This beautiful painting of Lord Nrsimhadev being pacified by Sarabha-Shiva depicts Lord Shiva in his winged form as Sarabha. Images of the Devi’s are iconographically depicted on his body. Lord Nrsimha sits nearby, the destroyed demon Hiranyakasipu on His lap, with Prahlad and Laksmi nearby.

The Puranas describe Lord Nrsimhadev’s pastime of killing the demon, saying that the Lord consumed every drop of Hiranyakasipu’s blood, then wore the demon’s mangled body as a garland to make sure that none of the demon’s physical remains made contact with the universe.

After the destruction, Prahlad, Laksmi and various demigods attempted to soothe the Lord’s anger, but without success. Coming at the request of the rishis and demigods, Lord Shiva, along with Sri Soolini and Prathyankira Devis and Their respective entourages, manifested His supremely aggressive Sarabesvara form. He embraced Sri Nrsimha, cooled Him down and made Him accessible to all beings. This Sri Sarabesvara is Lord Shiva’s universal omkara form.

As mentioned in yesterday’s opening segment of this series, Lord Nrsimhadev’s post-destruction and Disappearance pastimes were not discussed in any detail by our Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya Acaryas. While numerous temple deities, painted images and sastric references are found to Lord Shiva’s Sarabha form, the major Puranas like Srimad Bhagavatam do not mention the Sarabha forms of Lord Nrsimha and Lord Shiva. Likewise, no mention appears to have been made in the Upa Puranas like the Narasimha Purana, or other Upanishads associated with Sri Nrisimhadev. Rather, they stop at the point in the lila pastime with the destruction of Hiranyakasipu and the pacification of the Lord’s anger by Bhakta Prahlad and the demigods and goddesses.

Although the post-destruction pastimes are not mentioned in the primary sastra, there are many references found to Shiva Sarabha and to Lord Nrsimhadev’s own Sarabha Form. Included amongst them are references to Sri Nrsimha’s Form as Ganda Bherunada, a rare two-headed bird incarnation worshipped in South India, as well as to versions of a pastime wherein Shiva Sharabha actually fought with and killed Lord Nrsimhadev. Some have concluded that this incarnation of Shiva was simply created by a group of South Indian Shaivites as a means to position Shiva as being greater than Vishnu, and that question seems left to the discussions of academics and pandits.

In the Atharva Veda, the tenth of thirty-one Upanishads is the Sarabha Upanishad, which glorifies Lord Shiva in his fierce Sarabha manifestation. Verse 3 of this Upanishad states that Maheswara took the form of Sarabha and killed Narasimha. What follows is a translation by P.R. Ramachander:

Sarabha Upanishad

Om ! O Devas, may we hear with our ears what is auspicious;May we see with our eyes what is auspicious, O ye worthy of worship !
May we enjoy the term of life allotted by the Devas,
Praising them with our body and limbs steady !
May the glorious Indra bless us !
May the all-knowing Sun bless us !
May Garuda, the thunderbolt for evil, bless us !
May Brihaspati grant us well-being !
Om ! Let there be Peace in me !
Let there be Peace in my environment !
Let there be Peace in the forces that act on me !

I am saluting that primeval God who is the Lord, who is the best, who is the father of the world, who is the greatest among gods, who has created Brahma, who gave all Vedas to Brahma in the beginning, who is the father of Vishnu and other devas, who merits praise, and who at the time of deluge destroys the world. He is the only one who is greater than every body, who is the best and who rules over others. 1-2

That very strong Maheswara took the horrifying form of Sarabha and killed Narasimha who was destroying the world. (Sarabha is the avatar of Shiva which is a combination of eagle, lion and man.) 3

That god with his sharp claws tore, Vishnu who took the form of Narasimha. He who was wearing the hide became Veerabhadra. 4

For every one desiring to get all occult powers, he is the one who should be meditated. Salutations to that Rudra who tore away the fifth head of Brahma. 5

Salutations to that Rudra who kicked Kala the God of death and made him fall and also him who drank the burning Halahala poison. 6

Salutations to that Rudra whose feet were worshipped by the flower of Vishnu’s eyes and who being pleased gave him the holy wheel (Chakra). 7

The one, who has crossed sorrows, sees that God, who is atom within an atom, gross among the gross, who as Atma hidden in the heart of beings and who is beyond physical action, clearly because of these reasons. 8

Salutations to that Rudra who is the greatest god, who holds the Soola (spear) in his hand, who has a big swallowing mouth, who is the Maheswara and whose blessing has good effects. 9

“Chara”, indicates beings which move and because Brahmam shines in the half of their body as Hari, it is called Sarabham. Hey great sage, that can grant salvation directly. 10

Any twice born who reads this, which is called “the great Sastra of Paippalada” or makes others read it, would get rid of births and deaths and attain salvation. The Upanishad tells that he will become similar to Brahma.

Om ! O Devas, may we hear with our ears what is auspicious;
May we see with our eyes what is auspicious, O ye worthy of worship !
May we enjoy the term of life allotted by the Devas,
Praising them with our body and limbs steady !
May the glorious Indra bless us !
May the all-knowing Sun bless us !
May Garuda, the thunderbolt for evil, bless us !
May Brihaspati grant us well-being !
Om ! Let there be Peace in me !
Let there be Peace in my environment !
Let there be Peace in the forces that act on me !

