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Lord Nrsimhadeva, ISKCONMayapur Published by: Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, SridhamMayapur Nrsimha Caturdasi, May 15, 2022
This publication is dedicated to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and to his followers who are together fulfilling his most cherished vision to offer the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium at the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga! All Glories to Lord Nrsimhadeva!
Table of Contents
Dedication.................................................................................. 4 Table of Contents...................................................................... 5 Introduction............................................................................... 1 Prayers to Lord Nrsimhadeva................................................ 2 The Appearance of Lord Nrsimhadeva in Mayapur........ 3 Lord Nrsimhadeva Reciprocates Instantly......................... 14 Lord Nrsimhadeva In His Most Terrific Form ................. 23 “I Want My Eyes Back!” ........................................................ 33 Other Pastimes of Lord Nrsimhadeva ................................ 37 Lord Nrsimhadeva Resolves a Father’s Dilemma ............ 48 “Please Help Me!” .................................................................. 50 Letter from Andharupa Devi Dasi....................................... 51 Government Doctor’s Inspiration ........................................ 52 Miracle at Mayapur................................................................ 53 Lord Nrsim hadeva’s Mercy Even on Non -devotees........ 55 Dr. Nrsimhadeva at the Door ............................................... 58 Auntie’s Cancer Cancelled .................................................... 60 Twenty Foot Flames ............................................................... 62 Saved from Acute Cancer...................................................... 63 Lord Nrsimhadeva Stops Storms......................................... 65 Tornado .................................................................................... 67 Pot of Prasadam...................................................................... 67 Pastimes of Lord Nrsimhadeva Outside Mayapur........... 70 Srila Prabhupada Chants Nrsimha Prayers ....................... 76 Lakshmi Nrsimha Sahasranama Stotram........................... 78
This book was originally compiled, published, and printed by Sriman Advaita Acharya das brahmacari in the early 2000s. In late 2021 the TOVP Teamdecided to publish the book as an online flipbook on our website to further expand the glories of Mayapur Nrsimhadeva as we approach the Grand Opening of His TOVP Wing and altar in 2023. This historic occasion will set the stage in preparation for the Grand Opening of the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium in 2024. We took the liberty of revising the book somewhat in terms of layout and presentation, but the original text and lilas of Lord Nrsimhadeva remain the same. We are releasing the flipbook on the occasion of the GivingToNrsimha 12 Day Matching Fundraiser ending on Nrsimha Caturdasi, May 15, 2022 (India time) to raise funds for the completion of the Lord’ s temple wing and altar, in honor of His Grace Pankajanghri prabhu who departed from our vision one year ago. We truly hope this small book is an inspiration for devotees in their continued spiritual advancement towards pure love of God. We also hope it may inspire you to sponsor a Nrsimha Brick to be placed with your name on it under Lord Nrsimhadeva’s altar for generations to come. Go to the Nrsimha Brick Page on the TOVP website and make your sankalpa to the Lord. The TOVP Team
Prayers to Lord Nrsimhadeva
jaya nrisimha sri nrisimha jaya jaya jaya sri nrisimha
ugram viram maha-vishnum jvalantam sarvato mukham nrisimham bhishanam bhadram mrityur mrityum namamy aham
May my head be protected by the moon colored one, who is the greatest among humans. My obeisances unto the ferocious and powerful, the great Vishnu, the fiery one, who's faces are on all sides, the fearful one,
Nrsimha, who causes the death of even death personified, (or who can overcome death). (Nrsimha Kavaca Bija Mantra)
sri nrisimha jaya nrisimha jaya jaya nrisimha prahladesa jaya padma mukha padma bhringa
Glories to Lord Nrsimha, Laksmi Nrsimha, all glories to Lord Nrsimhadeva. The Lord of Prahlada, like a honeybee, is always engaged in beholding the lotuslike face of the goddess of fortune. (Narasimha Sahasra Nama Stotram)
The Appearance of Lord Nrsimhadeva in Mayapur Based on a talk with H. G. Atmatattva Das Adhikari On the 24 th of March, 1984, at 12:20 a.m., thirty-five dacoits (thieves) armed with weapons and bombs attacked Sri Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir. They harassed the devotees and treated them with derision. But the greatest shock came when the dacoits decided to steal the Deities of Srila Prabhupada and Srimati Radharani. Fearlessly, the devotees challenged the attackers. How could they see Srila Prabhupada and Srimati Radharani carried away? Shots were fired, a few dacoits fell, and their plans were foiled. Srila Prabhupada was rescued, but that beautiful formof Srimati Radharani would no longer grace the main altar. This incident really disturbed the minds of the devotees. Those involved in management were especially concerned to make some permanent solution. This was not the first time the devotees had faced violence and harassment inMayapur. Bhavananda Dasa, who was the co-director of ISKCONMayapur, suggested that Lord Nrsimhadeva be installed. When the dacoits had threatened devotees at the Yoga-Pitha, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura and his son, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati
Thakura, had promptly installed Sri Sri Laksmi- Nrsimhadeva. There had been no further disturbances. Other devotees in Mayapur were not so keen to follow so closely in these footsteps. The pujari must be a naisthika-brahmacari (celibate from birth) ; and the worship of Lord Nrsimhadeva must be very strict and regulated. Who would be prepared to worship Him? Despi t e such
hes i tancy, Bhavananda Dasa was enthusiastic to bring Lord Nrsimhadeva to Mayapur. He asked Bhaktisiddhanta Dasa
and myself to draw some sketches. One day, quite spontaneously, he said that the Deity ’ s legs should be bent, ready to jump, He should be looking around ferociously, His fingers should be curled, and flames should be coming fromHis head. I sketched a Deity in this mood. The devotees liked it, and Pankajanghri Dasa agreed to worship Him. Radhapada Dasa, a wealthy devotee from Calcutta, offered to sponsor the sculpting and installing of the Deity. It seemed Lord Nrsimhadeva ’ s appearance in ISKCON Mayapur would be a simple, straight-forward affair. Radhapada Dasa promptly gave
Rs. 130,000, and it was accepted that the Deity would be ready for installation in three months. I left for South India to get things organized. By Krishna ’ s grace I soon found a very famous sthapati. A sthapati not only sculpts Deities; he is also expert in temple architecture and engineering. The man was very obliging until I mentioned that the Deity we wanted carved was Ugra-Nrsimha. He emphatically refused to make such a Deity. I approached many Deity sculptors, but the answer was always the same: No. I had made a number of trips between Mayapur and South India. Six months had passed, but Lord Nrsimhadeva had not yet manifested in His Deity form. Radhapada Dasa was very anxious to see Lord Nrsimhadeva installed in Mayapur. He asked me to visit the original sthapati I had seen, and once again plead our case. This time the sculptor was a little more congenial and offered to read me a chapter from the Silpa-Sastra (a Vedic scripture on sculpture and temple architecture) that deals with the different forms of Deities. He read aloud some verses describing Lord Nrsimhadeva. A series of verses described His flamelike mane, His searching glance, and His knees bent with one foot forward ready to jump from the pillar. When he read this, I was amazed. This was exactly what we wanted. I showed him the sketch I had done. He was impressed and offered to draw an outline based on the scriptural description, which we could use as a guide for sculpting the Deity. He reminded me, though, that he would not carve the form himself. It took him a week to complete
the sketch, and it was very impressive. I returned toMayapur and showed the sketch to the temple authorities. Everyone wanted this same sthapati to carve the Deity. Once again, I was sent back to South India to try to convince him. I went straight to the house of the sthapati. I was feeling very anxious. What could I do but pray to Lord Nrsimhadeva to
be merciful and agree to manifest Himself in our temple in Sri Mayapur Dhama? I had hardly said two sentences when the man very matter-of-factly said he would carve the Deity. The story of how he came to this decision is interesting. The sthapati had approached his guru, the Sankaracarya of Kanchipuram, about our request. His guru ’ s immediate reply was, “ Don ’ t do it; Your family will be destroyed. ” But then, after a moment ’ s reflection, he asked, “ Who has asked you to carve this Deity? ” When he heard that it was the Hare Krishna people from Navadvipa, he become very concerned. “ They want Ugra-Nrsimha? Are they aware of the implications of sculpting and installing Ugra-Nrsimha? Such Deities were carved over 3,000 years ago by very elevated sthapatis. There is a place on the way to Mysore where a
very ferocious Ugra-Nrsimha is installed. The demon Hiranyakasipu is torn open on His lap and his intestines are spilling out all over the altar. Once the standard of worship there was very high. There was an elephant procession and festival every day. But gradually the worship declined. Today that place is like a ghost town. The whole village is deserted. No one can live there peacefully: Is that what they want for their project? ” The sthapati replied, “ They are very insistent: They are constantly coming to talk to me about the Deity. Apparently, they have some problem with dacoits. ” Handing his guru a sketch of the Deity, he said, “ This is the Deity they want. ” His guru took the sketch and looked at it knowingly. “ Ah, this is ugra category, ” he said, “ but a Deity in this particular mood is - called Sthanu-Nrsimha: He doesn ’ t exist on this planet. Even the demigods in the heavenly planets don ’ t worship a form like this. Yes, this Deity belongs to the ugra category. Ugra means ferocious : , very angry. There are nine forms within this category. They are all very fierce. The one they want is Sthanu- Nrsimha: stepping out of the pillar. No. Don ’ t carve this Deity. It will not be auspicious for you. I will talk with you about this later. ” A few nights later , the sthapati had a dream. In the dream his guru came to him and said, “ For them you can carve Sthanu-Nrsimha. ” The next morning he received a hand-delivered letter from Kanchipuram. The letter was from the Sankaracharya and gave some instructions regarding temple renovations. There was a footnote at
the bottom. It read, “ For ISKCON you can carve Sthanu- Nrsimha. ” The sthapati showed me the letter and said , “ I have my guru ’ s blessings. I will carve your Deity. ” I was overwhelmed with joy. I gave him an advance payment and asked him how much time it would take to carve the Deity. He said the Deity would be ready for installation within six months. I returned to Mayapur. After four peaceful months in the holy Dhama, I decided to go to South India and purchase the heavy brass paraphernalia required for Nrsimhadevaworship and then collect the Deity. The trip was well-organized and trouble-free until I visited the sthapati. I explained to him that all the paraphernalia required for the worship had been purchased and that I had come to collect the Deity. He looked at me as if I ’ d lost my senses and exclaimed, “ What Deity? I haven ’ t even found the suitable ‘ stone! ” I couldn ’ t believe my ears. “ But you told me He would be ready in six months, ” I exclaimed. “ I will keep My promise, ” he said. “ Six months after I find the stone, the Deity will be ready for installation. ” His reply was emphatic, but I just couldn ’ t understand or accept the delay. In frustration I challenged, him, “ There ’ s big slabs of stone all over South India. What ’ s the problem? ” He looked at me the way a teacher would view a slow student and said very deliberately, “ I am not making a grinding mortar, I ammaking a Deity. The scriptures tell us that only a stone that has life can be used to make a Visnu Deity. When you hit seven points of the stone slab
