Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Prahlada's Story - Interpretation

Hello Friends,

In continuation with my earlier attempt, I would like to proceed further on interpreting one of the very common tales in Bhagavatam. This one is related to Hiranyakashapa,Prahlada and the emergence of Lord Vishnu in the form of Narsimha to save his devotee.

The Tale

Hiranyakashapa is a demon who performs a penance to get death only in near impossible conditions and hence becomes strong in the knowledge that no one can kill him. He then proceeds to conquer the world and believes he is the Lord of the Universe and makes all his subjects worship him.

He has a son named Prahlada who is a strong devotee of Vishnu.Various attempts by Hiranyakashapa to stop his son from believing in Vishnu fail. Hiranyakashapa finally runs out of patience and has a debate with his son on the all pervasive nature of God, points to a pillar and asks if Vishnu resides in it. Prahlada replies in the affirmative and Hiranyakashapa breaks the pillar only to see Lord Narsimha take shape who eventually kills him. Prahlada is saved by the God who he believed in and in all circumstances.


Let's start our interpretation with the names of the three principal actors though Shakespeare says: "What's in a name? that which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet".

Hiranyakashapa: The name translated means one who is covered with Gold - indicating the person who is is forever obsessed with material benefits and believes in being invincible.

Prahlada: Ahlada means excessive joy and happiness and Prahlada means one who finds happiness anywhere.

Vishnu: One of the many meanings to this word means the nature of being everywhere.

Now, let's return to the tale and the interpretation.

Hiranyakashapa believes his body can remain forever and wants to avoid death. He teaches us the lesson that it is the soul that remains forever and bodily forms come and go.The fact that he thinks he needs to be worshiped can be related to the fact that we want people to adulate us when we think we are successful.

Aristotle too, agrees with Prahlada !
Prahlada on the other hand attributes to his existence and every activity to the supreme and surrenders at His mercy. He believes that the God resides everywhere and the moment we realize the same, we can start seeing goodness and godliness in every one.

The climax of the story admonishes Hiranyakashapa and us who think that God can exist only in certain "designated" places. So, we should start believing that God is omnipresent and not limit His presence just to temples.

Finally, the moral of the story would be to treat your existence as a means towards the End and not the end in itself.

1 comment:

  1. Good one again Pavan.
    Another important moral to note from this story is, though Hiranyakashapa got so much power, wealth and almost immortal boon, he perished in the end because of his actions. Never think self is invincible, there is supreme power above all.

    Keep them coming