The coat of arms of the Indian state of Karnataka depicts a strange two-headed bird:enter image description here
This creature comes from certain versions of the story of Narasimha, the man-lion avataram (incarnation) of Vishnu. As most people know the story, Narasimha kills the demon Hiranyakashipu and rescues his devotee Prahlada, and that's the end of it. But a lot of Puranas continue the story as follows: after Narasimha kills Hiranyakashipu, he is still in a state of rage (because his devotee was threatened), and he is destroying everything in his path, starting with the former Asura armies of Hiranyakashipu. The gods are worried that Narasimha will destroy the entire universe in his wrath, so Shiva takes the form of Sharabha, a half-lion, half-bird creature, in order to subdue and pacify the angry Narasimha. That's where most versions end, but some versions of the story go even further: in response to Sharabha, Narasimha creates Ghandaberunda, a two-headed bird creature of his own which overpowers Sharabha, and then everyone calls it a day.

My question is, in what Hindu scriptures is this story of Ghandaberunda mentioned? This article, which is Wikipedia's source, says that Ghandaberunda "is mentioned in some Puranas and in certain regional scriptures in South India". Does anyone know what Puranas are being referred to, and what these South Indian "regional scriptures" are? The only thing the article says is "HH Chinna Jeeyar has observed that Ganda Bherunada Nrsimha Avatharam is mentioned in a minor text known as Nru Kanteerava abhyudhayam?" What is the "Nru Kanteerava abhyudhayam"? Googling for it doesn't turn up anything useful.

There's plenty of artistic and sculptural depictions of Ghandaberunda, like the coat of arms of Karnataka, but can anyone shed any light on what textual sources discuss him?

EDIT: You can read the story of Ghandaberunda in this excerpt from the new Amar Chitra Katha comic "Divine Beings". Here's an picture of Sharabha and Gandhaberunda taken from the comic: enter image description here

  • I don't know exactly but you could find something in scriptures relayed mahapratyangira as she's also known to have taken mahapratyagira form to destroy sharabheshwars who became arrogant after defeating narasimha.
    – user3848
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 13:55
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    Nor Sharabh Nor Ghandabherunda is real. If Sharabh is real why it is not so famous as Narshimha. Why Sharabh is not mentioned in any Puran other than Shaivs puran. Sharabh is a fiction of some jealousy asuras.All asuras ares Shiva or Brahma bhakta.So they wanted to defeat bhagwan Vishnu but they never succeed so they imagine in books that they or someone like sharabh may defeat Vishnu so they imagine some false and fiction to defeat Vishnu but in real nor Brahma neither Shiva can defeat Vishnu and not their asuras bhaktas.
    – user6861
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 5:27
  • Probably Shaiva-sarvasva-samhara, an anti-Shaiva, Shiva-bashing text composed by Madhvas. Nobody outside the Kannada Hindu society believes in the existence of Gandabherunda. The above text was reguted by the Telegu Shaiva Advaita scholar Appaya Dikshita in his Madhva-tantra-mukha-mardana. Madhvas in return composed Appaya-kapola-chapetika.
    – অনু
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 3:49
  • @keshav I have shared a story of the Bherunda bird which is separate from the Shiva-Vishnu conflict. Perhaps it was derived from this legend of the mythical bird which originated around the Godavari area. Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 6:22

6 Answers 6


There is no description of Ghandaberunda in any authentic Purana or Agama Vedic texts, but Sharabheshwara is found in plethora of scriptures including Skanda Purana, Bramahanda Purana, Shiva Purana, Linga Purana etc.

See Sharaba Upanishad in Gyana Khanda of Atharva Veda, which declares Him as Vedic God and most fierce incarnation of Veerbhadra. Tantra and Agama texts describe him and give detailed procedures for Sadhana, worship, rituals, Tantra, Mantra and Yantra. He is also known as Akasa Bhairava in Agamas and Tantra.

This Ghandabherunda is recent interpolation of a bird that never existed. It was sheer attempt of few sectarians and even that story ends with Ghandabherunda being withered apart by Sharbha by power of Pratyangira Devi. Amar Chitra Katha shows it.

So, Ghandabherunda is just recent interpolation done by few sectarians and has never mentioned even implicitly in any Purana or Vedic or Agamic Sastra at all. The jealous guy who says here that those few books (fictional novels) of south are made just recently and there is no comparison of them to Puranas or Upanishads while whole world and Hindu population relies on them. In matters of dispute, Vedas are authentic scriptures to the validate the claims and they only favor Sharabhweshwara as authentic.

Other books of few sectarians fictions such as 'Charvaka' Jain scriptures do not hold any value and most people know and revere Sharabha as He is truth. You few people in false world believe them but reality is Sharbheswara prevailed after killing Narasimha and He said, "Vishnu and I are one and same and those who want my benevolence should chant mantra of Narasimha too".

So real spiritual people know very well these all are Leelas and Vedas say God is one and declares "Eko hi Rudro na dweeteyay" - only Rudra is God not any other Devaa and from Him comes trinity and Universe. So, He is Narasimha and Vishnu too and all are one Parabramhan Shiva.

Even Vaishnava Puranas of Krishna say that He loves Radha as his own heart but Shiva is his Atman and He worships Shiva only and always so much that he will begin to follow the person who chant name of Mahadeva three times to enjoy bliss of Shiva's name.

Krishna and all 24 Avatars of Vishnu have worshiped Shiva. Vishnu's Sudarsana Chakra is given by Shiva and Vishnu is first shaiva and one of his name is "Saivashiromani" which means the foremost of Shaivas. He happens to be the first one to worship Shiva. He says his all powers are because of Shiva. Sri Vishnu also says He doesn't like people who don't worship Shiva even though they worship Him.

Shiva also says my Bhaktas shall chant Vishnu Mantra. So good Bhakta won't refute Sastras and would see God as one in different forms. The one beyond time is Mahakal Shiva Linga and it depicts Nirakara Paramatman. Vishnu and Shiva are names of one same God Maheswara.

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    Please phrase answer properly. Decorate it.
    – prem30488
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 11:11

Not many scriptures describe this particular form of Lord Nrsimha actually. This form of Narasimha is worshipped mainly via the Tantric path. There are multiple sub-forms of Sri Gandabherunda but are revelead only by an adept Guru to the disciple. They are Ashtamukha Gandabherunda Nrsimha (Eight faced), Dwaadasha Mukha Gandabherunda Nrsimha (12 faced), Oordhwa Mukha Gandabherunda Nrsimha (22 faced), Dwaatrimshanmukha Gandabherunda Nrsimha (12 faced), Panchaashanmukha Gandabherunda Nrsimha (50 faces). The qualification for worship of these forms is Narayana Ashtaakshari and Nrsimha Mantraraja (also called as Nrsimha anushtubh mantra)

The Mysore royal family have been worshipers of Sri Vidya and were initiated into the secret Sri Vidya cult centuries ago and Gandabherunda Nrsimha aradhana is considered a part of some Sri Vidya schools. The Gandabherunda symbol (The double bird) in the coat of arms was borrowed/extended by the State of Karnataka from the Mysore royal family tradition when the State was formed in November 01, 1950.

P.S. Some information were taken from Kamakoti Mandali (an online forum of Sri Vidya worshipers)

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    Down vote? Hello!?
    – Ram Iyer
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 16:58
  • 3
    The stuff in your answer doesn't answer my question at all. The only thing that addresses it is your first sentence: "Not many scriptures describe this particular form of Lord Nrsimha actually." OK, but whether there are many scriptures that describe him or only a few, I'm trying to find the ones that do describe him. There are definitely some, because the article I linked to says that Ghandaberunda "is mentioned in some Puranas and in certain regional scriptures in South India", and it even names one of them. Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 17:00
  • OK. Got it. I have read that there are references in these scriptures: Sthambhodbhava Kalpa, Nrsimha Kalpa, Gandabherunda Kalpa, Gandabherunda Tantra, Nrsimha prasadam. I am not sure if these scriptures are as old as the puranas or came to be written much later.
    – Ram Iyer
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 17:16
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    OK, why don't you rewrite your answer and replace the irrelevant details with that list of scriptures? And preferably tell me where you read that those scriptures discuss Ghandaberunda. Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 17:27
  • 3
    Were you able to find any information about those scriptures? Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 4:17

🌺 Śrīman Nārāyaṇa 🌺

The Astamukhagandabherunda Kalpa of Vishnu Yamal Tantra talks about Lord Gandabherunda. Though I don't have much idea about This form of the Lord, due to it being a secret tantric deity,who is disclosed only to Advanced sadhakas and The unavailability of Vishnu Yamala,the Sharaba krut astamukhi Gandabherunda stuti is Available online,which I personally consulted from a Tantric sadhak of LakshmiNarsimha,is from Vishnu Yamal.The stuti is as follows :-

ॐ नमो भगवन्विष्णो आदिवैकुण्ठनायक । परात्पराय देवाय परेशाय नमो नमः ॥ १॥

~ Om salutations to Bhagvana Vishnu, the Lord of Adi Vaikuntha, The Lord who is higher than the highest, I Bow to The Supreme Lord.

