Faith

Kamban on Narasimha

Tamil poet Kamban, in his Ramayana, devotes a big section to the Lord’s avatara as Narasimha. This is his novel introduction in the story of Rama, for it is not to be found in Valmiki’s Ramayana, said M.A. Venkatakrishnan, in a discourse. Valimiki Ramayana talks of the Vamana avatara. Rama and Lakshmana accompany Viswamitra, to protect his yaga. When they see Siddasrama, they are curious about it. Viswamitra tells them that it used to be the place where Vamana did penance, and he also tells the princes about the Vamana avatara. However, there is no such description of the Narasimha avatara, although Acharyas have pointed out that there is a subtle mention of the Narasimha avatara. When Vibhishana comes to Rama’s camp seeking admission, Rama wants to befriend him. But the monkey army is opposed to the idea, because they are afraid that the rakshasa may harm Rama. The Lord then tells them that none can harm Him. Even if all the yaksas and demons join hands and attack Him, they will not be able to hurt Him. He says He can kill them all with the tip of His fingers (angulya agrENa). Acharyas have taken this as a reference by Rama to His avatara as Narasimha, where He tore up Hirnayakasipu with His nails. Nampillai says this is a recollection by Rama of an earlier avatara of His, namely, the Narasimha avatara. While there is only an indirect reference to Narasimha avatara in Valmiki Ramayana, Kamban wrote 275 verses, recording the Narasimha avatara in detail. There are many Visishtadvaitic tenets evident in Kamba Ramayana. The very name Kamban is a name that Narasimha bears. Kamba means pillar and Narasimha was the One who emerged from a pillar. So, not only did Kamban display an affinity for the Lord’s Narasimha avatara but he also bore a name that belongs to Narasimha.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 9:32:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/kamban-on-narasimha/article29385819.ece

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