Hiranyakashipu, King of the Demons

Sri Narada Muni said: My dear King Yudhisthira, when Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Varaha (the Boar incarnation), and killed the demon Hiranyaksha, Hiranyaksha's brother Hiranyakashipu was extremely angry and began to lament.

Filled with rage and biting his lips, Hiranyakashipu gazed at the sky with eyes that blazed in anger, making the whole sky smoky. Thus he began to speak. Exhibiting his terrible teeth, fierce glance and frowning eyebrows, terrible to see, he took up his weapon, a trident, and thus began speaking to his associates, the assembled demons:

'O Danavas and Daityas! O Dvimurdha, Tryaksha, Shambara and Tryaksha, Shambara and Shatabahu! O Hayagriva, Namuci, Paka and Ilvala! O Vipracitti, Puloman, Shakuna and other demons! All of you kindly hear me attentively and then act according to my words without delay.

'My insignificant enemies the demigods have combined to kill my very dear and obedient wellwisher, my brother Hiranyaksha. Although the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, is always equal to both of us-namely, the demigods and the demons-this time, being devoutly worshiped by the demigods, He has taken their side and helped them kill Hiranyaksha.

'The Supreme Personality of Godhead has given up His natural tendency of equality toward the demons and demigods. Although He is the Supreme Person, now, influenced by maya, He has assumed the form of a Boar to please His devotees, the demigods, just as a restless child leans toward someone. I shall therefore sever Lord Vishnu's head from His trunk by my trident, and with the profuse blood from His body I shall please my brother Hiranyaksha, who was so fond of sucking blood. Thus shall I too be peaceful.

'When the root of a tree is cut and the tree falls down, its branches and twigs automatically dry up. Similarly, when I have killed this diplomatic Vishnu, the demigods, for whom Lord Vishnu is the life and soul, will lose the source of their life and wither away.

'While I am engaged in the business of killing Lord Vishnu, go down to the planet earth, which is flourishing due to brahminical culture and a kshatriya government. These people engage in austerity, sacrifice, Vedic study, regulative vows, and charity. Destroy all the people thus engaged!

'The basic principle of brahminical culture is to satisfy Lord Vishnu, the personification of sacrificial and ritualistic ceremonies. Lord Vishnu is the personified reservoir of all religious principles, and He is the shelter of all the demigods, the great pitas (forefathers), and the people in general. When the brahmanas are killed, no one will exist to encourage the kshatriyas to perform yajnas, and thus the demigods, not being appeased by yajna, will automatically die.

'Immediately go wherever there is good protection for the cows and brahmanas, and wherever the Vedas are studied in terms of the varna-ashrama principles. Set fire to those places and cut from the roots the trees there, which are the source of life.' Thus the demons, being fond of disastrous activities, took Hiranyakashipu's instructions on their heads with great respect and offered him obeisances. According to his directions, they engaged in envious activities directed against all living beings.

The demons set fire to the cities, villages, pasturing grounds, cowpens, gardens, agricultural fields and natural forests. They burned the hermitages of the saintly persons, the important mines that produced valuable metals, the residential quarters of the agriculturalists, the mountain villages, and the villages of the cow protectors, the cowherd men. They also burned the government capitals.

Some of the demons took digging instruments and broke down the bridges, the protective walls and the gates [gopuras] of the cities. Some took axes and began cutting the important trees that produced mango, jackfruit and other sources of food. Some of the demons took firebrands and set fire to the residential quarters of the citizens.

Thus disturbed again and again by the unnatural occurrences caused by the followers of Hiranyakashipu, all the people had to cease the activities of Vedic culture. Not receiving the results of yajna, the demigods also became disturbed. They left their residential quarters in the heavenly planets and, unobserved by the demons, began wandering on the planet earth to see the disasters.

After performing the ritualistic observances for the death of his brother, Hiranyakashipu, being extremely unhappy, tried to pacify his nephews. O King, Hiranyakashipu was extremely angry, but since he was a great politician, he knew how to act according to the time and situation. With sweet words he began pacifying his nephews, whose names were Shakuni, Shambara, Dhrishti, Bhutasantapana, Vrika, Kalanabha, Mahanabha, Harishmashru and Utkacha. He also consoled their mother, his sister-in-law, Rushabhanu, as well as his own mother, Diti. He spoke to them all as follows.

Hiranyakashipu said: 'My dear mother, sister-in-law and nephews, you should not lament for the death of the great hero, for a hero's death in front of his enemy is glorious and desirable.

'My dear mother, in a restaurant or place for drinking cold water, many travelers are brought together, and after drinking water they continue to their respective destinations. Similarly, living entities join together in a family, and later, as a result of their own actions, they are led apart to their destinations.

'The spirit soul, the living entity, has no death, for he is eternal and inexhaustible. Being free from material contamination, he can go anywhere in the material or spiritual worlds. He is fully aware and completely different from the material body, but because of being misled by misuse of his slight independence, he is obliged to accept subtle and gross bodies created by the material energy and thus be subjected to so-called material happiness and distress. Therefore, no one should lament for the passing of the spirit soul from the body.

'Because of the movements of the water, the trees on the bank of a river, when reflected on the water, seem to move. Similarly, when the eyes move because of some mental derangement, the land appears to move also. In the same way, O my gentle mother, when the movements of the modes of material nature agitate the mind, the living entity, although freed from all the different phases of the subtle and gross bodies, thinks that he has changed from one condition to another.

'The living entity, accepting the body and mind to be the self in his bewildered state, considers some people to be his kinsmen and others to be outsiders. Because of this misconception, he suffers. Indeed, the accumulation of such concocted material ideas is the cause of so-called suffering and happiness in the material world. The conditioned soul thus situated must take birth in different species and work in various types of consciousness, thus creating new bodies. This continued material life is called samsara. Birth, death, lamentation, foolishness and anxiety are due to such material considerations. Thus we sometimes come to a proper understanding and sometimes fall again to a wrong conception of life.

