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Garuda Purana: Shiva's prayers to Narasimha


The Garuda Purana contains a stuti composed by Shiva in praise of Narasimha, invoking the latter to stop the sapta-mAtrikAs from devouring the Universe. The following things are clear at a glance, upon reading this stuti:
  1. This is a clear reference to the fact that Shiva worships Narasimha, ie, Sankarshana.
  2. The meanings of the stuti echo the Rudra Suktam of Rg Veda, Satarudriyam of Yajur Veda and Nilarudra Suktam of AtharvaNa veda, thus establishing that Narasimha is indeed the devata for the Rudram and Shiva is the Rishi.
  3. We thus have the proof from the words of Shiva himself that the devata to which all praise by the names of “Rudra”, “Shiva”, “Shambhu”, “Soma” and “Ishana” in the Veda refer to Narasimha only since this stuti matches these sections perfectly.
I have not been able to procure the Sanskrit text in its entirety. So, I will explain using the English translation of the stotra (Which in my opinion is only acceptable and not 100% accurate).
The source for this stotra (English) is as follows:
There is another site which gives a part of the Sanskrit text:
But the Sanskrit text is both incomplete and somewhat miswritten here.
Anyway, let us begin.


Shiva invokes Narasimha to stop the mAtrgaNas, which were created by the former for the destruction of AndhakAsura, from devouring the Universe.
The inner meaning: Shiva is an upAsaka, ie, a bhakti yOgi who is attempting to conquer several vices like avidya, ruchi, vAsaNas, etc by virtue of yOgA. These vices are represented by the mAtrgaNas But no matter how great the strength of a yOgI is, the pull of samsAric attachments is so strong that it not only overwhelms him, but after succumbing to the old vices, he starts to inflict harm on himself and on others.
So, the effort taken by the yOgI to perform yOgA is similar to how Shiva endeavoured to destroy Andhaka (Note that Andhaka means ignorance or samsArA).Owing to the pitfalls and delicate as well as ardous nature of upAsaNa, certain vices (ie, the mothers) are produced in the process such as attachment, lust etc which were supposed to eradicated by the upAsaNa. Then, the grace of Hari, Parabrahman, is sought by the upAsaka for successful completion of yOgA, which will quell these vices.
The Rudram explains the same in the 4th anuvAkam, 1st and 2nd mantras as follows:
Nama avyadhinibhyo vividhyanti bhyascha vo namo |
Meaning: Salutations to One who is of the form of the objects of desire and Salutations to the One who is of the form of diseases (anubhOktavyam) that arise from them.
Nama uganabhya strumhati bhyascha vo namo |
Meaning: Salutations to the form of superior qualities like mEdhA, anasUya, vidyA, etc and salutations to (these qualities) which crush the ruchi and anubhOktavyam.
This stuti is the essence of these two mantras.
I have reproduced the text of the stuti from the previous site and will add my comments wherever necessary in bold below the text of the stuti.


(The Matrgana’s mentioned in this story are eight goddesses produced from the bodies of Vishnu, Shiva and six other main deities during the killing of a powerful demon called Andhaka. Their origin is recounted in the Varaha-purana.)
1. Suta said: O Saunaka, I shall now mention the prayer to Narasimha sung by Shiva. Formerly the Mothers (matrgana) told Sankara thus:
2. “O Lord, we wish to devour the entire universe along with the deities, demons and human beings with your favour. Please permit us.”
3. Sankara said: “Certainly all these people are to be protected by you all. Therefore this ruthless mentality should be diverted.”
4. Disregarding the advice given by Sankara, the Matrgana’s began to devour the three worlds and all mobile and immobile creatures.
5. When the worlds were thus being eaten, Lord Shiva meditated on the Lord in the form of Nrsimha.
6 - 9 Lord Sankara’s meditation of Nrsimha was thus: ‘He has no beginning or death; He is the originator of all living beings; His tongue blazes like lightening; He has great curved teeth and his mane blazes like a garland; He has bracelets studded with gems; He has a brilliant crown; He is bedecked with a golden mane; with His brillaince He pervades the whole Brahmanda; the hairs on His body curl in small circles; and He is wearing a great garland consisting of many flowers of variegated colours.’
NOTE: These aspects are mentioned in Rudra Suktam of Rg Veda, rks as follows:
ṛdūdaraḥ suhavo mā no asyai babhruḥ suśipro rīradhan manāyai ~ Narasimha has a pleasing nature, who is the supporter of the worlds (and hence the protector from tApatrayam), with beautiful jaws and possessing teeth to chew the asurAs as Narasimha, not give us unto the ego or attachments arising from the wayward mind, ie, may you destroy such ego and attachments.
śukrebhiḥ pipiśehiraṇyaiḥ ~ He has a shining form with golden ornaments and makes others shine as well.
niṣkaṃ yajataṃ viśvarūpam ~ He has a necklace, ie, the vaijyanti garland studded with 5 gems representing the tanmAtrAs and has the Universe as his body.

