THE ULTIMATE PROTECTOR
by Gaur Sharan Das
In every yuga, the infallible Supreme Lord descends in this world amongst the animals, the human beings, the sages or the demigods. By His activities in these incarnations He protects the universe and kills the enemies of Vedic culture (SB 12.7.14). While He appears personally whenever required, He also protects His devotees in various ways throughout their lives as evident in the life of Sri Prahlada Maharaja, one of the great devotees of the Lord.
Protection through Saintly Association
Everyone in this world desires to avoid death or at least postpone it. To that effect, people endeavor in various fields of sciences however with one’s limited intelligence one cannot avoid death. So Hiranyakasipu, the king of demons trickily planned to avoid death by asking boons from Lord Brahma.
Lord Brahma being pleased with the severe austerities performed by Hiranyakasipu appeared before him. In spite of being a very powerful demon, Hiranyakasipu’s brother was killed by Lord Visnu in the form of Varahadeva. So Hiranyakasipu intelligently asked specific boons to avoid death by any means, especially from the hands of Lord Visnu.
While Hiranyakasipu was busy endeavoring to become immortal, Narada Muni instructed his son, who was still in his mother’s womb, about devotional service to Lord Krsna, which is the real way to achieve immortality.
The boons offered by Brahma to Hiranyakasipu could not make him completely fearless; however, Narada Muni, the son of Brahma could make Prahlada, the son of Hiranyakasipu completely fearless. It is because, Brahma only dutifully sanctioned the material boons asked by Hiranyakasipu as a formality, whereas Narada Muni out of compassion, voluntarily bestowed upon Prahlada, the spiritual knowledge that protects the conditioned souls from the clutches of material existence.
Hiranyakasipu hoped that Prahlada would become his successor for the vast universal empire. Thus he requested Sanda and Amarka to train the boy accordingly. Even though Sanda and Amarka taught Prahlada about mundane politics, diplomacy and economy, Prahlada remained fixed in his Krsna consciousness because of the instructions he received from Narada Muni earlier.
Lord Visnu carries Sudarsana cakra to protect His devotees, however His pure devotees carry the Lord Himself in their hearts and distribute knowledge about the Lord and his devotional service to others, thus offering ultimate protection to everyone through their holy association.
Protection from Material desires
Eventually Hiranyakasipu became the controller of the three worlds, by the power of the benedictions he received from Lord Brahma. Though he exhibited great sense control to receive those benedictions, he has now become a victim of his uncontrolled senses by the power of those benedictions. He fulfilled all his material desires.
However Prahlada saw the futility of material desires through the devotional knowledge he received from Narada Muni. Since Prahlada was engaged in the higher taste of constant devotional service to Lord Visnu he cared nothing for the royal opulences of Hiranyakasipu. Although he could easily inherit the universal empire by being an obedient materialistic son, Prahlada always remained detached from material desires even at an young age.
Once Hiranyakasipu inquired from his son what he considers as the best thing. Prahlada Maharaja replied that a man engrossed in the consciousness of duality, thinking, “This is mine, and that belongs to my enemy,” should give up his materialistic household life and go to the forest to worship the Supreme Lord. (7.5.5)
tat sadhu manye ‘sura-varya dehinam
sada samudvigna-dhiyam asad-grahat
hitvatma-patam grham andha-kupam
vanam gato yad dharim asrayeta
Hiranyakasipu thought his innocent son was being polluted by some enemies in the school. So he advised the teachers Sanda and Amarka to take care of the boy cautiously protecting him from Vaisnavas.
Protection through Remembrance of Lord Visnu
After training for a while, Prahlada’s teachers brought him to his father. Hiraṇyakaśipu affectionately inquired from him about the best thing he learnt from his teachers. Prahlāda began glorifying the nine processes of devotional service of Lord Visnu beginning with hearing and chanting. Enraged at this answer, Hiraṇyakaśipu threw Prahlāda Mahārāja from his lap. Since Prahlāda has become a devotee of Visnu, who had killed his uncle Hiraṇyaksa, Hiraṇyakaśipu asked his assistants to kill him.
The assistants of Hiraṇyakaśipu struck little Prahlāda with sharp weapons, threw him under the feet of elephants, subjected him to hellish conditions, threw him from the peak of a mountain and tried to kill him in various ways, but they were unsuccessful.
