The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “shiva’s eleven incarnations” 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 18 - Śiva’s Eleven Incarnations

Śiva said:—

1. Listen to the eleven excellent incarnations of Śiva on hearing which obstacles due to intimate contact with worldly objects etc. do not torment.

2. Formerly Indra and other gods defeated by the Asuras left their capital Amarāvatī[1] due to fear.

3. The gods harrassed by the Daityas went to Kaśyapa. Highly agitated, they bowed down to him with palms joined and shoulders drooping.

4. After eulogising well, the gods made the submission respectfully. They intimated to him their misery due to that defeat.

5. O dear, on hearing the misery of the gods their father Kaśyapa whose mind was attached to Śiva, was much distressed.

6. O sage, the sage consoled and encouraged them. With his mind regaining calmness he joyously went to Kāśī presided over by lord Viśveśvara.

7. Taking his ceremonial bath in the waters of the Gaṅgā and performing due rites, he worshipped Lord Viśveśvara, lord of the universe, accompanied by Pārvatī.

8. With the desire for the benefit of the gods he joyously installed Śivaliṅga and performed an elaborate penance with Śiva as the object of pursuit.

9. A long time elapsed, O sage, as he boldly performed penance with his mind attached to the lotus-like feet of Śiva

10. In order to grant the boon to that sage whose mind was devoted to his feet, Śiva, kinsman of the distressed and goal of the good, appeared in front of him.

11. The delighted Śiva who is favourably disposed towards his devotees said to Kaśyapa, the best of his devotees, to ask for the boon.

12. On seeing lord Śiva, the delighted Kaśyapa bowed to him with palms joined in reverence. Kaśyapa, the progenitor of the gods, eulogised him with contentment in his mind.

Kaśyapa said

13. O lord Śiva, lord of the gods, favourably disposed towards those who seek refuge in you, you are the lord of all, the great soul, achievable only through meditation, the unequalled and unchanging.

14. O lord Śiva, you are the restrainer of evil forces. You are the goal of the good, kinsman of the distressed, ocean of mercy and intellectually efficient in protecting your devotees.

15. O lord, these gods are your own. They are especially devoted to you. Now they are defeated by the Asuras. Save them from distress.

16. Even Viṣṇu cannot move in this matter. He has frequently pressed you for this job. The gods have sought refuge in me intimating their misfortune.

17. O lord of the chiefs of the gods, O destroyer of the miseries of the godi, it is for this that I have performed this penance and resorted to you. My purpose has now been fulfilled by you since you are pleased.

18. O lord, I have sought refuge in you by all means O lord, please fulfill my desire. Please dispel the misery of the gods.

19. O lord of gods, I too am much distressed at the misfortune of my sons. O lord, make me happy. You are the source of succour to the heaven-dwellers.

20 O lord Śiva, the gods and the Yakṣas, born as my sons, have been defeated by the powerful Asuras. Be the bestower of bliss on the gods.

21. O lord Śiva, do help the gods always lest the harassment by the Asuras should afflict them.

Nandīśvara said:—

22. On being thus requested, lord, Śiva said “So be it” and?ven as he was watching he vanished there.

23. Kaśyapa too was delighted. Immediately he returned to his abode. He eagerly intimated to the gods all the details.

24. Then, in order to keep his promise Śiva was born of Surabhi assuming eleven forms.

25. There was great jubilation then. Everything became auspicious. The gods and the sage Kaśyapa became delighted.

26-27. These are the eleven Rudras[2] born of Surabhī (1) Kapālin (2) Piṅgala (3) Bhīma (4) Virūpākṣa (5) Vilohita (6) Śāstṛ (7) Ajapād (8) Ahirbudhnya (9) Śiva (10) Caṇḍa and (11) Bhava. They were born for the aid to the gods. They are identical with Śiva and the cause of happiness.

28. Those Rudras, born of Kaśyapa, rendering help to the gods, slew the Daityas in the battle. They were heroes of great strength and exploit.

29. By the grace of those Rudras, the gods conquered the Asuras and were rid of fear. Indra and other gods had peace of mind and ruled over their own kingdom.

30 Even today the great Rudras, identical with Śiva, shine always in the sky for the protection of the gods.

31. Those Rudras favourably disposed towards their devotees took up their residence in the north-eastern city of Īśāna. Experts in different kinds of sports they sport about there always.

32. The Rudras glorified as their followers and retainers are crores in number. They are stationed everywhere in the three worlds, undividedly.

33. O dear, thus the eleven Rudra incarnations of Śiva, pleasing to all the worlds have been described to you.

34. This narrative is pure, it destroys all sins. It is conducive to wealth, fame and longevity. It yields all desires.

35. He who listens to or reads this with pious heart enjoys all pleasures here and attains liberation hereafter.

Footnotes and references:


It is the capital of Indra’s heaven, famous for its greatness and splendour. It is called Devapura, ‘city of gods’ and Pūṣābhāsā, ‘sun-splendour’ and by various other names.


The names of eleven Rudras differ in different Purāṇas. Born of Surabhi from Kaśypa, residing in the North eastern regions, these were directed to protect the gods against the Asuras. The Purāṇas speak of Rudras emanated from these and stationed in the three worlds for carrying out the task of protecting the good against the wicked.