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By Swami Harshananda

Bhṛṅgin literally means ‘One who assumed the form of a bhṛṅga or a beetle’.

According to an account in the Kālikāpurāna[1] Bhṛṅgin along with Mahākāla, was a door keeper at Śiva’s place and also a general of his troops. But other accounts in the purāṇas describe him as a sage who was devoted only to Śiva and looked down upon Pārvatī, Śiva’s spouse. At Pārvatī’s request to ‘teach him a lesson’ Śiva assumed the Ardhanāriśvara form.

When Bhṛṅgin arrived at Kailāṣa to pay his obeisance to Śiva which included pradakṣiṇā or circumambulation also, he is said to have become a ‘bhṛṅga’ or a beetle, and bored a hole in the middle so that he could go round Śiva only to the exclusion of Pārvatī! Hence the name Bhṛṅgin. When Pārvatī cursed him to become weak and emaciated, Śiva, out of compassion, endowed him with a third leg, so that he could complete the circumambulation.

This story though it appears as funny, may symbolically represent the attempts of uniting the Śaiva and the Śākta cults which might have been at loggerheads at one time. In iconographical representations Bhṛṅgin is shown as a ṛsi or a sage with three legs, an emaciated body and a face resembling that of an ape. He is sometimes classed among the bhairavas.


  1. Kālikāpurāna chapter 45
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore