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Gandaberunda

- July 9, 2021


Illustration: Adarsh Achari

Gandaberunda, the two-headed bird of unimaginable strength, sits majestically as the official emblem of the Government of Karnataka. Before the Karnataka government adopted Gandaberunda, the mighty bird was the royal insignia of the Wodeyars, a dynasty that ruled the kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1947. Images of this mythical bird have been found carved on the walls of the Chennakeshava temple in Belur, and on coins belonging to the Vijayanagara empire. Gandaberunda is often depicted holding an elephant in each of its talons and is said to signify royalty and power.

According to the Puranas, when Vishnu descended to earth as Narasimha to destroy the evil king, Hiranyakashapu, the taste of his blood made Narasimha crave for some more. He lost sight of his true purpose and started to wreak havoc on earth, even the gods feared him. They turned to Shiva for help. Shiva took the form of Sharabha, a half-bird and half-lion being. Sharabha approached Narashima and tried to calm him under his wings but instead, Narasimha got furious. From his body emerged a celestial being even more powerful than Sharabha, Gandaberdunda. The two divine beings fought a fierce battle that lasted for eighteen days destroying everything in its wake.

At the end of the eighteenth day, Gandaberunda stopped to look around. It dawned upon him that their battle had caused enormous devastation. He spilt into two and Vishnu emerged from the centre of the fearsome beast. Shiva too resumed his form. The two returned to the heavenly abode and peace was restored.

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In another version of the story, it was Sharabha, and not Gandaberunda who lost sight of his true mission and started destroying everything in his wake. Narasimha was then forced to take the form of Gandaberunda to curb the chaos Sharabha was causing.

Read the story of the majestic celestial creatures in our title Divine Beings. Now available on the ACK Comics App, Kindle, Amazon, Flipkart, and other major e-tailers. 

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