Ahobilam in Andhra Pradesh( is it Telengana now?),is the place where Lord Vishnu is reported to have slain Hiranyakasipu by taking the Avatar of half man half beast , Narasimha.
There are nine Narasimhas, Nava Narasimhas in Ahobilam.
I had written on Ahobilam from the perspective of a visitor so that people may get travel information .
But I wanted to examine the history of the temple as this runs contrary to the fact mentioned in Puranas about Nrusimha Avatar.
There is a temple in north India,where Narasimha is reported to have slain Hiranyakasipu.
Why then there is a temple in deep down south of India?
Puranas do not lie as they are facts and I have found so during my research into Hinduism during the past seven years.
Neither do the sthalapuranas.
So I checked facts.
It comes to light that though the Narasimha Avatar took place in the North, it was re enacted at Ahobilam by Lord Vishnu at the request of Garuda, Lord Vishnu’ s mount.
The Mountain range is called even now as Garudadri.
This temple enacts the Nrusimha Avatar exactly as it took place earlier even to the minute detail of Vishnu’ s palms being stained with the blood of Hiranyakasipu!
‘ Aho Veeryam Aho Souryarn Aho Bahuparakramah
Naarasimham Param Daivam Ahobilam Aho Balam.
The other version is that because of the great cave, the Ahobila, where Garuda worshipped, did penance and realised the lord, the place itself has come to be called Ahobilam. The Ahobilam ‘Kaifiyat’ gives support to this legend. (The Ahobilam Kaifiyat forming part of Mackenzie collections gives very valuable information regarding the Ahobilam temples. Kaifiyats – the digests from ‘Kaviles’ or village registers containing information on the political, social, religious and other conditions of the villages in Deccan were prepared by Pandits and Mussadis working under Col. Mackenzie.) The Ahobilam Kaifiyat is in Telugu and available in the State Archives at Hyderabad (vide “Ahobila Narasimhaswamy temple” – Monograph by P. Sitapati, Commissioner of Archives).
As per this record, “On one of the mountains in the Nallamalai hills range, eight amadas from Srisaila Kshetra, Garuda commenced silent penance to obtain a vision of Lord Narasimha who destroyed Hiranyakasipu. The Lord in his grace, after long years of the tapas of Garuda, manifested Himself in the cave of a mountain”.
“Ten ‘Paruvus’ to the north-east of the mountain, where Garuda was doing penance, a vision of His manifestation was then granted to Garuda, who after obtaining a sign of the location of the mountain-cave, gladly traveled thither and saw the embodiment of the Sathsvaroopa,’ Mahapurusha, Lord Jwalanarasimha – not easily accessible to common people. Garuda then worshipped the Lord and praised him that ‘Ahobilam is Mahabalam’ (Ahobilam is a great sustainer with strength). The Lord’s Divya Mangala Vigraha was worshipped by him with several sthotras- Garuda then considered himself as blessed after a vision of the Lord. This divine place thereafter obtained the deserving name of Ahobilam”.
“The mountain on which Garuda performed tapas became famous as Garudachala. In the days of yore when truth and dharma prevailed, great heat was observable near the mountain- cave of Ahobila; according to legend when green grass was put in the cave, it would catch fire and smoke would be emitted. Several great Rishis lived there for a time; after sometime with the knowledge that great places would become common Janapadas in the Kali age, they left for northern lands, covering up the Narasimha cave with boulders. Traditionally therefore this place is being called the Narasimha Kshetra. There are thus nine Narasimha places, Nava-Narasimhas; Rishi- installed and worshipping areas:
Jwala Ahobila Malola Kroda Karanja Bhargava
Yogananda Kshatravata Pavana Nava Moorthayaha.
The Nine Narasimhasthalas are :- 1. Jwala Narasimha 2. Ahobila Narasimha 3. Malola Narasimha 4. Kroda Narasimha 5. Karanja Narasimha 6. Bhargava Narasimha 7. Yogananda Narasimha 8. Kshatravata Narasimha and 9. Pavana or holy Narasimha.
1. BHARGAVA NARASIMHA SWAMY
The Bhargava Narasimha Swamy is situated at a distance of two kilometres from the Lower Ahobilam, on a hill, near the sacred pond, known as ‘Bhargava Theertham’, where Bhargava Rama performed his penance. Hence the Lord of the temple is known as Bhargava Narasimha Swamy.
