Narasimha – Fascinating, Fearsome, Still Lovable

Sombat Jokmok, from Illinois sent me a WhatsApp message: “Hi Uday, I am a follower of your website. I am a Buddhist; I love to read your rational and logical explanation of ancient Indian culture. However, I have a resentment to make – I hope you won’t feel hurt or insulted if I question your beliefs in God…” The message was in very polite and decent language.

“Sombat, as a Hindu, I don’t have to defend any of my Gods. My Gods are capable of defending themselves and don’t depend upon human beings to kill or die for them. Since I am confident of explaining my beliefs, I won’t feel hurt or insulted when somebody questions my belief. So you may shoot any questions…” I replied.

“Uday, you are an educated person. I do not understand why do you worship Narasimha?”

“Narasimha is my traditional Grama Devatha (village deity). My ancestors were worshipping them. I continue my ancestry. As long as I don’t take my beliefs outside of my house and mind and don’t impose or irritate others with my beliefs, why should anybody worry about it?”

“Not that, of all Gods, why such terrible creature like Narasimha? It’s a fairy tale, and you know such creature can never exist. I know you provided scientific and logical explanations about some Hindu God…But how will you explain this?”

“The reference to Narasimha is found in almost 16 Puranas, and a separate Purana (Upa Purana) itself has been scripted in his name called Narasimha Purana. According to Bhagavatam, Narasimha is 15th avatar of Vishnu. I have already explained the concept of Vishnu in many articles.”

“Yes Uday, I remember reading few things like the infinite (Anantha) universal energy manifested as five elements (Panchabootha – represented by five faces of Anantha), the coiled spiral shape (serpent form) of galaxy milky way (ksheera sagara), the visible expands of sky in blue-colour….yes, such articles made me eager to read more about Hindu scriptures…” (Please read articles on Vishnu in my website)

“Narasimha is just another form of that energy exists inside the sub-atomic particles…”

“That’s a generalized statement. I expect specifics from you…”

“On story side, the purpose of Narasimha Avatar was to protect of his devotee Prahlad from his father Hiranyakashipu, who was an Asura as he didn’t follow Dharma.”


“To understand Narasimha Avatar, we need to know bit of science. What does Gold represent?”

“Wealth, ego…”

“Hiranya = gold, kashipu = cushion like cloth. Hiranyakashipu = clothed in gold. A person who is covered by ego. We know gold is a heavy metal and it is not soft like cushion. Gold is called a heavy metal because of its high density, which comes from the fact that each of its atoms is individually very heavy. But those atoms slide past each other relatively easily, which makes the metal soft and malleable. Gold is so soft, in fact, that one gram of it can be beaten into a sheet covering nearly a square meter. Ego, though appear as a heavy and huge shield for the self, is a result of malleable mind. Hiranyakasipu thought that as an Asura he is un-beatable (EGO). Narasimha killing Hiranyakashipu represents killing of ego…”

“Now that’s a good one…I understand that…”

“According to Vedic sages, God is everything and everything is God. Everything in this universe is made of up atoms and those atoms are made up of sub-atomic particles which have the same energy inside. Our ancestors called the energy and its consciousness as Brahmam. The concept of Vishnu is another manifestation of the Brahmam… Prahlad realized this simple Vedic truth and said – Vishnu is present everywhere.”

“It doesn’t say so in the story of Prahlad…”

“You need to go further inside to understand it. Hiranyakashipu, who doesn’t understand this universal truth of existence of energy everywhere, asks Prahlad: why is Vishnu hiding? That’s also a question from every rational human mind, right? We cannot see the energy inside the sub-atomic particle. But science says that the energy appears hiding there. Prahalad answered him saying that Vishnu is everywhere. The ignorance and arrogance of ego makes Hiranyakashipu asks: ‘Is he in this pillar?” to which Prahlad answered: ‘ ‘He is in an iron pillar and also in its rusts.’ (In many Puranas you can see slightly different versions). Angered at it, he draws his sword and cuts the pillar; Narasimha appears out of the broken pillar and kills him”

“So, you mean to say, it was the outcome of a harnessed atomic energy, probably the reactions inside its nucleus?”

“Could be – Vishnu is there in every particle in the universe. It is stated in the Puranas that a high voltage electric current accompanied by a giant flash of lightning, deafening roar, reverberating in all directions shook the entire cosmos. Everyone – including the Brahma and Shiva, Devas, Asuras, Sages, Saints, Human Beings, animals – trembled with fear. As the man-lion form of Narasimha exploded out of the pillar, everyone was wonder-struck.”

