Narasinha, man-lion, is claimed to be the fourth avatar of Vishnu, mentioned in epic and Puranic texts, and depicted as a man-lion hybrid. According to legend, the demonic king Hiranyakasipu took of a dangerous invulnerability. To thwart this, Vishnu assumed the form of Narasinha and hid in a pillar of the king’s palace from whence he sprang capturing Hiranyakasipu and tore out his entrails. Iconographically, the scene is portrayed with the victim thrown across Narasinha’s lap, and the god’s claws plunged into the body. Narasinha may also appear seated in a yoga position with the goddess Laksmiupon his knee. A.G.H.


Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 178