Lord Narasimha: The Protector of the Devotees

Explore the purpose and activities of the half-lion, half-man incarnation of the Supreme Lord

The Supreme Lord Krishna incarnates in various forms to deliver the pious, vanquishes the miscreants, and re-establishes the religious principles as stated in the Bhagavad-gita (4.8). One of the Lord’s unique incarnations was that of Lord Narasimha, who appeared to vanquish the powerful demon Hiranyakashipu and protect His celebrated devotee, Prahlada. 

Jaya and Vijaya Cursed by the Four Kumaras

jaya vijaya

The four great sages named Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, and Sanatkumara visited Vaikuntha, the spiritual abode of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, through mystic yoga. Vaikuntha has seven gates, and the sages were eager to see their beloved master, Lord Hari, so they passed through the first six gates without any hindrance. When they tried to pass through the seventh gate, they encountered some difficulties; Jaya and Vijaya, the two main doorkeepers, blocked the way with their staff and prevented them from entering.

This act of the doorkeepers offended the sages, and they concluded that Jaya and Vijaya were unworthy of serving the Lord in Vaikuntha since they had failed to show them the due respect. As a result, the sages cursed Jaya and Vijaya to be born in the material world. The doorkeepers felt remorseful for their mistake.

Birth of Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu

Upon witnessing the conduct of His own servants towards the sages, the Supreme Lord Vishnu appeared with His associates. The sages were overjoyed to behold the Lord’s resplendent form and offered their heartfelt prayers. They humbly beseeched the Lord to impose any punishment on them for their inadvertent cursing of His faultless servants. 

Pleased with their prayers, the Lord informed them that He authorised the punishment given by the sages. The doorkeepers, Jaya and Vijaya, would be born into a demonic family, and they would render their service to Him through mental concentration intensified by anger. He also confirmed that they would soon return to Vaikuntha. Thus, Jaya and Vijaya were born as Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu, the twin sons of Sage Kashyapa and Diti in this material world.

Hiranyaksha Engages in Battle with the Supreme Lord

boar incarnation

Hiranyaksha had gained so much power that he could conquer all three worlds. Everyone would flee from his path wherever he sought a worthy combatant. Eventually, he challenged Varuna, the lord of aquatic creatures and guardian of the lower regions of the universe, to a fight. However, Varuna directed him to Lord Varaha, the boar incarnation of the Supreme Lord Vishnu. 

Hiranyaksha then went to the ocean’s depths, where he found Lord Varaha bearing the earth on the ends of His tusks. While the demon began to hurl insults at the Lord, Lord Varaha rose from the water, placed the earth on the surface, and prepared to fight. A fierce battle took place between the two, resulting in Hiranyaksha’s death at the hands of Lord Varaha. 

After losing his brother, Hiranyakashipu was devastated and wanted revenge. He began undertaking rigorous austerities at Mandara Mountain, hoping to obtain immortality.

Hiranyakashipu, the King of Demons 

When Lord Brahma appeared before Hiranyakashipu to grant him a boon, he asked for immortality. Since even Brahma was not immortal, how could he grant immortality to someone? So, Brahma agreed to give him any benediction other than immortality. Subsequently, the demon asked Brahma that he should not be killed by a human being or an animal, a demigod or any other entity, living or non-living. Further, he prayed that he should not be killed within or outside a residence, either in the daytime or night, on the land or in the sky, or by any weapons. Additionally, he asked for all the mystic powers and supremacy over the entire universe.

With the special boon from Lord Brahma, the demon believed he had become immortal. He conquered all directions, established his supremacy, and brought everyone under his control. He became arrogant with his invincible powers, transgressed Vedic regulations, and terrorised all beings in the universe, causing them great fear and distress.

Narada Muni’s Divine Counsel: Safeguarding Kayadhu and her Child

narada muni stops indra from kidnapping kayadhu

When Hiranyakashipu went to Mandarachala to practice severe austerities, his wife Kayadhu was pregnant. The demigods, led by Indra, attacked the demons and captured Kayadhu. They intended to kill the baby as soon as it was born, thinking that another demon was about to be born. In this dire situation, the divine sage Narada Muni, known for his compassion and wisdom, intervened. He stopped Indra and told him to release Kayadhu, revealing that the child in her womb was not a demon but a great devotee.

