Narasimha is a wrathful, arguably the fiercest, avatara (earthly incarnation of the divine) of the great Lord Vishnu. He has the form of a man (‘nara’) that fuses into the form of a lion (‘simha’) or beast. The essence of Lord Narasimha is the Devi Pratyangira, whom you see on this page. With the face of a flying-maned lion and the body of a young and beauteous Hindu Devi, She is the very personification of Shakti (primordial cosmic energy).
Devi Pratyangira is seated on the back of a lion as ferocious as Herself. Sculpted from bronze, the musculature of its powerful legs and the stance of its great jaws convey a degree of motion. Indeed, it takes a lot of skill to infuse such a challenging medium with a lifelike quality. It is from the vahana (divine mount) that it may be discerned that this Devi is a roopa (form) of Devi Durga Herself. She is no less than Her in terms of beauty and vigour. In fact, the leonine mukhamandala (facial region) of Pratyangira is a stark expression of the Chandika aspect of Devi Parvati.
The chaturbhujadharini Devi (the one possessed of four arms) is an example of the fluidity of the Hindu Devi concept. As a deity of the Tantric tradition, She bears in Her left anterior hand a kapala (skullcup) and wears a garland of severed adharmee heads. The implements in Her remaining three hands bear Shaivite symbolism, indicative of the fact that Shiva is lord and master over them all.
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