'In this regard, an example is given from an old history. This involves a discourse between Yamaraja and the friends of a dead person. Please hear it attentively. In the state known as Ushinara there was a celebrated king named Suyajna. When his enemies killed the King in battle, his kinsmen sat down around the dead body and began to lament the death of their friend.

'His golden, bejeweled armor smashed, his ornaments and garlands fallen from their places, his hair scattered and his eyes lusterless, the slain King lay on the battlefield, his entire body smeared with blood, his heart pierced by the arrows of the enemy. When he died he had wanted to show his prowess, and thus he had bitten his lips, and his teeth remained in that position. His beautiful lotuslike face was now black and covered with dust from the battlefield. His arms, with his sword and other weapons, were cut and broken. When the queens of the King of Ushinara saw their husband lying in that position, they began crying, 'O lord, now that you have been killed, we also have been killed.' Repeating these words again and again, they fell down, pounding their breasts, at the feet of the dead King.

'As the queens loudly cried, their tears glided down their breasts, becoming reddened by kunkuma powder, and fell upon the lotus feet of their husband. Their hair became disarrayed, their ornaments fell, and the queens began lamenting their husband's death in a way that evoked sympathy from the hearts of others. 'O lord, you have now been removed by cruel Providence to a state beyond our sight.

You had previously sustained the livelihood of the inhabitants of Ushinara, and thus they were happy, but your condition now is the cause of their unhappiness. O King, O hero, you were a very grateful husband and the most sincere friend of all of us. How shall we exist without you? O hero, wherever you are going, please direct us there so that we may follow in your footsteps and engage again in your service. Let us go along with you!'

'The time was appropriate for the body to be burned, but the queens, not allowing it to be taken away, continued lamenting for the dead body, which they kept on their laps. In the meantime, the sun completed its movements for setting in the west. While the queens were lamenting for the dead body of the King, their loud cries were heard even from the abode of Yamaraja. Assuming the body of a boy, Yamaraja personally approached the relatives of the dead body and advised them as follows.

'Shri Yamaraja said: 'Alas, how amazing it is! These persons, who are older than me, have full experience that hundreds and thousands of living entities have taken birth and died. Thus they should understand that they also are apt to die, yet still they are bewildered. The conditioned soul comes from an unknown place and returns after death to that same unknown place. There is no exception to this rule, which is conducted by material nature. Knowing this, why do they uselessly lament? 'It is wonderful that these elderly women do not have a higher sense of life than we do. Indeed, we are most fortunate, for although we are children and have been left to struggle in material life, unprotected by father and mother, and although we are very weak, we have not been vanquished or eaten by ferocious animals. Thus we have a firm belief that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has given us protection even in the womb of the mother, will protect us everywhere.' 'The boy addressed the women: 'O weak women! Only by the will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is never diminished, is the entire world created, maintained and again annihilated. This is the verdict of the Vedic knowledge. This material creation, consisting of the moving and nonmoving, is exactly like His plaything. Being the Supreme Lord, He is completely competent to destroy and protect.

'Sometimes one loses his money on a public street, where everyone can see it, and yet his money is protected by destiny and not seen by others. Thus the man who lost it gets it back. On the other hand, if the Lord does not give protection, even money maintained very securely at home is lost. If the Supreme Lord gives one protection, even though one has no protector and is in the jungle, one remains alive, whereas a person well protected at home by relatives and others sometimes dies, no one being able to protect him.

'Every conditioned soul receives a different type of body according to his work, and when the engagement is finished the body is finished. Although the spirit soul is situated in subtle and gross material bodies in different forms of life, they do not bind him, for he is always understood to be completely different from the manifested body.

'Just as a householder, although different from the identity of his house, thinks his house to be identical with him, so the conditioned soul, due to ignorance, accepts the body to be himself, although the body is actually different from the soul. This body is obtained through a combination of portions of earth, water and fire, and when the earth, water and fire are transformed in the course of time, the body is vanquished. The soul has nothing to do with this creation and dissolution of the body.

'As fire, although situated in wood, is perceived to be different from the wood, as air, although situated within the mouth and nostrils, is perceived to be separate from them, and as the sky, although all-pervading, never mixes with anything, so the living entity, although now encaged within the material body, of which it is the source, is separate from it.'

'Yamaraja continued: 'O lamenters, you are all fools! The person named Suyajna, for whom you lament, is still lying before you and has not gone anywhere. Then what is the cause for your lamentation? Previously he heard you and replied to you, but now, not finding him, you are lamenting. This is contradictory behaviour, for you have never actually seen the person within the body who heard you and replied. There is no need for your lamentation, for the body you have always seen is lying here.

'In the body the most important substance is the life air, but that also is neither the listener nor the speaker. Beyond even the life air, the soul also can do nothing, for the Supersoul is actually the director, in cooperation with the individual soul. The Supersoul conducting the activities of the body is different from the body and living force.

'The five material elements, the ten senses and the mind all combine to form the various parts of the gross and subtle bodies. The living entity comes in contact with his material bodies, whether high or low, and later gives them up by his personal prowess. This strength can be perceived in a living entity's personal power to possess different types of bodies.

'As long as the spirit soul is covered by the subtle body, consisting of the mind, intelligence and false ego, he is bound to the results of his fruitive activities. Because of this covering, the spirit soul is connected with the material energy and must accordingly suffer material conditions and reversals, continually, life after life.

'It is fruitless to see and talk of the material modes of nature and their resultant so-called happiness and distress as if they were factual. When the mind wanders during the day and a man begins to think himself extremely important, or when he dreams at night and sees a beautiful woman enjoying with him, these are merely false dreams. Similarly, the happiness and distress caused by the material senses should be understood to be meaningless.

