Narasimha: Origins of India’s Lion God
Narasimha, the part-lion, part-man deity is considered to be one of the ten avatars or incarnations of Lord Vishnu. But ever wondered why is it that the most important temples of Narasimha are located in the Telangana – Andhra Pradesh region? The story of the evolution of Narasimha worship in India, reveals some fascinating insights into this unique deity, and where he came from.
The story of Narasimha is found in a range of Puranas such as the ‘Matsya Purana’ , ‘Padma Purana’ and ‘Harivamsa’. The story goes that a demon King named Hiranyakasipu, performed tapas or penance for 11,000 years and asked for a boon from Lord Brahma – it was for virtual immortality, almost.He asked that he should not meet his end at the hands of either man or animal, neither by any weapon, nor during the day or night. Armed with this boon, and feeling invincible, it is said that Hiranyakasipu went on a rampage to harass the gods. To end this, Lord Vishnu took the avatar of Narasimha, the part-lion, part-man diety and killed Hiranyakasipu with his sharp nails. There are 17 different versions of this story, and interestingly the story of Prahlada, the Vishnu worshipping son of Hiranyakasipu and the appearance of Narasimha out of a pillar, do not appear in early versions of the story.