10. As soon as He was meditated upon, the Lord appeared before Sankara assuming the form as was conceived by Rudra with great devotion.
Note: This shows Rudra is an upAsaka of Sankarshana and hence, the form conceived by him was that of Narasimha, who is sAkshAt Sankarshana.
11. In the same dazzling form, unperceivable by the devas, the Lord stood there. Sankara then knelt before the Lord and prayed.
12. Sankara said: “Obeisance to You, Lord of the universe, having the body of a man-lion, shining with claws resembling an oyster shell with which the lord of demons (Hiranyakashipu) was killed.
Note: The Rudra Suktam praises his body as very evenly proportioned and firm-limbed by saying “sthirebhiraṅghaiḥ”.
The nIlarudra suktam of the AtharvaNa veda praises his wrath, his arms and his nails as such:
namaste bhava bhāmāya namaste bhava manyave .
namaste astu bāhubhyāma uto ta iṣave namaḥ
Salutations to him who came into being, ie, manifested out of wrath (bhava bhAmAya). Salutations to One who exists as sacrifice, ie, he is the upAyam (bhava manyavE). Salutations to your sturdy arms and also to your arrow or arrow like nails (which destroy our obstacles to knowledge).
Manyu Suktam refers to his nails as “tigmEshavaH” (sharpened arrow like nails).

13. You have the golden and tawny coloured body of that demon clinging to Your lotus-like nails. Obeisances to Padmanabha, obeisances to the preceptor of the world. You roar like the rumbling cloud at the end of the kalpa, O Deity, shining with the lustre of ten million suns.
His roar is referenced in the Satarudriyam, 2nd anuvAka as “Nama ucchair ghoshaya”.
Why is he called PadmanAbha here? The name signifies that he is the creator of Brahma, who came out of his navel. This is an anubhavam of Shiva, saying that Narasimha is that very PadmanAbha who created Brahma. But there is more to it.
The narasimha tApanIya Upanishad declares that when Brahma was born, he learned the vedas from nArAyaNa. And he particularly learned the narasimha gAyatri. Even the mantra rAja pada stOtra has been linked to the vishvarUpa.
Furthermore, this anubhavam of Shiva, ie, equating Narasimha to PadmanAbha comes directly from the SvetAsvatArA Upanishad which says the following:
yo devaanaaM prabhavashchodbhavashcha vishvaadhipo rudro maharshhiH |
hiraNyagarbha.n janayaamaasa puurva.n sa no buddhyaa shubhayaa sa.nyunaktu ||
Meaning: May that Rudra, who is the cause of the origination of gods, who is the cause of their glory, who transcends this entire world, who is a great seer (ie, omniscient) and who created Hiranyagarbha first, unite us with an auspicious mind.
Note that the Upanishad addresses paramAtma (nArAyaNa) as Rudra. Since Rudra is always a monopoly of Narasimha avatArA in the Upanishad, the rishi svetAsvatAra is simply enjoying the experience of equating Narasimha to the form of BhagavAn who created Brahma, ie, PadmanAbha.
That this mantra refers only to nArAyaNa is proven in the “Rudra in the Upanishads” article. “rudrO bahushirA babhru” in the sahasranAma shows that Rudra is a name of nArAyaNa and simply means he is the destroyer of samsAra dukham.
And that is exactly what Shiva intends here, as he too equates Narasimha with PadmanAbha in the same way as the Upanishad.

14. O Deity, terrifying like a thousand Yama’s, valorous like a thousand Indras, affluent like a thousand Kuveras, O Deity with a thousand lotus-like feet.
“Sahasra” must be interpreted as infinite here and not merely a thousand.

15. O Deity resembling a thousand moons, a thousand rayed, moving like a lion, resplendent like a thousand Rudras, sung in praise by a thousand Brahmas.
Note: He moves like a lion. This is very similar to the mantra found in both the Satarudriyam and Rudra Suktam of Rg Veda:
Stuhi shrutam garta sadam yuvanam mrugannabhima mupahat numugram, mruda jaritre Rudra Satvano anyante asmanniva pantu senaha |
Meaning: Praise the famous (ie, well known by the narasimha tApanIya Upanishad or well known in shruti) Rudra (the destroyer of the disease of samsArA) who dwells in the cave of the heart, who is eternally young, and who is fierce like a lion. O Rudra (One who makes us shed tears on enjoying your kalyAna guNams)! Being praised by our words, confer happiness to us who have been afflicted by having a body subjected to old age and death. Let Your forces annihilate others who are Your enemies and spare us.

