The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1970 | 616,585 words

This page relates “andhaka’s attainment of the leadership of ganas” 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.

Chapter 44 - Andhaka’s attainment of the leadership of Gaṇas

Sanatkumāra said:—

1. Once Andhaka, the son of Hiraṇyākṣa, was addressed jokingly by his haughty cousins in the course of their sports and games—“O blind fellow, what will you do with kingdom?

2. Hiraṇyākṣa was a fool who adopted you as son who are bereft of eyesight, fond of quarrel, ugly and hideous, after propitiating Śiva by means of severe penances.

3. You cannot lay claim to the kingdom. Can a person other than the son of a king ever aspire for the kingdom? You yourself can ponder over it. At the most we can give you some share.”

Sanatkumāra said:—

4. On hearing their words Andhaka was distressed. He thought over the matter intelligently. He then appeased his cousins with various words. In the night he went to a desolate forest.

5. For ten thousand years he performed a severe penance, repeating mantras. He stood on one leg, observed fast and lifted up his arms continuously. In short, he performed a penance that no god or Asura could do.

6. Every day he cut a piece of flesh and consigned it to the sacred blazing fire along with his blood repeating the mantras all along.[1] This he continued for a year.

7. In the end only the bones and the nerves were left. The entire blood was exhausted. When there remained no flesh to offer he desired to offer his whole body into the fire.

8. Then he was seen by the heaven-dwellers, all of whom became frightened and bewildered. Then Brahmā the creator was immediately propitiated and eulogised by the gods.

9. Brahmā stopped him and said—“O Dānava, choose a boon. Whatever is inaccessible in the universe, if you desire it, you can have it.”

10. On hearing the words of Brahmā, the Daitya piteously bowed to him and said—“May Prahlāda and others who have cruelly usurped my share in the kingdom be my slaves.

11. I am now blind but let me be endowed with divine vision. Let Indra and others pay me tax and tribute. Let no death come to me from gods, Daityas, Gandharvas, Yakṣas, serpents or human beings.

12. Nor shall I meet with death from Nārāyaṇa, the enemy of leading Daityas, or from the omniscient and omniformed Śiva”.

On hearing these words of the demon, Brahmā became suspicious. He told him:—

Brahmā said:—

13. “O leader of Daityas, whatever you ask shall take place. But accept some cause of death because none who is born or who will be born can escape the jaws of death.

14. Good men like you should rather avoid too long a life”.

On hearing these pleading words from Brahmā, the Daitya said again.

Andhaka said:—

15. “The most excellent of the ladies in the world for all time whether of mature, middle or young age shall be like a mother unto me.

16. She may be the rarest in the world, unapproachable to all men, bodily, mentally or verbally. O self-born lord, should I covet her, let destruction befall me instantaneously depriving me of the position of the ruler”.

17. On hearing these words, Brahmā was surprised. He remembered the lotus like feet of Śiva. After receiving the directive from him, he spoke to Andhaka.

Brahmā said:—

18. “O leader of Daityas, whatever you desire shall necessarily be realised. O king of Daityas, stand up. Realise your ambition. But always fight with heroic persons.”

19. O great sage, after listening to these words of the creator, and immediately bowing to him with devotion, the son of Hiraṇyākṣa who had but sinews and bones left spoke to the lord.

20. “O lord, how can I enter the hosts of the enemy with this body and fight? Make me who am merely a skeleton with sinews left endowed with flesh. Touch me now with your holy hand.”

Sanatkumāra said:—

21. On hearing his words Brahmā touched his body with his hand and returned to his abode accompanied by the great gods and worshipped by the sages and Siddhas.

22. The moment he was touched, he became full bodied and strong. With eyes regaining sight he became beautiful and stout. Thus he entered his city.

23. Considering him blessed with the boon, on his arrival Prahlāda and other leading Dānavas surrendered the entire kingdom to him and became his slaves.

24. Then Andhaka went to the heaven to conquer it accompanied by his army and attendants. After defeating the gods in battle he made Indra pay him tribute.

25. He conquered the Nāgas, Suparṇas, Rākṣasas, Gandharvas, Yakṣas, human beings, and became the lord of mountains, trees and quadrupeds such as lions etc. by his force.

