Today the 5th of May 2012, Sri Nrusimha Jayanthi is celebrated grandly.
“There is no incarnation of Lord Narayana that is greater than the Nrusimha avataram nor is there a deity that is equal to or greater than Bhagavan Nrusimha. The Vedam is replete with His glory. A sampling of Vedic hymns reflecting this fact can be found in the following places:
1. The Purusha Sooktham of the sama vEdam glorifies Bhagavan Nrusimha in the opening anuvakam through the Rk “sa BhUmim sarvathO vruthvA” referring to His omni-present nature.
2. The shanti mantram of the MundakOpanishad glorifies Bhagavan Nrusimha “Bhadram KarNe BishruNuyAma dhevA: Bhadram PashyEmAkshaBhiryajatrA: SthiraiRangaIsthushTuvAmsastan
bodies may we live the full-life span as ordained by the Lord.
3. Further testimony to vedic glorification of Bhagavan Nrusimha is found in the mantram “svasthina indhrO vruddhasravA : svasthina pooshA vishva vEdhA: , svastinasthArkshyO arishtanEmi:
svasthinO bruhaspathir dhaDhAtu” May He, who is the Lord of unbounded knowledge, bless us with prosperity. He who is the sustainer of all; May He, who is the source of all Vedas, bless us with prosperity. May He, who confers the wealth of horses and cows bless us with prosperity. May He, who rules over all elements guarantee our welfare.
4. The taittriya Upanishad glorifies Bhagavan Nrusimha as “BhIshAsmAth vAtha: pavathE BhIshOdhEthi sUrya: BhIshAsmAth agnischEndhrascha mruthyur DhAvathi panchama ithi” Out of fear of the awe-inspiring one (Bhagavan Nrusimha) the wind-God (vAyu) performs his assigned function; Out of fear of Him, the Sun carries out his prescribed duties; Out of fear of Him, agni (Lord of fire), Indra (king of the Devas) and Yama (God of death) perform their respective duties.
5. The Mahanarayana Upanishad glorifies Bhagavan Nrusimha through the mantram “ya AtmadhA baladhA yasya vishva upAsathE prashiSham yasya dhEvA: yasya cChayA amrutam yO mrutyumrutyu: kasmai dhEvAya haviShA viDhEma” He who bestows refuge to those who seek His protection, He who gives strength to experience Himself, He whose divine command is implicitly obeyed by all beings, He to whom gods like Indra are all subservient, He whom immortality follows like a shadow and He who is death to death itself, to that Lord all creatures may we offer the oblation in form of our atman. This mantram is most important in context of performing SharaNagati to the Lotus feet of Bhagavan Nrusimha and contains several layers of inner meanings. Bhagavan Nrusimha is further glorified by the vedam as the three eyed one in the mantram “trayambakam yajAmahE suganDhim pushti varDhanam urvArugamiva banDhanAth mruthyOrmukshIyamAmruthAth” (We worship the Supreme Lord [Bhagavan Nrusimha] of the most auspicious name, who is the bestower of might. May thou free me from death as cucumber from the stalk, and grant me immortality.) .
The thApanIya Upanishad of the atharvana vedam pays its tribute to Bhagavan Nrusimha as the three eyed one, with the left eye denoting the moon, the right eye denoting the sun and the eye in his forehead denoting Agni (fire). Swami Desikan highlights this fact through the kamasikAshtakam salutation “thapanEndhvagni nayana: thApAnapachinOthuna: thApanIya rahasyANAm sAra:
kAmAsikA hari:” Dhivya prabandham pays its tribute to Bhagavan Nrusimha as the three-eyed one through the salutation “mukkaNNapirAn”. Vedam further glorfies Bhagavan Nrusimha as “nithyam Dhanu: kapardhina:” (he whose arms are ever adorned by a bow known as pinakam.Therefore, he begets the name pinAki ). This fact is again confirmed by the vedam Rk “bAhuBhyAm thava DhanvanE”. Furthermore, the Mahanarayana Upanishad and the thApanIya Upanishad contain Gayathri mantrams for Bhagavan Nrusimha.
