Glory of Narasimha

Tree of Knowledge

By Niranjana Karthigairajan

On this Narasimha jeyanthi, let’s understand the philosophical implication of His incarnation. As stated in the sloka, “ugram veeram maha vishnum jvalantam sarvato mukham,” Narasimha assumes varied forms as Ugra Narasimha, Veera Narasimha, and Yoga Narasimha.

The paradoxical half-man and half-lion form of Lord Vishnu emphasizes the importance of co-existing with the dualities and differences one faces in life. For instance, situations like actual v/s expected skills at the workplace, disposable income v/s mounting expenditure, and differences of opinion in a family. In such circumstances, one has to accept things as they come without any lament, even as one strives against all odds, much like the surfers ride on the waves and make the hurdles a stepping-stone to go higher. Worshiping Lord Narasimha and reciting His slokas relieves us from the stresses of such demanding circumstances.

Namazhwar (one of the twelve Tamil-poet saints of Tamil Nadu, India) in one of his hymns (Thiruvaimozhi 2.8.9) “Iraniyan thoonpudaipa * Angu appozhuthe avan viyath thondriya en singappiraan” hails the greatness of Narasimha as how the furious Lord was unfearful for Prahlada, while even Brahma was terrified. Thus fear for Him emanates only if we seek Him for mere worldly attainments. True devotion towards the Lord removes fear.

The Lord is patient when He is attacked but He can’t tolerate when His bhakthas are tortured. In this article, we shall look at the three Simhams.


Hriyanyakashipu was chiding Lord Narayana for thousands of years. But the Lord appeared ferociously in the form of Narasimha only when His bhaktha Prahlada was assaulted. Moreover, when Hriyanyakashipu pointed out a pillar and asked Prahlada if Narayana is present in it, Prahlada asserted that Narayana is omnipresent. Narasimha came from the very same pillar – to make Prahlada’s words come true.

Raghava simham

In Ramayana yuddhakanda, there was a steady exchange of arrows between Rama and Ravana. At the moment when Ravana was about to shoot an arrow at Hanuman, Rama got furious and immediately slayed Ravana in his chariot. Such is the love for the Lord towards His devotees.

Yadava simham

In Mahabharatha, Krishna was certain to end the Kurukshetra war in two days and had vowed that He wouldn’t pick up any arms. On the other hand, Bheeshma pledged that he would make Krishna break his vow.

The battle continued for days, unhurried, until Bheeshma aimed an arrow to strike Arjuna. On seeing this, ferocious Krishna got down from His chariot, took His Sudarshana chakra to annihilate Bheeshma (and broke his vow).

Bheeshma prostrated and said to Krishna, “Oh Lord, if you are approaching me as Lord Krishna, then you may take my life, but if you are challenging me as a warrior then I will fight until my last breath.” Then Arjuna intervened and stopped Krishna from making his vow go wrong (Arjuna vowed that Krishna won’t take arms during the war ). Again, the Lord proved that He is bound to His devotees.

When Krishna is confronted by His divine qualities of satyavaakyan (truth-speaking) and aashritha vatsalan (humble to His devotees), the later takes the precedence in front of His devotees. He even goes to an extent of giving up His own vow in order to fulfil that of His devotees. Reflecting on this, Andal (only female Azhwar among the 12 Azhwar saints ) hails Lord Krishna as simham.

Heart-melting Hymns on Narasimha

Narasimha might sound to us a ferocious incarnation of Narayana, but it is not so for the azhwars. In Periazhwar Thirumozhi, Periazhwar takes up the emotions of mother Yasodha and on seeing baby Krishna’s tiny nails in those little fingers , wonders whether those tiny nails tore apart the chest of Hiranyakashipu?

And looking at the thighs of baby Krishna she says that she could see the mark of Hiranyakashipu being slayed on His thighs.

In Thiruvaimozhi, Namzhwar admires the beauty of Narasimha, surprisingly! Such is the compassion towards Sriman Narayana in spite of His ferocious nature as Lord Narasimha.

Opportunity to correct mistakes

Did you know that Narasimha laid Hiranyakashipu on His thighs and rubbed his chest with His hands before slaying him ? The reason being, to check whether Hiranyakashipu’s heart has changed at least in the last moment and whether he felt guilty of his misdeeds.

The Lord wanted to give him a chance and sought for any signs of the following regrets in Hiranyakashipu’s mind :

  1. Out of ignorance – Whether Hiranyakashipu felt wrong for saying Narayana doesn’t exist even after he appeared before him.
  2. Out of doubt – Whether he thought that though being a mighty asura, he couldn’t kill Prahlada and so there must be something that protects him.
  3. Out of fear – After looking at the ferocious nature of the Narasimha.
  4. Out of guilt – Of not heeding Prahlada’s advice.
  5. Out of helplessness – Even for Ravana, Rama said “Go now, and come tomorrow” in the battlefield. But Hiranyakashipu didn’t even have any other way out as he lay in the lap of Narasimha.
  6. Out of realisation – That in spite of his entire boon that he must be indestructible by man or animals or by any weapons, the Lord had defied everything and appeared in a half-man and half-lion form.

The overall message here is that the Lord gives every one of us an opportunity to correct our mistakes. As we celebrate Narasimha jeyanthi let’s take oath to rectify our bad habits or deeds and surrender ourselves unto His lotus feet.

* Published in print edition on 25 May 2021

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