Lord Narasimha – Half Lion and half Human avatar of Lord Vishnu
It Is mentioned in Hindu scriptures that Lord Vishnu is the preserver of this Universe. Time and again he descends from his planet Vaikunta to help other planets from mass destruction. On our planet as well he has incarnated several times to solve different problems. Out of these several incarnations,10 of his avatars are the most popular. This is why he is known as Dashavatara. In our previous posts we have known about some of his avatars like Rama, Varaha, and Matsya. Lord Narasimha was the 4th Vishnu Avatar. Like the other avatars even he came to Earth with the purpose of ending the prevailing demonic force. The world was suffering due to the atrocities caused by demon Hirankashipu. This was during the period of Sat Yuga. There were two demon brothers Hiranyaksha and Hiranashipu. Both the demons were devotees of Lord Brahma. Demon Hiranyaksha after gaining boon from Brahma created havoc on Earth. After being blessed by Brahma he became invincible. He even moved Earth into the planet of hell. This is when Lord Vishnu in his Varaha avatar killed him.
Hiranyaksha’s brother Hirankashipu was enraged at his brother’s demise. He swore to take revenge and pledged to wipe off Vishnu’s name from Earth. He decided to undergo a strict penance to please Brahma. He left his kingdom and went into the forests for meditation. Meanwhile Lord Indra decided to attack the demons. He knew that their king Hirankashipu had settled in the forests and hence considered this to the right moment as the demon clan would be weak without their leader. Indra attacked Hirankashipu’s kingdom. He also held Hirankashipu’s wife Kayadhu as a hostage. This is when Narad muni intervened and demanded Indra to release Kayadhu as she was an innocent woman. Indra released her. She was gratified with Narad’s help. She requested Narad to let her stay in his ashram as she did not have any other place to go. She wanted to serve Narad as a loving daughter. Narad Muni agreed and let her stay in his ashram. Kayadhu was pregnant with Hiranashipu’s child during that time. During this time Narad used to tell stories about Lord Vishnu. She grew very fond of Lord Vishnu because of this. Even the child in her womb could listen to these stories. This child was Prahalad who grew up to be the biggest Vishnu devotee on Earth.
Meanwhile Lord Brahma was pleased with Hirankashipu’s worship and hence he decided to visit the demon. Demon Hirankashipu asked Brahma to bless him with the boon of immortality. When Lord Brahma said that it was not possible for him to grant the same as anyone who was born in the physical realm had to die. He then asked Lord Brahma to grant him a boon that would allow no man, god, or animal created by Brahma to kill him. Also, nobody could kill him at day or night, and no one could kill him in heaven or on earth. Also, no can could kill him with a weapon, or kill him either inside or outside his house. Brahma granted his wish. This made Hirankashipu the most powerful demon of this Universe. Hirankashipu returned to his kingdom and got to know of Indra’s attack. Enraged due to this he attacked the planet of Heaven and defeated all the Gods. He now became the ruler of Heaven as well.
He found his wife Kayadhu and his son and got them back to his kingdom. He declared himself as the Supreme God and demanded that going forward everyone on Earth should only worship him. Anyone not worshipping Hirankashipu was sentenced to death. The whole world was helpless and wanted to be freed from his clutches. Hirankashipu’s son Prahalad did not agree to his father’s demand. He was the biggest Vishnu devotee and not even his father could take him away from Lord Vishnu.
Hirankashipu was furious. His own son betrayed him and hence he felt humiliated. He forced Prahalad to stop worshipping Vishnu but did not succeed. He was so furious that now he wanted to kill Prahalad. He ordered his guards to kill Prahalad. However the guards failed in harming him. With the blessings of Lord Vishnu, Prahalad remained unharmed every time he was attacked.
Hirankashipu’s demon sister Holika was called for assistance. Holika was immune to fire. Hence Hirankashipu asked her to make Prahalad sit on her lap and burn him to death. However when both of them sat in the fire, it was Holika who was burnt to death, and Prahalad was saved again. The festival and Holi and Holika Dahan are celebrated in India to commemorate the death of Prahalad's wicked aunt.
Hirankashipu’s anger had crossed all limits by now. He dragged Prahalad into his court and tied him to a pillar. Hirankasipu mocked at Prahalad and asked him to call Vishnu for help. Prahalad told him that he could feel Vishnu everywhere. He said that even in this pillar to which he was tied Vishnu was present. Hirankashipu kicked the pillar in rage. This is when Vishnu in the form of Narasimha (half Lion and half Human) emerged out of the pillar. He dragged Hirankashipu to the threshold of the door which was neither inside and nor outside Hirankashipu’s house. He put him on his lap which was neither sky nor earth. He ripped off his chest using his claws during twilight. This way all the conditions stopping his death were overcome. Narasimha killed Hirankashipu and the rest of his guards hence saving Prahalad.
Lord Narasimha after killing Hirankashipu was still fuming with rage. His anger became uncontrollable and he was on the brink of destroying the whole Universe. Same as Goddess Kali he went out of control and started destroying everything that came in front of him. Prahalad tried to pacify the Lord but failed. The Gods trembled looking at Vishnu’s rage. The Gods hurried to Lord Shiva for help. This is when Lord Shiva himself took an avatar as Sharabh to pacify Narasimha. The Sharabh avatar was similar to that of Narasimha. It was neither human nor animal.
Sharabh encountered Narasimha and battled with him for a few days. Narasimha being exhausted finally gave up to Sharabh’s strength. This is when he calmed down and came back to his original form of Narayan. Lord Shiva also came back to his original form. He then told Vishnu that all this was done to pacify him down and make him realize his true nature. This is how the tale of destruction ended and balance was restored on Earth.
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