Mail from Sadagopaniyengar in one of the vaishnava forum:-
Srimate SrivanSatakopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yatindra Mahadesikaya Nama:
Emperuman's avatArAs are innumerable. "ajAyamAnO bahudhA vijAyatE" says
the Purusha Sukta, confirming that the Lord, who is beyond birth and death
resulting from Karma, takes birth time and again of His own volition, for the
purpose of protecting the righteous, destroying evil and for re-establishing
Dharma on a firm footing. In the process, He descends to this world of sorrow
and suffering, assuming forms as lowly as those of a fish, turtle, boar, etc.
"en nindra yOniyumAi pirandAi imayOr talaivA!" marvels Sri Nammazhwar at the
Lord's infinite mercy which moves Him to adopt such demeaning forms, solely for
our sake. The so-called "DasAvatArAs" are only ten of the numerous forms the
Lord has assumed over the ages- there are quite a few others like the HayagrIva
and Hamsa avatArAs, which too are quite popular.
We are thus presented with a wide choice of the Lord's forms to choose
from, for the purpose of meditation and worship. True, we could very well prefer
to fix our thoughts on the Paramapadanathan, the eternal form of the Lord as He
is to be found in Sri Vaikuntam, the one acclaimed by Sri Satakopa as "Adi
amsOdi uru" (the primordial form). However, we would prefer to plump for some
avatArA, which makes the Lord appear much more real, having happened right in
this world of ours, at specific locations which still stand glorious testimony
to the reality of avatArAs. Here, we are confronted by such a bewildering
variety of forms the Lord has assumed from time to time, that we are hard put to
choose one. If we consider the principal ten avatArAs, some would discard the
Matsya, Koorma and VarAha avatArAs as preferred moortthis for worship, in view
of their representing lower life forms. However much we may bring our devotion
to bear, it is difficult to worship a fish, turtle or boar ("mAnam ilA pandri").
Some are also uncomfortable with the human avatArAs of the Lord such as those
as Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Sri Balarama and Sri Parasurama, as all these are
comparatively inferior avatArAs due to the Lord having undergone a ten-month
imprisonment in the mother's womb, like any other mortal being. Not only that,
He has also subjected Himself to mortality, though of His own volition, in the
process of winding up these avatArAs.
Applying the process of elimination, we arrive at the only avatArA that is free
from the aforesaid defects- the NrsimhAvatAra. Looked at from any angle, this
appears to be the ideal avatArA, evoking in us love, fear and devotion, all at
the same time. It is the avatAra where the Lord displayed all the qualities of
the Supreme Being, in full measure-the "Poorna avatAra", so to say. It was not
long-drawn like some of the other forms, and was short and sweet. During the
short period of its currency, this avatArA achieved what was accomplished in the
other avatArAs, and much more. It has the distinction of one of the few forms of
Sriman Narayana to be eulogized by the Shruti.
Shall we look at some of the features that make this "Seeriya Singam" matchless
1. All the other avatArAs consist of a single life form, either human like
Sri Rama or Sri Krishna, or animal like the Matsya, Koorma and Varaha avatArAs.
Sri Nrsimha was a unique combination of a man and a lion, combining the best
feature of both the races-the ferocity and invincibility of a lion and the
infinite mercy and love only a human being is capable of. Apart from being a
"Seeriya Singam", He was also an "ALari"(man-lion). Each avatArA might be unique
in its own way, but Sri Nrsimha is a matchless mixture of Man and Beast.
2. Major avataras like those of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna were assumed only
upon the specific request of parties affected by asurAs and the like. Sri
Nrisimha's appearance was totally voluntary. Nobody appealed to Him to descend
to the earth for his or her protection; there was no cry of distress. One who
gives upon request is indeed a great man, but greater still is the one who give
unasked, saving the devotee the ignominy of issuing an SOS.
3. While most of the other assumed forms of the Lord were premeditated and
planned in advance (we hear of the Lord dispatching various dEvatAs to the world
to be born at strategic locations, before He Himself is born in AyOdhya), that
of the Man-Lion is a totally impromptu avatArA, unrehearsed, unprepared,
prompted by the need of the moment and totally spontaneous.
4. Going by the Shruti's dictum, "PrajApati: charati garbhE anta:" "anta:
pravishtam KartAram Etam"( the Lord dwells in all the beings as the antaryAmI"),
it is only the NrsimhAvatAra which qualifies as a poorNa avatara, as it is only
in this form that the Lord was present in all beings sentient and otherwise,
ready to leap out from wherever Hiranya would challenge Him to. No one knew
where the asurA would expect Prahlada to demonstrate the omnipresence of
SriHari. This uncertainty prompted the Lord to be present at all places and in
all beings in the form of Nrsimha, so that He could manifest Himself without
delay from wherever He was required to. Swami Desikan confirms this when he
says, "TrilOkyam Etat akhilam Nrsimha garbham". No other avatara could claim
the distinction of antaryAmitvam in the assumed form, though the Lord is ever
5. The usual motive behind avatArAs is three-fold, as laid down by the
"ParitthrANAya sadhoonAm, vinAsAya cha dushkritAm, dharma samstthApAnArtthAya"
(Protection of the good, destruction of evil and reestablishment of
righteousness). The object behind Nrsimhavatara was indeed unique: though all
the aforesaid three purposes were achieved, Srimad Bhagavatam lists a fourth and
most important motive-that of proving the word of a staunch devotee to be true
("Satyam vidhAtum nija bhritya bhAshitam"). It was an avatara taken for the
primary purpose of confirming Prahlada's statement that SriHari existed
everywhere-"ThooNilum iruppAn, thurumbilum iruppAn".
