The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “bull incarnation of shiva (vrishabha)” 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 23 - The bull incarnation of Śiva (Vṛṣabha)

Nandīśvara said

1. Then bellowing in the form of a Bull (Vṛṣabha), the Pināka-bearing lord entered the crevice and shouted terribly.

2. At his bellowing sound, cities and towns crumbled down and all the citizens trembled.

3. Then the bull attacked Viṣṇu’s sons wielding their bows for fighting, deluded by Śiva’s Māyā and proud of their great strength and exploit.

4. O excellent sage, the sons of Viṣṇu became furious. Those heroes roared loudly and rushed against Siva.

5. Rudra in that form of a bull (Vṛṣabha) was furious at those sons of Viṣṇu who rushed at him. He kicked them with his hoofs and tore them with his horns.

6. When their limbs were split by Rudra, they swooned and lost their lives. They were immediately destroyed.

7. When they were killed Viṣṇu the foremost of the strong came out shouting loudly and hastened towards Śiva.

8. On seeing Śiva in the form of the bull going along after killing his sons, Viṣṇu hit him with divine arrows and missiles.

9. Then the infuriated Śiva, the highly powerful one in the form of a bull stood like a mountain and caught hold of all those missiles of Viṣṇu.

10. O sage, shouting furiously, lord Śiva in the form of a bull shook the three worlds terribly.

11. The lord leaped up suddenly and kicked the infuriated Viṣṇu who was deluded and could not realise him. The lord then tore him with his horns.

12. Unable to bear the onslaught, Viṣṇu deluded by Māyā was exhausted and utterly shattered.

13. When his pride fell off, Viṣṇu was dejected, and dispirited. He then realised that Śiva was sporting about in the form of a bull.

14. Then on realising that Śiva himself had come in the form of a Bull, Viṣṇu spoke in a shrill voice with drooping shoulders and palms joined in reverence.

Viṣṇu said:—

15. O lord of the gods, O ocean of mercy, O lord Śiva, I had been deluded by your Māyā and my mind had been confused.

16. O lord, I fought with you, Śiva. Taking pity on me, O lord, let this offence be excused.

Nandīśvara said:—

17. O sage, on hearing those piteous words of Viṣṇu, lord Śiva favourably disposed to his devotees spoke to Viṣṇu.

Śiva said:—

18. O Viṣṇu, O intelligent one, how is it that you did not know me? Why did you fight? Your intellect has completely been depraved.

19. Why don’t you realise yourself as one whose exploit is dependent on me. You should not have indulged in sexual dalliance there. You should have refrained from all misdeeds.

20. Why should your intellect be subservient to lust? That you should indulge in dalliance with women does not behove you, O lord of gods. Remember the task of uplifting the universe.

Nandīśvara said:—

21. On hearing those words of Śiva that imparted knowledge Viṣṇu was ashamed of himself and then he spoke to lord Śiva respectfully.

Viṣṇu said:—

22. My discus is here. I shall take the discus and return to my region abiding by your order with reverence.

Nandīśvara said

23. On hearing the words of Viṣṇu, lord Śiva the protector of virtue in the guise of a bull, replied to Viṣṇu again.

24. You shall go away quickly from this place. You shall not delay, O Viṣṇu, this is my behest. Let your discus stay in this world itself.

25. I shall give you a discus more terrible than the sun at the time of dissolution and more efficacious than the words of Śiva.

26. After saying this Śiva created another blazing discus, as lustrous as the Kāla fire, for the destruction of the wicked.

27. He gave the discus, as lustruous as ten thousand fierce suns, to Viṣṇu, the great Ātman, the protector of the gods and the leading sages.

28. After securing another Sudarśana discus of more brilliance, Viṣṇu the foremost of intelligent gods spoke to the gods.

29. “O ye gods, you listen to my statement eagerly. You must act accordingly and immediately. It will be to your advantage.

30. There are many youthful maidens in the nether regions exquisitely dressed. Any one of you can go and indulge in sexual dalliance with them,”

31. On hearing these words of Viṣṇu the valorous gods became desirous of entering the nether regions along with Viṣṇu.

32. Knowing their intention then, lord Śiva angrily cursed all the eight[1] types of the gods.

Śiva said:—

33. “Excepting a quiescent sage and the Dānavas born of my parts whoever enters this place shall die in a trice.”

34. After hearing these terrible words which are conducive to the increase of the benefit of human beings, the gods thus restrained by Rudra returned to their own abodes.

35. Thus Viṣṇu who was excessively indulgent in women was chastised by Śiva. O Vyāsa, he returned to heaven. The world attained normalcy.

36. Lord Śiva, favourably disposed towards his devotees, returned to his mountain after carrying out the task of the gods in the guise of a bull.

37. Thus the bull incarnation of Śiva that dispelled Viṣṇu’s delusion and caused happiness to the three worlds, has been narrated.

38. This narrative is sacred. It dispels the harassment from enemies. It is conducive to the attainment of heaven, fame and longevity. It confers worldly pleasures and salvation to the good.

39. He who listens to this with devotion and narrates this with purity enjoys all pleasures here and attains salvation hereafter. So also is the case with him who reads or teaches this to intelligent men.

Footnotes and references:


Amara mentions ten semi-divine beings viz. “Vidyādhara, Apsaras, yakṣa, Rakṣasa, Gandharva, Kinnara, Piśāca, Guhyaka, Siddha and Bhūta |”. ŚP. mentions eight, without giving their names. It is not clear which two shall be excluded from the above list.