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The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, [1840], at

p. 137


Dialogue between Prahláda and his father: he is cast from the top of the palace unhurt: baffles the incantations of Samvara: he is thrown fettered into the sea: he praises Vishńu.

WHEN Hirańyakaśipu heard that the powerful incantations of his priests had been defeated, he sent for his son, and demanded of him the secret of his extraordinary might. "Prahláda," he said, "thou art possessed of marvellous powers; whence are they derived? are they the result of magic rites? or have they accompanied thee from birth?" Prahláda, thus interrogated, bowed down to his father's feet, and replied, "Whatever power I possess, father, is neither the result of magic rites, nor is it inseparable from my nature; it is no more than that which is possessed by all in whose hearts Achyuta abides. He who meditates not of wrong to others, but considers them as himself, is free from the effects of sin, inasmuch as the cause does not exist; but he who inflicts pain upon others, in act, thought, or speech, sows the seed of future birth, and the fruit that awaits him after birth is pain. I wish no evil to any, and do and speak no offence; for I behold Keśava in all beings, as in my own soul. Whence should corporeal or mental suffering or pain, inflicted by elements or the gods, affect me, whose heart is thoroughly purified by him? Love, then, for all creatures will be assiduously cherished by all those who are wise in the knowledge that Hari is all things."

When he had thus spoken, the Daitya monarch, his face darkened with fury, commanded his attendants to cast his son from the summit of the palace where he was sitting, and which was many Yojanas in height, down upon the tops of the mountains, where his body should be dashed to pieces against the rocks. Accordingly the Daityas hurled the boy down, and he fell cherishing Hari in his heart, and Earth, the nurse of all creatures, received him gently on her lap, thus entirely devoted to Keśava, the protector of the world.

Beholding him uninjured by the fall, and sound in every bone, Hirańyakaśipu addressed himself to Samvara, the mightiest of enchanters,

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and said to him, "This perverse boy is not to be destroyed by us: do you, who art potent in the arts of delusion, contrive some device for his destruction." Samvara replied, "I will destroy him: you shall behold, king of the Daityas, the power of delusion, the thousand and the myriad artifices that it can employ." Then the ignorant Asura Samvara practised subtile wiles for the extermination of the firm-minded Prahláda: but he, with a tranquil heart, and void of malice towards Samvara, directed his thoughts uninterruptedly to the destroyer of Madhu; by whom the excellent discus, the flaming Sudarsana, was dispatched to defend the youth; and the thousand devices of the evil-destinied Samvara were every one foiled by this defender of the prince. The king of the Daityas then commanded the withering wind to breathe its blighting blast upon his son: and, thus commanded, the wind immediately penetrated into his frame, cold, cutting, drying, and insufferable. Knowing that the wind had entered into his body, the Daitya boy applied his whole heart to the mighty upholder of the earth; and Janárddana, seated in his heart, waxed wroth, and drank up the fearful wind, which had thus hastened to its own annihilation.

When the devices of Samvara were all frustrated, and the blighting wind had perished, the prudent prince repaired to the residence of his preceptor. His teacher instructed him daily in the science of polity, as essential to the administration of government, and invented by Uśanas for the benefit of kings; and when he thought that the modest prince was well grounded in the principles of the science, he told the king that Prahláda was thoroughly conversant with the rules of government as laid down by the descendant of Bhrigu. Hirańyakaśipu therefore summoned the prince to his presence, and desired him to repeat what he had learned; how a king should conduct himself towards friends or foes; what measures he should adopt at the three periods (of advance, retrogression, or stagnation); how he should treat his councillors, his ministers, the officers of his government and of his household, his emissaries, his subjects, those of doubtful allegiance, and his foes; with whom should he contract alliance; with whom engage in war; what sort of fortress he should construct; how forest and mountain tribes should be reduced;

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how internal grievances should be rooted out: all this, and what else he had studied, the youth was commanded by his father to explain. To this, Prahláda having bowed affectionately and reverentially to the feet of the king, touched his forehead, and thus replied:--

