I have been wanting to write this post for some time now, but never seem to have got the time. Anyway, here goes....
Basically, what I am going to do is narrate the story of Lord Narsimhadev in 3 parts. Part of ancient Hindu Lore, this is essentially a tale of faith and the wonderful relationship between God and his devotee. Like all good tales, it has a hero and a villain (but sadly, no heroine :) )This part focuses on the villain, from whom the story began and on whom the story ends :)
Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu were the sons of the sage Kashyap and his wife Diti. They were not ordinary mortals. Originally, they were Jay and Vijay, the door-keepers of Lord Vishnu's immortal planet Vaikuntha. Once the four kumaras, four sages who look like 5 year old boys, came to Vaikuntha to meet the Lord. But Jay and Vijay, arrogant of their position of authority, refused the Kumaras entry, mocking their child-like appearance. To teach the brothers a lesson, the sages cursed them,
"Three times you shall be born as demons in the mortal word, and three times Lord Vishnu will Himself have to appear to destroy you!"
Jay and Vijay realized their folly and begged for forgiveness. No one in the immortal land, ever wishes to come to the mortal realm. But a curse is a curse. The sages were the epitome of virtue, and their words must come true. Jay and Vijay appeared as Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu in their first birth as demons.
"But they were the sons of a sage?" you may ask. "How could they be demons." Ah well, this story simply reiterates the fact that it is your deeds and not your birth, that determines who you are. Hiranyaksha, the eldest, began to wreak havoc on the masses. So intoxicated was he by his strength, that he lifted up mother earth(the earth planet) and carried her to the lowest regions of the universe. Lord Vishnu, then incarnated as a wild boar, killed Hiranyaksha, and restored the planet to its correct position.(This is a story in itself and must be reserved for another blog)
Angered by his brother's death, Hiranyakashipu swore enmity with Vishnu, and began rigorous austerity. He retreated into the forest, stood on one leg and controlled his breathing, meditating on Lord Brahma, the creator of this universe. 36,000 years passed, Hiranyakashipu's body was covered with anthills, and the power of his austerities generated great heat that began to burn up the universe. The other Gods approached Lord Brahma and begged him to appease Hiranyakashipu and restore the balance of the universe.
Brahma finally appeared before the demon and sprinkled him with sacred water. His body, which had decayed to mere bones, was restored. Hiranyakashipu regained his youth and vitality. Falling at Brahma's feet, he prayed, "Great God, if I have pleased you with my worship, please grant me immortality."
Brahma frowned, "Anything but that, my child. I cannot grant you immortality, for I, too, am mortal. All beings, within this mortal universe must die. That is the law."
Hiranyakashipu thought for a moment. Then he spelled out, what he thought was the contract for immortality. "O Brahma," he said, "Then grant me that I should not be killed at the hands of any creature created by you. No god in heaven, no man, no animal, no serpent,no demon should be able to kill me. I should not be killed by any weapon that can be thrown or any weapon that can be wielded. I should not be killed during the day, nor at night. I should not be killed on land or in the sky. Death should not come to me inside my house or outside it. Grant me invincibility in battle and undisputed lordship over all beings. Let me have unfailing powers and the same glory as you."
"So be it!" smiled Brahma and vanished.
Hiranyakashipu returned to his kingdom. He wasted no time in launching a battle on the heavens and capturing all the Gods. Defeating them, he assumed total control of the universe. There was only one law in his land. "No one should worship Vishnu. Anyone found even chanting the name of that God shall be immediately killed!"
Hiranyakashipu, the original tyrant, began to persecute all the brahmins and vaishnavas engaged in worshiping Vishnu. He falsely believed, that sacrifices(yajnas) done in the name of Vishnu increase the Lord's strength. He destroyed such sacrifices and brutally destroyed devotees, cows and all object dear to the Lord.
So complete was his power that if he demanded, "Let there be rain on my garden, but let the sun shine on my porch" it would be done. He had total control on nature. He could enjoy whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. He had strength, beauty, wealth, fame, everything that most of us aspire. You would expect him to be happy.
Was he happy? Nope. He wasn't even the 'I have had an average day-not too bad, not too good' happy. He was miserable. He was frustrated. He had one thorn in his side. His son, a little 5 year old boy, Prahlad.
(To be continued...)