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Prahlada overcoming the elephant.jpg
Prahlada overcoming a herd of elephants.
AffiliationBhakta (devotee) of lord Vishnu, Asura
TextsBhagavat Purana, Vishnu Purana
Personal information
SiblingsSahlad, Ahlad, Shivi, Vaashkal (brothers)
Simhika (sister)
ChildrenVirochana, Virochanaa[1] Kumbh and Nikumbha

Prahlada (IAST: Prahlāda) was a king, the son of Hiranyakashipu and Kayadhu, and the father of Virochana. He belonged to the Kashyapa gotra. He is described as a saintly boy from the Puranas known for his piety and bhakti to Vishnu. Despite the abusive nature of his father, Hiranyakashipu, he continued his devotion towards God Vishnu.[2] He is considered to be a mahājana, or great devotee, by followers of Vaishnava traditions and is of special importance to devotees of Narasimha avatar. A treatise is accredited to him in the Bhagavata Purana in which Prahlāda describes the process of loving worship to 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.


Prahlāda was born to Kayadu and Hiranyakashipu, an evil daitya king who had been granted a boon that he could not be killed off by anything born from a living womb, neither be killed by a man nor an animal, neither during the day nor at night, neither indoors nor outdoors, neither on land nor in the air nor in water and of no man-made weapon. However, after repeated attempts of filicide by Hiranyakashipu unto Prahlāda, Prahlāda was finally saved by Lord Narasimha, a prominent avatar of God Vishnu who descended to demonstrate the quality of Divine rage and redemption by killing the demon king. The word "Narsimha" is derived from the Sanskrit word" Nara" meaning Man and "siṃha" meaning lion. Thus, the Lord took the form of a part man, part lion to kill the Asura. Lord Narasimha, being the transcendental Supreme Personality of Godhead, fulfilled all the proper requirements by which the otherwise nearly-invincible Hiranyakashipu could be killed.[citation needed]

After the death of his father, Prahlāda took his father's kingdom and ruled peacefully and virtuously. He was known for his generosity and kindness. He sowed similar seeds in his son Virochana and grandson Mahabali.[citation needed]

The story of Prahlāda[edit]

Prahlāda—while being in his mother's womb—got to hear sweet Narada's chants. He was taught by Narada in early childhood. As a result, he was devoted to Vishnu. His father didn't like his Spiritual inclination and tried to warn Prahlāda. 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.[citation needed]

Prahalada was then thrown from a valley into a river but was saved by Vishnu. Holika, the sister of Hiranyakashipu, was blessed in that she could not be hurt by fire. Hiranyakashipu put Prahlāda on the lap of Holika as she sits on a pyre. Prahlāda prayed to Vishnu to keep him safe. Holika then burned to death as Prahlāda is left unscathed. This event is celebrated as the Hindu festival of Holi.[3]

Prahlada showing his father that Vishnu exists everywhere

After tolerating abuse from Hiranyakashipu, Prahlāda is eventually saved by Narasingha, Vishnu in the form of a man-lion godhead, who emerges from within a stone pillar, who places the king on his thighs, and kills him with his sharp nails at the entrance to his home at dusk, thus nullifying all of Hiranyakashipu's boon of virtual immortality.[4]

Prahlāda eventually becomes king of the daityas and attains a place in the abode of Vishnu (Vaikuntha) after his death.[5]

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."[6]

Later life[edit]

Because of his steadfast devotion towards Vishnu as well as under the teachings of Shukracharya, Prahlada became the mighty king of the Asuras. Prahlada was even more powerful than his father, Hiranyakashipu ever was. He enjoyed the love and respect of his subjects.

Without lifting a single weapon, and by virtue of his good behaviour, Prahlada conquered the three worlds easily and Indra ran away from the Heavens. Indra then deceived Prahlada into giving him the power of his behaviour and Prahlada lost control of the three worlds.

The Asuras grew angry at the Devas for taking advantage of their King's virtuous behaviour and invaded the heavens. The Devas, afraid of the Asuras, enlisted the help of human Kings such as Yayati, Raji and Kakutstha and defeated them.

Prahlada always served thousands of Brahmins daily. One day, out of ignorance, Prahlada forgot to serve one Brahmin. The latter cursed the Asura that he would forget Vishnu and become unrighteous. The curse would be broken if Vishnu defeated Prahlada.

