Once the lived Hiranyakasipu, the king of the demons. His brother, another demon who had been creating a disturbance, had been killed by Varaha, an incarnation of Lord Visnu. Hiranyakasipu also was creating a disturbance by harassing the sages and the demigods. Hiranyakasipu wanted to get revenge upon Lord Visnu for the killing of his brother so he performed severe austerities:
"Seeing Hiranyakasipu engaged in this austerity, the demigods returned to their respective homes, but while Hiranyakasipu was thus engaged, a kind of fire began blazing from his head, disturbing the entire universe and its inhabitants, including the birds, beasts and demigods. When all the higher and lower planets became too hot to live on, the demigods, being disturbed, left their abodes in the higher planets and went to see Lord Brahma, praying to him that he curtail this unnecessary heat. The demigods disclosed to Lord Brahma Hiranyakasipu's ambition to become immortal, overcoming his short duration of life, and to be the master of all the planetary systems, even Dhruvaloka." (Bhag. 7.3.intro)
Finally, Lord Brahma appeared before Hiranyakasipu but could not give him the boon of immortality for even Lord Brahma is not immortal. Therefore, Hiranyakasipu tried to ask for benedictions that would make him almost as good as immortal. Hiranyakasipu asked that he not meet death in any of the following conditions:
(a) by any living entity created by Lord Brahma
(b) within any residence or outside any residence
(c) during the daytime or at night
(d) on the ground or in the sky
(e) by any weapon, human being, or any animal
(h) by anything living or nonliving
Once having attained the powers from Lord Brahma, Hiranyakasipu began to harass all the living entities within the universe:
"All the demigods but Lord Visnu, Lord Brahma and Lord Siva came under his control and began serving him, but despite all his material power he was dissatisfied because he was always puffed up, proud of transgressing the Vedic regulations. All the brahmanas were dissatisfied with him, and they cursed him with determination. Eventually, all the living entities withinthe universe, represented by the demigods and sages, prayed to the Supreme Lord for relief from Hiranyakasipu's rule. Lord Visnu informed the demigods that they and the other living entities would be saved from the fearful conditions created by Hiranyakasipu. Since Hiranyakasipu was the oppressor of all the demigods, the followers of the Vedas, the cows, the brahmanas and the religious, saintly persons, and since he was envious of the Supreme Lord, he would naturally be killed very soon. Hiranyakasipu's last exploit would be to torment his own son Prahlada, who was a maha-bhagavata, an exalted Vaisnava. Then his life would end." (Bhag. 7.4.intro)
Prahlada Maharaja, the son of Hiranyakasipu, was a great devotee and he received initiation while within the womb of his mother:
"This transcendental knowledge is devotional service, and Prahlada Maharaja, while living in the womb of his mother, received instructions indevotional service from Narada Muni. Any person engaged in the service of the Lord through the instructions of a bona fide spiritual master is immediately liberated, and being free from the clutches of maya, he is relieved of all ignorance and material desires." (Bhag. 7.7.intro)
This point we have stressed throughout our newsletters that surrender to the order of the spiritual master is the only means of success in spiritual life. Devotional service is not dependent on material results or conditions; it can be practiced under any conditions as we can see from the example of Prahlada Maharaja:
"Regardless of the material condition in which one is situated, one can achieve this perfection. Devotional service is not dependent on the material activities of austerity, penance, mystic yoga or piety. EVEN WITHOUT SUCH ASSETS, one can achieve devotional service through the mercy of a pure devotee." (Bhag. 7.7.intro)
Sometimes we find so-called devotees wasting their valuable time complaining and finding faults with others instead of sticking to their own devotional service. They should take the instruction that devotional service is not dependent on the material conditions:
"Progress in spiritual life cannot be obstructed by any material condition. This is called ahaituky apratihata." (Bhag. 7.7.1)
Just see how Prahlada stayed fixed in his service despite the impediments, which were much heavier than the impediments of today:
"The assistants of Hiranyakasipu struck Prahlada with sharp weapons, threw him under the feet of elephants, subjected him to hellish conditions, threw him from the peak of a mountain and tried to kill him in thousands of other ways, but they were unsuccessful. Hiranyakasipu therefore became increasingly afraid of his son Prahlada Maharaja and arrested him. The sons of Hiranyakasipu's spiritual master, Sukracarya, began teaching Prahlada in their own way, but Prahlada Maharaja did not accept their instructions.While the teachers were absent from the classroom, Prahlada Maharaja began to preach Krsna consciousness in the school, and by his instructions all his class friends, the sons of the demons, became devotees like him." (Bhag. 7.5.intro)
The teachers of Prahlada, Sanda and Amarka, became afraid that the students would become more and more devoted to the Lord so they informed Hiranyakasipu about Prahlada's preaching. So Hiranyakasipu decided to kill his son himself. Prahlada tried to instruct him:
"Prahlada Maharaja continued: My dear father, please give up your demoniac mentality. Do not discriminate in your heart between enemies and friends; make your mind equipoised toward everyone. Except for the uncontrolled and misguided mind, there is no enemy within this world. When one sees everyone on the platform of equality, one then comes to the position of worshipping the Lord perfectly." (Bhag. 7.8.9)
Controlling the mind is essential in spiritual life and is easily accomplished by becoming fixed in one's devotional service:
"The only bona fide process for controlling the mind is to fix the mind by service to the Lord." (Bhag. 7.8.9)
Although Prahlada tried to instruct Hiranyakasipu, he was not about take the bona fide instructions because he was not interested in devotional service:
"Hiranyakasipu replied: You rascal, you are trying to minimize my value, as if you were better than me at controlling the senses. This is over-intelligent. I can therefore understand that you desire to die at my hands, for this kind of nonsensical talk is indulged in by those about to die." (Bhag. 7.8.11)
Hiranyakasipu: "WHERE IS YOUR GOD?"
Prahlada replied that He is everywhere.
Hiranyakasipu: "IS HE IN THIS PILLAR, PRAHLADA???"
Prahlada: "Yes, he's everywhere."
Hiranyakasipu struck the pillar with his fists not believing Prahlada's
statement; however Lord Nrsimhadeva, half-man and half-lion incarnation of the Supreme Lord, appeared with A ROAR!
A great fight ensued and Lord Nrsimhadeva killed Hiranyakasipu with his nails.
Lord Nrsimhadeva killed Hiranyakasipu without violating any of the boons Hiranyakasipu had received from Lord Brahma:
(a) Hiranyakasipu was killed by Lord Nrsimhadeva who is
not a living entity created by Lord Brahma nor anyone else for He is eternal
(b) Hiranyakasipu was killed in the doorway which is neither within any residence nor outside any residence.
(c) Hiranyakasipu was killed in the evening which is neither daytime nor night.
(d) Hiranyakasipu was killed on the lap of Lord Nrsimhadeva which is neither on the ground nor in the sky.
(e) Hiranyakasipu was killed by a half-man and half-lion which is neither a human nor an animal.
(h) Hiranyakasipu was killed by the nails which are neither living nor dead nor count as weapons. etc.