Most people only know the story of how Shiva took an incarnation as the half-lion half-bird Sharabheshwara in order to try to subdue Vishnu's incarnation Narasimha, as I discuss here.  What's not as well-known, however, is that Sharabeshwara wasn't a one-of-a-kind creature; Sharabhas are legendary animals described in Hindu scripture. They're eight legged half-lion half-bird creatures that are the natural predators for lions. They're mentioned in numerous places in Hindu scriptures. For instance, this of the Shatapatha Brahmana of the Yajur Veda prohibits eating the Sharabha meat:

The man (purusha) whom they had offered up became a mock-man (kim-purusha). Those two, the horse and the ox, which they had sacrificed, became a bos gaurus and a gayal (bos gavaeus) respectively. The sheep which they had sacrificed, became a camel. The goat which they had sacrificed, became a sharabha. For this reason one should not eat (the flesh) of these animals, for these animals are deprived of the sacrificial essence (are impure).

And here this chapter of the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata says:

Eight are the bags containing a hundred fold; eight is the number of the legs of the Sarabha, which preyeth upon lions; eight Vasus, as we hear, are amongst the celestials; and eight are the angles of yupa (stake), in all sacrificial rites.'

And in my question here, I discuss a story told in the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata of a Rishi who transforms a dog into different animals in order to save it from the threats of leopards, elephants, lions, and Sharabhas. And the Pandavas encountered Sharabhas on the Gandhamadana mountain.

But obviously we don't encounter Sharabhas today. So my question is, what is the most recent reference to wild Sharabhas still existing? And conversely, what is the earliest reference to wild Sharabhas not existing anymore?

Note that I don't want scientific speculation about equating Sharabha with dinosaurs and the like, I just want to know when they were known to still exist and when they were known not to exist anymore.

  • 2
    Nice findings..never knew there were other references of Sarabha as well.
    – Aby
    Sep 29 '17 at 4:28

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