Battles of the Visnu Avatars, Part 3

September 28, 2007 at 7:56 am Leave a comment


Lord Nrsimha Kills Hiranyakasipu

Lila pastimes with the transcendental demons.

“Hiranyakasipu wanted to receive a benediction from Lord Brahma so that in the future he would be able to conquer Lord Brahma’s abode. Similarly, another demon received a benediction from Lord Siva but later wanted to kill Lord Siva through that same benediction. Thus self-interested persons, by demoniac austerity, want to kill even their benedictors, whereas the Vaisnava wants to remain an ever-existing servant of the Lord and never to occupy the post of the Lord. Through sayujya-mukti, which is generally demanded by asuras, one merges into the existence of the Lord, but although one sometimes thus achieves the goal of the theory of monism, one falls down again to struggle in material existence.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 7:3:1 Purport

“Brahmaji declined to award him the benediction of immortality because he himself is not an immortal being. But Hiranyakasipu derived Brahmaji’s benediction in a roundabout way, almost equal to becoming an immortal being. Hiranyakasipu was sure that he would not be killed by any man or demigod or by any kind of known weapon, nor would he die in day or night. The Lord, however, assumed the incarnation of half-man and half-lion, which was beyond the imagination of a materialistic demon like Hiranyakasipu, and thus, keeping pace with the benediction of Brahmaji, the Lord killed him. He killed him on His lap, so that he was killed neither on the land nor on the water nor in the sky. The demon was pierced by Nrsimha’s nails, which were beyond the human weapons imaginable by Hiranyakasipu. The literal meaning of Hiranyakasipu is one who is after gold and soft bedding, the ultimate aim of all materialistic men. Such demonic men, who have no relationship with God, gradually become puffed up by material acquisitions and begin to challenge the authority of the Supreme Lord and torture those who are devotees of the Lord. Prahlada Maharaja happened to be the son of Hiranyakasipu, and because the boy was a great devotee, his father tortured him to the best of his ability. In this extreme situation, the Lord assumed the incarnation of Nrsimhadeva, and just to finish the enemy of the demigods, the Lord killed Hiranyakasipu in a manner beyond the demon’s imagination. Materialistic plans of godless demons are always frustrated by the all-powerful Lord.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2:7:14 Purport

“In Vedic culture, the welfare of the cows and the welfare of the brahmanas are essential. Without a proper arrangement for developing brahminical culture and protecting cows, all the affairs of administration will go to hell. Being afraid that Hiranyakasipu would occupy the post of Brahma, all the demigods were extremely disturbed. Hiranyakasipu was a well-known demon, and the demigods knew that if demons and Raksasas were to occupy the supreme post, brahminical culture and protection of cows would come to an end. As stated in Bhagavad-gita (5.29), the original proprietor of everything is Lord Krsna (bhoktaram yajna-tapasam sarva-loka-mahesvaram). The Lord, therefore, knows particularly well how to develop the material condition of the living entities within this material world. In every universe there is one Brahma engaged on behalf of Lord Krsna, as confirmed in Srimad-Bhagavatam (tene brahma hrdaya adi-kavaye). The principal creator in each brahmanda is Lord Brahma, who imparts Vedic knowledge to his disciples and sons. On every planet, the king or supreme controller must be a representative of Brahma. Therefore, if a Raksasa, or demon, were situated in Brahma’s post, then the entire arrangement of the universe, especially the protection of the brahminical culture and cows, would be ruined. All the demigods anticipated this danger, and therefore they went to request Lord Brahma to take immediate steps to thwart Hiranyakasipu’s plan.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 7:3:13 Purport

“Prahlada Maharaja, a small child of only five years, became the object of envy for his great father, Hiranyakasipu, only because of his becoming a pure devotee of the Lord. The demon father employed all his weapons to kill the devotee son, Prahlada, but by the grace of the Lord he was saved from all sorts of dangerous actions by his father. He was thrown in a fire, in boiling oil, from the top of a hill, underneath the legs of an elephant, and he was administered poison. At last the father himself took up a chopper to kill his son, and thus Nrsimhadeva appeared and killed the heinous father in the presence of the son.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 1:15:16 Purport

“Prahlada Maharaja was put into great distress by his powerful father, the demon Hiranyakasipu. Apparently helpless before him, Prahlada Maharaja called on the Lord, who immediately assumed the gigantic form of Nrsimhadeva, half-lion and half-man, to kill the gigantic demon. Although Krsna is the original person, one without a second, He assumes different forms just to satisfy His devotees or to execute a specific purpose.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 5:18:7 Purport


Lord Varaha Battles Hiranyaksa

“Lord Brahma said: When the unlimitedly powerful Lord assumed the form of a boar as a pastime, just to lift the planet earth, which was drowned in the great ocean of the universe called the Garbhodaka, the first demon [Hiranyaksa] appeared, and the Lord pierced him with His tusk.

