Hiranyakashipu's Penance - Boon Obtained

Demon King Hiranyakashipu, with ambitions exceeding his capabilities, embarked on intense penance at Mount Mandara to obtain invincibility, immortality, lordship over the three worlds, and other great boons from the god Brahma.

Standing on his toes and raising his hands upwards, he meditated with his gaze fixed towards the sky. Adorned with blood-colored garments and scented oils, his matted hair, due to the thousands of years of penance, shone with the intensity of harsh sun rays. The emanating rays from his hair resembled the fearsome solar rays during the apocalypse. As he continued his severe penance, flames emerged from the top of his head, resembling sacred fire, and started to blaze.

This fire, with its intense heat, rendered the gods incapable of staying in heaven. The worlds around, including the earth with its seven islands and mountains, trembled. Lakes, ponds, rivers, and even the stars and planets began to move out of their orbits, and the ten directions seemed to burn. The gods, unable to withstand the torment of Hiranyakashipu's fierce penance, fled heaven and rushed to Satyaloka to seek help from Brahma.

In Satyaloka, the gods appealed to Brahma, "O Lord of the universe, due to Hiranyakashipu's penance, we cannot reside in heaven. Before his penance consumes all the worlds you created, please find a way to make him stop."

Moved by their prayers, Brahma contemplated the course of action. He realized that Hiranyakashipu's penance was causing great distress to the world. To alleviate this suffering, he decided to grant a boon to the demon, thereby reinforcing the belief in the fruits of penance among demons. However, knowing that the ultimate will of Lord Vishnu was the destruction of the cruel and world-menacing Hiranyakashipu, Brahma, accompanied by sages like Daksha and Bhrigu, rode on a swan to Mount Mandara to grant Hiranyakashipu his boon, in line with Vishnu's divine plan.

Meanwhile, in Narada's hermitage, from the morning of Ekadashi, Devi Kayadhu, engaged in worship and services to the Lord, was extremely tired. As night fell, the wakeful service of Ekadashi began, and Narada was seated on a deer skin.

Then Kayadhu (ShuchiShakti) prayed, "Master, kindly bless me by narrating the glories of Lord Hari." Narada replied, "O auspicious one, I will tell you of the glory that Lord Hari once narrated to Goddess Lakshmi, the mother of the universe. Worship the embodiment of Sat-Chit-Ananda, Lord Hari, with devotion. Satisfied, Narayana will grant liberation. No enemies, evil planets, or demons can harm the devotees of Sri Hari. As devotion to Sri Hari strengthens, he bestows all auspiciousness upon his devotees. Offer your body parts, eyes, ears, tongue, mind, wealth, and kingdom in service to Lord Narayana with nine types of devotion. The body is transient and its end is unpredictable. From the moment of birth, death follows. Therefore, renouncing ego and attachment, worship Hari with devotion. Creation is divided into gods and demons. Among them, Hari's devotees are godly. You, too, are a devotee of Hari. As a devotee of Hari, worship him sincerely, without pretense or hypocrisy."

Narada then began to instruct Queen Kayadhu about the incomprehensible powers, great glories, and affection of Lord Hari, along with the avatars, pastimes, and secrets of Satva. Overwhelmed and exhausted, Kayadhu fell asleep unnoticed. Narada, filled with enthusiasm, continued narrating the stories of Sri Hari. He expounded on the profound secrets and worship practices of Lord Rama, the essence of all Vedas and scriptures.

Suddenly, a "Hoom, Hoom" sound was heard in the tranquil surroundings. Surprised, Narada looked at Kayadhu, who was deep in sleep. He looked around - no one else was there! Where was this mysterious sound coming from? Astonishingly, the sound was emanating from Kayadhu's womb. Narada was indescribably delighted and ecstatic, his body thrilled with joy, his throat choked with emotion.

Ah, Sri Hari, God of Gods, who truly knows your divine play, O Lord? Are you now awakening your foremost devotee in me? Have you decided that this humble yogi should become the spiritual teacher of your innermost devotee? Madhava, I am blessed. As the director of the cosmic play, I must act as you orchestrate. Lord, previously, as per your inspiration, I motivated the Demon King to obtain his boon of invincibility through penance. Later, again following your guidance, I protected Kayadhu Devi and her unborn child from Indra. Now, facing the powerful Demon King, I will prepare this unborn devotee in the womb to reveal your wondrous glory, supreme excellence, and omnipresence. Are you entrusting me with the grave responsibility of nurturing this royal devotee? So be it, God, as per your will. Once Hiranyakashipu returns from Brahma's boon, I will ensure this unborn great soul breaks his pride, becoming your devotee and contributing to world welfare. The birth of this royal devotee as the son of a demon who despises you, the son opposing the father! You, the master of unexpected events, are truly resolute in your truth. Infinite salutations to you, Lord," Narada mused in meditation.

