According to ancient history, we know that once the sons of Brahma born from his mind, the Chatur Kumaras (Sanak, Sanatan, Sanandan and Sanat kumara) visited Vaikuntha to meet with the Supreme Lord Vishnu. The name ‘Vaikuntha’ means ‘no obstacles’, but as soon as the four Kumaras entered the palace of the Supreme Lord, they were faced with an obstacle upon entry, the two gatekeepers Jay and Vijay stopped them at the gate. This caused the four of them to become angry and they cursed the two guards, to take birth in the material world as demons. We know that whoever is situated in Vaikuntha, cannot fall into this material world, nonetheless, the four Kumaras placed this curse upon them.
After this incident, the four Kumaras started to lament because it is not within their nature to get angry and curse anyone. Why did they suddenly get angry and curse the guards? While they were lamenting, the Supreme Lord appeared before them and to appease His devotees, He said “this is not your fault, it is My desire. I am using you as My instrument to fulfil my desire of enjoying My veera rasa (rasa of chivalry/power)”. While the conversation was going on, the two guards requested the four Kumaras to retract their curse. The Lord said, “the curse coming from their mouths cannot be taken back, however, you both have a choice. If you act as my enemy then you will be delivered after three births, otherwise, you will have to take seven births”. They accepted taking three births.
In the Golden Age (Satya Yuga), they appeared as Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu. In the Silver Age (Treta Yuga), they appeared as Ravana and Kumbhakarna, and in the Copper Age (Dwapar Yuga) they appeared as Shishupal and Dantavakra. Therefore, we should not feel bad for them since they appeared to fulfil the desire of the Lord.
In the Golden Age, the two brothers, Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu were both ferocious demons. Once, Hiranyaksha, the older brother of Hiranyakashipu, kidnapped mother Earth and kept her hidden within the ocean. We know that the Lord cannot tolerate any misbehaviour towards women. Since Mother Earth is in the form of a female, to save her, the Lord appeared from the nostril of Brahma in the form of an extremely tiny wild boar (hog) and then expanded Himself into a gigantic form and rescued Mother Earth out of the ocean. When Hiranyaksha came to know of this, he started a battle with the Lord but was eventually killed.
As soon as his younger brother Hiranyakashipu received the news of his brother’s death at the hands of the Lord, he became very angry and went to meet with his Gurudev, Shukracharya. He expressed his desire to fight against Lord Vishnu to his Gurudev. Shukracharya advised Hiranyakashipu to first enter into meditation to please Brahma, and then seek the benediction of immortality. Thus, according to the direction of his Guru, Hiranyakashipu left his palace to a solitary place to start his meditation. He meditated for ten thousand years, standing on one toe with arms raised.
During the time Hiranyakashipu was in meditation, his wife Kayadhu was pregnant with his child. Indra, the king of heaven, knew that Hiranyakashipu was meditating to receive the boon of immortality. So, Indra decided to kidnap Kayadhu with the desire to kill the unborn child. When Indra was on his way to heaven with Kayadhu in his possession, Narada Muni appeared and told Indra that, “although this son is from a demon family, he will not be a demon but that he will be pious. So, let me take her to my ashram”. Thus, Kayadhu was taken to Narada Muni’s ashram. By the will of Kayadhu, her child remained in her womb for ten thousand years. During the time of her stay at Narada’s Muni’s ashram, the child inside her womb listened to Srimad Bhagavatam discourses from the lips of Narada Muni.
After ten thousand years of deep meditation to please Lord Brahma, Lord Brahma finally appeared and Hiranyakashipu immediately requested him for the boon of immortality. Brahma replied, “my life is not eternal, then how can I grant you this boon?” Having heard this, Hiranyakashiputhought that he would fool Brahma and asked him, “please grant me this boon that no one could kill me on Earth, in space or under water.” Brahma agreed. He continued “no one should kill me during the day or the night, no one created by Lord Vishnu, either inside or outside and by no animal or weapon”. When Brahma agreed, Hiranyakashipu felt that he had indeed fooled Brahma and thought that he managed to achieve immortality indirectly.
