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Arjuna Saluting Navagunjara - a Composite Figure (Krishna) During His Stay in Khandava Forest.

In Hindu mythology, Navagunjara is a creature composed of nine different animals.


Description

The beast has the neck of a peacock, the back or hump of a bull, the waist of a lion, and the tail is a serpent.


Origin

The beast is considered a form of the Hindu god Vishnu, or of Krishna, who is considered an avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu. It is considered a variant of the virat-rupa (Omnipresent or vast) form of Krishna, that he displays to Arjuna, as mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, a part of the epic Mahabharata.


Myth

The version of the Mahabharata, written by the Oriya poet Sarala Dasa, narrates the legend of Navagunjara, no other version has the story.

Once, when Arjuna was doing penance on a hill, Krishna-Vishnu emerges him as Navagunjara. Navagunjara has the head of a rooster, and stands on three feet, those of an elephant, tiger and deer or horse, the fourth limb is a raised human arm carrying a lotus or a wheel. Initially, Arjuna was terrified as well as mesmerized by the strange creature and raises his bow to shoot it. Finally, Arjuna realizes that Navagunjara is a manifestation of Vishnu and drops his weapons, bowing before Navagunjara. Arjuna Saluting Navagunjara - a Composite Figure (Krishna) During His Stay in Khandava Forest


Art

The animal is a common motif in the Pata-Chitra style of painting, of the Indian state of Orissa.

The Navagunjara-Arjuna scene is sculpted at the northern side of the Jagannath Temple, Puri.