'Those who have full knowledge of self-realization, who know very well that the spirit soul is eternal whereas the body is perishable, are not overwhelmed by lamentation. But persons who lack knowledge of self-realization certainly lament. Therefore it is difficult to educate a person in illusion.

'There was once a hunter who lured birds with food and captured them after spreading a net. He lived as if appointed by death personified as the killer of the birds. While wandering in the forest, the hunter saw a pair of kulinga birds. Of the two, the female was captivated by the hunter's lure.

'O queens of Suyajna, the male kulinga bird, seeing his wife put into the greatest danger in the grip of Providence, became very unhappy. Because of affection, the poor bird, being unable to release her, began to lament for his wife.

'Alas, how merciless is Providence! My wife, unable to be helped by anyone, is in such an awkward position and lamenting for me. What will Providence gain by taking away this poor bird? What will be the profit? If unkind Providence takes away my wife, who is half my body, why should He not take me also? What is the use of my living with half of my body, bereaved by loss of my wife? What shall I gain in this way? The unfortunate baby birds, bereft of their mother, are waiting in the nest for her to feed them. They are still very small and have not yet grown their wings. How shall I be able to maintain them?'

'Because of the loss of his wife, the kulinga bird lamented with tears in his eyes. Meanwhile, following the dictations of mature time, the hunter, who was very carefully hidden in the distance, released his arrow, which pierced the body of the kulinga bird and killed him.'

'Thus Yamaraja, in the guise of a small boy, told all the queens: 'You are all so foolish that you lament but do not see your own death. Afflicted by a poor fund of knowledge, you do not know that even if you lament for your dead husband for hundreds of years, you will never get him back alive, and in the meantime your lives will be finished.'

Hiranyakashipu said: 'While Yamaraja, in the form of a small boy, was instructing all the relatives surrounding the dead body of Suyajna, everyone was struck with wonder by his philosophical words. They could understand that everything material is temporary, not continuing to exist.

'After instructing all the foolish relatives of Suyajna, Yamaraja, in the form of a boy, disappeared from their vision. Then the relatives of King Suyajna performed the ritualistic funeral ceremonies.

'Therefore none of you should be aggrieved for the loss of the body-whether your own or those of others. Only in ignorance does one make bodily distinctions, thinking, 'Who am I? Who are the others? What is mine? What is for others?''

Shri Narada Muni concluded: Diti, the mother of Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha, heard the instructions of Hiranyakashipu along with her daughter-in-law, Rushabhanu, Hiranyaksha's wife. She then forgot her grief over her son's death and thus engaged her mind and attention in understanding the real philosophy of life.

Hiranyakashipu's Plan to Become Immortal
Narada Muni continued speaking about the Absolute Truth to Maharaja Yudhisthira: The demoniac king Hiranyakashipu wanted to be unconquerable and free from old age and dwindling of the body. He wanted to gain all the yogic perfections like anima and laghima, to be deathless, and to be the only king of the entire universe, including Brahmaloka.

In the valley of Mandara Hill, Hiranyakashipu began performing his austerities by standing with his toes on the ground, keeping his arms upward and looking toward the sky. This position was extremely difficult, but he accepted it as a means to attain perfection. From the hair on Hiranyakashipu's head there emanated an effulgent light as brilliant and intolerable as the rays of the sun at the time of dissolution.

Seeing the performance of such austere penances, the demigods, who had been wandering throughout the planets, now returned to their respective homes. Because of Hiranyakashipu's severe austerities, fire came from his head, and this fire and its smoke spread throughout the sky, encompassing the upper and lower planets, which all became extremely hot. Because of the power of his severe austerities, all the rivers and oceans were agitated, the surface of the globe, with its mountains and islands, began trembling, and the stars and planets fell. All directions were ablaze.

Scorched and extremely disturbed because of Hiranyakashipu's severe penances, all the demigods left the planets where they reside and went to the planet of Lord Brahma, where they informed the creator as follows: 'O lord of the demigods, O master of the universe, because of the fire emanating from Hiranyakashipu's head as a result of his severe austerities, we have become so disturbed that we could not stay in our planets but have come to you. O great person, chief of the universe, if you think it proper, kindly stop these disturbances, meant to destroy everything, before all your obedient subjects are annihilated.

'Hiranyakashipu has undertaken a most severe type of austerity. Although his plan is not unknown to you, kindly listen as we submit his intentions.

'[Hiranyakashipu's thinking is as follows:] 'The supreme person within this universe, Lord Brahma, has gotten his exalted post by dint of severe austerities, mystic power and trance.

Consequently, after creating the universe, he has become the most worshipable demigod within it. Since I am eternal and time is eternal, I shall endeavour for such austerity, mystic power and trance for many, many births, and thus I shall occupy the same post occupied by Lord Brahma.

'By dint of my severe austerities, I shall reverse the results of pious and impious activities. I shall overturn all the established practices within this world. Even Dhruvaloka will be vanquished at the end of the millennium. Therefore, what is the use of it? I shall prefer to remain in the position of Brahma.'

'O lord, we have heard from reliable sources that in order to obtain your post, Hiranyakashipu is now engaged in severe austerity. You are the master of the three worlds. Please, without delay, take whatever steps you deem appropriate. O Lord Brahma, your position within this universe is certainly most auspicious for everyone, especially the cows and brahmanas. Brahminical culture and the protection of cows can be increasingly glorified, and thus all kinds of material happiness, opulence and good fortune will automatically increase. But unfortunately, if Hiranyakashipu occupies your seat, everything will be lost.'