2. YOGANANDA NARASIMHA SWAMY
This temple is to the south-east of Lower Ahobilam at a distance of 2 kilometres. The popular legend is that after killing Hiranyakasipu, Lord Narasimha taught Prahlada several yogic postures. Therefore, the Lord in this aspect is called Yogananda Narasimha.
3. CHATRAVATA NARASIMHA SWAMY
About three kilometres from lower Ahobilam, the image of the deity is installed under a peepal tree, surrounded by thorny bushes. Hence, the Lord is called as Chatravata Narasimha Swamy.
4. AHOBILA NARASIMHA SWAMY
The temple, situated on the Upper Ahobilam, at a distance of eight kilometres from the Lower Ahobilam, is the main temple and the earliest of all the nine temples there. The Lord here appears in his fierce aspect, called Ugra Narasimha, who is the presiding deity of the temple and is known as Ahobila Nrisimha Swamy. It is firmly believed the Lord Narasimha was ‘Svayambhu’ (self-manifest) here.
5. KRODAKARA (VARAHA) NARASIMHA SWAMY
The temple of this Lord is one kilometre away from the main temple of Ahobila Nrisimha Swamy on the Upper Ahobilam. The image of the deity has the face of a boar (varaha or kroda) and the Lord is seen along with his Consort, Lakshmi. Hence the Lord of the temple is known as Krodakara (Varaha) Narasimha Swamy here.
6. KARANJA NARASIMHA SWAMY
This shrine is situated at a distance of one kilometre from the Upper Ahobilam and one furlong from the road leading to Lower Ahobilam. The image of the deity is installed under a tree, called ‘Karanja Vruksham’. Hence this Lord is called Karanja Narasimha Swamy.
7. MALOLA NARASIMHA SWAMY
Nearly two kilometres from the main temple of Upper Ahobilam, is the famous shrine of Malola Narasimha Swamy. The deity here appears in ‘soumya’ (graceful) form. As Lord Narasimha is seen with his consort, Lakshmi, He is known as Malola Narasimha Swamy. The word ‘Malola’ means beloved to Lakshmi (Ma=Lakshmi, Lola= beloved). It is said that the ‘utsavamoorthi’ of the Lord appeared to Srimath Adivan Satakopa Jeeyar, the first Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt. Right from the founder, i.e., the first Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt down to the 44th pontiff, Srivan Satakopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yatheendra Mahadesika, the present jeeyar, the utsavamoorthi of Malola Narasirnha Swamy is worshipped and it is taken by them whenever they are on religious tours, visiting the villages every year. Recently, the 45th Jeeyar Srivan Satakopa Sri Narayana Yatheendra Mahadesikan has taken over the worship.
8. JWALA NARASIMHA SWAMY
The temple of Jwala Nrisimha Swamy, lies higher up the above temple, on a hill called, ‘Achalachaya Meru’. This is about four kilometres from the Upper Ahobilam temple. This place is said to be the actual spot, where the fierce anger of the Lord reached its culmination when he tore Hiranyakasipu.
9. PAVANA NARASIMHA SWAMY
Nearby the above temple, is the shrine of Pavana Narasimha, on the banks of the river, Pavana and it is about six kilometres from the Upper Ahobilam temple. Hence the Lord of the shrine is known as Pavana Narasimha Swamy.
In addition to the shrines mentioned above, there is a famous shrine dedicated to God Narasimha Swamy in the Lower Ahobilam, which is popularly known as Prahlada Varada Sannidhi. The other objects of this place are ‘Ugra Sthambham’ and ‘Prahlada Mettu’.
(a) UGRA STHAMBHAM
At a distance of eight kilometres from the Upper Ahobilam temple, we can see a cleft of the mountain dividing it into two visible parts. It is a long-held view that from the cleft, the Lord appeared in the form of Narasimha and this cleft is known as ‘Ugra Sthambham’.
(b) PRAHALADA METTU
The small shrine, situated in a cave on the hill, is in between Ugra Sthambham and the Upper Ahobilam. It is dedicated to Prahlada Narashimha Swamy. The image of the Prahlada is installed in a small cave.
There are a number of holy ‘theerthas’ (water ponds) round this place. Of these, Rakthakundam is the most important. It is stated that Lord Narasirnha after killing the demon Hiranyakasipu, washed his hands in this ‘theertham’ and hence the water is still reddish in appearance. (History of the cult of Narasimha in Andhra Pradesh by Dr. M. Narasimhacharya).
Citation and references.