Narasimha, Narasingh, Narsingh, Nrsimha, Nrusimha or Narasingha is the fourth avatar of Sri Vishnu. The word Narasimha means ‘lion-man‘ which means ‘half man and half lion‘. Narasimha is often viewed with a torso and lower part of the human body, with a lion-shaped face and claws.
In the third Avatar of Lord Vishnu named Varaha, he killed Hiranyaksha. Hiranyakashipu, the elder brother of Hiranyaksha wanted revenge and has undertaken many years of severe penance to take revenge from Sri Vishnu. Lord Brahma offers a boon to which the demon asks for deathless life, he wanted to become immortal and remain young forever to which Lord Brahma said was not possible but could link Hiranyakashipu’s death to the conditions for which Hiranyakashipu agreed.
Hiranyakashipu said “O lord kindly grant me the blessing that I desire, do not let me meet the death from any one of the living entities created by you. Grant me that I may not die inside any residence or outside any residence, day or night, on the ground or in the sky. Grant me that my death may not be caused by any weapon, nor by any human or animal. Grant me that I cannot be killed by any demigod or demon nor any large serpent of the lower planets. Since no one can kill you on the battlefield, you have no competitor. Therefore, grant me a boon that I have no rival either. Give me sole lordship over all living entities and presiding deities, and give me all the glorious obtained by this position. Grant me all the mystical powers obtained through long austerities and the practice of yoga, as they cannot be lost at any time.” Brahma granted him the boon, and Hiranyakashipu was very happy thinking that he had won over the death.
Hiranyakashipu after getting the boon became powerful and invincible and started persecuting the devotees of Lord Vishnu. He had a son named Prahlada who grow up with devotion to Lord Vishnu. He disagreed and rebelled against his father. Angered by it Hiranyakashipu tried to kill the child many times but Prahlada was protected by the mystical powers of Lord Vishnu. Prahlada refuses to recognize his father as the supreme lord of the universe and declares that Sri Vishnu is the supreme god of the universe.
Angered Hiranyakashipu asks his son “you have described a supreme being other than me, a supreme being who is above all, who is the controller of all, and who dominates everything. But where is he? If he is everywhere, then why is he not present before me in this pillar” and he points a nearby pillar and asks his son if Vishnu is in it.
Prahlada answers “He is omnipresent, He was, He is and He will be in the pillar“. Unable to control his anger Hiranyakashipu breaks the pillar with his Gada then came the thundering voice and Vishu appeared in the form of Narsimha. One half of his body was of a lion and the other half of a man. He had matted hairs on his head, large mustaches on his face and terrible teeth in his mouth. His paws had terrible nails on them.
He was there to kill Hiranyakashipu and not to alter the blessing of Brahma. Hiranyakashipu cannot be killed by humans, devas or animal and Narasimha was not a part of it because his form was part-human, part-animal. The timing was at dusk (neither day or night)and he was on the threshold of a courtyard (neither inside or outside), he put the demon on his thighs (neither ground or space). Using his sharp nails (neither animated nor inanimated) as weapons, he disembowels and kill the demon.
It is said that after killing the demon Hiranyakashipu, no one was able to calm the wrath of Narsimha so the demigods asked Pradlada to calm the lord after that Lord Narasimha returned to a more benevolent way. Before leaving Narasimha rewards Prahlada the crowning king.