King Shivi Chakravarti (Emperor Shibi) is a famous king in Hindu mythology and Buddhist Jataka Tales. Shibi was the son of Usinara a famous king of Chandravansh (Lunar dynasty). He was renowned for his liberality and unselfishness and is said to have saved Agni (transformed into a dove) from Indra(transformed into a hawk) by offering his own flesh.
The story of the King and the pigeon and the hawk is used to illustrate the compassion and generosity of the king. This story of Shibi appears in both the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. The story of Shibi in brief is as follows:
The Gods, wanting to test the compassionate nature of King Shibi, took the form of a hawk and a pigeon. The pigeon chased by the hawk fell on King Shibi's lap seeking his protection. The hawk argued that the pigeon is its food. Shibi offered to compensate with his own flesh. Finally he offered himself to be eaten and the Gods showed him their true form and blessed him.
The king is found among other legendary kings in the lineage claimed by the later Chola kings. The Cholas claimed to have descended from the Sun. The Tamil name for Shibi Chakravarthi is Sembiyan and the Chola kings took this as one of their titles.
There are also a number of temples in Tamil Nadu with legends claiming King Shibi to have worshipped in them. Shibi is considered the King of a country called Ushinara.
The names shibi, sibi, and shibin are popular in south India and all over the world. Some uses it as a tribute to the old king
- Elements of poetry in the Mahābhārata By Rāma Karaṇa Śarmā, page 99
- Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Purāṇas, Volume 1; Volume 5 By Swami Parmeshwaranand, Parmeshwaranand (Swami.), page 1322
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