Prahlad's story begins during the time of Lord Vishnu's fourth avatar (incarnation) Varaha. In order to rescue the earth from
the captivity of Hiranyaksha, Lord Vishnu had arrived in the avatar (incarnation) Varaha (boar)
form and killed him. Hiranyaksha's elder brother Hiranyakashipu was very angry
about this. He resolved to take revenge of his brother's death. He went to the
Himalayas and began to perform severe penance for many, many years. Lord Brahma was pleased by his
penance and asked him for a boon. Hiranyakashipu asked that “May I never be killed neither by any weapon nor any creature
made by you, neither in the day nor in the night, and neither on earth nor in the sky”.
Lord Brahma agreed to Hiranyakashipu's boon and gave it to him.
While Hiranyakashipu was away, the gods had attacked his kingdom and killed his
nephews. Lord Indra had even abducted his wife, Queen Kayadhu who was expecting a child. Devarishi Narad stopped
Indra on his way back to heaven. Indra declared to Devarishi Narad that Kayadhu was pregnant; he would destroy
her unborn baby and then release her. Devarishi Narad however, assured Indra
that the unborn baby was a supreme devotee of Lord Vishnu and that they should
not fear him. Lord Indra was convinced and released Queen Kayadhu, who then began to
stay at Devarishi Narad's hermitage. Addressing the unborn baby, Narad daily used to preach Queen Kayadhu about the
devotion one should have for God. This was the way the baby would never forget the preaching it received in the
At the appropriate time, Queen Kayadhu gave birth to a son, Prahlad. Prahlad
was the youngest among Hiranyakaship's four sons. He appeared to be the eldest
in virtues. He did not have any desires. He was content like the hermits, truthful
and always wished well for everyone. He had full control over his senses, mind and
body. He was also completely untouched by the demonic virtues of his father and
brothers. Since childhood, he remained submerged in devotion to Lord Vishnu.
The demons even tried to use their illusionary powers on Prahlad but none of their powers could stand before him. Two sages,
Shand and Amark produced an ogress, Kritya to kill Prahlad if he didn't follow their ways, but she killed them
instead of killing Prahlad. But Prahlad was kind hearted and prayed to Lord Vishnu
and brought them back to life.
Hiranyakashipu tried another way to kill Prahlad. He had a sister, Holika who
had a boon that she would not die by fire. King Hiranyakashipu asked her to sit on
a bonfire with Prahlad on her lap in the hope that this would kill Prahlad. Prahlad
was not at all worried and chanted Lord Vishnu's name and was not hurt, but Holika
was burned to her death. All the measures taken by the demons to kill Prahlad proved to be fruitless.
Because of this, Hiranyakashipu began to feel afraid. Once more, he forcibly sent Prahlad to the
hermitage of Shand and Amark. Once there, Prahlad did take the education they offered but had no
interest in their teachings. When his teachers used to get engaged in minor activities, Prahlad would
assemble his fellow disciples around him and preach to them that, “Brothers,
this human incarnation is not meant to be wasted. If we don't find God in this birth, it would be a great loss. We can achieve
the means to find God right in our childhood, for when we grow young, we are caught by the
material wealth and nothing can be done in old age. It is very easy to find God. He
is present in everyone's hearts. He is in every living being. Hence, we should not
torture any creature. We should concentrate our mind in the God”.
At the age of five years, Prahlad was preaching to the demon boys. The demon boys followed him faithfully. His teachers saw
that Prahlad's teachings were against demonic traditions, Prahlad was sent back to
Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu decided to kill Prahlad with his own hands. He tied Prahlad to a
pillar. Hiranyakashipu asked in a loud voice: “O fool, with whose powers you have
been humiliating me with? Now, I am going to kill you, call your God to save you.”
Prahlad was unconcerned replied humbly: “Father, don't be angry. Lord Vishnu
is the protector of us all. I am not dishonoring you. One's own mind is his biggest
enemy in the world. Lord Vishnu is everywhere. He is in me, in you, in your sword
and is also present in the pillar”.
Little Prahlad could not even finish his words when his angry father hit the pillar with his mace. As soon as the mace touched
the pillar, it broke with a thundering sound. Everyone who was present in the court panicked. They saw a
creature emerging from the pillar. It had the face of a lion and a human body.
Emerging from the broken pillar was the avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu as
Narsimha. Narsimha roared angrily. The demon king Hiranyakashipu tried his best
to escape from Narsimha. But at last, Narsimha caught hold of him and dragged
him towards the threshold. There, he put Hiranyakashipu on thighs and tore his
belly with his terrifying nails.
The anger of Narsimha did not subside even after killing Hiranyakashipu. He
was still roaring repeatedly. Lord Brahma, Lord Shankar and even Goddess Lakshmi
prayed to Lord Narsimha from a distance but no one had the courage to go near
him. Finally, Brahma sent Prahlad near Narsimha to calm him down. Fearlessly,
Prahlad went near Narsimha and laid himself flat at his feet. Affectionately, the
Lord in Narsimha form raised Prahlad and embraced him and said: “O son
Prahlad, you had to bear the sufferings for so long. Please forgive me.”
Prahlad felt overwhelmed. The lord of the universe was standing before him
and was stroking his head in assuring way. Prahlad bowed his head faithfully. Lord
Narsimha then asked Prahlad to seek some boon. Prahlad said: “You are my true
Lord. If you wish to grant me a boon, kindly bless me that no desire may arise in
my mind for anything.”
Prahlad also prayed to Lord Narsimha for his father, asking him, “O Lord, my
father had always criticized you. Please free him from the sins he has committed.”
Lord Narsimha replied saying, “Prahlad, your father has now become holy.” Lord
Narsimha promised Prahlad that he would never kill any of his descendents. Lord
Narsimha then escorted Prahlad to the throne of his father and made him sit on
it, instructing him to follow good conduct and do his duties. Saying those words
Lord Narsimha disappeared.