The Shiva Purana

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

This page relates “shiva’s incarnation as vaishyanatha” 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 26 - Śiva’s incarnation as Vaiśyanātha

Nandīśvara said:—

1. O dear sage, listen to me. I shall tell you about Vaiśyanātha, the incarnation of Śiva, the supreme soul that yields great bliss.

2. Formerly, in Nandigrāma[1] there was a prostitute known as Mahānandā. She was very beautiful and a devotee of Śiva.

3. She was very prosperous, rich and brilliant. She was bedecked in gems of different kinds. She was voluptuous in love.

4. She was an adept in all lores of music. She was delightful to all. Queens and kings were delighted by her songs.

5. She always wonhipped Śiva and Pārvatī with great joy. She was interested in recounting the names of Śiva. She used to wear ashes and Rudrākṣa.

6. After worshipping Śiva, the lord of the universe she used to dance with great devotion and sing the great glory of Śiva.

7. She kept a monkey and a cock which she decorated with Rudrākṣas. She made them dance singing herself and clapping her hands.

8. On seeing them dance, she, engrossed in devotion to Śiva, used to laugh lovingly along with her friends and attendants.

9. The monkey, as a result of her instruction, danced before her, like a boy bedecked in Rudrākṣas as ear-rings, and shoulderlets.

10. The cock too was bedecked in Rudrākṣa tied round its tuft. It too danced along with the monkey delighting the onlookers.

11. Thus that prostitute indulging in these delightful pranks and pursuing devotional service to Śiva was very happy always.

12. O excellent sage, a long time thus elapsed when she was quite happy performing her devotional service to Śiva.

13. Once Śiva assumed the form of a merchant and visited her house to test her. He had assumed the auspicious form of a devotee.

14. His forehead was marked with Tripuṇḍra. He wore Rudrākṣa as ornaments. He was interested in recounting the names of Śiva. He was clad as a devotee of Śiva. He wore matted locks of hair.

15. He had smeared ashes all over his body. Round his wrist was tied an excellent bangle set with gems.

16. The beautiful prostitute worshipped and welcomed the visitor with great joy. She made him sit with great respect.

17. On seeing the excellent bangle round his wrist she coveted the same. In great surprise she said.

Mahānandā said:—

18. This bangle set with great gems around your arm captivates my mind. It is worthy of being an ornament of a celestial damsel.

Nandīśvara said:—

19. On seeing that she wished for the bangle set with nine gems, the liberal-minded merchant spoke smilingly.

Vaiśyanātha said:—

20. If your mind wishes for this excellent gemset ornament you can have it with pleasure. But what is the price you are willing to pay?

The prostitute said:—

21. We are prostitutes flirting here and there and not chaste ladies. Undoubtedly the regular practice observed in our family is harlotry.

22. If I take the bangle from you I shall be your wife for three full days and nights.

The merchant said:—

23. O beloved harlot, if your words are true, let it be as you say. I shall give you the gemset bangle. Be my wife for three days and nights.

24. In this deal the witnesses are the moon and the sun. Repeat three times “True” and touch my heart, O beloved.

The prostitute said:—

35. O lord, I shall be your wife for three days and carry out all wifely duties. This is true. This is undoubtedly true.

Nandīśvara said:—

26. After repeating this for three times, with the moon and the sun as witnesses, Mahānandā touched his heart with pleasure.

27. After giving her the gemset bangle that merchant handed to her a gemset phallic image and spoke thus.

The merchant said:—

28. O my beloved, this gemset phallic image is very dear to me. It shall be well-preserved strenuously and in secret by you.

Nandīśvara said:—

29. She said “Let it be so” and took the gemset phallic image. She kept it in the middle of the dancing platform and entered the house.

30. During the night she had her sexual union with the merchant who behaved like a libertine. She then went to sleep on the couch brilliant with a soft bed.

31. O sage, then at midnight, at the will of the lordly merchant, suddenly there arose a fire[2] in the middle of the dancing platform.

32. The blazing fire helped by a forceful wind enveloped the dancing platform all of a sudden.

33. When the platform was burning the prostitute got up suddenly in her bewilderment and let the monkey free untying it.

34. Freed from the bondage the monkey in its fear ran here and there along with the cock and scattered sparks of fire.

35. On seeing the phallic image burnt along with the pillar and smashed utterly, the prostitute and the merchant felt endless distress.

