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From: Anand Vangipuram (avangipuram_at_hotmail.com)
Date: Tue Feb 29 2000 - 16:40:11 PST

Dear Bhakti List Members:

In the last few months Sriman Mohan Sagar had presented several
articles on Lord Narasimha Swamy.  Adiyen, through a series of
articles, would like to further this discussion.  In particular,
Adiyen wants to focus on the nine forms of Narasimha in Ahobilam.

Anustana Sloka (Nrusimha Mantra)
"Ugram viram mahavishnum
Jwalaantham sarvato mukham
Nrusimham bhisanam bhadram
Mruthyu mruthyur namamyaham"

The state of Andhra Pradesh (AP) is fortunate to have been
endowed with some of the ancient and most famous temples dedicated
to Lord Narasimha Swamy (or Nrusimha Swamy).  Epigraphic sources
indicate that there were 79 ancient temples dedicated exclusively
to Lord Narasimha Swamy in AP of which 27 temples have received
continuous temple worship from ancient times.  Chief amongst them
are the Ahobila Kshetra (also called Ahobilam in Kurnool district)
followed not in any particular order by Simhachalam, Mangalagiri,
Yadagiri, Yadvadri, Antharvedi, Vedadri, Khadri and Gutti, Nagari
and the list goes on and on.

Ahobilam Kshetra is a group of temples located on the Ahobilam
Hills (also known as Garudadri or Garudachala and Vedachala).
The presiding deity being Ahobila Narsimhaswamy or
Prahaladavarada. Lord Narasimha Swamy  in swamyambhu form
(self manifested form) is located generally in a rock cavern
(Bilam) as he is personified as half lion (a source of infinite
energy as paramatma) and half man (limited energy of a soul).
Nallamalai hills or Sri Parvatha (hill), whose range extends
from Tirupati at one end via Ahobilam in the middle to Srisailam
at the other end is conceptualized as Adisesha, with Tirupati
representing the head, Ahobilam the body, and Srisailam the
tail.  It is thus called Seshachala.

Ahobilam is unique in that all the nine Narasimha forms are
worshipped on the Ahobilam Hills.  That is why it is called
Nava Narasimha Kshetra. The upper Ahobilam temple is about
2,800 ft above sea level and is located in a valley between
two hills: Garudadri and Vedadri (near the sacred river
Papanasini).  These two hills are conceptualized as the
separation of the pillar from where the ferocious Lord
Narasimha Swamy emerged to destroy Hiranyakasipa.  There are
three caves in the Southern side, the central one is the
main one containing Ugra Narasimha or Ahobila Narasimha
depicted as though ripping open the abdomen of Hiranyakasipa.
On the eastern side of the entrance there is a shrine of
Varaha Narasimha.  On a steep incline 1/2 mile away from
the Varaha Narasimha there is a shrine dedicated to Lord
Prahalada Narasimha.

Inside the cave, the Lord is depicted in a "soumya" or
graceful form with Sri Mahalakshmi on His lap (Malola
Narasimha). The utsava idol is believed to have appeared in
the dream of the Satakopa Yati, the first Jeer and the founder
of Ahobila Mutt. Since then this idol has been in the custody
of the Jeers of Ahobila Mutt who carry it with them to various
places they travel and worship it regularly.  Close by there
is a shrine dedicated to Yogananda Narasimha, where
Lord is in Yogasana posture.  Close to the Deity is a slab
known as Prahalada Banda (stone slab), where Bhakta Prahalada
is set to have sat for his yoga lessons from Lord Yogananda
Nrushimha.

Higher up about two miles from there is the Ukkustambha (steel
pillar) where Lord Ugra Narasimha had emerged to destroy
Hiranyakasipa.  A mile and a half from there is the Jwala
Narasimha shrine.

The nine forms of Lord Narasimha are: Jwala (emitting fire);
Ahobila (Ugra or ferocious); Malola (graceful-with the Divine
Goddess Sri. Mahalakshmi by his side); Krodha (ferocious);
Varaha-Nrushimha; Karancha; Bhargava; Yogananda; Chatravata;
and Pavana (adorable or gracious).

1.	Ahobila Narasimha or Ugra Narasimha
According to the Sthalapurana, Garuda performed penance for a number
of years on a hill, which later came to be known as Garudachala, to
obtain the divine grace of Lord Narasimha.  The Lord in His infinite
grace, manifested Himself in a rock cavern (Bilam) on the hill.  Garuda then 
worshipped Lord Narasimha and praised Him as "Ahobilam Mahabalam".  It is 
believed that it is this Lord who is worshipped regularly by Lord Brahma and 
other celestial Gods.  It may be noted that this is the only full fledged 
temple in Eguva (or Upper) Ahobilam with Prakaras, Galigopuram, 
Dhwajastambham, the Lord's consort (Sri Chenchulakshmi Ammavaru), Alwars, 
and Acharyas.  It is also well maintained with Nitya worship while the 
remaining Narasimha murties on the Ahobilam Hills are more or less exposed 
to nature or meagerly covered with a shelter.

It has been a common belief that in the ancient times people were
afraid to face the fierce deity of Ugra Nrushimha in the sanctum.
It seems when a stack of grass was left in front of the deity by the
priest, it would soon result in fire and one could witness the smoke
from a distance.  This was attributed to the intensity of heat
emanating from the Lord Ugra Nrushimha.

To be continued...

The credit for the information provided herein should be given to
"Sapthagiri" which is a Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Publication.

adiyen rAmAnuja dAsan,
Venkata Yatiraj Anand



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