and each makes the sound mentioned in the scriptures, then that stone may be suitable. But there is a second test to indicate whether the stone is living stone. There is a bug that eats, granite. If it eats from one side of the stone to the other and leaves a complete trail visible behind it,
then the second test of living stone has been passed. That stone is living stone, and expression can manifest from it. Only from such a slab can I carve your Nrsimhadeva. Such stone speaks poetry. All features of a Deity sculpted from such stone will be fully expressive and beautiful. Please be patient. I ’ ve been searching sincerely for your six-foot slab. ” I was amazed and a little anxious. The devotees in Mayapur were expecting the arrival of the Deity soon. How was I going to explain the “ living stone ” search to them? Maybe they would decide to make Nrsimhadeva frommarble. I decided to try to lighten the subject by discussing the Prahlada Maharaja murti with the sthapati. “ Please forgive me, but I forgot to tell you last time I came that we also want a Prahlada murti. We
want to worship Prahlada-Nrsimhadeva. What do you think? ” “ I don ’ t think that will be possible, ” the sthapati replied matter-of-factly. I looked at him incredulously, not sure what to say. He smiled and continued, “ You want everything done exactly according to the scriptures. Your Nrsimhadeva will be four feet high. Comparatively speaking, that will make Prahlada Maharaja the size of an amoeba. ” “ But we want Prahlada Maharaja one foot high, ” I interrupted. “F ine, ” the sthapati replied, “ but that means your Nrsimhadeva will have to be about 120 feet high. ” We began to argue back and forth about Prahlada Maharaja ’ s form. Finally the sthapati sighed in resignation and agreed to make Prahlada Maharaja one foot tall. At least I now had something positive to report when I returned to Mayapur. After two months, I returned to South India. There had been no developments. I shuttled back and forth fromMayapur to South India every thirty or forty days. Finally our stone was found, and the sthapati became a transformed man. For over a week he hardly spent any time at home. Hour after hour, day after day, he just sat staring at the slab. He had chalk in hand but didn ’ t draw anything. He refused to allow his laborers to do anything besides remove the excess stone to make the slab rectangular. The next time I visited him, he had made a sketch on the stone. That was all. I was worried. The Mayapur managers were becoming impatient.
“ Are you sure this Deity will be finished in six
months? ” I asked in desperation.
“ Don ’ t worry. The work will be done, ” he replied. I returned toMayapur, only to be sent back to South India to check on some details of the Deity. I found the sthapati carving the form himself with intense care and dedication. At that stage, the stone had gone and the shape had come. The sthapati had just started on the armlets. He took two weeks to carve them. All the features were so refined and delicate. I was impressed and very happy. It took the sthapati a little over twelve months to finish the Deity. When he completed the work, he didn ’ t immediately inform me, but decided to visit some friends for a few days. It was the monsoon season, there were few
visitors, and he felt it safe to lock up Lord Nrsimhadeva securely in his thatched shed. Two days later, his neighbors ran to inform him that the thatched shed was on fire.
There was heavy rain and everything was wet, but the coconut-tree roof had caught fire. He ran to the scene to find Nrsimhadeva untouched, but the shed burned to ashes. Immediately he phonedme, “ Please come and take your Deity. He ’ s burning everything. He ’ s made it clear He wants to go NOW! ” Enthusiastically I traveled to South India, hired a truck, and half-filled-it with sand. I arrived at the sthapati ’ s studio thinking this final stage would be relatively simple. I had foolishly forgotten that Lord. Nrsimhadeva is a very heavy personality: He weighed one ton! After two or three hours we managed to lift the Deity safely from the shed onto the truck. To travel across the border safely, we also needed police permission, along with signed papers from the Central Sales TaxDepartment, the Archeological Director, and the Art Emporium Directorate in Tamil Nadu. All the officers demanded to see the Deity before signing the necessary papers. Once they took darshan of Lord Nrsimhadeva, they all became very obliging and efficient. We had all the necessary, papers in hand within twenty-four hours — a miracle given the usual quagmire of bureaucracy found in government offices in India. The trip back to Mayapur was also amazingly trouble-free and peaceful. Our protector was certainly present with us. Usually the sthapati comes on the day of the installation ceremony, goes into the Deity room, and carves the eyes of the Deity. This is called netra-nimilanam (opening the eyes). It was an exceptional case that our Nrsimhadeva ’ s sthapati had already carved the eyes. He
had not only carved the eyes; he had also done the prana- pratistha (installing the life force), a little puja and an arati. I am sure that is why all the papers were prepared so obligingly, and transporting the Supreme Lord was so easy; He was already present, and who would dare say no to Lord Nrsimhadeva?
