Hiranyakashipu the demon king, was blessed with
immense powers by virtue of his penance to Bhrama. Endowed with a boon
that neither man, nor beast nor weapon could kill him; nor would he die indoors or
outdoors, he assumed total invincibility and conquered the earth and the nether worlds.
Intoxicated by his victory, he declared himself as the lord of the universe, and directed
his subjects to worship none other than himself.
The only one of his subjects to defy his orders was
his own son Prahlada, a staunch devotee of Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu tried
several means to convince his son, and then to kill him indirectly, and none worked.
Finally he challenged him to show him Narayana, whom he worshipped so
fervently. Prahlada insisted that Vishnu was omnipresent and that there was no need to
show him. An enraged Hiranyakashipu broke open a pillar in front of him, to disprove his
son's assertion, and out of this pillar sprang out Narasimha, the
man-lion form of Vishnu, who killed him on his doorstep, placing him on his lap.
Narasimha is hailed as one of the 10 avataras
of Vishnu. The Nava Narasimha shrine at Ahobilam
in Andhra Pradesh, enshrines nine forms of Narasimha. Other major temples enshrining
Narasimha include Tiruvaali near Chidambaram, Tiruvelukkai in Kanchipuram, Tiruneermalai near Chennai, and Sholingur near Chennai all in Tamilnadu. The hill
temple of Simhachalam near Vishakapatnam also enshrines Narasimha.