The Padma Purana

by N.A. Deshpande | 1951 | 1,261,945 words | ISBN-10: 8120838297 | ISBN-13: 9788120838291

This page describes virabhadra’s heroic deed which is chapter 107 of the English translation of the Padma Purana, one of the largest Mahapuranas, detailling ancient Indian society, traditions, geography, as well as religious pilgrimages (yatra) to sacred places (tirthas). This is the one hundred seventh chapter of the Patala-Khanda (Section On The Nether World) of the Padma Purana, which contains six books total consisting of at least 50,000 Sanskrit 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 107 - Vīrabhadra’s Heroic Deed

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śucismitā said:

1. O brāhmaṇa, O sage, tell me how formerly the sacred ash protected Kaśyapa, Jamadagni of the gods?

Dadhīca said:

2-6. Formerly gods accompanied by Kaśyapa and others went to a well-known mountain named Śokara. In the middle of the mountain was a very beautiful (forest) which was full of many birds, which was resorted to by various hosts of sages, which was the resort of Vāsudeva, which was charming, which was resorted to by bevies of celestial nymphs, which was crowded with strange trees, which was bright with flowers of all seasons. We and others entered the best mountain (forest) like that and praising Viṣṇu went there to lord Śiva. We saw a great flame there and we entered it. Excepting me that deity (i.e. that flame) burnt (other) sages. After that it (also) burnt me. O auspicious one, we were reduced to ash.

7-14. Seeing us like this, that brave Vīrabhadra went to that mountain for some reason. With his entire body smeared with sacred ash, he remaining at the top, auspicious and pure, all alone, desireless and tranquil, heard the sound of wailing. Then he was full of thought: ‘The sound of the bodies of dead men and the smell as it were of dead bodies, are being perceived.’ Deciding like this in his mind, he went to the fire of great brilliance. Then that fire also started to burn Vīrabhadra. But it went out as the fire of (i.e. burning) grass (i.e. hay) would go out on receiving (i.e. being sprinkled over with) water. Then Vīrabhadra saw a great, mighty flame, which went (up) to the sky even (like) flame falling (i.e. dropped by) Śiva (obscure!). The brave Vīrabhadra thought in his mind: ‘(This) flame is the destroyer of hundreds of crores of beings. So for the protection of all I desire to drink it. As a thirsty man drinks water, I shall consume this great flame.’ In the meanwhile a divine voice said to (Vīrabhadra) the hero.

The voice said:

15-17. O hero, do not do a rash act. Where is your thirst, and where is the fire? (i.e. What a great disparity is there between the two!). Those that are thirsty are interested in water. Opposite is (their attitude towards) a wild fire. The lord of demons, viz. Praṇaṣṭa had a large head extending over a yojana. There was another (demon) whose face extended over a hundred yojanas and who had a hundred arms. The illustrious Agastya had completely drunk (the water of) the ocean. This flame destroyed these and other well-known (beings).

Vīrabhadra said:

18-19a. This flame will not cause fear as told by you. O Sarasvatī, I shall be angry with you. Know me to be Vīrabhadra whose position is honoured by all gods.

Bhāratì said:

19b-22a. O sage, what I said was with an affectionate feeling, and not through hatred or any other feeling. O hero, give up your anger and do what is beneficial for yourself.

Saying so the goddess vanished through the fear of the hero. Then that hero easily drank (i.e. consumed) the great flame.

22b-26a. In a moment Vīrabhadra all alone drank that great flame which extended over a hundred yojanas and was extremely difficult to bear. Just on seeing the heaps of ashes (of the bodies) of (gods) led by Indra and of sages, the magnanimous Vīrabhadra called them (out). Those dead sages and residents of heaven (i.e. gods) did not respond. Knowing the destruction of the sages and gods, Vīrabhadra thought: ‘How can I, (though) an experienced one, bring all of them back to life?’ Through meditation he knew (how to bring them back to) life. Sipping (water) he consecrated with the hallowed Mṛtyuñjaya hymn and with sacred ash the ashes (of the bodies) of the dead.

26b-28a. Then the best sages, having resorted to their respective bodies, got up. Then they went to the very bright side of the mountain. There also they were swallowed by a serpent of a mighty body. Then the mighty hero (Vīrabhadra) went to the great serpent.

