Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Tirtha-yatra, Part 47


Lord Pana-nrsimha

Mar 15, CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of the holy sites visited by Lord Caitanya.


Today we are going to one of the most famous tirthas visited by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu during His South India travels. The temple of Pana-nrsimha still draws many devotees, who come to get the Lord's darshan in His Andhra Pradesh abode. This tirtha is mentioned in the Summary of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya Lila 9:

    Madhya lila 9

    "A summary of the Ninth Chapter is given by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. After leaving Vidyanagara, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu visited such places of pilgrimage as Gautami-ganga, Mallikarjuna, Ahovala-nrsimha, Siddhavata, Skanda-ksetra, Trimatha, Vrddhakasi, Bauddha-sthana, Tirupati, Tirumala, Pana-nrsimha, Siva-kanci, Visnu-kanci, Trikala-hasti, Vrddhakola, Siyali-bhairavi, Kaveri-tira and Kumbhakarna-kapala."

Later in Madhya Lila, we get more details about Pana-nrsimha tirtha's location, and the Deity residing here:

    Madhya 9.66

    sva-prabhave loka-sabara karana vismaya
    pana-nrsimhe aila prabhu daya-maya

    "Everywhere Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went, His influence astonished everyone. He next arrived at the temple of Pana-nrsimha. The Lord is so merciful.

    Pana-nrsimha, or Panakal-narasimha, is located in the district of Krishna, in the hills known as Mangalagiri, about seven miles from a city known as Vijayawada. One must climb six hundred steps to reach the temple. It is said that when the Lord is offered food with syrup here, He does not take more than half. Within this temple is a conchshell presented by the late king of Tanjore, and it is said that this shell was used by Lord Krsna Himself. During the month of March, a great fair takes place in this temple. Madhya 9.67

    nrsimhe pranati-stuti premavese kaila
    prabhura prabhave loka camatkara haila

    In great ecstatic love, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu offered obeisances and prayers unto Lord Nrsimha. The people were astonished to see Lord Caitanya's influence."

The three most well-known Narasimha shrines in Andhra Pradesh are Ahobilam, Simhachalam and Mangalagiri. Mangalagiri means the Auspicious Hill. This place is one of the 8 important Mahakshetrams (sacred places) in India, or the eight places where the Lord manifested himself: (1) Sri Rangam (2) Srimushnam (3) Naimisam (4) Pushkaram (5) Salagamadri (6) Thothadri (7) Narayanasramam (8) Venkatadri.

Mangalagiri Hill

Thotadri is the present Mangalagiri. Lakshmi Devi performed tapas on this hill, and for Her it was named "the Auspicious Hill". There are three Narasimha Swamy temples in Mangalagiri. One is Panakala Narasimha Swamy on the hill, where Lord Caitanya took darshan of Lord Nrsimhadeva, in1512. There is an imprint of the Lord's feet and a verse dedicated to Him in the temple. Another temple is Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy at the foot of the hill; and the third is Gandala Narasimha Swamy, at the top of the hill.

From all the directions, the shape of Mangalagiri hill looks like an elephant. The mountain is said to have come into existence when Pariyatra, an ancient king, had a son name Hrasva Srungi who visited all the holy and sacred places to regain normal bodily stature. He finally visited the holy place of Mangalagiri and stayed for three years, performing penance. All the devathas advised him to stay at Mangalagiri and continue to do penance in praise of Lord Vishnu. When the father of Hrasva Srungi came with his retinue to take his son back to his kingdom, Hrasva Srungi took the shape of an elephant to remain and become the abode of Lord Vishnu, who is locally known as Panakala Lakshmi-narasimhaswamy.

The temple of Sri Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy is situated on the Auspicious Hill. On the right side of the steps provided to reach the temple there is a stone inscription by Sri Krishnadeva Raya of Vijayanagar. A little further up, are the worshipable Footprints of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Midway up the steps is the temple of Lord Panakala Lakshmi-narasimhaswamy (Pana-nrsimha) with His mouth widely opened.

The temple is built around a self-manifest mouth of Lord Narasimha. Over the mouth, completing the face of the Lord, is a brass mask with ugra expression. The Lord's chakra and club are also self-manifested in the stone.

The worshipable Footprints of Mahaprabhu are housed in a shrine known as Padapeet, which was established by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur to commemorate Lord Chaitanya's visit here.

This temple is said to have the highest gopuram in the state of Andhra Pradesh. A dhwajasthambham was erected in front of the temple in 1955. Behind the temple there is the shrine of Sri Lakshmi, to the west of which is a tunnel believed to lead to the Vundavalli caves on the banks of the Krishna River.

There are stone inscription of the kings of Vijayanagar which relate to the conquest of Rayalu over Kondapalli, and Siddhiraju Thimmarajayya Devara's granting of a total of 200 kunchams (10 kunchams make one acre) land in 28 villages, of which Mangalagiri was one, and a gift of 40 kunchams by China Thirumalayya to Ramanujakutam.

The steps to the temple were constructed by Sri Channapragada Balaramadasu in 1890. There was a cave next to the Devi temple on the hill. It is said that there is a way to Vundavalli from that cave, and the sages used to go that way to take bath in Krishna River. Now the cave is very dark, and the way cannot be seen.

Sri Pana-nrsimhadeva

Lord Nrsimhadeva has established Himself on the hill in His man-lion form, assumed to kill the demon Hiranyakasipu, who was the rakshasa father of the great devotee, Prahlada. The Lord is also called Sudarsana Narasimhaswamy, for another pastime. After great penance, the rakshasa Namuchi obtained a boon from Lord Brahma that he would not be killed by anything wet or dry. He then began to harass Indra and the devathas. Encouraged and supported by Lord Vishnu, Indra commenced destroying the army of rakshasa Namuchi, who died in a cave in Sukshmakaram (small size), giving up his sthulakaram (physical manifestation). Indra dipped Sudarsanam, the disc of Lord Vishnu, into the foam of the ocean and sent it into the cave. Lord Vishnu manifested Himself at the centre of the disc, destroyed the Pranavayuvu (life breath) of the rakshasa with the fire of His exhalation. He thus got the name Sudarsana Narasimha.

The blood that flowed from the body of the rakshasa seemed to have formed into a pool at the foot of the hill. The devathas themselves were unable to withstand the fire of the anger of the Lord and they prayed for appeasement. The Lord took amritam (nectar) and cooled down. This was in Kritha-yuga. The Lord said that he would be satisfied with ghee in Thretha-yuga, with milk in Dwapara-yuga and with panakam (jaggery water) in Kali-yuga. Hence, in Kali-yuga the Lord is known as Panakala Lakshmi-narasimhaswamy.

In making offerings to Lord Pana-nrsimha, the temple priest takes a pot of sweet jaggery water and pours half of the drink with a conchshell into the Lord's mouth. The jaggery water is made of liquefied gur-water (sugar), camphor, black pepper, and cardamom. Half of whatever quantity of jaggery water that is prepared is offered to the Lord, and the rest is returned to the offerer as mahaprasad. While the water is being poured into the mouth of the Lord, a gurgling sound is heard, like the sounds of drinking. Even though there is so much sugar water offered here, there is not a single ant on the hill. It is said that Lord Narasimha rested here after killing Hiranyakasipu, and Lakshmi Devi then gave him a drink to quench his thirst.


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