Everyone knows the story about NarasimhA Avatar, how the bad father tortured his pious son who was a mere child. And how the pious child was protected by Lord viShNu in a dramatic climax.
The bad father, who had conquered the three worlds, proclaimed himself to be mightier than God. He invented ways to torture his own son, just because he was devoted to NArAyanA rather than him. He was none other than Hiranyakashipu. Lord took a curious form of Lion head in a man’s body , appeared out of a pillar which PrahlAd pointed at saying the mighty viShNu is even inside this pillar, and ripped off the entrails of Hiranyakashipu to protect his faithful devotee.
PrahlAd was one of the four sons of Hiranyakashipu. This king did a lot of tapas towards many devatas and received innumerable boons. After his brother’s death he was worried about his own future. So to extend his life he did penance to propitiate BramhA. This he did, even while his wife Kayadhu was pregnant with PrahlAdan. As always Indra feared losing his post to Hiranyakashipu. So he decided to kidnap Kayadhu. But was stopped by NArad muni. He pacified Indra and sent him back to his realms. But didn’t return Kayadhu to her palace. He kept her in his ashram and narrated all the scriptures and stories through which one can identify lord viShNu. He blessed the child in the womb with the knowledge of NArAyana.
Meanwhile, pleased with the penance, BramhA appeared before Hiranyakashipu and offered him a boon. This time Hiranyakashipu asked for immortality. But BramhA refused him, saying all that is born should die. Hearing this Hiranyakashipu thought for some time and listed a few conditions through which he should not die. He asked
- No death in the hands of human.
- No death in the hands of animal.
- No death in day time.
- No death in the night time.
- No death by any weapon.
- No death inside any structure.
- No death outside any structure.
- Not in the air not on the ground.
He was clever wasn’t he!
BramhA just smiled and granted him the boon. Hiranyakashipu, blinded by the power of this boon, believed that he had now become bhagvAn himself. With this thought he changed the order of the world saying everyone should now only worship Hiranyakashipu and chant Hiranyaya namaha, instead of any other God’s name. Anyone who dared to disobey, was put to cruel death.
He didn’t realize what was in store for him. As PrahlAdan grew old enough to be in school, two teachers were appointed to teach him. But the boy had already completed his gurukulam with nArad muni. So he kept chanting Om NArAyanaya namaha. He slowly began to change his friends and class mates too. Fearing death, the teachers took him to the King. After hearing about the happenings at school, the angry king, ordered for his son to be put through various levels of torture until he changed his mind and started chanting Hiranyakashipu’s name.
But PrahlAdan was not one who would be frightened by all this. Because he had an unwavering belief in Lord viShNu. True to his belief the lord protected him through every one of his father’s cruel punishments.
With every failure, the degree of punishment increased. Once PrahalAdan was rolled down a mountain, made to be bit by poisonous snakes, attacked by various kinds of weapons, burnt by fire. But PrahlAdan put up with everything with a beautiful smile on his face. His lips continuously chanting NArAyana mantram. His father first thought he was doing some magic. Naturally, it was expected of an Asura child. But PrahladAn said that Srihari resided in the atma, in the soul of everything on earth, and so, nothing can hurt him. Not believing him, Hiranyakashipu again questioned the boy, if someone was helping him do this magic. To that, PrahlAdan again had the same reply, “Srihari is in my heart who is making me realize the truth about everything.”
Hiranyakashipu’s anger touched skies limits. Infuriated, he dragged PrahlAdan to a pillar and asked him if his Srihari was in this pillar. The boy in a confident and clear voice said, “YES, He is in this pillar.” To prove him wrong, Hiranyakashipu hit that pillar with his mace. There amidst dust and debris, with a loud noise, in a very frightening form, Lord NarasimhA appeared. With a head of lion, body of a human (neither man, not animal), with long and sharp nails (no weapon), Lord NarasimhA caught hold of the King and dragged him to the door step (neither in nor out) and laid him on his lap (neither in air nor on ground). With a fearful roar that made heaven and earth tremble, Lord NarasimhA using his nails he dug deep into the Hiranyakashipu’s body. And it was evening time (neither day not night). Blood flowed like a river.
The little child PrahlAdan was watching this gory scene. Yet there was only smile on his face and NArAyana mantram on his lips.
Evil was destroyed and peace prevailed.
After this when lord NarasimhA’s anger subsided, he offered two boons and PrahlAdan asked for his father’s sins to be pardoned and be granted moksha. Secondly, he asked for complete immunity to all his descendants.
The story is completed.
But wait, is this what we are supposed to take home from this story?
Well, interestingly NarasimhA AvatAram is the story of PrahlAdan, his bhakti, his unshakable faith in lord viShNu, his wisdom at that tiny age, his perseverance. We can keep on adding.
Let’s teach our children the story of PrahlAdan. And how lord wouldn’t mind taking any form and appearing from anywhere to protect his bhaktas.
Temples Of NarasimhA AvatAr
There are very few temples for NarasimHa avatAr. Wikipedia lists a few.
Yoga Narasimha Temple, Melkote – It is situated in Melkote. Details in the templogue section