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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Girija-Narasimha literally means ‘Man-lion incarnation emerging out of a mountain cave’.

Nṛsimha or Narasimha is the fourth in the series of the ten incarnations of Viṣṇu generally known as ‘Daśāvatāras’. His head is that of a lion whereas the rest of the body is that of a human being.

As per the stories of the Bhāgavata[1] and the Visnupurāna,[2] he emerged out of a pillar in the court-hall of the demon-king Hiraṇyakaśipu. However in some iconographical works, he is described as having emerged out of cave in a hill[3] like an infuriated lion in a flash of blinding light.

  • In this form he is alone shown without Lakṣmī or Prahlāda.
  • He may have two or four arms.
  • The upper two hands are holding the usual emblems of Viṣṇu, the conch and the discus.
  • The two lower hands are thrown forward to seize Hiraṇyakaśipu.
  • The complexion of this form is described as white and the garments red.
  • The crown on the head is of the karaṇḍa-makuta (honeycomb) type.


  1. Bhāgavata 7.8.18-23
  2. Visnupurāna 1.32
  3. Giri = hill, ja = born or emerge
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore