Yesterday was Narasimha Jayanti, so I thought I'd post a question I've had about Narasimha's birth. Most people only know the story of how he emerged from a pillar in Ahobilam in order to save Prahlada from Hiranyakashipu. But some Puranas describe another origin of Narasimha. Let me explain.
This excerpt from the Prabhasa Kanda of the Skanda Puranas describes the various incarnations that Vishnu has taken in the present Vaivasvata Manvantara. Here's what it says about Narasimha:
During the fourth quartet of Yugas, when Suras became distressed, he issued forth from the ocean for killing Hiranyakashupu. The second incarnation was Narasimha. Rudra was his priest.
I discuss this "priest" business here. But my question is, what is the story of Narasimha being born from the ocean?
This chapter of the Matsya Purana says much the same thing:
There was another incarnation of the Supreme Soul. When the Devas were in distress, then, on the fourth day of the Moon, which was the anniversary of the beginning of a Yuga, Vishnu manifested Himself on the sea-coast. He incarnated himself as Narasimha for the destruction of Hiranyakashipu. Rudra officiated as the sacrificial priest. This was His second incarnation.
But the thing is, Ahobilam is over 200 kilometers from the sea coast. Could this be a case of Kalpa Bheda? Narasimha could have emerged out of a pillar in Ahobilam in the Swayambhuva Manvantara, and emerged from the ocean in the present Vaivasvata Manvantara (assuming it happened twice). Are there any scriptures which shed light on this?