Narasimha (Sanskrit: नरसिंह; Narasiṃha), (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.
Narasimha 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 Vaishnava groups. He is known primarily as the 'Great Protector' who specifically defends and protects his devotees in times of need.
There are references to Narasimha in a variety of puranas, with seventeen different versions of the main narrative. The Bhagavat Purana (Canto 7), Agni Purana (4.2-3), Brahmanda Puran (2.5.3-29), Vayu Puran (67.61-66), Harivamsa (41 & 3.41-47), Brahma Puran (213.44-79), Vishnudharmottara Puran (1.54), Kurma Puran (1.15.18-72), Matsya Puran (161-163), Padma Puran (Uttara-khanda 5.42), Shiv Puran (2.5.43 & 3.10-12), Linga Puran (1.95-96), Skanda Puran 7 (2.18.60-130) and Vishnu Puran (1.16-20) all contain depictions of the Narasimha Avatar. There is also a short reference in the Mahabharat (3.272.56-60) and a Gopal Tapani Upanishad (Narasimha tapani Upanisad), earliest of Vaishnav Upanishads named in reference to him.
The Rig Veda contains an epithet that has been attributed to Narasimha. The avatar is described as "like some wild beast, dread, prowling, mountain-roaming" (RV.I 154.2a). 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 Narasimha.
Bhagavata Puran describes that in his previous avatar as Varaha, Vishnu killed the asuraHiranyaksha. The younger brother of Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakashipu wanted revenge on Vishnu and his followers. He undertook many years of austere penance to take revenge on Vishnu: Brahma thus offers the demon a boon and Hiranyakashipu asks for immortality. Brahma tells him this is not possible, but that he could bind the death of Hiranyakashipu with conditions. Hiranyakashipu 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.
Brahma said, "Tatha asthu" (be it so) and vanished. Hiranyakashipu was happy thinking that he had won over death.
One day while Hiranyakashipu performed austerities at Mandaracala Mountain, his home was attacked by Indra and the other devatas. At this point the divine sageNarad intervenes to protect Kayadu, whom he describes as 'sinless'. Following this event, Narad takes Kayadu into his care and while under the guidance of Narad, her unborn child (Hiranyakashipu's son) Prahlad, becomes affected by the transcendental instructions of the sage even at such a young stage of development. Thus, Prahlad later begins to show symptoms of this earlier training by Narad, gradually becoming recognised as a devoted follower of Vishnu, much to his father's disappointment.
Hiranyakashipu furious at the devotion of his son to Vishnu, as the god had killed his brother. Finally, he decides to commit filicide. but each time he attempts to kill the boy, Prahlad is protected by Vishnu's mystical power. When asked, Prahlad refuses to acknowledge his father as the supreme lord of the universe and claims that Vishnu is all-pervading and omnipresent. Hiranyakashipu points to a nearby pillar and asks if 'his Vishnu' is in it:
"O most unfortunate Prahlad, 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?"
Prahlad then answers, He was, He is and He will be. In an alternate version of the story, Prahlad answers, He is in pillars, and he is in the smallest twig. Hiranyakashipu, unable to control his anger, smashes the pillar with his mace, and following a tumultuous sound, Vishnu in the form of Narasimha appears from it and moves to attack Hiranyakashipu. in defence of Prahlad. In order to kill Hiranyakashipu and not upset the boon given by Brahma, the form of Narasimha is chosen. Hiranyakashipu can not be killed by human, deva or animal. Narasimha is neither one of these as he is a form of Vishnu incarnate as a part-human, part-animal. He comes upon Hiranyakashipu 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. Kurma Puran describes the preceding battle between the Purusha and demonic forces in which he escapes a powerful weapon called Pashupata and it describes how Prahlad's brothers headed by Anuhrada 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 Matshya Purana 179, several chapters after its version of the Narasimha advent.
The Bhagavata Purana further narrates: even after killing Hiranyakashipu, none of the present demigods are able to calm Narasimha's fury, not even Shiva. So all the gods and goddesses call his consort, Lakshmi, but she is also unable to do so. Then, at the request of Brahma, Prahlad is presented to Narasimha, and finally he is calmed by the prayers of his devotee. Before parting, Narasimha rewards the wise Prahlad by crowning him as the king.
Narasimha is also a protector of his devotees in times of danger. Near Srisailam, there is a forest called Hatakeshwanam, that no man enters. Shankaracharya entered this place and did penance for many days. During this time, a Kapalika, by name Kirakashan appeared before him. Kapalikas are a set of people who live in the burial grounds and pray to God by giving human and animal sacrifice. He told Sri Shankara that he should give his body as a human sacrifice to Kali. Sankara happily agreed. His disciples were shocked to hear this and pleaded with Shankara 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 Kali and one must not lament such things. The Kapalika arranged a fire for the sacrifice and Shankara sat beside it. Just as he lifted his axe to severe the head of Shankara, Lord Vishnu as Narasimha entered the body of the disciple of Shankaracharya and Narasimha devotee, Padmapada. He then fought the Kapalika, slayed him and freed the forest of Kapalikas. Adi Shankara composed the very powerful Lakshmi-Narasimha Karavalambam Stotram at the very spot in front of Lord Narasimha.
Due to the nature of Narasimha'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 (brahmacarya) will be able to have the chance to serve as priests to perform the daily puja. Forms where Narasimha appears sitting in a yogic posture, or with the goddess Lakshmi are the exception to this rule, as Narasimha is taken as being more relaxed in both of these instances compared to his form when first emerging from the pillar to protect Prahlad.
A number of prayers have been written in dedication to Narasimha avatar. These include:
The Narasimha Maha-Mantra
Om Hreem Kshraum Ugram Veeram Mahaa-Vishnum,
Jwalantham Sarvatho Mukham
Nrisimham Bheeshanam Bhadram
"O' Angry and brave Maha-Vishnu, your heat and fire permeate everywhere. O Lord Narasimha, you are everywhere. You are the death of death and I surrender to You."
namas te narasimmhaya,
sila ttanka nakhalaye
ito nrsimhah parato nrsimho,
yato yato yami tato nrsimhah,
bahir nrsimho hrdaye nrsimho,
nrsimham adim saranam prapadye
"I offer my obeisances to Lord Narasimha, who gives joy to Prahlad Maharaja and whose nails are like chisels on the stone like chest of the demon Hiranyakasipu." (Narasimha Pranama)
"Lord Nrsimha is here and also there. Wherever I go Lord Narasimha is there. He is in the heart and is outside as well. I surrender to Lord Narasimha, the origin of all things and the supreme refuge."
tava kara-kamala-vare nakham adbhuta-srngam,
kesava dhrta-naraharee-rupa jaya jagadisa hare
"O Kesava! O Lord of the universe. O Lord 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 wasplike demon Hiranyakasipu has been ripped apart by the wonderful pointed nails on your beautiful lotus hands." (from the Dasavatara-stotra composed by Jayadeva)
Tvayi Rakshathi Rakshakai: Kim Anyai:,
Tvayi Cha Arakshati Rakshakai: Kim Anyai:,
Ithi Nischita Dhee: Srayaami Nityam,
Nruhareh: Vegavathee Tataasrayam Tvam!
"O Kamasikha Narasimha! you are sarva sakthan. 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 saranagati at your lotus feet alone that rest at the banks of Vegavathi river." (Kamasika Ashtakam by Vedanta Desika)
ADi ADi agam Karaindhu isai
PADip PADik KaNNIr Malgi engum
' nADi nADi narasingA endru,
VADi VADum ivvAL 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 Narasimha and I am a householder who still searches to reach you (to attain Salvation)." (Divya Prabandham 2954)
Narasimha indicates God's omnipresence and the lesson is that God is everywhere. For more information, see Vaishnav Theology.
Narasimha 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.
Prahlad's devotion indicates that pure devotion is not one of birthright but of character. Prahlad, although born an asura, demonstrated the greatest bhakti to God, and endured much, without losing faith.
Narasimha is known by the epithet "Mriga-Sharira" in Sanskrit which translates to Animal-Man. From a philosophical perspective. Narasimha is the very icon of Vaishnavism, where jnana (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 Mayavada, the jeeva is Paramatma.
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 Vaishnav emblems. This lion, flanked by five heroes (virs), often has been identified as an early depiction of Narasimha. Standing cult images of Narasimha 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 Hiranyakashipu. Images representing the narrative of Narasimha slaying the demon Hiranyakasipu survive from slightly later Gupta-period temples: one at Madhia and one from a temple-doorway now set into the Kumra-math at Nachna, both dated to the late fifth or early sixth century A.D.
An image of Narasimha 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 Narasimha as yet known". This figure depicts a furled brow, fangs, and lolling tongue similar to later images of Narasimha, but the idol's robe, simplicity, and stance set it apart. On Narasimha's chest under his upper garment appears the suggestion of an amulet, which Stella Kramrisch associated with Visnu's cognizance, the Kaustubha jewel. This upper garment flows over both shoulders; but below Hiranyakasipu, the demon-figure placed horizontally across Narasimha'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 Vishnu. There is little tension in this figure's legs or feet, even as Narasimha gently disembowels him. His innards spill along his right side. As the Matsya purana describes it, Narasimha 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 Narasimha, believes that "the traits basic to Vishnu in the Ved remain central to Vishnu 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 Vishnu". Soifer speaks of "the enigma" of Vishnu's Narasimha avatara and comments that "how the myth arrived at its rudimentary form [first recorded in the Mahabharata], and where the figure of the man-lion came from remain unsolved mysteries".
An image of Narasimha, dating to the 9th century, was found on the northern slope of Mount Ijo, at Prambanan, Indonesia. Images of Thrivikrama and Varaha avataras were also found at Prambanan, Indonesia. Vishnu and His avatara 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 (श्री नृसिंह यात्रा)
In Rajopadhyaya Brahmins of Nepal, there is a tradition of celebrating the procession ceremony of the deity Narasimha avatar, in Lalitpur district of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. The fifth day of holy Shrawan (श्रावण) month i.e. Shrawan Krishna Panchami of the Hindu Lunar Calendar is marked as auspicious day for the religious procession, Nrisimha Yatr a(नृसिंह यात्रा). This tradition of the holy procession has been held for more than a hundred years. This is one of the typical traditions of the Rajopadhyaya Bramhins, the Hindu Bramhans of the locality.
In this Nrisimha Yatra (श्री नृसिंह यात्रा), each year one male member of the Rajopadhyaya 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 Rajopadhyaya bramhins are registered when a bramhan lad is eligible to be called as a Bramhan.
A representation of Sri Narasimha in Kadiri. Andhra Pradesh.
Lord Narasimha statue on walls of Simhachalam 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 Narasimha blessed Prahlada and killed the demon Hiranyakashipa. It is an important place of worship for Vaishnavas and is one of the 108Divya Desams.
Shri Matsyagiri Laxmi Narasihma Swamy Devalayam, Vemula Konda, Valiginda mandal, Nalgonda district, Andhra Pradesh. The temple of Lakshmi Narasihma swamy is on the rock hill (konda) in Mastya avataram.
Shri Varaha Narasimha Swamy, is the combination of Varaha avatar and Narasimha avatar. When Prahlada was thrown into the sea, Shri Varaha Narasimha swamy protected prahlada and raised a mountain. This mountain is the Simhachalam *Simhachalam, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
Yoga Narasimha temple also known as Dakshina Simhachalam Singarayakonda, Ongole, Andhra Pradesh
Shri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy, Mallooru, Warangal District (~70KM from Bhadrachalam), Andhra Pradesh.
Sri Yogananda Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy, Mattapalli (at the confluence of Krishna and Musi rivers), about 15 km from Huzurnagar taluq, Nalgonda District, Andhra Pradesh (Bus available from Miryalaguda/Kodada).
Vadapally, Near Miryalaguda, Nalgonda District, Andhra Pradesh
*Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple at Roopena Agrahara, Hosur Main Road, Bangalore, Karnataka. This is the only temple in India which has "Narasimha Meru" belonging to ancient period. "Narasimha Meru" is a hill shaped chakra made specifically for Narasimha Swamy. Pradakshana to this Chakra and Narasimha Swamy will clear kuja dosha.
Sri Yoga Narasimha, 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.
Shri Narasimha Swami Zarni Cave Temple, Bidar District, Karnataka - It is said that Lord Narasimha after killing Hiranyakashpu, proceeded to kill a demon named Jalasura. Jalasura was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva. After he was killed by Lord Narasimha, Jalasura turns into water starts flowing from Lord's feet. And to this day water keeps flowing from lord’s feet and fills the cave.
