Most of you may have read and heard why Lord Nrsimha Deva killed the great demon Hiranyakashipu. The well known reason is, the demon was torturing his own child, Bhakta Prahlad, who was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu, who Hiranyakashipu considered his greatest enemy. So Lord Vishnu appeared as Nrsimha Deva and killed Hiranyakashipu.
Correct. But the Supreme Lord is known for doing multiple things in one go. One of the unique things about the Lord is, His actions are easily understood by His close devotees but they leave non-devotees baffled and speculating. And when such non-devotees who are proud of their material accomplishments, which also includes mere academic knowledge of Vedic scriptures, cannot find a reason for Lord’s unique activity they try to rationalize it from their mundane point of views.
For example, you may find hundreds of explanations by scholars and ill-informed religious leaders why Lord Rama killed Vali, why Mother Sita was told to walk through fire, why Lord Krishna played with the Gopis, why Lord Krishna told Arjun to kill Karna when Karna had no weapon, why Pitmaha Bhishma did not protest Queen Draupadi’s insult, and so on. Sorry but people should simply shut up their mouth when they don’t know the answer based on Vedic scripture because it makes no sense to take an incident from the Vedic scripture and explain it leaving aside the same scripture, especially when there are bona fide explanations for such events available in authentic Vedic texts.
Lord Nrsimha Deva is an eternal form of Lord Vishnu. In other words, He was always there, is still there and will always be there. Similarly Lord Rama and Lord Krishna and other forms of the Supreme Lord are also eternally existing. They appear and disappear in different universes just as the sun appears and disappears from our vision although it is always there.
In Vaikuntha there are no enemies of Lord Vishnu. When Lord Vishnu desires to fight, His confidential devotees take on the role of His enemies and descend in the material world. They appear as big time demons like Hiranyakashipu, Hiranyaksha, Ravana and Kumbhakarna. This is clearly explained in Srimad Bhagavatam.
Once when the Lord of Vaikuntha desired to fight, the doorkeepers of Vaikuntha, Jaya and Vijaya (also spelt Jay and Vijay) understood their master’s desire. On the other side, the four boy-sages known as Chatukshana, who have chosen to remain children all their life and are known as Sanat kumaras, came to Vaikuntha loka in the spiritual sky. But at the gate they were stopped by the two doorkeepers Jay and Vijay. This made the sages angry as they were otherwise free to roam around at their own will.
This is how they reacted:
“Who are these two persons who have developed such a discordant mentality even though they are posted in the service of the Lord in the highest position and are expected to have developed the same qualities as the Lord? How are these two persons living in Vaikuṇṭha? Where is the possibility of an enemy’s coming into this kingdom of God? The Supreme Personality of Godhead has no enemy. Who could be envious of Him? Probably these two persons are imposters; therefore they suspect others to be like themselves. In the Vaikuṇṭha world there is complete harmony between the residents and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, just as there is complete harmony within space between the big and the small skies. Why then is there a seed of fear in this field of harmony? These two persons are dressed like inhabitants of Vaikuṇṭha, but wherefrom can their disharmony come into existence?
Therefore let us consider how these two contaminated persons should be punished. The punishment should be apt, for thus benefit can eventually be bestowed upon them. Since they find duality in the existence of Vaikuṇṭha life, they are contaminated and should be removed from this place to the material world, where the living entities have three kinds of enemies.” (SB 3.15.32-34)
Hearing this from the sages the doormen of Vaikuṇṭha loka, who were certainly great devotees, fell down at the feet of the sages and said they accept the punishment for having disrespected them but prayed that the illusion of forgetting the Supreme Personality of Godhead in their asura bodies will not come upon them. This is the beauty of Lord’s devotees; they don’t mind going even to hell so far they don’t forget the Lord.