Hiranyakasipu was shocked to see how a five year old child could not be killed by his soldiers in spite of trying various methods. Hiranyakasipu became fearful that Prahlada could become the cause of his death. On the other hand, Prahlada was completely fearless by always remembering the Supreme Lord constantly. Prahlāda engaged himself always in meditation, and thus he was protected by Lord Govinda. (SB 7.5.41)
Protection through Personal Appearance
Sanda and Amarka found Prahlada teaching his friends about devotional service to Lord Visnu, and they anxiously complained to Hiraṇyakaśipu, who finally decided to kill his son personally. When Hiraṇyakaśipu began to advertise himself as being greater than the Supreme Lord, Prahlāda Mahārāja challenged him, saying that the Lord is all-pervading, that everything is under Him, and that no one is equal to or greater than Him. Thus he frankly requested his father to be submissive to the omnipotent Supreme Lord.
Hiraṇyakaśipu became furious after hearing about Lord’s omnipresence asked Prahlada whether his God existed within the columns of the palace. Prahlāda confidently said that since the Lord is present everywhere, He was also present within the columns. Deriding his son for his faith, he forcefully struck the pillar with his fist.
As soon as Hiraṇyakaśipu struck the column, there issued forth a tumultuous sound. At first Hiraṇyakaśipu, the King of the demons, could not see anything but the pillar, but to substantiate Prahlāda’s statements, the Lord came out of the pillar in His wonderful incarnation as Narasiṁha, half lion and half man. Hiraṇyakaśipu could immediately understand that the extraordinarily wonderful form of the Lord was surely meant for his death, and thus he prepared to fight with the form of half lion and half man. The Lord performed His pastimes by fighting with the demon for some time, and in the evening, on the border between day and night, the Lord captured the demon, threw him on His lap, and killed him by piercing his abdomen with His nails.
Protecting the words of His devotees
satyam vidhatum nija-bhrtya-bhasitam
vyaptim ca bhutesv akhilesu catmanah
stambhe sabhayam na mrgam na manusam
To prove that the statement of His servant Prahlada Maharaja was substantial—in other words, to prove that the Supreme Lord is present everywhere, even within the pillar of an assembly hall—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, exhibited a wonderful form never before seen. The form was neither that of a man nor that of a lion. Thus the Lord appeared in His wonderful form in the assembly hall. (7.8.17)
Lord Narasimha through His appearance protected the words of Brahma, Narada and Prahlada. Prahlada prayed to Narasimhadeva that he appeared to make the words of his devotees Brahma and Narada to come true.
Although being the Supreme Lord, He is not bound by Brahma’s boons, He still chose to kill Hiranyakasipu in accordance to the boons he received from Brahma.
• inside or outside any residence (the Lord killed him in the doorway)
• during the day or night (the Lord killed him at twilight)
• on the ground or in the sky (the Lord killed him on His own lap)
• by any human being or animal (Lord Narasimha is half man, half lion)
• by any demigod, demon, or great snake (the Lord is beyond any of these categories)
• by any weapon or any entity, living or nonliving (Lord Narasimha pierced the daitya with his nails, which are not considered weapons and are neither living nor dead)
When the demigods wanted to kill the son of Hiranyakasipu who was in the womb of Kayadhu, Narada Muni told them that there was a great devotee in Kayadhu’s womb. To prove this statement of Narada true, Prahlada said, that Narasimhadeva has appeared to give His personal audience to Prahlada and make him a pure devotee.
However the acaryas say that Lord Narasimha deva appeared to prove the words of Prahlada true. Since Prahlada said that, “My Lord is present everywhere,” Lord immediately got ready to appear from anywhere required to prove Prahlada’s words true and thus appeared from the pillar.
In this way Sri Narasimhadeva appeared personally to protect Prahlada in need of time though He protected him throughout his life by giving him association of saints and also through the practice of the process of devotional service.
Protection that has no comparison
After the killing of Hiranyakasipu, Prahlada offered his heartfelt prayers to Lord Narasimha in which he praised the Lord there is no person or power within this world that could offer such protection as the Supreme Lord.
balasya neha saranam pitarau nrsimha
nartasya cagadam udanvati majjato nauh
taptasya tat-pratividhir ya ihanjasestas
tavad vibho tanu-bhrtam tvad-upeksitanam
My Lord Nrsimha-deva, O Supreme, because of a bodily conception of life, embodied souls neglected and not cared for by You cannot do anything for their betterment. Whatever remedies they accept, although perhaps temporarily beneficial, are certainly impermanent. For example, a father and mother cannot protect their child, a physician and medicine cannot relieve a suffering patient, and a boat on the ocean cannot protect a drowning man. (7.9.19)
Srila Prabhupada says, “When Lord Nrsimha-deva appeared, all the devotees became fearless. The devotee’s hope of becoming fearless is to chant the holy name of Lord Nrsimha-deva. Yato yato yami tato nrsimhah: wherever we go, we must always think of Lord Nrsimha-deva. Thus there will be no fear for the devotee of the Lord.” (7.9.5 P)
Thus it is in the best interest of all the devotees to fervently seek the shelter of Lord Nrsimha who is our ultimate protector.