Hiranyakasipu, the asura king who was the father of the child devotee Prahlada, was the embodiment of arrogance, said Kidambi Narayanan, in a discourse. There are some people with whom arrogance is second nature.
A Vaishnavite Acharya talked of some arrogant Chola kings who would not even accept betel leaves offered to them. To stretch out one's palms to take the betel leaves from someone else would put their palms at a level lower than the one offering the betel leaves. To them this was akin to subservience.
So even though as kings they should have had the rolling of betel leaves performed for them by a servant, they would do it themselves. Not even by a harmless gesture would they allow anyone to be in a position of superiority.
Hiranyakasipu's arrogance was like that of these kings. That is why he ordered that students should be taught only about his greatness. And when his son came after having studied under the royally appointed teachers, Hiranyakasipu asked him what he had learnt. When Prahlada said that he had learnt about the Lord, the asura was enraged. The boy was not frightened by his father's anger. He continued that the Lord had been around even before the creation of this world. He resided in the hearts of His devotees.
Thinking that he could stop his son from talking about the Lord, if he changed the boy's teachers, Hiranyakasipu sent him to other teachers. But the child was unwavering in his belief. So intoxicated with power was Hiranyakasipu, and so full of self–love, that he ordered that his own son be killed, for worshipping the Lord.
His arrogance made him an unnatural parent, who did not hesitate to kill his own child. But Prahlada was saved by his bhakti every time his father tried to have him killed. Prahlada remained firm in his belief, as his father remained firm in his own arrogance. The result was that the Lord appeared in the form of Narasimha, saved the child and destroyed the asura, thereby showing to the world that He kills those who try to harm His devotees.