Next, the greatness of Bhagavan Nrusimha is highlighted from the mantra ShAstram. The loftiness of the NrusimhAnustup mantram arises from the fact that it is of Vedic origin. It is possible to counteract the effect of one veda mantram by the recitation of another. However, the effect of the NrusimhAnushtup mantram cannot be counteracted by uttering any other mantram. Therefore, among mantrams, the NrusimhAnushtup mantram reigns supreme and is thus rightly acclaimed as mantraraja. The NrusimhAnushtup mantram composed of 11 padams contains 32 syllables (aksharams) representing the condensed essence of the
Brahma Vidyas, which are Upanishadic prescriptions (Upasanas) for attaining Lord Narayana. Initiation into this mantram by a qualified Acharya, and proper prayOgam of the mantram according to its prescriptions confers the upasaka with the benefit of practicing the prescriptions of the 32 Brahma vidyas. Therefore, it is the favored mantram of mumukshus (those desirous of securing Moksham). As a result, Bhagavan Nrusimha is known as the mumukshu upAsya daivam. Therefore, the salutation nama: is most befitting for Bhagavan Nrusimha. Swami Desikan describes the significance of the term nama: in the Srimad Rahasyatrayasaram through the salutation “tAram pUrvam”. The word nama: means “not mine”. In this case it denotes the Atma, which is the property of Bhagavan Nrusimha and must thus be restored to its rightful owner through the mode of SharaNagati. In the tantric form of worship, practiced in KeraLa, Nrusimha Tantrikam reigns supreme.
The ithihasas are replete with glorification of Bhagavan Nrusimha. The Ramayana mentions Nrusimha explicitly in four places. (1) When Ravana approaches MarIcha for help in abducting Seetha Piratti, MarIcha says “asamBhavam” (impossible) because Sita Piratti is seated on the lap of Nrusimha (2) Valmiki glorifies Rama entering the cave as “simhO giri guhAshaya:” (3) While offering words of comfort to Sita Piratti, Hanuman conveys the message “Do not worry. Narasimha will be here shortly to rescue you.” (4) In the ViBhishaNa sharaNagati, Sugriva enquires of Lord Rama “what if the surrender of ViBhishaNa is a deceitful ploy on the part of the Rakshasas to gain our confidence and kill us while we are caught off guard?. Lord Rama answers this question as “angulyagrENa thAm hanyAm” (Do not worry. If indeed what you say is true, I do not even need my weapons to destroy the asuras. I shall rip them apart with my finger nails. ” Swami Desikan discusses this fact quite extensively in the aBhayapradhAna sAram, while
treating the ViBhIshaNa sharaNagati.
Bhagavan Nrusimha is extensively glorified in the Vishnu sahasranamam of the MahaBharata. It is a commonly held belief that Bhishma was rendering a eulogy for Lord Krishna in this exquisite stotram. However, closer examination will reveal that the Vishnu sahasranamam is a glorification of Bhagavan Nrusimha from start to finish. The first incarnation mentioned in this stotram is Bhagavan Nrusimha through the salutation “nArasimhavapusrImAn kEshava purushottama:” The mane of the lion was beautiful to behold because the man-lion was gentle to His Bhakta, Prahlada, while striking terror in the heart of HiraNyan. Swami Parashara Bhattar in his Vishnu sahasranama Bhashyam elaborates on this namam as “sundara simha:”. Swami Desikan describes the compassionate glances of Bhagavan Nrusimha for Prahlada as a nectarine offering of milk in the kamasikAshtakam salutation “sarOja sadhrushA drushA vyathiBhishajyathE vyajyathE”. The first stotram of the sahasranamam can be divided into four groups each containing 8
aksharams. The first group of 8 syllables represent the ashtakshara mantram. The next group of salutations containing 8 aksharams when added to the previous 8 produces 16, which is the number of mantrams in the Purusha Sooktam. The next set of 8 syllables added to this gives 24, the number of aksharams in the sacred Gayathri mantram, which is a pre-requisite for reciting all other veda mantrams.
