In some images Goddess Pratyangira is shown with a dark complexion, ferocious in aspect, having a lion's face with reddened eyes and riding a lion, entirely nude or wearing black garments, she wears a garland of human skulls; her hair strands on end, and she holds a trident, a serpent in the form of a noose, a hand-drum and a skull in her four hands. She is also associated with Bhairava, and she has a variant form, namely Atharvana-Bhadra-Kali. She is also known by the name Narasimhi.
Narasimha is an ugra or ferocious form of Narayana, or Vishnu. By drinking the blood of rakshasas, Lord Narasimha was in a very destructive mode, which made everyone tremble. Shiva came to pacify him and he could not succeed. Lord Shiva took the form of Sharabha a bird and human combination with two wings of shakti. One wing was Shoolini and the other was Pratyangira. This form of Shiva is called Sharabheshwara. Sharabheshwara's efforts or Shoolini's efforts could not control the Ugra Narasimha. Pratyangira was released from his wing and then she took the female form of Narasimha, and calmed down the Lord.
Pratyangira is the lion headed form of the divine mother. It is told that if her mantra is used to harm others for material gains and settle enmity it can react and adversely affect the individual performing such rites. Many of the protective forms of deities also have destructive powers, like Pratyangira, Shulini, Siddhakubjika, Raktakali, Aghora, Vatuka, Bhairava, Sharabheshwara, Narasimha, and Sudarshana. They all have destructive aspects and destructive applications are described in the scriptures.
It is said that when Lord Narasimha deva, an incarnation of the supreme Lord Vishnu, did not calm down after the slaying of the demon Hiranyakshipu, many great sages were praying for his peaceful form. Even Lord Shiva was asked to appear in his special form as Sharabha (a bird like creature who devours lions and elephants) to cool down Lord Narasimha. However, when Sharabha approached Lord Narasimha, he became even more ferocious and revealed his special form as Asta Muhka Ganda Berundha Narasimha, having 8 heads. Garuda (eagle face, giving health and counteracting poisons), Varahadeva (a boar face, removing black magic), Hanuman (monkey face, protecting from evil forces, and returning lost objects), Baluka (bear face, protectig in darkness and giving opulence), Hayagriva (horse face, giving wisdom and life force), Vyagra (tiger face, giving protection in battle and liberating from all kinds of diseases, evil spirits and demons), Gandaberundha (two faces of a special bird like phoenix, giving peace of mind) and Lord Narasimha himself (lion face, giving liberation and devotional service to the Supreme).
The Sharabha Form of Shiva was then torn apart in a hundred pieces, and only Lakshmidevi in her secret tantric form as Sri Narasimhi was able to bring Lord Narasimha back to His shanti Rupa, peacefully reclining in company with Laxmi devi on Anantashesha.
The Pratyangira aspect of the Divine has been a bit of a secret for most of these past ages. Many believed that direct experience with this energy was reserved for saints and rishis. Seeing Pratyangira in any form was considered an enormous blessing, and an indication that you were in similar company.
Pratyangira comes from a deep, deep place within the Divine Mother. As Pratyangira energy manifests, it’s often a very swift and sometimes ferocious current. Many of the saints who've seen it's energetic expression have described it as half lion and half human. The lion head is that of a male and the body is that of a female, representing the union of Shiva and Shakti. In her full form, she is humongous, with 1008 heads (symbolically representing the 1008-petalled Sahasrara Chakra, the universal chakra of cosmic energy) and 2016 hands, riding majestically on a chariot pulled by 4 lions (representing the 4 Vedas), carrying many swords for removing obstacles. The jaws of so many lions makes it very powerful for destroying negative karmas, and a great blessing for anyone on a spiritual path. However, such a current can be understandably rough, so it’s wise to approach with respect and some consideration of what our heart is asking for.
Two rishis in the ancient times, Pratyangira and Angiras, in their deep meditation, discovered this goddess through her moola mantra in the ethereal waves of the sound current. And though this Mother is nameless, she honored these Rishis by giving the blessings to be named after them. She has hence been known as Sri Maha Pratyangira Devi. The beejaksharam (seed letter) of her mantra is ksham (bliss).
