In His Bhagavad-gita Sri Krishna reveals to His Friend, Arjuna, that He is the Original Supreme Personality of Godhead. Arjuna then becomes frightened when he sees the wrathful Universal Form of Krishna as Time / Kalah devouring the Worlds. Kalah, Bairav and Shiva are some of the other Names of this Lion-headed All-Devouring Form of Krishna, Nara-Hari. This Montage shows only a few of the countless ways that this Form of HARI is still worshiped as the Supreme Spirit and Protector of the Buddhists and Buddhist-related Hindus of India and the Orient.
Clockwise from the upper left is 1. HARI as Kalah Bairab, the Tibetan World-Devouring Lord of the Chakra Wheel of Time. 2. An Indian example of the New Year or Time (Kaula Month related) Festival Lion Dance, which is always performed for the Supreme Lord’s Blessing and Protection. Sometimes it is also connected to the individual’s or community’s purgation from sin. 3. The Barong Lion Dance of the entire Bali Region. Again the Lion is the Lord, the King of Spirits, Who forgives bad karma, blesses and protects individuals and communities in the coming year. 4. The Nepali and Tibetan Kalah Bairab worshipers also have their Lion Dances, but they combine these more directly with their animal sacrifices as a propitiation for the sins of the community. Note the late Buddhist version of the Egyptian, Persian, Indian and Cambodian Hem Hem Compound Crown of HERU-HOR, ELI-EL or HARI-HAR (Vishnu-Shiva) on this kid-Sacrificing Lion Dancer. 5. The Chinese celebrate their Lunar New Year in a very extravagant way, with their always-related Lion and Dragon Dances. The Dragon is of course Ananta Sesha Naga, the Ourobolos Serpent of Infinity, Who always accompanies Lord Hari as Time / Kalah. 6. In Japan the New Year is also celebrated with the Lion Dance called the Shi Shi Ma. There too the children along the parade route may be blessed and protected for the coming year by being ‘bitten’ by the Supreme Lord’s Lion Form!
In fact, the Lion Dancers in all of these ancient Festivals study and practise hard for these celebrations and are actually CONSECRATED by their Priests to ‘play the part’ of the Lord, and bless those Devotees who have come to get His Darshan / Vision! Children are especially blessed. There are also countless different local and regional stories and forms of the Lion Dance, but the reoccuring theme is that once upon a very ancient time, children were somehow collectively endangered or kidnapped, and the Supreme Lord SAVED THEM. In the Lion Dance Festivals, somehow offering the children to the costumed and CONSECRATED Lion Dancer to be ‘bitten’, confers the Lord’s spiritual and physical protection on them!
Thus from the story of Nara-Hari’s Theophany as TIME in His Bhagavad-gita, to the ancient World-wide worship of the Supreme Lord as Time, we can follow a constellation of themes, doctrines and practices through thousands of years of related scriptures and oral traditions. Yahu-Tzabaoth, the Lord of the Jews in the Bible Exodus Story, the Meroetic and Kushite Apademak, the Supreme Lord of Egypt as Heru-Ausu of Heliopolis and Thebes, the Greek Kronos and Roman Saturnus, and of course the Persian Zervan, Shaivite Kalah and the Vaishnava and Buddhist HARI as Kalah, are ALL the Same God in His World-devouring Lion-Headed Form as Time.
One last point is that in the lands where no lions existed, the lion costumes often looked (and still look) nothing like a real lion! Often the only vestige of lion-likeness that these costumes have is some kind of extreme mane or shaggy-ness. Still they are understood by all to represent the Supreme Lord of Spirits as some kind of a composit man-lion or other lion-composite magical, metaphysical or even cosmic Time-keeping zodiac- Beast.