28b-33a. Seeing Vīrabhadra to have come (there), the serpent started fighting. The serpent, taking up various forms, fought for a year. Then the hero holding with both his hands, the two lips (of the serpent), tore his entire body into two (parts). Seeing the gods dead, Śaṅkara brought them back to life with the sacred ash only. Then the gods, along with the sages, saluted Vīrabhadra and went their way. (Then) they saw the demon Pañcameḍhra who had come there, had a large body, was endowed with ten arms, possessed five feet, had eight heads, and desired a large (quantity of) food.

33b-38. That demon, when he had fought with the monkey Vālin, who had certainly double the strength of Viṣṇu, having the body of a large boar, had suddenly struck Valin with his five feet in boxing, and had proceeded to kill Sugrīva with his hands. He put Sugrīva into his mouth and swallowed him like a morsel. Seeing Vālin and Sugrīva swallowed, he thought: ‘How shall I kill him and how shall I save the monkey?’ When he was thinking like this the lord of demons ate up the monkey with one effort. Seeing the demon like that, all the gods and sages became intent on running (away).

39-44. Seeing them running, that demon Pañcameḍhra took all of them with all his hands and ate them up. Then Vīrabhadra, seeing the monkeys, sages and gods being eaten up (by the demon) angrily took in his hand a rock extending over fifty yojanas and struck it on the heads (of the demon). The middle head (of the demon) fell down. Then taking the peak of the mountain which was a hundred yojanas long and holding it more firmly, he struck the lord of mountains. Then the demon said to that three-eyed Vīrabhadra: “(Now) see the strength of my arms. I have seen your might. There is a couple of swords. They are glistening with oil, and they are fifty yojanas high (i.e. long). They extend over a yojana, are very strong, and have (good) characteristics. You take one liked by you. The one that remains is dear to me.”

45-49. Saying, “All right”, the very strong Vīrabhadra took one sword; and he moved the sharp sword with his hand; and then roared angrily. The best demon also took a sword and roared in the same way. Having approached Vīrabhadra, he put it on his neck (i.e. struck on his neck with it). The limb (i.e. the neck) was pierced, and profuse blood flowed out. With one hand the demon then drank the blood. Vīrabhadra angrily struck the demon on the region of his neck. He took the two heads that were cut off and that were falling down. The magnanimous one swallowed them, and roared like a lion. Due to that great roar the three worlds were agitated.

50-55. With their bodies pierced by strokes of swords made by each other, they who were roaring and who were wet with blood, appeared like the blossomed kiṃśuka (trees). The god (Vīrabhadra) and the demon (Pañcameḍhra) with swords (in their hands) fought for a year. After that they fought a mace-fight for a year. Then a battle with knives took place (between the two) for a year. Then again taking two swords, they fought with each other. Then the lord of (Śiva’s) attendants, of the nature ofa tusk, saying, ‘Prosperity (to you)’, and with his eyes red with anger, moved a great sword before him, and cut off his entire forest-like neck, as (one would cut off) a plantain tree. Taking all the heads, he ate them up. Having torn his body with his nails, he took out and saw the deities, the lordly monkeys (i.e. Vālin and Sugrīva) and the great goddess.

56-63. Seeing this very fierce battle, Nārada went and told Brahmā, Vāsudeva and Śaṅkara (about it): “The sages, the deities, the two monkeys Vālin and Sugrīva have been protected by him; and he, of the nature of Brahma, Viṣṇu and Śiva has brought the two (monkeys) back to life.” An awful boon was given by Śiva to a demon. There was a mighty demon in the kingdom of Hiraṇyakaśipu. He wonderfully fought for a hundred years with the gods. Many fled in various ways, and hundreds of demons died. He, thinking like this, was protected by his preceptor, Śukra: “O Śukra, I died a hundred times, and was brought back to life by you only. Make me immortal, and make him who is in my belly mortal (i.e. let me be immortal, and let those eaten by me die). Otherwise, I shall die; there is no doubt about it. O preceptor, I had a very terrible fight with Yama. In the battle, that valorous king Yama was swallowed up by me. He entered my belly, pierced it and roared. I then died, but was again brought back to life by you. Therefore, I shall practise penance for the death of those who are in my belly.”