Sri Maha Pratyangira Devi is all powerful and secretly protects devotees and others. She is always by the side of Her devotees. She is within each and every being in all planes of existence, and there to be awakened within.
An awareness of Sri Maha Pratyangira Devi has been only quietly known, until recently. Although the siddha masters and great maha rishis like Sri Dhurvasha Munivar and Puli Paani Siddhar have been devotees of this mother.
Prathyangira Amman is believed to have been born to calm Narasimha Swami's anger and to save the world from his wrath after he killed Asuran Hiranyakashipu. One story from our purana states that when Hiranyakashipu was killed, Narasimha swami's ugraham was unbearable and could not be pacified by other Gods. They feared that his anger might destroy the three worlds and all creations will come to a stand-still. The Gods approached Lord Shiva to help calm Narasimha Swami.
Lord Shiva worshiped the Tri Shakthis (Parvati, Mahalakshmi & Saraswathi) and with their combined powers incarnated in the form of a Sarabha Pakshi as Lord Sarabeshwarar. From his wings appeared a huge fearful Goddess called Prathyangira. Her form was powerful, 1000 times larger than Sarabeshwarar, her head rising above the clouds and her feet well into the underworlds, fearsome with 1000 faces of roaring lions, 2000 protruded blood shot red eyes, 2000 hands with multiple ayudham, 1000 blood stained tongues protruding from her wide opened mouth.
It is believed her creation came with thunder and lightning and as soon as Narasimha Swami saw her huge figure, he realized the mission of his Avataram and calmed immediately. In her potri malai she is beautifully described as "Sarabeshan Rekkaiyaal Vandhavale Potri, Seeriya Simha mugam etravale Potri, Narasimhan Ugiram Thaniththavale Potri, Engal Annai Sri Prathyangira Potri".
According to another story, it is also believed that Sages Angiras and Prathyangiras meditated on this Devi and as a result Prathyangira appeared in front of them and pleased with their bhakti offered to have their names combined as hers. The Moola Mantram was then created. In her Potri Malai, she is referred as "Angirasar Prathyangirasar Dyaname Potri".
A third story even refers to Mata Prathyangira as having destroyed the ego of Lord Sarabeshwarar. She is also called Narasimhi. In her dhyanam we may often see "Narasimhi Kripasindho, Prathyangari"; Narasimhi, because she hosts the face of a lion and body of a beautiful woman.
Similar to Varahi Amman, many people fear to keep a photo of Prathyangira because she is once again thought of as a Ugraha Deivam or Dushta Deivam. People who think like that are ignorant of her karunai, azhagu, mahimai. "Aval Samaanya Patta Deivam Illai.... Maha Mayee"... When we look at her, we often find her mouth wide opened, and this makes many fear her. There are two version that I have heard about this roopam. One is that with her mouth wide open, she sucks in all the Dushta Shakthi, Valvinaigal, Theeya Shakthis and releases her bhakthas from Dhrishti and Seivinai. In her Potri Malai, she is described as "Val Vinaigal Yaavaiyume Theerpavale Potri, Engal Annai Sri Prathyangira Potri".
Second interpretation is that she is in a state of Dhyanam. When one reaches the liberation point or Uccha Dhyana Nilai, it is believed that the mouth is widely opened. Prathyangira forever performs Dhyanam or Yoga for us, for her bhakthas. She is Sri Chakra Swaroopini. "Ksham" is her Bheeja Mantram. While talking about Prathyangira Amman, she is often associated with Bhairavar.. She is called Bhairava Pathnee or Atharvana Bhadra Kali (since Kali is considered to be Bhairavar's wife). In her Potri Malai, she is described as "Bhairavar Manam Niraindhai Potri". She is considered to be the protector of the Universe, the Nayaki of Atharvana Vedam. In Ayyawadi, Thanjavur, she is seated in the middle of a graveyard.
