May 16: Musings on Lord Narasimha’s Avatara

16 May

Sri Narayananji from Boston delivered the lecture.
The Lord takes innumerable avatars and out of all avatars, the Lord’s incarnation as Narasimha was indeed the supreme one. It is verily in this avatar that the Lord proves to be a Bhaktavatsala. In one of Sri Swamiji’s kirtan – ‘Parithavitha Parikshit’, the Lord came down as Lord Hari with the face of Hari [Hari Mukham]. The term ‘Hari’ refers to a lion. ‘Nrhariroopa’,’Narahariroopa’, ‘Narasimha Roopa’. ‘Hari Mugamai vanda bhaktavatsalanum neeye’, when underlining the greatness of Bhagavatham, the immediate thing that comes to one’s mind is verily Narasimha avatar only.

Just before Kunti’s stuti in the first canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, Uttara cried to the Lord – ‘Pahi Pahi Maha Yogin deva Deva Jagathpathe’, she called the Lord with special names. The Lord came down  “Updarya vachasthasya bhagawan bhaktavatsalaha”.

Listening to the Uttara’s cry, he was filled with compassion and came down as a Bhaktavatsala. In Narasimha Avatar, he came down as a Bhaktavatsala in a different form, with the face of a lion. Even in Krishna’s avatar, Narasimha Avatar’s references are seen. When Rukmini wrote a letter to Krishna, she requested him to come down as Narasimha. It is verily because, Narasimha Avatar was to protect Prahalada, his true devotee. During the Lord’s incarnation as Lord Krishna, he performed many divine plays and protected his devotees which was not very obvious to everyone unlike Narasimha Avatar. The Lord does incarnations for various reasons, and the sole purpose of Narasimha avatar was to protect his devotees [Bhaktavatsala]. Rukmini requested the Lord to come down as Narasimha and thus take her along with him. “Kalae narasimha naraloka manobhirama”.

It is said that Lord Narasimha has a close connection with Lord Shiva said and Pradosha is said to be auspicious to both Lord Shiva and Lord Narasimha. During the auspicious time of Pradosha, herds of people throng the Kattu Azhagiya Singar temple in Srirangam. Lord Shiva does destruction through anger – the tamasic quality, and Lord Narasimha came to Srirangam to vent out his anger. When Lord Narasimha slayed Hiranyakashipu and after blessing Prahalada immensely, his anger still didn’t subside. Even though the Devas and Prahlada sang praises on the Lord, he still wanted to vent out his anger and was searching for a forest and Thondaradippodi Azhwar beautifully admired the ambience of the forest in his pasuram:
vaNdina muralum sOlai
mayilinam Alum sOlai,
koNdalmE thaNavum sOlai
kuyilinam kOvum sOlai,
aNdarkONnamarum sOlai

Lord Narasimha came to Srirangam and pacified himself and later Lord Ranganatha came to Srirangam and it is believed that he gave the place to Lord Ranganatha. The Stala purana proclaims that the holy kshetra of Srirangam originally belonged to Lord Narasimha.

Narasimha avatar was primarily to shower the Lord’s grace on Prahalada and has no relation with Devas. Generally the Devas descend down during the Lord’s incarnation. During the Lord’s incarnation as Krishna, the Lord ordained all the Devas to descend down on the Earth in Brindavan in the garb of human beings and thus played with the Devas in Brindavan.
“Janishyatae tat priyartam sambhavanthu surastriyaha”

Inspite of the Lord’s request, Lord Brahma and Indra did not descend down and the Lord taught them a lesson which is seen as one of the divine plays of the Lord. In the Lord’s incarnation as Lord Rama, the Lord prostrated on seeing the Devas and requested them to bless him since the Lord came down in the semblance of a human being. In Vamana avatar, he wanted to be part of the Deva’s family and hence incarnated as the younger sibling of Lord Indra [Ongi ulagalanda utamanai per padi]. He incarnated as Hari to stupefy the Devas with an element of surprise and thus came down to protect Gajendra.

“Evam Gajendra upavarnitha nirvishesham
Brahmadayo vivida linga vidha bhi mAnaha
Naitae yadhopasasrupur nikhikatmakathvat
Tathrakhilamara mayo harair avirasith [Srimad Bhagavatam 8.3.30]

The phrase – ‘Vividha linga bidhabi manaha” connotes that Lord Shiva and all the Devas were in their respective form [vividha linga] to witness the Lord’s incarnation as Lord Hari.

Thondaradipodi Azhwar sings in his pasuram that the Devas couldn’t understand Lord Hari.
UmbarAl ariyaLaga oliyular vAnum annam
Sempulal unduvazhum mudhalai mel siri vandar

The Lord came down as Narasimha to allay the fear of the Devas. He came down to create fear in the mind of Hiranyakashipu and other Asuras. When one develops hatred against someone, the mind automatically develops fears. Insecurity of the mind is attributed due to fear which is against the original nature of the mind and soul which is verily love and compassion. When the mind goes against the nature of love, it starts feeling insecure and manifestation of insecurity is fear.
Sage Narada in seventh canto of Srimad Bhagavatam says one can reach the Lord through hatred – “Snehath Kamath bhayath dweshath”

Hiranyakashipu developed hatred against the Lord. When the Lord’s incarnation as Narasimha happened his hatred against the Lord turned into fear.
The Lord provoked him and increased his fear and at the epitome of fear, he consumed Hiranyakashipu. He created a fear in the Asuras. Everyone feared the incarnation of Lord Narasimha except Prahalada.

