Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Sahasramukharavana included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Sahasramukharāvaṇa


A Daitya King, who ruled Trilokapurī, a country thousands of miles away from India. Trilokapurī was an island at the centre of the seas. He was a terror to the whole world and possessed a thousand heads and two thousand hands.

Secured boon.

This Rāvaṇa once went to Satyaloka and performed the most intense tapas for many years. Yet, Brahmā did not appear and then he began cutting his heads one after the other and offering them in the fire. Nine hundred and ninetynine of his heads were cut thus. When he was about to cut the last head also, Brahmā, fearing the end of the world, appeared and granted him the following three boons.

(i) You will not die at the hands of anyone, but a woman.

(ii) Brahmāstra, which would annihilate, will be at your disposal.

(iii) You will also possess an aerial chariot for travels as you please. Sahasramukha, who returned to his country with the boons became emperor of all Daityas and then conquered heaven, Pātāla, Kailāsa, Vaikuṇṭha and the eight regions of the world.

He then defeated Pātālarāvaṇa and wedded his only daughter Indumukhī. He got as a present a weapon called Kaṭhorakuṭhāra. He propagated in the world the customs and practices of heaven with the result that all the customs of the Devas were derogated. Good people felt harassed. In the rise of unrighteousness righteousness became helpless.


Once on his way to his father-in-law’s house Sahasramukharāvaṇa raped a Vidyādhara woman, Cañcalākṣī, who was performing tapas of Lakṣmīdevī and Cañcalākṣī cursed him that Lakṣmīdevī would kill him.


Vajrabāhu was Sahasramukha’s son. He secured from Śiva Pāśupatāstra and an armour impenetrable by anyone. Vajrabāhu captured Indra and Subrahmaṇya killed the former.


Sahasramukha had an army-chief named Bāṇa and both of them together did incalculable harm to the three worlds. Śrī Rāma was King of Ayodhyā at the time, and Devas and sages complained to him about Sahasramukha and as soon as the complainants left Ayodhyā, Sugrīva and Vibhīṣaṇa came there. They told Rāma about the abduction by Sahasramukha’s second son, Candragupta of Sugrīva’s daughter and Vibhīṣaṇa’s daughter-in-law. At once Śrī Rāma, along with Lakṣmaṇa, Sugrīva, Vibhīṣaṇa, Hanūmān and a great army of monkeys reached Sahasramukha’s capital city. Śrī Rāma sent word to him through Hanūmān that Sugrīva’s daughter and Vibhīṣaṇa’s daughter-in-law should be returned, Indra should be released and that pardon should be begged for, for his errors. Angered at this message Sahasramukha deputed Bāṇa to fight Śrī Rāma. Bāṇa was killed in battle. (See under Bāṇa IV). Then ensued a fierce battle between Rāma and Sahasramukha, the latter aided by Candragupta. Aṅgada was about to be overpowered by Candragupta, and then the following celestial voice was heard: "Candragupta will not die as long as his wife Padmāvatī is reciting Brahmamantra imparted by Brahmā." Then Vibhīṣaṇa sent Hanūmān to the women’s quarters and as a result of the latter using a 'Kūṭatantrayantra' great confusion and quarrels broke out among the women-folk, and utilising the opportunity Aṅgada killed Candragupta.

Sahasramukha fought Śrī Rāma single-handed. All tactics of Rāma proved to be of no use. Then he remembered Brahmā’s boon to Sahasramukha and Cañcalākṣī’s curse upon him. Immediately Śrī Rāma brought down Sītā from Ayodhyā and the latter shot the Śaktika arrow at the throat of Sahasramukha and he was killed. (Kamba Rāmāyaṇa, Uttarakāṇḍa),

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