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The Story of Holi

摘要:毕业论文 Holi is celebrated all over India with colour, music, dance and bonfires. It marks the beginning of summer. It also celebrates the end of cold and hardship, and the successful harvest of the winter crop. For Hindus all over the wo
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毕业论文

Holi is celebrated all over India with colour, music, dance and bonfires. It marks the beginning of summer. It also celebrates the end of cold and hardship, and the successful harvest of the winter crop.

For Hindus all over the world, Holi also celebrates the victory of good over evil, symbolised in the story of Prahlad, the young boy who overcame evil and tyranny, by his steadfast faith in Vishnu.

Now read the story of Prahlad that lies behind the Hindu celebration of the festival.

Long ago, there lived in this world a race of giant demons called Daityas. The Daityas were very strong and very powerful, so much so that they would often challenge the gods themselves, and sometimes even win. The king of the Daityas was the demon Hiranyakashyap.

Hiranyakashyap, by praying hard and long to the great god Brahma, obtained Brahma's blessing in the form of a boon that protected him from death. Hiranyakashyap could not be killed by man or animal, god or demon, or by any weapon made under the sun. He could not be killed inside or outside his palace, or during the day or night.

Hiranyakashyap, secure against his enemies, began conquering the world. He became king of the underworld, and of earth, and finally of heaven. Indra, king of the gods, defeated by Hiranyakashyap, fled his throne. The other gods saved themselves from Hiranyakashyap by descending to earth and taking on the appearance of ordinary men and women.

Finding himself the undisputed ruler of the world, Hiranyakashyap became arrogant and proud. He declared that no one could worship any god or being except himself, and that all prayers and sacrifices were to be made to him. Nobody dared disobey him, nobody that is, except his own son, Prahlad.

Prahlad had been sent to live with his teacher, a Brahmin, whose duty it was to educate Prahlad. Prahlad would visit his father often, and tell him all that he had learnt at the Brahmin's house.

One day, when Prahlad was visiting his father, Hiranyakashyap asked him the usual question 'What have you learnt at your teacher's house, my son?'

Prahlad answered, 'I have learnt that the most important thing in life is the worship of Vishnu.'

Hiranyakashyap was furious with his son's teacher. 'How dare you teach my son the worship of Vishnu?' he roared. The Brahmin, terrified, fell to his knees and cried, 'My lord, I am innocent. I have taught the Prince no such thing. I worship only the great king Hiranyakashyap and no other.'

'My teacher is not at fault, Father, ' said Prahlad in defence of the Brahmin. 'It is the great god Vishnu himself who has taught me to worship him.'

'My son, what are you saying?' demanded the demon king. 'Have you turned traitor to your own father? Or is it that some evil spirit has taken possession of you?'

'Neither, Father, ' said Prahlad calmly. 'It is Vishnu who has entered my heart. He is everywhere, even within you.'

'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.'

Hiranyakashyap turned away angrily. He called upon all the beings under his command and ordered them to kill his son.

First he called the snakes of the underworld. Huge serpents slithered towards Prahlad. They wrapped their great coils around him and tried to squeeze the life breathe out of him. They bit him in every part of his body with their great poisonous fangs. But they could not harm him. Prahlad stood unhurt in the middle of the serpents, a smile on his face and thoughts of Vishnu in his mind.

The demon King then called upon the great white elephants that live in the sky to crush his son beneath their great feet. The elephants came lumbering in, each animal as huge as a mountain. They threw Prahlad to the ground, and stepped on him, trying to crush him into the earth. They flung him into the air and tried to pierce him with their massive tusks. But each time Prahlad remained unhurt, with a smile on his face and thoughts of Vishnu in his mind.

'Throw him from the top of the palace walls!' thundered the king in anger. The guards bound Prahlad in chains, and threw him from the highest point of the palace walls onto the rocks below. But Prahlad was still unharmed, unhurt.

Hiranyakashyap tried every way he knew to get rid of Prahlad - poison, magic, murder, enchantments. But nothing could harm the child, who remained steadfast in his worship of Vishnu.

Hiranyakashyap had a sister called Holika. Holika was as arrogant and cruel as her brother. She too had received a divine gift - that no fire could burn or harm her. When she saw that none of the demon-king's schemes to get rid of Prahlad were working, she went to the king with a plan. 'Brother, ' she said, ' I know how much you want to get rid of Prahlad for his foul worship of Vishnu. You know that fire cannot injure me. So build a great fire, into which I will carry Prahlad. He will be burnt to death, and I will be unharmed.'

The demon king decided to try his sister's plan. He ordered a great fire to be lit in the middle of the palace courtyard. Holika climbed into the blaze with Prahlad in her arms, and held him in the fire. But after the great flames had died down, the demon king and his attendants saw the little boy sitting serenely among the ashes. Of Holika there was nothing left.

Hiranyakashyap's anger threatened to destroy the world. In frustration he had Prahlad bound in chains and thrown into the sea, where great rocks were piled on him so that he could not escape. Prahlad lay quietly at the bottom of the sea, thinking only of Vishnu. As he did so, his chains snapped, the rocks dissolved, and Prahlad rose to the surface and walked to his father's palace.

Hiranyakashyap was furious when he saw Prahlad return alive. Once again he ordered him to give up the worship of Vishnu. But Prahlad refused. 'Who is Vishnu? Where is Vishnu?' demanded the king in anger. 'You say he is everywhere. Is he in this pillar of stone in my palace?' And Hiranyakashyap struck the stone pillar with the palm of his hand.

At once the pillar broke and fell, and from it emerged a fearsome creature, half man and half lion. This was Vishnu, in the form of Narsimha or Man-Lion. The demons in the court of Hiranyakashyap ran away in fright. But Hiranyakashyap only laughed. He felt immortal, he had no fear. He rushed at the Narsimha, who caught him in his hundred arm

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