Wednesday, 13 July 2011


Slokam 5
prathyaadishTa puraathana praharaNa graama: kshaNam paaNijai:
avyaath threeNi jaganthi akunTa mahimaa vaikunTa kaNTeerava:/
yath praadur bhavanaath avandhya jaTaraa yaadrichikaath vEdasaam
yaa kaachith sahasaa mahaasura griha sthooNaa pithamahi abhooth//

"The King of VaikunTam Himself came down in the form of Lion-king. Discarding the antiquated conventional weapons, He converted His own nails as the weapon. He appeared in some pillar in the palace of the great Asura and rid it of its sterlity by delivering Him, thus transforming it as the Paternal Grandmother of Brahmas! May that Lord Nrisimha protect all the three worlds"


On learning of the death of his brother at the hands of Lord Vishnu, Hiranyakasipu vowed to kill Bhagavan and his devotees (Bhaagavatas) who were engaged in a Yaga. With this end in view, he did penance propitiating Brahma and got several boons. That he should not be killed by any created thing, on earth or sky, at night or day, inside or outside, by man or beast, celestial beings or Asuras, by any poisonous beings alive or dead or by any weapons.

He became invincible and commenced tormenting all good people.When he was busy doing penance, Indra took away Hiranyakasipu's wife, who was pregnant. Sage NARADA stopped him and proceeded to explain to her the glory of MAHAVISHNU. The fetus growing in the womb listened to the discourse of Sage NARADA and became an incorrigible Bhakta of Sri VISHNU.On return from penance with all the boons he got from BRAHMA, Hrianyakasipu proclaimed that he was himself God and nobody should pay obeisance to VISHNU. When the baby was born to Hrianyakasipu, he was named PRAHLADA meaning one that is supremely happy. When he came of age, PRAHLADA was sent to the Gurukula of his preceptor SUKRACHARYA. Sukracharya tried to inculcate the new syllabus of adoring Hrianyakasipu as God.

However hard he tried, Sukracharya could not divert the attention of PRAHLADA from his attachment to VISHNU.

Having failed in his efforts, Sukracharya complained to Hrianyakasipu who became angry with his son, roared and threatened him. But, nothing would move PRAHLADA from his devotion and determination to worship Lord Vishnu.

When asked where from he got the courage to defy, the son replied he got the strength from the All-powerful VISHNU.

- He ordered PRAHLADA to be cut asunder but only the weapon used got broken.
- He had him cast away into the ocean but the Lord of the ocean brought him unaffected.
- He was hurled from top of a mountain but the boy was saved by the gentle hands of Lord Vishnu.
- He let snakes bite Prahlada but the Lord who reclines on Adisesha saved the boy.
- He ordered elephants to trample him and
- He ordered the boy to be burnt by fire.
-But, Prahlada emerged unscathed every time.

Hrianyakasipu became exasperated. Enraged, Hrianyakasipu vowed to kill Vishnu and then Prahlada. He asked Prahlada where Vishnu was and showed a pillar that was in his palace and asked if Vishnu was in it. Prahlada replied in the affirmative and asked him to say where He was NOT!Hrianyakasipu kicked the pillar with a bang. With a resounding crash the pillar cracked and, Lord Vishnu emerged from it in the form of half-lion half- man to substantiate the words of Prahlada. On seeing a creature that was neither human nor animal, Hrianyakasipu realized that it could be none other than Lord Vishnu himself. Almost instantly NRISIMHA seized him and crushed him in a close embrace but he slipped through his hands, and charged him with a sword.By that time, dusk had arrived which was neither day nor night,

carried the Asura to the doorstep where under the arch of the doorway he sat laying the Asura on his lap. Thus, it was neither earth nor sky, neither inside nor outside. NRISIMHA tore Hrianyakasipu to death with his claws. Claw is not a weapon, one that was neither alive nor dead.

Periyazhwar explains why he embraced Hrianyakasipu before killing him saying that he was searching whether there was at least an iota of compassion towards his son. Since he did not find any, he decided to kill the Asura.

Sri Swami Vedanta Desika while referring to this AVATARA says, that the pillar in the ASURA'S palace had the luck which other pillars elsewhere in the world did not enjoy because it was from there Bhagavan emerged thus ending her sterility. He jocularly remarks that by this, the pillar had become the grandmother of BRAHMA thus: Brahma is known to be "Pithaamaha" Grandfather. Vishnu is his father. By giving birth to Vishnu, the pillar had become Brahma's grandmother.

He calls this Avatar "YADRUCHA HARE" meaning that the Lord appeared instantly and no preparations were made by him for his incarnation.

