Chapter 32 — Prahlada and the Daitya Demons Worship Vishnu; the Gods Complain

Vasishta continued:—

After Prahlada had meditated on Vishnu in this manner, he made an image of him as Narayana and thought about worshipping that enemy of the asura demon race. To make the figure a form of Vishnu himself, he invoked the spirit of Vishnu to settle in this his outer figure also. It was seated on the back of the heavenly bird garuda, arrayed with the quadruple attributes (will, intelligence, action and mercy) and armed with the four arms holding the conch shell, discus, club and lotus. His two eyeballs flashed like the orbs of the sun and moon in their outstretched sockets. His palms were as red as lotuses, and his bow Saranga and the sword Nandaka hung on his two shoulders and sides.

“I will worship this image,” thought Prahlada, “with all my adherents and dependants, with an abundance of grateful offerings agreeable to my taste. I will worship this great god always with all kinds of offering of precious gems and jewels, and all sorts of articles for bodily use and enjoyment.”

Having thus made up his mind, Prahlada collected an abundance of various things and made offerings of them in his mind for his worship of Vishnu, the lord of Lakshmi. He offered rich gems and jewels in plates of many kinds, and presented sandal pastes in several pots. He burned incense and lit lamps in rows, and placed many valuables and ornaments in sacred vessels. He presented wreaths of mandara flowers and chains of lotuses made of gold, together with garlands of leaves and flowers of kalpa plants, and bouquets and nosegays studded with gems and pearls. 10 He hung hangings of leaves and leaflets of heavenly trees, and chaplets and trimmings of various kinds of flowers, as vakas and kundas, kinkiratas and white, blue and red lotuses. 11 There were wreaths of kahlara, kunda, kasa and kinsuka flowers, and clusters of asoka, madana, bela and kanikara blossoms likewise. 12 There were small flowers of the kadamba, vakala, nimba, sindhuvara and yuthikas also, and likewise heaps of paribhadra, gugguli and venduka flowers. 13 There were strings of priyangu, patala, pata and patala flowers, and also blossoms of amra, amrataka and gavyas, and the bulbs of haritaki and vibhitaki myrabolans. 14 Flowers of sala and tamara trees were strung together with their leaves, and tender buds of sahakaras were fastened together with their starch-like pistils. 15 There were ketakas and kamala flowers and the shoots of ela cardamums together with everything beautiful to sight and the tender of one’s soul likewise.

16 Thus did Prahlada worship his lord Vishnu in the inner apartment of his house, with offerings of all the richest things in the world, joined with true faith and earnestness of his mind and spirit. 17 Thus did the monarch of Danava demons worship his lord Vishnu externally in his holy temple, furnished with all kind of valuable things on earth. 18 The Danava sovereign became the more and more gratified in his spirit in proportion as he adored his god with more and more of his valuable outer offerings. 19 Henceforward Prahlada continued to worship his lord god day after day with earnestness of his soul and the same sort of rich offerings everyday.

20 It came to pass that the Daityas, after the example of their king, one and all turned Vaishnavas and worshipped Vishnu in their city and temples without intermission. 21 This information reached heaven and to the abode of the gods, that the Daityas having renounced their hatred to Vishnu, had completely turned into his faithful believers and worshippers. 22 The gods were all astonished to learn that the Daityas had accepted the Vaishnava faith. Even Indra and the thirty-three Rudras about him marveled how the Daityas came to be so. 23 The astonished gods left their celestial abode to go to the warlike Vishnu resting on his serpent couch in the Milky Ocean. 24 They related to him the whole story of the Daitya demons. They asked what was the cause of their conversion, and they were very much astonished.

25 The gods said, “How is it Lord that the demons who had always been adverse to you have now come to embrace your faith? It appears to us as an act of magic or hypocrisy. 26 How different is their present transformation to the Vaishnava faith, which is acquired only after many reincarnations of the soul, from their former spirit of rebellion in which they broke down the rocks and mountains.”

27 “The rumor that a clown has become a learned man is as amusing as it is doubtful, just as the news of blossoms budding out of season. 28 Nothing is graceful without its proper place. A rich jewel loses its value when it set with worthless pebbles. 29 All animals have their dispositions conforming to their own natures. Then how can the pure faith of Vishnu agree with the dog-like natures of the Daityas? 30 Our bodies pierced by thorns and needles do not grieve us as much as seeing things of opposite natures set in conjunction with one another. 31 Whatever is naturally adapted to its time and place, the same seems to suit it then and there. Therefore the lotus has its grace in water and not upon the land.”

32 “Where are the vile Daityas, prone to their misdeeds at all times? How far can the Vaishnava faith reach for those who can never appreciate its merit? 33 O lord, as we are never glad to learn of a lotus bed left to parch in the desert soil, so we can never rejoice at the thought that the race of demons will place their faith in Vishnu, the lord of gods.”