O King, being thus informed by the demigods, the most powerful Lord Brahma, accompanied by Bhrigu, Daksha and other great sages, immediately started for the place where Hiranyakashipu was performing his penances and austerities. Lord Brahma, who is carried by a swan airplane, at first could not see where Hiranyakashipu was, for Hiranyakashipu's body was covered by an anthill and by grass and bamboo sticks. Because Hiranyakashipu had been there for a long time, the ants had devoured his skin, fat, flesh and blood. Then Lord Brahma and the demigods spotted him, resembling a cloud covered sun, heating all the world by his austerity. Struck with wonder, Lord Brahma began to smile and then addressed him as follows.

Lord Brahma said: 'O son of Kashyapa Muni, please get up, please get up. All good fortune unto you. You are now perfect in the performance of your austerities, and therefore I may give you a benediction. You may now ask from me whatever you desire, and I shall try to fulfill your wish.

'I have been very much astonished to see your endurance. In spite of being eaten and bitten by all kinds of worms and ants, you are keeping your life air circulating within your bones. Certainly this is wonderful. Even senior saintly persons like Bhrigu could not perform such severe austerities, nor will anyone in the future be able to do so. Who within these three worlds can sustain his life without even drinking water for one hundred celestial years?

'My dear son of Diti, with your great determination and austerity you have done what was impossible even for great saintly persons, and thus you have certainly conquered me. O best of the asuras, for this reason I am now prepared to give you all benedictions, according to your desire. I belong to the celestial world of demigods, who do not die like human beings. Therefore, although you are subject to death, your audience with me will not go in vain.'

Sri Narada Muni continued: After speaking these words to Hiranyakashipu, Lord Brahma, the original being of this universe, who is extremely powerful, sprinkled transcendental, infallible, spiritual water from his kamandalu (waterpot) upon Hiranyakashipu's body, which had been eaten away by ants and moths. Thus he enlivened Hiranyakashipu.

As soon as he was sprinkled with the water from Lord Brahma's waterpot, Hiranyakashipu arose, endowed with a full body with limbs so strong that they could bear the striking of a thunderbolt. With physical strength and a bodily luster resembling molten gold, he emerged from the anthill a completely young man, just as fire springs from fuel wood.

Seeing Lord Brahma present before him in the sky, carried by his swan airplane, Hiranyakashipu was extremely pleased. He immediately fell flat with his head on the ground and began to express his obligation to the lord. Then, getting up from the ground and seeing Lord Brahma before him, the head of the Daityas was overwhelmed by jubilation. With tears in his eyes, his whole body shivering, he began praying in a humble mood, with folded hands and a faltering voice, to satisfy Lord Brahma.

'Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the supreme lord within this universe. At the end of each day of his life, the universe is fully covered with dense darkness by the influence of time, and then again, during his next day, that self-effulgent lord, by his own effulgence, manifests, maintains and destroys the entire cosmic manifestation through the material energy, which is invested with the three modes of material nature. He, Lord Brahma, is the shelter of those modes of nature: sattva-guna, raja-guna and tama-guna.

'I offer my obeisances to the original personality within this universe, Lord Brahma, who is cognizant and who can apply his mind and realized intelligence in creating this cosmic manifestation. It is because of his activities that everything within the universe is visible. He is therefore the cause of all manifestations.

'Your lordship, being the origin of the life of this material world, is the master and controller of the living entities, both moving and stationary, and you inspire their consciousness. You maintain the mind and the acting and knowledge acquiring senses, and therefore you are the great controller of all the material elements and their qualities, and you are the controller of all desires.

'My dear lord, by your form as the Vedas personified and through knowledge relating to the activities of all the yajnic brahmanas, you spread the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies of the seven kinds of sacrifices, headed by agnistoma. Indeed, you inspire the yajnic brahmanas to perform the rituals mentioned in the three Vedas. Being the Supreme Soul, the Supersoul of all living entities, you are beginningless, endless and omniscient, beyond the limits of time and space.

'O my lord, your lordship is eternally awake, seeing everything that happens. As eternal time, you reduce the duration of life for all living entities through your different parts, such as moments, seconds, minutes and hours. Nonetheless, you are unchanged, resting in one place as the Supersoul, witness and supreme lord, the birthless, all-pervading controller who is the cause of life for all living entities.

'There is nothing separate from you, whether it be better or lower, stationary or moving. The knowledge derived from the Vedic literatures like the Upanishads, and from all the sub-limbs of the original Vedic knowledge, form your external body. You are Hiranyagarbha, the reservoir of the universe, but nonetheless, being situated as the supreme controller, you are transcendental to the material world, which consists of the three modes of material nature.

'O my lord, being changelessly situated in your own abode, you expand your universal form within this cosmic manifestation, thus appearing to taste the material world. You are Brahman, the Supersoul, the oldest, the personality of godhead.

'Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme, who in his unlimited, unmanifested form has expanded the cosmic manifestation, the form of the totality of the universe. He possesses external and internal energies and the mixed energy called the marginal potency, which consists of all the living entities.

'O my lord, O best of the givers of benediction, if you will kindly grant me the benediction I desire, please let me not meet death from any of the living entities created by you. Grant me that I not die within any residence or outside any residence, during the daytime or at night, nor on the ground or in the sky. Grant me that my death not be brought by any being other than those created by you, nor by any weapon, nor by any human being or animal.

'Grant me that I not meet death from any entity, living or nonliving. Grant me, further, that I not be killed by any demigod or demon or by any great snake from the lower planets. Since no one can kill you in the battlefield, you have no competitor. Therefore, grant me the benediction that I too may have no rival. Give me sole lordship over all the living entities and presiding deities, and give me all the glories obtained by that position. Furthermore, give me all the mystic powers attained by long austerities and the practice of yoga, for these cannot be lost at any time.'

      Hiranyakashipu Terrorizes the Universe
Narada Muni continued: Lord Brahma was very much satisfied by Hiranyakashipu's austerities, which were difficult to perform. Therefore, when solicited for benedictions, he indeed granted them, although they were rarely to be achieved.

