The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 780,972 words | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Prahlada enthroned—The conquest of Tripura which is chapter 10 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the tenth chapter of the Seventh Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 10 - Prahlāda enthroned—The conquest of Tripura

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nārada said:

1. The child, Prahlāda who looked upon all that (offer of boons etc.) as an impediment to the practice of Bhakti-Yoga (Yoga of Devotion), slightly smiled, and addressed Lord Nṛsiṃha (the Lord of the sense organs) as follows:

Prahlāda said:

2. Pray, do not tempt me who am addicted by nature (lit. birth) to pleasures, with (the promise of) those boons. Being afraid of contacts with them and in (sheer) disgust of them, I have resorted to you with the desire of securing liberation (from saṃsāra).

3. Oh Lord! Meseems it is with the desire of ascertaining the characteristics of a real servant or devotee that your worship directed me to choose objects of pleasure which are the seeds of the transmigration of the Self (saṃsāra) and are like so many knots binding the heart.

4. Otherwise that (offer) would have been impossible from you who are full of mercy, Oh Father of all![1] He who hankers after blessings from you, is but a merchant, and not a real servant (devotee)[2].

5. Verily he is not a real servant who desires to secure worldly pleasures (in return for services) from his master. Nor is he a real master who grants such comforts to play the lord upon his servant.

6. But I am your devotee who cherishes no desire and you are the Master who expect nothing (from your servant). Here, between us, there is no object (to be gained) as between the king and his servant.

7. Oh foremost one among the bestowers of boons! If (at all) You (want to) confer any boons on me, Oh Lord, I seek of your Worship the boon that no desire should germinate in my heart.

8. For, with the rise of desires, the (powers of) the senses, the mind, the vital air, the Soul, righteousness, fortitude, judgment, modesty, prosperity, energy, memory and truth come to an end (once for all).

9.[3] When a man gets rid of desires fixed (deep) in the heart, then alone he becomes fit to attain to thy status, Oh lotus-eyed Lord.

10. (Now I remember the Mantra to which I was initiated by Nārada).

Salutations to You, Oh Almighty Lord, the Supreme Person, the High-Souled One, Hari, the wonderful lion. Supreme Brahman and Paramātinan.

Lord Nṛsiṃha said:

11. Those who are exclusively devoted to Me like you, never expect from Me any blessing in this or in the next world Still (it is my order that you shall enjoy throughout this Manvantara the luxuries of the overlordship of the Daityas here.

12. You continue to enjoy listening to my stories so dear to you. Realize within your own heart Me, the Lord present in all beings, and the presiding deity of sacrifices. Dedicating all your activities to Me, worship Me, in meditation.

13. Having exhausted your merit by enjoying pleasure and sin by doing meritorious actions (or by prāyaścitta—expiatory rites) and given up your body in course of time, and spread such extremely pure renown as to be sung in heaven, you shall attain to Me completely liberated from all bonds.

14. A person who recites this song (prayer) sung by you to Me and remembers you and Me, becomes free from the bondage of karman in due course.

Prahlāda said:

15-17. Oh Supreme Lord! The Lord of those who graciously confer boons! I seek from you this boon that my father, ignorant of Your being the Divine Light, and with his mind overwhelmed (lit. pierced through) with indignation, reviled you who are the veritable Father of the World and the Master, by calling You the murderer of his brother, and through wrong outlook, behaved sinfully to me, Your devotee. May (my father) be absolved of the terrible sins which are too difficult to be crossed, even though he must have been purified when he was glanced at by you who are compassionate to the afflicted.

The Lord said:

18. Oh sinless righteous saint! Inasmuch as you, the purifier of the family, have been born in his house, your father along with twenty-one generations of his fore-fathers stands absolved of all sins[4].

19. Wherever my devotees, extremely serene, impartial in outlook, noble in character and of pious behaviour, are present, they sanctify that country (along with its inhabitants) even if it be sinful like that of Kīkaṭa.

