Sarva Vighna Vinashayak – Lord Narasimha Dev

Narasimha chaturdashi is the appearance day of Lord Narasimha. This ferocious yet beautiful, half-man half-lion incarnation of Lord Krishna, manifested from a pillar to protect his devotee Prahlad. It was in sat yuga, that this lila of the appearance of Lord Narasimha and annihilation of the demoniac king Hiranyakasipu took place. The place where this actually happened is located in the hill forests of the eastern ghats of Andhra Pradesh. Here there is the temple – Ahobilam, where even today one can see ugrastambha, the pillar from which the Lord had appeared.

We all have approached Lord Narasimha some time or other to seek his protection. Let us know more about Lord Narasimha so that we are attracted to him with humility, and can seek his shelter and mercy.


Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakasipu

These were the two demoniac sons of Diti and Kashyapa. They were actually the incarnation of Jaya and Vijaya the door-keepers of Vishnuloka (Vaikuntha). When the four Kumaras were denied entry into Vishnuloka by Jaya and Vijaya, they (four Kumaras) cursed Jaya and Vijaya to be born in the mortal world as asuras

Hiranyaksa was the elder brother of Hiranyakasipu. He performed intense austerities and became very powerful. He troubled the devatas and inundated the earth. Later Varaha dev, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the form of a boar, killed Hiranyaksa and saved mother earth.

Hiranyakasipu, the name literally means ‘’soft bed’’ as he always remained absorbed in sense gratification and wealth. He wanted to become powerful so that he could avenge Lord Vishnu for killing his brother Hiranyaksa. In order to please Lord Brahma and receive boons from him, he undertook severe austerities for ten thousand years. This pleased Brahmaji, who granted Hiranyakasipu extraordinary powers. With these powers, Hiranyakasipu considered himself immortal. He defeated the demigods, stopped the worship of Lord Vishnu and destroyed all places of worship of the Lord. Instead he wanted glorification for himself.


Our true enemies

Hiranyakasipu personified demoniac tendencies like lust, greed, envy, pride, anger, illusion. Most of us have within us these qualities which are our true enemies and are hurdles in our path to connect with the Lord (bhakti). These qualities are also called anarthas as they diminish or depreciate the value of a person. Greed and envy are often the cause of enmity and break-up in relationships. In the Mahabharata, Dhritarastra was blinded with attachment and affection for his son Duryodhana. As a result, he became envious towards the Pandavas and lusty for the throne of Hastinapur. The outcome was the Mahabharat war. Similarly, we also see in Ramayana, how Ravana had lusty desires for mother Sita which resulted in the battle at Lanka. Hence, we see that uncontrolled senses and lust can result in ruination and destruction. The Lord says in the Gita that lust and anger, born out of the mode of passion is later transformed into wrath, the all-devouring sinful enemy of the world.




kāma eṣa krodha eṣa
mahāśano mahā-pāpmā
viddhy enam iha vairiṇam


[Bhagavad Gita 3.37]



Hence, we must try to control our senses and our lusty desires. This is possible when we become spiritually inclined, read sastras and with the help of guru develop spiritual intelligence. We then move from confusion to clarity.


Prahlad - the personification of devotion and bhakti

Prahlad the five-year old son of Hiranyakasipu, was a great devotee of Lord Visnu and he personified bhakti and devotion. He always remained immersed in thoughts of Krishna, and so was free from material desires and disinterested in anything material.

viṣayā vinivartante
nirāhārasya dehinaḥ
rasa-varjaṁ raso ’py asya
paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate


[Bhagavad Gita 2.59]

The Gita says that when one develops attraction for the name and beauty of the supreme Lord, he automatically loses taste for mundane things. Prahlad was blessed with the mercy of Narada Muni even before he was born. When he was in the womb of his mother, he had heard Narada Muni give instructions on spiritual knowledge to his mother and he firmly believed in these teachings. Prahlad was fully devoted and surrendered to the Lord. So, despite facing all possible impediments and difficulties in his worship, little Prahlad remained undeterred. He escaped every attempt made by his father to kill him, as he was under the Lord’s protection. The Gita says; ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham [Bg 4.11] Lord Krishna reciprocates with His devotees according to how we approach Him and surrender to Him. Prahlad approached the Lord with faith and determination, and always remembered the Lord. He engaged in devotional service by constant smaranam of Lord Krishna.

satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ
yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ
namasyantaś ca māṁ bhaktyā
nitya-yuktā upāsate

Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion

[Bhagavad Gita 9.14]

Krishna loves His devotees and reciprocates with them. The Gita says, for those who have un-deviated, pure faith in the Lord, Krishna promises to preserve what they have and supply what they lack. As Prahlad was totally surrendered and dependent on the Lord, he received the Lord’s protection. Similarly, Krishna reciprocated with Sudama, His childhood friend. In exchange for a handful of chipped rice, Krishna gave him a palatial home.

ananyāś cintayanto māṁ
ye janāḥ paryupāsate
teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ
yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham

But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form – to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.

[Bhagavad Gita 9.22]


Hiranyakashipu tries to kill Prahlad

Hiranyakasipu tried his best to stop Prahlad from worshiping Lord Visnu. He tortured Prahlad in all possible ways, and made several attempts on his life. He used sharp weapons, threw Prahlad into engulfing flames of fire, threw him off high mountains into the ocean, cast Prahlad into a field with deadly serpents. However, due to the Lord’s mercy, Hiranyakasipu was unsuccessful each time and Prahlad remained calm and undisturbed. Due to his absolute dependence on the Lord’s shelter, Prahlad always remained safe under Krishna’s protection.


Lord Narasimha appears from the pillar to honor the words of his devotee

Prahlad was a pure devotee. He had strong, unwavering faith in the Lord’s omnipresence and believed that the Lord pervades everything. So, when Hiranyakasipu angrily asked him if the Lord existed in the pillar of the assembly hall, Prahlad answered in the affirmative. Hiranyakasipu then struck his fist against the pillar. With a loud thunderous sound, the pillar cracked open and a ferocious half-man half-lion appeared from within. Lord Narasimha appeared with anger and terror personified, to kill Hiranyakasipu and to protect his devotee.


The Lord is all pervading, both in the movable and immovable

Everything we see around us is a manifestation of the Lord’s energies. It could be a combination of the Lord’s spiritual and material energies- as the spirit soul encased within the material body of jivas; or as only material energy in the case of non-living objects.

mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ
jagad avyakta-mūrtinā
mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni
na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ

By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.

[Bhagavad Gita 9.4]

ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo
mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate
iti matvā bhajante māṁ
budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ

I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.

[Bhagavad Gita 10.8]


Prahlad offers prayers to Lord Narasimha

Lord Narasimha killed Hiranyakasipu around sunset time, in-keeping with the various conditions of the boon granted by Lord Brahma and accepted the prayers offered by little Prahlad. The Lord being pleased, wanted to bestow benedictions on Prahlad, but Prahlad did not accept any benediction, since pure devotional service is unmotivated and never in exchange for material desires. Prahlad prayed for his father’s liberation which the Lord granted.


What do we learn from this lila?

 Uncontrolled senses can result in destruction and ruin. Both Hiranyaksa and Hiranyakasipu were victims of uncontrolled senses and were eventually killed.

 Nothing is impossible for the Lord. Although Hiranyakasipu thought he was immortal after receiving boons from Brahmaji, yet the Lord could find ways and means to kill him.

 The Lord reciprocates with the devotee’s love. Prahlad constantly remembered and surrendered to Krishna, and the Lord reciprocated by protecting him in all circumstances.

 Devotional service does not depend on birth, opulence, austerities or even age. Even though Prahlad was born in a demoniac family and was just a five years old child, he could please the Lord by his unwavering devotional service.

 Pure devotional service is unmotivated and never rendered in exchange of material desires. Prahlad worshipped Lord Visnu only to please him. Even when Narasimha dev appeared and he wanted to bestow Prahlad some benedictions, Prahlad did not accept.

 The Lord is all pervading. This entire creation is a manifestation of various forms of the Lord’s energies. Everything belongs to Him.

 A devotee is always respectful and compassionate. Prahlad always respected his father and after his father was killed, he prayed to the Lord requesting the deliverance of his father.

 The Lord keeps His promise and honors His devotee. Lord saved Prahlad through all the various calamities and also appeared from a stone pillar just to honor his devotee.

Krishna teaches us through his pure devotees. Let us pray to Lord Narasimha and seek his mercy, so that we are under his protection and come out of illusion and ignorance.

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