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by jaya
Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2275421
The story of a rebel prince.

Hiranyakasipu, the asura king, was extremely unhappy with his six-year old son, Prahlada. All the spheres including those of the devas and the deities trembled before his might and spiritual prowess except his son. His devotion to Hari or Vishnu defied his father’s arrogance and egocentricity.

Hiranyakasipu desired for eternal life and as a means to achieve it he went on a long and arduous penance. Pleased with his devotion, Brahma, his beloved Lord of cosmos, whose favor he sought, appeared before him.

“Dear King, I am impressed and pleased with your penance. You may ask for any boon you want.”

The asura asked for immortality. Brahma refused to grant it.

As an alternative, Hiranyakasipu asked,

“O Lord of the universe! Grant me the benediction that I do not die within or outside my residence, during day or night, neither on ground nor in the sky. Let me not be killed by any creature created by you or weapons created by them. Bless me Sire and do not let me die at the hands of any entity living or nonliving, a demon, a demigod or a great snake of the netherworld. Let there be no rivals for me. Give me the sole lordship over all living beings and presiding gods and goddesses. Let all glories be mine. Give me the permanent mystic powers obtained by penance and yoga.”

Brahma granted the boons his devotee begged for.


During Hiranyakasipu’s long absence, devas, his arch enemies attacked his kingdom and sought to destroy his wife and her unborn child. A kind sage named Narada took them to his humble abode in the forest. They lived a secure life under his merciful guidance till Hiranyakasipu returned from the forest armed with divine powers and took them back to his palace. He vowed to wreak vengeance on those, who were responsible for his family’s desertion of the palace and a royal life.

The sage Narada was ever engaged in holy oblations and the chanting of mantras in worship of lord Vishnu, of the holy triumvirate, Brahma-Vishnu-Maheshwara, responsible for creation, maintenance and destruction respectively. The child in the queen’s womb was transcendentally influenced by the constant repetition of the holy name of Vishnu. As a result, Prahlada became an intense devotee of Vishnu, while his father Hiranyakasipu hated the very name of Vishnu.

Then began an era of plunder, massacre and bloodshed throughout the world and even beyond, spearheaded by the Hiranyakasipu. All the sages and worshipers of Lord Vishnu were identified, tortured and killed. Religious persecution continued unabated for a long time.

During these unbearable times, the whole people pleaded with Vishnu, to take pity and save them from the torturous regime of Hiranyakasipu. The Lord accepted their plea.


One day, after his court adjourned for the day, the king returned to his royal palace.

“Leela, where is the prince?”

Leela, his concert replied timidly, “Sire, he is learning Vedas with his teachers.”

The king was livid. Of what use were the religious texts to a prince, whose main forte should be statecraft and warfare, he pondered.

He called the boy to his presence.

“Son, stop worshiping Vishnu and stop following these religious practices and singing praises of Vishnu.”

“Father, how can I stop adoring my most beloved Lord Vishnu, who looks after all of us? I don’t want to disobey you. Yet, my spirit yearns for Vishnu.”

“Then you deserve punishment by death.”

“Sire, I am at your service.”

The torture of Prahlada at the behest of his own father began.

He was thrown into raging fire. The fire touched him not. He was beaten and was laid on the ground to be stomped by elephants. He lay there smiling and continued praising the Lord. He emerged from all his trials fresh, happy and blissful. He knew and believed in Vishnu’s mystical power.

In a fit of fury, Hiranyakasipu confronted his son,

“Where is your God, the supreme controller of the universe? Where is your Vishnu?”

Prahlada smiled and said gently,

“Father, the kind lord is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. He is in all elements. He is in you, in me and in all animate and inanimate beings. He is in every particle of dust that surrounds us. There’s not a place He is not seen.”

Hiranyakasipu pointed to the pillar on the threshold and said, “Is he in this pillar?”

“Yes father, very much so.”

“Show him.”

So saying, Hiranyakasipu smashed the pillar with his mighty mace and broke it open. A deafening sound echoed through the world. Time to punish evil had come.

There emerged a strange persona from the pillar much to the amazement of all.

Vishnu in the form of Narasimha, i.e. half man and half lion moved forth to kill Hiranyakasipu and to liberate the world from evil and restore good.

He was none of the beings at whose hands Hiranyakasipu did not want to die. He was neither human, Deva or animal. He was an incarnate that was part human, part animal. It was twilight, when it was neither day nor night. He was killed on the threshold, which was neither inside nor outside the palace. Narasimha placed Hiranyakasipu on his thighs fulfilling the condition that he be killed neither on earth nor in the air. He used his long and terrible claws, not a human weapon, disemboweled and killed the asura, thus ending an era of fear, sin and disorderliness.

Even after the cruel demon king’s death, Narasimha’s fury was not abated. He roared and roamed the worlds in an unappeased state.

None could placate his restlessness and fury.

It was the Bhakta Prahlada who sang his praise and calmed the great lord.

Anything is possible with devotion and faith.


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