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?
Bhakti Vighna Vinashak Narasimha Dev, the destroyer of all obstacles on the path of bhakti, is very merciful to all his devotees and his appearance day, which is celebrated on the chaturdashi tithi of the Vaishakh month, is celebrated by one and all with great enthusiasm, with the desire to please lord Narahari and become fearless on the path of bhakti, so that we may attain the ultimate goal of life, which is the loving service at the feet of the divine couple Shri Shri Radha Shyamsundar.
This material world is nothing but the perverted reflection of the spiritual world, and therefore all the rasas that are experienced here are present in their pure state in the Supreme Lord, and hence when once the Lord desired to taste vira rasa, the mellows of chivalry, the lord’s internal potency, Yogamaya, mada an arrangement that when the four Kumaras, who were exalted devotees of the lord, came to Vaikuntha, to take darshan of Lord Narayan, Jaya and Vijaya, the gate keepers of Vaikuntha, being influenced by Yogaymaya stopped them, and the four Kumaras, displaying transcendental anger at their behavior, cursed them, and told them to choose between taking 7 births as great devotees of the Lord or 3 births as demons, who would be killed by the Lord. Understanding the desire of the Lord and wanting to please him, Jaya and Vijaya chose to become demons, so that the Lord may enjoy vira rasa by fighting with them. There is no one qualified in this entire universe to satisfy the desires of the Lord other than his pure devotees, and therefore this desire of the Lord also had to be fulfilled by the pure devotees of the Lord, and for the pleasure of the Lord his servants descended on this earth as Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu.
After Hiranyaksha was killed by Varahadev, Hiranyakashipu became furious and with a desire to take revenge for his brother’s death and to kill Vishnu, he proceeded to the mountains to perform severe austerities and gain the benediction of immorality so that he may defeat Vishnu. While he was performing severe austerities by not eating or drinking anything and his entire body was eaten by ants, Indra kidnapped Kayadhu, the wife of Hiranyakashipu, with the intention to kill the child within her womb, thinking him to become a threat to the demigods when he would grow up, but Narad muni after convincing indra about how great a devotee the son of hiranyakashipu would be, he took kayadhu to his ashram, where he instructed prahlad, while still in his mother’s womb, about the science of Krishna consciousness. Being thus instructed by Narad, Prahlad maharaj, when sent to school by his father, started preaching to his friends about bhakti and transformed all the demoniac children in to devotees. He gave them the instruction of nava vidha bhakti, which are the nine prominent kinds of bhakti out of the sixty four angas of bhakti mentioned in the shastras.
sravanam kirtanam visnoh
arcanam vandanam dasyam
iti pumsarpita visnau
bhaktis cen nava-laksana
kriyeta bhagavaty addha
tan manye ‘dhitam uttamam
[“Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Visnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words) – these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krsna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge.”]
When, however, Hiranyakashipu realized the devotion that Prahlad had for the Supreme Personality of Godhead and he was informed that Prahlad was imparting that knowledge and devotion unto other students as well, he was infuriated, and deciding to kill his very own son, he tried to harm Prahalad maharaj in various ways, like throwing him of a mountain cliff, trying to burn him by putting him on the lap of his sister Holika in the midst of a blazing fire, dipping him in boiling hot oil and many more cruel tactics of torture to kill him. Enraged by the fact that none of his endeavors were harming Prahlad in the least, he demanded to know the source of his strength because of which he was being protected, in answer to which Prahlad maharaj started glorifying Lord Vishnu. Upon hearing the glories of Vishnu from his son, Hiranyakashipu asked him about the whereabouts of the Lord and Prahlad told him that the Supreme Personality is omnipresent and is therefore present in every part of this universe. Envious as he was of the Lord, he immediately struck a pillar with his fist after Prahlad had confirmed that the lord would be present there too, and out came Lord Narasimha dev, the lord’s half lion, half man incarnation, which was so ferocious in his appearance that Hiranyakashipu could understand, his death was now certain. Yet he fought with the Lord, and Narasimhadev, without transgressing the benediction that Hiranyakashipu had received from Brahma, tore open his body and killed him, thus giving pleasure to the entire universe, which had been suffering due to the atrocities of the demon.
After the anger of the Lord had been pacified by the prayers of his dear devotee Prahlad, being desirous to bestow upon Prahlad a boon, he asked him to ask for anything that he may desire. Being a great Vaishnava, Prahlad maharaj prayed to the lord for the welfare of all the conditioned souls, upon which the Lord proclaimed that anyone who would hear the description of the story of Prahlad Narasimha would be quickly liberated and would not have to suffer in this material world. On this auspicious occasion we too implore the Lord to bestow his mercy upon us, so that being freed from all obstacles on the path of bhakti we may make rapid advancement in spiritual life and go back home back to godhead.
In Iskcon Vrindavan, the festival of the appearance day of lord Narasimha dev is observed by all the devotees by keeping a fast for the pleasure of the Lord till dusk. In the morning all the devotees engage in glorifying the Lord’s pastimes and in the evening all the devotees assemble for the abhishek ceremony of the lord accompanied by uproarious kirtan. After being bathed, Lord Narasimha dev and all the deities are offered an elaborate offering prepared by the devotees with great devotion. After the offering and evening arati, all the devotees honour ekadashi prashad to their full satisfaction.
tava kara-kamala-vare nakham adbhuta-śṛńgaḿ
keśava dhṛta-narahari-rūpa jaya jagadīśa hare
O Kesava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of half-man, half-lionl All glories to You! Just as one can easily crush a wasp between one’s fingernails, so in the same way the body of the wasp like demon Hiranyakasipu has been ripped apart by the wonderful pointed nails on Your beautiful lotus hands.