Narada Muni took Kayadhu to his hermitage and instructed her in devotional service. The unborn child in Kayadhu’s womb attentively listened to and retained these teachings throughout his life.

Hiranyakashipu Tortures His Son, Prahlada

hiranyakashipu threatens prahlada

The son of Hiranyakashipu was named Prahlada; he possessed all saintly attributes and was an exalted devotee of the Lord. For his education, Hiranyakashipu entrusted Prahlada to Chanda and Amarka, the two sons of Shukracharya. They endeavoured to teach him about politics, economics, and other worldly subjects, but Prahlada was indifferent to such lessons. His mind was always focused on meditating on the Supreme Lord. When Hiranyakashipu discovered this, he became extremely furious since he was hostile to Lord Vishnu, who had killed his brother. He reprimanded the teachers for instructing the child about Vishnu-bhakti. However, when their innocence was proven, he made up his mind to kill Prahlada.

The demoniac king’s messengers attempted to kill the child in various cruel ways, such as striking him with deadly weapons, putting him under the feet of elephants, subjecting him to hellish conditions, and throwing him from a mountaintop, but none of these attempts were successful. Prahlada remained unharmed since the Supreme Lord was always present to protect him.

Prahlada’s Classmates Become Devotees 

prahlada maharaja preaches to school mates

Despite the best efforts of his teachers, Chanda and Amarka, Prahlada refused to accept their teachings. Instead, he began to preach about Krishna consciousness in the school while the teachers were absent from the classroom. Prahlada’s unwavering devotion to Krishna and his charismatic personality made him a powerful influence on his classmates. His association and instructions were so effective that even his classmates, who were the sons of demons, became devotees like him. 

The Appearance of Lord Narasimha 

Learning everything about Prahlada from his teachers, Hiranyakashipu became increasingly angry and agitated. He called Prahlada to him and claimed to be greater than Lord Vishnu. However, Prahlada responded by glorifying the Lord and saying that the Lord is all-pervading, that no one is greater than or equal to Him and that everyone is under His control.  

Hiranyakashipu was enraged by Prahlada’s reply. He asked Prahlada whether his God existed in the pillars of the palace. When Prahlada answered affirmatively, Hiranyakashipu forcefully struck a pillar and shattered it into pieces. There was a tumultuous sound, and from inside the pillar, the Supreme Lord Hari appeared in His wonderful half-man, half-lion form as Narasimha.

Lord Narasimha, the Protector of the Devotees 

Lord Narasimha

The Lord appeared in a half-man, half-lion form, which is neither a human being nor an animal. He fought with Hiranyakashipu, and when the evening approached, the Lord threw the demon on His lap and killed him by piercing his abdomen with His sharp nails. Hiranyakashipu was killed in the evening (neither day nor night), in the doorway of the assembly hall (neither inside nor outside), and neither on the land nor in the sky. Furthermore, the Lord did not use any weapon. 

Thus, the Lord easily killed Hiranyakashipu and protected His devotee Prahlada without violating any of the benedictions awarded by Lord Brahma to the demon.

The Transformative Power of Lord Narasimha’s Mercy

The appearance of Lord Narasimha was not a singular event for Prahlada but a universal manifestation for all of human society. The formidable form of Lord Narasimha may appear terrifying to those who are not devotees, but to His followers, He is just as loving as in His other forms. Only through the transformative power of the Lord’s mercy can the distressing state of living entities in this material world be rectified. Those who seek refuge in the Lord’s lotus feet can find liberation from the onslaught of material nature. Fear is a product of false ego, and the ultimate aspiration of every living entity is to become a servant of the Lord.

Offer your seva to Sri Prahlada Narasimha and receive His supreme protection.

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Related Links: Narasimha Jayanti | Narasimha Pranama | Narasimha Ashtottara | History of Chandan Yatra 

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