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The Story of Holi

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'Let me not hear the name of Vishnu from your lips again,' Hiranyakashyap warned his son. He ordered him back to his teacher's house in the hope that Prahlad would now mend his ways and learn to worship him.

After a few months had passed, the demon king again called Prahlad to him.

'Son,' said the demon king to Prahlad. 'I'd like to hear you recite some poetry for me today. Let us see how well the Brahmin has been teaching you.'

'Very well, Father,' said Prahlad. The boy closed his eyes, and began singing a hymn to Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap listened to his son in deadly silence.

Prahlad finished the hymn, a smile on his face. He turned to look at his father. Hiranyakashyap stood up and pointing at the boy, commanded his attendants, 'Kill him.'

The soldiers surrounding the king rushed at Prahlad, and struck him again and again with their swords. But no matter how often or how hard the soldiers struck at Prahlad, they could not hurt him. They fell back in surprise and fear. Prahlad looked at them and laughed at their fear. 'Do not be afraid, ' he said. 'It is Vishnu who protects me. He is everywhere - in me, in you, in all your weapons. You cannot hurt me.'

Hiranyakashyap turned to Prahlad and said, 'Son, it is still not too late. Give up the worship of Vishnu, and you will come to no further harm through my soldiers.'

But Prahlad refused. 'No Father, ' he said. 'The worship of Vishnu is the only important thing in life. He is everywhere, in me and even in you.'

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Last updated: April 2010. Copyright © Rohini Chowdhury 2002. All rights reserved.

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