Saturday, May 21, 2016

Appearance Day of Lord Nrisimhadeva

Yesterday, May 20th, 2016 was Sri Nrisimha Caturdasi or the Appearance Day of Sri Nrisimha - the half man (nri) and half lion (simha) incarnation of God.

In Vedic and specifically Vaishnava theology, Nrisimha (alternately Nrsingha Narasimha Narahari etc.)  is the 4th of the Dasavatara or 10 predominant incarnations of Visnu - that go:
1. Matsya - the Fish Incarnation
2. Kurma - the Tortoise Incarnation
3. Varaha - the Boar Incarnation
4. Nrisimha - the half man/half lion incarnation
5. Vamana - the Dwarf Incarnation
6. Parasurama - the Warrior Incarnation (Rama with an axe-parasu)
7. Rama (Ramachandra) - the Kingly Incarnation
8. Krsna/Balarama - the Cow Protector Incarnation
9. Buddha - The Wisdom Incarnation
10. Kalki - The Redeemer Incarnation

(Some of the 'descriptions' are of my own making.)

What I've always found somewhat interesting, is that while most 'religions' have an issue with Evolution, if you look, you can see basically an evolutionary flavor to the list of incarnations, starting with a marine form, going to a reptilian, then mammal, then between animal and man, to a 'primitive' or small version of man, to a warrior, kingly man, simple village/forest dweller, an 'enlightened' being, and ultimately a redeemer!

Of course, God comes in a myriad of forms - said to be as endless as the waves on the sea. In fact, everything is to some degree or another, a projection/emanation/expansion of God.  And in Bhagavad Gita, Krsna says "Of all creations, I am the beginning and the end, and also the middle" (10.32) and later, "There is no end to My divine manifestations. What I have spoken to you is but a mere indication of My infinite opulences....Know that all beautiful, glorious, and mighty creations spring from but a spark of My splendor...But what need is there for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire creation." (10.40-42)

In the case of Nrisimhadeva, the Lord acts as ultimate protector to those devoted to Him. While I won't go into the whole story in detail, (it can be found in the 7th canto of Srimad Bhagavatam) it tells of a very young boy (Prahlada) who is the son of the king of the demons (Hiranyakasipu). Prahlada is very devoted to God and even preaches to his classmates in the demon school.  His father upon hearing this makes numerous attempts to kill his own son, but in each case, the Lord saves Prahlada from certain death.

In the end, when his father asks, "Where IS this God of yours?"  Prahlada says, "He is everywhere, father!"  Hiranyakasipu then begins pointing at various items in the palace and asking, "Is he here? Is he HERE? Is he in this pillar?"  And smashes the pillar with his sword, at which point Nrisimha bursts forth miraculously, takes the demon upon His divine lap, and with His sharp nails proceeds to completely disembowel the demon!  (Yeah, I know. Pretty politically incorrect!)

To many, the whole scene seems ghastly - a demonic father trying to kill his own son, and God ripping out the demon's intenstines and wearing them as a garland.  I mean, gross, right!?  And yet, thousands, if not millions of people take great solace in this idea of God as ultimate Protector.  (In Krsna temples around the world, it's often one of the most popular holidays.)

But isn't it understandable?  We like to think this world can be all roses and sunshine, but the truth is, there is a vast amount of Evil out there. We tend to either ignore or hide from many of these truths, but brutal treatment, beatings, assault, rapes, murder are being carried out at every moment. It's happening RIGHT NOW, somewhere to somebody - much of it by religious, social, or governmental organizations that we like to think are doing good. But it's there, and it's NOT likely to go away any time soon, if ever. We like to think that we are evolving, but when you look at the state of world affairs, you sometimes wonder if we aren't devolving!

But, the story, ultimately points toward looking to God for strenth, shelter and protection; that we are NOT going to find it within this material sphere, where suffering and mayhem sometimes seems to be the daily fare!  Whether He/She will burst out of a pillar is up for speculation, but He IS ever present! He is closer than our own heartbeat; He is manifested everywhere and within we don't have far to look!  We just have to open our eyes and our hearts.

1 comment:

  1. I tremble to think what it may say about my own psychology but I have always felt an elation when reading the various stories of God in one form or another not just killing the demons but eviscerating them with sword or claw. Whether Nrisimha, Kali, Krsna or Lord Hanuman there is a glory and a fulfillment when a demon has his guts torn out for a garland! When have there ever been more demons that need to be gutted? Let it happen now!