20. Oh Lord of Daityas! They (My devotees) who, out of devotion unto Me, have become devoid of desires[5] (which are at the root of anger, violence etc.), do not trouble any creature in any category of beings, high or low, by any means.

21. In this world, there are men who follow your way of life and become My devotees. But certainly, you stand as a model to all my devotees.

22. Oh child Prahlāda! (As a formality) perform the obsequies of your father who has been thoroughly purified through contact with My person (and has become hence sinless). Now, being blest with you as a pious son, he will certainly attain to higher worlds.

23. As directed by exponents of the Vedas, you occupy the throne of your father. Concentrating your mind on Me, carry out your duties with complete devotion to Me, Oh child!

Nārada said:

24. In compliance of the command of the Lord, Prahlāda also performed all the funeral rites of his father. And he was installed as a king by excellent Brāhmaṇas (and governed as per instructions of the Lord.)

25. Seeing the countenance of the Man-Lion Hari graciously pleased, Brahmā who was surrounded with gods, praised Him with holy Vedic hymns and submitted (as follows):

Brahmā said:

26. Oh God of gods! The Supreme Ruler of all! The Creator of all beings! Oh the First born one! It is fortunate that You have slain the wicked demon, the tormentor of the world.

27. It was this demon who, having secured boons from me, could not be killed by anyone of my creation. Being arrogant with (the powers acquired by) penance and Yoga and with prowess he violated the code of righteousness.

28. Luckily, his son, though a child, is a pious Soul and a great devotee of Yours. Fortunately he has been saved by You from death, and he has now attained to You.

29. Oh Lord! He who, with concentrated mind, contemplates on this form of Yours, will be protected on all sides from fear—even from the god of death wishing to kill one.

Nṛsiṃha said:

30. Oh lotus-born god! No such boon is to be conferred by you on Asuras. A boon bestowed on those who are cruel by nature, is harmful like feeding serpents with milk.

Nārada said:

31. Oh king Yudhiṣṭhira! Having spoken thus, Lord Hari Who is normally invisible to all beings and Who was worshipped by god Brahmā, vanished on that very spot.

32. Then Prahlāda worshipped god Brahmā, Śiva, Prajāpatis and gods—all of whom were parts of the Almighty Lord—and bowed them with his head.

33. Thereafter, the lotus-seated god Brahmā, together with sages headed by Śukra, crowned Prahlāda as the Lord of Daityas and Dānavas.

34. Then, having felicitated Prahlāda and bestowed their highest blessings on him, the gods headed by Brahmā who were worshipped by him again, returned to their respective places, Oh King.

35. In this way, the two attendants of Viṣṇu (Jaya and Vijaya) who were born as sons to Diti (due to the imprecation of Brāhmaṇas) were killed by Hari, present in their heart due to the hostile attitude adopted by them towards Hari.

36. And due to the curse of a Brāhmaṇa, both of them were born again as the demons Kumbhakarṇa and Rāvaṇa of ten heads, who were killed by Rāma’s arrows.

37. While lying on the field of battle with their hearts pierced with Rāma’s arrows, both of them quitted their physical bodies with their hearts fixed on Him (Rāma), as (it happened) in their previous birth (as Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu).

38. Both of those (attendants of Viṣṇu) were now born here as Śiśupāla and Dantavakra. It is in Your very presence that they merged in Lord Hari by entertaining continuous enmity towards Him.

39. Kings who were the enemies of Kṛṣṇa shed off, at the end of their life, whatever sins they have committed in the previous life, and become like unto Him through constant meditation like a caterpillar which, through constant brooding, is transformed into a wasp.

40. Just as votaries of the Lord, through their unflinching devotion to Hari attain to perfect identity with Him, (inimical) kings like Śiśupāla and others, through their constant brooding over Him (as their enemy) attained to similarity of form like Him.