36. On seeing the phallic image as it were his very soul burnt, the lordly merchant desired to end his life in order to know her mentality.

37. In great despair and sorrow the merchant told her in grief. Lord Śiva who had assumed a human body just for pleasure indulged in different sports.

38. “O my beloved, when the phallic image is smashed and burnt I do not desire to live. I am telling you the truth. There is no doubt in this.

39. O gentle lady, prepare a pyre for me immediately through your servants. With my mind fixed in Śiva, I shall enter the fire.

40. Even if Brahmā, Indra, Viṣṇu and others were to prevent me, O gentle lady, I shall enter the fire this moment and shall forsake my life.

Nandīśvara said:—

41. On realising his tenacious decision the harlot was much distressed. Outside her house she caused the pyre to be made through her servants.

42. Then the merchant who was only Śiva himself went round the blazing fire. Desirous of knowing her intentions he entered the fire firmly.

43. O excellent sage, on seeing him enter the pyre, the harlot was dismayed. The youthful maiden sympathised with him.

44. The miserable harlot remembered the sacred vow and said piteously glancing at all her kinsmen.

Mahānandā said:—

45. Taking the gemset bangle I had taken the pledge that I shall be the avowed wife of this merchant for three days.

46 This merchant, the avowed Śaivite, died of my activities. Hence I shall enter fire along with him.

47. Truthfiil preceptors have ordained that a wife shall observe her duty. If I do likewise my truthfulness will not be marred.

48. Abiding by truth is a great virtue. Great goal can be attained through truth. Heaven and liberation can be achieved through truth. Everything is founded on truth.

Nandīśvara said:—

49. Although prevented by her kinsmen the harlot was obstinate in her resolve. The woman eager in the attainment of Satyaloka decided on giving up her life.

50. She gifted away her property to leading brahmins. She meditated on Sadāśiva. She circumambulated the fire thrice and stood ready to enter it.

51. As she was going to jump in the fire with her mind fixed in his feet, Śiva, the soul of the universe, appeared in front and stopped her.

52. On seeing the three-eyed lord of the gods, decorated by the moon’s digit, and as brilliant as crores of moons, suns and fires she stood as If stunned and frightened.

53. The lord caught hold of the hands of the frightened and agitated lady, stunned, trembling and shedding (ears. He consoled her and spoke.

Śiva said:—

54. It is to test your truthfulness, piety, courage and steady devotion to me that I came near you assuming the form of a merchant.

55. With my magic I produced the blazing fire and burnt your dancing platform. After burning the gemset phallic image I entered fire myself.

56. But you remembered the promise and entered the fire along with me. Hence I shall give you such pleasures as are inaccessible to gods.

57. O beautiful lady of good hips, whatever you wish I shall give you. I am delighted by your devotion. There is nothing which cannot be given to you.

Nandīśvara said:—

58. When Śiva, lord of Pārvatī, favourably disposed to his devotees said thus, the harlot Mahānandā replied to Śiva.

This prostitute said:—

59. I have no desire for enjoyment on the earth, in the heaven or in the nether worlds. I do not desire anything except the touch of your lotus-like feet.

60. My servants, my maids and my kinsmen are interested in seeing you. They have dedicated everything to you.

61. Take them all along with me to your great region and quash the terrible fear of rebirth. Obeisance be to you.

Nandīśvara said:—

62. Appreciating her words, the great Śiva took all of them to his great region.

63. Thus I have described to you the great incarnation of Vaiśyanātha. It was pleasing to Mahānandā. It yields great bliss to devotees.

64. This narrative is great holy and divine. It grants desires to good men immediately. This story of the incarnation of Śiva as the lordly merchant is the source of great happiness. It is wonderful.

65. He who listens to this story with devotion and narrates it with purity never swerves from his duties. He attains salvation hereafter.

Footnotes and references:


Nandigrāma seems to be identical with Nandagaon in Mathurāmaṇḍala.


Read vahniḥ for vāṇī in the printed Skt. text.

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