Prahlada (प्रह्लादः)

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Prahlada (Samskrit : प्रह्लादः) is the son of Hiranyakasipa, the asura.

Kasyapa, son of Marici, got two sons, Hiranyaksa and Hiranyakasipu and a daughter Simhika, of his wife Diti. Simhika became the wife of Vipracitti. Of her were born the celebrated asuras, Sairhhikeyas, of which Rahu was one. HiranyakaSipu had four brave sons, Anuvrata, Vrata, Prahlada and Samhrada. Of these Vrata got a son Vrata, Samhrada got Ayusman, Sibi, and Baskala and Prahlada got a son, Virocana. Mahabali was the son of Virocana. (Chapter 19, Agni Purana). (Page 96, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

One day overcome by erotic passion Andhaka said to his henchmen as follows : "He is my true friend who brings Siva's consort, Parvati to me. Yes, he is my brother, nay, father even." Hearing these ravings of Andhaka, Prahlada went to him and convinced him that Parvati, in fact was his mother. But Andhaka was not quietened. Then Prahlada explained to him the gravity of the papa (पापम्) of desiring other people's wives. Even this had no effect on Andhaka. He sent Sambarasura to Siva to ask for and bring Parvati to him. Siva sent word to Andhaka that if the latter would defeat him in the game of dice Parvati would be sent to him. Andhaka got enraged and rushed to mount Mandara and began a fight with Siva. Defeated in the encounter, Andhaka craved for Siva's pardon. He admitted that Parvati was his mother. He also prayed for Siva's blessings for removal of his Asurahood. Siva granted him the prayers. The papas and Asurahood of Andhaka were thus ended. Siva made him the head of the Asuras, named Bhrngi. (Vamana Purana, Chapter 63 etc.). (Page 36, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Virocana was the son of Prahlada ; Sudhanva the son of Angiras and Virocana fell in love with the same woman once. There arose a contention between these two as to who was greater. They staked their lives on the issue. Then both of them together approached Prahlada and requested him to give a decision as to which of them was the elder. Thinking that Prahlada might side with Virocana his son, Sudhanva said to him, "Sir, you should not utter words of falsehood, nor should you abstain from speaking the truth. If you do so your head will be cut into a hundred pieces by Indra with his Vajrayudha (the weapon of thunderbolt)". Hesitating to take a decision, because of the words of Sudhanva, Prahlada went to Kasyapa to clear his doubts, and asked: "Lord, do you know which are the future worlds stined for those who utter words of falsehood or abstain from giving out the truth ?" Kasyapa said, "On him, who abstains from speaking truth knowingly a thousand cords of death will fall. He who tells falsehood will have to perform many a deed of duty to attain heaven." Having heard the words of Kasyapa, Prahlada said to Virocana, "Virocana, Sudhanva is greater than you. Angiras is greater than me. Likewise the mother of Sudhanva is nobler than your mother. So according to your bet you owe your life to Sudhanva." Pleased at the righteousness of Prahlada, Sudhanva gave Virocana a boon to live a hundred years more. (Mahabharata, Sabha Parva, Chapter 63) . (Page 40-41, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Kasyapa had a son named Kasipu. He was daring and brave and ruled the country as an enemy of the Gods. There arose a severe battle between the gods and the Asuras. Kasipu was killed in that battle. After Kasipu his son Prahlada became King. He too was an enemy of the Gods. So there was a battle between Indra and Prahlada. The battle continued for a hundred years. At last Prahlada was defeated. He felt very sorry at the defeat. So he anointed Bali, son of Virocana, as King and leaving the Kingdom he went to the Gandhamadana and began to do penance. The fight continued between Bali and Indra. In this fight Mahavisnu helped Indra. The Asuras were completely destroyed. The defeated Asuras went to their teacher Sukra who promised to protect them by spells and incantations and herbs. The Gods knew that Sukra had undertaken to protect the asuras. Leaving the asuras behind, Sukra went to Kailasa to get more power of spells and incantations from Siva. Before going to Kailasa Sukra had asked the Asuras to wait for him with faith. After this the Asuras sent Prahlada to the Gods for a truce. Prahlada, though an Asura was in good favour with the Gods. He reached the court of Indra and said, "Gods, we have no desire at all for war. We have decided to spend the remaining period in penance wearing barks of trees and tufts of hair. How wicked a deed is battle and how delightful it is to become a devotee of God ! So hereafter you will not be troubled by us. Likewise I hope you will not do us innocent people any harm." The gods believed Prahlada. The Asuras, in the guise of hermits waited for Sukra in the hermitage of Kasyapa. Sukra reached Kailasa and bowed before Siva and requested that he might be given the power of defeating the Gods by some means quite unknown to Brhaspati the teacher of the devas (Gods). Siva was in trouble. He could refuse neither Sukra nor the Gods. At last he told hermit Sukra that to come by such a spell he had to stand head downwards, inhaling smoke for a thousand years. Siva said so thinking that when the dreadful nature of the feat was considered, Sukra might desist from the attempt. But Sukra began that penance instantly. The Gods understood everything. The deceit of the Asuras, the crookedness of Sukra all were now clear to them. They trembled with fear and began to consult how to get over the difficult situation. Finally they decided to go to war with the Asuras. The gods did accordingly. The Asuras were in trouble. They were not strong enough to face the Gods. So they all went to Kavyamata, the mother of Sukra. The devas (gods) with Mahavisnu at their head chased the Asuras. Kavyamata, by the merits of her devotional meditation petrified Mahavisnu and Indra. Mahavisnu thought of his Sudarsana (wheel-weapon of Visnu) which instantly made its appearance and cut off the head of Kavyamata. The great hermit Bhrgu got angry because Mahavisnu committed woman-slaughter, and cursed him thus : "You are a crooked being, a viper, a deceit. The hermits who adore you as the seat of all that is good are mere fools; you are wicked, of a black character, and I curse you to take countless incarnations in the world, and painful confinement by and by because of your papas." (Sri Mahadevi Bhagavata, 4th Skandha). (Page 78-79, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