परब्रह्माय विश्वाय विश्वनाथाय ते नमः । परमात्माय गुह्याय जगज्जननहेतवे । सृष्टिस्थित्यन्तरूपाय आदिभूताय ते नमः ॥ २॥

~ O Supreme Brahman, you are the universal master of the universe. O mysterious Supreme Soul, You are the cause of the creation of the universe. Obeisances unto You, who are the original form of creation, maintenance and end. 2॥

नमस्ते नारसिंहाय गण्डभेरुण्डरूपिणे । नमस्ते व्याघ्रवक्त्राय सर्वदुःखविनाशिने ॥ ३॥

~ Obeisances to You, who is Narsimha in the form of Ganda bherunda . O tiger-faced Lord, You destroy all suffering. 3॥

नमस्ते अश्ववक्त्राय सर्वविद्याप्रदायिने ।नमो वराहवक्त्राय सर्वसम्पत्प्रदायिने ॥ ४॥

~ Obeisances unto You, who have the mouth of a horse and who bestow all knowledge. Obeisances unto You, who have the mouth of a boar and who bestow all opulences. 4॥

नमो वानरवक्त्राय सर्वशत्रुविनाशिने । नमो गरुडवक्त्राय दुष्टपन्नगहारिणे ॥ ५॥

~ Obeisances to the monkey-faced Lord, who destroys all enemies. Obeisances to the face of Garuḍa, who destroys the evil serpents. 5॥

नमो भल्लुकवक्त्राय शत्रुस्तम्भनकारिणे । अष्टास्य गण्डभेरुण्डरूपाय शीघ्रगामिने ॥ ६॥

~ Obeisances to You, whose face is like that of an owl, and who stuns the enemy. O eight-headed one, you have the form of Ganda bherunda and you move swiftly. 6॥

कल्पान्तकालनिर्घोषगर्जितायोग्ररूपिणे । अनेककोटि शरभभक्षणाय महात्मने ॥ ७॥ ~ O form of the fierce, thunderous roar of the end of the millennium. O great soul, you have devoured millions of sharabas. 7॥

द्वात्रिंशत्कोटिहस्ताय द्वात्रिंशायुधधारिणे । महते भीमरूपाय नारसिंहाय ते नमः ॥ ८॥

~ He holds thirty-two crore hands and thirty-two weapons. O great and frightening form of Lord Nārasimha, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You. 8॥

॥ श्री अष्टमुखगण्डभेरुण्डनृसिंहकल्पे ब्रह्मसनत्कुमारसंवादे शरभशिवकृतः स्तवस्सुसम्पूर्णः ॥

This form of Śrī Narasimha swamy devoured millions of sharabas and as I said before, One won't find much about this form anywhere, since this is a secret tantric form,revealed only to Adhikrut sadhakas. Śrī vidya sadhakas Too worship this form of Śrī bhagavāna. Rest, avaliable quotations of different purans like Vaman, garuda,kurma,agni, varaha and so on from works like Śaiva sarvasva khandanam of Vijendra teertha and paramatika upanishad bhasya of Srinivas dikshit (12th century) mention Narsimha himself kills sharaba with his nails. Srinivas dikshit of 12th century quotes the following sloka from Garuda puran in his bhasya :-

  हन्तुमभ्यागतं रौद्रं शरभं नरकेसरी ।
  नखैर्विदारयामास हिरण्यकशिपुं यथा ॥

  निकृत्तबाहूरुशिरा वज्रकल्पमुखैर्नखैः ।
  मेरुपृष्ठे नृसिंहेन सहस्रार्कसमं च तत् ॥

~ Narasimha came ready for killing Sharabha, he split him with his nails just as he split Hiranyakashyapu. He cut off Sharabha's arms and heads with his diamond like claws and mouth, via the back of Meru by Narasimha who was shining like the thousand suns.

Padma puran Hails lord Narsimha as "नृसिंहो वीरभद्रजित्" i.e one who conquered Virabhadra (in the form of sharaba,since in context of Lord Narsimha,it was Virabhadra who showed Lord Siva's sharaba rupa).

