He was livid. 

When He Headed Prahlad’s Call

“You say Vishnu is everywhere?”

“Yes, father. He is everywhere and in everything?”

“Is he in you and me?”

“Yes! He is in every cell of our bodies. He is our very soul.”

Is He in the earth, sky, and the underworld?”

“Yes! He is not just in it. He is the earth, sky, and the underworld.”

“Is He in my palace?”

“He pervades every nook and corner of your palace.”

“Is He in this room?”

“Yes! He is right in this room, and I can see Him!”

“Where is He? I cannot see Him!” Screaming in frustration, with a gigantic mace in his hand, Hiranyakashipu paced up and down his vast chambers!

“Where? Where? Where? Where is He? Is He in this pillar?”

Prahlad replied as calmly as he replied to his father’s first question. “Yes, father. He is in the pillar too!”

The Asura king had reached the peak of his fury and hatred. In one dashing move, he hit the pillar with his mace. The pillar broke in two with such a thundering sound that everyone from the palace came rushing there. 

Everyone stared in awe as a splendorous, unique, mammoth creature emerged from the broken pillar. It had the face of a lion and the body of a human. It stood on two colossal legs, and its arms, shoulders, and torso showed off rippling muscles that reeked of unconquerable strength.  

Suddenly, Hiranyakashipu realized something! The creature was neither a man nor an animal. It was both, and it had no weapon, except mean-looking, sharp claws. He looked around frantically and realized that it was neither day nor night. It was twilight. 

He was so caught up in his fear that he never realized how and when the gargantuan creature walked up to him, and lifted him easily with one hand, and carried him to the threshold of his chambers; neither indoors nor outdoors. The invincibility boon was worthless now. 

The Asura now realized why Shiva gave him a knowing smile when he said, “Tathastu!”

Prahlad whispered, “Lord Narasimha! You have come to redeem my father!”

Hiranyakashipu found himself in the grip of this divine creature who placed him on his thighs and ripped open his body. The Asura king died a painful death watched by hordes of Asuras who could do nothing to help their lord.

Despite the gory scene, Lord Narasimha’s anger did not abate. He was still in the throes of his fierce rage that was needed to kill the violent and cruel Asura. 

Prahlad fell at His feet. “Please let go of your anger, Lord Narasimha, for our sake. Your task is complete. Show us Your benign compassionate face.”

Lord Narasimha looked at the pleading and peace-filled face of the lad, and His fury slowly evaporated and He calmed down. He put the body of Hiranyakashipu down gently, symbolizing the end of a cruel era. 

He addressed Prahlad with a loving smile, “Through your devotion, you redeemed your father from his own hatred. He is now safe with Me. You are worthy of taking on the mantle of this kingdom. I bless you with health, wealth, and wisdom. Seek any boon you desire.”

Prahlad replied, “My father’s life has taught me an important lesson. Desire is a bottomless pit. The more we desire, the more we forget You. Grant me a boon that I never get caught in the web of desire.” 

Lord Narasimha smiled, “Tathastu! Rule wisely and guide your subjects well.”

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’
hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla
in collaboration with Dr. Preeti Chauhan.

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Ratna Prabha

Thank you for visiting my website. I welcome you heartily to read my stories, poems, and reviews. I would be extremely grateful if you could leave comments and feedback so that I may learn and improve my craft.

36 Comments

  1. Such a beautiful narration of the story of Prahlad and Hiranyakashyap!
    I was amazed with how lively and engaging your narration was, flawless, and beautiful.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Preeti. I hope I can keep this kind of writing going.

  2. Stories of faith, victory of good over evil and the ultimate failure of the ego, is what has kept the universe working its magic on us. It keeps the humane alive.

  3. Such a beautifully told story! The way you captured Prahlad’s unwavering devotion and courage is truly inspiring. It’s a timeless reminder of the power of faith and righteousness. Thank you for sharing this captivating tale!

  4. Wherever ego comes it turn anyone his/her own destroyer. I really dont know how much in todays world Good over evil victory happens but we should not stop doing good to people but should respond if insulted, hurt and maltreated by anyone. Need of real Lord Narshima is there even in this world… but where can we find him to teach us the real difference between good and bad.

    • Oh yes, God or some form of Him (that humans still need to discover) is everywhere. Totally agree, Pamela

  5. You have given a new life to the stories I heard from my mother while growing up. These days, I don’t appreciate those stories of a time of the warring feudal, but of the struggles of the ordinary people.

  6. As usual, love your story-telling Ratna. I have always admired Prahalad and his story is one of my favs in mythology. It was really nice reading it in your words that are captivating and keep me glued.

    • Thank you, Kaveri. Encouraging words like these keep me going even if it might seem a daunting task to retell these oft-repeated tales.

  7. This myth and legend was the one told to me by my grandmother every Holi. I remember it so well that during a visit to Varanasi on Holi eve a few years back, a few foreigners who were visiting with us asked us why we celebrate this festival? I narrated this tale and the foreigners as well as my husband were left awed. Apparently my husband didn’t know the story either.

    Reading this post made me realize even my knowledge of this myth was only half-baked. Now I know the full story and must thank you deeply for it. 🙏🏻😇

    • Thank you, my dear Manali, and I’m so glad that happy memories are triggered for you by my story.

  8. I have read this story before, but your narration in dialogue is amazing. It keeps the reader glued to reading every word. Thank you for sharing such valuable stories from our mythologies. The underlying lesson is we should let go of our ego and time and tide will always overrule us.

  9. Read Bhakt Prahlad’s story as a child and it is still so engaging. I love how smartly Mahadevji gave him the boon and Vishnuji cunningly used it to kill him.

    • Smart yes, but I think it’s also a lesson in balance! You go overboard somewhere, then somewhere else, you will get trapped! Thank you so much for your kind words and appreciation, Varsh

    • thank you! The name of my blog storiesmadesimple stands vindicated by your words.

  10. I heard Pralhad story in my childhood only. But it is half I guess. Now I know the details. Love your story telling Ratna. Your each word is captivating. I don’t have any intrest in mythology but reading your post because it is always intriguing.

    • I’m so happy that I can rekindle even a little bit of interest in our puranas and itihasas. Thank you, Neeta!

    • I love retelling such stories, and therefore, I must thank you for visiting my blog and reading my stories.

  11. I have heard the story numerous times, particularly during Holi. I wasn’t aware of the part about Hiranyakashipu wanting to avenge his brother. Thanks for sharing the story is detail. Always enjoy your narration and am so glad to have discovered your blog.

  12. Another beautifully narrated story! The story of Prahlad is told many times in our childhood. Even school books add a chapter dedicated to Prahlad. Your version, I must say again, is one of the best. Keep spreading happiness with your words:)

  13. I have heard this story before. I find Prahlad’s devotion to Lord Vishnu from the womb incredibly touching. Talk about starting your spiritual journey early!

  14. Interesting story that surprisingly made me read all throughout. haha… This kind of stories doesn’t appeal to me much but I guess it’s the way you write that made it more interesting. Great one!

  15. I admire your story telling prowess. I knew the story but it was half. I am startled where you get all the details from. Engaging and flawless post.

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