Article May 8, 2017
Ahobilam (Ahobalam) is the place where Supreme Personality of Godhead incarnated Himself as Lord Nrsimhadeva to killed the demon Hiranyakasipu and save His dear-most devotee Prahlada. Here at Ahobilam, Lord Nrsimhadeva emerged from the pillar of Hiranyakasipu’s palace, killed him after a fierce fight, simultaneously honouring the boons that Hiranyakasipu received from Lord Brahma. The pillar from where Lord Nrsimhadeva appeared, the ruins of the palace of Hiranyakasipu, the exact spot where Lord Nrsimhadeva killed Hiranyakasipu, the pond where Lord Nrsimhadeva washed His lotus hands after killing Hiranyakasipu and the school where Prahlada studied still exist at Ahobilam. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu visited Ahobilam during His south India pilgrimage as mentioned in Sri Caitanya Caritamrta Madhya-lila chapter 9 verses 16-17 and Madhya-lila chapter 1 verse 106. Lord Ramacandra also came here and sung five verses named “Narasimha Panchamritam”. Ahobilam is located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh amidst the majestic hills of the Eastern Ghats range. It is 256 km from Tirupati, 110 km from Cuddapah, 68 km from Nandyal and 24 km from Allagadda. To visit Ahobilam, the best is to travel from Tirupati. It is approximately 5 hours drive from Tirupati to Ahobilam (256 km).
Ahobilam - The Great Strength
Ahobalam means: “Aho Balam (what great strength!)”
When Lord Nrsimhadeva, the half-lion and half-man incarnation of Supreme Lord, emerged out of pillar in His fierce and effulgent form, all the devatas (demigods) exclaimed “Aho Balam (what great strength!)”. Sthala purana mentions this wonderful pastime an additional note to Lord Narasimha Lila mentioned in 7th canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
“aho viryam aho shauryam aho bahuparakramah
narasimham param daivam ahobilam aho balam”
On the plea of Prahlada, Lord Nrsimhadeva continues to reside at Ahobilam on the peak “Garudachala”. Since this place was contaminated by blood of Hiranyakasipu and his army, Lord invoked River Mandakini to clean it. Since the river cleansed the dirt (sins) that causes birth (bhava), she came to be called as River “Bhavanashini”. Laxmi Devi appeared and sat on the folded leg of the lord. The forest grove thus got their name as Laxmivan. Seeing this beautiful sight of Lord and her consort, all great sages assembled and sang praises and hymns from Vedas. The mountain from where they chanted came to be called as “Vedadri”. Ahobilam also got its name because of bila (cave). Long, long ago (even before Lord Nrsimhadeva’s appearance to kill Hiranyakasipu), Garuda once performed severe penance with a desire to see the darshan of Lord in Narasimha form. Pleased with him, Lord guided Garuda to see His Narasimha avatar form in a nearby huge cave. Garuda proceeded and was benedicted to see this beautiful form in this cave. Hence this area also got its name place of beautiful cave “Ahobilam”. The mountain on which Garuda performed austerities came to be known as Garudachala, Garudadri and Garudashailam.
It is very popularly known that the Nallamalai range of mountain (Eastern Ghats) is the manifestation of Sri Adi Sesha - the great serpent bed of Lord Vishnu. On His seven hoods lays Tirupati, on stomach Ahobilam and on the tail lays Sri Shailam. The Brahmanda Purana states that Ahobilam was the dwelling of the demon king Hiranyakasipu who was killed by the Lord. Mention of legends connected with Ahobalam can be found in Kurma Purana, Padma Purana and Vishnu Purana. This place is known by many names: Ahobalam, Nava Narasimha Kshetra, Singavel Kundram, Pancha krosa Kshetra, Garudachala and Vedachala.
Many great devotees like Sripad Ramanujacarya, Vedanta Desika also rendered services here and many of them composed beautiful prayers and songs at feet of Lord Nrsimhadeva. Ramanujacarya visited here in 11th Century A.D and Vedanta Desika in 1268-1379 A.D. The great king, Vikramaditya (1076-1106 A.D) of the western Chalukyas, also worshipped the main deity of the temple. “Sri Laxmi Nrsimha pancaratna stotra” and “Karaavalamba stotra” are two very famous hymns composed by Adi Sankaracharya when he came here. “Angan naalam” - was sung by the great Thirumanghai Alwar.
ईश्वरः सर्वभूतानां हृद्देशेऽजुर्न तिष्ठति।भ्रामयन्सर्वभूतानि यन्त्रारुढानि मायया॥
भावार्थ : हे अर्जुन! शरीर रूप यंत्र में आरूढ़ हुए संपूर्ण प्राणियों को अन्तर्यामी परमेश्वर अपनी माया से उनके कर्मों के अनुसार भ्रमण कराता हुआ सब प्राणियों के हृदय में स्थित है ॥61॥
The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.
Arjuna was not the supreme knower, and his decision to fight or not to fight was confined to his limited discretion. Lord Kṛṣṇa instructed that the individual is not all in all. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, or He Himself, Kṛṣṇa, the localized Supersoul, sits in the heart directing the living being. After changing bodies, the living entity forgets his past deeds, but the Supersoul, as the knower of the past, present and future, remains the witness of all his activities. Therefore all the activities of living entities are directed by this Supersoul. The living entity gets what he deserves and is carried by the material body which is created in the material energy under the direction of the Supersoul. As soon as a living entity is placed in a particular type of body, he has to work under the spell of that bodily situation. A person seated in a high-speed motor car goes faster than one seated in a slower car, though the living entities, the drivers, may be the same. Similarly, by the order of the Supreme Soul, material nature fashions a particular type of body to a particular type of living entity to work according to his past desires. The living entity is not independant. One should not think himself independant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The individual is always under His control. Therefore his duty is to surrender, and that is the injunction of the next verse.