The installation of Lord Nrsimhadeva was very simple and lasted three days: from the 28 th to the 30 th of July, 1986. I remember feeling apprehensive that perhaps the installation was too simple. The grave warnings of the Sankaracarya of Kanchipuram had deeply impressed me. But my mind was soon appeased by an awareness of loud, dynamic kirtana . Sankirtana-yajna, the only true opulence of Kali-Yuga, was dominating the scene. I felt
enlivened and satisfied. Lord Nrsimhadeva, the protector of the sankirtana mission, had finally decided to manifest at Sri Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir.
Lord Nrsimhadeva Reciprocates Instantly By Pankajanghri Dasa
The fact that people just love to hear stories is one reason why some of the Vedic codes were gradually transmitted in story form, like the epic histories Mahabharata and Ramayana and the Puranas. When such stories concern the pastimes of the Lord and His devotees, they are called lilas. Being labeled Lord Nrsimhadeva’s pujari in Mayapur, I have been asked to recount some stories in connection with Him, but unlike the sastras (scriptures), these “lilas” (pastimes) have no authority except for the testimony of the devotees who told them. In most cases, there were no other witnesses. Although I am generally quite skeptical when it comes to accepting other people’s mystical experiences as truth, just too many things started happening recently, not to sit up and take notice. For instance, during the last Gaura Purnima festival, I called over a devotee in the crowd and asked her to distribute the Lord’s caranamrta [water that has washed the Deity] to the ladies, which she did. Later,
when she brought the caranamrta pot back, she remarked that Lord Nrsimhadeva was very merciful to reciprocate so quickly: “I was praying this morning that I might be able to offer some direct service to Him, and now you have given me this service.” “Yes,” I said, “desires are quickly fulfilled in the dham. Just see, the same day you desire, it happened.” “No, not the same day ; the same moment,” she replied. “The very instant I expressed that desire to serve Him, you called me over. ” “Wow! that is amazing,” I acknowledged. “Did you hear about how one devotee’s eye problem was cured at the same time that Lord Nrsimhadeva’s original eyes were placed back, after one donor had bought Him new eyes?” “Oh, yes,” she told me. “As a matter of fact, I was staying in the same building when Lord Nrsimhadeva spoke to her.” She added, “You know, there was so much energy around that night that nobody could get any sleep.” Just a few days later, another devotee revealed how Lord Nrsimhadeva helped him: “I was suffering intensely. I could not even stand without supporting myself on the column in front of Lord Nrsimhadeva’s altar. I prayed, ‘Please help me. Take away this suffering condition so that I may serve You fully.’ I then felt all my pain moving up and flowing out of my body. It just left.”
While I was hearing this, I noticed another devotee who had come for the darshan of the Lord. Earlier in the morning, this devotee had asked my advice what to do, for she had been afflicted for about two weeks with a severe problem that contaminated her body, which wouldn’t allow her to paint some Deities in Assam,
although she had already been commissioned to do it and had an air ticket to go. “Mataji,” I exclaimed while walking over to her, “Lord Nrsimhadeva is giving instant benedictions. Why don’t you ask Him to remove your problem?” The very next morning, when she sawme, she said “Thank you so much for the advice! Y ou know, when I arrived home from the temple yesterday, my problem had completely disappeared.” Some days later another devotee came to the pujari room and told us about a dream, wherein Lord Nrsimhadeva walked and talked with her just like a father. When she asked how she could serve Him, He told her to offer Him some mangoes. It wasn’t the mango season, but she managed to get some, and we offered them for her. This was the year that His Holiness Gour Govinda Swami left his body in Mayapur. A few days after this tragedy, she came again and said, “Actually, I only told you half of the dream. Lord Nrsimhadeva also said to me, “My pujari is very dear to Me, and I am going to take him back with Me.” “Oh, don’t do that, please,” I fearfully exclaimed. “We want him to stay here.” “No, I think I will take him back.” “And after my pleading with Him for a long time, the Lord firmly announced. ‘All right, then, I will take one of the gurus instead.’” She concluded by saying, “I told my spiritual master about this dream, and he advised me not to tell anyone. But now, because it has come true, I think I can tell you.”
When I repeated this story to my friend, Visvambhar from Carolina, he said, “This is amazing! My wife also dreamed about Lord Nrsimhadeva and mangoes. You see, yesterday, while she was walking outside the Mayapur campus, she saw a jar of mango pickles in a shop and desired to buy them for Lord Nrsimhadeva. But doubting the purity of the contents, she refrained. However, last night, Lord Nrsimhadeva appeared in her dream and asked, “Where are My mango pickles?” When Lord Nrsimhadeva first came to Mayapur, all the pujaris were reluctant to worship His awesome form. Bhava Siddhi das was particularly frightened and always very nervous worshiping Him. One night, after putting the Lord to rest, he was leaving the altar, when he heard such a tremendous sound that it made his hairs stand on end. Looking back fearfully, he saw that everything was in place. So he quickly left, locked the door and paid his obeisances, praying for forgiveness for any offense he might inadvertently have committed. At the end of that night he was awakened by the shaking of his bed. Bhava Siddhi was sleeping on the top of a bunk bed. So he thought it must be the pujari below him getting up for mangala-arati (morning worship). However, when he opened his eyes, he saw Lord Nrsimhadeva sitting on his bed. That fortunate pujari became very fearful, practically to the point of panic. As he tried to get up, Lord Nrsimhadeva place His two hands, which felt like the weight of the universe, on his shoulders. “Be peaceful, be calm,” the Lord consoled him. “I have just come to tell you that when you worship
Me in the temple, there is no need to fear Me. Please, give up this fear.” The Lord then disappeared, but Bhava Siddhi began to run up and down the veranda of the Long Building, where he slept. “What happened?” asked some concerned devotees. But they received only incoherent replies.
