Narasimha avatar of Lord Vishnu is perhaps the most recognized one after Lord Rama and Lord Krishna. Most of the followers of the Vaishnavite sect offer daily prayers to Lord Narasimha for protection and warding off evil influences. Well, we all know the famous Holika legend of this avatar, but there are some lesser known facts also associated with him.
Let’s explore them one by one
#1 There are actually two schools of thoughts on the origin of the Narasimha Avatar. One is known to many i.e. the penance of Prahlad and the story that follows. Another one is the Indra- Namuci legend.
#2 According to the Indra Namuci legend, a devil or asura named Namuci proposed peace accord with Indra the king of heavens. He asks Indra to promise not to slay him with the palm of the hand nor with the fist”, neither in day nor in the night, neither “anything that is dry” nor anything that is moist. To which Indra Agrees. And what happens next? You guessed it right. Namuci takes away the Amrit and his powers.
#3 Goddess Saraswati and Ashvin Kumars were then consulted by Indra who agree to help him only on one condition, to share Amrit and other heavenly spoils with them. To this Indra agrees.
#4 Here comes the twist in the story, Namuci by then had consumed all the Amrit and was killed by a moist bolt produced by Goddess Saraswati. Now Indra had to remove the Amrit from Namuci’s blood which is another story in itself. You might be wondering where is Narasimha Avtar here, well that moist bolt of lighting is synonymous with the Narasimha Avatar.
#5 The above story also provides testimony to the fact that Amrit does not guarantee immortality.
#6 There are references to Narasimha Avatar in different Puranas. There are at least 17 different narratives of the Narasimha legend found in them. Hence there is a lot to be explored apart from what is known popularly.
#7 Lord Vishnu killed demon Hiranyaksha as Varaha avatar, this led to his brother Hiranyakashyap hating him to the core. His hatred radiated to every Vishnu devotee including his own son. Prahalad was a staunch Vishnu devotee and lord came to his rescue in Narasimha Avatar.
#8 There are close to 11 iconographic representation of Lord Narasimha.
They are as follows:
Prahlada Varada: Blessing Prahlada
Yogānanda-narasiṃha: Serene, peaceful Narasimha teaching yoga
Guha-narasiṃha: concealed Narasimha
Krodha-narasiṃha: Angry Narasimha
Vira-Narasimha: Warrior Narasimha
Malola-narasiṃha or Lakshmi-Narasimha: With Lakshmi, his wife
Jvala-narasiṃha: Narasimha emitting flames of wrath
Sarvatomukha-Narasimha: many faced Narasimha
Bhishana-Narasimha: ferocious Narasimha
Bhadra-Narasimha: another fierce aspect of Narasimha
Mrityor Mrityu-Narasimha: defeater of death aspect of Narasimha
#9 Legend has it that Hiranyakashyap was once the royal guard of Lord Vishnu who was cursed by Sankadi Baal rishis for not allowing them to enter Vishnu’s abode.
#10 As a remedy to the curse given by Baal Rishis, Lord Vishnu modified it, and accordingly the guard (in fact there were two guards who got cursed) had to be Vishnu Drohi for 4 lives after which he would be set free from the curse.