Lord Brahma said: 'O Hiranyakashipu, these benedictions for which you have asked are difficult to obtain for most men. Nonetheless, O my son, I shall grant you them although they are generally not available.' Then Lord Brahma, who awards infallible benedictions, departed, being worshiped by Hiranyakashipu, the best of the demons, and being praised by great sages and saintly persons.

The demon Hiranyakashipu, having thus been blessed by Lord Brahma and having acquired a lustrous golden body, continued to remember the death of his brother and therefore be envious of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu became the conqueror of the entire universe.

Indeed, that great demon conquered all the planets in the three worlds-upper, middle and lower-including the planets of the human beings, the Gandharvas, the Garudas, the great serpents, the Siddhas, Caranas and Vidyadharas, the great saints, Yamaraja, the Manus, the Yakshas, the Rakshasas, the Pishacas and their masters, and the masters of the ghosts and Bhutas. He defeated the rulers of all the other planets where there are living entities and brought them under his control.

Conquering the abodes of all, he seized their power and influence. Hiranyakashipu, who possessed all opulence, began residing in heaven, with its famous Nandana garden, which is enjoyed by the demigods. In fact, he resided in the most opulent palace of Indra, the King of heaven. The palace had been directly constructed by the demigod architect Vishvakarma and was as beautifully made as if the Goddess of Fortune of the entire universe resided there.

The steps of King Indra's residence were made of coral, the floor was bedecked with invaluable emeralds, the walls were of crystal, and the columns of vaidurya stone. The wonderful canopies were beautifully decorated, the seats were bedecked with rubies, and the silk bedding, as white as foam, was decorated with pearls. The ladies of the palace, who were blessed with beautiful teeth and the most wonderfully beautiful faces, walked here and there in the palace, their ankle bells tinkling melodiously, and saw their own beautiful reflections in the gems. The demigods, however, being very much oppressed, had to bow down and offer obeisances at the feet of

Hiranyakashipu, who chastised the demigods very severely and for no reason. Thus Hiranyakashipu lived in the palace and severely ruled everyone. O my dear King, Hiranyakashipu was always drunk on strong-smelling wines and liquors, and therefore his coppery eyes were always rolling. Nonetheless, because he had powerfully executed great austerities in mystic yoga, although he was abominable, all but the three principal demigods-Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu-personally worshiped him to please him by bringing him various presentations with their own hands.

O Maharaja Yudhisthira, descendant of Pandu, by dint of his personal power, Hiranyakashipu, being situated on the throne of King Indra, controlled the inhabitants of all the other planets. The two Gandharvas Vishvavasu and Tumburu, I myself and the Vidyadharas, Apsaras and sages all offered prayers to him again and again just to glorify him. Being worshiped by sacrifices offered with great gifts by those who strictly followed the principles of varna and ashrama, Hiranyakashipu, instead of offering shares of the oblations to the demigods, accepted them himself.

As if in fear of Hiranyakashipu, the planet earth, which consists of seven islands, delivered food grains without being plowed. Thus it resembled cows like the surabhi of the spiritual world or the kama-dugha of heaven. The earth yielded sufficient food grains, the cows supplied abundant milk, and outer space was beautifully decorated with wonderful phenomena.

By the flowing of their waves, the various oceans of the universe, along with their tributaries, the rivers, which are compared to their wives, supplied various kinds of gems and jewels for Hiranyakashipu's use. These oceans were the oceans of salt water, sugarcane juice, wine, clarified butter, milk, yogurt, and sweet water.

The valleys between the mountains became fields of pleasure for Hiranyakashipu, by whose influence all the trees and plants produced fruits and flowers profusely in all seasons. The qualities of pouring water, drying and burning, which are all qualities of the three departmental heads of the universe- namely Indra, Vayu and Agni-were all directed by Hiranyakashipu alone, without assistance from the demigods.

In spite of achieving the power to control in all directions and in spite of enjoying all types of dear sense gratification as much as possible, Hiranyakashipu was dissatisfied because instead of controlling his senses he remained their servant.

Hiranyakashipu thus passed a long time being very much proud of his opulences and transgressing the laws and regulations mentioned in the authoritative shastras. He was therefore subjected to a curse by the four Kumaras, who were great brahmanas.

Everyone, including the rulers of the various planets, was extremely distressed because of the severe punishment inflicted upon them by Hiranyakashipu. Fearful and disturbed, unable to find any other shelter, they at last surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu.

Without sleep, fully controlling their minds, and living on only their breath, the predominating deities of the various planets began worshiping Hrishikesha with this meditation: 'Let us offer our respectful obeisances unto that direction where the Supreme Personality of Godhead is situated, where those purified souls in the renounced order of life, the great saintly persons, go, and from which, having gone, they never return.' Then there appeared before them a transcendental sound vibration, emanating from a personality not visible to material eyes. The voice was as grave as the sound of a cloud, and it was very encouraging, driving away all fear.

The voice of the Lord vibrated as follows: 'O best of learned persons, do not fear! I wish all good fortune to you. Become My devotees by hearing and chanting about Me and offering Me prayers, for these are certainly meant to award benedictions to all living entities. I know all about the activities of Hiranyakashipu and shall surely stop them very soon. Please wait patiently until that time.

'When one is envious of the demigods, who represent the Supreme Personality of Godhead, of the Vedas, which give all knowledge, of the cows, brahmanas, Vaishnavas and religious principles, and ultimately of Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he and his civilization will be vanquished without delay.

'When Hiranyakashipu harasses the great devotee Prahlada, his own son, who is peaceful and sober and who has no enemy, I shall kill Hiranyakashipu immediately, despite the benedictions of Brahma.'

