Nrisimha-chaturdasi is the divine appearance day of Nrisimhadeva, Lord Krishna’s man-lion incarnation, who removes all obstacles on the path of devotional service out of His great compassion.
The appearance anniversary of Lord Narasimhadeva, Lord Krishna’s incarnation as half-man, half-lion. Lord Narasimhadeva descended to protect his young devotee Sri Prahlada Maharaja from his torturous father, King Hiranyakashipu.
Lord Narasimha Deva appears to protect His devotees. Hiranyakashipu, a demon controlling the three worlds, was extremely proud and he hated Lord Vishnu. But little Prahlada, his five year old son, was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. therefore, Hiranyakashipu tried to killed prahlada in several ways; but failed in all his attempts because of the protection given by the Lord to His dear devotee. Finally, when Hiranyakashipu asked his little son where the Lord resides, Prahlada replied that the Lord resides everywhere. Mocking this response, Hiranyakashipu broke a pillar in his palace, and the Lord appeared from that pillar in His half man-half lion incarnation – Narasimha. He then killed the demon and thus protected His devotee. Lord Narasimha Deva removes the obstacles in the path of devotional service. Devotees who pray to Him are always protected from all kinds of calamities.
After Krishna’s incarnation as a boar, Varahadeva, killed the demon Hiranyaksha, the demon’s younger brother, Hiranyakashipu, was determined to get revenge and conquer the universe. He performed severe austerities to get the attention of Brahma, and asked to be granted immortality. Brahma, the engineer of the universe, was himself a mortal being and so could not grant him immortality. But he did give Hiranyakashipu the boons that he could not be killed by any man or animal, by anything living or dead, during the day or night, inside or outside, on the land or in the sea or sky.
Although seemingly invincible, when Hiranyakashipu tormented his youngest son Prahlada, a pure devotee of the Lord, Krishna burst out of a palace column as Nrisimhadeva. By killing Hiranyakashipu in the form of a half-man and half-lion, with his fingernails, at dusk, in the threshold of the palace and on his lap, Nrisimhadeva simultaneously respected the boons given by Brahma and saved His dear devotee Prahlada Maharaja.
tava kara-kamala-vare nakham adbhuta-srngam
keshava dhrta-narahari-rupa jaya jagadisa hare
“O Keshava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of half-man, half-lion! All glories to You! Just as one can easily crush a wasp between one’s fingernails, so in the same way the body of the wasp like demon Hiranyakashipu has been ripped apart by the wonderful pointed nails on Your beautiful lotus hands.”
There many prayers to Lord Narasimha that invoke powerful mantras for protection, appealing to the Lord’s half-lion incarnation and His weapons. These are for protection from such things as malevolent spirits and material desires, as well as increased devotion and a peaceful world.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, in his Navadvipa-bhava-taranga, writes of the significance that worship of Lord Nrisimhadeva has for a Gaudiya Vaishnava:
Therefore, I pray to the feet of Lord Nrisimhadeva to purify my heart and give me the desire to serve Krishna. Weeping, I beg at the lotus feet of Nrisimha that I may worship Sri Sri Radha and Krishna at Navadvipa-dhama, free from all obstacles.
Narasimhadeva appeared at dusk on the Shukla Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the bright fortnight) in the month of Vaishakha (May). Devotees fast till dusk on this day. At dusk a maha-abhisheka is performed to Deity, Laxmi-Nrisimha because of His standing pose, with sandalwood oil and other precious oils. Since the Deity has performed unbelievable miracles in the lives of several devotees, there is naturally great enthusiasm amongst the devotees. Nrisimhadeva is offered a new dress too. After the arati, sumptuous-prasada is honored by the devotees.