Śukra said:

64-65a. This is so. There is no doubt about it. You practise it duly. There is a holy place (called) Syamantapañcaka. Please go there.

The demon said:

65b-74. I shall practise a very terrible (i.e. severe) penace, (like) which was not practised by gods and demons. I shall bind with iron fetters my feet at the end, i.e. at the ankles. I shall fashion a couple of iron-pillars having iron-straps. I shall bind (i.e. keep tied) my feet in the strap and put my head below (and feet above); similarly I shall keep my mouth open, and make my face (let) down. I shall remain with a flame fluttering in a circular way and will keep my eyes open. I shall practise penance like this, whosoever may be the giver of the boon. Let Brahmā or Śaṅkara or Viṣṇu be the giver of the boon, whosoever may grant it.

Having thus spoken to his preceptor Bhārgava (i.e. Śukra), he practised the penance for five or six months and again practised another penance. Having cut off his head with his nails, he offered it, with (the accompaniment of) a hymn, into the fire. He offered his four heads, with (the utterance of) the hymn, ‘Salutaion to Bhadra’. When the demon was trying to abandon (i.e. to offer) his fifth head, the revered lord of Ambikā (i.e. Śiva) stood up from the fire. He resembled a pure crystal and was adorned with the young moon. The great god said to the demon who had bent down his head: “O demon, do not do a rash act. I am the giver of a boon. Ask for a boon.”

The demon said:

75-81a. You, the great god, are the giver of many boons. Let my heads that are struck off grow again and let the beings swallowed by me die. Let me have four times the power of Viṣṇu, having the body of the Boar. You may never be angry with me and be always near me. A man would come up when your matted hair is pulled out. Let me die at his hands; and not (be killed) by others. This is what I ask for.

“It shall be just so”. Saying like this Śiva disappeared. (Bhāratī said:) “You have killed the sinful demon who had received such a boon.” Then having embraced the hero (Vīrabhadra), Viṣṇu, Śiva and the grandsire (i.e. Brahmā) went as they had come. The wives of deities etc. fell (i.e. prostrated before him) on the ground like a staff and said to Vīrabhadra: “Salutation to you, O lord of the god of gods; salutation to you, O eternal and endless one; salutation to you; be the giver of boons.”

Vīrabhadra said:

81b-86. By means of the sacred ash I shall bring back to life the gods along with the sages and the monkeys. You should be pleased; now you should not grieve.

Saying so, Vīrabhadra brought them back to life with the sacred ash. The sages and the gods, so also the two monkeys (i.e. Vālin and Sugrīva) got up. With the palms of their hands put to their heads, they who were pleased, saluted him, and said: “O dear one, you have brought (us) back to life; you are our spiritual father. O you born of Śaṃkara, always be our refuge. Punish the children on seeing their bad behaviour; so also protect them as your own sons from the torment inflicted by the enemies and from diseases. O you sinless one, you punished those who had committed sins at the sacrifice of Dakṣa. O father, we are now (to be protected by you) like children.”

Vīrabhadra said:

87-92. This is true. There is no doubt about it. Remember me when you are troubled. The trouble will quickly perish. The troubles from demons to those who recite the name of Vīrabhadra a hundred and eight times, beginning with ‘Om’ and ending with (the word) ‘salutation’, with (i.e. using) the dative (as Vīrabhadrāya), will come to an end. At the time of trouble from brāhmaṇa-ghosts and fear from goblins etc. all the troubles vanish (merely) by remembering the name (of Vīrabhadra). (One should remember him) whose eyes are like the brilliance of lightning, who is the lord, whose lips are tawny and shining with fangs resembling the young moon, whose body is very dark, who has the garland of matted hair, and who has on his body three lines of sacred ash. This recollection (of Vīrabhadra) is told for (getting) freedom from brāhmaṇa-ghosts. All this is explained in the hymn of Vīrabhadra.

Dadhīca said:

93-95. The hero accomplished (like this). So also the sages and gods that had come. By these three the great importance of the sacred ash is proclaimed. Of him who recites or listens to it, it destroys the sins, gives devotion to Śiva, and prolongs life and good health.

Śucismitā said:

I am happy; I am blessed; I am best among women. My sins are destroyed. My salutation to you, O best sage.

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