The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1950 | 616,585 words

This page relates “battle between the gods and asuras” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 8 - The battle between the gods and Asuras

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Brahmā said:—

1. O Nārada, O dear, thus I have described to you the fight between the rank and file of both the armies of the gods and Asuras. The fight was very tumultuous. Now listen to the fight between the two leaders on either side.

2-3. In the tumultuous fight that ensued reducing the numbers of the gods and the demons, lord Indra struck by the great spear fell from his elephant and became unconscious. The thunderbolt-bearing lord of gods attained great depression of spirits and swooned.

4. In the same manner, O dear, the guardians of the quarters, though powerful, were defeated in battle by the Asuras, great experts in warfare.

5. The other gods too were fought and defeated by the Asuras. Unable to bear their ferocity they took to flight.

6. The victorious Asuras, their effort having been successful, roared like lions and raised shouts of jubilation.

7. In the meantime Vīrabhadra reached the place furiously along with his heroic Gaṇas and approached Tāraka who professed to be a great hero.

8. The leader of the Gaṇas, the strong one born of the anger of Śiva, kept the gods in the rear and faced Tāraka desirous of fighting him.

9. Then the Pramathas and the jubilant Asuras, fond of great battle, fought one another.

10. Skilled adepts in warfare they hit and smashed one another with tridents, double-edged swords, nooses, axes and sharp-edged spikes.

11. Immediately after being hit hard with a trident by Vīrabhadra, Tāraka fell unconscious on the ground.

12. Regaining consciousness quickly Tāraka the excellent Asura got up and forcefully hit Vīrabhadra with his spear.

13. In the same manner, the heroic Vīrabhadra of great brilliance hit Tāraka with his sharp terrible trident.

14. The powerful king of the Asuras, the heroic Tāraka, hit Vīrabhadra[1] again with spear.

15. Fighting each other thus they hit each other with various weapons and missiles both being equally skilful in the art of warfare.

16. Even as others stood gazing, the two of great energy continued their duel causing hair to stand on ends, with tumultuous noise.

17. Then various military bands and drums like Bherīs, Mṛdaṅgas, Paṭahas, Āṇakas and Gomukhas were sounded by the soldiers terrifying those who happened to hear.

18. Both of them were severely wounded by the mutual hits and thrusts but still they continued their fight with added vigour like Mercury and Mars.

19. On seeing the fight between him and Vīrabhadra, you, the favourite of Śiva went there and said to Vīrabhadra,

Nārada said:—

20. “O Vīrabhadra, of great heroism, you are the leader of the Gaṇas. Please desist from this fight. Your killing him does not fit in properly”.

21. On hearing your words, the leader of the Gaṇas Vīrabhadra became furious but spoke to you with palms joined in reverence.

Vīrabhadra said:—

22. O excellent sage, of great wisdom, listen to my weighty words. I will kill Tāraka. See my exploit today.

23. The soldiers who bring their masters to the battlefield are sinners. They are no better than eunuchs. They are doomed in the battle.

24. They will go the way of the wicked. Hell is definitely in store for them. Vīrabhadra should never be considered by you as such a despicable person.

25. Those whose bodies are rent and split with weapons and missiles, but who still fight fearlessly shall be praised here and hereafter. They derive wonderful happiness.

26. Let Viṣṇu and other gods listen to my words—I shall make the earth freed of Tāraka today even without bringing my master here.

27. Saying thus and taking up his trident, Vīrabhadra mentally meditated on Śiva and fought with Tāraka, accompanied by Pramathas.

28. With many heroic soldiers riding on bulls, wielding the tridents and possessing three eyes he shone well in the midst of that battle.

29. Keeping Vīrabhadra at their head, and shouting fearlessly jubilantly, hundreds of the Gaṇas fought with the Asuras.

30. The Asuras too, the dependants of the demon Tāraka, all equally strong and heroic, began to smash the Gaṇas furiously.

31. The terrific mutual fights between the demons and the Gaṇas happened again and again. Ultimately the Gaṇas, experts in the use of great missiles, came out victorious and were jubilant.

32. Defeated by the Gaṇas of great strength, the Asuras turned their faces and began to flee. They were distressed and agitated.

33. On seeing his army vanishing thus in flight, their protector, the Asura Tāraka, furiously rushed at the gods and the Gaṇas.

34. He assumed ten thousand hands and rode on a lion. In the battle that followed he felled the gods and the Gaṇas quickly.

35-36. On seeing such a perpetration of Tāraka, Vīrabhadra, the leader of the Gaṇas, became very furious. In order to kill him he took up his trident after remembering the lotuslike feet of Śiva. His brilliance then brightly illuminated all the quarters and the sky.

37. In the meantime, the master stopped the war. He prevented Vīrabāhu and others immediately in order to show his own might.

38. At his bidding Vīrabhadra returned from the battle. The heroic leader of the Asuras, Tāraka, was still in his unabated fury.

39. Then the Asura showered arrows on the gods and put them to distress. He was skilful in the use of various missiles in the war.

40. After causing a great havoc, Tāraka, the protector of Asuras, the most excellent among the brave, seemed invincible to the gods.

41. On seeing the gods terrified and slaughtered, Viṣṇu became furious and got ready to fight.

42. Taking discus Sudarśana, the bow Śārṅga and other weapons with him, lord Viṣṇu rushed to meet the great Asura in the battle.

43. O sage, a great fight ensued between Viṣṇu and Tāraka. It was very fierce. It caused horripilation to the onlookers.

44. Lifting up his club, Viṣṇu hit the Asura with great force but the powerful Asura split it with his trident.

45. The infuriated lord offering shelter to the gods hit the leader of the Asuras by arrows discharged from his bow.

46. The heroic Asura Tāraka, the slayer of enemies, immediately split the arrows of the gods by his own sharp arrows.

47. The Asura Tāraka then quickly hit Viṣṇu[2] with his spear. On being hit thus, Viṣṇu fell unconscious on the ground.

48. In a trice, Viṣṇu got up and in rage seized his discus that was blazing with flames and he roared like a lion.

49. Viṣṇu hit the king of Asuras with it. Overwhelmed by the forceful hit he fell on the ground.

50. Getting up again, the foremost among Asuras and their leader, Tāraka using all his strength immediately split the discus with his spear.

51. Again he struck Viṣṇu the favourite of the gods with that great spear. The heroic Viṣṇu hit him back with Nandaka.

52. O sage, both Viṣṇu and the Asura, equally powerful, hit each other in the battle with unabated strength.

Footnotes and references:


Vīrabhadra, the chief of the gaṇas of Śiva has become a mythical Being. In the scriptures in the caves of Elephanta and Ellora he is represented with eight hands. According to tradition, he was created by Śiva to destroy Dakṣa’s sacrifice, to harry away the Gods and sages who had assembled there. Dawson: H. M.

In the present context he figures as a prominent combatant on the side of the Gods against the Asura chief Tāraka.


Murāri: ‘The enemy of Mura’. It is an appellation of Viṣṇu who slew the Asura Mura. The latter was an ally of the Asura Naraka who ruled over Prāgjyotiṣa (modern Assam).

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