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Rishyashringa being lured by dancing girls, a painting by Balasaheb Pandit Pant Pratinidhi
AliasesShringi Rishi, Ekashringa
FamilyVibhandaka (father)

Rishyashringa (Sanskrit: ऋष्यशृंग; IAST: Ṛṣyaśṛṅga; Pali: Isisiṅga) is a Rishi mentioned in Indian (Hindu and Buddhist) scriptures from the late first millennium BCE. According to the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, he was a boy born with the horns of a deer who became a seer and was lured by royal courtesans, which led to the yajna (fire sacrifice) of King Dasharatha. He also occurs in the Buddhist Jatakas, where he is mentioned as the son of Bodhisatta and was tried to seduce by royal or divine courtesans.

Hindu legends[edit]

Dasaratha sets out toward Angada to invite Rsyasrnga to his abode – Folio from the Ramayana of Valmiki (The Freer Ramayana), Vol. 1, folio 20;

The story of Rishyasringa briefly appears in the Ramayana, while a detailed account is narrated in the Mahabharata.


According to the Mahabharata, Vibhandaka, a renowned sage and a son of Kashyapa, travels in Mahahrada, when he sees Urvashi, the most beautiful apsara (nymph). Aroused, he emits his seed, which fells into river. A doe, who is a cursed apsara, swallows it and becomes pregnant due to the sage's miraculous powers. After she gives birth to a boy, she is liberated from the curse and returns to heaven. The boy is born with horns and because of which, he is named Rishyashringa. Vibhandaka decides to raise him isolated from society. Rishyashringa grows up in his father's ashram in the forest, unaware of existence of any female. He practices brahmacharya and acquires magical and miraculous powers due to his chastity.[1][2][3]


Rishishringa entice girls sent by king Lomapada.
Rsyasrnga travels to Ayodhya with Santa

Meanwhile, Romapada—the kingdom of Anga—offends a Brahmina, due to which no other Brahmana agrees to perform yajna (fire-sacrifice). This upsets Indra, the king of the gods, and he stops raining on Anga. As a result, the kingdom suffers from drought and famine. Romapada is told that the only way to bring rainfall is by bringing a man with perfect chastity into the kingdom. Romapada comes to know about Rishyashringa and despite his fear of the power and anger of Vibhandaka, he sends some courtesans to Rishyasringa to bring him into his kingdom.

During Vibhandaka's absence, the women come to his ashram and meet Rishyashringa. They tell him that they were hermits. Rishyashringa becomes astonished by seeing their appearance and invites them to perform tapas (penance) with him. Before Vibhandaka arrives, the women leave the place. Rishyashringa becomes love-sick and ignores his daily duties. The next day, the courtesans return and take Rishyashringa to Anga. As a result, the kingdom receives bountiful rains and Rishyasringa marries Shanta. Much of the story is taken up by accounts of the feelings of the young man as he becomes aware of women for the first time.[1][2][3]

The story can be found in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. According to the Ramayana, Rishyashringa was the chief priest when the king Dasharatha performed a yajna to beget progeny, and Rama, Bharata, and the twins Lakshmana and Shatrughna were born.[4][5]

Rishyasringa perform yagna for Dasaratha.

Buddhist legends[edit]

Naḷinikā Jātaka[edit]

Story of Rishi Sringa Reverse Shows Woman Carrying Wine Pot and Holding Bunch of Grapes - Circa 2nd Century CE - Bhuteshwar Mathura Museum.

The Naḷinikā Jātaka (Jā 526) introduces a past life of the Buddha, a sage, living alone in the Himālayas. There is semen in the urine he passes, a doe who eats the grass in that place gets pregnant from it. A human boy named Isisiṅga (Pali) is later born to the deer and he grows up in complete seclusion from mankind, and most importantly, from womankind. He even don't know the difference in the body and appearance of the two.[6] [7]

The boy's ascetic power becomes so great that it disturbs the god Sakka, the lord of heaven, who causes a drought to occur in the country and blames it on the boy. He then convinces the King to send his daughter to seduce him and to break the austerity of the young seer and to reduce his ascetic power. The King and his daughter accept Sakka's reasoning and in good faith – and for the benefit of the country – agree to be part of the plot.[6]

The girl dresses up as an ascetic and while the father is away gathering roots and fruits in the forest, she manages to seduce the boy, who has never seen a woman before. Through their revelling, the boy does indeed lose his powers, after which the girl departs. When his father returns, the infatuated boy informs him of the girl, only to be instructed and rebuked by his father. He then repents for his actions.[7][6]

Alambusā Jātaka[edit]

Jātaka 523, the Alambusā Jātaka, also recounts a similar story of Isisinga, in one other previous life of Bodhisatta. Here, Sakka chooses a heavenly nymph to seduce the ascetic. The outcome is the same: the sage is seduced, repents and Sakka is thwarted. In response, he grants a boon to the seductress.

The story also appears in the Mahāvastu (Jones' translation pp. 139–147), but Ekaśr̥ṅga, as he is known here, is the Bodhisattva, and Nalinī is a past life of Yaśodharā. A major variation in this version of the story is Ekaśr̥ṅga's ignorance of his marriage to the girl. He succumbs to worldly responsibilities, eventually becoming king and fathering 32 children before retiring again to the forest and regaining his former powers.[6]

Present day[edit]

The Ascetic Rishyashringa at His Hermitage

Rishyashringa was from a place near Sringeri in Karnataka. There is an ancient big temple nearby which is believed to be the place where he lived before moving to Ayodhya.[8] Sringeri is also known as ShringaGiri (Sanskrit: the hills where RishyaShringa resided). The Shiva linga with which the sage merged, can be seen today at the temple in Kigga.

There is a temple of rishyashringa named 'Chehni fort' situated in Banjar tehsil of Kullu District Himachal Pradesh. In Banjar valley, Rishyashringa is called "Shringa Rishi" by the locals. An idol of Shringa Rishi with goddess Shanta resides in the temple. This place is about 50  km from Kullu. Lord Shringa is the presiding deity of this secluded valley named Banjar.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Mani, Vettam (1975). Puranic encyclopaedia : a comprehensive dictionary with special reference to the epic and Puranic literature. Robarts - University of Toronto. Delhi : Motilal Banarsidass. p. 652.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Verma, C D (2010). "The Myth of Rishyashringa: An Indian Source of the "Waste Land" ("The Waste Land" Reappraised in relation to the Mahabharata)". Indian Literature. 54 (2 (256)): 151–161. ISSN 0019-5804.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Santideva, Sadhu (2000). Ascetic Mysticism: Puranic Records of Siva and Shakti. Genesis Publishing Pvt Ltd. ISBN 978-81-7020-998-0.
  4. Kanuga, G.B. (1993). The Immortal Love of Rama. New Delhi: Yuganter Press. pp. 48–52.
  5. "fascinating-story-of-a-man-who-had-never-seen-a-woman-in-his-life". Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Bhikkhu, Ānandajoti. "Text and Translation of Naḷinikā Jātaka and its Commentary". Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Rishyasringa". wisdomlib. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  8. "Sage-rishyashringa". sringeri.net.in. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  9. "banjar-the-abode-of-chief-deity-shringa-rishi-". The Tribune. Retrieved 8 August 2020.

External links[edit]

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