Lord Vishnu is the supreme God of protection and sustenance. It is he, who takes upon himself the responsibility of safeguarding the lives of people and ensuring their peaceful existence in the world. For achieving this end, the Lord himself incarnates on earth from time to time, to annihilate evil and to establish dharma, the ultimate righteousness. Narasimha is one such sacred Avatar of the Lord and is regarded as his 4th on earth. Narasimha is a unique form, with a human physique and a lion head. This Avatar was believed to have been taken during the Krita (Satya) Yuga, also known as the Golden Age.
As per legends, Narasimha appeared at dusk on the Vaishak Shukla Paksha Chaturdashi day, that is, the 14th day of the bright fortnight, in the month of Vishaka (April–May). This day of his advent is celebrated with fervor as Narasimha Jayanthi.
Narasimha, the unique Lord
‘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 outwitting 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.
Story of Narasimha
Hiranyakashipu, the son of sage Kashyap and his wife Diti, was a fearsome Asura. He developed a strong hostility towards Lord Vishnu, as he had killed his brother Hiranyaksha earlier and put an end to his cruelties. Hiranyakashipu did intense penance towards Lord Brahma and obtained from him many exceptional boons, as per which he cannot be killed - by the Devas, the Asuras, the humans or the animals; by any weapon; either during the day or in the night; either on the ground or in space; and either inside any structure or outside. Armed with this seemingly invincible armor of near immortality, Hiranyakashipu let loose a reign of terror on all the worlds, dethroning the Devas, committing untold atrocities on sages, saints and humans, and mercilessly punishing anyone who took the name, Vishnu or Narayana. In addition, the world began resonating with the chants ‘Om Hiranyaya Namaha’. Unable to withstand the demon’s assaults, people surrendered to Lord Vishnu seeking his mercy and intervention. The omniscient Lord then launched his grand mission of destroying the demon and saving the virtuous.
Hinranyakashipu was blessed with a son Prahalada, who turned out to be the most ardent devotee of none other than Lord Vishnu himself. This pious young prince virtually lived and thrived on taking the Lord’s sacred name and singing his glory right in Hiranya’s palace, while the world outside bowed to the Asura’s diktats. Hiranya could not tolerate his own son defying him openly and taking the name of his sworn enemy with great reverence, and tried by all means to make the boy change his mind and fall in line, but nothing helped. Exasperated, he tried even to kill him by various means, but nothing worked against that divinely blessed youngster. Firmly believing that it is none other than his great adversary Vishnu, who was instigating and protecting the young boy, Hiranya asked his son where is his Lord. Prahalada said that he is anywhere and everywhere. With intense rage, Hiranya smashed the pillar in the palace with his mace, to locate and challenge his incredible foe.
The pillar split open and out emerged the phenomenal figure of a man-lion, with eyes emitting fire. This spectacular manifestation simply grabbed the bewildered Hiranyakashipu with his hands, dragged him to the palace entrance, laid him on his lap, tore this body with his sharp nails and killed the ruthless demon, exactly in the evening time. Thus, this remarkable Narasimha put an end to a deadly demon who looked unassailable, without violating any of the amazing boons that he had obtained, and saved his devotee and the entire world, from his unbearable atrocities.
Narasimha Jayanthi Celebration
People wake up in Brahma Muhurth, very early in the morning on that day, take bath, wear clean clothes, install a picture or idol of Lord Narasimha along with his consort Goddess Maha Lakshmi at an appropriate place and make oblations like flowers, fruits, coconut, vermillion, kesar, rice, Ganga jal or plain water and sweets, preferably 5 numbers. Then they can chant with faith, sacred hymns like Narasimha Mantra using a rosary of Rudraksha beads. Devotees can also observe fast on that day and donate sesame seeds, clothes and even gold, to the needy.
It is believed that the benevolent Lord will shower his blessings on his devotees on the Narasimha Jayanthi day, clear all their problems and fulfill their honest desires.
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