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Narasimha Avataara - The Man-Lion Incarnation of Vishnu
Beliefs and Legends >> Vishnu

This legend narrates the story of Narasimha - the man lion incarnation of Vishnu where he demonstrated his omnipresence and destroyed the demon Hiranyakashipu.

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Hiranyakashipu the demon king, was blessed with immense powers by virtue of his penance to Bhrama. Endowed with a boon that neither man, nor beast nor weapon could kill him; nor would he die indoors or outdoors, he assumed total invincibility and conquered the earth and the nether worlds. Intoxicated by his victory, he declared himself as the lord of the universe, and directed his subjects to worship none other than himself.

The only one of his subjects to defy his orders was his own son Prahlada, a staunch devotee of Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu tried several means to convince his son, and then to kill him indirectly, and none worked. Finally he challenged him to show him Narayana, whom he worshipped so fervently. Prahlada insisted that Vishnu was omnipresent and that there was no need to show him. An enraged Hiranyakashipu broke open a pillar in front of him, to disprove his son's assertion, and out of this pillar sprang out Narasimha, the man-lion form of Vishnu, who killed him on his doorstep, placing him on his lap.

Narasimha is hailed as one of the 10 avataras of Vishnu. The Nava Narasimha shrine at Ahobilam in Andhra Pradesh, enshrines nine forms of Narasimha. Other major temples enshrining Narasimha include Tiruvaali near Chidambaram, Tiruvelukkai in Kanchipuram, Tiruneermalai near Chennai, and Sholingur near Chennai all in Tamilnadu. The hill temple of Simhachalam near Vishakapatnam also enshrines Narasimha.

See Also All about Shiva