The Significance of Narasimha Jayanti

Vishnu, the deity who is tasked with protecting and preserving the Universe, is said to appear on Earth from time to time. This usually happens when the Dharma is on the verge of collapsing due to the dominant presence of evil powers. Such appearances are called avatars or incarnations. There are 10 major avatars of Vishnu or Dasavatars. Narasimha is the 4th avatar of Vishnu, who appeared on earth in the form of a half-man and half-lion on the 14th day of Shukla Paksha (waxing Moon phase) in the Hindu month of Vaishakha, during the twilight hour. The festival of Narasimha Jayanti commemorates this event. Narasimha Jayanti 2023 is on May 4.


Why Did Vishnu Incarnate as Narasimha?

Once, there were two demons who were twin brothers and went by the names of Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu. They were the sons of Sage Kashyap. Most demons are not known to have peaceable or congenial temperaments. On the contrary, their main pastime is to torment others and gain power. It so happened that Hiranyaksha, who got a boon from Brahma, became very powerful. To show off his might, he kidnapped Bhu Devi (Mother Earth) and hid her in the cosmic ocean. This posed great danger to the inhabitants of Earth. So Vishnu took the form of a giant boar to kill Hiranyaksha lift Bhu Devi up from the primeval waters.  


The demon’s death was a blow to his twin brother, Hiranyakashipu, who swore to avenge his death. He, too, did penance and received a boon from Brahma, which made him invincible. Soon, he conquered all the 3 worlds and began to torment everyone, including the gods and sages. He also ordered everyone to stop worshipping Vishnu and worship him instead.


The only person who dared to flout this order was the demon’s own son, Prahlad. The boy was a great Vishnu devotee and continued to worship Vishnu, despite his father’s displeasure. When Hiranyakashipu found that his son would not obey his diktat, he decided to kill Prahlad. Eighteen attempts were made to kill the boy, but each time, Vishnu came to his rescue.


One day, Hiranyakashipu challenged Prahlad to prove that his god was omnipresent. He asked him if god was present in a pillar that stood near him. Prahlad nodded in assent. The angry demon struck the pillar with his mace. Suddenly the pillar split into two, and a fearsome apparition emerged from it. It was Vishnu in his Narasimha form. He then proceeded to kill Hiranyakashipu by placing him on his thigh as he sat on the threshold and tore open his chest using his claws. This took place at twilight. The demon had a boon from Brahma. The conditions of the boon stated that he would not be killed


     By any of Brahma’s living creatures.

     Inside or outside any residence.

     At any time of day or night.

     On the ground or in the air.

     By any weapon, living or nonliving creature.


He also received the gift of having no opponent.


However, Vishnu ensured that the boon was not violated in any manner.


Rituals of Narasmiha Jayanti

It is customary to observe a fast on Narasimha Jayanti.

The fasting rules are the same as those for Ekadashi fasting. Devotees eat only one meal on this day. They avoid all grains or cereals.

They also perform Vishnu Pooja.

Devotees take Sankalp and do Narasimha Pooja this day before sunset.

Many keep an all-night vigil, as Narasimha appeared during sunset.

Devotees break the fast (Parana) when Chaturdashi Tithi ends after sunrise the next day.

If Chaturdashi Tithi ends before sunrise, they break the fast sometime after sunrise, when the rituals are complete.

If Chaturthi lasts longer than three-fourths of Dinamana (the time between sunrise and sunset), the fast must be broken in the first half of Dinamana.


The story of Narasimha reminds us that good will always overcome evil. Devotees who worship Narasimha by celebrating his Jayanti and fasting can gain his protection from their adversaries, however powerful they might be. It can also protect them from diseases and bring abundance, victory, and prosperity.

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