Prahlada then personally attacked the gods and defeated Indra in battle, forcing the King of the Gods to run for his life. Indra sought the help of Vishnu. Infused with his power, Indra defeated Prahlada. The latter understood that Vishnu was helping Indra in battle and he withdrew his forces. Prahlada first gave his kingdom to Andhaka, but the latter was defeated by Shiva. So Prahlada gave it to his son Virochana and undertook a Tirtha Yatra.[citation needed]

When Prahlada found out that his blind and deformed cousin, Andhakasura, had overcome his disabilities and became mighty and invincible due to the boon of Lord Brahma, he voluntarily ceded his lordship over the Asuras to Andhaka and became a vassal. Prahlada, Virochana, Bali and Bana had fought against Lord Shiva and the other gods when Andhaka attacked Mt. Kailash. Prahlada had strongly advised Andhaka against the invasion, but Andhaka refused. Andhaka was eventually defeated by Lord Shiva and Prahlada once more became King of the Asuras.

Prahlada was present during the churning of the ocean and also fought in the Tarakamaya war against the Devas.

Prahlada's son was Virochana, who was the father of Bali. The gods had Virochana killed by taking advantage of his generosity.[7] Prahlada raised his grandson, Bali. Later on, Prahlada and Bali lived on Sutala Loka under the instructions of Vishnu.

It was Prahlada who asked Shukracharya to acquire the Mritasanjivani mantra from Lord Shiva, to save the Asuras from the Devas.

After a long life, Prahlada attained Vaikuntha. Prahlada's great-grandson was the thousand armed Bana, who was humbled in battle by Krishna.

Pilgrimage sites[edit]

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

In Pakistan:

In culture[edit]

The Prahallada Nataka (also spelled as Prahlada-Naṭaka), a folk dance-theatre from Ganjam, Odisha enacts the story of Narasimha and Hiranyakashipu. This art form dates back to the 18th century when the Rāmakruṣhṇa Chhoṭarāya, the erstwhile king of the Jalantara state wrote the text & songs of the drama and started it.

In popular culture[edit]

The story of Prahlada has been the theme of various films

Year Title Language Ref.
1917 Bhakta Pralhad Silent [8]
1932 Bhakta Prahlada Telugu [9]
1939 Prahalada Tamil [10]
1941 Prahlada Malayalam [11]
1942 Bhaktha Prahlada Telugu [9]
1942 Bhakta Prahlada Kannada
1946 Bhakta Prahlad Hindi
1958 Bhakta Prahlad Assamese
1958 Bhakta Prahlada Kannada [12]
1967 Bhakta Prahlada Telugu [9]
1972 Hari Darshan Hindi [13]
1983 Bhakta Prahlada Kannada [14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "vishwakarma - Who is the mother-in-law of Surya?". Hinduism Stack Exchange. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  2. ^ "The story of Prahlada".
  3. ^ Varadaraja V. RamanVariety in Religion And Science: Daily Reflections, iUniverse, 2005, ISBN 0-595-35840-3, p.259
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ P. 452 The Hindu World: An Encyclopedic Survey of Hinduism By Benjamin Walker – Summary
  6. ^ [1] Archived 8 September 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Lord Vamana Resolves the Universal Conflict". 2008. Retrieved 16 February 2020. They begged for his crown. Even though Virochana recognized the demigods' plot, true to his word he parted with his crown and his life as well
  8. ^ Rajadhyaksha, Ashish; Willemen, Paul (1999). Encyclopaedia of Indian cinema. British Film Institute. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  9. ^ a b c Narasimham, M. L. (23 November 2018). "The story of a devotee". The Hindu. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  10. ^ Guy, Randor (14 August 2011). "Prahalada 1939". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  11. ^ Vijayakumar, B. (10 April 2011). "Prahlada (1941)". The Hindu. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  12. ^ Rajadhyaksha, Ashish; Willemen, Paul, eds. (1998) [1994]. Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema (PDF). Oxford University Press. p. 353. ISBN 0-19-563579-5.
  13. ^ ":: Rajshri Films - Hari Darshan (1972) ::". Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  14. ^ "On Rajkumar birthday, a Top 5 list by grandson". Deccan Herald. 24 April 2019. Retrieved 17 September 2020.

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]

Preceded by Daityas
Succeeded by