Finally, the 8 aksharams from the last group of salutations when added to 24 produces 32, which is the number of aksharams in theNrusimhAnushtup mantram! The vishNu sahasranamam concludes with the salutation sarva praharaNAyuDha Om nama ithi. Lord Krishna never bore arms during the MahaBharata war. Nor did he adorn himself with weapons while appearing before BhIshma. Therefore, this description
does not fit Lord Krishna in the present instance. However, Bhagavan Nrusimha’s finger nails have the power from all of His 5 weapons. Therefore, the concluding salutation of the vishNu sahasranamam is most appropriate for Him. These facts conclusively demonstrate that it is Bhagavan Nrusimha that is glorified from start to finish in the VishNu sahasranama stotram.
The puraNas extensively glorify the avataram of Bhagavan Nrusimha (i.e., Bhagavata PuraNam and VishNu PurANam). For example the vishNu purANam contains an exquisite gadyam authored by mArkandEya known as the lingAspOtitha Nrusimha Gadyam (linga=difficulties, AspOtitha=shatter). The Bhagavata purANam glorifies Bhagavan Nrusimha in the seventh skandam. It may be remembered here that this
story was narrated by the greatest Brahmavith (knower of Brahman), Shuka Brahmam, who exemplified the Vedam salutation “sarvam Khalvidham Brahma” or its Tamil equivalent “nikkindredallam nedumal avananukku nAm nilayadiyOm”. The listener of this narration too had unparalleled greatness. Parikshith was born due to the munificent grace of Lord Krishna in keeping with the salutation “jAyamanamhi purusha: yam pashyEth madhusUdhana:”. ParIkshith was oblivious to the pangs of hunger, thirst, and sleep while hearing Shuka Brahmam’s exposition on the Bhagavatam. The greatness of Parikshith is that he would not be a mute listener. In order to gain a good understanding of the narration, he would ask probing questions to Shuka Brahmam. This form of listening is known as prashNa mathi. In the seventh skandam, ParIkshith enquires of Shuka Brahmam “sama: priya: suhruth Brahman BhUthAnAm Bhagavan svayam indhrasyArThE katham dhaIthyAn avaDhIth viShamOyathA” (Oh kind-hearted Brahman, you say that the Lord is
impartial. He is equally fond of all beings. However in closer examination of your narrative, it seems as though the Lord repeatedly incarnates to favour Indhra and destroy his enemies, the asuras. Does this not mean that the Lord dislikes the asuras?) Shuka Brahman was extremely pleased at this question raised by ParIkshith and his reply in the verse “apapruShtan thvayA rajan lOkAnAm hitha kAmyayA yathra Bhagavata mAhAthmyam Bhagavad Bhakthi varDhanam” indicates this (“Oh king your question is going to result in the well being of the entire universe. It seems as though your love for Bhagavatas exceeds even that of Bhagavan). To precisely demonstrate the Lord’s impartiality towards all and specifically demonstrate the Lord’s love for Prahlada, who was born in the asura clan, Shuka Brahmam narrated the Vaibhavam of Bhagavan Nrusimha. Therefore if ParIkshith’s questions were in the manner of “Evam vEdha”, Shuka Brahmam’s replies were in the manner of “brahmavAdhinO vadhanthi”.
