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"Whenever and where ever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata [Arjuna], and a predominant rise of irreligion - at that time I descend Myself." Bhagavad-gita 4.7

At the very beginning of the universe there were two big demons born of Kasyapa and Diti. They were called Hiranyakasa and Hiranyakasipu. They were brothers. Hiranyaksa was after gold and he minded all the gold out of the earth and disturbed the floating condition of the earth so it fell own into the ocean at the bottom of the universe called the Garba Ocean. And Lord Vishnu descended as Varaha. He took the form of a boar. You know how a boar has tusks and they root up things in dirty places. So because the world was at the bottom of an ocean, the vast cosmic ocean at the bottom of the universe, and in the mud at the bottom of that, He dove down and brought the earth up. And then engaged in single combat with Hiranyaksa and killed him.

So Hiranyakasipu says, "Vishnu killed my brother, I'm going to get Him." As I said, there are very powerful demons. Hiranyakasipu wanted to become powerful so he performed very severe austeritires. His austerity was that he stood on the tip of his toes with his hands raised for thousands of years. This is happening on another planet by the way, the life span in those days and on those planets was much much longer than ours. He stayed there for so long that an anthill grew up about his body, completely buried by and anthill. And the ants and the other insects completely ate his body, there was nothing left but his skeleton. Yet, because he developed mystic power, he was staying alive in the marrow of his bones. He had preserved his life force in the marrow of his bones; there was nothing else there. And he was so powerful that even though his body was reduced to a skeleton, fire was coming out of his head and it was causing all kinds of cosmic disturbances in the universe. So much so that Lord Brahma [not Krishna, Brahma was the first created entity, directed by Lord Vishnu, he creates all life forms in the universe and rules the mode of passion.] finally came down to see what was the disturbance. And he found this anthill with this light emitting from it, cleared away the dirt and there was Hiranyakasipu, at least his skeleton. So Brahma has a pot with some water in it, he sprinkled that water on him and gave him a new form; it supplied the rest of his body with beautiful youth.

So he said to Hiranyakasipu, "What do you want?"

And he says, "I want to be immortal, I never want to die."

And Brahma said, "It can't be done, I live the length of this universe, when the universe if over with, I die."

"Okay then grant me that I not die by any human, or god, or animal."

Brahma said, "That's done."

Grant me that I will not be killed on the sea, on the air, in the air, or on the land. Grant me then that I will not be killed during the day or during the night."


So I this way he made all these restrictions and then he thought, "Well, now I've done it, I've become immortal, nobody can get me."

After receiving these benedictions and a brand new, strong, healthy, youthful body, Hiranyakasipu then put his plan into action. And he began a campaign of terror and war against the demigods. This is giant interplanetary warfare. And gradually, as I said, the demons live on these lower planets, and he got his forces up to the upper planets and began to conquer the upper planets where the devatas [demigods] dwell. And finally he had vanquished even Indra, who is the commander in chief of the devatas. They al went into hiding and exile. And Hiranyakasipu and the other demons, they ran the universe.

Hitler and Stalin, these are the tiny Hiranyakasipus of the day. This Hiranyakasipu, he was vicious, he was really nasty. Everyone was terrified. It is said that when Hiranyakasipu was running the universe, it was running even better in many ways than it was under Indra because everyone was so terrorized. Just like when Mussolini the dictator came into power in Italy at first he was welcomed because for the first time in history, the train in Italy ran on time. It was like, if a train was late "pow!" There were draconian measures taken.

So in this way Hiranyakasipu was running things. His name, by the way, Hiranya mean gold, and kasipu means pillow or soft bedding. So he was after these two things: wealth and sex. They were his predilection. But he had all those things.

Hiranyakasipu had a son. His son was Prahlad. What happened was that during one of their campaigns against the devatas, the wife of Hiranyakasipu was captured by the devatas. Somehow or another they took her as hostage. And she was pregnant; the son in her womb was the son of Hiranyakasipu.

First the devatas said, "You know, we should kill this child in her womb immediately, when he gets out, he's going to be so dangerous - he is the son of Hiranyakasipu, let's kill him now."

But Narada Muni, the sage Amman the devatas, came and said, "No, no, don't' do that, just give her [Hiranyakasipu's wife] to my care, and you wont have to worry about her son, he'll be a great devotee." And so while Hiranyakasipu's wife was being held by the devatas, Narada Muni instructed her in dharma, Vedic Literature, love of God. The child in her womb was already so powerful that he heard those instructions, so therefore when he was born he was a devotee, and he went back to Hiranyakasipu.

So he grew up and did he cause trouble! Because he was . . . well when he went to school, you can imagine this school, the school for the demons, right, it's what they teach you there. This school for the demons. He would preach Krishna consciousness to the children. When the teachers were out of the room he's get them to chant "Hare Krishna." This was a big, big problem. And so Hiranyakasipu found out about this and got on the teacher's case, and he said, "Do you know what you've done? Our son has become contaminated by the enemy. Enemy forces must have snuck in disguise and been preaching and contaminated my son."