Vijendra teertha in his saiva sarvasva khandanam quotes the following verses from purans :-

निकृत्य बाहूरुशिरा वज्रकल्पमुखैनखैः । मेरुपृष्ठे नृसिंहेन शरमश्छाय सोऽपतत् ॥

~ Chopping off many heads (of Sharabha) with his nails that were equal to adamantine (vajra), Narasimha who towered like Meru (mountain), also (in addition to hiranyakasipu) overcame Sharabha. (Vaman puran)

स. छुपञ्छाननमष्टपाद पक्षद्वयाढ्यं घननीलगात्रम् स्फुरन्महातीव सहस्रहस्तं सहस्रशस्त्रं शरभस्वरूपम् ॥ करदादय प्रत्येक मुखं छुपुटद्वयम् । विदार्य छ नृसिंहस्तं हिरण्यकशिपु यथा ॥

~ The form of Sharabha had a beak, the face of a lion, with 8 feet and limbs which were a dense black color. It was throbbing with the intensity (of anger), had bloodied hands, with a thousand weapons. Narasimha, acting mercilessly as in the case of hiranyakasipu tore apart with his hands (ie, nails), the beaks on every single one of Sharabha’s faces at their folds. (Kurma puran)

ततः क्शणेन शरभो नादपूरितदिण्मुखः । अभ्याशमगमद्विष्णोर्व्यनददैरवस्वनम् ॥ स तमभ्यागतं दृष्ट्वा नृसिंहः शरभं रुषा । नखैर्विदारयामास हिरण्यकशिपु यथा ॥

~ Thereupon, in a moment, the sound from Sharabha’s mouth intensified in all directions, approaching vishNu (the all-pervading one) with a terrible roar. Narasimha, having seen that arrival of Sharabha with that (sound), became furious and disposed (of Sharabha) with his nails as he did in the case of Hiranyakasipu. (Agni puran)

Now some people may object that since these slokas are not there in present versions of these purans (famous ones like motilal, geeta press),so these slokas are fake. To this, I say that before these verses, Vijendra teerth quotes a verse from skanda puran (as purvapaksha), which mentions Sharaba Pacifying Narsimha and asking him to not repeat such things and even that verse in not found in today's version of skanda puran. Moreover,quoting Fake Slokas would mean giving his opponents like Śaiva advaitin Appaya dikshit (his staunch opponent),a chance to Defame him, so there's no chance of him quoting fake slokas in such an explosive Context.

Even today,several purans like Bhāgavata, vishnu dharmottar (a part of Visnu puran),narsimha,garuda,matasya and Padma clearly show Supremacy of Lord Narsimha over all,including Lord Siva. Here's how Lord Śiva prays to Narsimha in the dhanvantari samhita of Garuda puran :-

“I meditate upon Nrisinha, whose eyes are like the rising sun, and tongues of blazing fire are emitted from whose lotus-white mouth. I meditate upon the endless, originless Nrisinha, the original subjectivity, the most excellent lord of the universe and its final refuge.”

Source :- https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/the-garuda-purana-dutt/d/doc122721.html

Hence, The Lord Defeated Sharabeswar in his man lion form itself,He doesn't even requires His Astamukha Gandabherunda swaroopa.

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    Absolutely fanatic answer! Sharabheshvara being the supreme lord is depicted in Vedas themselves and also Padma Purana. Commented May 17, 2023 at 6:22
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    What a paradox! A man who disagrees with those who have faith in Vishnu is accusing others of being "fanatics," despite their lack of objection to sharabha supremacy. You truly require substantial assistance, my friend 😂 Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 7:35

There is no need for Gandaberunda Avatar. Lord Narasimha himself is supreme and cannot be defeated by anyone -

Brahmā said: 189b-193a. You are Brahmā, Rudra, and Indra, O best of gods. You are the author, the destroyer and the eternal source of the worlds. They call you the highest attainment, the highest being, the greatest secret and the best oblation. They call you the most ancient one; they call you the greatest truth, the greatest penance, the highest pure (form), the best path, the greatest sacrifice, the best oblation, the first, the greatest and the ancient one. They call you the best body, the highest Brahman, the highest yoga and the best speech. They call you the greatest secret, the best recourse, the first, the greatest and the ancient one.

193b-197. Speaking thus, the lord, the grands ire of all the worlds, having praised god Nārāyaṇa went to the Brahma-world. Then the lord Hari (i.e. Nārāyaṇa) went to the northern shore of the milky ocean, when the musical instruments were sounding and the celestial damsels were dancing. Then the very brilliant lord, placed the Narasiṃha form (there), took up his ancient form and he, having Garuḍa as his banner, and his nature unmanifested, left (the place) in a bright vehicle having eight wheels, (and) went to his own abode.


37-39. Oh child! Resorting to that assembly, gods headed by Brahmā, Indra, Śiva and others, sages, manes (Pitṛs), demigods like Siddhas, and Vidyādharas, great Nāgas, Manus (who preside over aeons called Manvantaras), Prajāpatis (lords of creation), celestial musicians like Gandharvas, Apsaras and Cāraṇas, other demi-gods like Yakṣas, Kimpuruṣas, Vetālas and illustrious Kinnaras and all the attendants of the Lord like Sunanda, Kumuda—all these placed their folded hands to their heads (to pay respects), and from a distance not far from him, severally offered their prayers to the Man-Lion of dazzling splendour, Who was seated (on the throne).