41. I have answered to you in details all the queries made by you and also the identity with Hari attained by His enemies like the son of Damaghoṣa (Śiśupāla).

42. This is the sacred story of the (Man-lion) incarnation of the noble-souled Kṛṣṇa, the devotee of Brāhmaṇas—a story (containing the narration) of slaying the two ancient Daityas (viz. Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu).

43-44. This narration includes the life (and character) of Prahlāda, the great votary of the Lord, and (a detailed description of) his devotion, knowledge non-attachment and also of the true nature and an account of the glorious deeds of Hari who is the Lord of the creation, maintenance and the destruction (of the universe). (It describes) the great revolutions in the positions of gods and demons in course of time.

45. In this chronicle has been described the righteous path of the devotees of the Lord which leads to the attainment of (one-ness with) Him; and all topics relating to the soul (spiritual knowledge) have been thoroughly discussed.

46. Whoever, after reverentially listening to this holy narrative of the heroic deeds of Viṣṇu, recites it to others is liberated from the bonds of Karmas (good or bad).

47. Whoever peruses piously with concentrated mind the sportive actions of Lord Viṣṇu (the Most Ancient Person) in assuming the Lion form and slaying Hiraṇyakaśipu, the leader of the legions of demons, and listens to (lit. having listened to) the (recital of the) hallowing glory of the demon Hirayṇyakaśipu’s son (Prahlāda), the foremost among the righteous, attains to the region (Mokṣa) which is beyond the range of fear.

48. (Oh Yudhiṣṭhira!) You are certainly immensely more fortunate in this world (as compared with Prahlāda etc. his spiritual preceptor Nārada, as well as your forefathers and other great sages) inasmuch as great sages who sanctify the world, pay visit to you from all quarters, and the Supreme Brahman Himself, concealing His greatness in the guise of a human being, resides with you in your houses.

49. This Kṛṣṇa who is your dear friend and well-wisher, your maternal uncle’s son, your very adorable self, guide and advisor carrying out your behests (as your representative or charioteer), is verily the Brahman who is the embodiment of the ecstatic experience of the absolute Supreme bliss (unconditioned by any upādhi) which is sought after by the great.

50. May Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of the Sātvatas whose direct essential nature has not been actually comprehended or described with their intellect by gods like Śiva and Brahmā, and who has been devoutly worshipped by us through silent meditation añd renunciation, be gracious unto us. [The Supreme Brahman does not reside in Prahlāda’s palace. Nor do sages go there to have an audience with him. Nor does He act like a cousin. Hence, Oh Yudhiṣṭhira and Pāṇḍavas, you are immensely more fortunate than Prahlāda and we.]

51. Oh Yudhiṣṭhira! he is that very Lord who, in days of yore, extended the glory of god Rudra as it was eclipsed by Maya, the master of innumerable delusive powers.

The King (Yudhiṣṭhira) asked:

52. Be pleased to describe to us in which action Maya destroyed the glory of god Śiva and the way in which Lord Kṛṣṇa (re-established and) enhanced it.

Nārada said:

53. Asuras who were completely vanquished in the battle by gods who were strengthened by Lord Kṛṣṇa, sought the refuge of Maya the Supreme Preceptor of all conjurors (experts in the arts of illusion or magic).

54. The master-conjuror constructed three (flying-fortress-like) cities made of gold, silver and iron respectively. Their movements (arrival and departure) were undetectable and the (war) materials and equipments provided therein were beyond the conception of gods (And he handed these over to Asuras).

55. Remembering their old hostility, the leaders of Asura armies destroyed the three worlds along with the rulers, themselves remaining invisible with the help of those (flying) cities, Oh King.

56. Oh King, thereupon all residents of the three worlds, along with their rulers, approached god Śiva and prayed, “Be pleased, Oh God, to protect us, Your own people (who are practically) destroyed by Asuras residing in three (flying) cities.

