Hiranyakashipu

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Hiranyakashipu (or Hiranyakasipu) (Sanskrit: हिरण्‍यकशिपु) [golden-haired] is an Asura from the Puranic scriptures of Hinduism. The Puranas describe Hiranyakashipu as an Asura. His younger brother, Hiranyaksha was slain by Varaha, one of the Avatars of Vishnu and angered by this, Hiranyakashipu decided to gain magical powers by performing a penance for Lord Brahma. He was subsequently killed by the Narasimha Avatara of Lord Vishnu. His tale depicts the futility of desiring power over others and the strength of God's protection over his fully surrendered devotees (in the case of his son Prahlada).

The story of Hiranyakashipu happens in three parts. The first has to do with the curse of the Four Kumaras on the gatekeepers of Vaikuntha, Jaya and Vijaya, which causes them to be born as the asuras Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu. The second part deals with Hiranyakashipu's penance to propitiate Brahma and gain a boon from him. The final part deals with his efforts to kill his son Prahlada (a devotee of Vishnu) and his subsequent death at the hands of Narasimha.

Contents

Birth

According to a story from Bhagavata Purana, Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha are Vishnu's gatekeepers Jaya and Vijaya, born on earth as the result of a curse from the Four Kumaras.

In Satya Yuga, Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha - together called the Hiranyas - were born to Diti (daughter of Daksha Prajapathi) and sage Kashyapa. It is said that asuras were born to them as a result of their union at the time of dusk, which was said to be an inauspicious time for such a deed.[1]

Penance

After his brother Hiranyaksha's death at the hands of the Varaha avatar of Vishnu, Hiranyakashipu, started to abhor Vishnu. To which end he decides to attempt to kill Vishnu by gaining mystical powers, which he believes Brahma, the chief among the devas will award to him if he undergoes many years of great austerity and penance just as Brahma has awarded to other Rakshasas. This initially seems to work as planned with Brahma becoming pleased by Hiranyakashipu's austerities.[2] Brahma thus appears before Hiranyakashipu and offers him a boon of his choice. Upon Hiranyakashipu's asking for immortality however, Brahma refuses. Hiranyakashipu then requests the following:

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