|God of Protection|
Narasingha, the Protector
|Affiliation||Lion headed man and fourth Avatar of Vishnu|
|Planet||Earth (getting out of earth)|
|Mantra||ॐ नृं नृं नृं नृसिंहाय नमः Om nṛṁ nṛṁ nṛṁ nṛsiṃhāya name Om Kshraum Narasinhaya Namah|
|Weapon||Chakra, mace, Nails and Jaws|
Narsingh (Sanskrit: IAST: Narasiṃha, lit. man-lion), Narasingh, and Narasingha and Narasinghar in Dravidian languages, is an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, who is regarded as the supreme God in Vaishnavism and a popular deity in the broader Hinduism. The avatar of Narasingha is evidenced in early epics, iconography, and temple and festival worship for over a millennium.
Narasingha is often visualised as having a human torso and lower body, with a lion face and claws. This image is widely worshipped in deity form by a significant number of Vaiṣṇava groups. Vishnu assumed this form on top of Himvat mountain (Harivamsa). He is known primarily as the 'Great Protector' who specifically defends and protects his devotees in times of need. Vishnu is believed to have taken the avatar to destroy the demon king Hiranyakashipu.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Scriptural sources
- 3 Mode of worship
- 4 Symbolism
- 5 Significance
- 6 Forms of Narasiṃha
- 7 Early images
- 8 Cultural Tradition of Procession (Śrī Nṛsiṃha Yātrā)
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The word Narasimha means 'lion-man'/'half man and half lion'. Compare the Greek name Leander.
His other names are-
- Agnilochana (अग्निलोचन) - the one who has fiery eyes
- Bhairavadambara (भैरवडम्बर) - the one who causes terror by roaring
- Karala (कराल) - the one who has a wide mouth and projecting teeth
- Hiranyakashipudvamsa (हिरण्यकशिपुध्वंस) - the one who killed Hiranyakashipu
- Nakhastra (नखास्त्र) - the one for whom nails are his weapons
- Sinhavadana (सिंहवदन) - the whose face is of lion
- Mrigendra (मृगेन्द्र) - king of animals or lion
- Baladeva - the great form
There are references to Narasiṃha in a variety of Purāṇas, with 17 different versions of the main narrative. The Valmiki Ramayana (7.24), Harivaṃśa (41 & 3.41-47), Viṣṇu Purāṇa (1.16-20), Bhagavata Purāṇa (Canto 7), Agni Purāṇa (4.2-3), Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa(2.5.3-29), Vayu Purāṇa (67.61-66), Brahma-Purāṇa (213.44-79), Viṣṇudharmottara Purāṇa(1.54), Kūrma Purāṇa (1.15.18-72), Matsya Purāṇa(161-163), Padma Purāṇa(Uttara-khaṇḍa 5.42), Śiva Purāṇa (2.5.43 & 3.10-12), Liṅga Purāṇa (1.95-96) and Skanda Purāṇa 7 (2.18.60-130) all contain depictions of the Narasiṃha Avatāra. There is also a short reference in the Mahābhārata (3.272.56-60) and a Gopāla Tapani Upaniṣad (Narasiṃha tapani Upaniṣad), earliest of Vaiṣṇava Upaniṣads named in reference to him.
References from the Vedas
The Ṛg Veda contains an epithet that has been attributed to Narasiṃha. The half-man, half-lion avatāra is described as:
like some wild beast, dread, prowling, mountain-roaming.
There is an allusion to a Namuci story in RV.VIII 14.13:
With waters' foam you tore off, Indra, the head of Namuci, subduing all contending hosts.
This short reference is believed to have culminated in the full puranic story of Narasiṃha.
