By Swami Harshananda
Hindu mythological literature,
through the purāṇas, the upapurāṇas and allied works, has successfully kept up the fire and spirit of Hinduism in the hearts of its adherents.
Among the upapurāṇas, the Nara-simhapurāna—also spelt as Nrsimha-purāna—is considered not only as a fairly ancient one but also important, especially from the standpoint of the Pāñcarātra school of the Bhāgavata cult.
The original purāṇa is supposed to have had 18,000 verses, though the present printed version contains only 3400 verses spread over 68 chapters. It is quite likely that the original might have been lost and later compilers might have redacted it from the available material since many of its verses have been quoted by several writers of dharmaśāstras. The extant edition might be assigned to the period A. D. 900, though some scholars push it back to A. D. 400-500.
This purāṇa, as its very name suggests, glorifies Narasimha as a form of Viṣṇu. He is identical with Nārāyaṇa, the eternal Brahman.
Apart from the usual topics commonly dealt with in the purāṇas, it also deals with the practice of yoga, worship of Narasimha, genealogical lists of kings and some stories like the birth of Aśvinī-kumāras. The chapters 57 to 61 are found to appear as an independent work bearing the title Hārītasarhhitā or Laghuhārīta-smrti.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore