Finding himself the undisputed ruler of the world, Hiranyakashyap became arrogant and proud. He declared that no one could worship any god or being except himself, and that all prayers and sacrifices were to be made to him. Nobody dared disobey him, nobody that is, except his own son, Prahlad.
Prahlad had been sent to live with his teacher, a Brahmin, whose duty it was to educate Prahlad. Prahlad would visit his father often, and tell him all that he had learnt at the Brahmin's house.
One day, when Prahlad was visiting his father, Hiranyakashyap asked him the usual question 'What have you learnt at your teacher's house, my son?'
Prahlad answered, 'I have learnt that the most important thing in life is the worship of Vishnu.'
Hiranyakashyap was furious with his son's teacher. 'How dare you teach my son the worship of Vishnu?' he roared. The Brahmin, terrified, fell to his knees and cried, 'My lord, I am innocent. I have taught the Prince no such thing. I worship only the great king Hiranyakashyap and no other.'
'My teacher is not at fault, Father, ' said Prahlad in defence of the Brahmin. 'It is the great god Vishnu himself who has taught me to worship him.'
'My son, what are you saying?' demanded the demon king. 'Have you turned traitor to your own father? Or is it that some evil spirit has taken possession of you?'
'Neither, Father, ' said Prahlad calmly. 'It is Vishnu who has entered my heart. He is everywhere, even within you.'
The Story of Holi cont'd...