Lord Narasiṃha and Prahlāda
Bhagavata Purāṇa describes that Vishnu, in his previous avatar as Varāha, killed the asura Hiraṇayakṣa. The younger brother of Hirṇayakṣa, Hiraṇyakaśipu, wanted revenge on Vishnu and his followers. He undertook many years of austere penance to take revenge on Viṣṇu: Brahma thus offers the demon a boon and Hiraṇyakaśipu asks for immortality. Brahma replies that he himself is not immortal, so he can't grant immortality to anyone else. Though disappointed, the wily demon tries to get immortality indirectly by seeking the benediction that his death happen only in certain conditions, conditions that he believes will be impossible to be met.
O my lord, O best of the givers of benediction, if you will kindly grant me the benediction I desire, please let me not meet death from any of the living entities created by you.
Grant me that I not die within any residence or outside any residence, during the daytime or at night, nor on the ground or in the sky. Grant me that my death not be brought about by any weapon, nor by any human being or animal.
Grant me that I not meet death from any entity, living or nonliving created by you. Grant me, further, that I not be killed by any demigod or demon or by any great snake from the lower planets. Since no one can kill you in the battlefield, you have no competitor. Therefore, grant me the benediction that I too may have no rival. Give me sole lordship over all the living entities and presiding deities, and give me all the glories obtained by that position. Furthermore, give me all the mystic powers attained by long austerities and the practice of yoga, for these cannot be lost at any time.
Tathāstu (so be it)
and vanished. Hiraṇyakaśipu was happy thinking that he had won over death.
Prior to this, while Hiraṇyakaśipu was performing austerities at Mandarācala Mountain, his home was attacked by Indra and the other devatās. At this point the Devarṣi (divine sage) Nārada intervenes to protect Kayādu, whom he describes as sinless. Following this event, Nārada takes Kayādu into his care and while under the guidance of Nārada, her unborn child (Hiraṇyakaśipu's son) Prahālada, becomes affected by the transcendental instructions of the sage even at such a young stage of development. Thus, Prahlāda later begins to show symptoms of this earlier training by Nārada, gradually becoming recognised as a devoted follower of Viṣṇu, much to his father's disappointment.
Hiraṇyakaśipu is furious at the devotion of his son to Viṣṇu, as the god had killed his brother. Finally, he decides to commit filicide. but each time he attempts to kill the boy, Prahlāda is protected by Viṣṇu's mystical power. When asked, Prahlāda refuses to acknowledge his father as the supreme lord of the universe and claims that Viṣṇu is all-pervading and omnipresent.
Hiraṇyakaśipu points to a nearby pillar and asks if 'his Viṣṇu' is in it and says to his son Prahlāda:
O most unfortunate Prahlāda, you have always described a supreme being other than me, a supreme being who is above everything, who is the controller of everyone, and who is all-pervading. But where is He? If He is everywhere, then why is He not present before me in this pillar?
Prahlāda then answers,
He was, He is and He will be.
In an alternate version of the story, Prahlāda answers,
He is in pillars, and he is in the smallest twig.
Hiraṇyakaśipu, unable to control his anger, smashes the pillar with his mace, and following a tumultuous sound, Viṣṇu in the form of Narasiṃha appears from it and moves to attack Hiraṇyakaśipu in defense of Prahlāda. In order to kill Hiraṇyakaśipu and not upset the boon given by Brahma, the form of Narasiṃha is chosen. Hiraṇyakaśipu can not be killed by human, deva or animal. Narasiṃha is neither one of these as he is a form of Viṣṇu incarnate as a part-human, part-animal. He comes upon Hiraṇyakaśipu at twilight (when it is neither day nor night) on the threshold of a courtyard (neither indoors nor out), and puts the demon on his thighs (neither earth nor space). Using his sharp fingernails (neither animate nor inanimate) as weapons, he disembowels and kills the demon.
