The Shiva Purana

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

This page relates “origin of virabhadra” 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 origin of Vīrabhadra

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The sages said:—

I. How did the lord create obstacles before the wicked Dakṣa who performed a sacrifice for virtue’s sake? We wish to know this.

Vāyu said:—

2-4. When Himavat was delighted by becoming the father of the mother of the universe by the strength of his penance, when Śiva married her and sported with her in his abode on the peak of Himavat when a long time elapsed, in the Vaivasvata Manvantara Dakṣa as the son of Pracetas wanted to perform a horse-sacrifice.

5. On the top of Himavat in an auspicious spot at the source of Gaṅgā, frequented by the sages and the Siddhas Dakṣa began his sacrifice.

6. All the gods Indra and others gathered there and thought of going to attend the sacrifice.

7-8. The Ādityas, Vasus, Rudras, Sādhyas, Maruts, Ūṣmapās, Somapās, Ājyapās, Dhūmapās, Aśvins, Pitṛs, and the other sages came there along with Viṣṇu to take part in the sacrifice.

9. On seeing all the gods assembled there without Śiva, Dadhīca became angry. He spoke to Dakṣa thus.

Dadhīca said:—

10. Indeed that man incurs great sin who does not worship those who deserve worship and worships those who do not befit it.

11. Lord’s terrible punishment[1] falls where the wicked are honoured and the good are dishonoured.

12. After saying this the sage spoke again to Dakṣa, “Why don’t you worship the lord deserving worship, the lord of souls?”

Dakṣa said:—

13. I see eleven Rudras armed with tridents and having matted hair. I do not know anyone else as the lord.

Dadhīca said:—

14. What avails worshipping the gods in the sacrifice if the king of sacrifice, Rudra, is not worshipped by you?

15. He is unchanging, the creator of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra, to whom all from Brahmā to Piśācas, say “What shall we do?”

16. He is beyond all Prakṛtis and Puruṣa. He is meditated upon by Yogic scholars, sages and the seers of truthful principles.

17. He is the imperishable great Brahman, the Sat-Asat and Asat; devoid of beginning, middle and end, incomprehensible and eternal.

18. He is the creator, sustainer, and annihilator. I do not see any one else in the form of Śiva in the sacrifice.

Dakṣa said:—

19. I offer this Caru in the golden vessel, sanctified by mantras, after assigning the share to Viṣṇu the lord of sacrifice.

Dadhīca said:—

20. “O Dakṣa, since Rudra the lord of the chief of the gods is not propitiated your sacrifice will not be efficacious.”

21. After saying this, the infuriated sage Dadhīca left for his hermitage.

22. Even when the sage walked out, the gods did not leave Dakṣa in view of the inevitability of the disaster that was to take place.

23. O brahmins, in the meantime knowing about all this from Śiva the goddess urged the lord to destroy the sacrifice of Dakṣa.

24. Urged by the goddess the lord created the heroic Vīrabhadra the chief of Ganas, intending to destroy the sacrifice.

25-33. He had a thousand faces, a thousand lotus-like eyes. He was holding a thousand iron clubs, thousands of arrows, spear, axe, mace, bow, discus and the thunderbolt. He looked fierce and terrible. The crescent moon adorned his crest; the thunderbolt illuminated his hands. His hair shone like lightning. He had a huge mouth terrible with the curved fangs and a huge belly. His tongue was like lightnings His lips hung down. His voice sounded like the cloud and the ocean. He wore the tiger’s hide dripping with blood. He ear-rings formed circles close to his cheeks. He had adorned his crest with the garlands from the heads of leading gods. He was bedecked in golden shoulderlets and jingling anklets. He was shining with heaps of gems. His chest was covered by necklaces. He was equal in exploit to the great fabulous animal Śarabha, tigers and lions. His gait was gentle and majestic as that of a stately elephant in rut. His lustre was white like conch, chowrie, Kunda flower, moon and the lotus-stalk. He was like the snow-capped lord of mountains who had become mobile. Flames surrounded him. Wearing pearl ornaments he shone brilliantly as the fire at the dissolution of the world.