Shri Yoga Mudre Lakshmi Narasimha Swami, Mudugere, near Hassan, Karnataka. Considered one of the most powerful forms of the Deity.
Shri LakshmiNarasimha, Marehalli, Malavalli taluk Mandya district Karnataka.
Shri Shodasha Bahu Narasimha Swamy, Karpara Kshetra, Koppara village, Raichur District, Karnataka.Koppar Sri Narasimha Devaru(Also known as Vruksharoopi Narasimha Swamy Temple) located in Raichur District, Devadurga Taluk, this SriKshetra is about 6 km from Devadurga.
Sri Yoganarasimha Devalaya, Mysore, Karnataka.
Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy, Malleswaram, Bangalore
Sri Narasimha Swamy Temple, Hatyal, C N Halli, Tumkur, Karnataka
Shri Ugra Narasimha Swamy Devasthana at Maddur, Karnataka
Shri Kambada Narasimha Swamy Devasthana at Sugganahalli, near Kudur, Tumkur district, Karnataka
*Sri Nadi Narasimha 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.
*Sri YogaNarasimha Swamy Temple, with Narasimha Dandam, at KereThonnur/Thondanur, built on small hillock situated at Srirangapatna Taluk, Mandya District, this place is about 8 km from Pandvapura, and 20 km from Melekote, on Melekote-Srirangapatna Highway.
*Sri.LakshmiNarasimha Swamy Temple, Bhuvaneshwari Nagar, Near Jayanthi Tiles Factory, R. T. Nagar Post, Bangalore - 560032.
*Sri.LakshmiNarasimha Swamy Temple (Sudarshana Narasimha) Ahoabilla Mutt, on 3rd Main Road, Prakashnagar, Bangalore - 21. (next to Mudhaliar Choultry)
*Sri Kambada Narasimha Swamy Temple,(also known as Ranganatha Swami temple)in Tattekere Village, Solur Hobli, this place is also called as Dhurvasamuni Kshetra, about 4 km from Solur Bus stand on the way to Kunigal.
*Sri LakshmiNarasimha Swamy Temple, Sripathihalli, Kalya post, Magadi Tlq, Ramanagar District
* Sri Champakarnya LakshmiNarasimhaSwamy, Champakaranya Beta a small hillock just behind the famous Champakadhamaswamy Temple, Temple Road, Bannerghatha Village, Bangalore.
Shri Laxmi 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)
Shree Lakshmi 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.
Sri Laxmi Narsimha Mandir, Partur, Dist Jalna, Maharashtra.
*Ugra Narasimhar at Shri Prasanna Venkatachapathy Temple, Keelapavoor, near Tenkasi also known as South Ahobhilam
Shri Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple at Velachery, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swami Temple, [Lakshmi Narasimhar with four hands, in Santha roopa with His consort(Lakshmi) on His right lap (usually He will have His consort(Lakshmi) on His left lap).], vellore District.
Padalathri Narasimha Swamy, Singa Perumal Koil, near Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Nava Narasimhar Temple, Avaniyapuram, Tamil Nadu
Shri Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple, Keelavasal, near thanjore palace, Thanjavur.
Sri Narasimha Parthasarathy Temple, Thiruvangore, Kozhikode
West Pattissery Sree VISHNU Temple CHALISSERY PALAKKAD
Narasimha Temples run by GSB community in Kerala are located at Manjeshwar,Ullal,[Thuravoor, Cherthala|Thuravoor]] and Alappuzha
Sri Lakshmi Narasimha 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
Sri Narasimha Swamy Temple, Kadungalloor, Alwaye, 683 108, Kerala,
Pandavath Sri Narasimha Swamy Temple, Aymanam, Near Kottayam Town, Kerala.
Sri Ramamangalam Bala Narasimha 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 Narasimha 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 Hiranyakasipu, the king of the demons, and destroyed everything within it. Then Indra, King of heaven, arrested Prahalad's mother, Hiranyakasipu's wife Kayadu, the Queen"
^Bhag-P 7.7.8 "Narad 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 7.8.29 "Lord Narasimhadeva 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."