The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes The Lord Adopts the Form of Nrisimha which is chapter 28 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the twenty-eighth chapter of the Purushottama-kshetra-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 28 - The Lord Adopts the Form of Nṛsiṃha

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Summary: The Lord Adopts the Form of Nṛsiṃha: Dialogue between Brahmā and Indradyumna.

Jaimini said:

1-8. By the power of the Mantra Indradyumna and others saw Lord Narasiṃha as having a mysteriously wonderful appearance.

He appeared to lick up the entire universe all round by means of his blazing tongue. He was like Kāla (god of death), fire and Rudra[1] rising up as if to swallow everything.

He pervaded the entire space between heaven and earth with his intensely blazing refulgence. The Lord had innumerable eyes, mouths, necks, hands, feet and ears.

Everything is mysterious and wonderful with the Lord. He was the only storehouse of splendour. They were frightened and excessively bewildered. They could not even eulogize the Lord.

On seeing him (the Lord) like this, then, Nārada asked his father:

Nārada said:

O holy Lord, how does this (Lord) shine like this? It was for blessing (the world) that he took the incarnation. But on the contrary, he has become terrifying. All have become inert due to fear. They are apprehending universal annihilation now.

O Lord of the worlds, you alone know the graceful sports of the Lord.

On hearing those words of Nārada, the Lotus-born Lord’s face beamed with smiles. He spoke these interesting words rendering comfort unto all:

Brahmā said:

9-13. Foolish persons who do not know the reality are likely to disregard or to be indifferent to the Lord after seeing the Lord incarnated with wooden body, though he is directly Brahman itself. Hence, the Lord was consecrated with the Mantrarāja (king of Mantras) by Brahmā (Parameṣṭhin) so that they too may understand. This Mantra was the same as was formerly used by Parameṣṭhin so that the Lord could tear the demon (i.e. Hiraṇyakaśipu).

(Therefore) this idol attains such a form as is very difficult to view and terrifies. This idol is the highest point of perfection of Viṣṇu of unmeasured splendour.

By worshipping this idol people will attain the goal from which a return is impossible.

Facing Nṛsiṃha, he joyously recited this prayer:

14. “Obeisance to you, O sole Lion-God, O excellent one among Devas. Obeisance to you, O Lord, the sole lion for the elephants of the mass of sins. Obeisance to you, O Lord, the Lion that takes (the devotees) across the ocean of misery. Obeisance to you, O highly refulgent Lord, O divine Lion!

15. Salute to you, O wonderful Lion, of all forms. Obeisance to you, O lion (capable of) liberating from pain. Obeisance to you, O Nṛsiṃha, of divine form and body. Hail to you, O most excellent one among heroes, O unique Lion!

16. Obeisance to you, O Lion capable of tearing the Daitya; obeisance to you, O Lion, the overlord of all the Devas; obeisance to you, O Sole Lion in the forest of the Vedāntas. Obeisance to you, the Sole Lion in the cave (heart) of Yogins.

17. Obeisance to you, O Lion, O sole Lion of piety and virtue, Obeisance to you, the Lion on the summit of Nīla mountain.”

Jaimini said:

18-21. (Partially defective Text) After eulogizing the Divine Lion thus Brahmā began to initiate Indradyumna in the Mantrarāja.[2] He made a Talisman (Amulet) of the Divine Lion and placed it on him (the king). This Mantra has been directly mentioned in the Atharvaṇa (Veda). Those who are devoted to the Vedāntas call this Vaiṣṇava Nirvāṇa (salvation to the followers of Viṣṇu). All the four Vedas are always established in it. It is by learning this Mahāmantra (‘Great Mantra’) from this Four-faced Lord himself that Lord Svāyaṃbhuva Manu carried on creation formerly. The qualities (super-natural powers like) Aṇimā (Minuteness) etc. are its secondary benefits.

22. In order to acquire all the four aims of human life this great Mantra alone is enough. What to speak of insignificant petty desires!

23. This great Mantra alone bestows the benefit of all Yajñas; it is the bestower of all the Tīrthas; it is the bestower of the benefits of all charitable gifts and holy rites.

24. Just as this Lord in the form of the Divine Lion destroys all the groups of sins, as the forest fire burns up a heap of cotton, so also (does) the great Mantra.

25-26. It is by practising this that ascetics dispel the ailment of worldly existence. The moment one receives this and masters this, evil spirits, adverse Planets, epileptic fits, Demons, Ḍākinīs (witches), goblins, vampires, ghosts, serpents etc. flee away. They are not capable of even to look at him.

