Jwala Narasimhadev - story and video
Below is some information (taken from Bindu magazine) about Jwala Narasimhadev - a deity that appeared some time ago in Southern India. Also included is a video of this Deity of Lord Narasimhadev.
In the district of Sangli in southwestern Maharashtra lies a little known village by the name of Narasimhapur, and an even lesser known form of Lord Narasimhadeva. Known to the locals as “Jwala [flaming] Narasimha”, this impressive sixteen handed form of the Lord standing on one foot has been the protector and benefactor of his reverential devotees for thousands of years. The local tradition related to this deity has been compiled in a book known as Krishna-mahatmya.
A verse reads as follows:
yada punas-tada bhaktya tapah kartum parasarah
narasimham tada dhyayan krsna-tire munesvarah
The foremost amongst the sages, Parashar, performed austerities on the bank of the river Krishna with a heart full of devotion, meditating on Lord Narasimhadev. According to the local tradition, Lord Narasimhadev was pleased with the devotion of Parashar Muni and hence appeared in a wonderful sixteen-handed form. This was the same blazing form that the Lord had assumed while killing Hiranyakashipu. Seeing that it was not possible for anyone to establish this ferociously blazing form on earth, the Lord ordered Parashar Muni to immerse him in the river Krishna. With a heavy heart, the sage immersed the deity in the water. Centuries later, around the year 178 A.D., a brahmin couple staying at a village named Anjana had been cursed to become blind and dumb by a sage.
On begging forgiveness, they were advised by the sage to perform austerities for the pleasure of Lord Narasimha to absolve them of the curse. After twelve years of rigorous austerities, the Lord appeared in their dreams and told them that he now wished to establish himself on earth as a deity and asked them to approach the local king named Bhimadev to get him out of the river. When asked how they would find the exact location where he was under the water, the Lord told them to place some dry kusha grass in the stream and that they would find him exactly under the place where the grass caught fire. After that darshana of the Lord, the couple immediately regained their sight and speech and set off to inform the king.
On hearing the request of the couple, the king sent his entourage to discover the deity. While searching in the river according to the procedure specified by the Lord, one of the blades of grass caught fire and the wonderful sixteen-handed form of the Lord was discovered from the depths of the river.
On examining the deity, the devotees could see that the Lord was positioned with his left leg raised and bent in order to place the demon Hiranyakashipu upon it, and also to hold the left arm of the demon to prevent him from escaping. His other foot was placed firmly on the doorstep of Hiranyakashipu. On the left side of the Lord were small deities of Lakshmi-devi and Prahlad Maharaja. On the right side were deities of Bhudevi (the earth goddess) and Garuda. All around the form of Lord Narasimha were wonderful carvings of the famous dashavataras, ten incarnations of Lord Krishna. Most of these carvings can be seen even today. Unfortunately, the carving of Garuda has been lost and two hands of the Lord have been separated due to rough handling. These two hands have been preserved at a pujari’s home nearby.
Jwala Narasimha has been worshipped since then with great pomp and reverence, and was visited by many prominent saints of Maharashtra. The current temple structure was built under the guidance of Hemadri Pant, the disciple of the great Vaishnava scholar Vopadev and commentator on Vopadev’s magnum opus entitled Mukta-phalam. Hemadri Pant was an expert diplomat, administrator, poet, theologian, and scholar. Mentioned by Srila Jiva Goswami in Tattva-Sandarbha as a historical authority, Hemadri Pant held the position of minister in the court of King Ramachandra Dev of the Yadava dynasty of Maharashtra. It was under the guidance of Hemadri Pant that the temple was constructed by the king in 1273 A.D. The architecture of the temple is of a unique style named after Hemadri Pant, which relies on usage of locally available raw material.
The temple has two main doors — one on the northern side and another on the eastern side. Visitors generally enter through the eastern door. The deity is located 14 feet under the ground, and in order to reach there one has to climb down steep staircases and pass through narrow tunnels many of which are under several inches of flowing water from the nearby Krishna river. The temple complex contains a painting and samadhi of a siddhamahatma named Sri Siddheshwar Maharaja. The devotees meditate on the wonderful sixteen arms of Jwala Narasimha as follows:
dhyeyo yada mahat-karma tada sodasa-hasta-van
nrsimhah sarva-lokesah sarvabharana-bhusitah
dvau-vidarana karmahau dvau catroddharana-ksamau
cakra-sankha-dharav anyav anyau bana-dhanur-dharau
khadga-kheta-dharav anyau dvau gada-padma-dharinau
pasankusa-dharav anyau dvau ripor-mukutarpitau
iti sodasador-danda-manditam nrharim vibhum
Amongst all types of meditations on the great activities of the Lord, let there be meditation on the sixteen-handed Lord Narasimha, the Lord of all the worlds, decorated with all ornaments. Two of his arms are engaged in tearing apart the demon Hiranyakashipu, while two others prevent the demon from resisting. Two others carry the disc and the conch, while two others carry a bow and arrows. Two others carry a sword and a shield, while two others carry a club and a lotus. Two other hands carry a rope and a chastisement rod, while two others are placed on the crown of the demon. In this way, the sixteen hands of the almighty Lord Narasimhadev are decorated. One should meditate upon this dark-hued lotus like form of the Lord, who is the performer of ferocious activities and the master of infinite universes.
— Ek Alaukik Tirthakshetra, Sri-ksetra-nrsimhapur, third edition, researched, edited and re-written by Shyam D. Ghalsasi, 11, Vishwasgarden B, Suncity Road, Anand Nagar, Pune, Maharashtra.
— Tattva-Sandarbha, transcribed edition from Gaudiya Grantha Mandira (http://www.granthamandira.com)
(thanks to Bindu)