Kūrma Purāṇa describes the preceding battle between the Puruṣa and demonic forces in which he escapes a powerful weapon called Paśupāta and it describes how Prahlāda's brothers headed by Anuhrāda and thousands of other demons
were led to the valley of death (yamalayam) by the lion produced from the body of man-lion
It is said that even after killing Hiraṇyakaśipu, none of the present demigods are able to calm Narasiṃha's wrath. So the demigods requested Prahlada to calm down the Lord, and Narasimha, who had assumed the all-powerful form of Gandaberunda returned to more benevolent form after that. In other stories, all the gods and goddesses call his consort, Lakṣmī, who assumes the form of Pratyangira and pacifies the Lord.  Before parting, Narasiṃha rewards the wise Prahlāda by crowning him as the king.
Narasiṃha and Ādi Śaṅkara
Narasiṃha is also a protector of his devotees in times of danger. Near Śrī Śailaṃ, there is a forest called Hatakeśvanam, that no man enters. Śaṅkarācārya entered this place and did penance for many days. During this time, a Kāpālika, by name Kirakashan appeared before him.
He told Śrī Śaṅkara that he should give his body as a human-sacrifice to Kālī. Śaṅkara happily agreed. His disciples were shocked to hear this and pleaded with Śaṅkara to change his mind, but he refused to do so saying that it was an honor to give up his body as a sacrifice for Kālī and one must not lament such things. The Kāpālika arranged a fire for the sacrifice and Śaṅkara sat beside it. Just as he lifted his axe to severe the head of Śaṅkara, Viṣṇu as Narasiṃha entered the body of the disciple of Śaṅkarācārya and Narasiṃha devotee, Padmapada. He then fought the Kāpālika, slayed him and freed the forest of Kapalikas. Ādi Śaṅkara composed the powerful Lakṣmī-Narasiṃha Karāvalambaṃ Stotram at the very spot in front of Lord Narasiṃha.
Mode of worship
Due to the nature of Narasiṃha's form (divine anger), it is essential that worship be given with a very high level of attention compared to other deities. In many temples only lifelong celibates (Brahmācārya) will be able to have the chance to serve as priests to perform the daily puja. Forms where Narasiṃha appears sitting in a yogic posture, or with the goddess Lakṣmī are the exception to this rule, as Narasiṃha is taken as being more relaxed in both of these instances compared to his form when first emerging from the pillar to protect Prahlāda.
A number of prayers have been written in dedication to Narasiṃha avatāra. These include:
- The Narasiṃha Mahā-Mantra
- Narasiṃha Praṇāma Prayer
- Daśāvatāra Stotra by Jayadeva
- Kāmaśikha Aṣṭakam by Vedānta Deśika
- Divya Prabandham 2954
- Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Karavalamba Stotram by Sri Adi Sankara
The Narasiṁha Mahā-Mantra
- oṁ hrīṁ kṣauṁ
- ugraṁ viraṁ mahāviṣṇuṁ
- jvalantaṁ sarvatomukham ।
- nṛsiṁhaṁ bhīṣaṇaṁ bhadraṁ
- mṛtyormṛtyuṁ namāmyaham ॥
O' Angry and brave Mahā-Viṣṇu, your heat and fire permeate everywhere. O Lord Narasiṁha, you are everywhere. You are the death of death and I surrender to You.
Narasiṁha Praṇāma Prayer
- namaste narasiṁhāya,
- hiraṇyakaśipor vakṣaḥ,
- śilā-ṭaṅka nakhālaye
I offer my obeisances to Lord Narasiṁha, who gives joy to Prahlāda Mahārāja and whose nails are like chisels on the stone like chest of the demon Hiraṇyakaśipu.
- ito nṛsiṁhaḥ parato nṛsiṁho,
- yato yato yāmi tato nṛsiṁhaḥ,
- bahir nṛsiṁho hṛdaye nṛsiṁho,
- nṛsiṁhaṁ ādiṁ śaraṇaṁ prapadye
Lord Nṛsiṁha is here and also there. Wherever I go Lord Narasiṁha is there. He is in the heart and is outside as well. I surrender to Lord Narasiṁha, the origin of all things and the supreme refuge.