57. Out of grace unto the celestials, the almighty god Śiva reassured the gods not to be afraid, and fitted an arrow (charged with mystic powers) to his bow, and discharged the missile at the (flying) cities.

58. Fiery arrows, like streams of rays emanating from the orb of the Sun, shot forth from that shaft and the cities, being screened by them, became invisible.

59. Struck with those shafts, all the citizens of those cities, fell dead. But the great Yogī Maya brought them and put them into a well of nectar (excavated by him in the cities).

60. At the touch of the resuscitating fluid prepared by him (Maya). they sprang to life with adamantine bodily frames endowed with extraordinary vigour, like fires of the lightening tearing open the clouds.

61. Finding god Śiva (the bull-bannered god) frustrated in his undertaking and dejected, this Lord Viṣṇu devised an expendient [expedient?] for it.

62. This Lord Viṣṇu assumed the form of a cow and Brahmā became the calf. Entering the cities at midday, he drank out the nectar from the well of that (immortalizing) fluid.

63-65. Though witnessing it, the Asuras (guarding the well) became too bewildered to prevent it. Knowing that and remembering that it was destined to be so, Maya, the past-master in devising expedients addressed the following (words) to the guards of that well of nectar who were stricken with grief: “No one whether a god, a demon, a man or any other being is capable of thwarting what has been ordained by Fate regarding one’s own Self or another or of both.”

Then by His own potencies, He (Lord Kṛṣṇa) devised the equipment of battle (war-materials) for god Śiva.

66. By means of His powers like righteousness, wisdom, renunciation, affluence, asceticism, knowledge, action and others, (He created for god Śiva) a chariot, a charioteer, the flag, horses, a bow, an armour, shafts and others.

67-68. Clad in the armour and seated in the chariot, god Śiva took up his bow and arrow. At noon, at the auspicious time, called Abhijit, Hara (Śiva) fixed the shaft to the bow and burnt down the three impregnable cities. Kettledrums were sounded in the sky which was crowded with hundreds of celestial cars.

69. Gods, sages, manes (pitṛs) and leaders of Siddhas shouted “Victory” in joyous exclamation, and poured showers of flowers. The troupes of celestial nymphs danced in ecstasy.

70. Having thus burnt down the three (flying) cities, the venerable god Śiva (destroyer of cities) returned to his own residence while being praised by Brahmā and others.

71. Such and others are the exploits of this Hari who with his Māyā Potency imitates the human form (i.e. way of life) that the heroic achievements of the Preceptor (or father) of the world which purify the worlds are sung by sages. What else should I relate next?

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Some editions add here:

naṣṭa-dṛṣṭes tamasyāndhe tvamekaḥ pāradarśanaḥ /

You are the only guide to lead across to the other shore of the ocean of saṃsāra, the people who have lost their eye-sight in blinding darkness.

[2]:

After this line Andhra edition adds:

sa vai svāmī, sa vai bhṛtyo, guṇalubdhau na kāmukau!

Verily he is the master and he is the servant. They are so due to their appreciation of qualities, but not for any gain or pleasure.

[3]:

Here Bhāvāratha Dīpikā quotes Kaṭha Upa. 2.3. 14—

yadā sarve pramucyante kāmā ye'sya hṛdi śritāḥ /
atha martyomṛto bhavatyatra brahma samaśnute //

When one gets rid of all the desires residing (fixed) in one’s heart, the mortal becomes immortal immediately and attains oneness with Brahman in this very life.

[4]:

Bhāvāratha Dīpikā explains that as Hiraṇyakaśipu was the 3rd in generation from god Brahmā, here the twenty-one generations of his previous birth are implied.

VC. adds: Twenty-one generations of forefathers in your (Prahlāda’s) twenty-one previous incarnations are included here.

[5]:

mad-bhāvena gataspṛhaḥ—Realizing my presence everywhere, they entertain no jealousy against anyone—Padaratnāvalī

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