Hanumat Presaka Swami gives a lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 7, Chapter 8, Texts 19-24. These contain a wonderful description of Lord Nrsimhadev’s appearance and the demon Hiranyakashipu’s reaction to Him. Hanumat Presaka Swami also gives a nice overview of the full Bhagavatam.
Click ‘Continue to read’ below to read the full verse.
nrisimha-rupas tad alam bhayanakam
divi-sprisat kayam adirgha-pivara-
candramsu-gaurais churitam tanuruhair
vishvag bhujanika-satam nakhayudham
Hiranyakasipu studied the form of the Lord, trying to decide who the form of Nrisimhadeva standing before him was. The Lord’s form was extremely fearsome because of His angry eyes, which resembled molten gold; His shining mane, which expanded the dimensions of His fearful face; His deadly teeth; and His razor-sharp tongue, which moved about like a dueling sword. His ears were erect and motionless, and His nostrils and gaping mouth appeared like caves of a mountain. His jaws parted fearfully, and His entire body touched the sky. His neck was very short and thick, His chest broad, His waist thin, and the hairs on His body as white as the rays of the moon. His arms, which resembled flanks of soldiers, spread in all directions as He killed the demons, rogues and atheists with His conchshell, disc, club, lotus and other natural weapons.
vadhah smrito ‘nena samudyatena kim
evam bruvams tv abhyapatad gadayudho
nadan nrisimham prati daitya-kunjarah
Hiranyakasipu murmured to himself, “Lord Vishnu, who possesses great mystic power, has made this plan to kill me, but what is the use of such an attempt? Who can fight with me?” Thinking like this and taking up his club, Hiranyakasipu attacked the Lord like an elephant.
In the jungle there are sometimes fights between lions and elephants. Here the Lord appeared like a lion, and Hiranyakasipu, unafraid of the Lord, attacked Him like an elephant. Generally the elephant is defeated by the lion, and therefore the comparison in this verse is appropriate.
yatha nrisimhaujasi so ‘suras tada
na tad vicitram khalu sattva-dhamani
sva-tejasa yo nu purapibat tamah
Just as a small insect falls forcefully into a fire and the insignificant creature becomes invisible, when Hiranyakasipu attacked the Lord, who was full of effulgence, Hiranyakasipu became invisible. This is not at all astonishing, for the Lord is always situated in pure goodness. Formerly, during creation, He entered the dark universe and illuminated it by His spiritual effulgence.
The Lord is situated transcendentally, in pure goodness. The material world is generally controlled by tamo-guna, the quality of ignorance, but the spiritual world, because of the presence of the Lord and His effulgence, is free from all contamination by darkness, passion or contaminated goodness. Although there is a tinge of goodness in this material world in terms of the brahminical qualifications, such qualifications sometimes become invisible because of the strong prevalence of the modes of passion and ignorance. But because the Lord is always transcendentally situated, the material modes of passion and ignorance cannot touch Him. Whenever the Lord is present, there cannot be any darkness from the mode of ignorance. It is stated in Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.31):
krishna — surya-sama, maya haya andhakara
yahan krishna, tahan nahi mayara adhikara
“Godhead is light. Nescience is darkness. Where there is Godhead there is no nescience.” This material world is full of darkness and ignorance of spiritual life, but by bhakti-yoga this ignorance is dissipated. The Lord appeared because of the bhakti-yoga exhibited by Prahlada Maharaja, and as soon as the Lord appeared, the influence of Hiranyakasipu’s passion and ignorance was vanquished as the Lord’s quality of pure goodness, or the Brahman effulgence, became prominent. In that prominent effulgence, Hiranyakasipu became invisible, or his influence became insignificant. An example illustrating how the darkness of the material world is vanquished is given in the sastra. When Brahma was created from the lotus stem growing from the abdomen of Garbhodakasayi Vishnu, Lord Brahma saw everything to be dark, but when he received knowledge from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, everything became clear, as everything becomes clear when one comes from night to sunshine. The important point is that as long as we are in the material modes of nature, we are always in darkness. This darkness cannot be dissipated without the presence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which is invoked by the practice of bhakti-yoga. Bhakti-yoga creates a transcendental situation with no tinges of material contamination.