"It is true that I have been instructed in all these matters by my venerable preceptor, and I have learnt them, but I cannot in all approve them. It is said that conciliation, gifts, punishment, and sowing dissension are the means of securing friends (or overcoming foes) 1; but I, father--be not angry--know neither friends nor foes; and where no object is to be accomplished, the means of effecting it are superfluous. It were idle to talk of friend or foe in Govinda, who is the supreme soul, lord of the world, consisting of the world, and who is identical with all beings. The divine Vishńu is in thee, father, in me, and in all every where else; and hence how can I speak of friend or foe, as distinct from myself? It is therefore waste of time to cultivate such tedious and unprofitable sciences, which are but false knowledge, and all our energies should be dedicated to the acquirement of true wisdom. The notion that ignorance is knowledge arises, father, from ignorance. Does not the child, king of the Asuras, imagine the fire-fly to be a spark of fire. That is active duty, which is not for our bondage; that is knowledge, which is for our liberation: all other duty is good only unto weariness; all other knowledge is only the cleverness of an artist. Knowing this, I look upon all such acquirement as profitless. That which is really profitable hear me, oh mighty monarch, thus prostrate before thee, proclaim. He who cares not for dominion, he who cares not for wealth, shall assuredly obtain both in a life to come. All men, illustrious prince, are toiling to be great; but the destinies of men, and not their own exertions, are the cause of greatness. Kingdoms are the gifts of fate, and are bestowed upon the stupid, the ignorant, the cowardly, and those to whom the science of government is unknown. Let him therefore who covets the goods of fortune be assiduous in the practice of virtue: let him who hopes for final liberation learn to look upon all things as equal and the

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same. Gods, men, animals, birds, reptiles, all are but forms of one eternal Vishńu, existing as it were detached from himself. By him who knows this, all the existing world, fixed or movable, is to be regarded as identical with himself, as proceeding alike from Vishńu, assuming a universal form. When this is known, the glorious god of all, who is without beginning or end, is pleased; and when he is pleased, there is an end of affliction."

On hearing this, Hirańyakaśipu started up from his throne in a fury, and spurned his son on the breast with his foot. Burning with rage, he wrung his hands, and exclaimed, "Ho Viprachitti! ho Ráhu! ho Bali 2! bind him with strong bands 3, and cast him into the ocean, or all the regions, the Daityas and Dánavas, will become converts to the doctrines of this silly wretch. Repeatedly prohibited by us, he still persists in the praise of our enemies. Death is the just retribution of the disobedient." The Daityas accordingly bound the prince with strong bands, as their lord had commanded, and threw him into the sea. As he floated on the waters, the ocean was convulsed throughout its whole extent, and rose in mighty undulations, threatening to submerge the earth. This when Hirańyakaśipu observed, he commanded the Daityas to hurl rocks into the sea, and pile them closely on one another, burying beneath their incumbent mass him whom fire would not burn, nor weapons pierce, nor serpents bite; whom the pestilential gale could not blast, nor poison nor magic spirits nor incantations destroy; who fell from the loftiest heights unhurt; who foiled the elephants of the spheres: a son of depraved heart, whose life was a perpetual curse. "Here," he cried, "since he cannot die, here let him live for thousands of years at the bottom of the ocean, overwhelmed by mountains. Accordingly the Daityas and Dánavas hurled upon Prahláda, whilst in the great ocean, ponderous rocks,

