The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “narrative of durvasas” 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 19 - The Narrative of Durvāsas

Nandīśvara said:—

1. O great sage, now listen lovingly to another story of Śiva, how Śiva was born as Durvāsas for the maintenance of virtue.

2. Atri, son of Brahmā, was a great sage. He was holy and a knower of Brahman. He was the husband of Anasūyā. He was intelligent and he strictly followed the orders of Brahmā.

3. At the direction of Brahmā he went to the mountain Ṛkṣakula[1] accompanied by his wife in order to perform penance there, with the desire to get son.

4. On the banks of the river Nirvindhyā,[2] the sage who had controlled his breath and had freed himself from mutually clashing emotions performed a great penance for a hundred years.

5. He decided in his mind thus—, “let that sole great lord, whoever he is, who is free from aberrations, grant me the boon of a son.”

6. A long time elapsed while he performed the holy penance. A holy flame of fire came out of him.

7. O great sage, the worlds were almost burnt by that flame. Indra and other gods and the celestial sages too were afflicted by it.

8. Then, highly distressed by that flame, O sage, Indra and other gods and the sages hastened to the abode of Brahmā.

9. After bowing to and eulogising Brahmā the gods mentioned to him their grief. O dear, Brahmā immediately went to Viṣṇu’s region along with the god.

10. O sage, after reaching there along with the gods Brahmā bowed to and eulogised Viṣṇu and mentioned his endless grief to him.

11. Viṣṇu too, accompanied by Brahmā and the gods hastened to Rudra’s abode. After reaching it he bowed to and eulogised lord Śiva.

12. After eulogising him Viṣṇu mentioned to Śiva his grief caused by the flame due to the penance of Atri.

13. O sage, thus gathering there, together, Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva consulted one another about the welfare of the worlds.

14. The three deities Brahmā and others, foremost among the bestowers of boons, went to the hermitage of Atri immediately to grant him the boon.

15. On seeing them marked by their respective characteristic signs, the excellent sage Atri bowed to and eulogised them respectfully by uttering pleasing words.

16. The surprised brahmin, the humble son of Brahmā spoke to those deities Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, with palms joined in reverence.

Atri said:—

17. O Brahmā, O Viṣṇu, O Śiva, you are worthy of being worshipped by the three worlds. You are lords and masters and the cause of creation, maintenance and annihilation.

18. Accompanied by my wife, I meditated only on a single lord for obtaining a son, that lord whoever he may be, who is famous as Īśvara.

19. How is it that you three deities, the foremost among the bestowers of boons have come here? Please dispel my doubt and then grant me the desired boon.

20. On hearing his words, the three deities replied “O great sage, what has occurred is in accordance with what you have conceived.

21. We three are great lords and equally leading among the granters of boons. Hence three sons originating from our parts will be born to you.

22. They will be known in the world as enhancers of their parent’s reputation.” After saying this, the three deities returned to their abodes joyously.

23. After securing the boon, the sage joyously returned to his hermitage accompanied by Anasūyā. O sage, he was delighted and he experienced the bliss of the supreme Brahman.

24. Then Brahma, Viṣṇu and Śiva, the delighted exponents of different kinds of sports, took their incarnations as the sons of his wife.

25. The part of Brahmā was born as the moon in Anasūyā from the great sage. Hurled by the gods into the ocean he alone could come out of it.

26. O sage, the part of Viṣṇu was born of that lady, wife of Atri, as Datta by whom the great path of renunciation was expanded.

27. The part of Śiva was born of that wife of Atri as the excellent and leading sage Durvāsas who propagated excellent virtue.

28. Siva by becoming Durvāsas, the enhancer of Brahminical splendour, tested the piety of many people. He was merciful.

29. The king Ambarīṣa, a scion of the solar dynasty, was tested by him. O great sage, listen to that story.

30. The king Ambarīṣa was the lord of the earth consisting of seven continents.[3] He observed the rite of Ekādaśī regularly with steady restraint.

31. The king had the firm resolve that he would perform the rite of breaking fast on the Dvādaśī day.

32. Coming to know of his regular observance the excellent sage Durvāsas, born of Śiva’s part approached him with many disciples.

33. The king was about to take his breakfast realising that very little of Dvādaśī was left on that day when the sage came there. The king invited him for food.

34. Then the sage Durvāsas went away for his ceremonial ablution, accompanied by his disciples In order to test the king, the sage purposely delayed there.

35. Realising that there would be violation of sacred injunction otherwise, the king took in a small quantity of water and waited for the arrival of the sage.

36-37. In the meantime the sage returned. Knowing that the king had already had his breakfast, the sage, born of Śiva’s part, who had assumed that form for the testing of piety, became very furious with the king. He spoke very harsh words for testing his piety.

Durvāsas said:—

38. O base king, after inviting but without feeding me you have taken in water. I shall show you the fruit thereof. For I am the chastiser of the wicked.

39-40. After saying this he stood up, his eyes turned red due to fury and attempted to burn him. Immediately, Sudarśana the discus of the lord blazed forth to protect the king anrd burn the sage unmindful of the fact that he was the part of Śiva. It had been deluded by the Māyā of Śiva.

