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01 May 2019 | Wednesday | by HH Stoka Krishna Swami

Lord Narasimha

Lord Narasimha – The extraordinary incarnation of the Supreme Lord

The Supreme Lord appears in various incarnations in this world during evey millennium as it is said in the Bhagavad Gita (Bg 4.7):

pariträëäya sädhünäà vinäçäya ca duñkåtäm

dharma-saàsthäpanärthäya sambhavämi yuge yuge

In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.

The Lord resides in the spiritual world in His eternal two-handed form as Krishna and His eternal four-handed form as Narayana. But when He comes to the material world He appears in different forms all of which are completely transcendental. One such extraordinary incarnation is the incarnation of Lord Narasimha.

The Srimad Bhagavatam describes the appearance of Lord Narasimha who appeared in order to protect Prahlada Maharaja, to kill Hiranyakashipu and to re-establish the principles of devotional service. Hiranyakashipu was a demon who performed severe austerities to prevent death by various means. He secured benediction from Lord Brahma that he will not be killed by any creature created by Lord Brahma. He did not want to die within any residence or outside any residence, during the daytime or at night, nor on the ground or in the sky. He asked that his death not be brought by any being other than those created by Brahma, nor by any weapon, nor by any human being or animal. He did not want to meet death from any entity, living or nonliving. Further, he desired not be killed by any demigod or demon or by any great snake from the lower planets. In this way Hiranyakashipu thought that he had become immortal.

He then began to terrorise the universe. He overpowered the principal devatas – Indra, Vayu and Agni – and personally took control of the rain, the wind and the fire. He forcibly occupied the throne of Indra and severely chastised any devatas who disobeyed him. Thus harassed by Hiranyakashipu the devatas approached Lord Vishnu and prayed for relief. They were assured by the Lord to wait for an opportune moment when the Lord would appear to kill this demon.

Hiranyakashipu had four sons of whom the youngest was a pure devotee by name Prahlada. When Prahlada was in his mother’s womb, he was instructed by Narada Muni in the science of bhakti. Therefore, by birth, Prahlada was a devotee of Vishnu -- a Vaishnava. On the other hand, Prahlada’s father Hiranyakashipu was the sworn enemy of Vishnu because Lord Vishnu had killed his brother Hiranyaksha.

When Prahlada was sent to the gurukula, the teachers were eager to teach him politics and diplomacy. But Prahlada was disinterested in learning these subjects. He would chant the holy names of God and even speak to his classmates about bhakti. This news reached Hiranyakashipu who tried to change his son’s mind but failed to do so. After a few attempts, Hiranyakashipu decided to kill his son. Hiraëyakaçipu could not kill his son by throwing him beneath the feet of big elephants, throwing him among huge, fearful snakes, employing destructive spells, hurling him from the top of a hill, conjuring up illusory tricks, administering poison, starving him, exposing him to severe cold, winds, fire and water, or throwing heavy stones to crush him.

Finally, Hiranyakashipu decided to personally kill his son. He asked his son about the presence of Vishnu as the protector of Prahlada. When Prahlada said that Vishnu was present everywhere, Hiranyakashipu asked whether Vishnu was present inside the pillar, Prahlada said yes. Then Hiranyakashipu struck the pillar wih his fist and out of it came a very fearsome form of Lord Narasimha. Hiraëyakaçipu studied the form of the Lord, trying to decide who the form of Nåsiàhadeva standing before him was. The Lord's form was extremely fearsome because of His angry eyes, which resembled molten gold; His shining mane, which expanded the dimensions of His fearful face; His deadly teeth; and His razor-sharp tongue, which moved about like a dueling sword. His ears were erect and motionless, and His nostrils and gaping mouth appeared like caves of a mountain. His jaws parted fearfully, and His entire body touched the sky. His neck was very short and thick, His chest broad, His waist thin, and the hairs on His body as white as the rays of the moon. His arms, which resembled flanks of soldiers, spread in all directions as He killed the demons, rogues and atheists with His conchshell, disc, club, lotus and other natural weapons. Then Lord Narasimha took Hiranyakashipu on His lap and tore apart his body with His nails. Then Prahlada pacified the Lord and offered wonderful prayers.

Prahlada said that he is not afraid of the fearsome form of Lord Narasimha but he is afraid of material existence. Therefore, Prahlada prayed to the Lord for protection from maya. Thus the extraordinary form of Lord Narasimha is simultaneously fearsome for the demons and assurance of protection for the devotees.