Daśāvatāra Stotra by Jayadeva
- tava kara-kamala-vare nakham adbhuta-śrṅgaṁ,
- keśava dhṛta-narahari-rūpa jaya jagadiśa hare
O Keśava! O Lord of the universe. O Hari, who have assumed the form of half-man, half-lion! All glories to You! Just as one can easily crush a wasp between one's fingernails, so in the same way the body of the wasp-like demon Hiraṇyakaśipu has been ripped apart by the wonderful pointed nails on your beautiful lotus hands.(from the Daśāvatāra-stotra composed by Jayadeva)
Kāmaśikhā Aṣṭakam by Vedānta Deśika
- tvayi rakṣati rakṣakaiḥ kimanyaiḥ,
- tvayi cārakṣāti rakṣākaiḥ kimanyaiḥ ।
- iti niścita dhīḥ śrayāmi nityaṁ,
- nṛhare vegavatī taṭāśrayaṁ tvam ॥8॥
O Kāmaśikhā Narasiṁha! you are sarva śakthan. When you are resolved to protect some one, where is the need to seek the protection of anyone else? When you are resolved not to protect some one, which other person is capable of protecting us?. There is no one. Knowing this fundamental truth, I have resolved to offer my śaraṇāgatī at your lotus feet alone that rest at the banks of Vegavatī river.
Divya Prabandham 2934
- āḍi āḍi agam karaindhu isai
- pāḍip pāḍik kaṇṇīr malgi engum
- nāḍi nāḍi narasingā endru,
- vāḍi vāḍum ivvāl nuthale!
I will dance and melt for you, within my heart, to see you, I will sing in praise of you with tears in joy, I will search for Narasiṁha and I am a householder who still searches to reach you (to attain Salvation).
Srimat Payonidhi Nikethana Chakra Pane, Bhogeendra Bhoga Mani Rajitha Punya Moorthe, Yogeesa Saswatha Saranya Bhavabdhi Potha, Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam - 1
- Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha, Who lives in the ocean of milk, Who holds the holy wheel as weapon, Who wears the gems of the head, Of Adhisesha as ornaments, Who has the form of good and holy deeds, Who is the permanent protection of sages, And who is the boat which helps us cross, This ocean of misery called life, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Brahmendra, Rudra Arka Kireeta Koti, Sangattithangri Kamala Mala Kanthi Kantha, Lakshmi Lasath Kucha Saroruha Raja Hamsa, Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam - 2
- Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha, Whose feet is touched by the crowns, Of Brahma, Indra, Shiva and Sun, Whose shining feet adds to his effulgence, And who is the royal swan playing, Near the breasts of Goddess Lakshmi, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Samsara Gora Gahane Charathe Murare, Marogra Bheekara Mruga Pravardhithasya, Aarthasya Mathsara Nidha Chain Peedithasya, Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam - 3
- Oh Great God Lakshmi Narsimha, Oh Lord who killed the Asura called Mura, I have been traveling in the dark forests of day to day life, Where I have been terrified by the lion called desire, And scorched by the heat called competition, and so, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Samsara Koopam Adhi Ghora Magadha Moolam, Samprapya Dukha Satha Sarpa Samakulasya, Dheenasya Deva Krupana Padamagadasya, Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam - 4
- Oh Great God Lakshmi Narasimha, I have reached the very dangerous and deep, Bottom of the well of day to day life, And also being troubled by hundreds, Of miseries which are like serpents, And am really miserable and have, Reached the state of wretchedness and so, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Samsara Sagara Vishala Karala Kala, Nakra Graham Grasana Nigraha Vigrahasya, Vyagrasya Raga Rasanormini Peedithasya, Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam - 5
- Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha, I have reached this wide unfathomable ocean of day to day life, And I have been caught by black deadly, Crocodiles called time which are killing me And I am also afflicted by waves of passion, And attachments to pleasures like taste and so, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Samasra Vrukshamagha Bheeja Manantha Karma, Sakha Satham Karana Pathramananga Pushpam, Aroohasya Dukha Phalitham Pathatho Dayalo, Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam - 6
- Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha, I have climbed the tree of worldly life, Which grew from the seed of great sin, Which has hundreds of branches of past karma's, Which has leaves which are parts of my body, Which has flowers which are the result of Venus, And which has fruits called sorrow, But I am falling down from it fast and so, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Samsara Sarpa Ghana Vakthra Bhyogra Theevra, Damshtra Karala Visha Daghdha Vinashta Murthe, Naagari Vahana Sudhabhdhi Nivasa Soure, Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam - 7
- Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha, Oh, Lord who rides on the enemy of snakes, Oh, Lord who lives in the ocean of nectar, The serpent of family life has opened, Its fearful mouth with very dangerous, Fangs filled with terrible venom, Which has destroyed me and so, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Samsara Dava Dahanathura Bheekaroru, Jwala Valee Birathi Dhighdha Nooruhasya, Thwat Pada Padma Sarasi Saranagathasya, Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam - 8
- Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha, I have been scarred badly by the fire of daily life, And even every single hair of my body, Has been singed by its fearful flames, And I have taken refuge in the lake of your lotus feet, and so, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Samsara Jala Pathithasya Jagan Nivasa, Sarvendriyartha Badisartha Jashopamasya, Proth Ganditha Prachoora Thaluka Masthakasya, Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam - 9
- Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha, I have been caught in this net of daily life, And all my organs are caught in that web, And the five senses which is the hook, Tears apart my head from me, and so, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Samsara Bheekara Kareeendra Karabhigatha, Nishpishta Marmma Vapusha Sakalarthi Nasa, Prana Prayana Bhava Bhhethi Samakulasya, Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam - 10
- Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha, I have been struck by the fearful king of elephants, Which is the worldly illusion, and my vital parts, Have been completely crushed, and I suffer, From thoughts of life and death, and so, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Andhasya Me Viveka Maha Danasya, Chorai Prabho Bhalibhi Rindriya Nama Deyai, Mohanda Koopa Kuhare Vinipathathasya, Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam - 11
- Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha, I have become blind because, the sense of discrimination, Has been stolen from me by the thieves of "senses‟, And I who am blind, have fallen in to the deep well of passion, and so, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Baddhvaa Gale Yamabhataa Bahutarjayantah, Karshhanti Yatra Bhavapaashashatairyutam Maam. Ekaakinam Paravasham Chakitam Dayaalo Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam - 12
- Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha, I have been tied by the soldiers of the God of death, By numerous ropes of worldly attachments, And they are dragging me along by the noose around the neck, And I am alone, tired and afraid, and so Oh merciful one, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Lakshmi Pathe Kamala Nabha Suresa Vishno, Vaikunta Krishna Madhu Soodhana Vishwaroopa, Brahmanya Kesava Janardhana Chakrapane, Devesa Dehi Krupanasya Karavalambam - 13
- Oh King of Devas, Who is the Lord of Lakshmi, who has a lotus on his belly, Who is Vishnu, the lord of all heavenly beings, who is Vaikunta, Who is Krishna , who is the slayer of Madhu, Who is one with lotus eyes, Who is the knower of Brahman, Who is Kesava, Janardhana, Vasudeva, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Ekena Chakramaparena Karena Shamkha- Manyena Sindhutanyaaamavalambya Tishhthan, Vaame Karena Varadaabhayapadmachihnam, Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam - 14
- Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha, Who holds Sudarshana, the holy wheel in one hand, Who holds the conch in the other hand, Who embraces the daughter of ocean by one hand, And the fourth hand signifies protection and boons, and so, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Samsaara Saagara Nimajjana Muhyamaanam Diinam Vilokaya Vibho Karunaanidhe Maam, Prahlaada Kheda Parihaara Paraavataara Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam - 15
- Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha, I am drowned in the ocean of day to day life, Please protect this poor one, oh, Lord, Oh treasure of compassion, Just as you took a form to remove the sorrows of Prahlada, and so, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Prahlaada Naarada Paraashara Pundariika- Vyaasaadi Bhaagavata Pungavah Rinnivaasa , Bhaktaanurakta Paripaalana Paarijaata, Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam - 16
- Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha, Who dwells in the hearts of great sages like Prahlada, Narada, Parashara, Pundarika and Vyasa, Who loves his devotees and is the wish giving tree, That protects them, and so, Please give me the protection of your hands.
