Indra Tells Narasimha's Story

By KAPIL Goel - 8.5 2017

    I am Indra, the god of war.  I have decided to tell you the story of Narasimha.  Vishnu has, yet again, come to the rescue.  Forgive the sarcasm that you may be detecting.  Vishnu has a habit of endearing himself to mortals by coming to their aid...all the time.  Though Vishnu has taken many Avatar states to protect the integrity of the gods,  he jumps at the opportunity to grace mere mortals with his presence whenever he gets the chance.  Take for example his fourth Avatar state, Narasimha.  Well, here, I'll let you decide for yourself.  I'll tell you the story as I saw it.   You could say I have an invested interest in Hiranyakasipu's fate - he did take over my kingdom.  Brahma really should learn to be careful when giving out boons - these gifts seem to cause more trouble than they are worth. 

    Hiranyakasipu, a demon, was able to obtain a gift from the creator, Brahma.  He was granted an unusual request.  You see, Brahma granted Hiranyakasipu the gift that no created animal or man could kill him.  Pretty miraculous, don't you think?  Because of these unusual circumstances Hiranyakasipu was unable to be defeated.  He took over my kingdom and many of my charges.  It is fair to say that he was indestructible and he ruled the three worlds as a result.  In his glory, Hiranyakasipu forgot the importance of the gods.  He thought that he, alone, mattered.  

    Well, the ruler of all kingdoms had a son.  He sent this son away at a very young age to be taught the ways of a Brahmin.  When Prahlada, Hiranyakasipu's son, was finally of an age to return home, his father was curious as to what he had learned.  He asked his son, "My son, who is the most powerful being?"  

    Without hesitating Prahlada replied, "Why, my lord, it is the Lord Vishnu that thrives in all living things.  He is the most powerful being."

    Needless to say, this was the last answer Hiranyakasipu expected.  He had anticipated that the Brahmin teacher, responsible for his son's education, would ensure that his son would be taught of the importance of his father.  In a rage, Hiranyakasipu addressed his son, "How dare this imbecile speak such sacrilege.  I am the most powerful being and you shall accept my authority as the ruler of the three worlds."

    Hiranyakasipu had the Brahmin sent away from his kingdom so that his influence could no longer reach his son.  He hoped this would be enough to teach his son that Vishnu was their enemy...not one to be worshiped.  The king tried to be patient with his son, but it soon became apparent that his son would not budge in his devotion to Lord Vishnu.  It was time, he decided, that his son must die.  

    Hiranyakasipu tried everything imaginable to take his son's life.  He sent his guards, hundreds upon hundreds of them to kill his son.  Amazingly, their weapons did not leave a scratch.  Next, serpents were sent to inflict their venom upon Prahlada, but their bites could not pierce his flesh.  The injustices to Prahlada did not stop there.  Prahlada was set upon by a hoard of elephants that trampled and gored him with their tusks.  Again, there wasn't a single scratch on Prahlada's body.  
    
    The king, at this time, became outraged and extremely frustrated.  Why would this boy not die?  Hiranyakasipu decided that if this boy would not die, he could live at the bottom of the sea for the remainder of time.  He had his advisors bind his son and ensured that rocks were keep the boy weighted down.  Prahlada was thrown into the sea.  I, myself, questioned whether Prahlada would survive this.  Soon, the son returned to his father's kingdom...in excellent shape.  The king was livid!  He ordered that his son be burned alive.  This public sacrifice did not work.  Prahlada was left unscathed.  

    There was nothing left that Hiranyakasipu could think of.  He went to Prahlada and asked, "I am completely astounded.  How is it that you do not die?"

    "Father, I have complete faith in Lord Vishnu.  He has kept me safe because of my worship of him.  Lord Vishnu will always protect me and he is everywhere," Prahlada explained.

    "He is, is he?  Is your Lord Vishnu present in this room?  I don't see him,"  Hiranyakasipu was sure that he would be able to get his son to waiver in his service of Vishnu.

    "My father, Lord Vishnu is invincible to us.  He is hides within that pillar."  Prahlada pointed across the room to an inconspicuous piece of marble.

    "A pillar, you say?  Well, if your Lord Vishnu is present let him make himself known."  It was a request that would ultimately lead to Hiranyakasipu's destruction.  Vishnu appeared in his Avatar state, Narasimha.  Narasimha is half-man, half-lion.  Because he was neither a created animal or man, Brahma's boon did not apply to him.  He easily ended Hiranyakasipu's life.  

    I question Vishnu's decision in waiting so long to take action.  Why didn't he go to the boy's rescue before the MANY attempts on Prahlada's life?  After all, Prahlada had proven to be one of Vishnu's best followers.  If you ask me, Vishnu should have done the deed long before he did.  
   

   Author's Note:  

    Indra is one of my favorite Hindu deities.  I love his spunk and directness.  I decided that this story would be perfect coming from him because, yet again, his position was affected by Hiranyakasipu.  I can't imagine Indra being happy with those circumstances.  So far, this has been one of my favorite stories.  I know that the version I presented his short, sweet, and to the point - that is how I imagined Indra would tell it.  The devotion of Prahlada to Vishnu was unshakable.  In addition, at the end of the story, Hiranyakasipu got what he had coming to him.  After all, what kind of father would try to murder his son?  Not a very good one, that is for sure.  While reading this story, I couldn't quite get over how ridiculous Hiranyakasipu's attempts at murdering his son were. 
    I also decided to write about this particular Avatar because it reminded me of "The Ramayana."  I see a direct correlation between Ravana and Hiranyakasipu.  On the surface, it doesn't appear that Rama and Narasimha have much in common.  However, there is one obvious similarity that I see.  Vishnu took the Avatar state, Rama, because he was the only one able to defeat Ravana.  Again, Vishnu took the Avatar state, Narasimha, because it was the only way to defeat Hiranyakasipu.