With the death of Hiranyaksa, his brother Hiranyakasipu became furious more than ever. He wanted to avenge the death of his brother. His fury was turned towards Mahavisnu. So he got on the top of the Mountain of Mandara and did penance before Brahma and Brahma appeared and granted him boons, one of which was that nobody but Visnu should be able to kill him. He returned with gladness and began to roam about torturing devotees of Visnu everywhere. A son named Prahlada was born to him. He was a god-fearing child and from birth an ardent believer in Visnu. Hiranyakasipu tried his utmost to change his son to a hater of Visnu. He got a special teacher for the purpose and Prahlada was taken to the house of the teacher to live with him until he changed his mind. The result was that the teacher and all others who advised him ultimately became believers in Visnu. Anger overpowered Hiranyakasipu. Prahlada was thrown before mad elephants. But the tusks of the elephant missed the aim and were driven into the earth and broken. Venomous snakes were employed and those which bit him had their fangs broken. Finally the child was put in blazing fire. But the child felt the fire to be cool and soothing. From that fire a ghost arose and tried to kill Prahlada. Instantly the Sudarsana, the wheel-weapon of Visnu came down and cut off the head of the ghost. Hiranyakasipu jumped with anger and called out. "Where is your Visnu?" His son replied that his Visnu dwelt in every movable and immovable thing. Hiranyakasipu kicked at a stone pillar close by and asked him, "Is your Visnu in this pillar?" Prahlada replied, "My Visnu is in Pillar and in fibre". Before he had finished, the Pillar broke open and a monster as horrible as the Destroyer Siva, in the shape of a lion-man made its appearance.

"Mimamsamanasya samuthito 'grato Nrsimharupastadalam bhayanakarh Prataptacamikaracandalocanarh Sphuratsatakesarajrmbhitananarh Karaladamstram Karavalacancala- Ksurantajihvam bhrukutimukholbanam Stabdhordhvakarnam girikandaradbhutavyattasyanasamhanubhedabhi sanarh Divisprsatkayamadlrghaplvara- Grivoruvaksahsthalamalpamadhyamam CandrarhSugauraischuritarh tanuruhairvisvagbhujanikaSatarh nakhayudham."

