The story of Shankhacuda – Shiva Purana
In the chapter 27 to 40, Section 2.5 of Rudra-saṃhita (Yuddha-khaṇḍa) of Shiva Purana, the story of powerful Shankhacuda and his slaying by Shiva is mentioned.
One of the wives of Kashyap rishi was Danu. Many powerful sons were born to that lady Danu. One of them was Vipracitti who had a virtuous son Dambha. Dambha was a great devotee of Vishnu. He performed a great penance of Vishnu at Pushkara (near Ajmer) and secured a boom from him to beget a powerful son who could win over three worlds. Later, he became father of a brilliant son who was named Shankhacuda.
Shankhacuda performed a penance in Puṣkara for a long time in order to propitiate Brahma with devotion. He secured a boom to get power of being invincible to the gods. Brahma gave him the divine amulet of Srikrsna that yielded victory everywhere. Brahma advised him to go to Badarikashram and marry Tulasi, the daughter of Dharmadhyvaja. Brahma informed him that she has also performed great penance. Shankhacuda went to Badarikashram and expressed his desire to Tulasi to marry her with gandharva rites. After marrying her, he returned to his father’s place.
Fight of Gods & Danvas:
Then, Shukracharya came there and narrated about the natural enmity of gods and danavas. On hearing this, Shankhacuda marched quickly to the city of Indra with the intention to conquer it. On hearing that Shankhacuḍa was coming, Indra the king of heaven, accompanied by the Gods made preparations for a fight. Then a tremendous fight ensued between the Asuras and the gods. Both fought ferociously. With the power and force Shankhacuda distressed the gods. The gods could not endure his dazzling brilliance. They fled. Thus, the son of Dambha, the valorous leader of the Danavas, conquered all the worlds and took up the powers of the gods. He became Indra and ruled the universe. He carried the tasks of Kubera, Moon, Sun, Fire, Yama and Vayu. There was no famine, plague or pestilence in his realm. The planets were not inauspicious. There was no worry or sickness among the people. Except the gods all living beings were happy and free from distress. Shankhacuda was always engaged in devotion to Kṛiṣhṇa.
Thereafter, the defeated gods, deprived of their kingdom, consulted among themselves and went to Brahma’s assembly chamber along with the sages. After consoling the gods and the sages, Brahma accompanied by them went to Vaikuṇṭḥa that yields happiness to the good. The gods explained their distress to Vishnu and sought refuge in him.
Lord Vishnu said: — “O lotus-born Brahma, I know everything about Shankhacuḍa, a great devotee of mine, of great splendour and who had been formerly a cowherd, Sudama. Shiva will necessarily perform what is good. Sudama, now born as Shankhacuḍa, has been fascinated by Radha by Shiva’s illusion. Cursed by Radha he is born as a Danava to his distress. Krishna has already ordained that his death will be by Rudra’s trident. Casting off his body he will become his comrade again. O lord of gods, knowing this you need not have any fear. Let us seek refuge in Shiva. He will do everything conducive to our good.”
Gods requested Shiva for help:
Then, Vishnu went to Shivaloka accompanied by Brahma. On seeing Shiva of perfect features, Vishnu and Brahma eulogised him together after bowing to him with palms joined in reverence. They explained about the Danava Shankhacuḍa who has divested of all powers of gods and ousted them. They expressed him that except he, none of the gods can kill Shankacuda. Please kill him and render the worlds happy.
On hearing these words of the distressed Vishnu and Brahma, Shiva laughingly spoke: — “O dear Vishnu, O Brahma, cast off your fear from all sides. Certainly, something good will result from the activities of Shankacuda. At the proper time I shall redeem you from the curse. Go to Rudra, resident of Kailash, who has my excellent and perfect form. He has manifested himself for the task of the gods with a separate form and features. It is for this purpose that the lord assuming my form fully and perfectly stays on the mountain Kailash favouring the devotees by being subservient to them. There is no difference in him from us both.
Then, Brahma and Vishnu went to Kailash taking the gods with them. The gods requested Rudra to slay Shankacuda the king of Asura and the destroyer of the gods. “On hearing the words of the gods, Rudra said: — “O Vishnu, O Brahma, O Gods, return to your own abodes by all means. I shall kill Shankacuda along with his followers and attendants. After bowing to lord Shiva, Vishnu went to Vaikuṇṭha and Brahma to Satyaloka. The god and others went to their own abodes.
Rudra made his friend the lord of Gandharvas his messenger and sent him in a wonderful chariot hurriedly to Shankacuda joyously. At the bidding of lord Rudra, the emissary went to the city of the Asura which was superior to Indra’s Amaravati and Kubera’s Palace.
Puṣpadanta informed the Rudra’s message: — “Give back kingdom to the gods and their authority. If not, fight with me. The gods have sought refuge in me, the lord of the gods and the benefactor of the good. I the infuriated will certainly slay you. I am Rudra, the destroyer. I have granted protection to all the gods. I am the holder of the chastising rod for the wicked and favourably disposed to those who seek refuge in me.”
On hearing these words of Puṣpadanta, the king laughed, then spoke to him. Shankacuda said: —"I will never return the kingdom to the god. I shall fight with you who are a partisan of the gods.”
On hearing these words of Shankacuda, the emissary of Rudra laughed aloud and then spoke haughtily to the lord of the Asuras. Puṣpadanta said: — “Great king, you cannot face the Gaṇas of Shiva. Then how can you face lord Shiva himself? So, return their positions of authority to the gods entirely. O excellent Danava, do not regard Shiva an ordinary deity. He is indeed the lord of the lord of all. Indra and other gods abide by his commands. The Siddhas, the patriarchs, the sages and the serpent lords all follow suit. He is the overlord of Vishnu and Brahma. He is both possessed and devoid of attributes. By a mere twitch of his knitted eyebrow everything is dissolved. Shiva is the perfect form of gods, the cause of the annihilation of the worlds, the goal of the good, the destroyer of the wicked. He is free from aberrations. He is greater than the greatest. Return their kingdoms to the gods as well as their positions of authority. O dear, thus you will fare well. Otherwise, terror will strike you.”
On hearing this, the valorous king of the Danavas, said: — “I shall neither give up kingdom nor the positions of authority, without a fight with him. This is certain. I tell you the truth. Go and tell Shiva exactly what I have said to you. Let him do what is proper. Do not talk much.”
On hearing those words of the emissary, the infuriated emperor of the gods, Shiva spoke to Virabhadra and other Gaṇas: - “O Virabhadra, O eight Bhairavas, the frontier guards, let the Gaṇas start along with my sons. at my bidding. Let those strong ones be ready and fully equipped with weapons. Let Bhadrakali start with her army for the war. I start just now for slaying Shankhacuḍa”.
Having ordered thus, lord Shiva started along with his army. In the meantime, Kartikeya and Gaṇesha, the overall generals of the army, came near Shiva joyously, fully equipped with weapons and ready for war. The eight Bhairavas the terrible eleven Rudras, the eight Vasus, the twelve Adityas, Indra, the fire god, the moon, Vishvakarman, the Ashvins, Kubera, Yama, Nirṛti, Nalakubara, Vayu, Varuṇa, Budha, Mangala, the other planets and the valorous Kamadeva went with lord Shiva. Ugradaṇḍa, Ugradaṃṣṭra, Koraṭa and Koṭabha too went. The great goddess Bhadrakali herself with hundred arms was seated in an aerial chariot studded with gems. She was wearing a red cloth and a red garland. She had smeared red unguents over her body.
When the messenger returned, the valorous Shankhacuḍa went in and told his wife Tulasi all the details. He crowned his son as the lord of Danavas. He entrusted his wife, his kingdom and his riches to the care of his son. He called his general, the Kalakeyas Mauryas, Dauhṛdas and the Kalakas and ordered him to be ready for the war with Shiva.
They stationed near the Travancore hills and the southernmost part of the Western Ghats. Shankhacuḍa sent a leading Danava of great knowledge as his emissary to Shiva. On seeing Shiva, the messenger joined his palms in reverence and bowing to him spoke the auspicious words: - “O lord, I am the emissary of Shankhacuḍa and have come to you. What is it that you desire? Please tell me.” On hearing these words of Shankhacuḍa, lord Shiva became delighted and spoke: - “In previous birth you were a cowherd and an attendant of Krishna. Among the cowherds you were virtuous. As a result of Radha’s curse, you are born as Danava and have become the king of Danavas. You are casually born as a Danava. You are really no Danava. Realising your previous birth, you leave off your inimical attitude to the gods. Don’t be malicious towards them. You can enjoy your kingdom zealously. Return their kingdom to the gods. Let the gods stay in their region.”