“Wow, that’s a great energy burst!”

“Wow really goes for the language too. See the unique beauty of Sanskrit language: Hiranyakasipu says ‘sthambe na drishyati’ (Na drishyati- not seen, sthambe –in the pillar). Prahlad replies ‘sthambena drishyati’ (sthambena- in the pillar itself, drishyati- is seen).”

“Yes, I know, Sanskrit is the most beautiful language human ever had hence you consider it as language of Gods…But why as Lion-Man? Can’t Vishnu manifest come as a human being instead?”

“Generally Avatars are of a single form. But Narasimha Avatar is of a dual form, Nara + Simha. Nara means man and Lion is an animal. Narasimha means combined form of a Lion and a Man. It was an instant Avatar, called as AavesaAvatar (no prior preparations were made). Narasimha is known by the epithet “Mriga-Sharira” in Sanskrit which translates to Animal-Man. This rare form which was neither man nor animal….”

“Yes, why lion-man? Why can’t be any other animal?”

“Lion, the king of animals hunts its target and kills it only when it is hungry and non-else and doesn’t store its food unlike other animals. Similarly in his Narasimha Avatar the purpose was only to kill the demon Hiranyakashipu to save his devotee and nothing else and there was no need to kill anybody else. The Avatar also ended with the killing of Hiranyakashipu”

“But, Uday, I am not fully satisfied with that explanation…”

“God can manipulate forms in the physical realm, and is therefore able to assume bodily forms and become immanent in the empirical world. Hindu scriptures say that human beings and animals are closely related in the sphere of creation. Among all the creatures, humans are considered to be the best, and among all the animals, the lion is most majestic. With their combined intelligence and ferocity, they are seen to be a very powerful entity in the phenomenal world.”

“But where does Narasimha shows intelligence? He just comes and kills with animal ferocity, right?”

“The intelligent way in which Narasimha overcame the boon of invincibility possessed by Hiranyakashipu is unparalleled in the history of earth. He had a boom that his death won’t happen either on earth or in space, fire or water, during day or night, inside or outside (of a home), by a human, animal or God, by weapon or any inanimate thing. Narasimha, neither man nor animal, killed Hiranyakashipu with his nails which are not a weapon and the timing was neither day time nor night, it was Pradosha (twilit) time. He killed on the elevated doorsteps of his palace (neither inside nor outside). Narasimha puts him on his lap before killing (neither earth nor in space).”

“Oh, everything strangely coincided. Uday, I have another question – what makes you worship Narasimha among all other Gods?”

“I worship all Gods as manifestation of divinity. For a devotee, I feel, Narasimha is the best bet. While all other avatars happened for a cause to establish Dharma in the world, Narasimha Avatar happened just for the devotion of his devotee. Once, the mission was completed, Lord disappeared!”

“Do others worship Narasimha as well?”

“In fact, amongst Avatāras Narasimha is most popular, next only to Rāma and Kṛiṣhṇa in popularity. Scriptures say Narsimha has more than seventy-four forms or state. However he is mostly worshiped in his nine major forms (Nava Narasimha). Traditionally we worship him in the ninth form as Lakshmi Narasimha, who is also known as Malola Narasimha or Prahala-varada Narasimha with Lakshmi on his lap and blessing Prahalada. Interestingly, Lakshmi Narasimha is Kula Daiva (clan god) of Sri Venkateswara!”

“Uday, I didn’t know all those things. There was so much to study about even this instant Avatar. It is mind-boggling!”

“With Narasimha there is no tomorrow, everything is instant. Put the switch on, the power is on. Narasimha wards off all kind of fear! He is a very powerful, precious avatar and is depicted as a great protector at the time of need. He has love and affection towards his Dharmic devotees, I believe, though he is ferocious towards Adharmics.”

“Uday, can you mention few books that explains the science and logic behind each God for the younger generation and rationalists? After reading your articles on Krishna, Rama, Shiva, Brahma etc, I felt I have to learn much of Hinduism.”
“Unfortunately, I don’t know if there are such books. That’s why I took the responsibility of explaining it. I am planning to bring out a book THE SECRET OF KRISHNA – The Truth behind Hindu Gods!”

Udaylal Pai
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