It is instructive to understand the reason for Bhagavan Nrusimha’s AvirBhavam from the pillar. Was this intended to rescue Prahlada from HiraNyan? Sri Mukkur Swami avers most definitely not? To drive home his point Sri Mukkur Swam observes that “Was Prahlada not protected when he was poisoned or bitten by snakes or thrown into the flames or trampled upon by elephants? Then why did Bhagavan Nrusimha incarnate as He did and when He did? Sri Mukkur Swamin answers this by stating that the incarnation of Bhagavan Nrusimha was solely to uphold the words of his Bhagavata-Prahlada (tasmAth sthAmbena dhrushyathE-Indeed He is seen in the pillar) and subsequently the conditions of Brahma’s boon to HiraNyan and rishi Narada-who dissuaded Indra from killing Kayadhu, the wife of HiraNyan, when HiraNyan was engaged in penance. Testimony in support of this fact can be found in the Bhagavatam salutation “satyam viDhAthum nijabhruthya BhAshitham vyApthim cha BhUthEShvakhilEshu chAthmana: Adhrushyatha athyAdhBhutha
rUpamudhvahan sthambhE sabhAyAm na mrugam na mAnusham”, the tribute from Periya Azhwar “andhiyampOdhil arivuruvAgi ariya azhithavanE”, and Andal’s tiruppavai tribute “yAm vandha kAryam arAyandhu aruLElO rembAvai”
The essence of the puranic tributes is consummately captured in the Nrusimha Karavalambam Stotram composed by H.H. the 44th Azhagiyasingar (Mukkur Azhagiyasingar) of Ahobila Matham-which is verily the condensed essence of the Nrusimha Vaibhavam. Each verse of this magnificent stothram ends with “lakshminrusimha mamadEhi karAvalambam”. For example the verse “sandhIpithAgni vinipAthitha dhAithyadimba samrakshaNAya vinivarthitha vahni shakthE. BhakthAyadhAru parikalpitha padhmathalpa lakshmInrusimha mamadehi karavalambam” (When the child Prahlada was thrown into the scorching flames, the grace of Bhagavan Nrusimha transformed the fire into a bed of lotus petals).
The verse “prahlAdhanAsha parichOdhita sarpajAtha chUdamaNipravaradhantha vinAsha hEthO smruthyA thavaIvanavivEdha thanum suBhaktha: lakshmInrusimha mamadEhi karAvalambam” illustrates the fact that when poisonous serpents were let loose to sting Prahlada, the grace of Lord Narayana caused Prahlada to appear like Garuda, which scared the daylights out of the serpents. It is particularly instructive to recall Swami Desikan’s tribute in the Garuda dandakam in this context “nagEndhra pIdAshruNI BhavabhAsvannaKhashrENayE”.
Another verse in the Karavalamba StOtram of importance on a puraNic note is “sUthadhidhattha vishapAnasamAnakAla nAmAmruthEna paripAlitha dhaIthyaputhra prahlAdhadEha parirakshaNa jAgarUka lakshmInrusimha mamadEhi karAvalambam” (When HiraNyan ordered his wife to feed Prahlada with poison [kArkOtaka sarpa visham], Prahlada gladly partook of this offering. This is saluted in the Bhagavata
puraNam as “anukUlE jagannAtham visham pathyam BhavEn mama” [Oh Mother! Do not cry or feel sad. You carry out the orders of my father. The Lord of the Universe, who is helpful to me, will transform this offering into nutritious food.].
Finally, the verse “shaIlAgraBhAga pathamAna hiraNyadimba samrakshaNAya mrudhuBhUtha DharADhinAtha dhAithyEndhra puthra hrudhayAsana mangalAnga lakshmInrusimha mamadEhikarAvalambam” (The VishNu puraNam summarizes this as : HiraNyan ordered that Prahlada be thrown down from a cliff. As the child fell, he did not for a moment think of the impending death as a result of his fall. Instead, he clutched hard at his heart out of concern that Lord Narayana, who is seated therein, would come to harm due to the fall. Bhumidevi, greatly moved by this sight reasons to herself “This child is least concerned about his impending doom. Instead his focus is the well being of my husband [Lord Narayana], who is seated in his heart. Should I not therefore, make his landing gentle?” Accordingly, Bhumidevi transformed herself into an extremely soft patch to facilitate a smooth landing for Prahlada.). The puraNic anuBhavam is eloquently saluted in simple Sanskrit by H.H. the 44th Azhagiyasingar.