Lakshminrisimha Charana Abja Madhuvratena Stotram Kritam Shubhakaram Bhuvi Shankarena Ye Tatpathanti Manujaa Haribhakti Yuktaa- Ste Yaanti Tatpada Saroja Makhandaruupam - 17
- This prayer which blesses earth with good things, Is composed by Sankara who is a bee, Drinking deeply the honey from the lotus feet of Lakshmi Nrsimha, And those humans who are blessed with devotion to Hari, Will attain the lotus feet of the Brahman.
- Narasiṃha indicates God's omnipresence and the lesson is that God is everywhere. For more information, see Vaishnav Theology.
- Narasiṃha demonstrates God's willingness and ability to come to the aid of His devotees, no matter how difficult or impossible the circumstances may appear to be.
- Prahlāda's devotion indicates that pure devotion is not one of birthright but of character. Prahlāda, although born an asura, demonstrated the greatest bhakti to God, and endured much, without losing faith.
- Narasiṃha is known by the epithet Mṛga-Śarīra in Sanskrit which translates to Animal-Man. From a philosophical perspective. Narasiṃha is the very icon of Vaiṣṇavism, where jñāna (knowledge) and Bhakti are important as opposed to Advaita, which has no room for Bhakti, as the object to be worshipped and the worshipper do not exist. As according to Advaita or Māyāvāda, the jīva is Paramātma.
Forms of Narasiṃha
There are several forms of Narasiṃha, but 9 main ones collectively known as Nava-narasiṃha:
- Chātra-vata-narasiṃha (seated under a banyan tree)
- Yogānanda-narasiṃha (who blessed Lord Brahma)
- Malola-narasiṃha (With Lakṣmī on His lap)
- Jvālā-narasiṃha (an eight armed form rushing out of the pillar)
- [[Pavana-narasiṃha [[(who blessed the sage Bharadvaja)
Forms from Prahlad story:
- Stambha-narasiṃha(coming out of the pillar)
- Svayam-narasiṃha(manifesting on His own)
- Grahaṇa-narasiṃha (catching hold of the demon)
- Vidāraṇa-narasiṃha (ripping open of the belly of the demon)
- Saṃhāra-narasiṃha (killing the demon)
The following three refer to His ferocious aspect:
- Pañcamukha-Hanumān-narasiṃha, (appears as one of Śrī Hanuman's five faces.)