While the Lord’s incarnation was to create fear in Asuras, the Lord also wanted to provoke fear in the Devas which is not so obvious when sage Narada expounded on Narasimha Avatar. The Lord later vanquished the fear in the Devas as well. He didn’t reveal it to anyone. Sage Narada learnt from his father, Lord Brahma that the Lord incarnated as Narasimha to create fear in the Devas and also destroy it later when he expounded on Srimad Bhagavatam to Sage Narada.
trai-vishTaporu-bhayaha sa nrsimha-rUpam
krutvA bhramad-bhrukuTi-damshTra-karAla-vaktram
daityendram Asu gadayAbhipatantam ArAd
Urau nipAtya vidadAra nakhaih sphurantam [Srimad Bhagavatham 2.7.14]
The Lord’s anger is depicted in the eyebrows which is clearly evident in the exposition of the Virat Purusha of the Lord, akin to how Surya and Chandra are verily the eyes and mind of the Lord, the DigDevathas are the Lord’s ears, the Ashwini Kumaras are the Lord’s nose and the eyebrows represent the Lord’s anger. The Lord tweezed his eyebrows to show his anger and so he purposely took the face of a lion, since the face of a lion depicted his anger perfectly. When Lord Brahma expounded on Narasimha Avatar, the incarnation happened on the fourteenth day, Narasimha Chaturdashi and hence it is the Lord’s fourteenth incarnation. Pradosha kalam is when Thrayodashi happens in the evening and Chaturdashi and during the Pradosha Kala is when the Lord’s incarnation as Nrisimha happened. The Lord was waiting for a moment to crush Hiranyakashipu and slayed him very quickly. Lord Brahama compares this to Varaha avatar, where the Lord did not kill Hiranyaksha very quickly. The Lord carried his club [Gada] with him and hit Hiranyakashipu with it and then placed him on his laps and tore him apart with his hand finger nails [karajaha].
Jayadevar beautifully portrays the Lord’s hand as a lotus and fondly admires the nails that grew out of the lotus in his Ashtapadi and says that the Lord cut asunder Hiranyakashipu who was akin to a bee- “daLitha hiraNyakasipu thanu brungam”.
The Lord used his toe nails to let Ganga flow through them in Vamana Avatar – “padanakha neerajanitha jana pAvana”

The Lord was seething in anger and no one was able to quench his anger. Prahalada then went and sat on his lap and started singing praises on the Lord to see if the Lord would calm down but were futile efforts. When Prahlada sang the glory of his SadGuru the Lord was immediately pleased –
“Yevam janam nipathiotham prabhavAhi koOpe,
KAmabhi kAmamanu ya prapathan prasangAth,
KruthwA AthmasAth surarshinA bhagwan gruhEtha,
Soham kadham nu visruje thava bruthya sevAm” [Srimad Bhagavatam 7.9.28]

One should always sing the divine glories of Sadguru in the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord. When in the presence of a Guru, one should sing the glories of the Lord. At that very moment, the Lord’s anger instantly subsided. Prahalda sings the glories of his Guru and he brought out the pitiable state of the people citing him as an example [NaichanusandhAnam]. He degraded himself in bringing out the greatness of something else. Prahlada said that he was in a bottomless pit called Samsara and with the compassion of his Guru, Sage Narada, he was attracted to him. Prahalada extolled the greatness of the Guru and the Lord’s anger was abated immediately.

jnAnam tad etath amalam duravApam Aha nArAyaNa narasakhaha kila nAradAya
ekAntinAm bhagavata tad akincanAnAm pAda aravinda rajasA Apluta dehinAm syAt [Srimad Bhagavatam 7.6.27]

When Prahalada instructed the Asura kids he extolled the glories of Sadguru. He instructed them that it is extremely difficult to get pure and pristine knowledge and dispassion [Vairagyam] and that it was the very advice given to Sage Narada by the Lord himself. Having said that, Prahalada exhorted them to surrender unto the holy feet of a realized soul which is also not very easy and so he says, surrender unto the dust from the holy feet of Mahatmas and cover the entire body with that dust which is sure to bestow one with knowledge and dispassion. The reason being when one is blessed with bhakti, both Jnana and Vairagya follow suit.

It is said that by listening to the stories of the Lord can melt even a hardest of the rocks, however the dust from the holy feet of a Mahatma, transformed a stone into a women Ahalya as seen in Ramayana. Mahaperiva says by placing a flower on a Padhuka is verily protection [Padhukapu].
Vedanta Desikar composed around 40 verses glorifying the dust from the Padukas of Mahatmas. He says that the dust has so much of potency and power that created atoms to produce a human form. He goes one step and beyond and says that dust from the feet of Mahatmas can purify one and all akin to alum. Alum is a stone and can be made into dust and the moment Alum is put into dirty water, it instantly purifies the water inspite of being dust. Just like Alum, the dust from the holy feet of Mahatmas can cleanse all the dirt in human beings.
The Lord is beyond Sattvam and he is the truth and the Pdukas of the Lord are to protect the [sath] [truth] from the dust [rajas]. But the same dust when it falls on human beings, it removes the rajas and tamas qualities and makes it all Sattvam. Desikar at the end of his composition requested the dust from the holy feet of his Guru to be placed on his body to alleviate the pain of Samsara at the time of death.

There was one incident that took place in the recent past in the life-history of Odacheri Swamigal who was a devotee of Mahaperiva. A small boy once met in an accident and was in a critical state. The dust from the holy feet of Odacheri Swamigal was applied and the boy was instantly cured and came back to normal life. Such is the glory of the dust from the holy feet of the Mahatmas.

The satsang ended with prayers and Namasankirtan.



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