The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “prologue to sharabha incarnation” 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 11 - Prologue to Śarabha incarnation

Nandīśvara said:—

1. Thus implored by the gods, lord Śiva, the abode of mercy, decided to quell that great fiery fury of man-lion (Nṛsiṃha).

2. Thereafter Rudra remembered the powerful Vīrabhadra, the cause of dissolution and addressed Bhairava, his own form.

3-5. Then suddenly there came the leader of the Gaṇas laughing loudly and accompanied by the leading Gaṇas laughing boisterously and jumping about here and there. He was surrounded by crores of fierce man-lion-formed Gaṇas, madly dancing heroes joyously leaping about. The warlike heroes Brahmā and others were playing about as if with balls; the leader of the Gaṇas was surrounded by others too who had remained unseen. He was respected by the heroes.

6. He had a fiery splendour as fierce as the fire at the end of Kalpa. His three eyes shone splendidly. He had no weapon. He had matted hair. He was bedecked by the refulgent crescent moon.

7. He had two sharp fangs curved like the crescent moon. His eyebrows were like the split pieces of Indra’s bow.

8. With his fierce hissing whooping sound be deafened the faces of the quarters. He was as dark as the blue cloud and collyrium He was terrible and wondrous with full grown moustaches and beards.

9. He was whirling his trident of unsplit lustre like a piece of musical instrument over and over again. The lord Vīrabhadra arrived with his heroic strength fully expanded.

10. He said to Śiva—“O lord of the universe, why I have been remembered by you? Please do me a favour and command me.”

Nandīśvara said:—

11. On hearing the words of Vīrabhadra, and glancing at his face respectfully lord Śiva, the chastiser of the wicked, said lovingly.

Śiva said:—

12. An untimely terrible fear has cropped up tor the gods. The fire of that man-lion is blazing You shall quell this inaccessible one.

13. At the outset convince him in a consoling manner, If he does not subside thereby, show my great terrible form.

14. O Vīrabhadra, at my behest, bring me his head and hide after quelling his subtle fury with your subtle one and his gross splendour with your gross one.

Nandīśvara said:—

15. Urged thus, the leader of the Gaṇas, assumed a calm body and features and hastened to the place where the man-lion was sitting.

16. Then Vīrabhadra, the destroyer addressed Viṣṇu. Śiva, then spoke to him as a father speaks to his own son.

Vīrabhadra said:—

17. O lord Viṣṇu, you have taken the incarnation for the happiness of the universe. You, the great lord, have been entrusted with the task of maintaining the universe by Śiva.

18. Formerly, multitudes of creatures moving about in the one vast ocean have been split by your lordship in the form of a fish by binding them with your tail.

19. You support the earth in the form of a tortoise. You lifted it up in the form of a boar. In the form of a lion Hiraṇyakaśipu has been killed.

20. Again in the form of a dwarf, you had bound Bali. You are the origin of all living beings. You are the eternal lord.

21. Whenever any misery torments the world you incarnate yourself and make it free from distress and ailment.

22. O Viṣṇu, there is none else devoted to Śiva more than you or even equal to you. The Vedas and sacred rites have been established by you towards an auspicious goal.

23. That Dānava Hiraṇyakaśipu has been killed for which purpose you have taken this incarnation. Prahlāda too has been saved.

24. O lord Narasiṃha, O soul of the universe, subdue this extremely terrible body yourself in my presence.

Nandīśvara said:—

25. Urged thus with quiet peaceful words of Vīrabhadra, the arrogant man-lion assumed a more terrible anger.

26. O sage, threatening the heroic Vīrabhadra with his curved fangs he spoke harsh and terrible words.

The Man-lion said:—

27. Go back the way you have come from. Do not speak offending words. I am now going to annihilate the universe of the mobile and immobile beings.

28. The annihilation is not the withdrawal of myself by myself or through others. I have my sway everywhere. There is none to rule over me.

29. Everything functions fearlessly by my favour, I am the instigator as well as the restrainer of all powers.

30. O leader of the Gaṇas, whatever is endowed with magnificence, whatever is glorious and powerful, know that to be my expanded splendour,

31. They know me, the knower of the reality of the divinity, as the greatest. Brahmā, Indra and other gods are powerful in as much as they are my own parts.

32. Brahmā, the creator of the universe who was formerly born of my umbilical lotus[1] is greater than all, being independent, maker, remover and the lord of all.

33. This is my greatest glory. What else do you wish to hear again? Hence seek refuge in me and return to your abodes being freed from feverish ailment.