27-30. Then Indradyumna received the King of Mantras (the most important Mantra) from the Four-faced Lord and viewed the Lord thus: Nṛsiṃha has quiescent body. Lakṣmī has resorted to his chest. He holds the discus and the Pināka bow[3](?) The Moon and the Sun constitute his eyes. The pair of lotus-like hands extend up to the knees. The nose is prominent. He is comfortably seated in a thirty-two-petalled lotus full of Mantra syllables, which shines with OṂ in the middle for its pericarp and which has been placed above the seat of Yogic tablet (slab). He has a boisterously loud laughter. He is looking towards the lotus-like face of Śrī. His lotus-like face is adorned with manes.

31. Behind the Lord, he saw Balabhadra in the form of an umbrella as he had extended his thousand hoods of shining features with divine gems. He held the plough and the palm tree.

32. On seeing Puruṣottama of such a form the king was delighted. With his mind struck with wonder, he asked the Lotus-seated Lord:

33. “O holy Lord, wonderful indeed is the act of the Slayer of Madhu. O Creator of the worlds, how is it possible for us to understand him?

34. At the end of the sacrifice he adopted that form made of wood. You alone, O Lord, placed him within the Mansion, the Lord who had been in the chariot.

35-37. Formerly that ethereal voice told me that the Lord would have a fourfold form from the tree of superhuman origin[4] (apauruṣeya taru).

Now only one is seen. He has been well-installed. Is this Māyā or reality? O Lord, tell me exactly if you consider me worthy of hearing about it, O Creator of all the worlds.”

On hearing this, (Brahmā) replied to the excellent king who was in doubts.

Brahmā said:

38. The first idol of the Lord, O king, was in the form of Narasiṃha. It was proclaimed by Nārāyaṇa to you on account of my blessings.

39. O tiger among kings, do not consider this an ordinary statue, an idol of wood. This is indeed the form of the Supreme Brahman.[5]

40. Since it is naturally capable of dispelling all the miseries and bestowing unending bliss, this idol of wood itself is called Supreme Brahman.

41. Thus as the Lord of wooden body is the creator of all the worlds, he created (revealed) his own self in accordance with the four Vedas.

42. There is no difference between these two, viz. the Brahman of sound (Vedas) and the Supreme Brahman. At the time of universal dissolution this is one. Difference comes at (the time of) creation.

43-45. Indeed, O king, Śabda (sound, words) and Artha (meaning) are interdependent. If there is no meaning (object), there is no word. If there is no word, nothing is known.

Hence the four Vedas constitute the object. The words and the meanings are like this. The wielder of plough (i.e. Balarāma) is in the form of Ṛgveda. Nṛsiṃha is in the form of Sāma Veda; this Bhadrā is in the form of Yajus and the discus is known as Atharvaṇa. The Vedas are four when different, but constitute one entity when they do not differ.

46. Hence, let there not be any doubt in you. The Lord is one as well as manifold. In the other incarnations too this happens like this. This is the rule.

47. The difference and non-difference of the Lord of the universe have been explained to you, O king. Wherever (i.e. in whatever way) your mind feels contented, follow it up with devotion.

48. This Lord has all the forms. The Lord is identical with all the Mantras. He bestows benefit in accordance with the manner in which he is worshipped.

49-50. Just as a piece of gold can be turned into any (ornament) as one wishes and calling it by a particular name (of the ornament) yields the pleasure and contentment thereof, so also, O king, the Lord has manifested himself here along with his greatness. One attains Siḍdhi as much as one has faith.

51. Mentally, verbally and physically and with a pure conscience propitiate Govinda here, the Lord assuming the wooden body.

52. For the sake of the acquisition of the benefit in the form of the four aims of life, worship this Lord Viṣṇu as you desire by means of this prominent Mantra.

53-56. There has never been a greater Mantra nor will there ever be one. The Lord is so fond of his devotees that Viṣṇu worshipped by means of this becomes pleased instantaneously and gives even his own city. Of what avail are Yajñas, Tīrthas, holy rites, charitable gifts and penances unto him who adores Viṣṇu of wooden body stationed on Nīla mountain?

I shall tell you the truth, O king. Listen to this attentively. By seeing the immortal Brahman stationed on Nīla mountain in the guise of a wooden statue, at the root of the banyan tree, on the shore of the sea, one shall certainly be liberated.

Footnotes and references:


Or like fire at the destruction of the universe (Kālāgni) and Rudra.


VV 18-26 describe the power of Nṛsiṃha Mantra.


cakraṃ pinākaṃ dadhatam’ may be emended as follows: ‘cakraṃ śārṅgaṃ ca dadhatam’, as Śārṅga is the name of Viṣṇu’s bow and Pināka that of god Śiva.


This is the tree which was seen floating on the sea and it was out of this tree that the idols of Jagannātha etc. were carved.


In vv 38-56 god Brahmā emphasizes the greatness of the wooden images of Jagannātha etc. The wooden images are the Supreme Brahman. Brahmā advises Indradyumna to propitiate that Wooden-Brahman (Dāru-Brahman).

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