Hiranyakashipu, the king of Asuras, is a demon in Hindu myths. His younger brother, Hiranyaksha was killed by Vishnu, during his Varaha incarnation. Enraged at this, he decided to kill Vishnu by acquiring magical powers from Brahma by performing a penance for him. At last he succeeded in securing a boon from Brahma that he would not die on earth or in space, nor in fire or water, not during the day or night, not inside or outside and not by the hand of a human, god, animal or any other animate or inanimate species.

The arrogant Hiranyakashipu started conquering every part of the universe. He also tortured the believers of Vishnu. Even his son Prahlad, a great devotee of Vishnu, was severely dealt with. In a fit of hatred, Hiranyakashipu tried to kill his son in many ways. On each occasion, Lord Vishnu saved him. Prahlad kept repeating to his father that Vishnu was ubiquitous. On one such occasion Hiranyakashipu, in extreme agitation, asked Prahlad whether Vishnu was present in a particular pillar. Prahlada answered 'yes,' which provoked the king. He broke the pillar. The fourth incarnation of Vishnu, Narasimha, who was neither a human nor animal nor god, stormed out of the pillar and killed Hiranyakashipu.

Updated on 15th December, 2005


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