Purport: Since the beginning of creation, the demons and the demigods, or the Vaisnavas, are always the two classes of living beings to dominate the planets of the universes. Lord Brahma is the first demigod, and Hiranyaksa is the first demon in this universe. Only under certain conditions do the planets float as weightless balls in the air, and as soon as these conditions are disturbed, the planets may fall down in the Garbhodaka Ocean, which covers half the universe. The other half is the spherical dome within which the innumerable planetary systems exist. The floating of the planets in the weightless air is due to the inner constitution of the globes, and the modernized drilling of the earth to exploit oil from within is a sort of disturbance by the modern demons and can result in a greatly harmful reaction to the floating condition of the earth. A similar disturbance was created formerly by the demons headed by Hiranyaksa (the great exploiter of the gold rush), and the earth was detached from its weightless condition and fell down into the Garbhodaka Ocean. The Lord, as maintainer of the whole creation of the material world, therefore assumed the gigantic form of a boar with a proportionate snout and picked up the earth from within the water of Garbhodaka

When the Lord appeared to pick up the earth, the demon of the name Hiranyaksa tried to create a disturbance in the methodical functions of the Lord, and therefore he was killed by being pierced by the Lord’s tusk. According to Srila Jiva Gosvami, the demon Hiranyaksa was killed by the hand of the Lord. Therefore his version is that after being killed by the hand of the Lord, the demon was pierced by the tusk. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura confirms this version.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2:7:1

“Sri Vidura said: O chief amongst the great sages, I have heard by disciplic succession that Hiranyaksa, the original demon, was slain by the same form of sacrifices, the Personality of Godhead [Lord Boar].

Purport: As referred to previously, the boar incarnation was manifested in two millenniums–namely Svayambhuva and Caksusa. In both millenniums there was a boar incarnation of the Lord, but in the Svayambhuva millennium He lifted the earth from within the water of the universe, whereas in the Caksusa millennium He killed the first demon, Hiranyaksa. In the Svayambhuva millennium He assumed the color white, and in the Caksusa millennium He assumed the color red. Vidura had already heard about one of them, and he proposed to hear about the other. The two different boar incarnations described are the one Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 3:14:2

“Materialistic demons sometimes appear to be very powerful and are seen to establish their supremacy throughout the world. Here also it appears that Hiranyaksa, by his demoniac strength, actually established his supremacy throughout the universe, and the demigods were afraid of his uncommon power. Not only were the demigods in space afraid of the demons Hiranyakasipu and Hiranyaksa, but so also were the aquatic animals within the sea.

Moving about in the ocean for many, many years, the mighty Hiranyaksa smote the gigantic wind-tossed waves again and again with his iron mace and reached Vibhavari, the capital of Varuna.

Vibhavari is the home of Varuna, lord of the aquatic creatures and guardian of the lower regions of the universe, where the demons generally reside. There Hiranyaksa fell at Varuna’s feet like a lowborn man, and to make fun of him he said with a smile, “Give me battle, O Supreme Lord!”

Purport: Aggressive materialistic warriors are actually punished by the Supreme Lord for their policy of unnecessarily disturbing world peace. Therefore Varuna advised Hiranyaksa that the right course to satisfy his fighting spirit would be to seek to fight with Visnu.

Varuna continued: On reaching Him you will be rid of your pride at once and will lie down on the field of battle, surrounded by dogs, for eternal sleep. It is in order to exterminate wicked fellows like you and to show His grace to the virtuous that He assumes His various incarnations like Varaha.

Purport: Asuras do not know that their bodies consist of the five elements of material nature and that when they fall they become objects of pastimes for dogs and vultures. Varuna advised Hiranyaksa to meet Visnu in His boar incarnation so that his hankering for aggressive war would be satisfied and his powerful body would be vanquished.

Maitreya continued: The proud and falsely glorious Daitya paid little heed to the words of Varuna. O dear Vidura, he learned from Narada the whereabouts of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and hurriedly betook himself to the depths of the ocean.