1-10. Vaishampayana said:—Hearing the words of Pralhada Hiranyakashipu said to the Daityas:—"Hold this lion assuming a wonderful form. And if you entertain any doubt kill this forest-ranger." Hearing those words and delighted the Danavas surrounded that huge-bodied lion and showed him fear. Thereupon sending up a leonine shout, that man-lion, like unto Death with his mouth wide open, dispersed the assemblage. Worked up with anger Hiranyakashipu discharged various weapons at the lion. But the highly powerful Lord remained unmoved like the mountain Himalaya. And leaping up into the sky the Man-lion tore Hiranyakashipu into pieces with his nails and killed him. After the destruction of the Diti’s son the earth, lunar region, solar region, all the quarters, rivers, oceans and mountains again came into view. Thereupon pleased all the gods chanted the glories of the Eternal Purusha with various hymns.



I found one origin story related to a Bherunda even though it is not about the fight between Narasimha and Sharabha. Still it is worth sharing since it is the only Purana where I have found the story of this mythical bird and it could be related to the Royal Coat of Arms of Karnataka owing to the geography of the story.

The Gautami Mahatmya of Brahma Puran mentions the story as below:

On that excellent white mountaṃ on the northern bank of Gaṅgā, where the deity Lord Gadādhara dwells there was the lord of birds of the species called Bheruṇḍa (named) Ciñcika. He used to live there on the white mountain eating meat....

A king called Pavaman reaches that place while hunting and sees the two-beaked vulture seated on a large tree looking worried.

There he saw a stout bird of two beaks splendid in shape and features. He was tired and appeared worried by thoughts. The excellent king asked him, "Who are you, Sir? You, a bird with two beaks, appear to be worried by thoughts. Here no one is distressed. Whence has misery befallen you?

The bird Ciñcika replied:

Others have no fear from me nor do I have any fear from others. This mountain is full of trees laden with flowers and fruits. It is resorted to by sages. Yet I see it as a void. Hence I bewail myself. I do not get happiness. I am never satisfied. I do not get any sleep anywhere. I have no rest. I have no peace.

The king asks: "Who are you, Sir? What is the sin commited by you? Wherefore is the mountain a void? On the excellent mountain the living beings are satisfied with one mouth. Why then are you not satisfied even with two beaks? What is your sin? Is it acquired in this birth or in the former ones? Mention all these truthfully to me. I shall save you from your fear.

To summarize his replies basically the bird says he was a cheating Brahmin in the previous birth who was always engaged in separtating people, starting quarrels and committing sins hence he was born as a bird with two beaks. He requests the king to take him to the Gautami Ganga where he took a bath and renounced his body.

This is the story of the Bherunda bird as per the Brahma Puran and it is interestingly set in the Godavari region (Godavari is also called Gautami Ganga), which flows through the Deccan. Interestingly, in Karnataka's Gokarna which has many ancient temples, there is a lake with the same name mentioned in the story which is Koti-Tirtha:

enter image description here

Perhaps the mystical depictions of the two-headed Bherunda bird had captured the imagination of some rulers of the state and it was used as a royal insignia for the state thereafter.


Berunda was mentioned in Sri Shiva Purana, perhaps, as a gana species.

Sri Shiva Purana

5-18. He (Andhaka) was meditating on the hundred and eight forms of the great Ātman as follows:—the great god, of misformed eyes, the moon-crested, the nectarlike, the permanent, the stable, the blue-necked, the trident-bearing, the bull-eyed, the great unknowable, the Puruṣa, the bestower of all desires, the enemy of Kāma, the destroyer of Kāma, assuming forms at his will, wearing matted hair, the hideous, the Giriśa, the terrible, long-lipped, the red-robed, the Yogin, the destroyer of Kāla, the destroyer of Tripuras, the bearer of skull, the performer of secret rites, the one of secret formulas, the grave, the conceivable, the support of Aṇimā and other qualities, the bestower of riches to the three worlds, . . .


smearing ashes on the body, with matted hair, the pure, served by hundreds of Bheruṇḍas, the lord of Bhūtas, the ruler of Bhūtas, the refuge of the five elements, the sky-sojourning, the furious, the ruthless, the fierce, the lord of Caṇḍī, the beloved of Caṇḍikā, . . .

I hope this helps. Prd..

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