By Dhruva Gorrick
Hardback with dustjacket, 224 pages with color pictures on each page
Lord Narasimha is known as the divine protector and remover of all spiritual obstacles. As explained in the Foreword, He appeared in the form of a half-man/ half lion incarnation of Vishnu to protect and save His devotee Prahlad, who was only a young boy at the time. Prahlad’s father, Hiranyakashipu, was perhaps the most heinous demon-king that ever lived, and Narasimhadeva’s destruction of this demon speaks to the power of good over evil, or righteousness over iniquity.
Narasimhadeva is worshiped and celebrated throughout India, mainly due to the fact that He is considered as the supreme divine protector, something appreciated by all traditions regardless of sectarian affiliation. Although Hindus tend to create a hierarchy of gods and often debate who among Them is actually the greatest, Narasimhadeva is respected by all Indic traditions equally, both in India and in other parts of Asia. As the divine protector and remover of obstacles, He is seen as Ganesh’s supreme counterpart. While Ganesh removes material obstacles, Narasimha can even remove spiritual ones.
For the past 18 years I have been traveling around India in search of the lost and unknown temples of Lord Narasimha. When I began my search, many told me that His temples were only located in one particular region of the subcontinent (Andhra Pradesh). While this initially seemed to be true, I gradually found out that He revealed Himself in many forms and temples throughout the country. From the Himalaya mountains to the deepest, dangerous jungles of South India and the deserts of Rajasthan — there He was in all His glory.
Some of the temples were difficult to find. But I was determined to not give up and always prayed to Him for direction. While on buses, trains, rickshaws, or walking on the road, I would follow any and every lead, however slight it might have been. Sometimes I would meet someone who spoke just enough English to tell me about a temple they knew, or they would take me to someone who they thought could help me. It was as if the Lord Himself was mapping out my path through all these wonderful, kind people that almost mystically came my way.
The temples were often in out-of-the-way place, too. Most of them were on top of hills, mountains or in caves surrounded by jungles that were home to tigers, bears, and cobras.
Photographing all the art, paintings, carvings, temples, deities, temple grounds, priests and just anything to do with Him, I knew this would be extremely valuable to my peers and future generations. My mission became clear: To write about these wonderlands of Narasimha and create a book of all His temples, His devotees, His ritual and His Art — a book about Narasimha culture.