The Shiva Purana

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

This page relates “narrative of nrisimha (man-lion)” 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 10 - The narrative of Nṛsiṃha (man-lion)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nandīśvara said.

1. The destroyer of Dakṣa’s sacrifice Vīrabhadra shall be known as an incarnation of lord Śiva, the great soul.

2. His narrative has been mentioned in the episode of Satī. You too have heard it several times. Hence it is not mentioned in detail.

3. O excellent sage, now by my affection to you I shall narrate the Śārdūla incarnation of lord Śiva, Listen.

4. For the benefit of the gods, the wonderfully divine form of a Śarabha (the mythological animal with eight legs and capacity of killing lions) of blazing fire-like lustre was assumed by lord Śiva.

5. O excellent sages, Śiva’s incarnations are countless and conducive to the benefit of good devotees. Their number cannot be counted or specified.

6-7. The number of the stars in the sky, of the sand particles on the earth and of the bursting showers of heavy rain can be specified by intelligent persons at some time in the course of many births over many Kalpas; but not of the incarnations of Śiva; know my words to be true.

8. Still in accordance with my intelligence I shall mention, exactly as I had heard, the divine story of the Śarabha! portending great prosperity.

9. O sage, when Jaya and Vijaya were cursed by you, they became the sons of Diti and Kaśyapa.

10. Those, two attendants; the celestial sages were born as Diti’s sons. The elder was Hiraṇyakaśipu and the younger was Hiraṇyākṣa the very powerful.

11. Formerly lord Viṣṇu was requested by Brahmā to uplift the Earth. He assumed the form of a boar and slew Hiraṇyākṣa.

12. O sage, on hearing that his heroic brother, as dear to him as his very vital breath, was killed, Hiraṇyakaśipu became furious with Viṣṇu.

13. He performed penance for ten thousand years and propitiated Brahmā from whom he obtained the desired boon. “None of your creations shall kill me.”

14. He left for Śoṇita.[1] He challenged the gods everywhere. He put the three worlds in his control and had an unrivalled rule over it.

15. O sage. Hiraṇyakaśipu harassed the gods and the sages. He violated all virtuous rites. He oppressed brahmins and became a sinner.

16. When the king of the Daityas hated his own son Prahlāda, Viṣṇu became his particular enemy.

17. O sage, Viṣṇu then came out from a pillar in the hall, at dusk in the body of a man-lion (Nṛsiṃha), with great fury.

18. O great sage, the body of the man-lion was very terrible in every respect. It blazed frighteningly and terrified the leading Daityas.

19. The Daityas were killed in a trice by the man-lion. Hiraṇyakaśipu fought a terrible battle.

20. O excellent sages, a great fight ensued between them for some time. It was terrifying, frightening and caused horripilation to every one.

21. The lord of gods, lord oí Lakṣmī, the man-lion dragged the leading Daitya to the threshold even as the gods were watching in the sky.

22. While the gods were watching he placed the daitya on his lap and immediately tore open his stomach with his claws and killed him.

23. When Hiraṇyakaśipu was killed by the man-lion Viṣṇu, the whole universe attained normalcy and peace. But the gods did not derive any special comfort.

24. The celestial drums were sounded. On seeing the wonderful form of Viṣṇu, Prahlāda was surprised, Lakṣmī was in a state of suspense.

25. Though the lord of daityas was killed, yet the gods did not derive any pleasure. The fiery fury of the man-lion (Nṛsiṃha) did not subside.

26-27. The entire universe was again excited by that fiery splendour. The gods were miserable. Saying “What will happen now?” they kept themselves at a safe distance from fear. The lotus-born deity and others were excited by the fiery fury of the man-lion.

28. They sent Prahlāda near Viṣṇu in order to subside his anger. At the behest of all in a body Prahlāda approached the man-lion.

29. The man-lion, the store-house of mercy, embraced him. The heart became cod, still the flame of fury did not subside.

30. When it did not subside, the afflicted and miserable gods sought refuge in Śiva.

31. Going there, Brahmā, other gods and the sages eulogised Śiva for the happiness of all the worlds.

The gods said:—

32. O great lord of gods, favourably disposed cowards those who seek refuge, save us the gods who have sought refuge in you as well as all the worlds.

33. Obeisance be to you, O Sadāśiva. Whenever there had been misery formerly, it was you that saved us.

34. The ocean was churned and the gems were shared by the gods. Then O Śiva, poison was taken by you.[2]

35. We were saved by you, O lord and you became famous as Nīlakaṇṭha (Blue-necked). If you had not drunk the poison then, every thing would have been reduced to ashes.

36. This is well known, O lord, that whenever a person is in misery, by repeating your very name the misery is quelled.

37. O Sadāśiva, we are now afflicted by the fiery fury of the man-lion (Nṛsiṃha); O lord, it is certain that you are competent to quell it.

Nandīśvara said:—

38. Thus eulogised by the gods, lord Śiva, favourably disposed to the devotees, assured them of protection and spoke delightedly.

39. Śiva said:—O ye Brahmā and other gods, Return to your abodes fearlessly. My rite quells misery in every respect:

40. The misery of the person who seeks refuge in me vanishes. Undoubtedly the seeker of refuge is dearer to me than life.

Nandīśvara said:—

41. On hearing this, the gods were delighted much. Remembering Śiva joyously they returned.

Footnotes and references:


See P. 1027 note.


The incident relates to the legend of Śiva’s swallowing poison that emerged at the churning of the ocean as a result of which Śiva became blue-throated and was called Nīlakaṇṭha.

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