As we celebrate the joyous Holi with lots of laughter, colours, fun and frolic, it is truly important for us to know the story behind this auspicious day and why it is of utmost importance to us.
The Story of Holi by Ummeesh Kumar
A long time ago, there was a self centred king called Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu had done lots of penance and had been given many boons as a result of his penance. The boons were that he could not be killed inside or outside, during daytime or night time, nor on the ground or in the sky, not by any weapon and not by beast or human. Hiranyakashipu became very arrogant and He declared himself to be the God of the whole universe. He proclaimed that there was no other God but himself, and strictly said that Vishnu should have no worship offered to Him anywhere; instead everybody must only worship him.
Hiranyakashipu had a son called Prahlâd. Now, it so happened, that this Prahlad from his infancy was devoted to God. The monarch became very much enraged when he heard this and called the boy to his presence. He tried by gentle persuasions to dissuade Prahlada from the worship of Vishnu and taught him that he, the king, was the only God to worship. But it was of no use. The child declared, again and again, that Vishnu, Lord of the universe, was the only Being to be worshipped — for even he, the king, held his throne only so long as it pleased Vishnu. The rage of the king knew no bounds, and he ordered the boy to be immediately killed. He tried many ways to kill him such as throwing him off a mountain, poisoning him and many more but all those plans failed because Bhagawan always takes care of his devotees.
One day, Hiranyakashipu thought to himself: ‘I have tried SO many ways to kill him, but to no avail. What am I to do now?‘
His sister, the evil Holika came to his aid. She tells him, that she was given the boon that she will not burn in fire as long as she is wearing a special scarf. She suggested that she take Prahlad into a fire and he shall perish while she will remain unscathed. Hiranyakashipu thought this was a brilliant idea and they proceeded with their evil plan.
Treacherously, Holika coaxed young Prahlad to walk with her and she herself took a walk into the blazing fire. Then, there was a sudden gust of wind and the scarf flew off Holika and landed on Prahlad’s arm. Holika then was burnt to death and Prahlad, who kept chanting the name of Lord Naarayana all this while, came out unharmed, as the Lord blessed him for his extreme devotion.
Thus, Holi derives its name from Holika and, is celebrated as a festival of victory of good over evil.
(During Holi, we walk around the fire and throw in black sesame into the fire to signify us throwing away our evil tendencies)
At this juncture, Hiranyakashipu was enraged and decided to take things into his own hands. He confronts his son Prahlad and shouts at him “Where is your God, Prahlad?”
To this, Prahlad sweetly replies “He is everywhere, father. He is in you, in me, in everybody.”
Hiranyakashipu enraged says “If he is everywhere, is he in this pillar?”
Prahlad bows and says “Of course he is, father”
And with that Hiranyakashipu destroyed the pillar with his sword and out jumped Narasimha. An avatar of Lord Vishnu.
Hiranyakashipu could not be killed by human, deva or animal, Narasimha is neither one of these, as he is a form of Vishnu incarnate as a part-human, part-animal. He comes upon Hiranyakashipu at twilight (when it is neither day nor night) on the threshold of a courtyard (neither indoors nor out), and puts the Hiranyakashipu on his lap (neither land nor sky). Using only his nails as weapons, he disembowels and kills the evil Hiranyakashipu.
Bhagawan says in Verse 7 of Chapter 4.
yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
O Bharata, whenever there’s is a decline in righteousness and a rise in unrighteousness; then I manifest myself.
Jai Shree Krishna.