The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “gajasura is slain” 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.

Sanatkumāra said:—

1. O Vyāsa, listen with great devotion to the story of moon-crested lord, how he killed Gajāsura, the lord of Dānavas, by means of his trident.

2. Formerly when the Asura Mahiṣa[1] was killed in battle by the goddess for the welfare of the gods, they became very happy.

3-4. O great sage, his son the great hero Gajāsura could not forget the slaying of his father by the goddess at the request of the gods and hence remembered that enmity. He therefore went to the forest for undertaking penance. Interestingly he performed penance meditating on Brahma.

5. “I shall not be killed by men or women overwhelmed by lust.” Thinking thus in his mind he directed his attention to austerities.

6. He performed a severe penance in a valley on the Himālaya mountain. He kept his arms lifted. He fixed his eyes at the sky. He stood on the ground on the two big toes.

7. With plenty of matted tresses of hair the benevolent Gajāsura, the son of Mahiṣa shone with his refulgence like the sun at the time of dissolution.

8. The fire in the form of penance originating from his head filled with smoke spread all round to the worlds above, below and on the sides scorching them.

9. The rivers and the seas were agitated by the fire originating from his head. The stars fell along with the planets. The ten quarters blazed.

10. The gods scorched by the fire left heaven and went to Brahma’s world along with Indra and submitted to him. The earth quaked.

The gods said:—

11. O Brahmā, we are agitated on being scorched by the penance of Gajāsura. We are unable to stay in heaven. Hence we seek refuge in you.

12. Make it subside and find out a merciful remedy to enliven others. Otherwise the worlds will perish. Truth. It is the truth that we speak.

13. Thus informed by the gods including Indra and others the selfborn deity Brahmā went to the hermitage of the excellent Daitya along with Bhṛgu,[2] Dakṣa[3] and others.

14. On seeing him scorching the heaven and the worlds by his penance, the surprised creator laughed and said.

Brahmā said:—

15. “O lord of Daityas, stand up, stand up. O son of Mahiṣa, you have achieved perfection in penance. O dear one, I, the granter of boons, have come. Choose your boon as you wish.”

Sanatkumāra said:—

16. Getting up in a hurry, the son of Mahiṣa, the lord of Daityas glanced at the lord and praised him lovingly with choking words.

Gajāsura said:—

17-18. O lord, O lord of the gods, if you are going to grant me a boon let me be immune from death by men or women overwhelmed by lust. Let me be very powerful, valorous and invincible to the gods, the guardians of the worlds[4] and others for ever. Let me enjoy all prosperities.

19. Thus requested by the Dānava, Brahmā[5] who was delighted by his penance granted him the rare boon.

20. Securing the boons thus, the Daitya Gajāsura the son of Mahiṣa, returned to his abode with a happy mind.

21-22. The great Asura conquered all the quarters, the three worlds, the gods, Asuras, human beings, kings, Gandharvas, Garuḍa, serpents and others. He made them subservient to him. He became the conqueror of the universe. He usurped the places of the guardians of the worlds and took away their glory.

23. He occupied heaven[6] possessing the glory of the celestial garden and the palace of lord Indra built by Viśvakarman.[7]

24. The powerful Daitya of a lofty mind who reigned as the sole ruler after conquering all the worlds sported in the palace of lord Indra. The gods and others who were overwhelmed by his power worshipped the pair of his feet. He exercised a stern and fierce authority.

25. Thus conquering the quarters and reigning as the supreme overlord he enjoyed pleasures to the maximum extent. Since he had not conquered his senses he was never satiated in his enjoyment of pleasures.

26. He was haughty, puffed up with prosperity. He slighted and transgressed the injunctions of the sacred scriptures. After the lapse of some time he became evil-minded.

27. The Dānava, the suppressor of the gods, the son of Mahiṣāsura harassed the excellent brahmins and the sages on the earth very much.

28. The wicked Daitya harassed the gods, the human beings, and all the Pramathas. He tortured all righteous people particularly recollecting the previous enmity.

29. O dear, once this Dānava of great strength, Gajāsura came to the capital city of Śiva.

30. O sage, when the lord of Asuras came there,

there was a great tumult among the residents of Ānandavana, They shouted “Protect, Protect.”

31-32. When this son of Mahiṣāsura haughty of his valour entered the city suppressing the Pramathas, Indra and other gods previously vanquished by him sought refuge in Śiva. After bowing to him they eulogised him with a great respect.

33. They mentioned to him the arrival of the Dānava at Kāśī, the height of distress of the people there, especially of the rulers.

The gods said:—

34. O great gods, O lord of gods, the Asura has gone to your city. He is inflicting pain on your people. O storehouse of benignity, please slay him.

35. Wherever he sets foot on the earth he shakes the ground there by his great weight.

36. By his great velocity trees fall down with roots and branches. Hit by his brawny arms, big mountains are reduced to powder.

37. The clouds leave the sky hit by his head. Still they do not lose their blueness due to the contact with his hair.

38. When he breathes out, the mighty oceans surge up with their billows. Even the rivers are filled with waves as though with whales.

39. His height is nine thousand Yojanas. The girth of this Asura who wields Māyā is also of that proportion.

40. The tawny colour and the tremulousness of his eyes is not borne even by the lightning. Thus he has come there all of a sudden.

41. Whichever quarter he approaches, the Dānava is unbearably oppressive. “I am not to be killed by men or women overwhelmed by lust” he shouts.