He was very, very envious of his son. So he tried to kill him. He did various things. He threw him off of a cliff, and he landed like a feather. He had him trampled by elephants, and the elephants weaved around him. He put him in a pit of snakes, and the snakes wouldn't bite him. He had people going at him with tridents and the tridents wouldn't pierce his skin. He fed him poison, and the poison was ineffective. So he realized his son was powerful. He became a little frightened.

So then he [Hiranyakasipu] said, "Well, I'll take it easy, I'll send him back to school we'll wait till Sukracarya, the father of the two teachers, comes. He can work on him and we'll really straighten the kid out. We'll take it a little easy with him." Actually he was thinking, "this is a very powerful boy. I can't hill him." It was very frustrating, here's the Hitler of the universe, and he can't kill this little boy.

Prahlad [Hiranyakasipu's son] went to school some more, and he did the same kind of stuff, chanting "Hare Krishna," the kids all becoming devotees. It was unacceptable, politically incorrect! So he wanted to see how his son was doing, so he asked, "what is the best things you've learned from your teachers?" He put him on his lap and asked him.

And of course when he thought of his teacher, he thought of his real teacher, Narada Muni. So he said, "The thing that I have learned is that the best thing in life is to worship Lord Vishnu in different ways, sravanam, kirtanam, sishnoh, smaranam, pada-sevanam, arcanam, vandanam, dasyam, atma-nivedanam, and sakhyam-nivedanam - is to worship Lord Vishnu by hearing, by chanting, remembering, by offering prayers, and so on, the different prosseses."

At that point Hiranyakasipu blew up, "Where is the Vishnu or your?! Where is He? I want to kill Him!"

And Prahlad said, "Father," he's just a little kid, you know, "Father, Lord Vishnu is everywhere."

"Is He?" He said. They were right on the porch of his palace. "Is he there in that pillar?"

"Yes father."

"Well then, I'll kill Him!" And he took out his sword, ran at this pillar and swung at it. Just as his sword was about to hit that pillar, there was a sound. And the sound was like it was coming from every atom, all over. It was the roar of a lion,


Everyone's hair stood on end. You could hear this coming form every direction. And that pillar, it shattered, it burst open and there confronting Hiranyakasipu was Nrsimha. An unimaginable being to him, half man, half lion, fierce mane, huge teeth. And mad as anything. Really, really angry. It was an incarnation of the Lord's anger. Anger at the way Hiranyakasipu was dealing with devotee who never raised a finger to protect himself when he tried to kill him in so many ways. And here he was again tormenting and torturing. Nrsimhadeva couldn't stand it any more; He was going to redress the balance.

Here was somebody that no body could kill [Hiranyakasipu], the demigods were cowering in different places. And suddenly there was this incredible being like this.

And so first Hiranyakasipu sent his solders to attack Nrsimhadeva. It was like a cat with a mouse, He'd just pick them up and throw them here and there. He had manifested multiple arms. So finally Hiranyakasipu went in himself. So after playing with him for awhile, Nrsimhadeva laid him across His lap and He disemboweled him with His claws. We don't see this today, but when lions kill their prey, that's what they do, they reach their claw up in the belly, pull the bellies open, and pull out the intestines, and then the animal is dead. That's what He did. And actually, He garlanded Himself, wrapped Hiranyakasipu's intestines around His neck. It was a gory scene. But very realistic. This is Nrsimha, half man, half lion.

So in this way, Hiranyakasipu was destroyed by Lord Vishnu in the Nrsimha incarnation. It was just at dusk. He said, "I will not be killed by day or by night." And if fact, you couldn't say it was day, you couldn't say it was night. He said, "I do not want to be killed on the inside or on the outside." This pillar was right in the entranceway, you couldn't say it was inside, you couldn't say it was outside. That's where Nrsimhadeva was situated when He killed him. He said, "I don't want to be killed on land, or sea, or air." Well, he was killed on the lap of Lord Vishnu. "Not by man or beast." Well, what was He? Was He a man? Was He an animal? You couldn't say. "And not by any man-made or god-made weapon." No, he was killed by the nails of the Lord. In that way he expired.

And so then the demigods all appeared, they came out of hiding. The word got out that, my god, the tyrant; the beast Hiranyakasipu was dead. They all came out of hiding. And at that point He was like an enraged lion. Nobody could pacify Him. They all, trembling, went forward to offer prayers to Nrsimhadeva, and He wouldn't calm down. They were terrified. So finally they sent Prahlad forward, and Prahlad offered prayers. Nrsimhadeva became pacified. Remember when his father had asked for a benediction from Brahma? Nrsimhadeva asked Prahlad, "What benediction would you like?"

And Prahlad said, "For myself, I don't' need anything. I've fully satisfied, I have You in my heart, I'm Your eternal servant, there is nothing more I need. But I'm worried about all these people who are like my father and engaged in material life. And think that sense gratification is the be-all, end-all of existence. For them I am worried, please will you grant my father liberation?"

So this was his prayer, this is a Vaisnava [worshiper of Vishnu]. For himself he has no worries, but he cares for everybody.