By Swami Harshananda
Prahlāda, the king of child-devotees of Lord Viṣṇu, was the eldest son of Hiraṇyākaśipu, the powerful king of the daityas or demons. His mother was Kayādhu, the daughter of the demon-king Jambhāsura. She too, being initiated by the great sage Nārada, was a devotee of Viṣṇu. His story is delineated in details in the Bhāgavata and the Viṣṇupurāṇa.
He alienated his father, who was an inveterate hater of Lord Viṣṇu, by his matchless devotion to Viṣṇu. All the efforts of Hiraṇyakaśipu to get him killed were set at naught by the protection Viṣṇu gave him. Ultimately Viṣṇu killed Hiraṇyakaśipu by assuming the Narasiṅha form. Prahlāda’s prayer to the Lord Narasiṅha liberated Hiraṇyakaśipu from all his sins.
Prahlāda’s teaching about the navavidhabhakti or the nine modes of devotion is widely accepted and acclaimed. He had four brothers, three sons and a daughter. The famous king Bali who too was a great devotee of Viṣṇu, was his grandson. Prahlāda has been shown in the purāṇas to have many learned discussions with others like Bāli, Hansa, Indra and the sage Ajagara about dharma.
- Bhāgavata 7.4 to 8
- Viṣṇupurāṇa 1.17
- Narasiṅha means a Man-lion.
- Bhāgavata 7.5.23
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore