Shri Guru Narasimha Temple




Srimad Yogananda Guru Narasimha is the chief deity of the town of Saligrama, Udupi, India. The temple of Guru Narasimha is located on NH 66 at a distance of 22 km from Udupi City.

Kshetra Purana :

The ‘Sri Saligrama Kshetra Mahatmyam’ of the Pushkara khanda of the Padma Purana, the Sahyadri khanda of the Skanda Purana and the Lokadityapaddati provide the details of the significance of this temple.

  • According to the Padma Purana, the deity of Guru Narasimha appeared at the bottom of a pipal tree holding Shankha(conch) and Chakra(disc) in its hands. Narada muni who had heard this through an akashavani (celestial message) installed the deity of Guru Narasimha. The akashavani described the deity as ‘Yogananda Nrusimhakyam’.
  • According to the Sahyadri khanda of the Skanda Purana, Lokaditya, the son of Mayura Varma of the Kadamba Dynasty came along with his army and a group of Brahmins headed by a great man called Bhattacharya. They priests performed mahayagas like Poundra, Atiratra,etc. on the request of the king. The blessings of Mahaganapati had been invoked at the start of the yagnas. Ganapathi appeared in the dreams of Bhattacharya with 10 hands and told him to re-install the deity of Lord Yogananda Narasimha and from henceforth Narasimha himself shall be the Guru and god for the Brahmins of the 14 villages surrounding the temple.
    To this day, the Brahmins of these 14 villages, known as Kota Brahmins follow Guru Narasimha as their sole Guru.

Characteristics of the Deity :

  • The Deity of Guru Narasimha is entirely made of the sacred Saligrama stone. It is to be noted that the Deity itself was never carved by anyone, but is “Swayambhu”. The name of the place “Saligrama” owns to this legend.
  • The Deity has a Shankha(conch) in one hand and a Chakra(disc) in another. It is seated in a yogic posture attributing to the name “Yogananda Guru Narasimha”.
  • The Deity is seated on a Mahaganapati yantra. The reason for this is that, Bhattacharya witnessed that in this place lions and elephants lived in harmony which is quite contradictory to their nature. As a result, he called this place as “Nirvairya sthala” meaning “the place of no enemity”.
  • The Deity faces west and 2 ponds are located on either sides of its hands namely, the Shanka Teertha and the Chakra Theertha.
  • There is a crack in the top portion of the Deity. The story behind this is that-

Earlier the Deity of Guru Narasimha was facing east. Because of the “Ugra” nature of Narasimha, the crops in the direction of the eyesight of the Deity used to get burnt to ashes. An angry Brahmin once struck the Lord with a plough and hence a scar was formed on the Deity. It is deemed that the person who struck the Deity faced a lot of problems later on in his life. Several citations of Shilpa Shastra can be used to prove that the Deity was once facing east.

Anjaneya swami temple :

An idol of Anjaneya Swami is also located outside the temple directly facing the eyesight of Guru Narsimha. This idol was installed there to reduce the “Ugra” nature of the Lord and hence stop the burning of crops. The idol is smeared with Sindhura and butter in order to reduce the burning effect due to Guru Narasimha’s sight.

It is a practice for tourists travelling long distances to stop in front of the Anjaneya Swami temple and offer kanike to the deity and only then pass on in order to ensure that they reach their destination safely. Rangapuja is carried out in this shrine throughout the year in the evening times.

Mahaganapathi :

The deity of Mahaganapati was installed by the same Bhattacharya who installed the Guru Narasimha idol. Legend says that Mahaganapathi appeared in the dreams of Bhattacharya with 10 hands and gave him instructions. As a result, the deity installed by Bhattacharya is a “dashabhuja” Ganapathi. The presence of Narasimha and Ganapathi also serves as a mark that elephants and lions once lived in harmony in this place. Puja is carried out to the deity everyday.

Durga parameshwari :

The idol of Sri Durga Parameshwari is located to the right of the garbha griha of Guru Narasimha and exactly opposite to the shrine of Mahaganapathi. Here too puja is performed to the deity on a regular basis.

Narasimha as the guru :

It is a traditional practice for a class of Brahmins to be associated to some Matha usually established by great acharyas like Adi Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhvacharya,etc. However, the Brahmins of the 14 villages surrounding the Saligrama temple do not have any human gurus. Instead Lord Vishnu himself in the form of Narasimha is their guru. It is to be noted that, the Brahmins themselves did not disconnect from any matha and adopt Narasimha as their guru. It was Ganapathi who appeared in the dreams of Bhattacharya who told him to gather the Brahmins of the 14 villages surrounding the Guru Narasimha temple and inform them that from henceforth only Guru Narasimha shall be their guru. Also, this incident took place even before the time of the 1st Brahmin guru Adi Shankara was born.
Although the Brahmins of these 14 villages did not accept Adi Shankara as their guru formally when he toured this place, they completely accepted the Advaita vedanta as propagated by him. They too belong to the Smartha category of Brahmins with the exception that their guru is Guru Narasimha and not Adi Shankara. It is mandatory for them to keep aside a guru kanike before conducting rituals like Upanayana, marriage,etc.

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