That the Lord exhibited both his wrath and grace all at the same time is very well brought out in the Sloka 'Satapatala Bheeshane' in Swami Sri Vedanta Desika's Kamasika Ashtakam. When asked how it was possible that the two incompatible emotions could be perceived in the same personality all at once, Emperumanar is reported to have replied that the lioness even when pouncing on its prey, the elephant, would continue to breast feed with love its calf.


1. Kshanam = In a trice, Suddenly. Nrisimha Emerged unexpectedly from the pillar
2. Paanijai: = Fingernails; They grow on the hands (paaNI+ja) and can be clipped without hurt. So, they are both alive and dead at the same time since Hrianyakasipu wanted NOT to be killed by anything living or dead!
3. Prathyaadishta Praharana graama: = Discarding the old routine weapons like disc, mace etc. known as Panchaayudham, Shodasaayudham etc. because the Lord had to deal with Hrianyakasipu without offending any of the contrary boons Hrianyakasipu had obtained from Siva.
4. Akunta mahimaa = One of immeasurable glory cf Andal's "Kurai onrum illatha Govindaa".
5. Threeni Jaganthi avyaath = It is such a one who can protect the 3 worlds
6. Vaikunta Kanteerava: = can mean both the Lion residing in Vaikuntam or the Lion called Vaikuntan. Since Hrianyakasipu wanted NOT to be killed by human or animal, the Lord took the Half-lion, Half-human form, which cannot be deemed as either human or beast!
7. Sahasaa = Immediately and with supersonic speed
8. Avantya Jataraa = The pillar was relieved of barrenness (Maladu) And, what happened?
9. Mahaasura Gruha Sthoonaa Piathaamahi abhooth = Swami Desika's imagination runs riot when he humorously says that the pillar in the great Asura's palace gave birth to the Lord thereby becoming the Grandmother for Brahma!
Brahma is known as Grandsire (Pithaamaha); Lord Narayana is the father, having created Brahma; the pillar gave birth to Narayana in the form of Nrisimha and automatically became the grandmother to the grandsire himself!
10. Of all the leelas of the Lord, the most wonderful is that of Nrisimha. It is described as "Athiadbutham" more wonderful than that of Kishnaavatara described only as "adbutham". He had to devise a stratagem appropriate in form, time, location, and place, mode etc. without transgressing the opposite conditions Hrianyakasipu had demanded and was granted in the form of boons.
11. In 12th Sloka, Swami Desika calls the lord "yadruchchaa Hareh" This can mean that He took the form never seen or heard of before and that He took everyone by surprise including Hrianyakasipu, Brahma and Prahlada by
suddenly appearing from a stone pillar! This is also another aspect of Leela.
12. Vedasaam: Brahmas: The word is in plural to indicate that there were several Brahmas from time immemorial. A story in Upanishads describe Brahma as a worm living inside the fruit of a fig tree imagining that the entire world was within the fruit it lived in, not knowing that there were numerous other Brahma worms inside the millions of fruits on the mother tree! There is also a Slokam that says that it may be possible to count the number of sands on the banks of the Ganges or the tiny drops when torrential rains lash but it is not possible to count the number of Brahmas who were born and disappeared!

Gangaayaa: sikathaa: dhaaraa thathaa varshathi vaasave /
Sakhyaa ganayithum lokE na vyatheethaa: pitaamahaah //

13. It used to be said that the Lord appeared to make the words of His devotee true. When Prahlada said that the Lord WAS in the pillar, He actually WAS there to prove him true. "Nija Brithya Baashitham" Who is the true Brithya here? Not only Prahlada but Siva also because He had to be true to every single faulty boon Siva granted to Hrianyakasipu!
14. Another episode, which some people project is, the story in which Siva is shown as taking a queerer form than Nrisimha as Sarbeswara and killing Nrisimha. This is a concocted story found in an unreliable Tamasic Sthala Purana. Exploding the myth behind this, it is said that "Saraba" perished like a firefly ("salabaha") falling into a burning flame that was Nrisimha!
"Sarabaha SalabhaayatE". Note the alliteration!
15. Swami Desika variously describes Nrisimha as "Adbutha Kesari" (wonderful lion) "kaamaasikaa kesari" ( who became a lion of His own choice), "KapaTa Kesari" (deceitful lion) ,"kelee narasimham" (Playful), "Vishama vilochana" ( One who displays at the same time opposite emotions of anger at Hrianyakasipu and compassion at Prahlada) like a lion which even while pouncing ferociously on its prey continues to breast- feed her cub)

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