From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Narasimha (‘Man-lion [incarnation]’)


Independent shrines of Narasimha are quite common in South India, whereas he has small shrines or niches in the temples of Viṣnu in the North.

Iconographic descriptions of the deity are provided in several āgama treatises like Vihagendrasamhitā, Pādma-samhitā, Iśvarasamhitā, Parāśarasamhitā and Sāttvatasamhitā.

The forms delineated are too numerous to mention. Some of these are: āsīna (seated); sthānaka (standing); yānaka (striding); ugra (ferocious); varada (boon-giving); Lakṣmīnarasimha (in the company of Laksmī); Yogānarasimha (seated in yoga); girija (emerging from a cave in a mountain) and so on.

The hands of the image may be two or four. In the latter case, the two back-hands hold the śaṅkha (conch) and cakra (discus), the other two being shown in the act of killing the demon Hiraṇyakaśipu. An entire Upaniṣad—the Nrsimhatāpinī, in two parts—is devoted to his worship and meditation.

There are several authors of dharma-śāstra literature by this name, but not much is known of them.

Some of them are: Narasimha, the author of Āpastamba-grhyasutra-kārikā-vrtti (A. D. 1614); Narasimhadeva, author of Durgābhaktitarañgini (A. D. 1425-50); Narasimha Vājapeyin, author of Nityācāra-pradīpa and Narasimha Somayājin,

author of Visnupratisthāvidhidarpana.

Many of these works are still in the manuscript form and not printed.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore