The Hindu mythology has a tale of Narasimha’s origin.

Lord Vishnu takes the form of Narasimha in his fourth incarnation, the previous one being that of a Boar (Varaha). Vishnu kills the demon Hiranyaksha during his Varaha avatar.

Hiranyaksha’s brother Hiranyakashipu wants to take revenge by destroying Lord Vishnu and his followers. He performs penance to please Brahma, the god of creation. Impressed by this act, Brahma offers him anything he wants.

Hiranyakashipu asks for a tricky boon. That he would not die either on earth or in space; nor in fire nor in water; neither during day nor at night; neither inside nor outside (of a home); nor by a human, animal or God; neither by inanimate nor by animate being.

Brahma grants the boon. With virtually no fear of death he unleashes terror. Declares himself as god and asks people to utter no god’s name except his. However his son Prahlada (who a devoted worshiper of Lord Vishnu!) refuses. Repeated pressurization on him yields no results for Hiranyakashipu. Prahlada declares the omnipresence of Lord Vishnu.

Once Hiranyakashipu points to a pillar and asks if Vishnu is present in it. Prahlada nods in affirmative. Angered at it, he draws his sword and cuts the pillar; Narasimha appears out of the broken pillar.

Narasimha (being a man-lion god form) kills Hiranyakashipu. He comes out to kill at the twilit (neither day nor night);on the doorsteps of his palace (neither inside nor outside); uses his nails to kill (neither animate nor inanimate); puts him on his lap before killing (neither earth nor in space). Thus making power of the boon ineffective.

The death of this demon king is celebrated as Holi (the celebration of colors) in India, especially in the northern parts.

You can see an iconic image at Lakshmi Narasimha Temple located a bit south of the Krishna Temple. Also many temples have the scenes from the above story carved on its pillars. For example, in Vittala Temple you can see a hall fully carved with this theme.

See also Gods of Hampi and Mythology of Hampi.

Narasimha appears from the pillar

Narasimha appears from the pillar

Narasimha appears from the pillar. Image from Vittala Temple


Mythology of Hampi

Hindus treat Hampi as a sacred land. According to the folklore, a number of mythical events are associated with Hampi. Your understanding of what you see at Hampi would be greatly enhanced if you have some clues about the Hindu mythology and its themes.


Gods of Hampi

Lord Virupaksha may be presiding deity of Hampi, but the monkey warrior Hanuman steals the limelight.  Hampi presents a typical cross-section of the religious moorings of India.Hindu icons with its pantheon of gods dominate this vast site.


Ramayana in Hampi

Hampi has a phenomenal number of attractions believed to be associated with Ramayana, the Hindu epic.


Footprint carving in Hampi

Religions of Hampi

The far end of religious history of Hampi somehow morphs into mythology.The significant events narrated in the Hindu epic Ramayana (believed to have originally composed in 1st century BC) is believed to have happened in the settings surrounding Hampi.


Krishna steeling cloths of the Gopis . Image from Pattabhirama Temple

Krishna Stealing Cloths

The story of Krishna stealing cloths of the bathing cowherd girls.Perhaps no other epics has dealt with such mischievous themes like the ones played by Lord Krishna.


Origin of Hampi’s Boulders

Those finally end up in Hampi invariably wonder how on earth such a landscape got created! Well, you have two choices to find a solace: one in geology and the other in mythology!


Saugandhika Flower Episode

At Bhima's Gate in Hampi, there is fantastic image of Brima retuning with Saugandhika , the celestial flower Draupadi desired.