Here ends the Sarabhopanishad, as contained in the Atharva-Veda.

Other References to Sarabha

In the Sri Nrsimha-sahasra-nama, the thousand Names of Lord Nrsimhadeva (which was translated by Sriman Kusakratha dasa), the name “Sarabha” is included as one of the names of Lord Nrsimhadeva which was recited by Lord Brahma to calm the Lord’s anger after He had killed Hiranyakasipu.

Text 157

“Obeisances to Lord Nrsimha, who gives religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation (dharmartha-kama-moksha), who is always aloof from matter (virakta), who is the most pure (bhava-Suddha), who is perfect (siddha), who is the goal of spiritual life (sadhya), who is ferocious like a Sarabha monster (Sarabha)…”

The Shiva Purana describes Sarabha, also known as Sarabheswara, as follows:

“He had a thousand hands and wore matted locks. His head was adorned by the crested moon. He appeared like a bird with wings and beak. His body was fierce and fully developed.

His fangs were very sharp. Adamantine claws were His weapons. His neck was black in colour. He had huge arms and four legs. He was blazing like fire.

His voice was resonant and terrible like the rumbling sound of the clouds that gather at the end of the yuga. His three eyes were wide and blazing as the fire of the evil spirit of great fury.

His fangs and lips were clearly visible. He was producing a hissing sound of humkara. Shiva of such a form appeared in sight.

In addition to the description of Sri Sarabeswara’s advent in Atharva Veda mention is also found in the Linga Purana, Skanda Purana and Brahmanda Purana. Special mention is made in Rigveda and Thaitriya as well, at the Uttara bhaga of Sri Lalitha Sahasra-nama.

Paayaanno Deva Sarabasthva Payaath
Sathaarirogath Vipinorakaapyam
Vaiswanaro Kugari Ritchakebya
Prethebyo Bhoothebyo Rusha Krudanthan

(Atharva Veda)

The Vedic mantras affirm that all ones sins are wiped away by chanting the powerful mantra of Sri Sarabha. Srila Vedavyasa in the 96th chapter of his Linga Purana categorically states that those who worship Sri Sarabeswara will be rid of all afflictions caused by bad dreams, chronic ailments, poisonous bites, disasters caused by earthquake, floods, cyclone, thunder, lightning, etc.

Sarva Vigna Prasamanam, Sarva Vyadi Vinasanam
Arichakra Prasamanam, Sarva Dukka Vinasanam,
Atraanyothpada Bookamba thaavagni Paamasu Vrishtisu
Thatho duswapna Samanam, Sarvabhootha Nivaranam,
Vishagraha Kshayakaram Puthra powthraadhi Vardhanam
Thathraksha Daaranam Kuryaath Jangamaangey Varaananey

Linga Purana, Chapter 96

One rendition (source unknown) of Lord Nrsimhadev’s post-destruction pastime with Sarabha is described as follows:

“Unfortunately His anger and fierceness did not subside, even after annihilation of the demon and the three worlds trembled in fear. All the Devas headed by Lord Brahma appealed to Lord Shiva to appease the anger of Lord Narasimha. The compassionate Lord Shiva sent His lieutenant Agora Veerabhadra to do the job, but it went in vain. The rajoguna caused by tasting the blood of the demon did not let Lord Narasimha calm down. Veerabhadra, unable to subdue Sri Narasimha, prayed to Lord Shiva to intervene.

There appeared the most terrible form of a combination of man, bird and animal. It was a queer combination of man with Saraba (Bird) and Yaali (animal), celebratedly known and worshipped by the name Sri Sarabeswara, being the Thirtieth avatar of Lord Shiva amongst His Sixty four incarnations.

Sri Sarabeswara, sporting two huge wings, (representing Soolini Durga and Prathyankira Devi), eight legs, the nose of an eagle, four arms carrying fire, serpent, a deer and the ankus, with fingers having sharp nails looking very fierce and turbulent, came flying and comforted Sri Narasimha with his two wings to calm down. But the fiery energy stored in the latter came out in the form of a bird called ‘Kandaberunda’ and started to fight with Sri Sarabha, and this divine encounter continued for eighteen days.

Lord Sarabeswara decided to conclude this ‘sport’. By His will, Goddess Prathyankira Devi came out of one of his wings, took a huge physical form, gulped the Kandaberunda bird and brought its end. Sri Narasimha realising his erroneous action, praised Lord Sarabeswara with beautiful epithets, which later became the Ashtothra (108 Names) of the victorious Lord.

Lord Shiva then revealed to all the Devas that: “To annihilate the Asura, Lord Narasimha came, and to appease Lord Narasimha, I have come as Sarabeswara. Be aware that we are both one and the same like water and water, milk and milk, ghee and ghee, both inseparable and to be worshipped as one”.

Yatha Jaley Jalam, Kshiptham, Ksheeram, Ksheeray Kruthang Kruthey Yekayeva Thatha Vishnu: Shiva Leetho Nachanyatha

Lord Brahma, out of gratitude for saving the universe from the anger of Sri Narasimha, worshipped Lord Sarabeswara with Sri Sarabeswara Ashtothra. At the very appearance of Lord Sarabeswara glittering like thousand Suns, the rage of Narasimha subsided and the entire universe heaved with relief. Let Sri Sarabeswara protect us for ever, from any disaster.