"Before him who was waiting with curiosity to see what would happen, with eyes blazing as molten gold, mouth wide open in the middle of long bushy mane, tusks long and curved and protruding fearfully, tongue swaying like a sword, eyebrows fierce looking, ears standing erect and still, two nostrils as wide and deep as mountain canyons, jaws prominent and thick and broad and set with fierceness, colossal body reaching the sky, neck very thick and fat and short, breast excessively broad and strong, waist very small and narrow, body thickly covered with bushy hair exuberantly grown and as yellow as the light of the moon, a number of claws very sharp and pointed, the horrid monster Narasimha (Lion with human head) suddenly appeared. (Bhagavata, Skandha 7, Chapter 8, Stanzas 20-22).

This was the figure of Narasimha. Mr. S. Paramesvara Iyer, Ulloor, has described this figure in his "Bhaktidipika" as follows : "Glaring eyes burning as blazing cinder, tongue as a dagger just used in piercing to death, neck with folds, eyebrows looking mad, tusks like young moon, fierce face with bushy mane grown to it, hair long and sharp like pointed wire, claws looking like having drunk blood, body shining as if countless suns had risen together, all combined as if the fire of anger burning inside had incarnated, in the shape of a lion up to neck and human shape beyond the neck." (Bhaktidipika)

The horrid monster caught hold of Hiranyakasipu the King of the Asuras, pushed him to the ground and opened his heart with its fierce claws. Blood sprouted like a spring. With great ferocity he pulled out the intestines of Hiranyaka^ipu and wore them round his neck as a garland and roared loudly. Prahlada, with songs of praise and chanting of hymns of adoration pacified the stormy Narasimha and bowed low down before him. The Narasimha was pleased with the devotion of Prahlada. He blessed the child and then disappeared. (Bhagavata, Skandha 7, Chapter 8). (Page 81, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Santi Parva of Mahabharata in its 179th Chapter states that Prahlada conversed with sage Ajagara. (Page 87, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Mahavisnu had not been on good terms with the devas, for a time. Taking this opportunity, Sukracarya the teacher of the Asuras, persuaded Bali to engage the devas in a battle. Bali defeated the devas completely in a pitched battle. Thus the realm of the gods came under the sway of Mahabali. Once, during that period Bali invited his grandfather Prahlada to heaven and requested him to accept the most honourable seat there. Prahlada accepted his invitation and anointed Bali as Indra. Bali inquired of Prahlada as to the method of carrying on the government of heaven. Prahlada said thus in reply: "Only virtue will always win. Rule the kingdom without deviating from virtue." (Vamana Purana, Chapter 74). Because Bali had ruled his kingdom according to the advice of Prahlada, he became famous in the three worlds. (Vamana Purana, Chapter 75) . According to the version of Bhagavata, Prahlada when he grew old, left his kingdom in the hands of his son Virocana and went to the forest for penance. Virocana was not as famous as Prahlada. After the period of Virocana, Mahabali came to the throne. He was a mighty king. Within a short time he became the emperor of the Asuras. It was during this period that the churning of the Milk Sea took place. (Page 103, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