He returned home and at that time, Kayadhu gave birth to their son Prahlad. He was extremely happy with the arrival of his newborn son but by that time, Prahlad, who had already been under the influence of the Srimad Bhagavatam discourses given by Narada Muni, was fully dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu was always thinking about how to kill Vishnu, on the other hand, Prahlad was always serving Vishnu wholeheartedly. Although they were both from the same family, their thoughts were completely opposed to each other. When Prahlad was a little boy, his father was always trying to teach him, that he, Hiranyakashipu was God, himself.He was trying to establish this idea to the best of his ability; therefore, he banned the worship of Lord Vishnu along with torturing Lord Vishnu’s devotees and killed anyone who continued with such practice.
Hiranyakashipu continued to persuade his son to accept that he was God, but Prahlad dismissed anything that his father would say to him. Instead, with sound faith, he would tell his father that Lord Vishnu is the Supreme Lord. Hiranyakashipu suspected that perhaps some gods or goddesses were hiding in the palace and teaching such things to his son, so he decided to admit Prahlad to gurukul (school). The sons of Shukracharya, Sanda and Amarka, started to teach Prahlad. Since Prahlad was not accepting their education, they informed his father, who became furious towards Prahlad. Hiranyakashipu said to Prahlad “you are not respecting my rules, you are rebellious, and your intelligence has been corrupted. Do you know when I become angry, the whole universe starts shaking and everyone becomes fearful of me? No-one disrespects my rules.” Prahlad replied, “oh my dear father, please leave your demoniac tendencies. You are talking about your power, but the source of all power is Lord Hari (Vishnu) Himself. Even your power is coming from Him. The power of your mind, senses and body, all belongs to Him. You are unnecessarily thinking that everyone is your enemy when it is actually your mind that is the enemy”.
You are actually serving your six senses, but out of pride and ignorance, you are thinking in your mind that you have conquered all your enemies. It is your six senses sitting in your body that are your enemies. Hearing Prahlad, Hiranyakashipu said “oh you are foolish and misfortunate and yet you are thinking of yourself as the most intelligent. This means that I should kill you with my own hands. I will chop off your head and see how your Supreme Lord will protect you”. Out of anger and madness, he took his sword and became violent. Hiranyakashipu continued, “You are always talking aboutyour Lord Vishnu, that he is the topmost and no one is beyond Him. Where is your Lord Vishnu? Tell me, where is He? I would like to see Him!” Prahlad replied without fear that the Lord is everywhere. Then, Prahlad thought that it would be surely possible for him to see Lord Vishnu but not his father and because of that, he thought that his father would most likely kill him, but he quickly corrected his thought knowing that without the Lord’s desire, no one could kill him.
Hiranyakashipu asked Prahlad, “Is He in this pillar?” As soon as Prahlad replied, “yes”, Hiranyakashipustomped the floor with his heel and rose from his throne. With full strength, he struck the pillar with his fist several times. To honour His devotee’s words, Lord Nrishingadev suddenly appeared in the form of a half lion and half man from the pillar. From the head to the waist, the Lord took the form of a lion, and from the waist to the feet, He took a human form. This incident took place at midday in the middle of the king’s assembly. Lord Nrishingadev was roaring with His mane shaking. It was a gigantic form to behold that caused the clouds to move.
Hiranyakashipu was astonished to see the enormous effulgent form of the half lion and half man. His two eyes were bright and golden, with a huge mane and ferocious teeth. His tongue was sharp like the sword. His two ears were moving constantly out of anger. His mouth and nose looked like caves in the mountains. His jaw looked white and fearsome and His head was touching the sky. His chest was wide, and His waist strong. All of the bodily hairs looked like bright moonbeams and he displayed innumerable arms. Of the innumerable arms, four were holding the shanka (conch), chakra (disc), gada (mace) and padma (lotus flower), and the others were holding different types of weapons. The fearful manifestation of Lord Nrishingadev had appeared to destroy the atheists and the demoniac beings.