16. Remembered in japa by a thousand Rudras, endowed with a thousand all protecting eyes, progenitor and destroyer of thousands, untier of thousands of bondages.
Note: Once again, “thousands” must be taken as infinite. There are an infinite number of universes with a brahma and rudra each, and all these brahmas and rudras worship that One, nArAyaNa, who is praised in the mahAbhArata as the Lord of infinite universes.
“Remembered in japa by infinite number of Rudras” highlights that the upAsya devata for Shiva is Sankarshana-Narasimha only.
“Untier of thousands of bondages” finds its counterpart in the 11th anuvAkam of the Satarudriyam as follows:
Yo te sahasramayutam pasha mrityo martyaya hantave Tanyagyasya mayaya sarvanava yajamahe
O Narasimha, who is death to samsArA! You possess prakrti, which is of myriad forms and is like a thousand nooses for trapping the chEtanas in samsArA. Please remove this mAya by accepting my self-surrender.

17. O fierce deity, having the velocity of a thousand winds, O compassionate One!’ Having sung the hymn to the Lord of Lords, Hari in the form of Narasimha, Shiva spoke in all humility thus:
18. “I had created the matrganas for the destruction of the demon Andhaka. Disregarding my advice they are now devouring the wonderful created beings of the universe.
19. Having created them, I am unable to kill them although I am undefeated elsewhere. Having first created them, how can I wish for their annihilation?
20-21. Thus addressed by Rudra, Hari in the form of a man-lion, created a thousand goddesses from the tip of his tongue. Hari the Vagisvara (Lord of speech) subdued the mothers and protected the devas. He accorded peace and happiness to the world and vanished.
Note: Hari (meaning, destroyer of our pApa karmAs; thus relating it to upAsaNa) appears in the form of a man lion as per the 1st mantra of Rudra Suktam in the Rg Veda:
śreṣṭho jātasya rudra śhariyāsi tavastamastavasāṃ vajrabāho ~ Rudra (Destroyer of the Disease of SamsArA)! You, the most praiseworthy of all the Gods who are born such as Brahma, etc., who are stronger than the strongest, have appeared in the form of a ferocious lion with arms resembling thunderbolts
vAgIsvara” – the 1st anuvAkam of Satarudriyam refers to Bhagavan as “adhyavOchadadhivaktA” (Rudram, Anuvakam 1, rk 6).
The inner meaning of bhagavAn producing superior goddesses was explained in the beginning.
Hari produced the goddesses from his tongue. Similarly, he propounds Brahma vidya to the devas, rishis and manushyas. He also taught the pAncharAtra directly and the Gita as  well. This tallies with the name of narasimha as “IshAnas sarvavidyAnAm”. The goddesses represent several brahma vidyas and superior qualities to overcome the vices.
He gives peace and happiness to the world by protecting devas and destroying obstacles. Thus, he is known as Shankara – “namas shankarAya ca” – says the Satarudriyam, 8th anuvAkam.

22. He who recites this Narasimha prayer in all purity and restraint of the sense organs shall be blessed with the realisation of all his desires, as was Rudra. There is no doubt in this.
23. One shall meditate on the deity Narasimha with eyes shining like the midday sun (for evil doers) and like a white lotus (for devotees), with his face beaming like a blazing fire, having neither beginning or end, the eternal, unborn, Lord of the great and small, the receptacle of the universe.
Note: One eye is like a white lotus and the other is like a midday sun. This is as per the 5th anuvAkam of Satarudriyam which says:
Nama urmyaya chavas vanyaya cha |
Salutations to One who is calm (grace) and who is turbulent (anger).
He is the Lord of the great and the small as per the Satarudriyam, anuvAkam 6:
Namo jaghanyaya cha, budhniyaya cha |
Salutations to He who is the lowest and the base or root (of the great).
As he is sarvAntaryAmin, he is the inner self of the lowest and the greatest (and hence their lord).
He is the receptacle of the Universe as per the 4th anuvAkam of the Satarudriyam:
Namo virupebhyo vishvarupe bhyascha vo namo |
Meaning: Double namaskArams to One who is of manifold forms (due to) the universe being his body.

24. If anyone recites this prayer it dispells all miseries like the sun dispelling snow. When he [Shiva] wants to perform worship of the Lord in the form of Narasimha, Lord Shiva prepares his deity along with the mothers. Then the Lord appears before him and stands near him. [final sentence of translation unclear.]
This concludes the stuti. As one can see, it clearly proves that the Being praised by the Vedas is Sri Lakshmi Narasimha only.