26-27. He made the universe including the mobile and immobile beings subservient to him. He acquired thousands of women beautiful in appearance amiable and faithful. He was accompanied by beautiful women of the nether regions[2] and of Earth and heaven.[3] He indulged with them in sexual dalliance on the beautiful banks of the rivers, mountains and other places.

28. Sporting about in their midst joyously, he drank divine and superhuman beverages left over by them and became highly elated.

29. He enjoyed among other excellent things, divine juices, fruits, fragrant flowers, fine conveyances very pleasant to drive in and excellent mansions erected by Maya.

30. Thus indulging in sports he passed ten thousand years beautified and rendered pleasant and mysteriously wonderful by means of flowers, incenses, unguents and dietary stuffs.

31. He did not know what would be auspicious and beneficent to him in the other world. He was deluded, blinded by pride and spoiled by his association with the wicked.

32. The haughty fellow attacked leading scholars by using fallacious arguments. Posing as a great soul he roamed about with his Daitya friends destroying Vedic rites.

33. Proud of his affluence he slighted the Vedas, gods and preceptors. He continued to indulge in sports, thereby reducing his longevity in a few days.

34. Then many crores of years passed by. Once, roaming about on the Earth with his army, he joyously went to the Mandara mountain.

35. The haughty demon roamed there along with his armies admiring its golden splendour. Having gone there ostensibly for some sport and pastime he finally resolved to stay there as destiny would have it.

36. He built a wonderful stable and auspicious city on the ridges of the Mandara and forced people to settle there gradually.

37. His three ministers Duryodhana, Vaidhaśa and Hasti once saw a beautiful woman in an excellent spot on the mountain.

38. They hastened to their lord joyously and lovingly told him what they had seen there.

The ministers said:—

39. O lord of Daityas, in a mountain cavern we have seen a certain sage. His eyes are closed in meditation. He is handsome. The crescent moon adorns his head. He is wearing an elephant hide round his hips.

40. Serpents twine round his body. A necklace of skulls adorns his neck. His hair is matted. He holds a trident in his hand. He has arrows and quiver. He is a great archer. He displays a rosary.

41. He wields a sword. He holds a trident and a staff. This fair-complexioned four-armed sage of matted hair has smeared ashes over his body. His splendour is dazzling and his dress and features are wonderful.

42. Not far from him, another person was seen. He has simian features, very terrible in face and demeanour. Equipped with weapons his hands are rough and brawny. He is the guard on duty. There is a white bull, too old but firm and steady.

43. A woman of very auspicious features, young and beautiful was seen at the side of that sage. She is a gem under the sun.

44. She is richly bedecked in corals, pearls, jewels gold gems and is dressed neatly. Her necklaces are fine and auspicious. He who has seen her can alone be called a man of sight. Of what awaits the sight of anything else?

45. O lord of Daityas, enjoyer of good jewels, that divine lady, wife and the beloved of that meritorious sage, is worthy of being seen and fetched here.

Sanatkumāra said:—

46. On hearing their words, the Daitya became lustful. He shook with excitement. Immediately he sent Duryodhana and others to the sage.

47. O great sage, those excellent ministers well versed in statesmanship approached the inscrutable sage of exalted rites. After bowing they conveyed to him the behest of the Daitya.

The ministers said:—

48. “Andhaka the noble soul, son of Hiraṇyākṣa, the king of Daityas, the emperor of the three worlds, is camping here now at the instance of Brahmā and is sportively inclined.

49. O great sage, we are his ministers possessed of great prowess. We have come to you at his behest. Listen with attention to what he says.

50. Whose son are you? O great sage, O intelligent one, why are you stationed here in a carefree manner? Whose wife is this young beautiful lady? O great sage, this auspicious lady be given to the lord of Daityas.

51. Where this body of yours smeared with ashes, bedecked with necklaces of skulls and hideous in appearance! Why do you keep the quiver, the bow, the arrows, the sword, the missile Bhuśuṇḍi, the trident, the thunderbolt and the iron club?

52. Where this sacred Gaṅgā, this crescent moon, the matted hair, these pieces of bones from the corpse, the serpent with poisonous breath and protruding mouth, and where the close embrace of the lady of plump bosom!

