A great devotee of Lord raya, King Prahlada was a righteous ruler, generous to his subjects. He would never refuse anyone who approached him for a favour, gift or help.
Once Indra, King of the Devas, intending to test Prahlada, came to him in the guise of a Brahmin. Prahlad offered his respects and asked: “What do you seek of me, O sage? How can I make you happy?”
The Brahmin replied: “O most munificent of kings! I want you to gift me your sheela (character). Nothing else will be good enough.”
Without a moment’s hesitation, King Prahlada said: “So be it, O learned one! Your wish is fulfilled. I am gifting away my sheela to you.” Satisfied, the Brahmin left the court.
No sooner did the Brahmin leave, then a handsome, charismatic youth was seen walking away from the royal court. King Prahlada questioned him: “Sir! Who are you, and where are you heading for?”
The young man replied: “I am Fame. I cannot stay with you any longer since sheela has left you.” King Prahlada permitted him to leave.
Moments later, a youth wondrous in his strength and radiance, was seen departing from the court. King Prahlada asked, “Before you leave, may I know who you are?”
“I am Valour,” replied the youth, “How can I remain with you when your character and fame are gone? I am therefore leaving.” King Prahlada remained silent and watched him depart.
Soon, a divinely beautiful lady was leaving the court in hurried steps. King Prahlada asked: “Mother, would you not tell me who you are?”
“I am Rajyalakshmi, the presiding deity of good fortune and prosperity in your court. But there is no way I can live here anymore without sheela, fame and valour,” she replied before going her way.
Then appeared another lady, of austere radiance and representing all that is good, moving away with tears in her eyes. King Prahlada ran towards her and queried: “Mother, who are you?”
She said: “Son! I am the goddess of Dharma, the spirit of righteousness in your kingdom. But I no longer have a place where there is no sheela, fame and valour. Even Rajyalakshmi has left you.”
King Prahlada fell at her feet and cried out in anguish: “Mother, I can live without sheela, fame, valour and Rajyalakshmi, but I cannot live without you. How can I bear to see you go away? It is the duty of the king to protect Dharma. Dharma alone is the basis of the entire world. Please stay with me, Mother! Do not forsake me.”
Bowing to King Prahlada’s entreaties, the goddess of Dharma agreed to stay. And as she remained by him, all the other divine principles also returned to King Prahlada’s court: “We cannot exist without the goddess of Dharma. Let us stay with you,” they told him.
This was how Devaraj Indra tested Prahlada, for whom Lord raya himself had once appeared as rasimha to re-establish the rule of righteousness in the world. The greatness of Prahlada, founded on his unswerving practice of Dharma, is an inspiration to all who seek to tread the right path and do good in the world.