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YOGA NARASIMHAR (Panchalogam) 3″

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Narasimha sometimes rendered Narasingha, is the fourth avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. He is regarded to have incarnated in the form of a part-lion, part-man being to slay Hiranyakashipu, to end religious persecution and calamity on earth, thereby restoring dharma. Narasimha is also described as the God of Yoga, in the form of Yoga-Narasimha.

Narasimha iconography shows him with a human torso and lower body, with a leonine face and claws, typically with the asura Hiranyakashipu in his lap, whom he is in the process of defeating. The asura king was the powerful brother of the evil Hiranyaksha, who had been previously defeated by Vishnu, and thus hated the latter. Hiranyakashipu gained a boon from Brahma due to which he could not be killed during the day or night, inside or outside the house; neither in the sky nor on land nor in Svarga nor in Patala, by any weapon, nor by a man, deva, asura, or an animal. Endowed with this boon, he began to wreak chaos and havoc, persecuting all the devotees of Vishnu, including his own son. Vishnu, cognisant of the asura’s boon, creatively assumed a hybrid form that was neither man nor animal, and slew the wicked king at the junction of day and night, at the threshold of his house, which was neither inside nor the outside, upon his lap, and with his claws. Narasimha is known primarily as the ‘Great Protector’ who specifically defends and protects his devotees from evil. The most popular Narasimha myth is the legend of his protection of his devotee Prahlada, and the slaying of Prahlada’s wicked father and tyrant, Hiranyakashipu.

Narasimha is one of the major deities in Vaishnavism, and his legends are revered in Vaikhanasas, Sri Vaishnavism, Sadh Vaishnavism, and various other Vaishnava traditions of Hinduism. He is celebrated in many regional Hindu temples, texts, performance arts, and festivals such as the Hindu festival of colours of the spring, called Holi.

One of the earliest representation of Narasimha, dating back to the 4th-century CE, is from Kondamotu in Coastal Andhra. Other older known artworks of Narasimha have been found at several sites across Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, such as at the Mathura archaeological site. These have been variously dated between the 2nd and the 4th century CE.

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