Sharabha, aka: Śarabhā, Sarabha, Śarabha; 18 Definition(s)


Sharabha means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, the history of ancient India, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

The Sanskrit terms Śarabhā and Śarabha can be transliterated into English as Sarabha or Sharabha, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Ayurveda (science of life)

[Sharabha in Ayurveda glossaries]

Śarabha (शरभ) is a Sanskrit word referring to the animal “wapiti”. The meat of this animal is part of the māṃsavarga (‘group of flesh’), which is used throughout Āyurvedic literature. The animal Śarabha is part of the sub-group named Jāṅgalamṛga, refering to “animals living in forests”. It was classified by Caraka in his Carakasaṃhitā sūtrasthāna (chapter 27), a classical Āyurvedic work. Caraka defined such groups (vargas) based on the dietic properties of the substance.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Āyurveda and botany
Ayurveda book cover
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Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.

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[Sharabha in Purana glossaries]

1) Śarabha (शरभ).—A nāga born in the Takṣaka dynasty. It was burnt to death at Janamejaya’s serpent yajña. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 57, Verse 8).

2) Śarabha (शरभ).—A nāga born in the Airāvata dynasty. It was burnt to death at Janamejaya’s serpent yajña. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 57, Verse 11).

3) Śarabha (शरभ).—A notorious Dānava, son of Kaśyapaprajāpati by his wife Danu. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 65, Verse 26).

4) Śarabha (शरभ).—A maharṣi, who worships Yama in his court. (Sabhā Parva, Chapter 8, Verse 14).

5) Śarabha (शरभ).—Brother of Dhṛṣṭaketu, King of Cedi. He was a friend and supporter of the Pāṇḍavas. During the aśvamedha he helped Arjuna to lead the yājñic horse. (Aśvamedhika Parva, Chapter 83, Verse 3).

6) Śarabha (शरभ).—A brother of Śakuni. He was killed in the great war by Bhīma. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 157, Verse 24).

7) Śarabha (शरभ).—Vīrabhadra incarnated himself as Śarabha to defeat Narasiṃhamūrti (Śiva Purāṇa, Śatarudrasaṃhitā).

(Source): Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Śarabha (शरभ).—A Dānava.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 6. 12; Vāyu-purāṇa 68. 12.

1b) A Vānarajāti born of Hari and Pulaha; hunted by Haihaya in the Vindhyas.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 7. 174, 319; 26. 30; 35. 21; 51. 11; IV. 29. 41.

1c) A son of Vyāghra and father of Śuka.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 7. 207, 233.

1d) A son of Jāmbavat; after him came the Śarabhas, a Vānara jāti.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 7. 304, 319.

1e) A son of Rukmiṇī and Kṛṣṇa.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 71. 245; Vāyu-purāṇa 96. 237.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

[Sharabha in Natyashastra glossaries]

Śarabhā (शरभा) refers to a type of syllabic metre (vṛtta), according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 16. In this metre, the first four, the tenth, the eleventh, the thirteenth and the fourteenth syllables of a foot (pāda) are heavy (guru), while the rest of the syllables are light (laghu).


Śarabhā falls in the Śakkarī class of chandas (rhythm-type), which implies that verses constructed with this metre have four pādas (‘foot’ or ‘quarter-verse’) containing fourteen syllables each.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra
Natyashastra book cover
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Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, e.g., theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing dramatic plays (nataka) and poetic works (kavya).

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Shilpashastra (iconography)

[Sharabha in Shilpashastra glossaries]

Sharabha according to Kalikagama.—The body of Sharabha should be that of a bird of golden hue, having two red eyes; and it should have two up-lifted wings and eight limbs. Sharabha, which is said to be mightier than an elephant, should have the fierce face of a lion grinning widely, having tusks and   wearing kirita makuta. The torso of Sharabha resembles that of human male having four hands .The lower part of its body should resemble that of a lion having four legs, sharp claws and a tail. Sharabha should be shown carrying the figure of Narasimha in his human form with upraised folded hands, anjali-mudra.

(Source): Sreenivasarao's blog: Saptamatrka (part 4) (shilpa)
Shilpashastra book cover
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Shilpashastra (शिल्पशास्त्र, śilpaśāstra) represents the ancient Indian science (shastra) of creative arts (shilpa) such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vastushastra (architecture), they often share the same literature.

