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Lord Sharabha: Shiva's Ferocious Incarnation to Pacify Narasimha
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Lord Sharabha is a unique incarnation of Lord Shiva, depicted as part-lion, part-bird, and part-god, known as Sharabheshwara or Sharabheshwaramurti. This form was assumed to pacify the fierce anger of Lord Narasimha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, after he killed the demon Hiranyakashipu. The story of Sharabha is found in several Puranas, including the Shiva Purana, Linga Purana, Vamana Purana, Kalika Purana, Skanda Purana, and Sharabha Upanishad.

To defeat Hiranyakashipu, Lord Vishnu manifested as the ferocious Narasimha. However, Narasimha's rage did not subside even after his victory, causing the gods to fear for the universe's safety. They sent Prahlada, Hiranyakashipu's son and a devotee of Vishnu, to calm Narasimha. Though Prahlada managed to soothe Narasimha slightly, it was not enough. The gods then turned to Lord Shiva for help.

Lord Shiva dispatched Virabhadra to pacify Narasimha. However, Narasimha's anger only grew, and he threatened Virabhadra. At this point, Shiva himself intervened, transforming into the formidable Sharabha. This form was a terrifying bird-like creature with a thousand arms, a crescent moon on his head, sharp fangs, and powerful wings. His appearance was so overwhelming that it diminished Narasimha's strength and vitality.

Sharabha overpowered Narasimha by binding him with his tail and claws, lifting him into the sky, and bringing him down. Helpless, Narasimha recognized Shiva's supremacy and eulogized him with devotion. Accepting Narasimha's submission, Shiva merged him back into himself, signifying that Narasimha was not truly killed but rather subdued and integrated.

According to the Skanda Purana, Narasimha realized Sharabha's divine nature, praised Shiva, received a boon, and discarded his fierce form, merging back into his original state. This version emphasizes the reconciliation between the two deities rather than the death of Narasimha.

In the Kalika Purana, a different narrative unfolds where Lord Vishnu requests Shiva to destroy his Varaha form. Shiva, as Sharabha, engages in battle with both Varaha and Narasimha, ultimately killing them.

Buddhist traditions offer another perspective on Sharabha. In the Jataka tales, Sharabha is depicted as a compassionate Bodhisattva, an eight-legged deer who spares a king's life, leading the king to outlaw hunting. In Tibetan Buddhism, Sharabha is envisioned as a creature with a goat’s head, lion’s mane, and horse’s body and legs.

The depiction of Sharabha and his role varies significantly across texts, leading to differing interpretations among Shaivites and Vaishnavites. Vaishnavites often reject the accounts of Sharabha defeating Narasimha, viewing them as sectarian interpolations. In contrast, Shaivite texts celebrate Sharabha as a powerful manifestation of Shiva.

In the broader Hindu literature, such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, Sharabha is mentioned as an animal but is not directly connected to the deity Shiva.

Overall, the stories of Sharabha highlight the complexities and rich tapestry of Hindu mythology, illustrating the interplay of different deities and their manifestations.

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June 29, 2024, 4:19 pm   (By : Vikas Kumar) Rating : 5