The great saint Narada Muni continued: When the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the spiritual master of everyone, thus reassured all the demigods living in the heavenly planets, they offered their respectful obeisances unto Him and returned, confident that the demon Hiranyakashipu was now practically dead.

Hiranyakashipu had four wonderful, well-qualified sons, of whom the one named Prahlada was the best. Indeed, Prahlada was a reservoir of all transcendental qualities because he was an unalloyed devotee of the Personality of Godhead. Prahlada was completely cultured as a qualified brahmana, having very good character and being determined to understand the Absolute Truth. He had full control of his senses and mind. Like the Supersoul, he was kind to every living entity and was the best friend of everyone. To respectable persons he acted exactly like a menial servant, to the poor he was like a father, to his equals he was attached like a sympathetic brother, and he considered his teachers, spiritual masters and older Godbrothers to be as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He was completely free from unnatural pride that might have arisen from his good education, riches, beauty, aristocracy and so on.

Although Prahlada Maharaja was born in a family of asuras, he himself was not an asura but a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Unlike the other asuras, he was never envious of Vaishnavas. He was not agitated when put into danger, and he was neither directly nor indirectly interested in the fruitive activities described in the Vedas. Indeed, he considered everything material to be useless, and therefore he was completely devoid of material desires. He always controlled his senses and life air, and being of steady intelligence and determination, he subdued all lusty desires.

O King, Prahlada Maharaja's good qualities are still glorified by learned saints and Vaisnavas. As all good qualities are always found existing in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they also exist forever in His devotee Prahlada Maharaja. In any assembly where there are discourses about saints and devotees, O King Yudhisthira, even the enemies of the demons, namely the demigods, what to speak of you, would cite Prahlada Maharaja as an example of a great devotee.

Who could list the innumerable transcendental qualities of Prahlada Maharaja? He had unflinching faith in Vasudeva, Lord Krishna [the son of Vasudeva], and unalloyed devotion to Him. His attachment to Lord Krishna was natural because of his previous devotional service. Although his good qualities cannot be enumerated, they prove that he was a great soul [mahatma].

From the very beginning of his childhood, Prahlada Maharaja was uninterested in childish playthings. Indeed, he gave them up altogether and remained silent and dull, being fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness. Since his mind was always affected by Krishna consciousness, he could not understand how the world goes on being fully absorbed in the activities of sense gratification.

Prahlada Maharaja was always absorbed in thought of Krishna. Thus, being always embraced by the Lord, he did not know how his bodily necessities, such as sitting, walking, eating, lying down, drinking and talking, were being automatically performed. Because of advancement in Krishna consciousness, he sometimes cried, sometimes laughed, sometimes expressed jubilation and sometimes sang loudly.

Sometimes, upon seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Prahlada Maharaja would loudly call in full anxiety. He sometimes lost his shyness in jubilation and began dancing in ecstasy, and sometimes, being fully absorbed in thoughts of Krishna, he felt oneness and imitated the pastimes of the Lord. Sometimes, feeling the touch of the Lord's lotus hands, he became spiritually jubilant and remained silent, his hairs standing on end and tears gliding down from his halfclosed eyes because of his love for the Lord.

Because of his association with perfect, unalloyed devotees who had nothing to do with anything material, Prahlada Maharaja constantly engaged in the service of the Lord's lotus feet. By seeing his bodily features when he was in perfect ecstasy, persons very poor in spiritual understanding became purified. In other words, Prahlada Maharaja bestowed upon them transcendental bliss. My dear King Yudhisthira, the demon Hiranyakashipu tormented this exalted, fortunate devotee, although Prahlada was his own son.

Maharaja Yudhisthira said: 'O best of the saints among the demigods, O best of spiritual leaders, how did Hiranyakashipu give so much trouble to Prahlada Maharaja, the pure and exalted saint, although Prahlada was his own son? I wish to know about this subject from you.

'A father and mother are always affectionate to their children. When the children are disobedient the parents chastise them, not due to enmity but only for the child's instruction and welfare. How did Hiranyakashipu, the father of Prahlada Maharaja, chastise such a noble son? This is what I am eager to know.'

Maharaja Yudhisthira further inquired: 'How was it possible for a father to be so violent toward an exalted son who was obedient, well-behaved and respectful to his father? O brahmana, O master, I have never heard of such a contradiction as an affectionate father's punishing his noble son with the intention of killing him. Kindly dissipate our doubts in this regard.'

Prahlada Maharaja, the Saintly Son of Hiranyakashipu The great saint Narada Muni replied: The demons, headed by Hiranyakashipu, accepted Shukracharya as their priest for ritualistic ceremonies. Shukracharya's two sons, Shanda and Amarka, lived near Hiranyakashipu's palace. Prahlada Maharaja was already educated in devotional life, but when his father sent him to those two sons of Shukracharya to be educated, they accepted him at their school along with the other sons of the asuras.

Prahlada certainly heard and recited the topics of politics and economics taught by the teachers, but he understood that political philosophy involves considering someone a friend and someone else an enemy, and thus he did not like it. My dear King Yudhisthira, once upon a time the King of the demons, Hiranyakashipu, took his son Prahlada on his lap and very affectionately inquired: 'My dear son, please let me know what you think is the best of all the subjects you have studied from your teachers.'

Prahlada Maharaja replied: 'O best of the asuras, King of the demons, as far as I have learned from my spiritual master, any person who has accepted a temporary body and temporary household life is certainly embarrassed by anxiety because of having fallen in a dark well where there is no water but only suffering. One should give up this position and go to the forest [vana]. More clearly, one should go to Vrindavana, where only Krishna consciousness is prevalent, and should thus take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.'

Narada Muni continued: When Prahlada Maharaja spoke about the path of self-realization in devotional service, thus being faithful to the camp of his father's enemies, Hiranyakashipu, the King of the demons, heard Prahlada's words and he laughingly said, 'Thus is the intelligence of children spoiled by the words of the enemy.'