53. Riding on a bull is despicable. No man on earth has seen such a thing. Bowing and kneeling is a virtue in some places. Why is this diet contrary to the way of the world?

54. Surrender your wife unto me peacefully. O foolish fellow, why do you perform your penance in the company of a lady? It is improper and it does not behove you. I am the lord of jewels in the three worlds (It may suit me).

55. Leave off your weapons, at my behest and carry on your penance. If my order is transgressed you will have to pay dearly with this very body”.

56. Lord Śiva following the worldly convention considered Andhaka a leader of wicked men. On hearing the words of the emissaries he spoke smilingly.

Śiva said:—

57. If I am Śiva what do you gain from me? Why do you utter false things. O lord of Daityas, listen to my prowess. It is improper on your part to speak like this.

58. I do not remember any father of mine. Ignorant and hideous that I am, I do not know my mother. In a cavern I am performing this severe Pāśupata[4] rite, the like of which none has yet performed.

59. This is well known that I have no root. I cannot get rid of all these things. This wife of mine is young and beautiful. She bears everything patiently. She is the achievement of one that has gone everywhere.

60. O Rākṣasa,[5] whatever appeals to you at present you can take”.

After saying this, Śiva who wore the garb of an ascetic stopped, and stood quiet.

Sanatkumāra said:—

61. On hearing his profound words, the Dānavas bowed to him and returned to their leader Andhaka who had taken a bow to destroy the three worlds.

62. The ministers of unafflicted disposition bowed to their haughty king and shouted cries of victory narrating everything that Śiva had smilingly told him. Then they commented as follows.

The Ministers said:—


63. Where (on earth) is a Niśācara seen to be fickle in heroism and courage? Where is a Dānava miserable and powerless? Where does a ruthless, ungrateful and sinful Dānava become afraid of death?

64. O king, you are the emperor of all the Daityas. You have been mockingly disparaged by the sage, a pitiable penance-monger. Indeed he considers the three worlds insignificant by his poor understanding. He has Vīraka as his bodyguard whom he thinks to be very strong.

65. “Where am I? Where are the terrible weapons? Where is the fight that terrifies even Death? Where is this Vīraka of Simian facial features? Where is this Niśācara (night-stalker) senile and rickety in limbs?

66. Where is this hideous man? Where is this unfortunate wretch? Where is your strength? Where are the spreading creeping plants? If you are mighty, attempt to fight with him. Come, do something.

67. Here we have weapons equal to thunderbolt fierce and capable of destroying people like you. Where is your body as tender as lotus? Pondering over this do as you please.”

68. O gentle lord of Dānavas, these and similar words were uttered by that sage. O king, he says all this because he is proud and conceited. Is it not proper then to fight with him?

69. If you are going to be enlightened by these words of no substance uttered by that sage and conveyed by us, you will think and act accordingly.

Sanatkumāra said:—

70. On hearing these words crooked and piercing yet professing to be true and beneficial the dull-witted (Dānava) blazed furiously like fire sprinkled with clarified butter.

71. Proud of the boons granted to him he seized a sword. He emulated the fierce gust of wind. He got ready to go there smitten by the arrows of the cupid though fate was adverse to him.

Footnotes and references:


The Asuras performed austere penance to acquire power. Some time these were accompanied by the sacrifice of their flesh and blood in the fire. Such practices had almost become a cult with the Asuras.


See Note 161 P. 760.


Triviṣṭapa or Tripiṣṭapa is the heaven of Indra, said to be situated on Mount Meru.


Pāśupata or Mahāpāśupata was a terrible form of penance that Śiva undertook to regain his lost power. The performance required a complete concentration of the mind for achieving the end, hence Pārvatī was kept away form the scene of his penance, under the care of Vīraka, in the cave of the Mandara mountain (See also verses 11-12 of the next chapter).


In giving the message Śiva addresses Andhaka as Rākṣasa who is elsewhere called Dānava, Daitya or Asura. A veiled contemptuousness is intended to be conveyed by this word in the present context.


The Verses 63-67 though spoken by the ministers of Andhaka contain the substance of Śiva’s message to the Asura Andhaka. The message is full of irony and bespeaks the courage and self confidence of the speaker.

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