34. O lord of Gaṇas, know that the entire universe of this nature, is my own; this universe including the gods, Asuras and human beings is the manifestation of my greatness.

35. I am Kāla, the cause of destroying the worlds. I am engaged in annihilating the worlds. O Vīrabhadra, know me to be the Death of Death. These gods are alive by my very favour.

Nandīśvara said:—

36. On hearing the arrogant words of Viṣṇu, Vīrabhadra of immeasurable exploits laughed and said contemptuously with throbbing lips.

Vīrabhadra said:—

37. Don’t you know the Pināka-bearing lord of the universe as the annihilator? Baseless argument and disputation will end in death for you.

38. What other incarnation of yours is left still to be taken[2] with that whatever it may be you will remain alive only in the story.

39. Tell me the defect which has led you to this plight. With that lord capable of annihilation you will get the balance of Dakṣiṇā.

40. You are Prakṛti and Rudra is Puruṣa. The semen is deposited in you. The five-faced Brahmā was born of your umbilical lotus.

41. Remaining in a severe penance, he contemplated on Śiva, the blue-necked, in his forehead for the creation of the three worlds.

42. Śiva came out of his forehead. I am the ornament of the lord of gods in the form of Bhairava in the matter of creation.

43. O Viṣṇu, I have been engaged in subduing you cither through humility or through force, by Rudra the lord of gods, the lord of all.

44. After tearing to pieces a single demon you roar by your arrogance. Actually you are free from slumber only because you are endowed with a digit of his power.

45. Help rendered to good men is accepted as conducive to happiness. Help rendered to bad men is conclusive to offence.

46. O Nrsiṃha, if you consider lord Śiva as a mere living being you are ignorant, very arrogant and full of aberrations in every respect.

47. O base Nṛsiṃha, you are neither creator, nor sustainer, nor annihilator. You are subservient and deluded in mind. You are not independent anywhere.

48. O Viṣṇu, like the potter’s wheel you are forcibly induced by Śiva when you take the different incarnations. You are always dependent on him.

49-50. Your skull, left by you in the midst of the necklace of Śiva, while you had assumed the form of a tortoise, is still there. None who is burnt is bound. Is it your partial forgetfulness that in your body as a Boar your fangs were felled by the slayer of Tāraka?[3]

51. You were burnt by the fire of the Trident, O Viṣvaksena. At the time of Dakṣa’s sacrifice your head was cut off by me brilliant in form.

52, O Viṣṇu, the fifth head of Brahmā your son, which was cut, has not been set right even now. It is forgotten by you.

53. In a battle you were defeated by Dadhīca along with the gods.[4] How can it be forgotten by you while scratching your head?

54. O discus-armed one, you are fond of your discus but you have forgotten whence you got it and by whom it was made.

55. Whatever worlds I have seized, in them, you lie down in the ocean, overcome by sleep. How can you then be a Sāttvika?

56. From you to a blade of grass, every thing expands and develops only through Rudra’s power. Professing to possess power you have been deluded by the fire all round.

57. Ordinary man is incapable of seeing the greatness of his splendour. That is the greatest of the regions of Viṣṇu which only the people of subtle intellect can perceive.

58. Lord Śiva manifests himself in between heaven and earth, Indra and Agni, Yama and Varuṇa, in the heart of darkness and in the light of the moon.

59. You are Kāla but lord Śiva is Mahākāla and Kālakāla. Hence you will be death of death only through Śiva’s digit.

60. But the steady one today is the imperishable hero, the lord protector of the universe. He is the destroyer of fever, a dreadful beast, a golden bird.

61. You and the four-faced Brahmā are not the rulers of the world. Nor any one else is the ruler. Śiva is certainly the ruler of all.

62. Thus taking everything in consideration you subdue yourself by yourself. O Man-lion, O wise one, keep your-sélf safe.

63. Otherwise death will befall you like a thunderbolt on a stump due to the fury of the lord in the form of Bhairava.

Nandīśvara said:—

64. After saying this and observing the view of the Man-lion, Vīrabhadra the furious form of Śiva, stopped. He was not afraid of anyone.

Footnotes and references:


Hindu Mythology represents Brahmā as springing from the navel of Viṣṇu or from a lotus which grew thereout. Hence Brahmā is called Nābhija, ‘navel-born’. See Dowson; HM.


The Contents of the verses 21, 29, 30 and 35 in this chapter are reminiscent of similar ideas expressed in the Bhagavad-gītā.


This verse as well as the fourth foot of the previous verse is defective.


For details sec RS. Satīkhaṇḍa. cḥ, 39.