He saw there the all-powerful Personality of Godhead in His boar incarnation, bearing the earth upward on the ends of His tusks and robbing him of his splendor with His reddish eyes. The demon laughed: Oh, an amphibious beast!

Purport: In a previous chapter we have discussed the incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as Varaha, the boar. While Varaha, with His tusks, engaged in uplifting the submerged earth from the depths of the waters, this great demon Hiranyaksa met Him and challenged Him, calling Him a beast. Demons cannot understand the incarnations of the Lord; they think that His incarnations as a fish or boar or tortoise are big beasts only. They misunderstand the body of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, even in His human form, and they deride His descent. In the Caitanya-sampradaya there is sometimes a demoniac misconception about the descent of Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda Prabhu’s body is spiritual, but demoniac persons consider the body of the Supreme Personality to be material, just like ours. Avajananti mam mudhah: persons who have no intelligence deride the transcendental form of the Lord as material.

The demon addressed the Lord: O best of the demigods, dressed in the form of a boar, just hear me. This earth is entrusted to us, the inhabitants of the lower regions, and You cannot take it from my presence and not be hurt by me.

You rascal, You have been nourished by our enemies to kill us, and You have killed some demons by remaining invisible. O fool, Your power is only mystic, so today I shall enliven my kinsmen by killing You.

The demon continued: When You fall dead with Your skull smashed by the mace hurled by my arms, the demigods and sages who offer You oblations and sacrifice in devotional service will also automatically cease to exist, like trees without roots.

Although the Lord was pained by the shaftlike abusive words of the demon, He bore the pain. But seeing that the earth on the ends of His tusks was frightened, He rose out of the water just as an elephant emerges with its female companion when assailed by an alligator.

The demon, who had golden hair on his head and fearful tusks, gave chase to the Lord while He was rising from the water, even as an alligator would chase an elephant. Roaring like thunder, he said: Are You not ashamed of running away before a challenging adversary? There is nothing reproachable for shameless creatures!

The Lord placed the earth within His sight on the surface of the water and transferred to her His own energy in the form of the ability to float on the water. While the enemy stood looking on, Brahma, the creator of the universe, extolled the Lord, and the other demigods rained flowers on Him.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam, Excerpts 3:17:30-18:8

“Lord Boar very easily took the earth on His tusks and got it out of the water. Thus He appeared very splendid. Then, His anger glowing like the Sudarsana wheel, He immediately killed the demon [Hiranyaksa], although he tried to fight with the Lord.

Thereupon Lord Boar killed the demon within the water, just as a lion kills an elephant. The cheeks and tongue of the Lord became smeared with the blood of the demon, just as an elephant becomes reddish from digging in the purple earth.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 3:13:31-32



“O King, when the demon Kalanemi, who was carried by a lion, saw that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, carried by Garuda, was on the battlefield, the demon immediately took his trident, whirled it and discharged it at Garuda’s head. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, the master of the three worlds, immediately caught the trident, and with the very same weapon he killed the enemy Kalanemi, along with his carrier, the lion.

Purport: “Kalanemi and all the other demons were killed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, and when Sukracarya, their spiritual master, brought them back to life, they were again killed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 8:10:56

“In his previous birth Kamsa was Kalanemi, a demon killed by Visnu. Consequently, Kamsa became a great enemy to all the descendants of the yadu-vamsa, the Yadu dynasty. He even arrested and imprisoned his own father, Ugrasena, for Kamsa wanted to enjoy the kingdom alone.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 10:1 Summary

“Formerly an asura named Kalanemi had six sons, named Hamsa, Suvikrama, Kratha, Damana, Ripurmardana and Krodhahanta. They were known as the sad-garbhas, or six garbhas, and they were all equally powerful and expert in military affairs. These sad-garbhas gave up the association of Hiranyakasipu, their grandfather, and underwent great austerities to satisfy Lord Brahma, who, upon being satisfied, agreed to give them whatever benediction they might desire. When asked by Lord Brahma to state what they wanted, the sad-garbhas replied, “Dear Lord Brahma, if you want to give us a benediction, give us the blessing that we will not be killed by any demigod, maha-roga, Yaksa, Gandharva-pati, Siddha, Carana or human being, nor by great sages who are perfect in their penances and austerities.” Brahma understood their purpose and fulfilled their desire. But when Hiranyakasipu came to know of these events, he was very angry at his grandsons. “You have given up my association and have gone to worship Lord Brahma,” he said, “and therefore I no longer have any affection for you. You have tried to save yourselves from the hands of the demigods, but I curse you in this way: Your father will take birth as Kamsa and kill all of you because you will take birth as sons of Devaki.” Because of this curse, the grandsons of Hiranyakasipu had to take birth from the womb of Devaki and be killed by Kamsa, although he was previously their father. This description is mentioned in the Hari-vamsa, Visnu-parva, Second Chapter. According to the comments of the Vaisnava-tosani, the son of Devaki known as Kirtiman was the third incarnation. In his first incarnation he was known as Smara and was the son of Marici, and later he became the son of Kalanemi. This is mentioned in the histories.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 10:1:69 Purport