The Agamas too are replete with glorification of Bhagavan Nrusimha. The Ahribudhnya samhitha, an important text of the PancharAthra Agama discusses all aspects of iconography, consecration, and sacrifices for Bhagavan Nrusimha and outlines the procedure for His worship. The Mantrarajapada stOtram appearing in the Ahirbudhnya Samhita is an elaboration of the individual padams of the NrusimhAnushtup mantram. The opening verse of this stotram contains the blessed NrusimhAnushtup mantram. Verses 2-5 describe the svarUpam of Bhagavan Nrusimha. In verse 6 Ahirbudhnyan is blessed with the darshana SouBhAgyam of Bhagavan Nrusimha. Verses 7-10 describe the elevated protection afforded by Bhagavan Nrusimha. The formal SharaNagati of Ahirbudhnyan is discussed in verses 11 and 12, while verse 13 summaizes the benefits of reciting this magnificent stotram (Phalashruthi). An elaboration of the individual verses of this stotram can be found in adiyen’s postings on the Malolan net between September and November 1998. Swami Desikan repeatedly refers to verses 11 and 12 of this stotram in Srimad Rahasya trayasAram and glorifies Ahirbudhnyan as sarvajnyan (all knowing one).
The Azhwars too shower great tributes in their outpourings on Bhagavan Nrusimha:
1. For example PeriyAzhwar maps the entire mantrarajapada Stotram into Tamil in
his glorification of Bhagavan Nrusimha (Neykudathai Pasuram)
2. Tirumangai Azhwar sings his glory in the singavElkundram verses
3. Swami NammAzhwar, who is an avowed lover of Lord Krishna, desires to see none other than Bhagavan Nrusimha even in Srivaikuntam (en singapirAn perumai)
In seeking the hand of Lord Krishna, Rukmini conveys her appeal in the form of 7 verses in the Srimad Bhagavatam. Significantly not once in these verses does She mention Lord Krishna by name. Instead Rukmini employs the salutation “kAlE Nrusimha”. This is because She is apprehensive of Lord Krishna’s propensity for uttering innovative lies. Sri Andal attests to this fact in the Brindavana Pasuram through the salutation ‘mAlAy pirandhanambiyE mAlE.sheyummanALanE eLApoygaL uraippanE ingaipOhakandIrE.” Again while describing the Laaja Homam of Her wedding ceremony, Sri Andal refers to Bhagavan Nrusimha in the vAraNam Ayiram verse as “Arimukhan Achyuthan” (The lion faced one who does not slip from His position, namely, rushing to the rescue of those who have sought refuge in Him). Andal again refers to Bhagavan Nrusimha in the tiruppAvai salutation “yAm vandha kAryam”. From these references it is clear that the Lord sought after by Sri Devi (Rukmini Thayar) and by BhU Devi (Since Andal is an Amsham of BhUmi
piratti) is Bhagavan Nrusimha. Furthermore, Prapanna Jana Kootasthar, Swami NammAzhwar desires to behold none other than SingapirAn in Srivaikuntam. These facts are sufficient to establish that Lord Nrusimha is the supreme Lord. Swami Desikan seeks the bountiful blessings of Bhagavan Nrusimha through the kamasikAshtakam verse “thvayi rakshathi rakshakaI: kimanyaI: thvayichArakshathirakshakaI: kimanyaI: ithinischithaDhI: shrayAminithyAm nruharE vEgavathI thatAshrayamthvAm” (When You have decided to protect someone, where is the need for other protectors? If you have decided not to protect someone, of what use are other protectors? Resolving thus, I surrender unto You Oh Bhagavan Nrusimha, who has taken residence on the banks of the Vegavathi river). Again Swami Desikan and Andal declare their preference for Andal by instructing us to utter the name of Hari (which denotes Simham) 7 times while waking up in the morning.
