Lord Nrsimhadeva appeared to save the great saint Prahlada Maharaja from his demonic father Hiranyakasipu. By performing the rigorous austerity of standing on the tips of his toes for one hundred and twenty five years Hiranyakasipu became so powerful that the demigods prayed to Lord Brahma to keep him from destroying the universe.
Due to his austerity Lord Brahma offered Hiranyakasipu his hearts desire. Hiranyakasipu requested that he should never die. Lord Brahma explained to him that even he must die that his life was only four million three hundred thousand times 1000 times 30 times 12 times 100 times 2 years. So Hiranyakasipu demanded that he should never be killed in the day or in the night and Lord Brahma agreed to this. Hiranyakasipu then requested that he should not die on land or in the air or in the water, to which Lord Brahma agreed.
Hiranyakasipu, having received this promise, became very bold and asked that he should not be killed by any man or beast. Lord Brahma again agreed. Hiranyakasipu still not satisfied with the benedictions he had received from Lord Brahma, then asked for the benediction that he could not be killed by any weapon. To which Lord Brahma also agreed to give Hiranyakasipu this benediction and then left.
After receiving these benedictions Hiranyakasipu became more demonic and began conquering the material universe. With each new victory and increase in his power the Demigods became more and more worried.
In time Hiranyakasipu had a son calle Prahlada. Prahlada was a great devotee of Lord Krishna even from birth. As a small boy of five he would preach about Krishna to his school friends any time the teachers left the room. Prahlada’s preaching infuriated his father, Hiranyakasipu. When his father demanded to know what this foolishness was, what was this Krishna. Prahlada explained that because his father was too attached to his own sense gratification, he was determined to deny Krishna’s existence. Due to this he could not understand even if he took lessons. To understand Krishna one must first give everything to Krishna then Krishna would reveal himself.
Hiranyakasipu became so angry that he ordered Prahlada to be thrown in to a circle of cannibals. When he was thrown to the cannibals Prahlada began to chant Hare Krishna and the cannibals had no power to harm him. His father then ordered that Prahlada be thrown into boiling hot oil but because he was chanting Hare Krishna Prahlada was unharmed. Seeing that Prahlada was not harmed by the boiling oil his father ordered that he be taken to a small island to endure a huge hurricane. But Prahlada kept chanting Hare Krishna and he was protected by Krishna’s holy name. Hiranyakasipu, seeing that none of these things could kill Prahlada, threw him off a the top of a cliff, but due to his chanting Hare Krishna Krishna caught him and Prahlada was not harmed.
Infuriated Hiranyakasipu demanded that Prahlada be trampled under the feet of an elephant. When this also did not work Hiranyakasipu called for his guards to throw Prahlada into a snake pit. The pit was filled with venomous snakes but because Prahlada was study in his faith and continued to chant Hare Krishna the snakes could not harm him.
Since through all this Prahlada was not harmed, Hiranyakasipu thought he must have some mystic power. He pretended to be sorry for trying to harm Prahlada and invited him to lunch. In desperation, Hiranyakasipu poisoned Prahlada’s food, with enough poison to kill hundreds of full-grown men. Rather then eating his food Prahlada first offered it Krishna and it became prasadam and as pure as God and free from all poisonous effects.
When the poisoned food had no effect on Prahlada Hiranyakasipu became so enraged he lifted Prahlada above his head and smashed him to the floor. When Prahlada still was not harmed Hiranyakasipu demanded to know where he got his super human powers from.
Prahlada replied that he got his strength from the same place as Hiranyakasipu did–from God. Hiranyakasipu demanded to know what was this God where was this God. Prahlada explained that God is everywhere that everything comes from God. Hiranyakasipu, despite all that had happened, could not believe in God and began pointing to things demanding if they were God. Hiranyakasipu demanded if God was in a big pillar nearby in the palace. When Prahlada said, “Yes, my Lord is in that pillar,” Hiranyakasipu stated that he would kill Prahlada’s God by using his mace to smash the pillar. As he smashed the pillar Lord Nrsimhadeva, the half man, half lion incarnation of Krishna appeared from the broken pillar and pounced on the shocked demon.
Nrsimhadeva stretched Hiranyakasipu across his lap and with his long nails, he ripped apart the demon. Hiranyakasipu died instantly on Nrsimhadeva’s blood drenched lap. He was killed neither on the land, sea nor in the air but on the lap of the Supreme Lord. He was killed neither during the day or the night but in the twilight. He was killed by neither beast nor man, but by the lord’s lotus hands and was kill with no weapons but with the nails of Lord Nrsimhadeva. Thus Hiranyakasipu’s benediction from Lord Brahma remained intact and he was killed by the personification of fear, Krishna Himself in His half-man, half-lion form, Lord Nrsimhadeva.