Hiranyakashipu advised his assistants: 'My dear demons, give complete protection to this boy at the guru-kula where he is instructed, so that his intelligence will not be further influenced by Vaishnavas who may go there in disguise.'

When Hiranyakashipu's servants brought the boy Prahlada back to the guru-kula [the place where the brahmanas taught the boys], the priests of the demons, Shanda and Amarka, pacified him. With very mild voices and affectionate words, they inquired from him as follows:

'Dear son Prahlada, all peace and good fortune unto you. Kindly do not speak lies; just reply with the truth. These boys you see are not like you, for they do not speak in a deviant way. How have you learned these instructions? How has your intelligence been spoiled in this way? O best of your family, has this pollution of your intelligence been brought about by you or by the enemies? We are all your teachers and are very eager to hear about this. Please tell us the truth.'

Prahlada Maharaja replied: 'Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose external energy has created the distinctions of 'my friend' and 'my enemy' by deluding the intelligence of men. Indeed, I am now actually experiencing this, although I have previously heard of it from authoritative sources. When the Supreme Personality of Godhead is pleased with the living entity because of his devotional service, one becomes a pandita and does not make distinctions between enemies, friends and himself. Intelligently, he then thinks, 'Every one of us is an eternal servant of God, and therefore we are not different from one another.'

'Persons who always think in terms of 'enemy' and 'friend' are unable to ascertain the Supersoul within themselves. Not to speak of them, even such exalted persons as Lord Brahma, who are fully conversant with the Vedic literature, are sometimes bewildered in following the principles of devotional service. The same Supreme Personality of Godhead who has created this situation has certainly given me the intelligence to take the side of your so-called enemy.

'O brahmanas [teachers], as iron attracted by a magnetic stone moves automatically toward the magnet, my consciousness, having been changed by His will, is attracted by Lord Vishnu, who carries a disc in His hand. Thus I have no independence.'

The great saint Narada Muni continued: The great soul Prahlada Maharaja became silent after saying this to his teachers, Shanda and Amarka, the seminal sons of Shukracharya. These so-called brahmanas then became angry at him. Because they were servants of Hiranyakashipu, they were very sorry, and to chastise Prahlada Maharaja they spoke as follows.

'Oh, please bring me a stick! This Prahlada is damaging our name and fame. Because of his bad intelligence, he has become like a cinder in the dynasty of the demons. Now he needs to be treated by the fourth of the four kinds of political diplomacy (the stick).

'This rascal Prahlada has appeared like a thorn tree in a forest of sandalwood. To cut down sandalwood trees, an axe is needed, and the wood of the thorn tree is very suitable for the handle of such an axe. Lord Vishnu is the axe for cutting down the sandalwood forest of the family of demons, and this Prahlada is the handle for that axe.'

Shanda and Amarka, the teachers of Prahlada Maharaja, chastised and threatened their disciple in various ways and began teaching him about the paths of religion, economic development and sense gratification. This is the way they educated him. After some time, the teachers Shanda and Amarka thought that Prahlada Maharaja was sufficiently educated in the diplomatic affairs of pacifying public leaders, appeasing them by giving them lucrative posts, dividing and ruling over them, and punishing them in cases of disobedience.

Then, one day, after Prahlada's mother had personally washed the boy and dressed him nicely with sufficient ornaments, they presented him before his father. When Hiranyakashipu saw that his child had fallen at his feet and was offering obeisances, as an affectionate father he immediately began showering blessings upon the child and embraced him with both arms. A father naturally feels happy to embrace his son, and Hiranyakashipu became very happy in this way.

Narada Muni continued: My dear King Yudhisthira, Hiranyakashipu seated Prahlada Maharaja on his lap and began smelling his head. With affectionate tears gliding down from his eyes and moistening the child's smiling face, he spoke to his son as follows.

Hiranyakashipu said: 'My dear Prahlada, my dear son, O longlived one, for so much time you have heard many things from your teachers. Now please repeat to me whatever you think is the best of that knowledge.'

Prahlada Maharaja said: 'Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Vishnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one's best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words) -these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krishna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge.'

After hearing these words of devotional service from the mouth of his son Prahlada, Hiranyakashipu was extremely angry. His lips trembling, he spoke as follows to Shanda the son of his guru, Shukracharya.

'O unqualified, most heinous son of a brahmana, you have disobeyed my order and taken shelter of the party of my enemies. You have taught this poor boy about devotional service! What is this nonsense? In due course of time, various types of diseases are manifest in those who are sinful. Similarly, in this world there are many deceptive friends in false garbs, but eventually, because of their false behavior, their actual enmity becomes manifest.'

The son of Shukra-acharya, Hiranyakashipu's spiritual master, said: 'O enemy of King Indra, O King! Whatever your son Prahlada has said was not taught to him by me or anyone else. His spontaneous devotional service has naturally developed in him. Therefore, please give up your anger and do not unnecessarily accuse us. It is not good to insult a brahmana in this way.'

Sri Narada Muni continued: When Hiranyakashipu received this reply from the teacher, he again addressed his son Prahlada.

Hiranyakashipu said: 'You rascal, most fallen of our family, if you have not received this education from your teachers, where have you gotten it?'

Prahlada Maharaja replied: 'Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Krishna are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both.

'Persons who are strongly entrapped by the consciousness of enjoying material life, and who have therefore accepted as their leader or guru a similar blind man attached to external sense objects, cannot understand that the goal of life is to return home, back to Godhead, and engage in the service of Lord Vishnu. As blind men guided by another blind man miss the right path and fall into a ditch, materially attached men led by another materially attached man are bound by the ropes of fruitive labour, which are made of very strong cords, and they continue again and again in materialistic life, suffering the threefold miseries.