H.H. the 45th Srimad Azhagiyasingar noted in his upanyasam “Lord Ranganatha is revered as periya perumal due to his worship by Lord Rama. However, Bhagavan Nrusimha, who was worshipped by Lord Rama as well as by Lord Srinivasa is celebrated as Periya Periya Perumal.” H.H. Srimad InjimEdu Azhagiyasingar would unfailingly mention in his upanyasams that “Ranganatha is no doubt great! However he suffers from one fault. Lord Rama worshipped Him (saha pathnyA vishalAksha ranganathamupAsathu) and the next day was banished to the forest. On the other hand behold the greatness of Bhagavan Nrusimha! Upon worshipping Him Rama was re-united with Sita Piratti and regained his kingdom. Bhagavan Nrusimha was also worshipped by the nomad Srinivasa, who roamed the forest. As a result, He became nithya Sri and stands on top of the Venkatachalam Hill” This eulogy needs to be understood in the context of nahi-nindha nyAyam. More precisely, to illustrate the greatness of a person, he is compared to someone of similar
caliber and then it is demonstrated that the former tops the latter. However, this is in no way belittling or derogatory to the latter. The worship of Bhagavan Nrusimha by Lord Srinivasa is eloquently documented in the Venkatachala mahAthmyam. Specifically, at the time of his wedding to Padmavathi Thayar Srinivasa was seated in the altar ready to perform the wedding rites. Agni personally undertook the preparation of food for the occasion. When the food was ready for offering as naivedyam, Brahma had a question “Who should the food be offered to when Bhagavan Himself was present?” Lord Srinivasa answered this as “ahObila nrusimhAya pUjAm kruthvA yathA viDhi” H. H. Srimad DevanarviLagam Azhagiyasingar used to frequently remark that the 100th verse of the Daya Shatakam when slightly modified was a perfect reflection
of the bliss he derived in engaging in nithya Nrusimha Aradhanam. Specifically, H.H. modified the tribute “mukthAnuBhUthimihadhAsyathimE mukundha:” as “mukthAnuBhUthimihamE pradhadhoU Nrusimha:” (Meaning: Oh compassionate Mother Daya Devi! Due to the limitless grace of my Acharyas, I have been blessed with Prapatti. As a result there is no doubt that I shall attain the elevated lokam of SriVaikuntam and derive the bliss arising from uninterrupted kaimkaryam for the Divine Couple alongside other nithyas and mukthas. However, so overwhelming is your compassion that you have decided to confer this anubhavam on me even in this Leela viBhuthi through the nithya Aradhanam for Bhagavan Nrusimha”)
Finally, we note that Bhadram is the name of Bhagavan Nrusimha, while Bhadra is the name for Thayar. The Bhadram (protection) afforded jointly by Bhagavan Nrusimha and Thayar is that of unfailing coming to the rescue of those who surrender to His Lotus Feet (sharaNagata rakshakathvam). Consequently, Prapannas are assured of the benefit of Moksham at the end of their earthly existence. This is referred to in the Mantrarajapada stOtram salutation “shriyAcha BhadhrayAjuShta: yastham Bhadram namAmyaham” In conclusion let us reflect upon the sharaNagati to Bhagavan Nrusimha through the salutation
“mAthAnrusimhascha pithA nrusimha: BhrAthAnrusimhascha saKhA nrusimha: vidhyA
nrusimha: draviNam nrusimha: svAmI nrusimha: sakalam nrusimha: itthO nrusimha:
parathO nrusimha: yathO yathO yAthi thathO nrusimha: nrusimhA dhEvAth aDhikam na
kinchit tasmAnnrusimham sharaNam prapadhyE”
The write presented here is an excerpts from the anubhavam of the pre-eminent Nrusimha Upasakar, Mahavidwan Paramapadavasi U.Ve. Sri Mukkur Lakshminarasimhachariar Swamin and presented by Sri rangaswamy (SriMuralidhara Dasan)