From that day on, Sage Narada, under the guise of instructing Kayadhu, imparted the essence of all Vedas, the principles of Bhagavata Dharma, devotion to God, and the extraordinary glories of Sri Hari to the queen and her unborn child.

One day, while Narada joyfully taught Kayadhu about the glories of the Supreme Soul, she folded her hands and requested, "Master, you must grant me a boon." Narada, pleased, asked, "O auspicious lady, maiden! What boon do you desire? Ask, my child." Then Kayadhu humbly said, "O revered sage! Until my husband returns and takes me to the capital, I should not give birth! I request the boon of a desired delivery and the well-being of the child in my womb.

Narada Muni, with joy, said, "Well done, well done! O virtuous woman, you have asked for a boon befitting a devoted wife! So it shall be, you will give birth only when you wish. Your son in the womb shall always be blessed with good fortune and safety. This will certainly come true through the grace of my lord Sri Hari. Do not worry," and thus he granted the boon to Queen Kayadhu.

Meanwhile, at Mount Mandara, Brahma arrived to grant a boon to Hiranyakashipu, who was engrossed in severe penance. He found Hiranyakashipu's body covered in bamboo and grass, surrounded by anthills and insects, with only bones and skin remaining. Brahma said, "My child, rise, end your severe penance. Look, I have come to grant you the boon you desire. O King of Demons! I am compelled by your great penance. Ask for your boon." He then sprinkled water from his kamandalu (water pot) on Hiranyakashipu's withered body.

To everyone's amazement, Hiranyakashipu emerged from the anthill with a body glowing like fire, strong as a diamond, and beautifully youthful.

Seeing Brahma, the creator and his chosen deity, arriving in the sky on a swan (hamsa) and gracing him with his presence, Hiranyakashipu was overjoyed. He offered his respectful prostrations to the deity and stood with folded hands, his eyes moist with tears of joy, and humbly began to praise him:

"At the end of the creation cycle, covered by darkness, you illuminate this universe with your self-luminous and radiant form. By your own will, you create, sustain, and dissolve this threefold universe with the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance. Salutations to you, O Supreme Being, the great Mahat." - Bhagavata Purana, Third Skanda.

O God of Gods! At the end of the great cosmic cycle, during the time of dissolution, you (Sri Hari) manifested Goddess Durga, shrouded in darkness, enveloping the world (created by your forms like Pradyumna and the elements like Prakriti). You then revealed your radiance, dispelling the darkness and manifesting the world. Afterwards, you activated nature to function, creating, preserving, and destroying the universe with elements like Mahattattva. Salutations to you.

Hiranyakashipu, praising in various ways, then asked for a boon – 'If you are willing to grant my desired boons, O bestower of boons, I should not meet death by any creature created by you. Neither inside nor outside, neither during the day nor at night, neither by a living being nor by an inanimate object, neither on land nor in the sky, neither by humans nor by animals, neither by gods, demons, nor great serpents. No one should be able to rival me in battle. I should have sovereign authority over all beings. I must acquire the glory of all world protectors, and like your own undiminished glory, my glory should never wane under any circumstance. Grant me this boon, indicating that I should also attain the position of Brahma.'

Though Hiranyakashipu asked for such an extraordinary boon, Brahma, as per the will of Sri Hari and inspired by him, granted this significant boon and returned to Satyaloka.

Hiranyakashipu, having pleased Brahma with his penance, received an extraordinary boon and returned to his kingdom, filled with supreme joy. Upon knowing this, the gods, realizing the implications of Hiranyakashipu's newfound power, left his kingdom.

In the capital, Hiranyakashipu learned about everything that had happened during his time of penance. The Demon King then visited Sage Narada's hermitage.

Narada Muni, pleased with the Demon King's arrival, welcomed him. Kayadhu was overjoyed by her husband's return. Hiranyakashipu paid his respects to Narada and said, "O revered sage! Your kindness to me has been immense. You advised me to please the great Brahma through penance to obtain the boon of invincibility. Following your guidance, I pleased Brahma with my penance and received an extraordinary boon!

Furthermore, during my absence for penance, you protected my wife from Indra. Most importantly, you safeguarded the unborn child, the future emperor of the demon kingdom, doing a great favor to our demon lineage! Not only that, you provided refuge and protection to the Demon Queen in your hermitage, ensuring her safety. Master, I can never forget your kindness. With your permission, I will take my wife back to the capital," he requested.

Narada Muni, with joy, consented to send Kayadhu Devi with the Demon King. Hiranyakashipu and Kayadhu paid their respects to the sage, received his blessings, and returned to the capital.