'Unless they smear upon their bodies the dust of the lotus feet of a Vaishnava completely freed from material contamination, persons very much inclined toward materialistic life cannot be attached to the lotus feet of the Lord, who is glorified for His uncommon activities. Only by becoming Krishna conscious and taking shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord in this way can one be freed from material contamination.'

After Prahlada Maharaja had spoken in this way and become silent, Hiranyakashipu, blinded by anger, threw him off his lap and onto the ground.

Indignant and angry, his reddish eyes like molten copper, Hiranyakashipu said to his servants: 'O demons, take this boy away from me! He deserves to be killed. Kill him as soon as possible! This boy Prahlada is the killer of my brother, for he has given up his family to engage in the devotional service of the enemy, Lord Vishnu, like a menial servant. Although Prahlada is only five years old, even at this young age he has given up his affectionate relationship with his father and mother. Therefore, he is certainly untrustworthy. Indeed, it is not at all believable that he will behave well toward Vishnu.

'Although a medicinal herb, being born in the forest, does not belong to the same category as a man, if beneficial it is kept very carefully. Similarly, if someone outside one's family is favorable, he should be given protection like a son. On the other hand, if a limb of one's body is poisoned by disease, it must be amputated so that the rest of the body may live happily. Similarly, even one's own son, if unfavourable, must be rejected, although born of one's own body. Just as uncontrolled senses are the enemies of all yogis engaged in advancing in spiritual life, this Prahlada, who appears to be a friend, is an enemy because I cannot control him. Therefore this enemy, whether eating, sitting or sleeping, must be killed by all means.' The demons [Rakshasas], the servants of Hiranyakashipu, thus began striking the tender parts of Prahlada Maharaja's body with their tridents. The demons all had fearful faces, sharp teeth and reddish, coppery beards and hair, and they appeared extremely threatening. Making a tumultuous sound, shouting, 'Chop him up! Pierce him!' they began striking Prahlada Maharaja, who sat silently, meditating upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Even though a person who has no assets in pious activities performs some good deed, it will have no result. Thus the weapons of the demons had no tangible effects upon Prahlada Maharaja because he was a devotee undisturbed by material conditions and fully engaged in meditating upon and serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is unchangeable, who cannot be realized by the material senses, and who is the soul of the entire universe.

My dear King Yudhisthira, when all the attempts of the demons to kill Prahlada Maharaja were futile, the King of the demons, Hiranyakashipu, being most fearful, began contriving other means to kill him.

Hiranyakashipu could not kill his son by throwing him beneath the feet of big elephants, throwing him among huge, fearful snakes, employing destructive spells, hurling him from the top of a hill, conjuring up illusory tricks, administering poison, starving him, exposing him to severe cold, winds, fire and water, or throwing heavy stones to crush him. When Hiranyakashipu found that he could not in any way harm Prahlada, who was completely sinless, he was in great anxiety about what to do next.

Hiranyakashipu thought: 'I have used many ill names in chastising this boy Prahlada and have devised many means of killing him, but despite all my endeavours, he could not be killed. Indeed, he saved himself by his own powers, without being affected in the least by these treacheries and abominable actions. Although he is very near to me and is merely a child, he is situated in complete fearlessness. He resembles a dog's curved tail, which can never be straightened, because he never forgets my misbehaviour and his connection with his master, Lord Vishnu. I can see that this boy's strength is unlimited, for he has not feared any of my punishments. He appears immortal. Therefore, because of my enmity toward him, I shall die. Or maybe this will not take place.'

Thinking in this way, the King of the Daityas, morose and bereft of bodily luster, remained silent with his face downward. Then Shanda and Amarka, the two sons of Shukracharya, spoke to him in secret.

'O lord, we know that when you simply move your eyebrows, all the commanders of the various planets are most afraid. Without the help of any assistant, you have conquered all the three worlds. Therefore, we do not find any reason for you to be morose and full of anxiety. As for Prahlada, he is nothing but a child and cannot be a cause of anxiety. After all, his bad or good qualities have no value.

'Until the return of our spiritual master, Shukracharya, arrest this child with the ropes of Varuna so that he will not flee in fear. In any case, by the time he is somewhat grown up and has assimilated our instructions or served our spiritual master, he will change in his intelligence. Thus there need be no cause for anxiety.'

After hearing these instructions of Shanda and Amarka, the sons of his spiritual master, Hiranyakashipu agreed and requested them to instruct Prahlada in that system of occupational duty which is followed by royal householder families. Thereafter, Shanda and Amarka systematically and unceasingly taught Prahlada Maharaja, who was very submissive and humble, about mundane religion, economic development and sense gratification.

The teachers Shanda and Amarka instructed Prahlada Maharaja in the three kinds of material advancement called religion, economic development and sense gratification. Prahlada, however, being situated above such instructions, did not like them, for such instructions are based on the duality of worldly affairs, which involve one in a materialistic way of life marked by birth, death, old age and disease.

When the teachers went home to attend to their household affairs, the students of the same age as Prahlada Maharaja would call him to take the opportunity of leisure hours for play. Prahlada Maharaja, who was truly the supreme learned person, then addressed his class friends in very sweet language. Smiling, he began to teach them about the uselessness of the materialistic way of life. Being very kind to them, he instructed them as follows.

My dear King Yudhisthira, all the children were very much affectionate and respectful to Prahlada Maharaja, and because of their tender age they were not so polluted by the instructions and actions of their teachers, who were attached to condemned duality and bodily comfort. Thus the boys surrounded Prahlada Maharaja, giving up their playthings, and sat down to hear him. Their hearts and eyes being fixed upon him, they looked at him with great earnestness. Prahlada Maharaja, although born in a demon family, was an exalted devotee, and he desired their welfare. Thus he began instructing them about the futility of materialistic life.

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