- Pṛthvī-narasiṃha, Vayu-narasiṃha,]] Ākāśa-narasiṃha]], Jvalana-narasiṃha, and
- Amṛta-narasiṃha, (representing the five elements)
- Jvālā-narasiṃha (with a flame-like mane)
- Lakṣmī-narasiṃha (where Lakṣmī pacifies Him)
- Prasāda/Prahlāda-varadā-narasiṃha (His benign aspect of protecting Prahlad)
- Chatrā-narasiṃha (seated under a parasol of a five-hooded serpent)
- Yoga-narasiṃha or Yogeśvara-narasiṃha (in meditation)
- Āveśa-narasiṃha (a frenzied form)
- Aṭṭahasa-narasiṃha (a form that roars horribly and majestically strides across to destroy evil)
- Cakra-narasiṃha, (with only a discus in hand)
- Viṣṇu-narasiṃha, Brahma-narasiṃha and Rudra-narasiṃha
- Puṣṭi narasiṃha, (worshipped for overcoming evil influences)
In Andhra Pradesh, a panel dating to third-fourth century AD shows a full theriomorphic squatting lion with two extra human arms behind his shoulders holding Vaiṣṇava emblems. This lion, flanked by five heroes (vīra), often has been identified as an early depiction of Narasiṃha. Standing cult images of Narasiṃha from the early Gupta period, survive from temples at Tigowa and Eran. These sculptures are two-armed, long maned, frontal, wearing only a lower garment, and with no demon-figure of Hiraṇyakaśipu. Images representing the narrative of Narasiṃha slaying the demon Hiraṇyakaśipu survive from slightly later Gupta-period temples: one at Madhia and one from a temple-doorway now set into the Kūrma-maṭha at Nachna, both dated to the late fifth or early sixth century A.D.
An image of Narasiṃha supposedly dating to second-third century AD sculpted at Mathura was acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1987. It was described by Stella Kramrisch, the former Philadelphia Museum of Art's Indian curator, as "perhaps the earliest image of Narasiṃha as yet known". This figure depicts a furled brow, fangs, and lolling tongue similar to later images of Narasiṃha, but the idol's robe, simplicity, and stance set it apart. On Narasiṃha's chest under his upper garment appears the suggestion of an amulet, which Stella Kramrisch associated with Visnu's cognizance, the Kauṣtubha jewel. This upper garment flows over both shoulders; but below Hiranyakasipu, the demon-figure placed horizontally across Narasiṃha's body, a twisted waist-band suggests a separate garment covering the legs. The demon's hair streams behind him, cushioning his head against the man-lion's right knee. He wears a simple single strand of beads. His body seems relaxed, even pliant. His face is calm, with a slight suggestion of a smile. His eyes stare adoringly up at the face of Viṣṇu. There is little tension in this figure's legs or feet, even as Narasiṃha gently disembowels him. His innards spill along his right side. As the Matsya purana describes it, Narasiṃha ripped "apart the mighty Daitya chief as a plaiter of straw mats shreds his reeds". Based on the Gandhara-style of robe worn by the idol, Michael Meiste altered the date of the image to fourth century AD.
Deborah Soifer, a scholar who worked on texts in relation to Narasiṃha, believes that "the traits basic to Viṣṇu in the Veda remain central to Viṣṇu in his avataras" and points out, however, that:
we have virtually no precursors in the Vedic material for the figure of a man-lion, and only one phrase that simply does not rule out the possibility of a violent side to the benign Viṣṇu.
Soifer speaks of the enigma of Viṣṇu's Narasiṃha avatāra and comments that how the myth arrived at its rudimentary form [first recorded in the Mahābhārata], and where the figure of the man-lion came from remain unsolved mysteries.
An image of Narasiṃha, dating to the 9th century, was found on the northern slope of Mount Ijo, at Prambanan, Indonesia. Images of Trivikrama and Varāha avatāras were also found at Prambanan, Indonesia. Viṣṇu and His avatāra images follow iconographic peculiarities characteristic of the art of central Java. This includes physiognomy of central Java, an exaggerated volume of garment, and some elaboration of the jewelry. This decorative scheme once formulated became, with very little modification, an accepted norm for sculptures throughout the Central Javanese period (circa 730–930 A.D.). Despite the iconographic peculiarities, the stylistic antecedents of the Java sculptures can be traced back to Indian carvings as the Chalukya and Pallava images of the 6th–7th centuries AD.