They started to think maybe he had gone mad or become haunted by a ghost. Finally Bhava Siddhi ran over to the temple and prostrated himself before the door where Lord Nrsimhadeva is worshiped and offered heartfelt prayers. After some time, he became a little pacified, and began walking back to his room. “I wo nder why everyone is staring at me,” he thought. When he looked down, the answer was obvious: He had gone to the temple in his night dress. I saw Bhava Siddhi at last year’s Gaura Purnima festival — he is living in America now — and asked him about that incide nt. “Yes,” he said. “I still have those two marks from Lord Nrsimhadeva on my shoulders. They are almost gone now, but they are still visible.” He wasn’t the only one to claim to have seen Lord Nrsimhadeva. Once, a devotee from a nearby Gaudiya Math came to offer worship to Lord Nrsimhadeva and told our head pujari, Jananivas, that on Nrsimha Caturdasi (the Appearance Day of Nrsimhadeva), he had been staying up all night chanting. Then, at the end of the night, Lord Nrsimhadeva manifested Himself in his room. It was the form of Nrsimhadeva from the ISKCON temple, and He appeared to be smiling very sweetly at me. My Guru Maharaj said I was very fortunate and should come here and worship Lord Nrsimhadeva. Another time the frantic parents of a runaway boy, after searching all over the country, finally heard that their son was at our Mayapur center. They immediately came and spent the whole day looking for him, inquiring
at the reception desk and from individual devotees, but they were not at all lucky in tracing him. At the end of the day, during the sandhya arati (evening worship) of Lord Nrsimhadeva, his mother was praying with folded hands, “ My dear Lord, the last time I came here, I happily participated in the chanting and dancing, but now my heart is broken because of my lost son, and I find no pleasure in life anymore. My Lord, if only my son could be returned to me, then I would also raise my hands and chant ‘Haribol, Hare Krishna.’”
As these words left her mouth, a figure passed and stepped before her and Lord Nrsimhadeva: it was her lost son. Both parents have now accepted Vaishnava initiation, started a nama hatta preaching center, and are enthusiastically preaching the Lord’s glories. There are other stories — some I would be hesitant to repeat, and others that I can’t, having been told them in confidence. The devotees who told me these stories have had their faith and conviction strengthened, and certainly mine was, too, by hearing them. So if others derive the same benefit from reading them — even though they are not sastra (scripture) — it will be most beneficial. They help us advance in Krishna consciousness.
Lord Nrsimhadeva In His Most Terrific Form By Pankajanghri Dasa
Om namo bhagavate sri maha-Nrsimhaya/ damstra- karala-vadanaya/ ghora-rupaya vajra-nakhaya/ jvala-maline mama vighnan paca paca/ mama bhayan bhindi bhindi/ mama satrun vidravaya vidravaya mama/ sarva ristan prabhanjaya prabhanjaya/ chata chata, hana hana, chindi chindi/ mama sarvabhistan puraya puraya mam/ raksa raksa hum phat svaha
“O Nrsimhadeva, whose form is terrible by sharp and long teeth, who is very fearful to see with strong, large nails, and who is garlanded by flames — destroy, destroy my obstacles and kick out, kick out my fear. Scatter, scatter my enemies, destroy, destroy my karma. Flash, flash! Kill, kill! Cut, cut! Ever fulfill, fulfill my desire to serve You and protect, protect me and all around me.” (Sri Nrsimha-kavaca stotram)
Startling, isn’t it— this maha-mantra of Lord Nrsimhadeva? For those who have had darshana of this Deity form here in Mayapur — especially at mangala-arati, when in the darkness of pre-dawn, His doors open to reveal His awesome form, illuminated by 200 oil lamps that make His eyes and teeth glint in His lion-like face with a gaping mouth — they know that this description is no exaggeration. While inside the altar area, the pujari
circles large lamps of bright flaming camphor and ghee. Outside, many devotees throng for a glimpse of their Lord, for they know that this auspicious arati will be over in just three or four minutes. It is just before 5:00 a.m. The arati is over and the heavy wooden doors to Lord Nrsimhadeva’s altar are closed. I enter the Deity room, after offering prostrated obeisances and praying for the blessings of Srila Prabhupada and the assembled devotees. While standing before the Lord with folded hands, I recited the following prayer : “O Kesava, O Lord of the universe! O
Lord Hari, who has assumed the form of half-man, half-lion. All glories to you! Just as one can easily crush a wasp between one’s fingernails, so in the same way the body of the wasp-like demon Hiranyakasipu has been ripped apart by the wonderful painted nails on Your beautiful lotus hands.” (Sri Nrsimha Pranama) After cleaning the
floor and sitting on a kusa grass mat, the puja begins… The first thing I do is to purify the articles to be
used, as well as the body and the mind. Then I meditate on my spiritual identity as different from the body, understanding myself to be the eternal servant of the servant of the Lord. Next comes my worship for my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, with sandalwood paste, flowers, incense, a ghee lamp, and some food. I then ask for his permission to assist in the worship of Lord Nrsimhadeva. Repeating the same procedure for Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Prahlada Maharaja, I begin to offer 16 items of worship through mantras — through the medium of water — to Lord Nrsimhadeva. I touch my head to the lotus feet of the Deity of Sri Prahl ada Maharaja, praying for his blessings. “It was only to relieve the distress brought to you by your demoniac father Hiranyakasipu, that the Supreme Lord appeared in His wonderful formof LordNrsimhadeva. O Sri Prahlada Maharaja, you are one of the twelve mahajanas, or great authorities of devotional service. Kindly bless me with the understanding of spiritual truths.” On the altar of Lord Nrsimhadeva are 60 salagrama- silas. I remove Them to offer abhiseka. The big sila in the center who wears a crown is a Nrsimha saligram. Although it is a scriptural injunction that one should touch one’s head to the feet of the Deity, it’s not always possible or practical. Therefore, we bring out the satari — the Deity’s shoes— mounted on what looks like a helmet, and place it over the heads of the devotees.
