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The Two Faces of Lord Nrsimhadeva

By Sacinandana Swami, May 2017

Few days ago, we celebrated a truly amazing festival while commemorating Lord Nrsimhadeva’s appearance day at our “Lion Temple” in Simhachalam, Germany. Lord Nrsimhadeva’s presence was perceived so vividly that one senior devotee declared, “The Lord is here with us!” - meaning that Lord Nrsimhadeva had come amongst us and did not stay in the distance.

At the center of the temple room stood a huge pillar. It was split open with rocks suspended under the ceiling; indicating that the Lord had just burst out of the pillar, making the rocks fly in all directions. The entire pastime of the appearance of Lord Nrsimhadeva is amazing, because He manifested His beautiful and awe-inspiring form of a half-man and half-lion solely for the protection of His dear devotee Prahlada. This pastimes, hence, offers practicing devotees around the world strength and faith to not be afraid to express their love and devotion to the Lord.

It is comforting to know that Lord Nrsimha has two faces: a ferocious face and a merciful face. The ferocious face He shows to the demons who disturb the devotional service to the Lord, while His supremely merciful face He shows to the devotees.

Lord Nrsimhadeva’s Ferocious Face

When the Lord appeared, He roared so loudly that the lotus-born Brahma became stunned. The Lord was so angry at Hiranyakashipu who had attacked saintly Prahlada, that the hair on His head shook the clouds and scattered them here and there; His glaring eyes stole the effulgence of the luminaries in the sky; and His breathing agitated the oceans. Because of His roaring, the elephants guarding the directions abandoned their posts (Srimad Bhagavatam, 7.8.32).

After enjoying a fierce fight, the Lord resolutely dispatched the demon Hiranyakashipu to His next body – the body of Sisupala.

Lord Nrsimhadeva’s all-blissful, kind face

The Lord behaves very gently with His devotees. Although Lord Nrsimhadeva is very ferocious towards the demon-like personalities, He is not at all fearsome to His devotees. With His devotees, the Lord behaves like a lioness with her cubs; but for others His form seems very terrible (Sridhara Swami’s Commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam 7.9.1)

Thus His devotees offer Him their loving obeisances:

I offer my homage to Lord Hari who has the face of a lion. He delights Prahlada’s heart and tears apart His devotees’ ignorance. His luster is like that of the autumn moon.” ( Sri Laghu-Bhagavatamrita 1.5.17)

Choose Your Side

According to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, we as practicing vaishnavas are somewhere between Prahlada and Hiranyakashipu - and it is important for us to choose the side we want to stand on!

The devotee sees the Lord everywhere, and the non-devotee cannot feel His presence anywhere. We are situated in the middle. Sometimes we show our attraction for devotional service; the next moment we engage in material enjoyment. It is by the desire to serve the Lord that we can control the desire to enjoy the world.” (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, Letter, 22.12.1927)

Therefore, let us step on the right side - the side of the Lord’s devotees. When we choose devotional service over our sense gratification, the Lord will appear and gives us His blissful embrace.

This is one of the lessons of Nrsimha Caturdasi, the festival of the appearance of Lord Nrsimhadeva.

Please try to attend this amazing festival in Simhachalam next year and your life will change forever.

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