An image of Narasimha killing Hiranyakasipu

attrib. Devidasa

(India  – )

Narasimha killing Hiranyakasipu

Not on display
Further information

Narasimha is the fourth avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. Here he is attacking the demon Hiranyakasipu. Their location between courtyard pillars is significant as the god Brahma promised Hiranyakasipu that he could not be killed by a human or animal, on earth or in the heavens, inside or outside. Hiranyakasipu swore revenge on Vishnu who, in his boar-headed form Varaha, had killed the demon’s brother Hiranyaksa. In order to defeat Hiranyakasipu, Vishnu took a half human, half lion form, laid the creature across his thighs and killed him with his claws on a threshold at twilight.

The demon’s son Prahlada was a devotee of Vishnu and it was Prahlada’s prayers that called the god to conquer Hiranyakasipu. Prahlada appears beside Narasimha and his victim with his hands held together around a board inscribed with a prayer to Vishnu.

Place of origin
Cultural origin
Basohli or Nurpur, India
circa 1690-1700
opaque pigments and gold on paper
17.0 x 18.0 cm image; 20.2 x 20.9 cm sheet
Peter and Pam Binnie Bequest, purchased 2020
Accession number