The messenger said: — “O lord, what has been narrated by you is true. If it applies to all alike, I shall consider it and let you know. Why did the discus-bearing lord Vishnu sever the heads of Madhu and Kaiṭabha the excellent Daityas in the ocean of dissolution? Your Majesty too, O Shiva, is famous as a partisan of the gods. Why did you fight with the Tripuras and reduce them to ashes? After divesting him of everything why was Bali packed off to Sutala and other regions? Did Vishnu go to his threshold as his uplifter? Why was Hiraṇyakṣa harassed by the gods along with his brother? Why were Shumbha and other Asuras subjected to fall by the gods? Formerly when the ocean was churned, the nectar was drunk off by the gods. All the strain and stress were ours but the gods reaped the fruit of our endeavour. Your rivalry to us is excessively shameful since you are lord unto the gods as well as to the Asuras. You are the supreme soul.”
On hearing these words, the three-eyed lord laughed and spoke sweetly to the leading Danava what seemed proper. Lord Shiva said: — “We are subservient to our devotees. We are never independent. We carry out their tasks at their wish. We are not the partisans of any one in particular. Formerly the fight of Vishnu with the excellent Daityas Madhu and Kaiṭabha in the ocean of dissolution was due to the prior request of Brahma. For the sake of Prahalad, at the request of gods, Hiraṇyakasipu was slain by him acting in the interest of his devotees. Formerly I fought with the Tripuras and reduced them to ashes, only at the request of the gods. Formerly Parvati, the mother of all, the goddess of all, fought with Shumbha and others and killed them only at the request of the gods. Even today, the gods have sought refuge in Brahma. And he along with the gods and the lord Vishnu has sought refuge in me. O Emissary, paying heed to the request of Vishnu, Brahma and others, I, though lord of all, have come here in the battle of the gods. Go to Shankhacuḍa and tell him what I have said. Let him do what is proper. I shall carry out the taṣk of the gods.”
Fight of Shiva’s Army:
The emissary returned and mentioned the words of Shiva. On hearing that, the valorous Danava Shankhacuḍa accepted the alternative of a fight. He commanded his army against Shiva. Shiva too hastened to urge his army and the gods. Both the hosts of the gods and the Danavas fought righteously. In that great war many divine and miraculous weapons were hurled. For a long time, the great combat between the gods and Danavas continued, terrible and tumultuous but delightful to the heroes. Then the gods were defeated by the Danavas.
On seeing the defeat of the gods and others and on hearing their cries of fear, Shiva was greatly infuriated. With his brilliance he enhanced the strength of his Gaṇas. Commanded by Shiva, the great hero Kartikeya, son of Shiva fought fearlessly with the hosts of Danavas in the battle. The Danavas wounded in their bodies by the numerous arrows of Kartikeya fled in fright. Those who remained were killed. On seeing the wonderfully terrible fight of Kartikeya, Śhankhacuḍa became furious and himself got ready for the battle. His volley of arrows was terrifying. The gods Nandishvara and others fled. Only Kartikeya stayed behind in the battle field. The king of Danavas showered mountains, serpents, pythons and trees so terrifyingly that it could not be withstood. Oppressed by that shower Kartikeya looked like the sun enveloped by thick sheets of frost. In the meantime, Kali went to the battle ground again at the request of Kartikeya to devour the Danavas and to protect her own people. Nandishvara and other heroes, the gods, Gandharvas, Yakṣas, Rakṣasas and serpents followed her. Assuming a heroic form, lord Shiva entered the battle ground. On seeing Shiva, Shankhacuḍa got down from the aerial chariot, bowed with great devotion and fell flat on the ground. After bowing to him he immediately got into his chariot. He speedily prepared for the fight and seized the bow and the arrows. The fight between Shiva and the Danava went on for a hundred years and they fought fiercely. After a long battle, the powerful lord Shiva suddenly seized his trident in order to slay him. In order to prevent him then, an unembodied celestial voice said— “O Shiva, do not hurl the trident now. Please listen to this request. O Shiva, by all means, you are competent to destroy the entire universe in a trice. What doubt then in regard to a single Danava Shankhacuḍa? Still, the limit imposed by the Vedas should not be disregarded by you, the lord. O lord Shiva, it has been mentioned by Brahma, that, as long as he wears the armour of Vishnu and as long as his wife maintains the marital fidelity, Shankhacuḍa has neither death nor old age. Please make those words truthful.”
