Definition - What does Narasimha mean?

Narasimha is a Hindu deity known as the man-lion and is an avatar of Vishnu, the supreme deity of Vaishnavism and a part of Hinduism's trimurti. The name comes from the Sanskrit, nara, meaning “man,” and simha, which means “lion” or “powerful one.” He is depicted with a human body, lion's head and sometimes with claws.

Narasimha is one of the 10 main incarnations of Vishnu that comprise the Dashavatara.

Yogapedia explains Narasimha

Vishnu transforms into Narasimha in order to destroy evil and religious persecution. In Hindu mythology, the demon, Hiranyakashipiu, was angry that Vishnu (in his incarnation as Varaaha) had overthrown his twin brother; so, he persecuted devotees of Vishnu. When Hiranyakashipiu challenged his own son, Prahlada — who worshiped Vishnu — Narasimha burst out of a pillar and killed the demon.

The avatars that make up the Dashavatara vary by region and tradition. However, in addition to Narasimha, they typically include:

  • Matsya — the fish
  • Koorma — the tortoise
  • Varaaha — the boar
  • Vamana — the dwarf
  • Parasurama — the angry man
  • Rama — the perfect man
  • Balarama — Krishna's older brother
  • Krishna — the divine diplomat and statesman
  • Kalki — the mighty warrior, who has not yet appeared
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