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Hiranya-kashipu’s Disappearance Day (Lord Nrisimhadeva’s Appearance)

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
Merciful Lord Nrisimhadeva
[This blog was originally written on Saturday May 5, 2012. This year this appearance/disappearance day was May 18th in India and May 17th in the USA]
I am only half kidding with today’s blog title, yet I am trying to make a point, as you will see. Specifically, this is the day we celebrate the devotion of Prahlad, his constant remembrance of Krishna, and Krishna’s assuming the fearsome, though ecstatic, form of Lord Nrisimhadeva to protect and glorify His pure devotee. However, we can also feel a kind of gratitude to Hiranya-kashipu, for without his demoniac nature, and trying to kill his son, we would have never heard of Prahlad, or seen the practical demonstration of the Lord’s love for his devotees. Great souls are glorified by their struggles and victory over adversity.

In every great life story there must be an antagonist which allows the hero to shine. Although unimaginably powerful, Hiranya-kashipu also represents our tiny selves, or our personal rebellion against God, and—to put it nicely—those less than ideal qualities in our heart that we as devotees, or sadhakas, struggle with. Thus, in our material conditioned state, we can think of our dark side like a mini-Hiranya-kashipu, and pray that the Lord slay our “anarthas” or our unwanted conditioning, such as lust, anger, greed, enviousness, etc. We are fortune to have both good and bad examples in the scriptures, so we will know our ideal, and what we want to rise above. Everyone can be our teacher!

With regard to praying to Lord Nrisimhadeva to help us in our spiritual life, I daily recite many prayers to this special form of Krishna so dear to the devotees of Shri Chaitanya. Here are a few:

oḿ namo bhagavate narasiḿhāya
namas tejas-tejase āvir-āvirbhava vajra-nakha vajra-daḿṣṭra karmāśayān
randhaya randhaya tamo grasa grasa oḿ svāhā;
abhayam abhayam ātmani bhūyiṣṭhā oḿ kṣraum

“I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Nṛsiḿhadeva, the source of all power. O my Lord who possesses nails and teeth just like thunderbolts, kindly vanquish our demon-like desires for fruitive activity in this material world. Please appear in our hearts and drive away our ignorance so that by Your mercy we may become fearless in the struggle for existence in this material world.” [SB 5.18.8]

tvam prapanashmi sharanam deva deva janardana
it yah sharanam praptastam klesa duddharamyaham

“Anyone who prays to Me and takes shelter from Me becomes My ward, and I protect him always from all sorts of calamities.” [Nrshimha Purana]

Lord Nrishimhadeva is a very special incarnation of Krishna and I have a special affinity for His worship, as do many devotees. Shrila Rupa Goswami has mentioned in his Laghu-bhagavatamrita, that of all the principle incarnations of Krishna, two are prominent: Lord Rama and Lord Nrisimdadeva. He refers to both of them as “sad aishvarya purna" avatars or complete in all six opulences, as given by Parasara Muni in his definition of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (full strength, full fame, wealth, knowledge, beauty and renunciation). In the narration about Nrisimhadeva’s appearance we find the teachings of the Krishna conscious philosophy come to life in a most practical way. We are all recommended to carefully study the Shrimad Bhagavatam to find divine philosophical and inspiring gems to nourish our spiritual lives, and help us gain faith and strength to persevere on the path of bhakti, despite apparent difficulties and reverses.

For people in general, this manifestation of God, may appear ghastly when He is seen garlanded with intestines, or when they see that Prahlad seems to celebrating the death of his father, by offering his killer a garland! As is often the case, things are not what they seem on the surface. Therefore, we have much education to do, if uninformed, or even religious people, will be able see the wisdom and beauty in this lila (pastime), and the devotee’s celebration at what appears to be a ghastly scene. While distributing my guru, Shrila Prabhupada’s books, I used to wear a Nrishimadeva medallion with the Lord roaring in this fierce half man, half lion form, and some people were fearful, thinking it was something demoniac! How astonishing it would be for them to learn that we see this form as one of extreme love, mercy, and kindness!

śrī-nṛsiḿha, jaya nṛsiḿha, jaya jaya nṛsiḿha
prahlādeśa jaya padmā-mukha-padma-bhṛńga

“All glories to Nṛsiḿhadeva! All glories to Nṛsiḿhadeva, who is the Lord of Prahlāda Mahārāja and, like a honeybee, is always engaged in beholding the lotuslike face of the goddess of fortune.” [as recited by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 8.5]

The following verse was composed by Śrīdhara Svāmī in his commentary on the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.87.1):

vāg-īśā yasya vadane lakṣmīr yasya ca vakṣasi
yasyāste hṛdaye samvit taḿ nṛsiḿham ahaḿ bhaje

"Lord Nṛsiḿhadeva is always assisted by Sarasvatī, the goddess of learning, and He is always embracing the goddess of fortune to His chest. The Lord is always complete in knowledge within Himself. Let us offer obeisances unto Nṛsiḿhadeva."

Similarly, in his commentary on the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.1.1), Śrīdhara Svāmī describes Lord Nṛsiḿhadeva in this way:

prahlāda-hṛdayāhlādaḿ bhaktāvidyā-vidāraṇam
śarad-indu-ruciḿ vande pārīndra-vadanaḿ harim

"Let me offer my obeisances unto Lord Nṛsiḿhadeva, who is always enlightening Prahlāda Mahārāja within his heart and who always kills the nescience that attacks the devotees. His mercy is distributed like moonshine, and His face is like that of a lion. Let me offer my obeisances unto Him again and again."

