Devotees worship Lord Narasimha Dev for different reasons depending on their faith and needs but in all their prayers one aspect that stands out is protection. Lord Narasimha (also spelt as Nrsimha, Nrusinga, Nrisingha, etc.), who is none other than Lord Vishnu Himself in His unique half-man-half-lion form is famous throughout the universe for giving full protection to His devotees. His fearsome form drives away all inauspicious and fear from the heart of His sincere devotees.
Before we talk about the prayers and pastimes of the Lord, let it be clear that Lord Narasimha is not a mythological character. He is a real, transcendental personality eternally present and appears in this world as and when He wishes to. Those who know the historical event of the killing of king Hiranyakashipu know well that Hiranyakashipu had a boon from Lord Brahma that no creature, meaning no created being, would be able to kill him. The fact that Lord Narasimha killed him is an irrefutable proof that Lord Narasimha Dev is not a created being. He exists eternally beyond the control of time and space.
Sometimes people wonder why if God is one, people worship different forms. For example, Bhagavad Gita clearly establishes Lord Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead but even the devotees of Lord Krishna are seen worshiping Lord Narasimha Dev. Why? Is Lord Krishna not competent enough to help them? Or are they deviating from their faith when in danger and running to Lord Narsimha knowing He can protect from all dangers?
Answer to this kind of questions needs an in-depth explanation of the personality of God, His mood, His relations with devotees, type of mellows in devotional service, and so on. It would take a few more pages to explain all of it, so we leave it for some other time. The biggest challenge people in general have in understanding these aspects is, they think of God as something that He is not, a mere imagination, an abstract. If God were to be what one thinks, the world, which is His creation, would also have been only what one thinks. But the world is much different, much more dynamic, full of varieties. And so is God.
In fact, since God is the creator of these variegatedness and dynamics, He is even more dynamic and possesses more varieties. This should not be difficult to understand. To know Him, one has to hear about Him from Himself, or from His bona fide representatives, the pure devotees. This is said by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad Gita where He says bhaktya mam abhijanati– only through devotional service can I be known.
Going back to prayers, we wanted to share with you the following beautiful prayer to Lord Narasimha Dev. It is written by a pure, unalloyed devotee of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna and a prominent acharya in the disciplic succession of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur. In his book Navadvipa Bhaava Taranga, while talking about Narasimha palli, a holy tirtha in Sri Navadvipa Dham, he says
“When will I see the pure transcendental sweetness of this place, also called Deva-palli? I will roll about on the ground in ecstatic love while visiting this residence of Lord Nrsimha. Sincerely begging for His grace without a trace of duplicity in my heart, I will attain Krsna-prema.” (Verse 35, NBT).
Described in the next five verses (NBT 36-40) is a heartfelt prayer by the same great acharya which shows how, even while praying to Lord Narasimha Deva the ultimate purpose in his heart is to receive pure love and devotion to Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Krishna. This is a unique characteristic of a pure devotee of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna.
e dusta hrdaye kama adi ripu chaya
kutinati pratisthasa sathya sada raya
hrdaya-sodhana ara krsnera vasana
nrsimha-carane mora ei to’ kamana
Within my sinful heart the six enemies headed by lust perpetually reside, as well as duplicity, the desire for fame, plus sheer cunning. At the lotus feet of Lord Narasimha, I hope that He will mercifully purify my heart and give me the desire to serve Lord Krsna.
kandiya nrsimha-pade magibo kakhana
nirapade navadvipe jugala-bhajana
bhaya bhaya paya yan’ra darsane se hari
prasanna hoibo kabe more daya kari
Weeping, I will beg at the lotus-feet of Lord Narasimha for the benediction of worshipping Radha and Krsna in Navadvipa, perfectly safe and free from all difficulties. When will this Lord Hari, Whose terrible form strikes fear into fear itself, ever become pleased and show me His mercy?
yadyapi bhisana murti dusta-jiva-prati
prahladadi krsna-bhakta-jane bhadra ati
kabe va prasanna ho’ye sa krpa-vacane
nirbhaya karibe ei mudha akincane
Even though Lord Narasimha is terrifying toward the sinful souls, He offers great auspiciousness unto the devotees of Lord Krsna headed by Prahlada Maharaja. When will He be pleased to speak words of compassion unto me, a worthless fool, and thereby make me fearless?
svacchande baiso he vatsa sri-gauranga-dhame
jugala-bhajana hau rati hau name
mama bhakta-krpa-bale vighna jabe dura
suddha cite bhajo radha-krsna-rasa-pura
He will say, “Dear child! Sit sown freely and live happily here in Sri Gauranga-dhama. May you nicely worship the Divine Couple, and may you develop loving attachment for Their Holy Names. By the mercy of My devotees, all obstacles are cast far away. With a purified heart, just perform the worship of Radha and Krishna, for such worship overflows with sweet nectar.”
ei boli’ kabe mora mastaka-upara
sviya sri-carana harse dharibe isvara
amani jugala-preme sattvika vikare
dharaya lutibo ami sri-nrsimha-dvare
Saying this, will that Lord delightedly place His own divine lotus-feet upon my head? I will experience sublime love for the Divine Couple Radha-Krishna and undergo the ecstatic transformations called sattvika. Falling on the ground, I will roll about at the door of Sri Narasimha’s temple.
We pray that some day we be able to appreciate at least a few words of what Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur has expressed here in his prayers to Lord Narasimha Dev and aspire to experience at least a few drops of the sublime love of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna that he is referring to. Sri Narasimha Dev Bhagavan ki jay!