On hearing this celestial voice, Shiva said “So be it”. Vishnu came there at the wish of Shiva. Shiva, who is the goal of the good, commanded him. Then, in the guise of an old brahmin, Vishnu, the foremost of those who wield magic, approached Shankhacuḍa and told him. The aged brahmin said: — “O lord of Danavas, give me the alms for which I have come to you. I shall not say openly what I wish to have from you who are favourably disposed to the distressed. I shall tell you when you have promised me first. With face and eyes indicating pleasure the king replied affirmatively. Then the deceptive Vishnu in the form of a brahmin said— “I am the suppliant for your armour.”
On hearing that, the lord of Danavas, a well-wisher of the brahmins and of truthful word handed over the divine armour, his vital breath, to the brahmin. Then in the guise of Shankhacuḍa Vishnu approached Tulasi and enchanted her for the protection of gods.
In the meantime, the lord of Danavas approached Shiva without the armour. He took up his trident that blazed to slay Shankhacuḍa. That trident whirling round over the head of Shankhacuḍa for a while fell on the head of the Danava at the behest of Shiva and reduced him to ashes. Then it rapidly returned to Shiva.
After slaying him thus, Shiva went to Shivaloka seated on his bull, joyously, accompanied by Parvati, Kartikeya and the Gaṇas. Vishnu went to Vaikuṇṭha. Krishna became complacent. The gods went to their abodes with great delight. The universe regained normalcy. The whole earth was freed of obstacles. The sky was pure. The whole world became auspicious.
For the larger good of universe and for peace, prosperity and longevity, the benevolent Shiva fought on behalf of Gods and killed Shankhacuḍa.
In the chapter 13 to 25, of Rudra-saṃhita (Yuddha-khaṇḍa), there is a story of Jalandhara & Vrinda.
once Brihaspati and Indra went to Kailash, to see lord Shiva. Shiva wished to test their knowledge. Accordingly, the lord stood blocking their path in the naked form with matted hair and beaming face. Brihaspati and Indra were walking on gleefully. On their way they saw this wonderful person of huge size. Without realising that the person who stood there blocking their path was Shiva himself, Indra who was proud of his authority said to him.
Indra said: “O, who are you? Where have you come from? What is your name? Tell me truly. Is the lord Shiva in his apartment or has he gone anywhere?”
Shiva did not say anything. Indra repeatedly asked him. But the naked person did not say anything. Then Indra became enraged. Rebuking the lord with matted hair he spoke: “O evil-minded one, though asked you did not reply to me. Hence, I am going to kill you with my thunderbolt. Who can save you?”
After saying this and looking at him ferociously Indra raised his thunderbolt in order to kill him. On seeing Indra lifting up his thunderbolt, Shiva prevented the fall of the thunderbolt by making his hand benumbed. Then Shiva became furious. His eyes became terrible. He blazed with his burning splendour.
On seeing him resplendent, Brihaspati realised immediately that he was lord Shiva himself and bowed to him. Then the noble-minded Brihaspati joined his palms in reverence. He prostrated before him on the ground and began to eulogise the lord variously. After eulogising Shiva, the benefactor of the worlds thus Brihaspati made Indra fall at the feet of Shiva. Brihaspati entreated Shiva to raise up Indra fallen at his feet and quieten the anger rising from his eyes.
On hearing these words of Brihaspati, Shiva, the ocean of mercy, spoke in a thundering stentorian voice. Lord Shiva said: — “O Brihaspati, how can I take up the fury that has already come out of my eye? A serpent does not wear again the slough that has been cast off.”
Brihaspati said: — “O holy lord, indeed the devotees should be pitied always. O Shiva, thus please make your name Bhaktavatsala (favourably disposed towards the devotees) true. O lord of gods, you deserve to cast elsewhere the fierce brilliance. O uplifter of all devotees, raise up Indra.”
Shiva said: — “O dear one, I am delighted by your eulogy. I shall grant you the excellent boon. Henceforth you shall be famous as Enlivener because you have conferred life on Indra. I shall cast off this fire born of my eye in the forehead intended to kill Indra lest it should afflict him.”
On saying this he held that wonderful brilliance born of the eye in the forehead and cast it off in the briny ocean. Then, Brihaspati and Indra became contented and went away to their abodes joyously.