As the whole of heaven came under the sway of Bali, the devas began to leave the country one by one. Everybody was happy and comfortable under the rule of Bali. But the devas and Brahmanas were denied the privileges they deserved. They approached Visnu and represented their grievances. Visnu told them thus : "Bali is devoted to me. Still, to redress your grievances I shall take the incarnation of Vamana shortly." In course of time the Asuras and their countries began to be weakened. Seeing the approach of destruction emperor Bali became thoughtful. He approached Prahlada to learn the reason. Prahlada told Bali thus : "Lord Visnu is now staying in the womb of Aditi for his incarnation as Vamana. That is why the country and the Asuras are subjected to destruction. Hearing this Mahabali said: ''Our Raksasas are more powerful than that Visnu." Hearing these haughty words of Bali, Prahlada got angry and cursed Bali ''Let your country be destroyed." Bali requested Prahlada to pardon him. Prahlada advised Bali "You will get salvation only by relying on Visnu". (Vamana Purana 77) . Once Mahabali went to Prahlada and repented of his papas and begged for pardon. Then he began to make enquiries on adhyatmik matters. (M.B., Vana Parva, Chapter 28, Stanza 3). (Page 104, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Prahlada, the son of Hiranyakasipu, was a devotee of Visnu. The father did not like the son's devotion to Visnu. So he persecuted Prahlada in various ways. Once he threw down Prahlada from the top of a high building. At that time Bhumi devi appeared there and received him in her arms. (Brahmanda Purana, Chapter 24). (Page 143, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Indra defeated Prahlada and in the Tarakamaya war also killed his son Virocana who had planned to kill him (Indra). (Page 214, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Diti was one of the wives of Kasyapa. She had no children while the other wives of Kasyapa had children. Jealousy and grief rankled in her mind. One day she approached Kasyapa and pressed him to beget a son for her. It was the time of dusk when Kasyapa was deeply absorbed in his day's devotional worship. She disturbed his "Dhyana" (devotional concentration) by her importunity, but he was reluctant to yield to her wishes al such an inauspicious time. It is at dusk that Siva goes about with his attendant hordes of spirits, wearing the crown of his matted hair covered with the dust carried by the whirlwinds from cremation grounds and keeping his three eyes wide open. Kasyapa asked Did to wait for a few minutes, until that terrible time was over, bul she did not heed his advice. In the fury of her passion she sprang towards him and stripped him of his clothes and in ihe end Kasyapa yielded to her carnal desires. But after the act he in a repentant mood told her that she had defiled her mind by having sexual union in that unholy hour and by doing so had offended the gods. As a result, twin sons will be born in her womb. They would persecute and torture the three worlds. Mahavisnu would incarnate to destroy them. But since she also fell a little regret in her act, a grandson of her (Prahlada) will become a devotee of Visnu. (Page 244, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

The great King Prahlada once conquered Heaven. Indra, who lost his kingdom and glory, accepted Brhaspati's advice and went to meet Sukracarya. Sukra told Indra that Prahlada was the noblest person and that he had earned that nobility by his good qualities. Indra decided to acquire those good qualities from Prahlada. Indra disguised himself as a Brahmin boy and approached Prahlada with a request for moral and adhyatmik advice. Prahlada accepted him as his pupil and gave him moral and adhyatmik advice. Pleased with the pupil's devotion, Prahlada agreed to give him whatever boon he wanted. The pupil said that he wanted only the good qualities of the Guru. Prahlada agreed to it. Then a shadow-like figure appeared to emerge from Prahlada's body. Prahlada who]]was puzzled asked the figure : "Who are you" "The figure answered : "I am your virtuous character. Now I am leaving you and entering this boy's body." Saying thus it left Prahlada's body and entered Indra's body. Following it, all the good qualities of Prahlada, like charity, truth, glory etc. entered Indra's body one after another. It was only in the end that Prahlada came to know that the cunning pupil was Indra. Thus from that day, Prahlada began to decline in his good qualities and Indra began to prosper. (MB Santi Parva, Chapter 124). (Page 322, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Prahlada had, as conveyance a divine chariot of gold and silver yoked with eight white horses. (Page 338, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

KAMALA I. Mother of Prahlada. (Padma Purana). (Page 381, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

KAYADHU. Wife of Hiranyakasipu. Prahlada was born to her.  (Page 402, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

KEKARALOHITA. A great serpent which once took sage Cyavana to Patala. Cyavana, after worshipping Siva at Nakulesvara tirtha got into river Narmada to take his bath when the naga called Kekaralohita caught hold of him, dragged him and bit him. As the sage meditated upon Visnu the poison did not affect him. The serpent released him from Patala as he was unaffected by poison. Cyavana went to the palace of Prahlada accompanied by naga damsels. On the request of Prahlada Cyavana described to him the holy places on earth, and without any delay Prahlada came to earth for hunting during which sojourn on earth he visited Naimisaranya. (Vamana Purana, Chapter 8). (Page 403, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)