Viṣṇu Purāṇa | Book 1 - Chapter 20

Chapter XX

Viṣṇu appears to Prahlāda. Hiraṇyakaśipu relents, and is reconciled to his son: he is put to death by Viṣṇu as the Nrisimha. Prahlāda becomes king of the Daityas: his posterity: fruit of hearing his story.

THUS meditating upon Viṣṇu, as identical with his own spirit, Prahlāda 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 Viṣṇu, whose essence is wisdom, became present in his heart, which was wholly purified from sin.

As soon as, through the force of his contemplation, Prahlāda had become one with Viṣṇu, 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 Prahlāda;

and again he hymned Puruṣottama, 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, Vāsudeva, 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 all beings; and from whom, although distinct from universal cause, the universe proceeds: to thee, Puruṣottama, be all glory."

Whilst with mind intent on Viṣṇu, he thus pronounced his praises, the divinity, clad in yellow robes, suddenly appeared before him.

Startled at the sight, with hesitating speech Prahlāda pronounced repeated salutations to Viṣṇu, 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, Prahlāda, whatever thou desirest."

Prahlāda 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."

Bhagavān answered: “Thou hast already devotion unto me, and ever shalt have it: now choose some boon, whatever is in thy wish."

Prahlāda 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 has 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 Viṣṇu replied: "All this shall be unto thee, through my favour: but I give thee another boon: demand it, son of the Asura."

Prahlāda 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."

Viṣṇu said: "Since thy heart is filled immovably with trust in me, thou shalt, through my blessing, attain freedom from existence."

Thus saying, Viṣṇu vanished from his sight; and Prahlāda repaired to his father, and bowed down before him.

His father kissed him on the forehead, 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 Prahlāda, 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 Viṣṇu in the form of the man-lion, Prahlāda 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 Prahlāda, the wise and faithful worshipper of Viṣṇu, of whom you wished to hear; and such was his miraculous power.

Whoever listens to the history of Prahlāda 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 Prahlāda.

The perusal of this history on the day of full moon, of new moon, or on the eighth or twelfth day of the lunation, shall yield fruit equal to the donation of a cow.

As Viṣṇu protected Prahlāda in all the calamities to which he was exposed, so shall the deity protect him who listens constantly to the tale.