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Encyclopedia of Hindu Gods


Image used with permission.

Basic Description:  Vishnu took the form of Narasimha, which is both man and lion, in order to kill the evil ruler, Hiranyakashyap.  4th avatar of Vishnu.

Alternate Names:  Narasingh

Mythology:   Evil king Hiranyakashyap was a demonic ruler who was blessed by Brahman.  No man or animal born naturally could kill him.  He could not be killed in the day or in the night or by any weapon.  The king was a tyrant and outlawed worship of any gods.  His own son, named Prahlad, was a worshipper of Vishnu.  To turn Prahlad from his ways, the king tried to torture his son.  However, Vishnu protected Prahlad.  The king also tried to pursuade his son.  One day he asked his son, "Where is your Vishnu?"  Prahlad answered, "Everywhere."  Then the king pointed to a pillar and asked if Vishnu was in the pillar.  Prahlad said he was.  So the Hiranyakashyap kicked the pillar to destroy it, and Vishnu.  Vishnu, as Narasimha, came out of the broken pillar and killed the king.  Narasimha was able to kill Hiranyakashyap because he had not been born normally; he was neither man nor animal and sprung from a pillar.  He did this at twilight which is neither day nor night.

Other References on the Karma-to-Grace website:  Is there a savior in Hinduism?


Moor, Edward.  The Hindu Pantheon.  Los Angeles: Philosophical research society, 1976.

Thomas, P.  Epics, Myths and Legends of India.  Bombay, India: D. B. Taraporevala Sons & Co. Private Ltd, 1961.

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