42. O lord of the gods, we have thus mentioned humbly the activities of that Dānava. Please protect your devotees, O lord, desirous of protecting Kāśī.

Sanatkumāra said:—

43. Thus requested by the goss, Śiva desirous of protecting the devotees came there quickly with the desire of slaying him.

44. On seeing that Śiva, favourably disposed to his devotees, had come roaring with the trident in his hand, Gajāsura too roared.

45. A wonderfully terrible and great battle was fought between them roaring heroically and hitting with various weapons and missiles.

46. The brilliant Gajāsura of great strength and valour pierced śiva, the slayer of the Dānavas, with sharp arrows.

47. O sage, Śiva who assumed a terrible body, split with his terrible arrows, the arrows of the Daitya to small pieces like gingelly seeds, even before they reached him.

48. Then the infuriated Gajāsura rushed at the lord Śiva roaring loudly with a sword in hand “You are slain now by me.”

49. Then the lord armed with the trident, realising that the leading Daitya who was rushing at him could not be killed by anything else or any one else, hit him with his trident.

50. When the trident pierced through his body, the Daitya Gajāsura thought that he was raised up like an umbrella. He then sang the glory of Śiva.

Gajāsura said:—

51. O great lord, lord of the gods, I am in every respect your devotee. O trident-bearing lord, I know you as the lord of heaven and destroyer of Kāma.

52. O enemy of Andhaka, O great lord, O slayer of Tripuras, O omnipresent, my death at your hands is conducive to my great glory.

53. I desire to submit something. O merciful lord, please listen to it. O conqueror of death, I am speaking the truth, not a lie. Please ponder.

54. You are the only person deserving the worship of the worlds. You stand high above the universe. Everyone should consider a death like this conducive to glory in due course.

Sanatkumāra said:—

words, lord Śiva, the storehouse replied to Gajāsura, the son of

55. On hearing his of mercy, laughed and Mahiṣa.

Lord Śiva said:—

56. O Gajāsura, O excellent Dānava, O depository of great valour, O well-intentioned one, I am delighted. Choose the boon favourable to you.

Sanatkumāra said:—

57. On hearing the words of lord Śiva, the granter of boons, the lord of Dānavas, the delighted Gajāsura replied.

Gajāsura said:—

58. O nude one, if you are delighted, O lord Śiva, wear this hide of mine sanctified by the fire of your trident.

59. It is of your size, it is gentle to the touch, it has been kept as a stake in the battlefield, it is worth seeing, it is of divine nature and it is always pleasing.

60. Let it ever emit an agreeable smell, let it be soft for ever, let it be ever free from dirt, let it be your best ornament always.

61. O lord, even after being scorched by the flames of the fire of penance for a long time, this hide was not burnt, hence it is the storehouse of holy fragrance.

62. O nude one, if my hide is not meritorious how did it get into contact with your limbs in the battlefield?

63. O Śiva, if you are satisfied, please grant me another boon. Beginning from today let your name be Kṛttivāsas (one clad in elephant-hide).

Sanatkumāra said:—

64. On hearing his words, Śiva who is favourably disposed to his devotees, was pleased and replied to Gajāsura, the son of Mahiṣa “Let it be so”.

65. Lord Śiva, the favourite of his devotees, becoming delighted spoke again to the Dānava Gajāsura whose mind had been purified by devotion.

Lord Śiva said:—

66. “In this holy place, a means to the achievement of liberation, let your meritorious body become phallic image yielding liberation to all.

67. It will be the foremost of all phallic images yielding salvation, destroying great sins and named “Kṛttivāseśvara”.

Sanatkumāra said:—

68. After saying this Śiva, the lord of the gods, accepted the hide of Gajāsura and wore it.

69. O great sage, there was a great jubilation on that day. All the people staying at Kāśī and the Pramathas were delighted.

70. Viṣṇu, Brahmā and other gods were delighted in their minds. With palms joined in reverence they bowed to lord Śiva and eulogised him.

71. When Gajāsura the lord of the Dānavas, and the son of Mahiṣa was killed, the gods returned to their original place and the universe attained normalcy.

72. Thus I have narrated to you the story of Śiva which shows his affection to his devotees, which is conducive to the attainment of heaven, fame and longevity and which increases wealth and food-grains.

73. He who listens to this with devotion, or narrates this observing pure rites, enjoys great happiness and attains salvation, the greatest bliss hereafter.

Footnotes and references:


The Asura Mahiṣa, father of Gaja, was slain in battle by Caṇḍikā. He should be distinguished from the Asura Mahiṣa who was killed by Kārttikeya.


Bhṛgu was a Prajāpati and a great sage who pounded the race of the Bhṛgus in which Jamadagni and Paraśurāma were born According to the present Purāṇa he was the son of Brahmā, born out of his heart. (See RS I. 16.4).


Dakṣa, son of Brahmā, born out of his breath (Ibid 1.16.5) was a Prajāpati. His daughter Satī was married to Śiva. For details see Ibid. II section.


Lokapālas are the regents of the four cardinal and four intermediate points of the world. They are:

indro vahniḥ pitṛpatirnairṛto varuṇo marut |
kubera īśaḥ patayaḥ pūrvādīnāṃ diśāṃ kramāt ||


Brahmā assumed the name Śatadhṛti after completing a hundred sacrifices. This name he shares with Indra, the performer of a hundred horse-sacrifices.


See Note 298 P. 992.


Viśvakarman was the founder of the science of architeciure and mechanics among the gods. He is credited with the construction of the royal palace for lord Indra.