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and piled them over him for many thousand miles: but he, still with mind undisturbed, thus offered daily praise to Vishńu, lying at the bottom of the sea, under the mountain heap. "Glory to thee, god of the lotus eye: glory to thee, most excellent of spiritual things: glory to thee, soul of all worlds: glory to thee, wielder of the sharp discus: glory to the best of Brahmans; to the friend of Brahmans and of kine; to Krishńa, the preserver of the world: to Govinda be glory. To him who, as Brahmá, creates the universe; who in its existence is its preserver; be praise. To thee, who at the end of the Kalpa takest the form of Rudra; to thee, who art triform; be adoration. Thou, Achyuta, art the gods, Yakshas, demons, saints, serpents, choristers and dancers of heaven, goblins, evil spirits, men, animals, birds, insects, reptiles, plants, and stones, earth, water, fire, sky, wind, sound, touch, taste, colour, flavour, mind, intellect, soul, time, and the qualities of nature: thou art all these, and the chief object of them all. Thou art knowledge and ignorance, truth and falsehood, poison and ambrosia. Thou art the performance and discontinuance of acts 4: thou art the acts which the Vedas enjoin: thou art the enjoyer of the fruit of all acts, and the means by which they are accomplished. Thou, Vishńu, who art the soul of all, art the fruit of all acts of piety. Thy universal diffusion, indicating might and goodness, is in me, in others, in all creatures, in all worlds. Holy ascetics meditate on thee: pious priests sacrifice to thee. Thou alone, identical with the gods and the fathers of mankind, receivest burnt-offerings and oblations 5. The universe is thy intellectual form 6; whence proceeded thy subtile form, this world: thence art thou all subtile elements and elementary beings, and the subtile principle, that is called soul, within them. Hence the supreme soul of all objects, distinguished as subtile or gross, which is imperceptible, and which cannot be conceived, is even a form of thee. Glory be to thee, Purushottama; and

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glory to that imperishable form which, soul of all, is another manifestation 7 of thy might, the asylum of all qualities, existing in all creatures. I salute her, the supreme goddess, who is beyond the senses; whom the mind, the tongue, cannot define; who is to be distinguished alone by the wisdom of the truly wise. Om! salutation to Vásudeva: to him who is the eternal lord; he from whom nothing is distinct; he who is distinct from all. Glory be to the great spirit again and again: to him who is without name or shape; who sole is to be known by adoration; whom, in the forms manifested in his descents upon earth, the dwellers in heaven adore; for they behold not his inscrutable nature. I glorify the supreme deity Vishńu, the universal witness, who seated internally, beholds the good and ill of all. Glory to that Vishńu from whom this world is not distinct. May he, ever to be meditated upon as the beginning of the universe, have compassion upon me: may he, the supporter of all, in whom every thing is warped and woven 8, undecaying, imperishable, have compassion upon me. Glory, again and again, to that being to whom all returns, from whom all proceeds; who is all, and in whom all things are: to him whom I also am; for he is every where; and through whom all things are from me. I am all things: all things are in me, who am everlasting. I am undecayable, ever enduring, the receptacle of the spirit of the supreme. Brahma is my name; the supreme soul, that is before all things, that is after the end of all.


139:1 These are the four Upáyas, 'means of success,' specified in the Amera-kosha.

140:2 Celebrated Daityas. Viprachitti is one of the chief Dánavas, or sons of Danu, and appointed king over them by Brahmá. Ráhu was the son of Sinhiká, more known as the dragon's head, or ascending node, being a chief agent in eclipses. Bali was sovereign of the three worlds in the time of the dwarf incarnation, and afterwards monarch of Pátála.

140:3 With Nága páśas, 'snake-nooses;' tortuous and twining round the limbs like serpents.

141:4 Acts of devotion--sacrifices, oblations, observance of rules of purification, almsgiving, and the like--opposed to ascetic and contemplative worship, which dispenses with the ritual.

141:5 Havya and Kavya, oblations of ghee or oiled butter; the former presented to the gods, the latter to the Pitris.

141:6 Mahat, the first product of nature, intellect.

142:7 The preceding passage was addressed to the Purusha, or spiritual nature, of the supreme being: this is addressed to his material essence, his other energy, that is, to Pradhána,

142:8 Or rather, woven as the warp and woof; ###--### meaning 'woven by the long threads,' and ### 'by the cross threads.'

Next: Chapter XX