India As Narasimha

India As Narasimha

by Aravindan Neelakandan - Thursday, May 4, 2023 05:53 PM IST
India As NarasimhaNarasimha is the embodiment of the very soul of India.
  • When Narasimha emerged from that pillar, it was to reassert the principle of an all-permeating Divine against the arrogance of a monopolistic, narrow vision of an ego-deity.

Today is being celebrated as Narasimha Jayanti.

This was the day when Narasimha—the man-lion—emerged from a pillar for the protection of a young devotee, Prahlada.

Prahlada is a reassuring personality in Hindu Puranic tradition. Throughout India, there are many many folk theatres where the scene of Narasimha slaying Hiranyakashipu is depicted and the character of Prahlada is reinforced in the minds of the people.

Prahlada is a young child who spoke the Truth before the might of the entire Asuric kingdom, without fear or hesitation.

He was asked to worship his father who told him: 'You shall worship me and me only for I am your father and I am the ruler.'

The child refused.

Instead, he insisted on that Divine Principle which permeates all existence.

Hiranyakashipu could understand omniscience and omnipotence. He strove for them and believed that he had attained them. At least omnipotence.

And his idea of omnipotence was his sovereignty over all material realms.

Nonetheless, he could not comprehend omnipresence. And omnipresence is a fundamental of Sanatana Dharma.

Why should there be no hatred? Because Divine permeates all Existence.

Why should one not steal? Because all there is, is Divine.

Why should you harm none? Because in harming others you harm your own Self, because that spark called self is the Divine in all. This Divine not only transcends all, it is also within all that exists.

In contrast to this, a mindset that arrives at a concept of a creator or a sovereign as God and decrees that only that should be worshiped, that mindset cannot comprehend such an omnipresent Divine.

A monopolistic conception of the Divine also necessitates that the world be seen in binaries. This is reflected in the boon that Hiranyakashipu got from Brahma.

He always saw the world around him in definite categories: day and night, inside and outside, weapons and bare-hands, animal or human etc. He could never comprehend the existence of a connecting space.

When Narasimha emerged from that pillar, it was to reassert this principle of an omnipresent, all-permeating Divine against the arrogance of the monopolistic narrow vision of ego-deity.

Thus Narasimha protects the courage and devotion of the child—the child who was one of the earliest satyagrahis of India. If Prahlada represents ahimsa and satyagraha, then Narasimha represents the fierce civilisational strength that protects and makes meaningful that ahimsa and satyagraha.

Without the fierce form of Narasimha, Prahlada in isolation becomes meaningless. And without patience, devotion and perseverance of Prahlada, Narasimha cannot be summoned.

Narasimha is thus the embodiment of the very soul of India.

The 'Breaking India' forces should be forewarned. Inside what you are trying to knock down there awaits an Ugra Narasimha awaiting to answer the silent prayers of those who believe in the Divinity of India.

Aravindan is a contributing editor at Swarajya.

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