Raja Deekshithar discovered the Sphinxes of India The Sphinxes of India, heritage, mythology and history. The sphinx is a well known symbol of ancient art and mythology. The Sphinxes of India discovered by Raja Deekshithar.

Sphinxes of India. Heritage, Mythology, History and Art



Male sphinx-purushamriga guarding a temple entrance in South India


As a young Deekshithar boy I would go to the temple to worship with my parents. Entering through the East entrance and descending the 21 steps that lead into the temple, my parents would point out the two mythical beings with lion’s bodies and human faces that sit on a raised platform on both sides of the doorway. I was taught/? to worship these purushamriga or human beasts because they take away the negative influence from the devotees on their way to sanctum of the Dancing Lord in the Chit Sabha.

 As I grew up I continued to follow my parent’s directions and always worshipped the purushamriga whenever I entered the temple through the East entrance. I was always fascinated by their serene smile, their curling mane, and their peaceful composure. It was through my growing interest in the traditions and mythologies from other parts of the world that I realized one day these creatures were the Indian parallels of/to the Egyptian and Greek mythological beings known as sphinx. The sphinx is a mysterious composite being from ancient mythology with the body of a lion and the head of a human being. It represents secret wisdom and guards sacred places.

 The initial realization of the parallel between the sphinx and the purushamriga eventually led me to the discovery of many other sphinxes in the Indian civilization, and even in South East Asia. I researched their role, their function, and their history. Eventually I shared my discovery with the world through publications and through my website.

 Many times I was asked about the symbolic meaning of the sphinx. My answer to this question is that I see the sphinx as a symbol of human evolution and devolution. The human soul is on a quest for higher realization, but is also in danger of sliding back into animal nature. The animal aspires to a higher form of existence. This process can be depicted as a Möbius strip. In the Möbius strip we see a continuous one-dimensional plane expressing the continuous/never ending evolution and devolution of the cosmos. When we draw a line in the centre of the strip it will eventually reach its own beginning.

 In the sphinx evolution and devolution meet one another, as in the Möbius strip. The animal aspires to higher consciousness and attainment. The human being receives the strength and courage of the animal nature. The lion represents symbolically the king of all animals, sovereignty and strength. The human being symbolizes consciousness, self realization and knowledge.

 The animal aspires towards consciousness and self realization. The human being is always in danger of sliding back towards animal nature. But when they come together with the lower body of a lion and the head of a human, both rise above their own limitations and become a being which is greater then the sum of its parts, an image and symbol of realization, wisdom and strength, the sphinx.


This is one of a pair of sphinxes or purushamriga found in the porch of the Shri Kailasanatha temple in Ellora. This temple was constructed in the third quarter of the 8th century by king Krishna I of the Rashtrakuta dynasty.

Photo by Darya Vorobyeva, with my sincere thanks







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