41. In the meantime an unembodied celestial voice spoke to Ambarīṣa, the noble soul, the devotee of Brahmā and Viṣṇu.

The celestial voice said:—

42. O king, this discus had been given to Viṣṇu by Śiva. It is now blazing against Durvāsas. Quieten it.

43. This sage Durvāsas is Śiva himself whose discus had been given to Viṣṇu. O excelent king, do not take him for an ordinary sage.

44. It was to test your piety that this great sage came. Seek refuge in him. Otherwise there will be a great destruction.

Nandīśvara said:—

45. O great sage, after saying thus, the celestial voice stopped. Ambarīṣa too eulogised the sage who was the part of Śiva himself.

Ambarīṣa said:—

46. If I possess the merit of charity and sacrifice, if my spiritual duty has been well performed by me, and if our family considers brahmins godly, let the weapon of Viṣṇu turn calm.

47. If our lord, favourably disposed to his devotees, is delighted with my devotion let this missile Sudarśana become quite calm.

Nandīśvara said:—

48-49. While be eulogised in front of Durvāsas, the discus Sudarśana that originally belonged to Śiva became calm in all respects. Knowing him to be Śiva’s part, the king Ambarīṣa, who had regained the composure of mind bowed to the sage whom he realised as Śiva’s incarnation come there to test his vow.

50. The sage, born of Śiva’s part, was much delighted. He took his meals and granted him the desired boon. Then he returned to his abode.

51. O sage, I have narrated the story of Durvāsas in the course of his test of Ambarīṣa. O great sage, listen to another story of his.

52. O sage, through the condition stipulated by Kāla in the form of a sage he conducted the test of Rāma, son of Daśaratha.

53. At the very same time Lakṣmaṇa was obstinately sent in by Durvāsas. O sage, Rāma immediately forsook his brother in accordance with the earlier agreement.

54. The story has been diversely narrated and spread in the world by the sages. It is known by all means to the scholars. Hence it is not mentioned in detail by me.

55. Knowing his promise steady and resolute, the sage was highly delighted. The delighted sage Durvāsas granted him the desired boons.

56. He had tested the resoluteness of lord Kṛṣṇa too. O excellent sage, listen to that also. I shall tell you that story also.

57. At the request of Brahmā, Viṣṇu was born as the son of Vasudeva in order to ease the burden of the Earth as well as to protect the good.

58. Lord Kṛṣṇa slew the wicked, the great sinners, those who harassed the brahmins and the knaves. He protected all good men and brahmins.

59. Kṛṣṇa, son of Vasudeva, showed great devotion to Brahmins. Everyday he fed many brahmins with many juicy articles.

60. The fame that Kṛṣṇa was especially devoted to the brahmins spread everywhere. O sage, desirous of seeing him, the sage approached Kṛṣṇa.

61. He tied Kṛṣṇa and his consort Rukmiṇī to the chariot and sat himself in the chariot. Kṛṣṇa bore the chariot delightfully.

62. The sage descended the chariot. He was delighted at the steadfastness of Kṛṣṇa and blessed him with the boon that his body would become adamantine.

63. O sage, once the excellent sage Durvāsas was taking bath in the celestial river Gaṅgā[4] when he became naked. He became a curious object of sight and was ashamed.

64. Draupadī who was taking bath there provided him with the cut-piece of her garment and thus saved him from dishonour.

65. As the piece of cloth reached him being carried by the current, the sage covered his private parts with it. He was therefore pleased with her.

66. He granted her the boon of ever increasing folds of cloth. Later, Draupadī made the Pāṇḍavas happy due to that boon.

67. That holy sage gave directive to Viṣṇu and destroyed two wicked kings who had insulted him in the form of two young ones of swans.

68. By his excellent brahminical splendour he established the path of renunciation in the world in accordance with the order and injunctions of the sacred lore.

69. By instructions and enlightenment he uplifted many. By imparting knowledge he made many liberated.

70. Thus the sage Durvasas had a variegated and wonderful life, conducive to wealth, fame and longevity. To the listeners it yields all desires.

71. He who hears or reads the story of Durvāsas with devotion and joy will be happy here and hereafter.

Footnotes and references:


Tryakṣakula is a misprint for Ṛkṣakula. The name Ṛkṣa (mod. Satpura) was applied to a section of the Vindhya range lying to the north of the Narmadā river while the Vindhya distinguished from the Ṛkṣa denoted the chain lying to the south. See Sircar: GAMI Pp. 49, 56; Bhāg. P. iv i. 17-18; also G.D. Day’s map of Ancient India.


The river Nirvindhyā issues from the Ṛkṣa (Satpura) mountain and flows through Vindhyāṭavī.


The seven Dvīpas are Jambu, Plakṣa, Śālmali, Kuśa, Krauñca, Śāka and Puṣkara. They are surrounded by the Oceans of salt, sugarcane, wine, butter, curd, milk and water. See Agnip. 108. 1-3. In this concept, the world comprises of seven Dvīpas or continents. Jambu is the central Dvīpa surrounded by an Ocean of salt water. Round this Ocean is Plakṣa Dvīpa encompassed by the Ocean of sugarcane-juice and so on. Thus the seven Dvīpas are surrounded by seven seas. S.M. Ali. Geography of the Purāṇas, Ch. II. on Puranic continents and Oceans.


The Ganges flowing from the toe of Viṣṇu is called the celestial river.