Narasimha (Sanskrit: नरसिंह; IAST: Narasiṁha), (Tamil: நரசிம்மர்), (Kannada:ನರಸಿಂಹ) Narasingh, Narsingh and Narasingha-in derviative languages is an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu and one of Hinduism's most popular deities, as evidenced in early epics, iconography, and temple and festival worship for over a millennium.
Narasiṁha is often visualised as half-man/half-lion, having a human-like torso and lower body, with a lion-like face and claws. This image is widely worshipped in deity form by a significant number of Vaiṣṇava groups. He is known primarily as the 'Great Protector' who specifically defends and protects his devotees in times of need.
Narasimha, Chola period, 12th -13th century, Tamil Nadu. from Museum Guimet, Paris.
There are references to Narasiṁha in a variety of Purāṇas, with 17 different versions of the main narrative. The Bhagavata Purāṇa (Canto 7), Agni Purāṇa (4.2-3), Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa(2.5.3-29), Vayu Purāṇa (67.61-66), Harivaṁśa (41 & 3.41-47), 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), Skanda Purāṇa 7 (2.18.60-130) and Viṣṇu Purāṇa (1.16-20) all contain depictions of the Narasiṁha Avatāra. There is also a short reference in the Mahābhārata (3.272.56-60) and a Gopāla Tapani Upaniṣad (Narasiṁha tapani Upaniṣad), earliest of Vaiṣṇava Upaniṣads named in reference to him.
Bhagavata Purāṇa describes that in his previous avatar as Varāha, Viṣṇu killed the asuraHiraṇayakṣa. The younger brother of Hirṇayakṣa, Hiraṇyakaśipu wanted revenge on Viṣṇu 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 tells him this is not possible, but that he could bind the death of Hiraṇyakaśipu with conditions. Hiraṇyakaśipu agreed:
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.
One day while Hiraṇyakaśipu performed 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 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?
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 Narasiṁha appears from it and moves to attack Hiraṇyakaśipu. in defence of Prahlāda. In order to kill Hiraṇyakaśipu and not upset the boon given by Brahma, the form of Narasiṁha is chosen. Hiraṇyakaśipu can not be killed by human, deva or animal. Narasiṁha 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
avatar. The same episode occurs in the Matsya Purāṇa 179, several chapters after its version of the Narasiṁha advent.
The Bhagavata Purāṇa further narrates: even after killing Hiraṇyakaśipu, none of the present demigods are able to calm Narasiṁha's fury, not even Śiva. So all the gods and goddesses call his consort, Lakṣmī, but she is also unable to do so. Then, at the request of Brahma, Prahlāda is presented to Narasiṁha, and finally he is calmed by the prayers of his devotee. Before parting, Narasiṁha rewards the wise Prahlāda by crowning him as the king.
Narasiṁha is also a protector of his devotees in times of danger. Near Śrī Śailaṁ, 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.
Note: Kāpālika-s are a set of people who live in the burial grounds and pray to God by giving human and animal sacrifice.
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 Narasiṁha entered the body of the disciple of Śaṅkarācārya and Narasiṁha devotee, Padmapada. He then fought the Kāpālika, slayed him and freed the forest of Kapalikas. Ādi Śaṅkara composed the very powerful Lakṣmī-Narasiṁha Karāvalambaṁ Stotram at the very spot in front of Lord Narasiṁha.
Due to the nature of Narasiṁha'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 Narasiṁha appears sitting in a yogic posture, or with the goddess Lakṣmī are the exception to this rule, as Narasiṁha is taken as being more relaxed in both of these instances compared to his form when first emerging from the pillar to protect Prahlāda.
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
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)
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.
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).
Narasiṁha indicates God's omnipresence and the lesson is that God is everywhere. For more information, see Vaishnav Theology.
Narasiṁha 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.
Narasiṁha is known by the epithet Mṛga-Śarīra in Sanskrit which translates to Animal-Man. From a philosophical perspective. Narasiṁha 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.
In South Indian art – sculptures, bronzes and paintings – Viṣṇu's incarnation as Narasiṁha is one of the most chosen themes and amongst [[Avatar]|Avatāra]s perhaps next only to Rāma and Kṛṣṇa in popularity.
