"I will tell you about my experience of teaching an unborn child. It was perhaps the most interesting and stimulating discourse I have ever given to anyone, because I had to be extremely sure of what I was saying to the womb."
"Lord, you know of the Daitya Hiranyakashyapu - son of Diti and Kashyapa, my brother Marichi's son.
From childhood, he had always fought with his cousins the Adityas - mainly Indra. But he was strong and also a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Once he grew up, he left his family and went away to Mount Mandara for offering penance to Lord Shiva. Indra found this a great opportunity and kidnapped his wife Kayadu, who was carrying child, and tried to kill the child in the womb. I came to know of this, so I rushed to Indra and prevented the misdeed by preaching him good sense. I also told him that I will teach the child good virtues so that he will be different from his father."
"Indra let go of the two. I brought Kayadu to my ashram and looked after her for a while. I started speaking softly to the child in the womb and sung songs of Vishnu's praise. When I saw that the child within was responding, I launched a full discourse on Dharmashartra and virtue and the glory of the Lord. It was great learning experience for me.
By this time Hiranyakashyapu was back from his penance and took his wife back from me. However, my teachings bore fruit and when the son was born - he was called Prahalad - he was already one of the greatest devotees of Vishnu."
"The rest of the story is well-known. Hiranyakashyapu had come back from Mandara Mountains with a great and powerful boon from Lord Shiva -- that no god, no man, no asura (demon), nor animal will be able to put him to death - not on earth nor in the air, nor water. He could not be killed during day or night, nor in his house neither outside, and not with any weapon. He was almost invincible, and with such a powerful boon, he thought of himself as the most powerful being in the world. He tormented his people, killed many of them, imprisoned a lot others, caused great grief to the sages and wise people, and generally created havoc on the Earth. He wanted that his son follows his example. But young Prahalad remained true to my teachings."
"Prahalad's constant chanting of Vishnu's name enraged Hiranyakashyapu so much that he ordered his men to punish Prahalad - his own son - the little defenseless child! They tried a lot - flogged him, threw him in the river, put him through fire, caved him inside a house, ... oh, I shudder as I recall ... but Lord's miracle - Prahalad was not hurt at all. He went through every trial chanting Hari's name, and came out unscathed."
"Tired of this, O Lord, Hiranyakashyapu's men brought Prahalad to his father's court. The daitya king asked his son if he would like them to stop. But Prahalad said they need not worry, Vishnu will take care of him. Enraged by this bold reply, the king stood up fuming and asked "Where is this Vishnu that you talk of?" "He is everywhere" ... "What do you mean everywhere? Is he in this pillar?", so saying the insolant king mockingly kicked one of the pillars in his court.
Oh wonder! With a great thunder, the pillar cracked open and out came Ugra Narasimha - half-man half-beast - Vishnu's fourth maha Avatar. This man-beast (not a man, nor deva, nor asura, nor animal) dragged the arrogant and unjust king to his doorsteps while it was the time of sunset (neither day nor night), (neither inside nor outside of his house), put the daitya on his lap (not on earth nor in the air, nor water), and tore him open with his bare nails (no weapon used). And thus did Hiranyakashyapu meet his end. Vishnu then made Prahalad the king of daityas, and I saw that my student ruled his kingdom justly and with love."
.... Brahma reflected on Vishnu's glory for a moment. "I have heard this so many times, but I always love the last bit. No matter what a man thinks he has tricked his fate, Yama (the God of Death) finds a way to write the end of his story".
"You also taught Druva when he was alone in the forest, did you not?", he asked.
"Yes, that is what I am going to tell you all about next", Narada said.
06 March 2009