The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1950 | 616,585 words

This page relates “shiva’s incarnation as yatinatha hamsa (swan)” 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.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 28 - Śiva’s incarnation as Yatinātha haṃsa (swan)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nandīśvara said:—

1. O intelligent sage, listen. I shall explain the incarnation of great bliss named Yatinātha, of Śiva the supreme soul.

2. O great sage, on the mountain Arbuda[1] there lived a hunter Āhuka of Bhilla tribe.

3. His wife Āhukā observed some good rites. Both of them were great devotees of Śiva and worshipped Śiva.

4. O sage, once this Bhilla who was always devoted to Śiva went far into the forest for fetching food for his wife.

5. In. the meantime towards the evening, Śiva assumed the guise of an ascetic and came to his house to test him

6. The lord of the house that intelligent man too came back then and lovingly worshipped the leading ascetic.

7. In order to test his feelings, Śiva in the guise of an ascetic, indulging in great sports lovingly said to him in a piteous tone.

Yatinātha said:—

8. O Bhilla, give me some place here to stay today. I shall by all means leave in the next morning, you will be blessed for ever.

Bhilla said:—

9. O lord, what you say is true. But please listen to me. The room is not spacious enough to hold us all together.

Nandīśvara said:—

10. Thus addressed, the ascetic wanted to leave. By that time, considering the trend of thought of her husband the Bhillī said.

11. O lord, give him room to stay. Do not turn out a guest. Consider the duty of a householder or virtue will be affected.

12. You stay in the house along with the ascetic. I shall remain outside with immense weapons.

Nandīśvara said:—

13. On hearing the virtuous and auspicious words of his wife, the Bhilla thought thus.

14. “How can I stay in the house after keeping my wife out. It will be sinful on my part if the ascetic goes elsewhere.

15. Neither of the two courses is proper for a householder. What is destined to happen will surely happen. I shall stay outside.”

16. After thinking thus and insisting on it, he kept both of them within the house joyously, himself stayed outside the house keeping all the weapons beside him.

17. During the night the cruel beasts of prey tormented him. He too strenuously withstood them to the extent of his ability.

18. Thus fighting strenuously and although very strong, the Bhilla was devoured by the beasts of prey which seized him forcibly, as though indeed by his own adverse fate.

19. Getting up in the morning the ascetic saw the Bhilla of the forest devoured by the beasts of prey. He felt much dejected at it.

20. Although the Bhilli too was distressed, she suppressed her sorrow on seeing the ascetic miserable and spoke thus.

Bhilli said:—

21. O ascetic, why are you sorry? What has happened is for good. Blessed and contented is he since the death has happened in this manner.

22. O ascetic, reducing myself to ashes, I too shall follow him. Be pleased to arrange for the pyre. This is the eternal duty of women.

23. On hearing her words which he thought to be proper, the ascetic arranged the pyre. She entered the pyre dutifully.

24. In the meantime Śiva himself appeared before her and spoke praising her lovingly “O blessed lady, O blessed lady.”

Śiva said:—

25. O sinless lady, mention the boon you wish to have. I am pleased with your conduct. There is nothing which cannot be granted to you. I am utterly subservient to you.

Nandīśvara said:—

26. On hearing the words of Śiva yielding the greatest bliss she felt the highest pleasure. She did not remember anything.

27. On seeing her in that state, Śiva was much delighted. He asked her again to mention the boon she wished to have.

Śiva said:—

28. This ascetic who is in my own form will assume the form of a swan in the next birth. He will lovingly unite both of you.

29. This Bhilla will be born as Nala, the son of Vīrasena, in the excellent city of Niṣadha.[2] There is no doubt in this.

30. You will be born in the illustrious city of Vidarbha[3] as the daughter of king Bhīma. You will be famous as Damayantī endowed with all good qualities.

31. After coming together you will enjoy royal pleasures. You will attain salvation too, inaccessible even to leading Yogins.

Nandīśvara said:—

32. After saying this, Śiva assumed the form of phallic image. He became stationary. He is thereafter remembered as Acaleśa.

33. O dear, the Bhilla Āhuka was born as the son of Vīrasena in the city of Niṣadha. He was the great king Nala.

34. That great Bhillī, Āhukā was born as the daughter of king Bhīma in the city of Vidarbha. She became famous as Damayantī.

35. Śiva in the form of Yatinātha was born as a swan. He managed the marriage of Damayantī with Nala.

36. It was due to the merit accruing from hospitality that lord Śiva gave them pleasure after assuming the form of a swan.

37. The incarnation of Śiva as the swan adept in the art of intelligence, was the bestower of great bliss to Damayantī as well as to Nala.

38. This great and holy narrative of Śiva’s incarnation of illustrious fame as swan is wonderful and indeed the bestower of salvation

39. He who narrates or listens to the auspicious story of incarnation of Yatinatha haṃsa, attains the greatest goal.

40. The story is faultless, bestower of the fruits of all desires and very excellent. It is conducive to the attainment of heaven, fame and longevity. It enhances devotion.

41. After hearing this narrative of Śiva in the forms of an ascetic and a swan, the hearer enjoys all pleasures here and goes to Śiva’s abode hereafter.

Footnotes and references:


It can be identified with the present Abu, a sacred hill of the Western India, lying in the Sirohi state of Rajaputana.


The city of Niṣadha or Naiṣadha associated with King Nala can be identified with Nalapura, modern Narwar situated on the river Kālisindhu to the south-west of Gwalior.


The capital of Vidarbha is placed in Mahārāṣṭra. It is the same as Kuṇḍinpur modern Beder to the east of Amarāvatī in Berar.

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