49" Superfine Large Narasimha's Triumph Over the Demon Hiranyakashipu | Handmade | Madhuchista Vidhana (Lost-Wax) | Panchaloha Bronze from Swamimalai

49" Superfine Large Narasimha's Triumph Over the Demon Hiranyakashipu | Handmade | Madhuchista Vidhana (Lost-Wax) | Panchaloha Bronze from Swamimalai

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Narasimha, literally man-lion, is one of the Dashavatara (ten incarnations) of the Hindu preserver god- Lord Vishnu, the tutelary deity of dynasties of mighty rulers, the Pancharatras (a Vaishnava Tantric sect), and commoners looking for His protection. The myth around the emergence of Narasimha is well-known across India. The demon-king Hiranyakashyapu performed great austerities and pleased Brahma, the creator. When Brahma denied his wish for immortality, Hiranyakashyapu came up with what seemed like a brilliant solution at that time. 

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Item Code: ZEQ624
49.00 inch Height X 33.00 inch Width X 17.00 inch Depth
181 kg

He told Brahma that neither god nor demons, neither animals nor humans, neither natural nor supernatural creatures should be responsible for his death. He would be indestructible inside and outside his residence, during the day as well as in the night, in front of a weapon, or during hand-to-hand combat. Receiving such an intricately designed boon, Hiranyakashyapu was filled with reassurance and soon, with maddening pride. So much so, that when his devoutly Vaishnava son Prahalad voiced his belief, that Vishnu resided in each and every particle of the universe, even in the pillars of his palace, an enraged father and king Hiranyakashyapu hit the pillar with his Gada (mace). What came roaring out of the pillar was beyond what Hiranyakashyapu or any being, divine or human could ever fathom. 

This magnificent Swamimalai bronze has captured what the palace attendants, Prahlad and Hiranyakashyapu witnessed when Narasimha, the fierce form of Vishnu emerged out of the broken pillar. Srimad Bhagavad and various Puranas describe the magnificence of the appearance of Narasimha. He can be seen in his Ugra Roopa (fierce form), embodying the Raudra (raging) rasa or juice, inducing the bhava or emotion of fear in the heart of the evildoers. He wears the distinct Kiritamukuta (conical crown) followed by a bejewelled Lalatapattika (forehead band). A Vaishnava tilak adorns his forehead, highlighted by his frowning eyebrows that provide a frame to his bulging eyes, an indication of the viciousness of Narasimha. Between his finely coiled majestic mane and his crown are his ears, straight like those of a lion ready for the hunt. The fierceness of Narasimha is best conveyed by his open mouth, showing two rows of sharp teeth, causing the evil-hearted beings to tremble with horror. The wildness of the visage of Sri-Narasimha is contradicted outstandingly by the grandeur of his ornamentation- a reminder that even in this form, he is Bhuvanesh (lord of the Cosmos). He wears jewelled skandamala (bands on his shoulders), necklaces, armlets, a gem-studded Udarbandh (band on the belly), and anklets. On the right side of his chest is the Srivatasa, the symbol of Vishnu’s consort Sri-Lakshmi, marking the presence of his Shakti, the female and active energy. Three ornaments that require special attention are- Narasimha’s yajnopavita, his keyura (armbands), and his hand chains. Unlike a regular yajnopavita, Narasimha’s sacred thread is not made from cotton, but by securing the Adi-shehsha around his body. The artist, following the descriptions of the ancient texts, has adorned the great god with a repetition of the Makara (a mythical sea creature, with the body of crocodile, dolphin and sometimes an elephant) in his armbands as well as the centrepiece of his crown. The Makara is an awesome and fearsome creature, whose use as the jewellery for Sri Narasimha brings out the latter’s control over all creations, simple and complex, since as a dweller of the great waters, Makara is associated with the Creation.   The beautiful hand chains in this bronze murti highlight the admirably realistic hands of Narasimha made even more striking by his razor-sharp nails. Such is the splendour of the nails of Narasimha, that Madhavacharya, the Medieval Vaishnava saint wrote a stuti (hymn), the Nakha-Stuti, as a tribute to them. Zoom in on the statue to savour the detailed carvings by the master artists of Swamimalai.

 A helpless and small figure of Hiranyakashyapu appears to be flinging his legs in despair as he is stretched out on the lap of Narasimha, whose Vajra-like nails (a highly powerful ritual weapon) rip apart his insides. Hiranyakashyapu is dressed in a kingly manner, with a Shaivaite tilak on his forehead, emphasizing his religious affiliations. His entrails are held by Narasimha in two of his hands, which he is said to wear as garlands. In two other hands, he holds the Chakra (discus) and Shankha (conch), the most important Lakshanas (attributes) of Vishnu. Below Hiranyakashyapa, supporting Narasimha’s raised right leg, is Garuda, Vishnu’s mount, and the king of birds. Garuda is depicted with large eyes, a sharp nose, two teeth peeping from under his moustache, and wings on his back.  He wears a short dhoti and ornaments, including armbands of snakes. An even shorter image on the left is Prahalad, the son of Hiranyakashyapu. Standing with folded hands and closed eyes, he is a picture of unwavering devotion. A round sculpture, the bronze composite is placed on a two-tiered square platform decorated with fine incised lines representing the lotus motif. Encapsulating a popular narrative in itself, with a multiplicity of participants, this Swamimalai bronze murti of Narasimha is a highly emotive portrayal of the fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Though appearing violent in his apparent goal, Narasimha is evoked by his deities in times of weakness, and he responds to their call for help, like an omnipresent guardian. He destroys sin (by killing Hiranyakashyapu), removes hurdles from the life of his devotee (Prahalad), and bestows knowledge (on the observer, us). His inner state, unaltered by the outer world, is always that of the Divine serenity. The outcome of Sri-Narasimha’s presence changes with the change in our position- whether we are the sinner, his devotee or, the observer, eager to learn a lesson from his incomparable avatar. 

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