Malyavan, Mali and Sumali

Malyavan, Mali and Sumali

“Many hundreds and thousands of demons, demi-demons, Yaksas, Raksasas [man-eaters] and others, headed by Sumali and Mali, resisted the armies of King Indra, which even death personified cannot easily overcome. Among the demons were Namuci, Sambara, Anarva, Dvimurdha, Rsabha, Asura, Hayagriva, Sankusira, Vipracitti, Ayomukha, Puloma, Vrsaparva, Praheti, Heti and Utkala. Roaring tumultuously and fearlessly like lions, these invincible demons, all dressed in golden ornaments, gave pain to the demigods with weapons like clubs, bludgeons, arrows, barbed darts, mallets and lances.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 6:10:19-22

“Thereafter, two very powerful demons named Mali and Sumali were killed by the Supreme Lord, who severed their heads with His disc. Then Malyavan, another demon, attacked the Lord. With his sharp club, the demon, who was roaring like a lion, attacked Garuda, the lord of the birds, who are born from eggs. But the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the original person, used His disc to cut off the head of that enemy also.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 8:10:57

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Excerpted from texts and purports of HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.

The story of Vishnu’s fight with the Rakshasas, led by Malyavan, Mali and Sumali, is also narrated in the Uttarkanda of the Ramayana (Cantoes VI-VIII). The story is as follows:

There was a powerful Rakshasa, called Sukesa, who was a great favourite of Siva. Sukesa had three sons called Malyavan, Mali and Sumali. Proud of the boons they received from Brahma and Siva, they became insolent and began to harass the demigods. To seek redress, the latter came to Siva and sought his refuge. Because of his soft feelings towards Sukesa, Siva expressed his inability to take any stern action against his (Sukesa’s) sons and directed them (the demigods) to go to Vishnu to seek his protection.

The demigods, as directed by Siva, came to Vishnu eulogised his greatness and sought his protection against the atrocities of Malayavan, Mali and Sumali and their Rakshasa followers. Vishnu, pleased with the prayers of the demigods, assured them that he would soon make short work of the Rakshasas. The demigods then left for their respective abodes.

Having come to know of Vishnu’s assurance to the demigods, Malyavan, Mali and Sumali flew into rage and summoned their forces to attack the demigods. The Rakshasa troops moved under Mali’s leadership. Informed of the movement of the Rakshasas, Vishnu also became ready to fight with them. He put on his celestial armour shining like the sun, equipped him-self with a pair of quivers full of arrows and also his other weapons, the conch, the discus, the mace, the sarnga bow and the sword. And then mounting on his beautifully feathered vehicle, the Garuda, he set out to destroy the Rakshasas.

A grim battle ensued between Vishnu and the Rakshasas. With the blast of his wings, Garuda shook the army of the ogres, brought down their banners and displaced their weapons. The Rakshasas in their hundreds surrounded Narayana-Vishnu and afflicted him with volleys of missiles. To foil their efforts, Vishnu discharged sharp arrows on them from his Sarnga bow whose strings he pulled to the extreme length.

Dispersing the Rakshasas by his arrows, Vishnu blew his great conch Panchajanya, the sound of which shook the three worlds and struck terror into the heart of the Rakshasas. Pierced by Vishnu’s darts, the Rakshasas fell in hundreds and thousands on the battlefield. The sound of the Panchajanya and the twang of his bow drowned the cries of the Rakshasas. At the end, Vishnu cut off the head of Mali with his chakra. Seized with fear, Malyavan and Sumali, with the remnants of their forces fled towards Lanka.


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Battles of the Visnu Avatars, Part 2 The Devis and Demons

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