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One of the important characters in Mahabharata war is Shikhandi who was one of the reason for the defeat of Bhishma during the Mahabharata war.

Below is the brief story of previous life of Shikhandi:

Shikhandi had been born in a previous lifetime as a woman named Amba. Along with her sisters Ambika and Ambalika, she was taken by force by Bhishma from their Swayamvara. He presented them to Satyavati for marriage to Vichitravirya, the crown prince of Hastinapur. Vichitravirya married only her sisters, because Amba told Bhishma that she had been promised to the Salwa, the King of Saubala and was not ready to marry anyone else. Hearing this from her, Bhishma sent Amba with grandeur to Shalva's place. But Shalva rejected her as well, in shame of losing the combat against Bhishma at the Swayamvara. Amba then returned to Bhishma and demanded that he marry her. He declined since he had already taken a vow of celibacy. Enraged that she was going to be an unmarried woman, she swore to kill him, and tried to persuade other kings to wage a war with Bhishma.

In next birth, Amba is born as Shikhandi to take a revenge against Bhishma.

Now, as per the shiva-sahasranama stotra, one of the name of Lord Shiva is Shikhandi

My Question is : Is there a scriptural reference where there is mention of why Shikhandi is named so(named after Lord Shiva)?

By the way, the meaning of Shikhandi is : The Lord with beautiful matted hair.

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    Shikhandi nahusho vrushaha Shikhandi is the name for Shriman Narayana in Vishnusahastranaam which means Lord who Peacock feathers.
    – Yogi
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 6:46
  • @Yogi It seems that Shikhandi is also the name of Lord Shiva as mentioned in this version of shiva-sahasranama : joyfulslokas.blogspot.in/2010/09/shiva-sahasranama-stotram.html Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 6:47
  • Yeah this may be true due to the fact that sanskrit is very vast language and the words act differently for different situations and different designations
    – Yogi
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 6:49
  • @Yogi : Also there are supposed to be 8-different versions of shiva-sahasranama-stotram and I picked up the one which I found the link to. Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 6:51
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    @WhisperingMonk names of Sahasranama are used in different contexts... names get repeated in same Sahasranama also but they mean different context... also Shiva and Vishnu share many common attributes and thus their Sahasranamam has these name common... various names are repeated itself in Vishnu Sahasranama giving different meaning in different context ... Lalita Sahasranama is the only Sahasranama in which all 1000 names are distinct and not repeated.
    – Tezz
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 8:59

1 Answer 1

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Not only in Shiva Sahasranama stotra, Vedas also call Lord Shiva by the name "Shikhandi". So it is a name which is from Vedas given to Lord Shiva:

अपश्यमस्यन्तं रुद्रं नीलग्रीवं शिखण्डिनम् ।।१ ।। नमो ऽस्तु नीलशिखण्डाय सहस्राक्षाय वाजिने । (AtharvaVeda Paipplada Samhita 14.3, 14.4)

apaśyamasyantaṃ rudraṃ nīlagrīvaṃ śikhaṇḍinam ।।1 ।। namo 'stu nīlaśikhaṇḍāya sahasrākṣāya vājine ।

I saw Rudra, Nilagriva, Shikhandin. Salutation to NilaShikhandi, Sahasraksha (with 1000 eyes)

King Drupada was a devotee of Lord Shiva and was childless and he got the child Shikhandi by doing Shiva Upasana:

दुर्योधन उवाच। कथं शिखण्डी गाङ्गेय कन्यां भूत्वा पुरा तदा। पुरुषोऽभूद्युधिश्रेष्ठ तन्मे ब्रूहि पितामह ।। भीष्म उवाच। भार्या तु तस्य राजेन्द्र द्रुपदस्य महीपतेः। महिषी दयिता ह्यासीदपुत्रा च विशांपते ।। एतस्मिन्नेव काले तु द्रुपदो वै महीपतिः। अपत्यार्थे महाराज तोषयामास शङ्करम् ।। अस्माद्वधार्थं निश्चित्य तपो घोरं समास्थितः। ऋते कन्यां महादेव पुत्रो मेस्यादिति ब्रुवन् ।। भगवन्पुत्रमिच्छामि भीष्मं प्रतिचिकीर्षया । इत्युक्तो देवदेवेन स्त्रीपुमांस्ते भविष्यति ।। निवर्तस्व महीपाल नैतञ्जात्वन्यथा भवेत् । स तु गत्वा च नगरं भार्यामिदमुवाच ह ।। कृतो यत्नो महादेवस्तपसाऽऽराधितो मया । कन्या भूत्वा पुमान्भावी इति चोक्तोस्मि शंभुना ।। पुनः पुनर्याच्यमानो दिष्टमित्यब्रवीच्छिवः । नतदन्यच्च भविता भवितव्यं हि तत्तथा ।। (Mahabharata Udyoga parva chapter 188)

