Did I say that “Narayana is here also” like Prahladha
Thirukolur Pen Pillai posed her next question, “Did I say that Lord Narayana is present everywhere, including this pillar, like Prahlada, O Swami?”
When merely a foetus in his mother Kayadhu's womb, Prahlada gained the knowledge and awareness of the ultimate Lord Sriman Narayana and became his devout bhakta. Prahlada is known as garbha sriman for this very reason. The Lord graciously protects his bhaktas by taking various avatarams, anywhere, anytime and in any form. This is one such incident where the lord appeared to his bhakta in a marvellous avataram, seeing which the whole universe was amazed and astonished!
Once upon a time, the sages Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana and Sanatkumara, also known as the Sanakadi Rishis, desired to obtain the darshana of the Lord, and therefore approached Vaikuntam. They were stopped at the door by the Dwarapalakas Jaya and Vijaya. Angered and saddened by this untoward encounter, the Sanakadi Rishis cursed Jaya and Vijaya to leave their heavenly abode and be born as earthlings. Shocked, Jaya and Vijaya immediately approached Lord Sriman Narayana, seeking relief from their curse. The Lord said: “Nothing shall hinder my devotees from reaching me. What you have done is indeed wrong, but it is possible for you to be relieved from this curse. I shall give you two options, out of which you must choose only one.
The first option is that for seven consecutive janmas, you may be my devotee by praising and worshipping me, after which you shall attain Vaikuntam and come back to me.
The second one is that for three consecutive janmas, you shall be my enemy, and shall be slain by me, after which you shall attain Vaikuntam and come back to me.
Which one do you prefer?”
Jaya and Vijaya immediately answered: “It is impossible for us to be separated from you for seven long janmas, therefore, even if we are turned against you, we desire to be slain at your own hands and return to Vaikunta in just three janmas.”
Thus, Jaya and Vijaya took their first janma on the earth as brothers Hiranyaksha and Hiranya Kashipu, demon rulers who harboured hate for Lord Sriman Narayana. Once, Hiranyaksha conquered the entire earth and smuggled it away as easily as rolling a mat! Lord Narayana immediately came to the earth's rescue in the form of Varaha avataram and slew the demon Hiranyaksha. Provoked and angered by the death of his dear brother, king Hiranyakashipu ordered his subjects to stop worshipping Lord Narayana, and refrain from going to his temples. He further destroyed several temples of Lord Vishnu and killed anyone who dared utter the lord's name in front of him. During this time, his wife Kayadhu had conceived their first child. Hiranya Kashipu was elated. He decided to perform tapas, seeking the best boons and blessings for his future heir.
Meanwhile, watching these happenings from heaven, Lord Indra was worried. He thought to himself “Surely the son of such an evil and ruthless ruler must be no less than the father himself. It is necessary to prevent such a child from being born, in order to protect the world.” Lord Indra attempted to abduct the pregnant queen Kayadhu to kill the foetus. He was stopped on the way by Sage Narada, who said "O Indra, do not seek to destroy this child. He is a great bhakta of Lord Sriman Narayana. You do not need to worry about him. Moreover I shall take Kayadhu with me to my ashram."
Sage Narada taught several things about Lord Sriman Narayana to her, the beauty of his qualities, the greatness of his compassion, the purity of his fame. What Kayadhu did not realise was that the unborn foetus in her womb was also listening, processing and comprehending all of this information as well as her! Mother and son in the womb therefore became ardent and sincere devotees of Lord Sriman Narayana.
Meanwhile, Hiranya Kashipu, who was performing severe penances, was blessed by Lord Brahma with any boon of his desire. Hiranya Kashipu, believing that his decision was extremely smart, said “O Lord Brahma, I ask you that I shall die neither on the earth nor in the skies, neither in the day nor at night, neither indoors nor outdoors, neither by heavenly beings, nor by humans, nor by animals, neither by weapons nor by chants!”
Lord Brahma obliged with a smile.
Drunk with ego and power, Hiranya Kashipu tormented all of the 14 worlds and took everything and everyone under his control. All the beings on earth and the heavens struggled to survive under his rule of terror.
Meanwhile Kayadhu gave birth to their son, Prahlada. Prahlada was a born devotee of Lord Sriman Narayana. His bhakti grew along with him, day by day. He began radiating his bhakti to even those around him. He always spoke of the lord's greatness and compassion and encouraged people to surrender to the lord.
Enraged by this, his father, the demon king Hiranya Kashipu, terrorised Prahlada in various frantic ways to make him stop. Prahlada always remained his peaceful self, with his unshakeable trust and bhakti upon Lord Sriman Narayana. His pure innocent heart even requested his father, the demon ruler, to mend his ways and surrender to the lord instead.
“Enough!”yelled Hiranya Kashipu, his anger rising. “You now deserve to die.”
He was prepared to kill his own son for disobeying his orders. He desperately tried in several ways to kill Prahlada, but all in vain! Lord Sriman Narayana residing in the pure heart of this little boy came to his rescue each and every time.
Hiranya Kashipu could not tolerate this anymore. How could a little boy escape such severe dangers miraculously, multiple times! He summoned Prahlada and questioned him directly –“Hey Prahlada! Where is your Hari who comes to your rescue every time? Where is your Narayana?!”
Just as always, Prahlada calmly replied "He is present here, He is present there, He is present everywhere! He is present in this tall pillar, and even in this tiny mite of dust! He is Sarvavyapi (all-pervading)!"
Hiranya Kashipu lost control of his temper. Red-hot with rage, he picked up his mace and smashed it into the nearby pillar with all his might! He shouted "I shall destroy Narayanan sitting in this pillar! Show him to me now, if you can, Prahlada! Show me!"
The pillar split and what happened then was the most glorious incident this universe had ever seen!
A magnificent form with the most unique features manifested - the head of a lion with the body of a human, with large bright red eyes, terrible, frightening teeth, and extremely sharp long nails! The Lord had appeared in the form of Narasimha, roaring loudly and formidably.
Then, to match the boon given to Hiranya Kashipu, it was twilight, and right at the entrance to the palace, Lord Narasimha took the demon on his sturdy thighs. He then tore him apart using his sharp long nails and thereby slew him! The entire universe watched this spectacular incident in utter awe.
Despite not having the necessity to place her faith on inanimate objects such as a pillar, and being well within reach of the abode of Vaithamanidhi Perumal, Penpillai laments that her devotion is inadequate and faith, unsatisfactory.
Ramanujacharya replies: “The Lord always safeguards the lives of all living beings with utmost compassion. Not only did He shield his bhakta, young Prahlada from the dangers of death, he also enabled sadgati (moksham) for Hiranya Kashipu, the one who strongly opposed him. And he accomplished both in an instant, through an extraordinary avatar!”
Saying this, Ramanujacharya deeply engaged himself in thoughts of Lord Narasimha. He meditated on the pure qualities of the Lord, concluding that the Lord is indeed Azhagiya Singar (beautiful man-lion form)!