Lord Vishnu immediately understood what had transpired and, accompanied by His eternal consort, Lakshmi Devi, rushed to the spot on those very lotus feet which are sought for by great sages. Seeing Lord Vishnu, when the four sages bowed down before Him, the aroma of the Tulasi leaves, mixed with saffron, entered their nostrils and immediately attracted their minds. Quoting from this incident from Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says:
“Although these four saintly persons were always absorbed in the thought of impersonal Brahman, from association with the Lord and from smelling the tulasī leaves, the hairs on their bodies immediately stood up. This shows that even a person who is situated in Brahman realization, if he is put into association with devotees in pure devotional service, will immediately become attracted to the personal feature of the Lord.” (Nector of Devotion, 35)
Now see the beautiful part of Lord Vishnu’s dealings with the sages who had just cursed Lord’s own confidential servants. It shows His superexcellent humility, despite being the Supreme Lord. He said:
- “These attendants of Mine, Jaya and Vijaya by name, have committed a great offense against you because of ignoring Me. O great sages, I approve of the punishment that you who are devoted to Me have meted out to them. To Me, the brāhmaṇa is the highest and most beloved personality. The disrespect shown by My attendants has actually been displayed by Me because the doormen are My servitors. I take this to be an offense by Myself; therefore I seek your forgiveness for the incident that has arisen.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 3.16.2-4)
While accepting the blame for His servants, Lord Vishnu informed the sages: O brahmanas, know that the punishment you inflicted on them was originally ordained by Me, and therefore they will fall to a birth in a demoniac family. But they will be firmly united with Me in thought through mental concentration intensified by anger, and they will return to My presence shortly. (SB 3.16.26)
These are the same Jaya and Vijaya who became Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. Hiranyakashipu was the elder son of Diti and Hiranyaksha was the younger one. Because Hiranyaksha was killed by Lord Vishnu in His form as Sri Varaha Dev, Hiranyakashipu wanted to take revenge. Being in a demon’s body he did not realize the position of Lord Vishnu as his master, but the Lord did not forget His devotees’ past.
We need to note that as originally prayed by Jaya and Vijaya, they never forgot the Lord but their their attitude towards their eternal master was unfavorable to devotional service. Nonetheless because they always remembered the Lord, although as their enemy, the merciful Lord came to deliver them.
The transcendental form of Lord Nrsimha is a unique combination of man and lion. He appeared in that form because Hiranyakashipu was protected by a boon that he would not be killed by any species created by Lord Brahma. In fact, after killing Hiranyakashipu, Lord Nrsimha lightly chastised Lord Brahma for having given such a boon.
The following is a beautiful prayer to Lord Nrsimha Deva written by Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur, a pure, unalloyed devotee of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna and a prominent Vaishnava acharya. In his book Navadvipa Bhaava Taranga, while talking about Nrsimha palli, a holy tirtha in Sri Navadvipa Dham. His heartfelt prayer shows a unique characteristic of pure devotees of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna. Even while praying to Lord Nrsimha Deva the ultimate purpose of such pure devotees remains the same, pure, unalloyed love and devotion to Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Krishna.
“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 Krishna. 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?
Even though Lord Narasimha is terrifying toward the sinful souls, He offers great auspiciousness unto the devotees of Lord Krishna headed by Prahlada Maharaja. When will He be pleased to speak words of compassion unto me, a worthless fool, and thereby make me fearless?
He will say, “Dear child! Sit sown freely and live happily here in Sri Gauranga-dham. 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.
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.”
To see original Bengali text visit A heartfelt prayer to Lord Narasimha Dev – Mayapur Voice.
In conclusion, Lord Nrsimha appeared not only to protect Bhakta Prahlad but also to deliver His another great devotee who served the Vaikutha gates as a doorkeeper. Lord’s mercy does not always come in the form of comfort. It is a wrong conception that just because someone suffers in this world, God is not merciful to that person. The Lord is always merciful to all but He deals with them the way it works the best for them.
All glories to Sri Nrsimha Bhagavan!