They say that fear is a strong crippling force that enables people to do things they don’t wish to. It’s considered the second strongest force in nature only second to faith. When faith is there, fear automatically disappears. But can Prahalad’s faith protect him against his antagonists?
Sreeti went running around the fire pyre. Srikant could only sigh looking at his 10-year-old sister. She always got overexcited during Holi especially since the entire family got together during this vibrant festival. All their cousins had gone around the locality asking for things to burn for the fire pyre of Holika Dahan.
Finally, worried about her safety, he took a hold of her hand and made her sit beside him. Sreeti grumbled obviously bored by sitting with her brother. Srikant noticing her mood tried to engage in a conversation with her and asked, “Do you know why we are burning a fire pyre today?”
Sreeti replied, “Of course, tomorrow’s Holi. We always burn a fire the night before Holi.”
Srikant said, “That’s true but why do we do so?”
Sreeti didn’t reply.
Srikant began the story- “Hiranyakashyap used to be the king of lands. He had decreed in his kingdom that only he must be worshipped. He is the one who the people of his land must believe in.
His son, Prahalad was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. He refused to worship his father in place of Vishnu. His father tried everything to end his devotion. He sent him to teachers who could teach him about the great person that his father was. He was someone present in front of him, unlike the Gods that he had never seen. But, in the end, his methods were futile, Prahalad had his heart set on one.
Sreeti interrupted, “Why did his father wish to be worshipped so badly? Why try so hard to change the perception of his son? He should have simply let him be, there were others who worshipped him.”
Srikant was amused by her reaction. He knew his sister was probably as stubborn as Prahalad in doing what they believed in and never changing for anyone. He answered, “ Hiranyakashyap after years of penance was blessed with grace similar to immortality by Lord Brahma. Possessing such powers, he didn't like the idea of his people worshipping someone else other than him. He wished to exert himself as the most supreme power of the universe which is why when his own son disobeyed him, it was a huge blow to his reputation. If his son continued with his ways, his position as the supreme power would not be respected. Realising this he decided to kill Prahalad.”
Sreeti was flabbergasted. She exclaimed, “He decided to kill his own son because he wouldn’t worship him? But, don’t we have the right to chose what we believe in?”
Srikant nodded and said, “ We do. If your faith doesn't harm others, you have every right to believe in it. Prahalad could be thought of as one of the first to have fought for this cause.
Sreeti asked, “Did Prahalad manage to escape his father’s plans?”
Srikant said, “Yes he did.”
Sreeti asked, “How did he do so? How can a child fight his father who was immortal?”
Srikant said, “People say it was his faith that protected him.”
Sreeti said, “That’s highly unlikely.”
Srikant said, “ Well, faith is believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. When going gets tough, everyone needs to fall back on their belief system. People need something to have faith in. When there’s no other way out and it is beyond one’s control, people resort to ‘hope’ that goodness will prevail over cruelty.
This is exactly what Prahald did, he fought the cruel nature and reign of terror of his father by believing that he won’t be harmed because he sides with righteousness and continued his work.
His father did everything to kill Prahalad but the child was able to get out of all dangerous situations. Exhausted with his efforts, he asked his sister Holika for help. Holika too possessed powers for she was immune to any harm done by fire.
Holika arranged for a fire pyre and tricked his nephew, Prahalad to sit with her. She held on to him tightly and the fire was ignited. When it was expected that Prahalad would be burnt, it turned out that it was Holika who was burned to ashes. The immunity to fire was transferred to Vishnu’s devotee and he came out unharmed.
Prahalad's faith had saved him. The word quickly spread and everyone found out about how the King’s sister was burnt and Prahalad walked away unscathed. They cheered his victory and celebrated the next day with happiness and vibrant colours.”
Sreeti asked, “So, we call it Holi based on Holika?”
Srikant replied, “Yes, that’s exactly why we call it Holi. We celebrate Prahalad’s win of good over evil by burning a fire pyre a day prior to Holi. He is a testament to how faith is one’s personal opinion and trying to force anyone in matters of belief is wrong.
Faith might not be something tangible but it gives you the power to go through difficult times. For many, it becomes the last resort. Faith is often baseless; having nothing left, it sometimes becomes the last resort that motivates you to continue your journey fearless. It could be in anyone, a deity, your family, your friends or even in yourself.”
“What do you believe in, bhaiya?”
He smiled and said, “It’s a secret.”
Sreeti frowned but tried to be reasonable and said, “I’m sure it’s something right. I believe in you.”