The story of Lord Vishnu taking the Gandabherund incarnation is linked to the Narasimha incarnation. This incarnation was the most terrifying form of Lord Vishnu which he took after Narasimha incarnation. In this incarnation, he took the form of a two-headed bird. It’s description is found in the form of statues at many historical religious sites. Today we will know about the entire story of Lord Vishnu taking Gandabherund incarnation.
Rodra form of Narasimha incarnation of Lord Vishnu
When Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of Narasimha to kill the demon Hiranyakashipu and protect his devotee, Prahlad. He was in a very terrible form whose body was half of a lion and half of a human. After Narasimha killed the demon Hiranyakashipu, through the taste of blood, Narasimha did not leave his fearsome form. No one could control his anger, Brahma and other gods were afraid of his anger. Seeing this, fear spread in all three worlds. Then all the gods and demons went to seek help from Lord Shiva.
Sharabha incarnation of Lord Shiva
When Lord Shiva saw the Rudra form of the Narasimha avatar, to pacify him, he took an even more terrifying form which is called Sharabheshwar or Sharabha avatar. This incarnation was a mixture of a lion, a man, Bhairav, and Veerbhadra with terrible claws, a beak, and two eagle wings with 5 heads, 16 arms, 8 legs, Kali and Durga as his wings. With the help of the Sharabha avatar, Lord Shiva caught the Narasimha avatar in his claws and flew into the sky.
He injured Narasimha Avtaar by biting his beak and causing great damage to his body. The Narasimha incarnation of Lord Vishnu was already burning in the fire of anger and seeing this made him even more angry. After this, he took the form of an even more terrifying incarnation.
Gandabherund incarnation of Lord Vishnu
In this attempt, Lord Shiva lost his temper, and Lord Narasimha had to take the form of Gandaberunda, who had two heads, fearsome rows of teeth, a black complexion, and wide shining wings. When Sharabha’s avatar was attacking and harming Narasimha’s avatar, Lord Narasimha assumed an even bigger and more terrifying avatar which was a two-headed bird. This incarnation was called the Gandbherund incarnation. This was a very powerful and gigantic incarnation.
According to beliefs, there was a fierce battle for 18 days between Sharabha and Gandbherund avatars in which ultimately Sharabha avatar was killed and again merged into Lord Shiva. After that, the anger of Gandbherund’s incarnation in the form of Lord Vishnu was calmed down and he too merged into Sri Hari.
Controversy over Gandbherund incarnation
Different stories are written in different Puranas and scriptures. According to one, after killing Hiranyakashipu, Lord Narasimha was pacified by Prahlad and again merged into Sri Hari. This belief is most famous which denies the story of Sharabha and Gandbherund taking incarnation.
According to another belief, the Sharabha incarnation of Lord Shiva had killed the Narasimha incarnation and after that, he merged into his Shiva form. According to another story, Pratyangira, the fierce form of Mother Goddess, had pacified the war between Sharabha and Gand Bherund.
Form of Ashtamukh Gandbherund
Narasimha’s fierce anger reached its peak, and he assumed the form of Ashtamukh Gandbherund Narasimha – having 8 faces:
1] Twin-headed Gand Bherund facing east,
2] Adi Jwala Narasimha facing southeast,
3] Maha Vyaghra towards the south,
4] Hayagriva towards the southwest,
5] Adi Varaha towards the west,
6] Aghor Vanarendra towards the northwest,
7] Maha Garuda towards the north and
8] Bhalluk towards the northeast.
Each face of Ashtamukha Ganda Bherunda Narasimha
1] Two-headed Ganda Bherunda – A powerful two-headed bird, with fearsome rows of teeth, black complexion, and wide flaming wings, killed the mighty Sharba.
2] Adi Jwala Narasimha – Lion-like face with powerful claws, he is primarily known as the ‘Great Protector’ who guards and protects his devotees, especially in times of need.
4] Hayagriva – Hayagriva is the incarnation of Vishnu. He is worshiped as the god of knowledge and wisdom. The human body and horse head, are bright white. He wears white clothes and is sitting on a white lotus. Symbolically, the story represents the triumph of pure wisdom guided by the hand of God over the demonic forces of passion and darkness.
5] Adi Varaha – Varaha is the incarnation of Vishnu in the form of a boar. Varaha is listed as the third incarnation in Dashavatara, the ten major incarnations of Vishnu. When the demon Hiranyaksha stole the Goddess Bhudevi and hid it in the primordial waters, Vishnu appeared in the form of Varaha to save him. Varaha killed the demon and retrieved the earth from the sea. He raised it on his tusks, and restored Bhudevi to her place in the universe.
6th and 7th Face
6] Aghora Vanarendra – This is the monkey face of God, some people consider this face to be of Hanuman. While explaining, I will consider this face also to be that of Hanuman. Hanuman is the Rudra incarnation of Lord Shiva. And an ardent devotee of Lord Rama (incarnation of Vishnu), Hanuman is said to be the most powerful and powerful warrior. Additionally, he is also said to be one of the immortals.
7] Maha Garuda – or the Great Eagle, is the ride or vehicle of Lord Vishnu. Garuda is depicted with the golden body of a strong man. It is also depicted as a giant eagle with a white face, red wings, an eagle’s beak, and with a crown on its head. This ancient god is said to have been huge, so big that he could block out sunlight.
3rd and 8th Face
The 3rd face Maha Vyaghra and the 8th face Bhalluka (Bear face) are unknown. As not much is mentioned about this particular incarnation of the eight-faced Ganda Narasimha. According to some sources, this form of God also has a 9th face. This 9th hidden ninth face of the Lord is sometimes called Badbanala Mukha. It refers to Adi Narayana and is visible to a true ardent devotee of the Lord.
Considering all other forms, the form of Ashta Mukha Ganda Bherunda Nrisimha is truly special. This form encompasses every aspect of the universe, just as it was the universal form displayed to Arjuna in the battle of Kurukshetra. This particular form of Nrisimha is unknown and there is not much textual mention of it.