One of the benedictions of being a pujari is that he can place his head directly on the Lord’s lotus feet. Receiving this benediction and begging forgiveness for any inconvenience I may cause Him, I undress the Lord and wipe His body with a soft, damp towel. His body begins to shine when I massage it with cooling oils like sandalwood or khus. His form is exquisite, slender and perfectly formed. He looks powerful but also graceful. The Lord’s knees are bent, ready to spring; around His hips is an engraved girdle; and He bears a face with large cheeks, open mouth and a protruding tongue. His navel is deep and H is chest is broad. Lord Nrsimhadeva’s transcendental body is smooth, soft to the touch, and very much appealing to the eye. He is bedecked with bracelets and other ornaments. The Lord has eight arms. In six hands He holds a sword, lotus flower, disc, conch, club and shield, and to keep the promise of Brahma, His two front hands yield no weapons. The Lord cannot bear any intolerance against His devotees. It is said that the face is the index of the mind.
If this proves to be true, then we can see how furious Lord Nrsimhadeva must have been when He burst out from the pillar to attack the greatest of all demons, Hi ranyakasipu, who tried to kill the Lord’s pure devotee, Prahlada.
His angry eyes resembled molten gold, and His shining mane expanded the dimensions of His fearful face. His deadly teeth and His razor sharp tongue moved about like a dueling sword. His ears were erect and motionless, and His nostrils and gaping mouth appeared like caves of a mountain. His jaws parted fearfully and His entire body touched the sky. 1
When it was decided to bring a Deity of Lord Nrsimhadeva to Mayapur for the protection of the devotees and the temple, three of the main pujaris were called by the managers to discuss the importance of establishing this Deity. However, when it came to the point of who would perform daily puja, no one was willing to step forward. “After such a long waiting period, the Deity is finally ready, and now nobody wants to worship Him!” Their concern was obvious. And then I was singled out…. “Why don’t you want to worship Him?” I was asked. “I’m too scared,” I replied. They intimatedme: “Oh, you probably don’t follow the four regulative principles….” “Of course, but…”
1 Paraphrasing Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.8.19 – 22.
Fortunately, our fears were allayed by Atma-tattva Prabhu, who had procured the Deity in South India. He told us that first, even the sthapati refused to make such a Deity, saying that nobody worships this sthanu form of Nrsimhadeva [the ferocious form of the Lord when He stepped out of the pillar to Kill Hiranyakasipu]. Generally one goes before the Deity of the Lord to ask for some benediction. But to ask for something when He is shaking with fury, just wouldn’t be a smart thing to do. It is certainly better to go for a more pacified form, e.g. after He has killed Hiranyakasipu. But later, when the stapati found out that it was for Mayapur Dhama, he agreed, because any Deity brought to the dhama takes on the mood of the presiding Deity of the dhama. In this case, it is audarya, “benevolence”— the mood of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Gaura-Hari!
Although very ferocious, the lioness is very kind to her cubs. Similarly, although very ferocious to non-devotees like Hiranyakasipu, Lord Nrsimhadeva is very, very [gentle] and kind to [His] devotees like Prahlada Maharaja. 2
While dressing the Lord and remembering His mercy, I am thinking how some people misunderstand our purpose for worshiping Lord Nrsimha. Sometimes devotees say that worship of Nrsimhadeva is Vaikuntha- bhava, and it cannot take one to Goloka Vrindavana, the Lord’s supreme and most intimate abode. But Lord Nrsimhadeva is particularly inclined towards the
2 This verse was composed by Sridhara Swami in his commentary on the Seventh Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam (7.9.1).
devotees of Radha and Krishna. He is Krishna Himself, appearing especially in this form to reciprocate with our desire to remove all the obstacles in our devotional service.
If one can always raise his hands and call out with great love the names of Nitai-Gaura and Radha- Madhava, that is wonderful. But if there is something in your heart that is stopping you from that spontaneous call, why not go in all humility before Lord Nrsimhadeva and pray that with His sharp nails, He may pierce those crooked desires in your heart and throw them far away… This is His main function. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura writes:
“Th erefore, I will pray at the feet of Lord Nrsimhadeva to purify my heart and give me the desire to serve Krishna. Weeping, I will beg at the lotus feet of Nrsimha that I may worship Sri Sri Radha and Krishna in Navadvip Dhama, free from all obstacles. At that moment, by Lord Nrsimhadeva’s mercy, I will exhibit symptoms of ecstatic love for Radha and Krishna, and I will roll on the ground by the door of Lord Nrsimhadeva’s temple.” 3
Didn’t Lord Caitanya reveal His divinity to Srivasa Thakura while Srivasa was worshipping his Nrsimha Deity, by saying: “Srivasa, don’t you know that I am the same person whom you are worshipping behind those closed doors?” And what about Advaita Acarya, whose offerings of tulasi buds and Ganga water, along with His loud calling, caused the Lord to descend, it is said that He worshipped a Nrsimha Saligram!
