Narasimha, the Man-Lion
Narasimha is an amazing incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the supreme God of protection and sustenance. ‘Nara’ is a human being and ‘Simha’ is a lion, and ‘Nara-Simha’ is thus a Man-Lion. Lord Vishnu had to take this unbelievably strange form, for overcoming the mighty demon Hiranyakashipu, who was very well protected by a series of boons and for slaying him, in order to save the world and the people from his tyranny.
Narasimha Jayanthi is the day of advent of the Lord, which is believed to have happened at dusk on the Vaishak Shukla Paksha Chaturdashi, that is, the 14th day of the bright fortnight, in the month of Vishaka (April–May). Hence, Narasimha Jayanthi is celebrated with piety on that day.
Mythology of Narasimha Jayanthi
Hiranyakashipu was a ferocious demon. He had a strong animosity towards Vishnu, who had earlier slayed his brother Hiranyaksha and put an end to his cruelties. Hiranyakashipu did severe penance towards Lord Brahma and obtained from him some phenomenal boons, which made him almost invincible. Considering himself to be unconquerable, Hiranyakashipu let loose a reign of terror on the entire universe, inflicting untold atrocities on the living beings and mercilessly punishing anyone who uttered the name, Vishnu or Narayana. Reeling under the demon’s merciless assaults, people surrendered to Lord Vishnu seeking his mercy and intervention, and the Lord stepped in to save the harassed beings.
Hiranyakashipu was blessed with a son Prahalada, who turned out to be the staunchest devotee of Vishnu himself. This pious young prince virtually lived on the Lord’s sacred name, while all others were simply bowing to the demon’s commands. Hiranya could not digest his own son defying him openly and tried all his means to make the boy toe his line, but nothing helped. Exasperated, he tried even to kill him by various means but the divinely blessed youngster survived all the attempts. Firmly believing that it was none other than his great adversary Vishnu, who was instigating and protecting the young boy, the desperate Hiranya asked his son where exactly the Lord was and if he could be found in a pillar in his own palace. Prahalada replied in the affirmative and the furious Hiranya smashed his mace at the pillar with intense rage, to locate and finish his incredible foe.
Lo and behold! The pillar split open and the unbelievable man-lion emerged out of it. This spectacular manifestation simply grabbed the hapless Hiranyakashipu with his hands, dragged him to the palace entrance, laid him on his lap, tore his body with his sharp nails and killed the ruthless demon, at sunset time. Thus, this remarkable Narasimha put an end to the cruel despot who looked unassailable, without violating any of the amazing boons that he had obtained. He thus saved his devotee and also the entire world, from the tyrant’s unbearable atrocities.
Importance of Narasimha Jayanthi
Narasimha Jayanthi, the day of advent of the great Lord is regarded highly auspicious. Observing fasting and offering worship to the Lord on that day are believed to bestow people with a plethora of benefits.
These can protect devotees from all forms of illnesses, negativities and dangers, and provide them with good health, handsome wealth and prosperity, success in endeavors, victory in litigation, family harmony and welfare, spiritual progress, enlightenment and even, the ultimate liberation.
Astrological Significance of the Day
Swati is the star of this special day. This powerful celestial body carries in it the immense energy of the wind that is free and unbounded. It is thus, believed that this auspicious day can free people of restrictions and let them achieve their dreams. The star is also regarded as intellectually powerful, which can clear emotional blocks. People can thus utilize the day for offering prayers and seeking divine blessings for getting rid of all their negative qualities like arrogance, avarice, jealousy, hate, obstinacy etc., so that they can cleanse themselves thoroughly and blossom into noble human beings. This can clear impediments from the path of their progress and bestow them with both material success and spiritual advancement.
Narasimha Jayanthi — Observance
Narasimha Jayanthi is observed on the Vaishak Shukla Paksha Chaturdashi, with special prayers to the Lord and fasting.
People get up at Brahma muhurth, very early in the morning, take bath, wear fresh clothes. Install the images of Lord Narasimha and Goddess Lakshmi at homes, decorate them with flowers, light lamps, make offerings like fruits, jaggery, gram sprouts etc., chant Vishnu Sahasranama and sacred hymns in praise of Lord Narasimha, and read stories about the Avatar from sacred scriptures like Bhagavata Purana.
They also observe complete fast throughout the day, continuing it until next morning. Some do partial fasting too, by consuming fruits, milk and items not made of rice and grains. They also offer worship to the Lord at temples. Doing charity on the day is considered highly beneficial that can get for the devotees, immense divine blessings. As this incarnation is believed to have taken place at sunset time, special evening poojas are conducted for the Lord, on that day.