Therefore, we have a great deal to learn from the Shrimad Bhagavatam about the nature of God, his love for those who are devoted to serving Him, and our tendency to be suffering from demoniac tendencies--so wide spread in this age. Because we are trying our best to become devotees of Krishna through the medium of Shri Chaitanya (considered mercy personified, and the combined form of Radha and Krishna—the male and female supreme manifestations of God) we can expect Krishna's mercy and His protection. Protection may or may not pertain to our material body, but most importantly it pertains to our devotion—which will never be vanquished and will gradually lead us toward the spiritual kingdom.
Here is a purport from Prabhupada to sum up our good fortune of taking up the path of bhakti, or to encourage us to do so: “As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (2.40), svalpam apy asya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt: 'Even a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.' The Supreme Personality of Godhead is known as bhāva-grāhī janārdana because He takes only the essence of a devotee's attitude. If a devotee sincerely surrenders, the Lord, as the Supersoul in everyone's heart, immediately understands this. Thus even though, externally, a devotee may not render full service, if he is internally sincere and serious the Lord welcomes his service nonetheless. Thus the Lord is known as bhāva-grāhī janārdana because He takes the essence of one's devotional mentality.” [in reference to the Lord’s mercy to Bali Maharaja in SB 8.23.2]

In the Lord’s glorious activities throughout the Universe and in the spiritual world, all the players or participants are not only important, but essential to create the mood, necessity, and as a background. Thus we can appreciation not only the devotion of Prahlad, and the love of Shri Nrisimhadeva for his devotees, but also understand the importance of Hiranya-kashipu—or the demoniac nature—which glorifies Prahlad by contrast, and over which he is successful in overcoming. Of course we shouldn’t think that Lord Nrisimhadeva came because of the demoniac qualities of Mr. Hiranya-kashipu, but only to protect His devotee.

“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion -- at that time I descend Myself. To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium. One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” [Bg 4.7-9] Thus by understanding all the intricacies of this pastime, our own and the Lord’s spiritual nature, and developing attraction and love for Krishna, we will be elevated to the spiritual plane—the real solution to all problems of material life. This knowledge is thus very powerful and sublime!


Very nice indeed.

Hare Krsna dear Karnamrita Prabhu,

Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

As always, your words have been so beautifully enlightening. The Appearance Day of Lord Nrsmhadev sure is a great reminder with regard to just how merciful Krsna is that He protects His devotees in such a mystical, extraordinary, yet loving way. It is, nevertheless, also a wonderful reminder of how devoted Prahlad Maharaj was, and for us to take forth his example and meditate on how his devotion never faltered even in the most unfavourable of situations.

By the way, I love your blog title! It reminded me once again of the fact that we can taste the nectar of the Bhagavad-Gita only because Arjuna became illusioned by lamentation. If this hadn't happened, perhaps we would never have had the honour of hearing the Gita.

Your servant,


Thanks for your comments--I always appreciate them! I I have always had a special attraction for Him. Not only the Gita, but the Shrimad Bhagavatam as well has come about because of an apparent problem. In the SB, Maharaja Pariksit was cursed to die in 7 days, and thus he left his kingdom to prepare for death, and as a result, Shri Sukadeva Goswami spoke this spotless purana. So "it is all good" in relationship to Krishna, His service, the devotees. If Shrila Prabhupada would have easily gained his papers for coming to America and had been able to just hop on a jet, we would be without his story of struggle and perseverance, which continued in his first forming ISKCON in the US. And throughout his life he met with, and passed through, so many obstacles. Although we are little devotees, still, we can endeavor to see our difficulties, reverses, and struggles, as Krishna merciful tests, to help us grow and take shelter of Him in all circumstances.

Lord Nrisimhadeva's lila is a very important one in the Bhagavatam and takes up many chapters. n addition to Radha-Krishna and Gaura-Nitai, I also have a Prahlad Nrisimha Deity and two Nrisimha Shilas.Sometimes it is questioned why we as devotees interested in Vraja bhakti, or the pure, unconditional love of the residents of Vrindavana, what interest we have in Shri Nrisimhadeva, who appears to have nothing to do with this type of devotion. However, we see that Nrisimhadeva is also in the lila of Mahaprabhu, and comes to the add of His sankirtan movement. Also Bhaktivinoda Thakur prayers to Him for spiritual advancement in the highest devotion or Krishna prema in the mood of the damsels of Vrindavana:

Srila Prabhupada

Dearest Karnamrita Prabhu,

Thank you very much for your kind reply. Yes, so we should partly be thankful to the brahmana's son who cursed Pariksit Maharaja in the first place!

Srila Prabhupada's journey on the Jaladuta sure makes us remember just how amazing he was; he was prepared to do anything in order to carry out the order of his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. He had severe heart attacks but he was still executing his duty. I found myself very emotional when I read his account on the Jaladuta, especially his prayers to Lord Krsna, and especially the verse: "O Lord, I am just like a puppet in Your hands. So if You have brought me here to dance, then make me dance, make me dance, O Lord, make me dance as You like." Those words are goosebump-evoking.

Your servant,