PRAHLADA Biography - Religious Figures & Icons


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In Hinduism, Prahlada was a son of Hiranyakashipu, a Daitya who hated the devas, and most especially, God or Vishnu, the followers of whom he began to torture.


The Devotee
Prahlada was a very devoted follower of Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu failed in convincing his son to join him against Vishnu, and tried to kill him, but Prahlada was protected by Vishnu. When asked, Prahlada refused to acknowledge his father as the supreme lord of the universe (though he had used his boon to conquer the entire world) and claimed that Vishnu was omnipresent.


Attempts to kill Prahlada
Hiranyakashipu made many attempts to have Prahlada killed. These attempts included:
Having Prahlada hold a hot pole.
Making him jump off a steep cliff.
Getting an elephant to walk over him.


Prahlada obeyed his fater, but every time he was saved by chanting Vishnu’s name.


One of the attempts was to have Prahlada sit on a burning pyre with his siter Holika. Holika had a special gift that prevented her from being harmed by fire. Once again Prahlada chanted Vishnu’s name and in the battle of good against evil, Holika was burnt down Prahlada was unhurt. The burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi festival in Hinduism.


Hiranyakashipu asked if Vishnu was in a particular pillar and Prahlada answered he was. Hiranyakashipu smashed the pillar, and Narasimha (Vishnu’s avatar) came from it. Narasimha killed Hiranyakashipu, since he was neither human nor animal nor god (an avatar is a human, but this avatar was only part human and part animal) and did so during twilight (neither day nor night), placing him on Narasimha’s thighs (not on earth, nor in space), on the threshold of the entrance to a courtyard (neither inside nor out) and using nails (neither animate nor inanimate) as weapons.


Raghavendra Swami
Prahlada, is said to have reincarnated as the great saint, Raghavendra Swami, by his followers, in the seventeenth century.