Categories: Hindu Mythology

Navagunjara-A Variant of Lord Krishna’s Omniscient Form

Navagunjara is a creature described in the story of the Mahabharata. It is an animal composed of nine different animals.


It is basically a form of Vishnu. While the Pandavas were in Vanaprastha, He appeared before Arjuna as Navagunjara.

Story of Navagunjara

While in Vanaprastha, Arjuna was doing austerities on a hill one day. Then a strange creature appeared in front of him. The animal had a head of a rooster and it stood on three legs those of an elephant, a tiger and a deer or a horse. The fourth limb of the creature was a raised human arm holding a lotus. The animal had the neck of a peacock, the back and hump of a bull, the waist of a lion and the tail of a snake. Seeing such a strange creature, Arjuna was first terrified. He took his bow and he was about to kill it. But when he saw it holding a lotus, he wondered what the creature was. Finally he realized that Navagunjara was an incarnation of Mahavishnu. Then he left his weapon bowing before Navagunjara.

Navagujara Sculpture and Painting

Navagunjara sculpture has been merged with the Odisha culture in India since the ancient time. Navagunjara-Arjuna story is sculpted at the northern side of the Jagannatha Mandir, Puri. Navagunjara painting on playing cards and Patchitra is also a part of old Odisha culture.

Ultimate Reality of Navagunjara

Navagunjara is merely a mythological chatacter to the common people. But a true devotee can realize the ultimate reality of the character. It is the virat-rupa of Mahavishnu or Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna also showed Arjuna such a form when he (Arjuna) asked Him for His true form (BG:Chapter11). It was both glorious and terrifying form (Vishwaroop) of Lord Krishna and it is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, a part of the Mahabharata. So Navagunjara is not a common character; it is an omnipresent or a vast-form of Mahavishnu or Lord Krishna.

Philosophy Of Navagunjara

Many people think the episode of Navagunjara is only a fun story in the Mahabharata. But it is completely a wrong idea. This episode has a higher philosophical value. We can compare it with Bhagavad Gita Chapter 11(Vishwaroop Darshan Yoga). Here, Lord Krishna provided Arjuna with a practical demonstration to make him understand that everything exists in the Self. It is simpler to see the Self in finite objects than to visualize the entire Universe in one Reality, the Self.

The concept of space separates the individual objects from one another. If there is no space in between them all objects will come together so coherently that they become one single entity. There will certainly be distinctive shapes and forms of all things in this mass at one and the same place and time. Actually, Lord Krishna, the incarnation of Param Brahman, instructed Arjuna this philosophy through His Navagunjara form.

By Krishna Das

(Last Updated:August 27, 2021)


Krishna Das is an experienced article writer. He writes about Hinduism in his spare time.

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