Lord Narasiṁha also appears as one of Hanuman's 5 faces, who is a significant character in the Rāmāyaṇa as Lord (Rāma's) devotee.
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 Narasiṁha. Standing cult images of Narasiṁha 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 Narasiṁha 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 Narasiṁha 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 Narasiṁha as yet known". This figure depicts a furled brow, fangs, and lolling tongue similar to later images of Narasiṁha, but the idol's robe, simplicity, and stance set it apart. On Narasiṁha'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 Narasiṁha'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 Narasiṁha gently disembowels him. His innards spill along his right side. As the Matsya purana describes it, Narasiṁha 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 Narasiṁha, 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 Narasiṁha 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 Narasiṁha, 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 Nṛsiṁha Yātrā)
In Rājopadhyāya Brahmins of Nepal, there is a tradition of celebrating the procession ceremony of the deity Narasiṁha 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, Nṛsiṁha 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 Nṛsiṁha 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.
A representation of Śrī Narasimṁha in Kadiri. Andhra Pradesh.
Lord Narasimha statue on walls of Simhacalam Temple
*Ahobilam or Ahobalam is a major center of pilgrimage in South India, located in the Nandyal Taluka of Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh, India. According to local legend, this is where Lord Narasiṁha blessed Prahlāda and killed the demon Hiranyakashipa. It is an important place of worship for Vaiṣṇavas and is one of the 108Divya Desams.
Śrī Matsyagiri Lakṣmī Narasiṁha Swamy Devalayam, Vemula Konda, Valigonda mandal, Nalgonda district,Telangana state. The temple of Lakṣmī Narasihma swamy is on the rock hill (konda) in Mastya avataram.
Śrī Varāha Narasiṁha Swamy, is the combination of Varaha avatar and Narasiṁha avatar. When Prahlada was thrown into the sea, Śrī Varaha Narasiṁha swamy protected prahlada and raised a mountain. This mountain is the Simhachalam *Simhachalam, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
Yoga Narasiṁha temple also known as Dakshina Simhachalam Singarayakonda, Ongole, Andhra Pradesh
Śrī Lakṣmī Narasiṁha Swamy, Mallooru, Warangal District (~70KM from Bhadrachalam), Telangana state.
Śrī Yogānanda Lakṣmī Narasiṁha Swamy, Mattapalli (at the confluence of Krishna and Musi rivers), about 15 km from Huzurnagar taluq, Nalgonda District, Telangana state (Bus available from Miryalaguda/Kodada).
Vadapally, Near Miryalaguda, Nalgonda District, Telangana state
*Śrī Lakṣmī Narasiṁha Swamy Temple at Roopena Agrahara, Hosur Main Road, Bangalore, Karnataka. This is the only temple in India which has "Narasiṁha Meru" belonging to ancient period. "Narasiṁha Meru" is a hill shaped cakra made specifically for Narasiṁha Swamy. Pradakshana to this Chakra and Narasiṁha Swamy will clear kuja doṣa.
Śrī Yoga Narasiṁha, on a hilltop fortress at Melkote, Nagamangala, Mysore District, Karnataka. In Kannada, the term means, top (mele) fort (kote). The fort, situated on a near-vertical hill is a strategic area, overlooking the plains. Melkote is also the site of the famous Cheluvanarayana Temple and the annual Vairamudi festival, where the deity is adorned with a crown of dazzling uncut diamonds.
Śrī Narasiṁha Swami Zarni Cave Temple, Bidar District, Karnataka - It is said that Lord Narasiṁha after killing Hiranyakashpu, proceeded to kill a demon named Jalasura. Jalasura was a staunch devotee of Lord Śiva. After he was killed by Lord Narasiṁha, Jalāsura turns into water starts flowing from Lord's feet. And to this day water keeps flowing from lord’s feet and fills the cave.
Śrī Yoga Mudre Lakṣmī Narasiṁha Swami, Mudugere, near Hassan, Karnataka. Considered one of the most powerful forms of the Deity.
Śrī Lakṣmī Narasiṁha, Marehalli, Malavalli taluk Mandya district Karnataka.
Śrī Śoḍaśa Bahu Narasiṁha Swamy, Karpara Kshetra, Koppara village, Raichur District, Karnataka.Koppar Śrī Narasiṁha Devaru(Also known as Vruksharoopi Narasiṁha Swamy Temple) located in Raichur District, Devadurga Taluk, this Śrī Kṣetra is about 6 km from Devadurga.