Cultural Tradition of Procession (Śrī Nṛsiṃha Yātrā)
In Rājopadhyāya Brahmins of Nepal, there is a tradition of celebrating the procession ceremony of the deity Narasiṃha avatar, in Lalitpur district of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. The Lunar fifth day of the waning phase of the moon, in the holy Soli-lunar Śrāvaṇa month i.e. on Śrāvaṇa Kṛṣṇa Pañcamī of the Hindu Lunar Calendar is marked as auspicious day for the religious procession, Nṛsiṃha Yātrā. This tradition of the holy procession has been held for more than a hundred years. This is one of the typical traditions of the Rājopadhyāya Bramhins, the Hindu Bramhans of the locality.
In this Nṛsiṃha Yātrā, each year one male member of the Rājopadhyāya community gets the chance to be the organizer each year in that particular day. He gets his turn according to the sequence in their record, where the names of Rājopadhyāya bramhins are registered when a brahmāṇa lad is eligible to be called as a Bramhan.
- Soifer, Deborah A. (1991). The Myths of Narasiṁha and Vāmana: Two Avatars in Cosmological Perspective. Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-0799-3.
- "Bhag-P 7.8.19-22". Srimadbhagavatam.com. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- Steven J. Rosen, Narasiṁha Avatar, The Half-Man/Half-Lion Incarnation, p5
- Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 734.
- Steven J. Rosen, Narasiṁha Avatāra, The Half-Man/Half-Lion Incarnation, p1
- http://ancientvoice.wikidot.com/src-vrm:ram7-24. Missing or empty
- Bhag-P 7.4.1
Lord Brahma was very much satisfied by Hiraṇyakaśipu's austerities, which were difficult to perform.
- Bhag-P, Canto 7 7.3.35-38
- Bhag-P 7.7.6 "The victorious demigods plundered the palace of Hiraṇyakaśipu, the king of the demons, and destroyed everything within it. Then Indra, King of heaven, arrested Prahalāda's mother, Hiraṇyakaśipu's wife Kayādu, the Queen"
- Bhag-P 7.7.8 "Nārada Muni said: O Indra, King of the demigods, this woman is certainly sinless. You should not drag her off in this merciless way. This chaste woman is the wife of another. You must immediately release her."
- "Bhag-P 7.8.6". Srimadbhagavatam.com. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- Bhag-P 7.8.3-4 "Thus he finally decided to kill his son Prahlad. Hiraṇyakaśipu was by nature very cruel
- "Bhag-P 7.8.12". Srimadbhagavatam.com. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- Bhag-P 7.8.29
Lord Narasiṁha-deva placed the demon on his lap, supporting him with his thighs, and in the doorway of the assembly hall the lord very easily tore the demon to pieces with the nails of his hand.
- Soifer, p.85: K.P.1.15.70
- "Bhag-P 7.9". Srimadbhagavatam.com. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- "Śrī Lakṣmī Narasiṁha Karāvalambaṁ Stotram Lyrics - Lakṣmī Nṛsiṁha Devotional Video". Hindu Devotional Blog. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- Steven J. Rosen, Narasiṁha Avatar, The Half-Man/Half-Lion Incarnation
- Abdul Waheed Khan, An Early Sculpture of Narasiṁha, Andhra Pradesh Government Archaeological Series 16, Hyderabad: Government of Andhra Pradesh, 1964.
- Alexander Cunningham, Archaeological Survey of India, Annual Reports IX (1873-75), p.47
- Michael W. Meiste, Man and Man-Lion: The Philadelphia Narasiṁha, Artibus Asiae, Vol. 56, No. 3/4 (1996), pp. 291–301
- Soifer, 73
- Jan Fontein, et al. (1990). The sculpture of Indonesia, p. 145
- Debjani Paul (1978) Deity or Deified King? Reflections on a Unique Vaiṣṇavite Sculpture from Java', Artibus Asiae, Vol. 40, No. 4 (1978), pp. 311–333.
- "rajopadhyaya.org". rajopadhyaya.org. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- A person is eligible for all kinds of rituals as a Bramhan only after his Cuḍa-karma is marked.
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