Rishyasringa or (one-horned) was a boy born with the horns of a deer in Hindu-Buddhist mythology, who became a seer and was seduced by a King's daughter, which had various results according to the variations in the story.

Hindu versions of the story

Rishyasringa (Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

:ऋष्यशृंग was a boy born with the horns of a deer in Hindu-Buddhist mythology. His father was the rishi Vibhandaka, and his mother was a celestial paramour 'Urvasi'. According to another legend, he was believed to have been born of a doe and from the slight protrusion of his forehead. According to legend, his father was seduced by the celestial danseuse 'Urvasi' by order of 'Indra'- the king of gods, who feared the yogic powers gained out of penance by the rishi could prove fatal to the very existence of heavenly world. The father was seduced and out of his relation with the danseuse was born Rishyasringa. However immediately after the child was born 'Urvasi', after completing the duty she was sent for left the infant child and her lover and made her way to the heavens. The incident left the father with extreme hatred towards women folk, and he raised the boy in a forest, isolated from society. He never saw any girls or women, and was not told of their existence. The tradition states that he was endowed with magical and miraculous powers.

In the usual version of the story, at the time that the boy becomes a young man, the kingdom of Anga suffers from drought and famine. The king, Romapada(Lompada), is told that this can only be alleviated by a brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 with the powers that come from observance of perfect chastity. The only such person is Rishyasringa. He has to be brought to the city, and be persuaded to carry out the necessary ceremonies. Despite his fear of the power and anger of the boy's father, the king sends young women, and later his daughter 'Shanta', to introduce the boy into normal society. This is done, Rishyasringa uses his powers, the kingdom receives bountiful rains and Rishyasringa then marries the princess 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. In this sense (and from his name Eka-shringa) this is a possible origin of the unicorn myth as it relates to virgins.

In another version of the story, the forest in which the boy is brought up is part of Anga. The boy's upbringing without knowledge of women is itself the cause of the troubles of the kingdom.

The story can be found in both the Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

 and the Mahābhārata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

. According to the Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

, Ekashringa was the chief priest when the king Dasaratha
Dasharatha was a king of Ayodhya of the Ikshvaku dynasty whose life story is narrated principally in the Hindu epic Ramayana...

 performed a yagya to beget progeny, and as the consequence of the said yagya were born Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

, Bharata
Bharata (Ramayana)
In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Bharata was the second brother of the main protagonist Rama, and the son of Dasaratha and Kaikeyi. Dasaratha was the Emperor of Ayodhya and belonged to the Suryavansha or Solar Dynasty...

, and the twins Lakshmana
Lakshmana was the brother and close companion of Rama, and himself a hero in the famous epic Ramayana...

 and Shatrughna
Shatrughna was the youngest brother of Lord Rama in the Hindu epic Ramayana . He is the twin brother of Lakshmana.-Birth and family:...


Buddhist Versions of the Story

In Naḷinikā Jātaka (Jā 526), a sage lives alone in the Himālayas, there is semen in the urine he passes, and a deer who happens to eat the grass in that place gets pregnant from it. A human boy is later born to the deer and he is brought up in complete seclusion from mankind, and most importantly, from womankind.

The boy's ascetic power becomes so great that Sakka (the Buddhist Indra) in his heaven is worried by it and 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 his power. The King and his daughter accept Sakka's reasoning and in good faith - and for the benefit of the country - agree to the plot.

The girl dresses up as an ascetic and while the Father (the Bodhisatta) 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 loose his powers, the girl then makes off, and when his Father returns the boy who has become infatuated with his new friend, tells him all about it, only to be instructed and rebuked by his Father, and repent his actions.

This is not the only story of Isisiṅga that appears in the Jātakas, there is another, and somewhat similar, story just a few pages before, and which is referred to in our story. That is Jātaka 523, the Alambusājātaka, but there Sakka chooses a heavenly nymph to seduce the ascetic. The outcome is the same, the sage is seduced, repents and Sakka is thwarted, but some reason he does not seem upset, in fact 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 there, is the Bodhisattva, and Nalinī is Yaśodharā in an earlier existence. There is a variation in the story as without his knowing it, Ekaśr̥ṅga is married to the girl and has to take up his responsibilities, eventually becoming the King and having 32 children, before he retires once again to the forest and regains his former powers.


The town Kigga
Kigga is a village near Sringeri. Rishya Shringeshwara temple is located in this village. It is famous for Rain God. near by mountain is called Narasimha parvata . which is the origin of five rivers. Sirimane falls is nearby. Of late this village has been in news for naxalites presence.-External...

 near by Sringeri is the place today holds religious values based on Rishyasringa. Lord Shiva temple in the town is said to be worshiped by Rishyashringa. In the modern days also the Jagadguru of Sringeri Sharada Peetam performs pooja at Kigga Sri Rushasringeswara temple for rain or to reduce rain.


The town of Sringeri in Karnataka
Karnataka , the land of the Kannadigas, is a state in South West India. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act and this day is annually celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava...

 is named after this sage. The name Sringeri is derived from Rishyasringapura. This is based on the legend that Sage Rishyasringa performed penance here. The Advaitin
Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta is considered to be the most influential and most dominant sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. Other major sub-schools of Vedānta are Dvaita and ; while the minor ones include Suddhadvaita, Dvaitadvaita and Achintya Bhedabheda...

Hindu philosophy
Hindu philosophy is divided into six schools of thought, or , which accept the Vedas as supreme revealed scriptures. Three other schools do not accept the Vedas as authoritative...

, Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara Adi Shankara Adi Shankara (IAST: pronounced , (Sanskrit: , ) (788 CE - 820 CE), also known as ' and ' was an Indian philosopher from Kalady of present day Kerala who consolidated the doctrine of advaita vedānta...

, founded the Sringeri Sharada Peetham
Sringeri Sharada Peetham
Sringeri Sharada Peetham is the southern Advaita Vedanta matha. It is located in Shringeri. It is claimed that it is the first of the four original mathas established by Adi Shankara.-Location:...

at Sringeri after seeing a hooded snake giving shelter to a frog in labor, in spite of snakes and frogs being mortal enemies. Adi Shankara realized that the place must have been a spot of penance and established the Dakshninamnaya Sharada Peetham (Southern Seat of Goddess Sharada) here

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