Ugra Narasimha

This is Narasimha, an avatar of Vishnu, in the act of killing Hiranyakasipu. In this form, he is Ugra (fierce) Narasimha.

The story: “Hiranyakasipu had performed penance and obtained from Brahma the boon that he could not be killed by God, man or beast, by any weapon known to man, during the day or night, inside his palace or outside it. Therefore Vishnu had to appear as man-beast (Man-lion, Nara-simha), tear the demon’s entrails with his claws (which were not weapons), during dusk (which was not day or night) and seated upon the threshold of the palace (which was neither inside or outside)”  From Pratima Kosha Volume Three page 191 Prof S K Ramachandra Rao.

In the background, framing his face,  is the split pillar from which Narasimha emerged. Narasimha’s lower hands are tearing Hiranyakasipu’s entrails.

Interestingly Narasimha’s upper hands are holding the entrails. His usual attributes, Shankha and Chakra, are absent. My first.

Another interesting aspect of this Vigraha is Hiranyakasipu’s buffalo face. The book Unknown Masterpieces of Indian and Folk Art by B N Aryan and S Aryan has a painting (catalogue no 94, page 64) where Hiranyakasipu is depicted with a buffalo head. That painting is attributed to Bazar School, Amritsar, late 19th century.

For some reasons, not known to me, it is virtually impossible to get South Indian Ugra Narasimha of the size meant for home shrines. But you do see pictures of Ugra Narasimha temple bronzes, both large and small.

This vigraha most likely come from North India (Punjab/Himachal Pradesh) and it is 9 cm in height. This is probably more than 100 years old.


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