Sacred Texts  Hinduism  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

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

p. 143


Vishńu appears to Prahláda. Hirańyakaśipu relents, and is reconciled to his son: he is put to death by Vishńu as the Nrisinha. Prahláda becomes king of the Daityas: his posterity: fruit of hearing his story.

THUS meditating upon Vishńu, as identical with his own spirit, Prahláda became as one with him, and finally regarded himself as the divinity: he forgot entirely his own individuality, and was conscious of nothing else than his being the inexhaustible, eternal, supreme soul; and in consequence of the efficacy of this conviction of identity, the imperishable Vishńu, whose essence is wisdom, became present in his heart, which was wholly purified from sin. As soon as, through the force of his contemplation, Prahláda had become one with Vishńu, the bonds with which he was bound burst instantly asunder; the ocean was violently uplifted; and the monsters of the deep were alarmed; earth with all her forests and mountains trembled; and the prince, putting aside the rocks which the demons had piled Upon him, came forth from out the main. When he beheld the outer world again, and contemplated earth and heaven, he remembered who he was, and recognised himself to be Prahláda; and again he hymned Purushottama, who is without beginning or end; his mind being steadily and undeviatingly addressed to the object of his prayers, and his speech, thoughts, and acts being firmly under control. "Om! glory to the end of all: to thee, lord, who art subtile and substantial; mutable and immutable; perceptible and imperceptible; divisible and indivisible; indefinable and definable; the subject of attributes, and void of attributes; abiding in qualities, though they abide not in thee; morphous and amorphous; minute and vast; visible and invisible; hideousness and beauty; ignorance and wisdom; cause and effect; existence and non-existence; comprehending all that is good and evil; essence of perishable and imperishable elements; asylum of undeveloped rudiments. Oh thou who art both one and many, Vásudeva, first cause of all; glory be unto thee. Oh thou who art large and small, manifest and hidden; who art all beings, and art not

p. 144

all beings; and from whom, although distinct from universal cause, the universe proceeds: to thee, Purushottama, be all glory."

Whilst with mind intent on Vishńu, he thus pronounced his praises, the divinity, clad in yellow robes, suddenly appeared before him. Startled at the sight, with hesitating speech Prahláda pronounced repeated salutations to Vishńu, and said, "Oh thou who removest all worldly grief, Keśava, be propitious unto me; again sanctify me, Achyuta, by thy sight." The deity replied, "I am pleased with the faithful attachment thou hast shown to me: demand from me, Prahláda, whatever thou desirest." Prahláda replied, "In all the thousand births through which I may be doomed to pass, may my faith in thee, Achyuta, never know decay; may passion, as fixed as that which the worldly-minded feel for sensual pleasures, ever animate my heart, always devoted unto thee." Bhagaván answered, "Thou hast already devotion unto me, and ever shalt have it: now choose some boon, whatever is in thy wish." Prahláda then said, "I have been hated, for that I assiduously proclaimed thy praise: do thou, oh lord, pardon in my father this sin that he Bath committed. Weapons have been hurled against me; I have been thrown into the flames; I have been bitten by venomous snakes; and poison has been mixed with my food; I have been bound and cast into the sea; and heavy rocks have been heaped upon me: but all this, and whatever ill beside has been wrought against me; whatever wickedness has been done to me, because I put my faith in thee; all, through thy mercy, has been suffered by me unharmed: and do thou therefore free my father from this iniquity." To this application Vishńu replied, "All this shall be unto thee, through my favour: but I give thee another boon: demand it, son of the Asura." Prahláda answered and said, "All my desires, oh lord, have been fulfilled by the boon that thou hast granted, that my faith in thee shall never know decay. Wealth, virtue, love, are as nothing; for even liberation is in his reach whose faith is firm in thee, root of the universal world." Vishńu said, "Since thy heart is filled immovably with trust in me, thou shalt, through my blessing, attain freedom from existence." Thus saying, Vishńu vanished from his sight; and Prahláda repaired to his father, and bowed down before him. His father

p. 145

kissed him on the forehead 1, and embraced him, and shed tears, and said, "Dost thou live, my son?" And the great Asura repented of his former cruelty, and treated him with kindness: and Prahláda, fulfilling his duties like any other youth, continued diligent in the service of his preceptor and his father. After his father had been put to death by Vishńu in the form of the man-lion 2, Prahláda became the sovereign of the Daityas; and possessing the splendours of royalty consequent upon his piety, exercised extensive sway, and was blessed with a numerous progeny. At the expiration of an authority which was the reward of his meritorious acts, he was freed from the consequences of moral merit or demerit, and obtained, through meditation on the deity, final exemption from existence.

Such, Maitreya, was the Daitya Prahláda, the wise and faithful worshipper of Vishńu, of whom you wished to hear; and such was his miraculous power. Whoever listens to the history of Prahláda is immediately cleansed from his sins: the iniquities that he commits, by night or by day, shall be expiated by once hearing, or once reading, the history of Prahláda. The perusal of this history on the day of full moon, of new moon, or on the eighth or twelfth day of the lunation 3,

p. 146

shall yield fruit equal to the donation of a cow 4. As Vishńu protected Prahláda in all the calamities to which he was exposed, so shall the deity protect him who listens constantly to the tale 5.


145:1 Literally, 'having smelt his forehead.' I have elsewhere had occasion to observe this practice: Hindu Theatre, II. 45.

145:2 Here is another instance of that brief reference to popular and prior legends, which is frequent in this Puráńa. The man-lion Avatára is referred to in several of the Puráńas, but I have met with the story in detail only in the Bhágavata. It is there said that Hirańyakaśipu asks his son, why, if Vishńu is every where, he is not visible in a pillar in the hall, where they are assembled. He then rises, and strikes the column with his fist; on which Vishńu, in a form which is neither wholly a lion nor a man, issues from it, and a conflict ensues, which ends in Hirańyakaśipu's being torn to pieces. Even this account, therefore, is not in all particulars the same as the popular version of the story.

145:3 The days of full and new moon are sacred with all sects of Hindus: the eighth and twelfth days of the lunar half month were considered holy by the Vaishńavas, as appears from the text. The eighth maintains its character in a great degree from the eighth of Bhádra being the birthday of Krishńa; but the eleventh, in more recent Vaishńava works, as the Brahma Vaivartta P., has taken the place of the twelfth, and is even more sacred than the eighth.

146:4 Or any solemn gift; that of a cow is held particularly sacred; but it implies accompaniments of a more costly character, ornaments and gold.

146:5 The legend of Prahláda is inserted in detail in the Bhágavata and Náradíya Puráńas, and in the Uttara Khańd́a of the Padma: it is adverted to more briefly in the Váyu, Linga, Kúrma, &c., in the Moksha Dharma of the Mahábhárata, and in the Hari Vanśa.

Next: Chapter XXI