Remembering the tale of Asura brothers on the occasion of Narasimha Jayanti

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The Asura brothers Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu had wreaked havoc in the three worlds. Hiranyaksha, in particular, had become increasingly cruel after gaining mystical powers from Lord Brahma through intense penance. But he went too far, when he kidnapped Mother Earth and plunged her into the cosmic ocean. Lord Vishnu incarnated as the Varaha Avatar and put an end to the demon’s terror. This upset his elder brother Hiranyakashipu who began to hate Vishnu with a vengeance and started persecuting anyone who worshipped him.

Following in his brother’s footsteps, Hiranyakashipu also began to meditate intensely on Lord Brahma, to ask him for the boon of immortality. Lord Brahma politely refused, but not to be outdone, the asura asked him for what he thought would be a pretty bullet-proof boon, that may he not be killed at night or in the day, neither outside nor inside, neither by man nor beast, and neither by weapons nor by divine powers. Brahma, in his benign grace, granted this boon. This emboldened the already cruel asura, marking a new chapter in his reign of terror.

Now whilst he was gone, the devas attacked his kingdom, to protect themselves from any future attacks. Rishi Narada came to his wife’s rescue, Kayadhu, who was with child, and gave her shelter in his ashram. Influenced by the divinity of Narada’s presence and listening to his discourses, the yet to be born child imbibed his qualities and grew up to be Prahlada. Much to his father’s chagrin, the young boy was very devoted to Vishnu.

After trying numerous stunts, including trying to burn him alive in his sister Holika’s lap, Hiranyakashipu lost his patience with the boy. Challenging him, he asked him to show where his so-called Vishnu was. Not to be bullied, little Prahlada replied he was everywhere, even in the pillar that stood in front of them. Furious, when Hiranyakashipu smashed the pillar, the most terrific avatar of Vishnu, Lord Narasimha sprang forth. Before he could react, Narasimha grabbed him, holding him up on one thigh, and tore him open with his bare claws. Neither man, nor beast, the man-lion form, destroyed him in the passage, neither inside, nor outside, at dusk, when it was neither day nor night, and with his claws, neither weapons nor divine powers.

Today is Narasimha Jayanti, the day Lord Vishnu appeared in this ferocious form to protect his devotee, Prahlada. Even today, this grace is available to us. As we try to navigate life in these trying and scary times, meditating on this extremely protective form of Vishnu is very beneficial, especially for those who are troubled by ill-health or other psychosomatic problems.

Published on: Saturday, May 14, 2022, 07:00 AM IST

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