The Public Enemy No. 1 lay dead. He could very well be termed as the Most Dangerous Man ever alive. His was a reign of terror practically unmatched in its hatred of God. At the same time this king was very powerful and opulent. His strength was obtained by the performance of severe austerities. By standing on his toes, with eyes half closed, he had stood like a statue for a very long time. When Lord Brahma appeared before him and asked what he wanted, he replied “Grant me immortality, O Lord of the Universe.”
But Brahma replied that since even he is not immortal, how could he bestow something beyond his powers? So our candidate for immortality used his brains to investigate all the causes of death and in an instant, gave a long list of causes, timings and environs in which he should not die. His plea granted, he embarked on a plan of terrorizing the whole universe. He was especially interested in two things gold and a soft bed, and that’s why he was aptly called Hiranyakashipu.
His only ambition after he ascended to the great heights of power was to hand it over to his son, Prahlada. But to his horror, Prahlada turned out to be a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Now, Hiranyakashipu could have tolerated anything except his own dear son being so devoted to his arch enemy. So he did everything in his power to dissuade little Prahlada, even accused Prahlada’s teachers of not doing their duty properly (their duty was to wean these kids away from the path of devotion). Finally, exasperated that all his attempts had failed, Hiranyakashipu decided to kill Prahlada. He poisoned him, attacked him with deadly weapons, threw him under an elephant, and pushed him off a cliff but Prahlada simply wouldn’t die.
Here’s the irony: the father performed superhuman austerities to gain immortality but was not sure whether his boons would actually work for him as he was always in mental anxiety, while his son who had not performed any such austerity, was easily defying death. In a final act of defiance, Hiranyakashipu asked whether his son’s worshipable lord was in the pillar of their palace. And when Prahlada said yes, Hiranyakashipu struck the pillar with his huge mace and the pillar crumbled. As it cracked open, it revealed the wonderful half-man half-lion form of Lord Narsimhadeva (an incarnation of Krishna or Vishnu) famous for His divine unlimited anger. Lord Narsimhadeva was breathing anger upon Hiranyakashipu. The two had a short battle, at the end of which the Lord placed the demon on His lap and ripped apart his abdomen. Lord Narsimhadeva then killed thousands of the demon’s soldiers.
The nightmare was over. Multitudes of demigods, sages and devotees stood around the Lord, who was now occupying the throne, and offered Him prayers. But the anger which compelled the Lord to appear in the first place was unabated and continued with such ferocity that He simply could not be placated. One by one Lord Brahma, Lord shiva and other prominent divine personalities tried their best. Later they implored Lakshmi Devi, the Goddess of Fortune, to go up to the Lord. She is the divine consort of Narayana and this was Lord Narayana Himself, but in a different avatara (incarnation). This was most amazing a wife not being able to placate her unlimitedly angry divine husband. Finally as a last resort, little Prahlada was pushed forward.
Lord Brahma thought that since the Lord had advented for the very purpose of saving Prahlada, He might allow the small boy to come near Him and placate Him.
That was the moment! It felt just like a child being pushed into the cage of a lion.
But somehow Prahlada thought, “However ferocious He may be, I am not afraid. He is my Lord.” Thus little Prahlada remained a calm, innocent and pure devotee.
Those who are trying to gain an understanding of this material universe or of the reality beyond it, should note that devotional service unto God is nothing material. Bhakti or devotional service depends on the sincerity of the service rendered. Similarly those who are very successful in this material world should also note that success in devotional service has nothing to do with their current status in life. Someone who is lowborn or, in other words, may come from a most disadvantaged position, if a pure devotee, he can understand and approach God without fear or doubt. This also shows that when the Lord wishes to terminate a demon, nothing can come in His way.