Hiranyakashipu was thinking, “it is Vishnu, the magician is here to kill me, but who can fight with me? No one can. I have been granted the boon of immortality”. To protect himself, he took the club and struck the Nrishinga murti. Nrishingadev became very angry. Powerful and effulgent rays were emanating from Him, which not only caused Hiranyakashipu not to see the Lord, but the rays were also destroying his demoniac power. Not at all, was he able to see the Lord but instead, he thought that the magician Vishnu has become fearful seeing his powers. He then heard the Lord laughing,so he grabbed his sword and shield, running towards the Lord, he started to fight, as though a mouse was fighting with a cat. The fight was not only taking place on the ground, but also in the sky, and the fight lasted till twilight because the Lord was waiting for this opportune moment. At that time, Nrishingadev grabbed Hiranyakashipu and dragged him towards the door. He placed Hiranyakashipu on His lap and asked him, “what boon did you receive from Brahma?
Hiranyakashipu replied, “no one can kill me either during the day nor at night”. Nrishingadev said, “it is now neither day nor night”. Hiranyakashipu said, “inside or outside”, to which Nrishingadev replied, “look I am keeping you at the doorway, which is neither inside nor outside.” Hiranyakashipu said, “no one can kill me neither on earth, nor in the sky, nor in water and I cannot be killed by no animal or human nor by any weapon”. Nrishingadev replied, “Hence why, I am keeping you on my lap and I will kill you with my nails”. Saying this, the Lord pierced his chest with His nails and placed His mouth inside Hiranyakashipu’s abdomen. Those witnessing this event were confused as to why the Lord was doing this. Since Prahlad appeared from the reproductive organs of Hiranyakashipu, the Lord was searching, if there were any more like Prahlad in there. The Lord, roaring, then took the intestine out and wrapped it around his neck. All the gods and goddesses were fearful to go in front of the Lord, so they chose Prahlad to go and pacify Him. The Lord calmed down as soon as He saw Prahlad. Seeing the calm mood of the Lord, the gods and goddesses became joyful. Lord Nrishingadev then told Prahlad, “I am very happy to see you and I would like to grant you a benediction”. Prahlad replied, “I am not a businessman”. Still, the Lord insisted on giving him a boon. Prahlad said, “if You really want to give me a boon, then please deliver my father.” Lord Nrishingadevreplied, “Prahlad, as soon as you took birth in this dynasty, one hundred generations of your family members were already delivered”.
This entire event took place in Ahobilam (the location of Hiranyakashipu’s palace) which is currently in Andhra-Pradesh (South India). After this incident, Lord Nrishingadev proceeded to Devapalli (Nrishinga-Palli, Navadwip, Mayapur area) to take rest. He took sweet rice there, and from there, He proceeded to South India, where he drank a juice made from cold water (like a nectarean sherbet). Devotees to this day will accept this drink. To protect themselves from the attack of material influence, devotees observe this auspicious day by keeping dry fast till the evening. During the day devotees should try to read the eighth chapterof the seventh canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, which describes Lord Nrishingadev’s appearance, and in the evening, devotees should take Ekadashi prasad only. If possible, one should offer 108 Tulasi leaves smeared with sandalwood paste at the lotus feet of Lord Nrishingadev.
Lord Bhagavan Nrishingadev explained to Prahlad;
varsevarsetukartavyam mama shantushti-karanam
mahaghuhyamidamshreshtam mana vaibhavabhiruvhi
In order to remove the upcoming material fear of birth and death, I am satisfied with those honouring this vrata which takes place on the 14th day of the waxing moon cycle (chaturdasi).
Narasimha Chaturdashi 25 May 2021