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Nrisimha-The lord who appeared to validate his little devotee’s faith

06/02/2010

Continuing our story of  the maha bhagawata Prahlada. Lilavati gave birth to Prahlada in the ashrama of Sage Narada. Hiranyakashyipu returns from his penance having successfully obtained the boons of near immortality from Lord Brahma. The demon learns of the punishment his pregnant wife had to bear at the hands of the demigods. He flies into a rage and marches upon the heavens to teach the celestials a lesson. Hiranyakashyipu soundly thrashes the demigods , gods ,celestials and conquers the whole cosmos. He installs himself in Indrapuri and declares that Lord Vishnu should no longer be worshipped and he should solely be worshipped in his place. The gods themselves are made his servants and the cosmos is filled with the cries of the rakshasas inflicting pain on all god fearing souls.

In course of time Leelavati also gave birth to three more sons  and Prahlada the eldest of them all was growing up to be a fine lad . The Srimad Bhagavatam describes his childhood this way

Bhagavatam Canto 7 Chapter 4

brahmaṇyaḥ śīla-sampannaḥ

satya-sandho jitendriyaḥ

ātmavat sarva-bhūtānām

eka-priya-suhṛttamaḥ

dāsavat sannatāryāńghriḥ

pitṛvad dīna-vatsalaḥ

bhrātṛvat sadṛśe snigdho

guruṣv īśvara-bhāvanaḥ

vidyārtha-rūpa-janmāḍhyo

māna-stambha-vivarjitaḥ

SYNONYMS

brahmaṇyaḥ — cultured as a good brāhmaṇa; śīla-sampannaḥ — possessing all good qualities; satya-sandhaḥ — determined to understand the Absolute Truth; jita-indriyaḥ — fully controlling the senses and mind; ātma-vat — like the Supersoul; sarva-bhūtānām — of all living entities; eka-priya — the one beloved; suhṛt-tamaḥ — the best friend; dāsa-vat — like a menial servant; sannata — always obedient; ārya-ańghriḥ — at the lotus feet of great persons; pitṛ-vat — exactly like a father; dīna-vatsalaḥ — kind to the poor; bhrātṛ-vat — exactly like a brother; sadṛśe — to his equals; snigdhaḥ — very affectionate; guruṣu — unto the spiritual masters; īśvara-bhāvanaḥ — who considered exactly like the Supreme Personality of Godhead; vidyā — education; artha — riches; rūpa — beauty; janma — aristocracy or nobility; āḍhyaḥ — endowed with; māna — pride; stambha — impudence; vivarjitaḥ — completely free from.

TRANSLATION

[The qualities of Mahārāja Prahlāda, the son of Hiraṇyakaśipu, are described herewith.] He was completely cultured as a qualified brāhmaṇa, 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.

Hiranyakashyipu decided it was time Prahlada learnt the martial arts and the art of governance and decided to send him to the gurukula . Shukracharya was the preceptor guru of the rakshasas and he had two sons by the names of  Sanda and Amarka who used to manage the gurukula. Prahlada was sent to their gurukula to learn the skills expected of a prince.Prahlada’s teachers accepted him along with the other rakshasa children and did their best to educate him in the arts of governance ,politics,economics and other skills required to govern a kingdom. Prahlada’s mind all the while was set on contemplating the divine form of Lord Vishnu , he often spent his time lost in deep bliss oblivious to his surroundings. Many months passed this way at the gurukula. Hiranyakashyipu wanted to see for himself the progress his son was making at the gurukula and decided to visit the school. Hiranyakashyipu was delighted to see his son and having seated him on his lap asked him lovingly

” My dear son, please let me know what you think is the best of all the subjects you have studied from your teachers.”

Prahlada sweetly replied “Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Viṣhṇu, 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 Vishnu  through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge.”

Hiraṇyakashyipu, the King of the demons, heard Prahlāda’s words and he laughingly said, “Thus is the intelligence of children spoiled by the words of the enemy.” He summoned both Sanda and Amarka and cautioned them that his son should not learn anything regarding his enemy Vishnu and should strictly learn the ways of  the rakshasas.

After the king had left the teachers questioned Prahlad as to who was teaching him the praise of Lord Vishnu. Prahlada replied ” Just as the magnet is attracted to the Iron ore , my mind is already attached to Lord Vishnu and does not need any prior instruction “. The teachers tried to convince him in various ways to leave the worship of Lord Vishnu and instead worship his father. Prahlada did not yield to any of the suggestions and remained firm that he could not leave the chanting of the Lord’s name.

Some more months passed by and Hiranyakashyipu paid another visit to the Gurukula to check on his son. Again he lovingly sat him on his lap and questioned him .Prahlada again replied that the worship of Lord Vishnu is the greatest thing in the whole cosmos. Upon hearing the praise of his enemy from the lips of his son the king flew into a rage and accused the teachers of poisoning the ears of his child against him. The teachers pleaded with the king ” O mighty lord of the asuras ,we have not taught your son the worship of Vishnu. On the contrary he continues to be adamant in worshipping your enemy and is also corrupting the minds of the other children at the ashrama ” . On hearing these words Hiranyakashyipu’s rage knew no bounds ,he threw the young boy on the ground .

The demon king gestured to his guards to throw his son into the darkest dungeon .He thought a night in the dungeon will set his mind right.Leelavati was shocked to hear these words from her husband and pleaded with him not to grant such a harsh punishment to the young kid.

To be continued…

Watch this video from the telugu movie Bhakta Prahlada and this beautiful song.

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