The timing of Sri Sri Laxmi Nrsimhadeva’s arrival at the ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) temple in San Jose was astounding. On Sept. 11, 2001—at the exact time terrorists were attacking the World Trade Center in New York City—Nrisimhadeva, famous for being the protector of His devotees, made His appearance at our temple.
Devotees at an ISKCON preaching center in Tijuana, Mexico—seeking protection from persecution by extreme religious groups in their area—had taken up the worship of this deity of Nrsimhadeva. Later, after they moved from Tijuana, they brought Nrsimhadeva to ISKCON San Diego, where He stayed at the home of the temple president, Gandharvika Dasi, for one year. Desiring that Nrsimhadeva receive a more opulent standard of daily worship, Gandarvika Dasi, called one of the devotees at ISKCON of Silicon Valley (ISV) in San Jose.
After hearing Gandharvika Dasi’s proposal, they were eager to receive Nrsimhadeva. After that, there were only some vague plans for someone to bring Him from San Diego to ISV, but no one was clear exactly when Nrsimhadeva would actually arrive. One day, a devotee making the 600-mile drive up the coast, showed up at our temple with Sri Sri Laxmi Nrsimhadeva. Amazingly, His arrival came during the 9/11 attacks, a time when people all over the world were afraid and wondering where to find shelter. All the devotees at ISV took this as Nrsimhadeva’s special mercy on them.
Since that day, the devotees at ISV have been worshiping Nrsimhadeva and His eternal consort Sri Laxmi Ji, beholding their beauty and opulence, praying for their special mercy.
This year, marks the 10th year that the devotees of ISV have been blessed with continuous association, causeless mercy and much needed protection through serving their Lordships, Sri Sri Laxmi Nrsimhadeva.
Lord Krishna incarnates time and again to deliver the souls of this world. Among his incarnations, however, His appearance as the half-man, half-lion, Nrsimhadeva, is especially merciful. Millions of years ago, Nrsimhadeva first incarnated to save His devotee, the 5-year-old boy Prahlada, from the hands of Prahlada’s cruel father, Hiranyakasipu.
Hiranyakasipu, an ardent materialist and demon, was bent on dominating the universe and did so after performing severe austerities and being rewarded by Brahma.
Hiranyakasipu considered the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Visnu, to be his archenemy and held a special hatred for Him because Visnu had killed his brother, Hiranyaksa. When Hiranyakasipu found out that his own son, Prahlada, was a pure devotee of Visnu, he became so disturbed that he tried to kill Prahlada. Nrsimhadeva then appeared from inside a stone pillar, killed Hiranyakasipu and rescued Prahlada.
Nrsimhadeva not only protects His devotees from all dangers, he also removes obstacles on their pathway to perfection in devotional service. This is one reason that sincere devotees pray to Nrsimhadeva, who is Krishna himself (“Kesava dhrta narahari rupa”) asking His assistance in achieving complete purity of heart.
Nrsimhadeva is well known and regularly worshiped in South India, especially Andhra Pradesh. However, in America, people rarely get to see a deity of Nrsimhadeva. This year, out of this sense of appreciation the devotees decided to do something special to celebrate His divine appearance day, which they observed on Monday, May 16. With gusto, the devotees at ISV opened the doors of the ISV temple, inviting people from all over the Bay Area to come receive the blessed glance of Nrsimhadeva and His consort, Sri Laxmi Ji, the Goddess of Fortune, who sits upon Nrsimhadeva’s lap.
Leading up to this event, community members at ISV held a month-long festival that included the distribution of transcendental books, prasadam and the holy names of God for the benefit of others. Participants went door to door, distributing books and invitations to come to see Nrsimhadeva. They also went to parks and street corners and performed public sankirtana (the congregational chanting of God’s holy names).
Their motive behind organizing these events was to emulate the mood of Prahlada, who felt compassion toward souls suffering in the material world. Prahlada taught that the best service to these suffering souls is to teach them about Krsna consciousness, bringing them closer to Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The festival of Lord Nrsimhadeva was a grand success, and now the devotees of ISV are eager to invite visitors to 951 S. Bascom Ave., San Jose, to see Sri Sri Laxmi Nrsimhadeva.
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Deepak Chandani works at Apple and is the director of communications and publicity at ISKCON of Silicon Valley.