The Story of Hiranykashyapa
Hiranykashyapa was a powerful demon and a determined person.
He performed very severe penance to please Brahma. His determination made Brahma appear before him, fully propitiated, and the creator asked the demon to have his boon. He demanded
that he should not be slayed either by man or god or beast, neither in the day or in the night; neither out-side the home or inside it and neither on the land or in water. He
eventually had this boon which made him almost invincible. He conquered the three worlds; driving out Indra from heaven he assured himself the lordship of even the divinities. He
also assumed the titles of Savita, Vayu, Agni, Varuna, Kubera, Yama and the rest of the gods. He routed the gods out of heaven when roamed about here and there shelterless.
Hiranyakshyapa was now the sole authority in the Universe. Everyone had to worship him. He was now the master of all progeny of Kashyap sage. Now he lived in a magnificent palace made
of crystals. He enjoyed all the pleasures of three worlds, to the hilt.
He had four sons but his third, son Prahlad was a precocious child. He learnt his lessons fast and while going through the ancient accounts he developed intense devotion for Vishnu.
When he returned home from his guru's place where he was staying to gain knowledge, Hiranyakashyapa asked: "What did you learn there?"
'I have learnt to pray Vishnu', the boy Prahlad replied rather proudly.
Hirankyakashpa was enraged. How could that silly teacher teach
him to pray my arch enemy" he thought. Immediately he summoned
I he teacher and questioned him.
'No, I have not told anything about Vishnu', the teacher defended
II imself. 'He must have learnt about our race's enemy of his own accord'.
Then the demon lord asked his son again: "Dear son, who has taught you this rubbish?"
'The teacher of all teachers, Lord Vishnu himself, was the reply.
'Who is Vishnu?'
'Lord of my heart and the master of this entire universe.'
'Lord and Master... my foot? How can there be any one else when I am here?' The demon lord blurted out rather pompously.
'He is your lord as well!' replied the defiant boy.
Hiranyakashyapa blew up. "Take him away", thundered the king. "Tell the teacher to weed out all this misleading knowledge from his mind?
Although Prahlad was sent back and taught the lessons afresh with greater emphasis on the Sage Shukracharya's, policies which normally guided the demon race, the devotion of Vishnu
couldn't be taken away from his psyche. So when he came to the palace and Hiranyakashyapa again asked as to what he had studied, Prahlad's reply was: "To pray to Vishnu."
Hearing this reply. The demon-lord thundered: "Kill this evil boy. No good will come to the race of demons by his staying alive. He is a disgrace to my family."
Getting this royal order a variety of the tricks were employed to kill that boy Prahlad. He was thrown before the 'must' elephants, extremely poisonous snakes were let loose on him;
all kinds of weapons were targetted at him but by the grace of Lord Vishnu Prahlad emerged from every vile trick unscathed. In fact neither the snakes could bite him nor the weapons
could touch his body. Then he was thrown from the high hills into the ocean, but he emerged from the waters chanting the Mantra:"OM NAMO BHAGVATE VASUDEVAYA" more radiant and healthy
than ever before. Even the attempt to poison his food couldn't kill him because reaching inside his body resounding with Vishnu's name even the toxic material became ambrosial.
In fact the more the demon tried to kill him the healthier he emerged after every ordeal.
Hiranyakashyapa was getting mad in anger. Though said to be the most powerful existence in the three worlds he was unable to kill his own adolescent son. At last his sister, Holika,
came to his help. She said, "Dear Brother! I have received a boon on the strength of which I am immense to any effect of fire. Now I will sit on a burning pyre with Prahlad in my lap
so that he may be incinerated to ashes. And I would not get burnt because of the virtue of that boon.
So, accordingly the pyre was arranged. Holika sat on it with her nephew Prahlad in her lap and the pyre was sat on fire. And to and behold, despite that boon Holika was incinerated
while Prahlad emerged unscathed, chanting the name of Vishnu. Again Hiranyakashyapa tried to have his son brainwashed. He sent to him to the teacher with the clear instructions to
effect any memory from his mind of Lord Vishnu. Though the demon priests tried their level best, Prahlad returned to the palace without any change in his demeanour.
Hiranyakashyapu again asked Prahlad: "My son! Tell me what policy one should adopt to deal with friends. And how to tackle one's foes?"
Prahlad: "Father! I deem that there it no foe in the world. The whole universe is instinct with one Existence. Lord Vishnu is in everything. He is in the demons and the deities, the
good and bad, the animate and inanimate. Since he is in every one how can you classify anyone as our foe? My Lord Supreme permeates every list of this creation!"
Now the Demon-Lord lose his cool. He got up from his throne. Thundering he ordered: "Tie this boy with a rope around this pillar. Now I will behead him with my sword.
Prahlad was still insisted: "Father, my Lord Vishnu is also in this pillar as well as in your sword." But soon the boy was tied as instructed by Hiranyakashyapa. As the King came close
to behead Prahlad with his sword, suddenly the column of stone had burst asunder and out emerged from it a bizarre existences having man-like body and lion like face. That was
Narsimha Avatar of Lord Vishnu. Immediately that man-lion held Hiranyakashyapu by the gruff and took him to the l\Uu .hold of the building. It was neither the day-time nor night,
it was liiglit. Taking the king to the threshold the man-lion sat on a stone l|i!.l placed the king on his lap ?This ensured that neither the king's fiulv was on the land or
in water. Then the man-lion incarnation of \ i>Jnui tore apart Hiranayakashyapa from the middle. He had killed t|n demon-Lord circumventing every condition that the
hiranayakashyapa had put forth while asking the boon of immortality
Brahma. He was killed at twilight, by a man-lion almost in the
middle of air.
Meanwhile Prahlad kept on chanting Vishnu's name. The i n himha left after giving boon to Prahlad and staying Hiranyakshyapa. \ Her I [iranyakashyapa's death Prahlad became the king
of the Daityas. 111 ruled well and very wisely. For the first time there was an amicable peace between the demons and the deities. Subsequently Prahlad married und produced many sons
and grandson. One of Prahald's son was Virochana and Virochana's son was Vali, a king renowned for his i harity. Vali had a powerful son-called Vanasur who was a peerless warrior.
Details of other Species
Sage Kashyapa's another wife, name was Danu who came to be Known as mother of all Danavas [yet another variety of demons]. Prominent among the Danavas was Shambar, Ayonmikh,
Shankushira, I kachakra, Mohabahu, Tarak, Mahabal, Vinishakarva, Pulram and Viprachitti. The most famous among them was Vinishakarva who had lliree daughters named Sharmishta, Upadans
and Hayashira. Viprachitra married to Sinbika whose most prominent son was a danava who has hacked into two pieces by Vishnu's Chakra at the time of the Churning of The ocean and both
parts became the danava: Rahu and Ketu. Kashya sage's yet another wife was Tamara who begot six daughters. Which are believed to be the mother of a variety of birds like parrot and
crows, falcons, and of the quadrapeds like horses, camels' etc. This way all the species of the world ?said to be 840 million owe their origin to Kashyapa sage. This spell of
creation existed during Swanochish Manvantar whose details will be given ahead.