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Chandas (prosody, study of Sanskrit metres)

[Sharabha in Chandas glossaries]

1) Śarabha (शरभ) refers to one of the 23 types of dohā metres (a part of mātrā type) described in the 1st chapter of the Vṛttamauktika by Candraśekhara (17th century): author of many metrical compositions and the son of Lakṣmīnātha Bhaṭṭa and Lopāmudrā.

2) Śarabha (शरभ) refers to one of the 130 varṇavṛttas (syllabo-quantitative verse) dealt with in the second chapter of the Vṛttamuktāvalī, ascribed to Durgādatta (19th century), author of eight Sanskrit work and patronised by Hindupati: an ancient king of the Bundela tribe (presently Bundelkhand of Uttar Pradesh). A Varṇavṛtta (eg., śarabha) refers to a type of classical Sanskrit metre depending on syllable count where the light-heavy patterns are fixed.

(Source): Shodhganga: a concise history of Sanskrit Chanda literature
Chandas book cover
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Chandas (छन्दस्) refers to Sanskrit prosody and represents one of the six Vedangas (auxiliary disciplines belonging to the study of the Vedas). The science of prosody (chandas-shastra) focusses on the study of the poetic meters such as the commonly known twenty-six metres mentioned by Pingalas.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

[Sharabha in Hinduism glossaries]

1) Śarabha (शरभ)—Sanskrit word for a kind of “deer”. This animal is from the group called Jaṅghāla (large-kneed). Jaṅghāla itself is a sub-group of the group of animals known as Jāṅghala (living in high ground and in a jungle)

2) A creature part lion and part bird. According to Sanskrit literature, Sharabha is an eight-legged beast. In later literature, Sharabha is described as an eight-legged deer.

3) The Vaishnavas refute the portrayal of Narasimha as being destroyed by Shiva-Sharabha and regard Sharabha as a name of Vishnu. 

(Source): Wisdom Library: Hinduism

1) Śarabha (शरभ) is the name of some wild animal in the Atharvaveda and later. In the classical literature it is a fabulous, eight-legged beast, dwelling in the snowy mountains, a foe of lions and elephants: the commentator Mahīdhara sees this sense, but without reason, in the Vājasaneyisaṃhitā. The animal is spoken of as akin to the goat: it was probably a kind of deer.

2) Śarabha (शरभ) is the name of a Ṛṣi in the Rigveda.

(Source): Vedic index of Names and Subjects

Sharabha is a creature in Hindu mythology that is part lion and part bird. According to Sanskrit literature, Sharabha is an eight-legged beast, mightier than a lion and elephant and which can kill the lion. Sharabha, can clear a valley in one jump. In later literature, Sharabha is described as an eight-legged deer.

1) Shaiva scriptures narrate that god Shiva assumed the Avatar (incarnation) of Sharabha to pacify Narasimha;

2) In Sanskrit literature, Sharabha is initially described as an animal that roared and scared other animals in the hills and forest areas.

3) In Puranic literature, Sharabha is associated with god Shiva, who incarnates to subdue fierce manifestations of Vishnu.

4) The Mahabharata, the great Hindu epic, narrates: a dog, with the help of a Rishi (sage) assumes various animal forms—starting from a dog to a tiger then to an elephant followed by a lion and a sharabha—terrorized every one in the hermitage of the Rishi.

5) Shaivite views: The legend of Sharabha as an incarnation of Shiva is narrated in many Hindu scriptures.

6) The Shiva Purana mentions: Shiva assumed the Sharabha form after slaying Hiranyakashipu, and then attacked Narasimha and embraced him.

7) The Skanda Purana: The purpose of Shiva assuming the form of Sharabha was to ensure that the lion body of Vishnu was discarded and he got united with his original divine form.

8) In the Kalika Purana, Varaha - Vishnu’s boar avatar - had amorous dalliance with the earth goddess. He and his three boar sons then created mayhem in the world, which necessitated Shiva to take the form of Sharabha, to kill the Varaha form.

9) Vaishnava followers including Dvaita scholars, such as Vijayindra Tirtha (1539–95) refute the portrayal of Narasimha as being destroyed by Sharabha as they consider the Shaivite Puranas as tamasic - and thus not authoritative.

10) The Sharabha Upanishad mentions that shara means jiva ("soul") and Hari (Vishnu) is gleaming in the form of Sharabha.

