The Yoga Narasimha Temple in Velachery

Abode of Lord Narasimha

The Yoga Narasimha Temple in Velachery has the Lord in a sitting posture facing the Western direction which is considered rare.

THOUGH THE incarnation of Lord Vishnu as Narasimha (half-lion-half-man) lasted only for a short period, it is one of the three important avatars, the other two being Ramavatara and Krishnavatara.

Saint Nammazhwar, in his Thiruvoimozhi, says Lord Vishnu emerged from a pillar in the form of Narasimha when the demon-king, Hiranyakasipu, asked his son Prahlada, an ardent devotee, whether his God could appear anywhere and at any time. The child said yes and Lord Vishnu proved Prahlada's words true, killed the demon-king and saved the world.

The nine Narasimha forms are Jwala Narasimha, Ahobila Narasimha, Malola Narasimha, Krodha Narasimha, Kaaranja Narasimha, Bhargava Narasimha, Yoga Narasimha, Chatravada Narasimha and Pavana Narasimha. He is also worshipped as Lakshmi Narasimha, when seated with his consort on his lap. There are many temples dedicated to these forms, but the most common are shrines of Yoga Narasimha or Lakshmi Narasimha.

One such temple is in Velachery, originally known as Vedasreni. Situated on the road from Saidapet to Tambaram, it is an abhimana sthalam (holy place patronised by devotees), though it is not sanctified by the Azhwars' hymns. However, the seventh decade of the Periya Thirumozhi beginning with the poem, `Anganngnalamanja Angoer Aalariyaai', sung in praise of the Lord at Ahobilam, is dedicated to the Lord here, who, according to the temple legend, is worshipped as he gave darshan to Prahlada.

He is seen here as `Yoga Narasimha', with four hands and in a sitting posture facing the western direction, which is rare. The Goddess Amirthbalavalli (the same name with which she is worshipped at Ahobilam) is housed in a separate shrine in the main prakaram (precinct). The utsavar (processional deity) is Bhaktavatsala Perumal flanked by Sridevi and Bhoodevi. But the place gets its name from Lord Vedanarayana Perumal, who is enshrined in the manimandapam of the temple. He is seen standing, facing west with the `Prayoga Chakra' (the holy disc) ready to leave his hand to slay the evil-doer. This is also a rare position. Lord Devanatha in Chettypunnyam at Singaperumalkoil, near Chengalpattu is also in a similar position.

Velachery was also known as Vedanarayanapuram in Tamil and Vedasreni in Sanskrit after this Lord. Another explanation is that sages stayed here and conducted yagnas (rituals) regularly and hence the place was called Vellvicheri (Vellvi in Tamil means yagna), which later became Velacheri. Apart from the presiding deities and Sri Vedanarayana Perumal, Kothandaramar, Andal, Hanumar, Azhwars, Ramanuja and Manavala Mamunigal are also worshipped in the temple.