3 Paraphrasing Bhaktivinode Thakura’s Navadvipa Bhava-taranga.
I now begin putting ornaments on the Lord’s body. I adjust Sri Nrsimhadeva’s necklaces, so they hang symmetrically; tie shining bracelets on His wrist; and fix beautiful rings on His lotus fingers. [Prahlada Maharaja would say:] “I am so close to you, O Lord, and yet so far away. When will I become a devotee?” Prahlada, your foremost bhakta, is indicating that he is not afraid of Your ferocious mouth and tongue; Your eyes as bright as the sun, and Your frowning eyebrows. He fears not Your sharp, pinching teeth, your garland of intestines, and Your mane soaked with blood, nor Your tumultuous roaring, which makes elephants flee; nor Your nails meant for killing your enemies. 4 However, he says, “I’m very much afraid of my condition of life within this material world. When will that moment come when You will call me to the shelter of Your lotus feet?” 5 I know Sri Prahlada was saying that last point only for our benefit, for he was always completely surrendered unto You. One time, I also felt surrendered unto You — at least for a few minutes. That was during the big flood in 1987. While offering You puja, standing waist deep in water, a big, frightening snake swam in the temple, passing behind You. It stopped about five feet in front of me, finding its exit blocked. After examining me for some long moments, it dipped down, out of sight, in the muddy Ganga water. Feeling myself in imminent danger, I noticed the hair on my arms standing on end,
4 Paraphrasing Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.15. 5 Paraphrasing Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.16.
with no weapon to defend myself, nor the ability to run away, I felt very insecure. In such a helpless condition, I turned to You, O Lord, and I knew that my fate was completely in Your hands. “You are the Supersoul in everyone’s heart. If Youw ant that snake to bite me, it will bite; if You don’t, it won’t. Let me continue my service; the result is dependent on You.” Then, I became peaceful again, feeling the safety of Your shelter. I finished the morning puja, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the incident. It reminded me of the description by Lord Kapila of the babies in the womb. In their helpless and painful condition, they get the darshan of Paramatma, the Lord in the heart. If they are pious, they pray that if He relieves them from their suffering condition, they would — after being relieved from the womb —exclusively worship Him. But as soon as they’re out and in good shape, they forget everything. Still, I have great hope that one day I’ll be able to serve You nicely for Your pleasure. By the way, as long as the temple room was filled with water from the flood, the snake would come every day, circumambulate the Deity once, and then go out. Who knows who that snake actually was? Covering His body with fresh garlands of flowers and tulasi, offering sandalwood paste, mixed with fragrant flowers and tulsi leaves to His lotus feet (which symbolizes sacrificing everything to the Lord), the morning puja is now complete. Hearing the devotees gathering outside makes me hurry –it’s time for darshan. I blow the conch three times and open the doors to reveal the resplendent Lord. Jaya Sri Prahlada Nrsimhadeva!
The devotees bow down, happy to see their Ugra Nrsimha again. In their hearts they know that He is not really as ugra as He looks.
(From an article published in Mayapur Journal, Summer 1994.)
“ I Want My Eyes Back! ” By Atmarati dasi
On a warm December morning last year, around 11:00 a.m., as I sought the association of the magnificent Lord and prayed to His dearmost devotee Prahlada, I found myself involved in one of His temple lilas (pastimes), much to my astonishment. After offering my obeisances to the captivating Prahlada, who stands next to his beloved Lord with his hands folded and his small body decorated with fresh flowers and beautiful ornaments, I prayed, “My dear Prahlada, you are expert in receiving all kinds of blessings from Lord Nrsimhadeva. You even received the blessings of forgiveness for you demoniac father, Hiranyakasipu. Please ask your Lord to bless this poor soul with the destruction of everything that stands in the way of her devotional service. Show me the way to real happiness.”
