Narsimha , is one of many legendary avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu, one who incarnates in the form of part lion and part man to destroy an evil, end religious persecution and calamity on earth, thereby restoring Dharma.
Narsimha iconography shows him with a human torso and lower body, with a lion face and claws, typically with a demon Hiranyakashyap in his lap whom he is in the process of killing. The demon is powerful brother of evil Hiranyaksha who had been previously killed by Vishnu, who hated Vishnu for killing his brother. Hiranyakashyap gains special powers by which he could not be killed during the day or night, inside or outside, by god, demon, man or animal.
Coronated with his new powers, Hiranyakashyap creates chaos, persecutes all devotees of Vishnu including his own son. Vishnu understands the demon’s power, then creatively adapts into a mixed avatar that is neither man nor animal and kills the demon at the junction of day and night, inside and outside. Narsimha is known primarily as the ‘Great Protector’ who specifically defends and protects his devotees from evil. The most popular Narsimha mythology is the legend that protects his devotee Prahlada, and creatively destroys Prahlada’s demonic father and tyrant Hiranyakashipu.
Narsimha legends are revered in Vaishnavism, but he is a popular deity beyond the Vaishnava tradition such as in Shaivism. He is celebrated in many regional Hindu temples, texts, performance arts and festivals such as Holika prior to the Hindu spring festival of colors called Holi. The oldest known artwork of Narsimha has been found in Mathura, and dated between 2nd and 3rd-century CE.