"Duryodhana said, 'Tell me, O grandsire, how Sikhandin, O Ganga's son, having before been born a daughter, afterwards became a man, O foremost of warriors.' "Bhishma said, 'O great king, the eldest and beloved queen of king Drupada was, O monarch, childless (at first). During those years, king Drupada, O monarch, paid his adoration to the god Sankara for the sake of offspring, resolving in his mind to compass my destruction and practising the austerest of penances. And he begged Mahadeva, saying, 'Let a son, and not a daughter, be born unto me. I desire, O god, a son for revenging myself upon Bhishma.' Thereupon, that god of gods said unto him, 'Thou shalt have a child who will be a female and male. Desist, O king, it will not be otherwise.' Returning then to his capital, he addressed his wife, saying, 'O great goddess, great hath been the exertion made by me. Undergoing ascetic austerities, I paid my adorations to Siva, and I was told by Sambhu that my child becoming a daughter (first) would subsequently become a male person. And though I solicited him repeatedly, yet Siva said,--This is Destiny's decree. It will not be otherwise. That which is destined must take place!'

When the child (daughter) was born then she was named by Drupada himself by the name Shikhandi. It is natural to think that one would give the name of Lord Shiva to the child who was born through Shiva Kripa:

श्रद्दधानो हि तद्वाक्यं देवस्याच्युततेजसः। छादयामास तां कन्यां पुमानिति च सोब्रवीत् ।। जातकर्माणि सर्वाणि कारयामास पार्थिवः। पुंवद्विधानयुक्तानि शिखण्डीति च तां विदुः ।। अहमेकस्तु चारेण वचनान्नारदस्य च। ज्ञातवान्देववाक्येन अम्बायास्तपसा तथा ।। (Udyoga parva chapter 188)

Believing these words of that deity of unfading energy, he too concealed the real sex of his child, saying,--She is a son. And, O king, Drupada caused all the rites of infancy, prescribed for a son, to be performed in respect of that child, and he bestowed the name of Sikhandi on her. I alone, through my spies and from Narada's words, knew the truth, informed as I previously was of the words of the god and of the ascetic austerities of Amva!'"

Later she transforms into a male by the power of a Yaksha. Now one may ask why the particular name 'Shikhandi' was given and no other name. There may not be a precise answer to explain this. But if we look at other Vedic names of Lord Shiva we find most names ending in 'Akara' like "Tryambaka", "Ishana", "Hara", "Rudra", "Shankara", "Mahadeva", "Shiva", "Bhava", "Sarva", etc... But the name "Shikhandi" ends in "Ikara" and it can be used as feminine too (with dirgha I). Since she was a daughter and King Drupada was portraying her as a son, the name "Shikhandi" might best fit as it is the name of Lord Shiva also and can also be used as a feminine name. As Bhishma himself says in Udyoga Parva:

व्रतमेतन्मम सदा पृथिव्यामपि विश्रुतम् । स्त्रियां स्त्रीपूर्वके चैव स्त्रीनाम्नि स्त्रीसरूपिणि ।। न मुञ्चेयमहं बाणमिति कौरवनन्दन । न हन्यामहमेतेन कारणेन शिखण्डिनम् ।। (Udyoga parva chapter 192)

Even--this is my vow, known over all the world, viz., that I will not, O son of Kuru's race, shoot weapons upon a woman, or one that was a woman before or one bearing a feminine name, or one whose form resembleth a woman's. I will not, for this reason, slay Sikhandin. Even this, O sire, is the story that I have ascertained of Sikhandin's birth.

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