The Supreme One takes avataras for three reasons — to protect the good, to destroy the wicked, and to uphold dharma. Of these, the most important purpose for the Lord’s avataras is the saving of the good, elaborated Akkarakkani Srinidhi, in a discourse. We think the Lord came as an angry Narasimha in order to kill Hiranyakasipu. But that is only a secondary factor behind this avatara. The main reason was the saving of Prahlada, His devotee. If He were to come to destroy the wicked, then why doesn’t He take avatars now to rescue people, we may ask. The answer is that there is none as devoted as Prahlada. Hiranyakasipus may exist, but where are the Prahladas? Where there is no Prahlada, there can be no hope of the Lord’s appearance for, He does not come merely to kill the wicked. He comes to show the world that where His devotees are concerned, He rushes to their help.
A king once asked his minister why God had to come in person to save His devotees. After all He could accomplish anything just by willing it. The minister said the king would understand soon. Later in the day, the king went boating with his family. The minister too accompanied him. Suddenly, the minister cried out that the crown prince had fallen into the river. Dozens of guards and servants of the king jumped into the water to rescue the prince. The king, anxious about his son, jumped in too. After a few minutes, the minister called out to them to stop searching, for the prince was safe. He then told the king that he had just pretended that the prince had fallen overboard. The prince was safe. He had just wanted to prove a point to the king. The king had many people who would carry out his command. In fact, even without the king telling them to search for the prince, men had jumped into the river to look for the boy. And yet the king too had jumped in. Why? Because of his affection for his son. If the king could display so much affection for his son, would not the Lord display much more anxiety and affection for a devotee such as Prahlada?
The Lord’s love for His devotees is evident also in the way He rushed to the rescue of Gajendra the elephant.