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For the 1941 film, see Prahlada (film).
Prahlada overcoming the elephant

Prahlāda is a saintly boy from the Puranas known for his piety and bhakti to Vishnu, despite the attempts of his father, Hiranyakashipu, to change him.[1] He is considered to be a mahājana, or great devotee, by followers of Vaishnava traditions and is of special importance to devotees of the avatār Narasiṁha. A treatise is accredited to him in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa in which Prahlāda describes the process of loving worship to his lord, Vishnu. The majority of stories in the Puranas are based on the activities of Prahlāda as a young boy, and he is usually depicted as such in paintings and illustrations.

The story of Prahlada[edit]

Prahlāda was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. According to Hindu mythology, Narada taught Prahlāda Narayana mantras when Prahlāda was in his mother's womb. Thereafter, he became a great devotee to Vishnu.

Narasimha kills Hiranyakashipu, as Prahlada and his mother Kayadu bow before Lord Narasimha.


Prahlāda was born to Kayadu and Hiranyakashipu, an evil king who had been granted a boon that he could not be killed by man or animal, day or night, inside or outside. Despite several warnings from his father Hiranyakashipu, Prahlāda continued to worship Vishnu instead. His father then decided to commit filicide and poison Prahlāda, but he survived. He then trampled the boy with elephants, but the boy still lived. Then he put Prahlāda in a room with venomous snakes, and they made a bed for him with their bodies.

Holika, the sister of Hiranyakashipu, was blessed in that she could not be hurt by fire. Hiranyakashipu puts Prahlāda on the lap of Holika as she sits on a pyre. Prahlāda prays to Vishnu to keep him safe. Holika then burns to death as Prahlāda is left unscathed. This event is celebrated as the Hindu festival of Holi.[2]

After tolerating abuse from Hiranyakashipu, Prahlāda is eventually saved by Narasiṁha, who places the king on his thighs, and kills him with his sharp nails at the entrance to his home at dusk.[3]

There is an underground pillar known as "Prahlāda khamba" in Dharahra village, in the Purnia District of Bihar, India. It is said to be the pillar from which Narasiṁha manifested to kill Hiranyakashipu. Adjacent to the pillar is a large temple devoted to Lord Narasiṁha. Allegedly, attempts to excavate or move the "Prahlāda khamba" have failed. In Maharashtra, an underground temple near the banks of the river Krishna in Sangli District hosts a beautiful stone carved sculpture of "Narasimha and Laxmi".[citation needed]

The story of Prahlāda teaches that:

  • Faith in God is paramount.
  • God will always prevail.
  • God saves his devotees.
  • Devotion can be practiced at any time. Age does not matter.
  • Evil will be punished.
  • God is omnipresent.

Prahlāda eventually becomes king of the Daityas and attains a place in the abode of Vishnu (Vaikuntha) after his death.[4]

Scriptural references[edit]

In the Bhagavad Gita (10.30) Krishna makes the following statement in regard to Prahlāda, showing his favour towards him:

Translation: "Among the Daitya demons I am the devoted Prahlāda, among subduers I am time, among beasts I am the lion, and among birds I am Garuda."[5]

Prahlāda in Sikhism[edit]

Prahlāda is regarded as one of the devotees of God in Satya Yuga. Sikhism also believes Prahlāda was a devotee of Paramātmā, Supreme God or Waheguru.

Scriptural references[edit]

Prahlāda is mentioned 27 times in Guru Granth Sahib. As in Hinduism, Guru Granth Sahib also describes Harnakash as the father of Prahlāda who wanted to kill him, but was stopped by Narasiṁha.

Prahlaad was placed in a cell, and the door was locked. The fearless child was not afraid at all. He said, "Within my being, is the Guru, the Lord of the World. The created being tried to compete with his Creator, but he assumed this name in vain. That which was predestined for him has come to pass; he started an argument with the Lord's humble servant. ||7|| The father raised the club to strike down Prahlaad, saying, Where is your God, the Lord of the Universe, now? He replied, "The Life of the World, the Great Giver, is my Help and Support in the end. Wherever I look, I see Him permeating and prevailing."||8|| Tearing down the pillars, the Lord Himself appeared. The egotistical demon was killed and destroyed. The minds of the devotees were filled with bliss, and congratulations poured in. He blessed His servant with glorious greatness. ||9|| (Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1154) [6]

Pilgrimage sites[edit]

The following sites in Andhra Pradesh, India, are associated with Prahlāda or Narasiṁha as places of pilgrimage:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The story of Prahlada". Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  2. ^ Varadaraja V. Raman - Variety in Religion And Science: Daily Reflections, iUniverse, 2005, ISBN 0-595-35840-3, p.259
  3. ^ Dimmitt, Cornelia; Johannes Adrianus Bernardus Buitenen (1978). Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Purāṇas. translated by J. A. Van Buitenen. Temple University Press. p. 312. ISBN 0-87722-122-7. 
  4. ^ P. 452 The Hindu World: An Encyclopedic Survey of Hinduism By Benjamin Walker - Summary
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ "Sri Guru Granth Sahib". Retrieved 2015-03-30. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Cole, W. Owen; Judith Evans-Lowndes; Judith Lowndes (1995). The Story of Prahlad. Heinemann Educational. ISBN 0-431-07756-8. 

External links[edit]

School of Prahlada at Ahobilam