Tradition in Puri says that even before the appearance of the supreme lord Jagannatha, Narasingha was residing in Nilachala beside Kalpa Bata as Adi Narasingha an unimagined form of Mahavishnu. The ista-deva for the asvamedha yagya ceremony organized by king Indradyumna was also Narasingha, as Yagya Narasingha. Narasingha is the first archa avatara of Vishnu. Amongst the dasa avatar, the first three avataras (Matsya, Kurma, Varaha) are nimitta avataras, which appear only for the specific purpose of executing a mission and immediately disappear.
The incarnations of Vishnu are described in many scriptures, especially in the Bhagavata Purana, an
essential text of Vedic knowledge that is highly revered and recited daily in the Jagannatha Temple, Puri. This scripture describes Narasingha in the two groups of ten and twenty-four major avatars of the Lord. The main ten avatarara of Vishnu are also described in the famous Gita Govinda composed by Jayadeva, specifically in the dasa avatara stotra at its very beginning.
aadya murty bhagawata nrusingha akrutiroopa
The three main archa avatars in chronological order are Narasingha, Ramachand, a and Krishna, characterized by a specific adhara tattva, adheya tattva, and adhara shakti. Among the three archa avataras, Narasingha is the one who mostly resembles Jagannatha – for example, neither of them accepted parents in their appearance lila. Adhara is the “element”, adheya is the “purpose” and adhara-shakti is the “power” displayed by the avatara. For Narasingha, the adhara tattva was tejas (effulgence), that is wrathful (ugra) against the evildoers, combative (vira), radiant (jvalantam) as well as compassionate (bhadram) for His devotee. His adheya tattva was the protection of Prahlada symbolizing pure and innocent bhakti and the destruction of Hiranyakasipu symbolizing irrationalism, and the adhara shakti was omnipresence as elaborated in the dialogue between the great devotee Prahlada and his demoniac father Hiranyakasipu.God is omnipresent. He is all pervading and all-penetrating (sarvato mukham). His right eye is the Sun (Surya) and His left eye is the Moon (Chandra); His third eye is Fire (Agni).
hands-on His knees, and Lakshmi Devi sitting on His lap. Narasimha looks at Lakshmi with a broad smile and is shaded by the 1,000 hoods of Sesa Naga on His back. Sesa is identified as Balabhadra (Sankarshana) and Lakshmi is identified as Subhadra (more on this subject later).