Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Virabhadra 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 Vīrabhadra

One of the guards of Śiva.


There are two different opinions in the Purāṇas, regarding the origin of Vīrabhadra. There is no doubt that his birth was due to the anger of Śiva. When Śiva knew that his wife Pārvatī jumped into the fire and died at the sacrifice of Dakṣa, he struck his matted hair on the ground and from that, Vīrabhadra and Bhadrakālī came into being. This is the version given in Devī Bhāgavata, Skandha 7. According to Mahābhārata, Śānti Parva, Chapter 284, Vīrabhadra was born from the mouth of Śiva. From each of the hairpores of Vīrabhadra, who was born from the mouth of Śiva to destroy the sacrifice of Dakṣa a fearful monster was born, all of whom, formed a group of ghosts called the Raumyas.

The Destruction of the sacrifice of Dakṣa.

See under Dakṣa.

Attainment of boon.

After the destruction of the sacrifice of Dakṣa, the fearful monster Vīrabhadra, began to exterminate the entire creation. Then Śiva appeared and pacified him and said "You shall become a planet in the sky called Aṅgarakṣaka (Bodyguard) or Maṅgala (well being). Everybody will worship you. Those who thus exalt you, will get health, wealth and long life." (Bhāgavata, Skandha 7; Vāyu Purāṇa, 101, 209; Padma Purāṇa, Sṛṣṭi Khaṇḍa, 24).

After the destruction of the sacrifice of Dakṣa, Vīrabhadra severed a portion of his radiance, and from that radiance, later Ādiśaṅkara (Śaṅkarācārya) was born. This story occurs in Bhaviṣya Purāṇa, Pratisarga Parva.


Vīrabhadra was not only a follower of Śiva. He was a prominent general of the army. In the battle of the burning of Tripura and the Jalandhara fight, Vīrabhadra stood with Śiva and fought fiercely. (Padma Purāṇa, Pātāla Khaṇḍa and Uttara Khaṇḍa).

Protector of the Devas.

Vīrabhadra was the destroyer of the Asuras and the protector of the Devas. Once Kaśyapa and all the other hermits and sages with him were burnt to ashes in the wild fire that occurred in the Śaukaṭa mountain. Instantly Vīrabhadra swallowed that wild fire and by the power of incantation, he brought to life from the ashes all the Ṛṣis (hermits) who were burnt to death.

On another occasion a serpent swallowed all the gods. Vīrabhadra killed the snake and rescued all the Devas. Once an asura called Pañcameḍhra put into his mouth all the gods, all the hermits and Bāli and Sugrīva. Those who escaped from the danger stood agape being powerless to confront the Asura. At last Vīrabhadra attacked the asura. That great and fierce battle lasted for years. At the end Vīrabhadra killed the Asura and rescued all.

Because Vīrabhadra had thus protected the Devas and the others on three occasions, Śiva became immensely pleased with him and gave him several boons. (Padma Purāṇa, Pātāla Khaṇḍa, 107).

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