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Left:Gandaberunda as roof sculpture, Rameshwaram temple, Keladi, Shivamogga District. Right:Decorative motif in the ceiling of Brihadeeswarar temple

The Gandaberunda (also known as the Berunda) is a two-headed mythological bird of Hindu mythology thought to possess magical strength. It is used as the official emblem by the Karnataka government and it is seen as an intricately sculptured motif in Hindu temples.[1]

The Berunda Bird took physical form in the Narasimha incarnation of Maha Vishnu. After Narasimha has slain the demon hiranyaksa, through the taste of blood, Narasimha didn't let go of his dreadful form and the demigods were even more afraid from the supreme lord now, than before the demon. Shiva, the best friend of Vishnu, thus incarnated himself as sharabha, half bird, half animal. With his Wings, representing Goddess Durga and Kali, he embraced Narasimha and pacified him. Out of Narasimha(vishnu) merged out the most fearful form of Ganda Berunda, having two heads, fearful rows of teeth, black in complexion and with wide blazing wings. The destructive energy of Vishnu/Narasimha in the form of the two-headed bird, began to fight fiercely with shiva-sharabha for eighteen days. After the eighteenth day, Sri Vishnu was finally able to overcome his infinite fierce energy, and regained control over it. In order to save the universe from Vishnu and Shiva's fiercest forms (Berunda and Sharabha), Vishnu stopped to fight, and now Sharabha easily tore apart the two-headed bird. Narasimha himself displayed now his peace, and Shiva finally merged back in his usual form.

Allternative endings are, that shiva-sharabha was torn apart by Berunda; Or that Sharabha manifested goddess Durga which devoured the bird.

Vaishnava followers including Dvaita scholars, such as Vijayindra Tirtha (1539-95) refute the portrayal of Narasimha as they consider the Shaivite Puranas as tamasic - and thus not authoritative - based on their reading of Sattvic Puranas and Shruti texts. The refutation of the Sharabha legend along with ten other Shaivite legends is discussed in a text by Vijayindra Tirtha called Shaivasarvasvakhandanam.[2][3]

This story shows an alchemistic stage of transmutation: The self, to maintain again a peaceful form, destillated his destructive potency out of himself and released it in the form of the bird Berunda. The intelligence of the self, shiva, took a befitting form to counteract the conflict in two ways: He embraced Narasimha/Vishnu (the self) and accepted the challenge to battle Berunda (the negative potency)

Left: Logo of Mysore University. Right: Gandaberunda image seen at Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel, Mysore

A roof sculpture depicting a Gandaberunda is found on the roof of the Rameshwara temple in the temple town of Keladi in Shimoga District(now Shivamogga). The Gandaberunda was used by the Wodeyar dynasty of Mysore as the Royal emblem. The Karnataka Government adopted this symbol as the state symbol.

Historically it has been used in the crests and official seals of the:

  1. Chalukyas
  2. Chagis
  3. Hoysalas
  4. Keladi Chiefs
  5. Kadambas
  6. Nandyalas
  7. Gobburis
  8. Wodeyars of Mysore


  1. ^ "Mystical Bird Gandaberunda". Retrieved 2007-04-12. 
  2. ^ The Puranas as Sattvic (Vishnu, Narada, Bhagavatha, Garuda, Padma and Varaha puranas), Rajasic (Bramhaanda, BramhaVaivartha, Markandeya, Bhavishyothara, Vamana and Bramha puranas) and Tamasic (Matsya, Kurma, Linga, Skanda, Shaiva and Agnaeya puranas), in that pecking order of superiority. Vijayindra Tirtha argued that it was against the established superiority of Sattvic puranas over all others, particularly the Tamasic division. Hence, Shiva is not superior to Vishnu.
  3. ^ Sharma, B. N. Krishnamurti (2000). A history of the Dvaita school of Vedānta and its literature: from the earliest beginnings to our own times. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. ISBN 8120815750. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 

1.Brahma took the avatar of Gandaberunda & not vishnu

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