Chapter 30 — The Story of Prahlada: Narasimha Destroys Hiranyakashipu and the Age of Demons

Vasishta continued:—

Rama, listen to the instructive story of Prahlada, the lord of demons who became a spiritual adept by his own intuition.

There was a mighty demon in the infernal regions named Hiranykashipu who was as valiant as Vishnu himself and had expelled the gods and demigods from their abodes. He mastered all the treasures of the world and wrested its possession from the hands of Vishnu, just like a swan encroaching upon a bee on the large leaves of a lotus. Hiranykashipu defeated the deva gods and the asura demons and ruled over the whole earth, like an elephant masters a lotus-bed by chasing the swans away.

The lord of the asuras, having usurped the monarchy of the three worlds, had many sons in course of time, as spring brings forth the shoots of trees. These children grew up to manhood in time, with the display of their courageous prowess. Like so many brilliant suns, they stretched their thousand rays on all sides of the earth and skies. The eldest, Prahlada, became the regent, just as Vishnu’s Kaustubha diamond is pre-eminent among all precious gems. Hiranykashipu delighted exceedingly in his fortunate son Prahlada like the year rejoices in its flowering time of spring.

Supported by his son on one hand and possessed of his force and treasures on the other, Hiranykashipu became puffed up with his pride, like a swollen elephant emitting foam from his triangular mouth. 10 Shining with his luster and elated by his pride, he dried and drew up the moisture of the earth by his unbearable taxation, like the all-destroying suns of universal dissolution parch the world by their rays. 11 His conduct annoyed the gods, the sun and the moon, just as the behavior of a haughty boy becomes unbearable to his fellow comrades.

12 They all applied to Brahma to destroy the arch demon, because the repeated misbehaviors of the wicked are unbearable to the good and great. 13 It was then that lion-like Narasimha clattered his nails resembling the tusks of an elephant and thundered loudly like the rumbling noise of the regent elephants of all the quarters of heaven fills concave world on its last doomsday. 14 Narasimha’s tusk-like nails and teeth glittered like lightning flashing in the sky. The radiance of his earrings filled the hollow sphere of heaven with curling flames of living fire.

15 The sides and caves of mountains presented a fearful aspect. Huge trees were shaken by a tremendous tempest that rent the skies and tore the roof of heaven. 16 He emitted gusts of wind from his mouth and entrails which drove the mountains before them. His eyeballs flashed with the living fire of his rage which was about to consume the world. 17 His shining mane shook with the glare of sunbeams. The pores of the hairs on his body emitted sparks of fire like the craters of a volcano. 18 Mountains everywhere shook with a tremendous shaking, and the whole body of Narasimha shot forth a variety of arms in every direction.

19 Vishnu in his Narasimha form of half man and half lion killed the gigantic demon by goring him with his tusks, like an elephant goring the body of a horse with a grating sound. 20 The population of the demon hell city was burnt down by gushing fire from his eyeballs which burned like the all devouring conflagration of the last doomsday. 21 The breath of his nostrils drove everything before it like a hurricane. The clapping of his arms sounded like great waves crashing on hollow shores. 22 Demons fled before him like moths from burning fire. They became extinct as extinguished lamps at the blazing light of the day.

23 After the burning of the demon hell city and the expulsion of the demons, the infernal regions presented a void waste like at the last devastation of the world. 24 After the lord Narasimha had expelled the demonic race at the end of the demon age, he disappeared from view with the grateful greetings of the council of gods.

25 The surviving sons of the demon, who had fled from the burning of their city, were afterwards led back to it by Prahlada, just as migrating fowls are made to return to the dry lake bed by a rain shower. 26 There they mourned the dead bodies of demons, lamented at the loss of their possessions, and performed funeral ceremonies for their departed friends and relatives. 27 After burning the dead bodies of their friends, they invited the few demons who had fled to safety to return to their deserted homes.

28 The demons and their leaders continued to mourn with gloomy minds and disfigured bodies, like lotuses beaten down by the frost. They made no effort or attempt, like figures in a painting. They had no hope of resuscitation, like a tree struck by lightning.