(Last Updated on : 02/03/2020)
Hiranyaksha is described as a demon
killed by Lord Vishnu
. Hiranyaksha was an Asura
of the pre-ancient India and he was the son of Diti
. He was killed by the Lord Vishnu after he took the Earth
to the bed of the 'Cosmic Ocean'. He attacked the heavens
and kidnapped and attempted to destroy the earth goddess. The literal meaning of the name Hiranyaksha in Sanskrit
Origin of Hiranyaksha
present him as the son of Diti and Kashyapa. Kashyapa was an ancient sage
or a rishi. He is one of the Saptarshis
in the present Manvantara. Others are the Atri
, and Bharadwaja
. Kashyapa was the father of the Devas
, Asuras, Nagas
and humanity as a whole. He married to Aditi
, with whom he fathered Agni
, the Aditya. With his second wife, Diti, he fathered the Daityas. It is said that, Hiranyaksha and his twin (elder) brother Hiranyakashipu
were conceived at dusk, for their mother Diti, under the influence of passion, did not pay heed to the warning of her husband Kashyapa against a union at the unholy hour. As a result, the twins were born with demonic natures.
The Devas and Hiranyaksha
Hiranyaksha obtained boons from Brahma
and became very powerful. He had hidden the entire world at the bottom of the ocean
to prevent the Devas from becoming powerful. Also, he was told that he was not the most powerful being in the universe, and that Vishnu
was stronger. Thus, he hunted everywhere for Vishnu, but could not find him. (For, Vishnu was everywhere and resided in Hiranyaksha also).
Myths related to Hiranyaksha
Hiranyaksha decided that the only way to prevent the Devas from every regaining power was to deny them Havis
(the sacrificial oblations of the mortals to maintain strength). So to prevent the Devas from being worshipped
by mortals, he dropped the whole world into the ocean. It sank to the bottom of the ocean. Lord Brahma had to stop his task of creation, for there was no place for his creation to live.
Hiranyaksha assaulted Mother Earth while she was defenseless and pulled her deep into the cosmic ocean. The Demi-Gods then appealed to Vishnu to save the earth goddess and life as a whole. Lord Vishnu presumed the avatar of a boar - Varaha
and dived into the ocean in order to lift the Earth. In the process he killed Hiranyaksha who was blocking his way and thus rescued Earth. Vishnu found the earth at the bottom of the ocean. He used his horn to dig it out of the bottom, and balanced the earth on his horn. He started to rise towards the surface. Hiranyaksha was incensed. He intercepted the boar, and thus commenced one of the greatest battles
of all time. Vishnu balanced the earth on his thigh, and gored Hiranyaksha to his death
. It is also said that this battle lasted for near about one thousand years. In the Padma Purana
it is said that this occurred in the first, or Matsya avatar
: that Vishnu in the form of fish entered the ocean and destroyed Hiranyaksha.
His brother Hiranyakashipu wanted to seek revenge and thus persecuted the devotees of Vishnu. However he was killed by Narasimha
, Vishnu's man-lion
and fourth incarnation, when he tried to kill his own son Prahlad
who was devoted towards Vishnu.
In some texts, Hiranyaksha is an incarnation of one of the gatekeepers of Vishnus Vaikunth
a. He was called Vijaya. He and his elder brother Jaya (Hiranyakashipu, elder brother of Hiranyaksha) were cursed to be born as evil
asuras three times, since they had angered the four kumaras
(devotees of Lord Vishnu) for not letting them see Lord Vishnu.