The message we need to understand from this is not that she is a Dushta Devadhai, but like Lord Shiva, she is the Amman who gives us Gnyanam, self-realization. She is not to be mistaken as someone who causes Death or is associated with Death. By living in the graveyard, surrounded by skulls, bones and burning pyres, she is revealing the truth associated with Maanida Janmam. We would have heard of this Siddhar Padal "Nandavanathil Ore Andi, Avan Naalu Aru Madhangalai Kuzhavanai Vendi, Kondu Vandhaan Oru Thondi, Adhai Koothaadi Koothaadi Pottu Udaithaandi" which conveys that Anyone Born Has to Die one day... burnt ashes is the Truth of Life.
Worshipping Prathyangira Amman relieves us from all kinds of dosham, accidents, enemies, diseases, wrath, curses, obstacles, black magic. She bears 8 snakes on her body. Her Potri Malai describes her as "Ashta Nagam Konda Kali Thirisuli". Those who have Sarpa Dosham or often get scary dreams involving Snakes can worship Prathyangira Devi for instant relief. It is believed that Prathyangira Amman relieves us from Rahu Dosham and Varahi Amman relieves us from Ketu Doshams. Devotees who have experienced her Mahima have shared stories wherein by just spreading her kumkumam around the house or at the entrance of the house acts like a barrier and protects the house and family from Dushta Atma, snakes and other Visha (poisonous) Jeevangal.
The following are Prathyangira Devi's favorite foods:
1. Panakam (jaggery crushed in pure water, flavoured with cardamom, dried ginger) 2. Paruppu-Vellam Payasam (made with Kadalai Paruppu, Paitham Paruppu, Jaggery, Coconut and Pure Milk) 3. Ulundu Vadai 4. Ellu Urundai 5. Red Banana (Chevvazhai Pazham) 6. Pomegranate 7. Dates
The following are Prathyangira Devi's favourite colors (for sarees):
1. Deep Red (preferred by Shantha Prathyangira & Ugraha Prathyangira) 2. Purple (preferred by Shantha Prathyangira) 3. Yellow (preferred by Shantha Prathyangira) 4. Black (preferred by Ugraha Prathyangira)
The following are special days for pooja for Prathyangira Amman:
1. Amavasya 2. Ashtami 3. Sunday 4. Tuesday 5. Friday
The following is Prathyangira Amman's moola mantram and some simple shlokams.
Mantram chanted in Sri Maha Prathyangira Homam:
Om Ksham Krishna Vasase, Simha Vadhane, Maha Vadhane,Maha Bhairavi, Sarva Shatru Karma Vidhdwamsini,Paramanthra Chetini, Sarva Bhootha Dhamani,Sarva Bhoothaam Pandha Pandha, Sarva Vignyaan Sindhi Sindhi,Sarva Vyadhir Nikrindha Nikrindha, Sarva Dhushtaan Paksha Paksha,Jwala Jihwe, Karaala Vakhtre, Karaala Dhamshtrey,Prathyangire Hreem Swaaha.
Slokam - 1
Aparaajithaayaicha VidhmaheShatru Nishoodhinyaicha TheemahiThanno Prathyangirayai Prachodhayaath :
Slokam - 2
Ugram Veeram Maha ShakthimJwalantham SarvathomukhamPrathyangira Bheeshanam PathramMrityum Mrithyum Namaamyaham
Slokam - 3
Amma Prathyangira, Devi PrathyangiraSathyam Prathyangira, Sarvam PrathyangiraShozinganalluril Vaazhum PrathyangiraValvinaigal Theerkum Annaiye Prathyangira
Sri Prathyangira Gayatri Mantra:
Om Aparajeethaya VidhmaheyPratyangiraya DheemahiThano Ugra Prachodhayaath...Om Pratayangiraya VidhmaheySathrunisoothiniya DheemahiThano Devi Prajothayaath
For those who find this difficult, just chant "Jay Prathyangira, Jaya Jaya Prathyangira" as much as you can.