Then, as I stood meditating on the Lord’s beauty and mercy, I heard a very sweet, deep voice: “I want My eyes back!” At first, I ignored it and kept my mind in the mode of prayer. But the voice spoke a second time: “I want My eyes back!” Attempting again to disregard this clear message raised a burning and almost a painful sensation in my heart. I was dumbfounded. What was I to do? Then the voice continued: “Go to the pujari.” “ Okay, ” I thought, “ I have nothing to lose. If the pujaris think I am crazy, I will at most lose a bit of my false ego. ” Praying to the Lord to give me the strength to carry out His order, I paid my obeisances and almost breathlessly headed for the pujari rooms. There I found Jananivas Prabhu reading the Srimad Bhagavatam. The atmosphere in the room was extremely serene and otherworldly. I stood there for several minutes and waited for him to notice me. Then, after I told him what happened, he asked me to go see his twin brother, Pankajanghri Prabhu, the actual pujari of Lord Nrsimhadeva. Somehow I felt that I didn’t have to do more at this point. The following day, as I approached the magnificent form of Lord Nrsimhadeva, my mind buzzed with doubt. “What if that voice was just my mind, demanding the healing of my eyesight, which has been very poor and painful for the past six weeks ?” Thinking in this way, I prayed for an answer. The voice spoke to me again, this time with a more serious and firm tone: “You will get your eyes back when
I get M ine!” His form always ema nates a soft light, and my heart felt peaceful and warm. I felt overwhelmed with unusual confidence, as if my head were touching the sky. The next morning, at 2:20 a.m., I woke up fully refreshed and wide-awake. It was unusually early for me, as I usually get up around six o’ clock. A soft voice urged me to rise, bathe and attend mangala-arati (early morning worship) — which I did. After the ceremony was over, the same voice urged me to follow Pankajanghri Prabhu from Lord Nrsimhadeva ’s altar into the pujari room. I felt very embarrassed and had tears in my eyes. I also felt a kind of unwillingness in my heart to reveal my mind to him. As he was preparing the articles for the Lord’s abhisheka, I started to talk to him. Pankajanghri Prabhu listened attentively to my story. Then, without saying anything, he smiled and gave me maha sweets from Lord Nrsimhadeva ’s plate. The following morning, when my
daughter returned from the temple, she was shouting, “Mommy, they changed Nrsimhadeva ’s eyes! He has beautiful red eyes now.” And as the sweet deep voice had promised, my eyesight was
miraculously cured – within 3 days.
All glories, all glories to the merciful Lord
Nrsimhadeva in Sri Mayapur.
[Editor’s note: Lord Nrsimhadeva originally had red eyes. One day, a devotee came to Mayapur and offered two precious yellow stones for His eyes, and the pujaris reluctantly changed the eyes on the Deity. They felt happy when the Lord revealed that He wanted His original red eyes.]
Atmarati Dasi, who joined ISKCON in 1980 is from Greece, and she wrote this article for Mayapur journal in 1997.
Other Pastimes of Lord Nrsimhadeva
Lord Nrsimhadeva ’s pujari had a very startling dream in which the director of the temple called him and told him to bring some diesel oil, saying, “We are going to sacrifice Lord Nrsimhadeva .” “You are going to what?!” exclaimed the pujari. “Yes we are going t o sacrifice Lord Nrsimhadeva .” “You can’t do that, this is crazy.” “Just bring the diesel will you?” “Ok, I will bring the oil but I don’t want anything
to do with this. I t doesn’t make any sense.”
After some time the pujari returned to the temple and was totally shocked to see that everything had been completely burned by a great fire and all that remained of the Deity was his feet and ankles. Early the next morning, he approached the chief pujari and asked if he could explain the meaning of this terrible nightmare. After thinking for a while, he began to smile and said, “Oh yes . You see, yesterday was the start of jaladan (the festival of dripping water on saligram for one month), but we forgot to observe it, therefore Lord Nrsimhadeva is letting you know that He is burning up and you should immediately begin the jaladan, ” which we did!
Once, Lord Nrsimhadeva ’s worship was going on as usual when the pujari noticed that one flower fell from Nrsimhadeva ’s garland. The pujari asked the visitors if anyone was offering any special prayers to Lord Nrsimhadeva. The visitors in front did not say anything, but from the back, one lady came forward with tears in her eyes. She said, “My daughter got married about four or five years ago and she has no issue. The people in my son-in- law’s house consider it inauspicious. So I was praying to Nrsimhadeva that He might help her in her desperate situation.” Then the pujari said, “Your prayer is granted, the symptom is that this flower fell from Nrsimhadeva ’s garland. Please take this and keep it nicely. You can wash
this flower and give thewater to your daughter to drink.” Then the lady left, and later the pujari forgot the incident. After one year, the same devotee, along with her daughter, son-in-law and a newborn baby came smiling to Nrsimhadeva. She reminded the pujari about the prayer she made one year back, as a result of which her daughter gave birth to a very nice baby boy, whom they named Prahlad. And once again they offered a very nice puja (offering) to Lord Nrsimhadeva.
One of our Namahatta devotees, Kalyani dasi, has two daughters, the elder one is Prathibha and the younger is Anubha. Both of them are married, and they have grown-up children. They both live in the same city, Berhampur. Once the husband of Prathibha fell extremely sick and was in a coma, near to death. Along with the other relatives the younger sister, Anubha, was also in great anxiety about her brother-in- law’s situation. She went to the hospital, and as she was a devotee, she prayed to Lord Nrsimhadeva (at ISKCON Mayapur) to help her brother-in-law. She came home and went to bed with a heavy heart. At the end of the night she had a dream in which Lord Nrsimhadeva came near to her and told her, “Don’t worry, your brother-in- law is ok.” And then her dream b roke. In the morning the news came from the hospital that the
patient was doing well, his saline drip and oxygen had both been removed, and he was now able to talk.
There was a fight in a village, and in the course of the fight, one person was attacked with acid as a result of which his whole face was burnt and terribly disfigured. The sight of one of the eyes was completely lost and the other eye had only about 10% vision. The doctors said that the remaining eye, through which he had 10% vision, would also go blind very soon. They suggested taking the patient to Vellore (South India) for further treatment, to see if they could do something about it. At that time, a devotee who was there suggested that they should pray to Lord Nrsimhadeva for the recovery of his eyes. As a result, they prayed to Lord Nrsimhadeva (at ISKCON Mayapur). The next day, much to the doctor’s surprise, it was found that the patient could see everything very nicely.
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