34. That chief of Gaṇas knelt and bowed. With palms joined in reverence he stood beside the lord of gods.

35. With his anger he created Bhadrā the goddess Kālī as a witness of his activities and his companion.

36. On seeing Vīrabhadra standing like deadly fire in the company of Bhadrā, Śiva said “Welfare be to you.”

37. He submitted to the lord in the company of the goddess. “Please command what task shall I carry out?”

38. Then with a desire to please Pārvatī, Śiva spoke to the huge-armcd Vīrabhadra in raised sound.

The lord of gods said:—

39. O chief of Gaṇas, accompanied by Bhadrakālī, destroy the sacrifice of Dakṣa the son of Pracetas.

40. O chief of Gaṇas, I shall witness your exploit staying near Raibhya’s[2] hermitage along with the goddess.

41-42. In the place Kanakhala[3] there are huge trees near Gaṅgādvāra[4] resembling the mountain with the golden peaks like Meru[5] and Mandara.[6] Dakṣa is holding sacrifice there. Immediately create obstacles in that sacrifice too. Do not delay.

43-44. When this was mentioned by the lord, the goddess, daughter of Hímavat looked at Vīrabhadra and Bhadrakālī as docs a cow at her calf. Embracing him and sniffing at his head as at the head of Subrahmaṇya[7] she smiled and spoke in sweet voice.

The goddess said:—

45. O dear Bhadra, O blessed one, of great strength and exploit, you are born to carry out the task that pleases me. Wipe off my anger and sorrow.

46. In view of his enmity Dakṣa is performing sacrifice without inviting the lord of sacrifice. O chief of Gaṇas, split that sacrifice.

47. At my bidding O dear, inflict violence in the company of Bhadrā. Kill the sacrificer. Let the holy sacrifice be turned into non-sacrifice.

48. At the behest of Śiva and Śivā of wonderful activities, with bent head, as if it was their blessing, Bhadra bowed to them and left.

49-50. The infuriated lord Vīrabhadra, fond of cremation ground, created from his skin-pores chiefs of Gaṇas, and from his right hand hundred crores others.

51. He also created these from his feet, thighs, back, sides, mouth, throat, privities, heels, middle of the head, neck, face and belly.

52. Then the universe with all its open spaces and crevices was covered with the chiefs of gaṇas equal in exploit to Bhadra.

53. These had thousand hands holding thousands of weapons and had the lustre of Rudra.

54. They had spears, tridents and maces, axes, stones and rocks. They resembled deadly fire and Rudra. They had three eyes and matted hair.

55. They flew in hundreds and seated on lions roared loudly like clouds.

56. Lord Bhadra surrounded by the Bhadras shone like Kālabhairava surrounded by hundreds of deadly fires at the time of dissolution.

57. In their midst, mounted on a lordly bull and with a bull-emblem, lord Bhadra went ahead like Śiva seated on Nandin.

58. When Bhadra was seated on the bull, Bhasitaprabha held the pearl umbrella and the white chowries.

59. Bhasita shone by the side of Bhadra like the lord of mountains by the side of Śiva.

60. Bhadra too shone in his company as he held the white chowries like the lord with the trident weapon and the crescent moon.

61. Bhānukampa of great splendour bedecked in gold and jewels blew on the auspicious white conch Bhadra in front of Bhadra.

62. The divine drums were sounded with divine tumultuous tone. The clouds in hundreds made showers of flowers on his head.

63. Winds taking up the fragrance of full blown flowers pregnant with honey blew favourbly on their way.

64. Then the elated chiefs proud of their strength danced, rejoiced, cried, laughed, spoke and sang.

65. Then Bhadra stationed in the midst of the Bhadragaṇas in the company of Bhadrā shone like Śiva in the midst of Rudragaṇas in the company of Pārvatī.

66. In a moment the strong Vīrabhadra with his followers entered the golden gate of the sacrificial altar.

67. Then the chief of Gaṇas Bhadra entered like Rudra desirous of burning the worlds at the time of dissolution.

Footnotes and references:


The statement is reminiscent of the concept of Divine origin of punishment well expounded in the Bhīṣma-Yudhiṣṭhira dialogue in the Śiva-purāṇa of the Mahābhārata


This sage, friend of Bharadvāja, had his hermitage on the Himālayas on the Ganges.


It is a holy place of pilgrimage near Haradvāra. Here the patriarch Dakṣa is said to have performed the great sacrifice where Satī immolated herself.


Gaṅgādvāra, identical with Haradvāra is known by various names—Mokṣadvāra, Māyādvāra etc See P. 1082 note, P. 1362 note.


See PP 310 note, 623 note.


It is a mythical mountain but identified by some with the mountain of that name to the south of Bhagalpur in Bihar (‘Archaeological Survey Report.’ Vol. VIII. P. 130).


Kārttikeya is called six-faced, for he was fostered by the six Pleiads (Krittikas) as their offspring.

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