The Shiva Purana (English translation)

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

This page relates “creation of brahma and vishnu” 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 13 - The creation of Brahmā and Viṣṇu

The sages said:—

1. Sir, you have narrated the creation of the great Ātman through the mouth of the four-faced lord. There we have a doubt.

2-6. The Odd-eyed Śiva is the foremost among the gods. The trident-bearing Śiva is brilliant. Lord Rudra the Kālātman is Kapardin and Nīlalohita. When the end of the yuga arrives he becomes infuriated and annihilates this universe including Brahmā, Viṣṇu and the fire-god. He makes the worlds shrink. Brahmā and Viṣṇu are under his control. They make obeisance to him out of fright. He is the lord who formerly created Brahmā and Viṣṇu from his limbs. He alone is the cause of acquisition and retention. He is the primordial and ancient god. How did such a lord become the son of Brahmā who is born of Avyakta?

7. We have also heard that Brahmā and Viṣṇu were born of Rudra and created Rudra. Thus they mutually created each other.

8. How could the two, progenitors of the living beings, come out of each other thereby possessing both prominence or otherwise?

9. There is nothing unseen or unheard by you. Every thing is remembered by you who had been the disciple of the lord himself.

10. Please narrate how Brahmā became the lord of all sages. O dear, we are faithful and eager to hear the great glory of the lord.

Vāyu said:—

11. O Brahmins, this question has been well put by you, experts in the art of queries. I had put the same query to Brahmā who replied suitably.

12. I shall narrate how Rudra was born and how Brahmā and Viṣṇu were born from each other.

13-15. The three are the Ātmans as causes born of Maheśvara; they are the causes of creation, sustenance and annihilation of the universe consisting of the mobile and immobile beings. Endowed with great qualities they are sanctified by the great lord. Presided over by his Śakti they can always perform their activities. Brahmā can create; Viṣṇu can protect; Rudra can annihilate.

16-21. But they rivalled with one another. Desirous of excelling one another they propitiated their father, the supreme lord by means of penance. Attaining all round favour of the lord at the outset in a former Kalpa, Rudra created Brahmā and Viṣṇu. In another Kalpa, Brahma created Rudra and Viṣṇu. In another Kalpa Viṣṇu created Rudra and Brahmā. Thus in different Kalpas, Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra desiring mutual benefit are born of one another. Based on the events in their respective Kalpas, their process in being the cause of origin of one another is extolled by the sages. Now listen to their holy and wonderful story that releases from sins.

22-26. Listen also to what happened to Brahmā in his Kalpa. In the Kalpa, Meghavāhana, Viṣṇu became a cloud and showered the earth for a thousand divine years. Seeing this, Śiva gave imperishable Śakti to Viṣṇu. Obtaining the Śakti from Śiva Viṣṇu created the universe along with Brahmā. On seeing that glory of Viṣṇu, Brahmā created by him was seized by jealousy and said derisively. Go you, O Viṣṇu. The cause of your origin is known to me. Rudra is superior to both of us. There is no doubt in this.

27. It is due to the grace of that lord that you, the sustained have become a creator today.

28. I too shall propitiate Rudra, the leader of gods, by means of penance and shall create the entire universe along with you. There is no doubt in this.

29. Slighting Viṣṇu thus, Brahmā attained Śiva by means of penance and submitted to him thus.

30. O lord of the gods, O lord of the universe, Viṣṇu is born of your left and I am born of your right side.

31. Still Viṣṇu created the universe along with me. Due to rivalry he was taunted by me depending on the strength of your support.

32. “O Viṣṇu, your piety towards the lord is not more than that of mine” (I told him) because our origin from you is on the same footing.

33. O Śiva, it behoves you to give all that to me also in the manner you bestowed on him before due to his devotion.

34. Thus implored by him the merciful lord Śiva gave all to him as justifiable.

35. Thus obtaining the state of being the Atman of all in a trice, from Śiva, Brahmā hastened to and saw Viṣṇu.

36-41. He saw Viṣṇu lying on Śeṣa[1] in his abode in the milk-ocean.[2] A white canopy resembling the sun was spread. It was created by him mentally. It was set with gold and gems. Lord Viṣṇu had eyes resembling lotus. He had splendid body with four arms. He was bedecked in ornaments. He was holding conch and discus. His face shone like the disc of the moon. The scar Śrīvatsa marked his chest. He was smiling sweetly. His lotus-like feet attained red hue due to the contact of the lotus-like Lakṣmī. In Yogic slumber he appeared lying in the nectarine milky ocean. By the Guṇa of Tamas he was Kālarudra; by that of Rajas he was Brahmā; by that of Sattva he was Viṣṇu. In Nirguṇa state he was lord Śiva. On seeing him Brahmā spoke seriously—“O Viṣṇu, I am going to devour you as you did me formerly.”

42. On hearing this Viṣṇu woke up, saw Brahmā and smiled slightly.

43. In the meantime Viṣṇu was devoured by Brahmā and immediately created through the middle of the eyebrows.

44-47. In the meantime the moon-crested lord came to the place to test their Śakti. Though devoid of form he assumed a form in order to bless them as he had previously done. Both of them were delighted and frightened and so eulogised the lord and bowed to him with respect from a distance. The trident-bearing lord blessed them and vanished even as they watched him with respect.

Footnotes and references:


The milky ocean is supposed to be identical with the Sea of Japan. See “geo. of the Purāṇas,” PP. 42-44.


Sanskrit texts abound in descriptions of Viṣṇu reclining on Serpent Śeṣa. In this context, it may be noted that there is a vivid picture of Śeṣaśāyī Viṣṇu on the outer wall of the Daśāvatāra temple at Deogarh (c. 5th cent. A.D) .