The legend states that Vyaghrapada was a rishi and he was entrusted with the task of picking up fresh flowers, untouched even by the honeybees, for offering to Shiva in his aspect as Nataraja in the temple complex of Chidambaram, located in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. While plucking the flowers, Vyaghrapada would get wounded on account of thorns and the rough surface. Shiva conferred on him feet of tigers and this ended the sage’s miseries. So armed with the tiger’s feet, the sage easily moved from place to place, including climbing rough trees to pluck fresh flowers untouched even by the honey bees.
His image and iconography depicts him as a human being but with the legs of a tiger. He is also shown having a tiger-like tail. Generally, he is shown alongside Patanjali, and both are depicted as offering homage to Shiva in his aspect as Natraja.
- Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dallapiccola
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