210px-Lord narasimha rock statue backyard simhachalam temple


Narasimha, the lion, is a form of Vishnu, the fourth of his major avatars. In his previous avatar as Varaha, Vishnu killed the demon Hiranyaksha.

Death of Hiranyakashipu

220px-Narasimha LACMA

Narasimha kills Hiranyakashipu whilst Prahlada and his mother watch

The younger brother of Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakashipu wanted revenge on Vishnu and his followers. He undertook many years of austere penance to take revenge on Vishnu: Brahma thus offers the demon a boon and Hiranyakashipu asks for immortality. Brahma tells him this is not possible, but that he could bind the death of Hiranyakashipu with conditions. Hiranyakashipu agreed.

Thus he received invulnerability unless certain conditions were met; he could not be killed by any living thing created by Brahma, the creator god, he could not be killed inside or outside any residence,during the day or night and in the ground or sky. He could not be harmed by any human, animal, weapon, enitites living and non-living, demigod, demon or Naga. He could not be harmed on a battlefield and gained sole lordship over all the living entities and presiding deities.

Hiranykashipu asks his son Prahlada who the master of the universe is. Prahlada responds by saying Vishnu is omnipotent and omnipresent. Hiranyakashipu asks if Vishnu is in a pillar. Prahlada says "He was, He is and He will be". In anger, Hiranyakashipu smashes the pillar with a mace. Vishnu, as Narasimha, part god and part animal, emerges from the pillar and attacks Hiranyakashipu at twilight (neither day nor night) on the threshold of a courtyard (neither indoors nor out), and puts the demon on his lap (neither earth nor space).He disembowels and kills the demon using his nails (neither animate nor inanimate).

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