The Devotion of Prahlada

Prahlada was a young boy and son of the great asura Hiranyakshipu and his wife Kayadu. While Hiranyakshipu was away performing his great tapas, Indra and the armies of the devas attacked his capital. To protect Kayadu, the great sage Narada brought her safely to his ashram. At the time, Kayadu was pregnant with Prahlada and he began to learn from Narada. The sage is a famous Vishnu bhakta (devotee) and perpetually sings the praises of Narayana. In his mother’s womb, Prahlada enjoyed Narada’s songs and developed an intense love for Lord Vishnu.

As a young boy his devotion was forever on his lips. This greatly angered his father, Hiranyakshipu, who tried numerous time to get his son to abandon Vishnu and worship him. Prahlada was sent home from school by his angry asura teachers because he would not stop praying to Vishnu (terribly distracting to the other asura children). Hiranyakshipu tried several times to have his son killed but each time, Prahlada was saved. He was thrown from a cliff, poisoned, trampled by elephants and locked in a room with venomous snakes. The most famous incident involved Holika, Hiranyakshipu’s sister. She had a special boon that fire could not harm her. Prahlada, ordered by his father, was made to sit on his aunt’s lap atop a blazing pyre. Prahlada prayed to Narayana and Holika was burnt up while he was kept safe from the flames (this story is celebrated in the festival of Holi; see: https://srisatchmo.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/a-stranger-in-strange-land/).

Prahlada’s story culminates in the manifestation of Narasimha and the defeat of his father (see: https://srisatchmo.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/avatar-4-narasimha/) . When none in the universe was able to appease Narasimha’s fury, only Prahlada’s praise soothed him and the young boy was crowned king.

The story of Prahlada is very well known among Indians. For generations, it has been used as a model for faith, love and devotion. The story gives hope: in addition to recognizing that the Lord is everywhere and in all things, it also tells that the Lord protects His own and punishes the evil-minded.

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