Shibi offering his own flesh to an eagle to protect a pigeon
Shibi or Sibi is a king in Hindu mythology and the Jataka tales of Buddhism, notably in the Sibi Jataka. Shibi Chakravarti was the son of Usinara, a famous king of the Lunar dynasty. He was renowned for his liberal beliefs and selflessness and is said to have saved Agni (transformed into a dove) from Indra (transformed into a hawk) by offering up his own flesh.
Shibi Chakravarti is listed among other legendary kings in the lineage claimed by the later Chola dynasty. The Cholas claimed to have descended from the Sun. The Tamil name for Shibi is Cempiyan and Chola rulers 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.
King Shibi is the son of Ushinara, the Bhoja King of Kashi and Madhavi, the beautiful princess of Pratishthana and the daughter of King Yayati. Madhavi had three other mighty kings for her sons, Ashtaka, the son of Vishwamitra; Vasumanas, the son of the Ikshvaku Haryyashwa and Pratarddana, the son of Divodasa. He lived in the Treta Yuga. His father was Ushinara. His story is highlighted in the Mahabharata. He was most famous for willingly offering flesh to an eagle, who wanted to slay an innocent bird. The birds revealed themselves to be the gods, Indra and Agni and restore Shibi to his original form. He once encountered the spirit of Yayati and helped restore the king to heavens.
Narada mentions that Shibi had conquered the entire world single handedly and performed Ashwamedha Yagnas and was extremely charitable. Shibi once slew his own son to satisfy a Brahmana, who saw his folly and resurructed the boy back to life. Of all his half brothers, Shibi was the greatest for observing Dharma.
Sehwan in Pakistan, earlier known as Shibistan, is named after Shibi. It was established by Raja Dahir and was usurped by Mohammad Bin Qasim in 11th century CE. Sehwan is popular for its shrine Sehwan Sharif.
- Elements of poetry in the Mahābhārata By Rāma Karaṇa Śarmā, page 99
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