The Lord, though under no obligation to affirm the lad's averment, took all the
trouble to assume an unheard-of form, solely to prove His devotee to be true. It
is this Bhakta vAtsalyam of the Lord, who could not bear to see His votary's
words falsified, that moves us to tears.
6.Sri Nrsimhavatara is the only avatara where the predominant emotion displayed
by the Lord was anger. One could say that this is hardly a distinction, anger
being one of the base feelings, and prudence lies in its control rather than
exhibition. However, righteous anger, directed at injustice and inequality is
indeed a virtue and its display the bounden duty of every right-thinking soul.
By this standard, the ferocity that Sri Nrisimha brought to bear on the
unrepentant Hiranya was indeed called-for and justified, and by far exceeds the
dimensions of emotion displayed by the Lord in any other avatara.
7. In all other avataras, the Lord had to resort to weapons to destroy
His adversaries- the Bow Kodandam as Sri Rama, the Sudarsanam as Sri Krishna,
the axe as Sri Parasurama, and the plough as Sri Balarama. Sri Nrsimhavatara is
unique in that the Lord had no need for any aid from weapons for confronting and
obliterating Hiranya. He tore the asurA apart with His bare nails.
8. Sri Rama might have been the perfectly proportioned man, Sri Krishna the
spitting image of Manmatha (the God of Beauty). However, Sri Nrsimha is the
Beautiful One, eulogized as much for His ferocious beauty as for anything
else-"azhagiyAn tAnE, ari uruvan tAnE" says Sri Nammazhwar, paying eloquent
tribute to this Beautiful Beast.
9. When it comes to tributes from that impartial and impeccable source, the
Shruti, it is Sri Nrsimha who scores again, for, though other avataras might
have found mention in the Vedas, it is Sri Nrsimhavatara which is accorded pride
of place by being eulogized right at the beginning, in the ShAnti PAthA, in the
mantra beginning with "Bhadram karNEbhi: shruNuyAma DEvA:". This beautiful
mantra is the ShAnti PatA for Sri Nrsimha TapAnIyA, Prasna, MandUkya,
AtharvashikhA Upanishads, apart from the aruNa prasna of the YajurvEda
Sri Shankara confirms that the term "Bhadram" indicates Sri Nrsimha
only, in the Mantraraja pada stotram-
"SarvOpi yam samAshritya sakalam bhadram asnutE
SriyA cha BhadrayA jushta: ya: tam Bhadram namAmyaham"
10. Other avataras of the Lord may be the dispensers of all auspiciousness
(MangaLam), but it is Sri Nrisimha who is mangaLam personified, for He is
11. Sri Nrsimha is truly the "Peria Perumal", because He was worshipped by
Srinivasa, the Lord of Seven Hills, on the occasion of His wedding with Sri
Padmavathi. While Sri Rama, who worshipped Sri Ranganatha (thus affording Him
the status of "Peria Perumal") on the eve of His coronation, lost His Princehood
and was banished to the forests for 14 long years, Srinivasa, who worshipped Sri
Nrsimha, was transformed from being a mere caveman of Thirumala to "Srinivasa"
or the abode of Sri Mahalakshmi (by virtue of His wedding Sri Padmavathi).
12. Sri NrikEsari is the only form of the Lord where He sported three eyes.
It is perhaps due to all these glories unique to this extraordinary
avatara that Sri Nrisimha is eulogized by the KavitArkika KEsarI as "Kaschit
All poetry, all praise, to be worth the name, should be about Sri
Nrsimha, declares Sri Thirumangai Mannan with firm conviction-
"KoodA IraNiyanai koor ugirAl marvidanda
OdA adal ariyai umbarAr kOmAnai
TOdAr narum tuzhAi mArvanai ArvatthAl
PAdAdAr pAttu endrum pAttalla kEttAmE"
That Sri Nrisimha is verily the Paramatma whose eulogy the entire Veda
mantras are, is borne out by the tribute paid by Sri SAyaNAchArya, the author of
the famous VEda Bhashya. Before embarking on his onerous and ambitious project
of commenting on the vast Vedic literature, by dedicating the "MangaLAcharaNam"
to this magnificent moortthi, Sri SAyaNa makes it clear that praying to Sri
Nrsimha ensures an auspicious beginning and unhindered completion of the task on
hand. This is reiterated in his "NayaprakAsikA" by Sri MEghanAdAri Suri-
"SmritE sakala kalyANa bhAjanam yatra jAyatE
Purusham tam ajam vrajAmi sharaNam Harim"
If even ignorant animals pay obeisance to this Lord, ("PaingaN Anai kombu
kondu patthimayAl, adikkeezh sengaN Ali ittu irainjum SingavEL kundramE") should
we not, as enlightened human beings endowed with the wisdom of choice and
preference, make Sri Nrisimha the Lord of our choice and devote our lives to His
Srimate Sri LakshmINrsimha divya paduka sevaka SrivanSatakopa Sri
Narayana Yatindra Mahadesikaya nama: