First, the well-known background – as Lord Vishnu had killed King Hiranyakashipu’s brother Hiranyaksha in the Varaha avatar, he was eager to take revenge and kill Lord Vishnu. He undertook severe penance as to impress Lord Brahma.

However, when the demon king was doing his penance, the devas attacked his kingdom. At that time, it was Sage Narada who took a pregnant Kayadu (Hiranyakashipu’s wife) under his protection. Growing with Sage Narada transformed Prahalad (Hiranyakashipu’s son) into an ardent devotee of Vishnu.

After many years of penance King Hiranyakashipu cunningly managed to get the boon of immortality from Lord Brahma. As King Hiranyakashipu knew that Lord Brahma would never give him the boon of immortality, he made an indirect request:

Grant me that I not die

during the day or at night,

within any house /palace outside any house / palace,

by any weapon,

by gods or demons

by any human being or animal

or on the ground or in the sky.

After gaining the boon King Hiranyakashipu’s attitude became worse and took the wrong paths. One such act was his order that everyone from all the 3 worlds should only worship him. However, Prahalad worshipped and sang hymns of Vishnu only.

King Hiranyakashipu’s hatred for Lord Vishnu takes over his love for his son and duties as a father. He begins to think about ways of killing Prahalad. Prahalad escapes every such plan. One evening King Hiranyakashipu gets angry and asks Prahalad if Lord Vishnu is in the pillar and if he smashes the pillar, will Lord Vishnu come out? When Prahalad says, yes Lord Vishnu is in the pillar too, the king angrily smashes the pillar.

From the pillar Lord Vishnu emerges in the form of a ferocious Narasimha (neither man nor animal or god or demon) drags King Hiranyakashipu to the porch (neither inside or outside) places him on his lap (neither ground nor sky) and around dusk (neither day nor night) and tears apart his stomach using its claws (not a weapon).

The rest of the story is less re-told. It’s said that even after Killing Hiranyakashipu, Narasimha was not able to return to normalcy. The Lord remained ferocious. Sensing danger all devas run to Brahma for help who in turn directs them to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva assumes the form of Sharaba – half-lion and half-bird form. Sharabha (the avatar taken by Lord Shiva) has eight legs and can fly across valley, thus powerful than the half-man, half-lion Narasimha (the avatar taken by Lord Vishnu).

It’s said that when Narasimha sees Sharabha, he gets angry and transforms himself to equally matching Gandaberunda (yes, the official emblem of Government of Karnataka, University of Mysore and KSDL). During the fight Gandaberunda chances to see the skulls dangling on Sharabha’s neck and recognizes Lord Shiva. Sharabha kills Gandaberunda, thus Lord Shiva helps in liberating Lord Vishnu from the rage he is in.

Please note within the puranas, there appears to be multiple conclusions to this end. However, one most common ending is Sharaba pacified Narasimha.  

Hey, Have you read my other story – about Shiva Bhaktha Anjeynaya (you may have heard about Rama Bhaktha Anjeynaya)? –

Do you know that Lord Hanuman has a son? –

Can you guess the most powerful warrior in Mahabaratha –

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