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

[Sharabha in Theravada glossaries]

A Paribbajaka who joined the Order and soon after left it. He then went about proclaiming in Rajagaha that he knew the Dhamma and Vinaya of the Sakyaputta monks, and that was why he had left their Order. The Buddha, being told of this, visited the Paribbajakarama, on the banks of the Sappinika, and challenged Sarabha to repeat his statement. Three times the challenge was uttered, but Sarabha sat silent. The Buddha then declared to the Paribbajakas that no one could say that his claim to Enlightenment was unjustified, or that his dhamma, if practised, did not lead to the destruction of Ill. After the Buddhas departure, the Paribbajakas taunted and abused Sarabha (A.i.185ff).

It is said (AA.i.412 f ) that Sarabha joined the Order at the request of the Paribbajakas. They had failed to find any fault with the Buddhas life, and thought that his power was due to an avattanimaya, which he and his disciples practised once a fortnight behind closed doors. Sarabha agreed to find it out and learn it. He therefore went to Gijjhakuta, where he showed great humility to all the resident monks. An Elder, taking pity on him, ordained him. In due course he learned the patimokkha, which, he realized, was what the Paribbajakas took to be the Buddhas maya. Having learned it, he went back to the Paribbajakas, taught it to them, and with them went about in the city boasting that he knew the Buddhas teaching and had found it worthless.

(Source): Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names
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Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

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General definition (in Buddhism)

[Sharabha in Buddhism glossaries]

One time, it is said, the Bodhisattva was a Śarabha, living in a remotepart of a certain forest. That region, lying beyond the path and thenoise of men, was a dwelling-place of manifold tribes of forest-animals.

That Śarabha had a solid body, endowed with strength, vigour, and swiftness; he was distinguished by the beautiful colour of his skin. As he was addicted to practising compassion, he cherished friendly feelings towards all animals. Possessing the virtue of contentment, he subsisted only on grasses, leaves and water, and was pleased with his residence in the forest. So he adorned that part of the forest, longing, like a Yogin, for complete detachment.

“Bearing the shape of a forest-animal, but pos-sessing the intellectual faculties of a man, he lived in that solitary wilderness, showing, like an ascetic, mercy to all living beings, and contenting himself like a Yogin, with blades of grass.”

(Source): Ancient Buddhist Texts: The Story of the Śarabha (Anukampā)

India history and geogprahy

[Sharabha in India history glossaries]

Śarabha (शरभ).—The city of Śarabhapura was apparently founded by a king named Śarabha who seems also to have been the founder of the dynasty of the Śarabhapura rulers. King Śarabha is actually known to have been the father of Mahārāja Narendra who issued the Pipardula grant from Śarabhapura in the third year of his reign. This Śarabha may further be identified with Śarabharāja, maternal grandfather of Goparāja, who was a vassal of Bhānugupta of the Imperial Gupta dynasty abnd died at Eran in 510 A.D.

(Source): Google Books: Vakataka - Gupta Age Circa 200-550 A.D.
India history book cover
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The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

[Sharabha in Pali glossaries]

sarabha : (m.) a kind of deer.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Sarabha, (Vedic śarabha a sort of deer J. IV, 267; VI, 537) (rohiccasarabhā migā=rohitā sarabhamigā, C. ibid. 538); Sarabhamigajātaka the 483rd Jātaka J. I, 193, 406 (text Sarabhaṅga); IV, 263 sq.

—pallaṅka “antelope-couch, ” a high seat, from which the Bodhisat preaches J. III, 342 (cp. vara-pallaṅka J. III, 364). —pādaka having legs like those of a gazelle J. I, 267. (Page 698)

(Source): Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
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Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

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Marathi-English dictionary

[Sharabha in Marathi glossaries]

śarabha (शरभ).—m S A fabulous animal of eight legs inhabiting the Himalaya range. 2 A locust: also a grasshopper.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

śarabha (शरभ).—m A locust; a grasshopper.

(Source): DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

[Sharabha in Sanskrit glossaries]

Śarabha (शरभ).—[śṝ-abhac Uṇ.3.122]

1) A young elephant.

2) A fabulous animal said to have 8 legs and to be stronger than a lion; शरभकुलमजिह्मं प्रोद्धरत्यम्बु कूपात् (śarabhakulamajihmaṃ proddharatyambu kūpāt) Ṛs.1 23; अष्टपादः शरभः सिंहघाती (aṣṭapādaḥ śarabhaḥ siṃhaghātī) Mb.

3) A camel.

4) A grass-hopper.

5) A locust.

Derivable forms: śarabhaḥ (शरभः).

(Source): DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
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Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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