Bhakta Prahlad

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Hiranakashyap had prayed himself into a state of being able to make demands of the gods. He wanted immortality, and when he saw that the absolute cannot be granted to a praying man, he tried to create a relative condition of immortality. That he could not be killed by man or beast, not by day night, neither inside nor outside.

Vishnu smiled to grant his disciple this.

A child was born to Hirankashyap, he was named Prahlad.

Seeing the power of ritual and self flagellation in the path of power.. that permeated the royal household, Prahlad was a quiet child, he withdrew into himself, he seemed to meditate. The silence and the withdrawl infuriated his father who would have liked his son to be in his likeness, and even greater, more acquisitive, more powerful, radiant.

One day Hirankashyap decided to ask Prahlad some questions.. the conversation let open the words that Prahlad had locked up inside him. The words made those small strong strings of thought that infuriated Hirankashyap, their very presence made mockery of all that he had gathered and won. And still, when he looked into his son's eyes, he saw no desire to challenge, no active contempt, no question that he could reply to. His son seemed completely self contained.

Hirankashyap began to hate Prahalad who showed no trace of his father, who showed no need for him. He decided to burn him.

Holika, his sister, more ambitious in the world than his son, even though she was a woman..She had also won a boon, that she could sit on the lap of fire and never be singed by it. So Prahlad was seated on her lap and Hirankashyap mocked the child to ask the God he so revered to come to his rescue.

Prahlad merely shut those infuriating eyes of his and smiled. When the pyre was lit the flames seemed in awe of the boy, they watched him from afar. So rapt by his smiling face were they, that they forgot their original supplicant and Holika died a horrible death, burnt by the fire she thought she had conquered.

Then began a one sided battle of wits, Hirankashyap pitting his wits against Prahlad's silence. Prahlad merely, simply praying to, reflecting on, his ubiquitous God. " Your god is everywhere, you say, Hunh?" jeered Hirankashyap, kicking a pillar " Is he in this pillar too? Show me!"

God came to the rescue of his little disciple as Narasimha- neither man nor beast. He stepped out of the pillar at that twilight hour, in the form of a lion man who tore open the belly of Hirankashyap at the threshold of the palace.

Image:Narsinha chitrashala-press pune 1880.jpg

an image of Narasinha from the Chitrashala press, Pune, from 1880, in which the over- reaching Hirankashyap is shown as a white coloniser.


Directed by Phalke in 1926, feature film

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