*Śrī Nadi Narasiṁha Temple,on the banks of Kanva river, Dodda Mallur, Channapatna, this place is about 2 km from the famous Aprameya Swamy Temple on the way to Bangalore-Mysore Highway.
*Śrī Yoga Narasiṁha Swamy Temple, with Narasiṁha Dandam, at KereThonnur/Thondanur, built on small hillock situated at Śrīrangapatna Taluk, Mandya District, this place is about 8 km from Pandvapura, and 20 km from Melekote, on Melekote-Śrīrangapatna Highway.
*Śrī.Lakṣmī Narasiṁha Swamy Temple, Bhuvaneshwari Nagar, Near Jayanthi Tiles Factory, R. T. Nagar Post, Bangalore - 560032.
*Śrī Lakṣmī Narasiṁha Swamy Temple (Sudarshana Narasiṁha) Ahoabilla Mutt, on 3rd Main Road, Prakashnagar, Bangalore - 21. (next to Mudhaliar Choultry)
*Śrī Kambada Narasiṁha Swamy Temple,(also known as Ranganatha Swami temple)in Tattekere Village, Solur Hobli, this place is also called as Dhurvasamuni Kṣetra, about 4 km from Solur Bus stand on the way to Kunigal.
*Śrī Lakṣmī Narasiṁha Swamy Temple, Sripathihalli, Kalya post, Magadi Tlq, Ramanagar District
*Śrī Champakarnya Lakṣmī NarasiṁhaSwamy, Champakaranya Beta a small hillock just behind the famous Champakadhamaswamy Temple, Temple Road, Bannerghatha Village, Bangalore.
Śrī Lakṣmī Narsimha Temple in Veling (Mhardol), Tal Ponda, Goa
Pokharni, Parbhani district, Maharashtra.
*Sangawade, Taluka Karveer, District Kolhapur, Maharashtra (uniqueness here is that, Goddess Laxmi is sitting on right lap of the deity whereas else where she is on the other side)
Śrī Lakṣmī Narsimha Temple, Dhom, Tal. Wai, District Satara, Maharashtra
At Post - Nittur, Taluka - Chandgad, Dist- Kolhapur (around 40 km inside maharashtra from Belgaum. It is said that this temple was built by Pandvas when they were in exile. This is ancient temple in a big rock, it is engraved in a big solid rock.
*Ugra Narasiṁha at Śrī Prasanna Venkatachapathy Temple, Keelapavoor, near Tenkasi also known as South Ahobhilam
Śrī Yoga Narasiṁha Swamy Temple at Velachery, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Śrī Lakṣmī Narasiṁha Swami Temple, (Lakṣmī Narasiṁha with 4 hands, in Śānta rūpa with His consort(Lakshmi|Lakṣmī) on His right lap (usually He will have His consort(Lakṣmī) on His left lap).], vellore District.
Padalathri Narasiṁha Swamy, Singa Perumal Koil, near Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Nava Narasiṁhar Temple, Avaniyapuram, Tamil Nadu
Śrī Yoga Narasiṁha Swamy Temple, Keelavasal, near thanjore palace, Thanjavur.
Śrī Lakṣmī Narasiṁha Swamy Temple. Thalasserry, 670101. Kerala. This is an important piligrim centre for GS Brahmins in the Northern parts of Kerala, and is located in the heart of Tellicherry town, in the Kannur district of Kerala. The Temple is less than half a kilometre from both the Railway station and the Bus stand. The temple and prathista faces North which is a unique feature. The temple established in 1831 A.D.
Srinivasa Kovil, thekkumbhagom, Tripunithura - Here the god is Ugranarasimha. Ernakulam District
Śrī Ramamangalam Bala Narasiṁha Temple,Muvattupuzha to piravom route ( via ) pampakkuda. 15 km, Ernakulam, Kerala. Sree Shadkala Govinda Marar sung here. Both the highest koddi Maram of Kerala for Narasiṁha and shortest Koddi Maram for Ovu ( Pranala) Thangi Unni Bhootham is here in this Temple.30 km from Ernakulam Railway station.
^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."