Birth & marriage of Jalandhara:
The brilliance of Shiva born of the eye in the forehead and cast off into the briny sea at the confluence of Indus immediately assumed the form of a boy. The baby Jalandhara cried. Brahma visited the place to know the source of cries of baby Jalandhara and found him there. Then he called Shukra who performed his coronation. Brahma then took leave of the ocean and disappeared. Ocean nurtured the boy with diverse great means. The boy grew into a beautiful youth of exquisite limbs and wonderful splendour. Then the ocean invited the great Asura Kalanemi and requested him to give his daughter named Vṛnda in marriage to his son. He gave his beloved daughter to Jalandhara. Those Asuras who had been formerly defeated by the gods and had sought shelter in Patala came fearlessly to the Earth and resorted to him.
Once the brilliant Bhargava came. On seeing the preceptor coming, the Asuras were delighted in their minds and bowed to him. Seeing the headless Rahu seated there, Jalandhara said to Bhargava: “O lord, by whom was this done to Rahu? By whom was his head cut? Please tell me.”
Bhargava narrated the entire story of churning of the ocean by Devas & Asuras. The enemies of the Asuras extracted jewels from the ocean. The gods seized the nectar and drank it deceitfully. The episode that Vishnu cut off the head of Rahu as he was drinking the nectar along with the gods.
Then on hearing about the churning of his father, the heroic son of the ocean, the valorous Jalandhara became furious and his eyes turned red with anger. He called his excellent emissary Ghasmara and sent to heaven where all the gods were present. Ghasmara informed them message of Jalandhara: — ‘'0 base god, why was my father, the ocean, churned by you with the mountain? Why were all the jewels of my father taken away? What you have done is not proper. Return all of them to me immediately. Otherwise, you will run the risk of the annihilation of your kingdom.”
Indra said: - “He gave shelter to the mountains who were terribly afraid of me. Others too, some of my enemies, the Asuras, were formerly saved by him. It was due to this that I took away his jewels. Those who oppose me can never remain happy. I am telling you the truth.”
Battle of Gods & Jalandhara:
On hearing it, the lips of the Asura throbbed with anger. Desirous of conquering the gods, reached the heaven along with his force. He blew his conch. Then a battle between the armies of the gods and Asuras ensued. Bhargava resuscitated the Asuras killed in the battle with the Vidhya of Amṛtajivini and drops of water infused with mantras. The sage Angria too resuscitated the gods in the battle with the divine herbs frequently brought from the mountain Droṇa. Then, Bhargava suggested Jalandhara to uproot the mountain Droṇa with your arms and hurl it into the ocean.” With his powerful arms, the Asura brought the mountain Droṇa and hurled it immediately into the ocean.
On seeing the gods being killed Brihaspati went to the mountain Droṇa and found that the mountain Droṇa had been removed by the Asuras. Brihaspati was terrified. He returned and said dejectedly: - “O gods, run away, all of you. There is no trace of the great mountain Droṇa. Certainly, it has been destroyed by the Asura, the son of the ocean. Jalandhara is a great Asura. He cannot be conquered since he is born of a part of Shiva.”
Battle of Vishnu & other Gods with Asuras:
All the gods including Indra, struck by the king of the Asuras all round, lost courage and fled in all directions. With Brahma they went to Vaikuṇṭha. All of them including Prajapati eulogised Vishnu after bowing down to him. Vishnu said: — “O gods, cast off your fear. I shall come to the battle-ground. I shall show my valour to Jalandhara.”
Having said this and seating himself on Garuḍa with the conch, discus, mace and the sword held in his hands, Vishnu hastened to the fight along with Indra and other gods. The delighted gods equipped with a vast army began to fight with their strength increased by the brilliance of Vishnu. Jalandhara said: — “O Excellent Asuras, put up a stiff fight with Indra and other gods who are always cowardly though they have a huge army.”
The fight between the gods and the Asuras was terrific. It was very fierce frightening the sages and the Siddhas. With their bodies cut and pierced by the weapons of the Asuras, the gods including Indra became distressed in mind by fear and they fled from the battle. On seeing the gods fleeing, Vishnu hastened to the battle ground seated on his vehicle Garuḍa. By means of his discus Sudarshan he diffused his splendour all round. The lord Vishnu who was highly infuriated cut off the heads of countless Asuras by means of the arrows discharged from his bow. Seeing Vishnu suppressing and pounding the Asuras, Jalandhara rushed at Vishnu to fight with him. Then a great battle ensued between Vishnu and Jalandhara. Both of them equally powerful had a fight with weapons and then hand-to-hand hitting each other with arms, fists and knees. Fighting with the Asura for a long time, Vishnu was surprised and felt dejected. Vishnu said: — “O excellent Asura, you are blessed. You are invincible in war. Since you are a great lord, you are not at all afraid of even great weapons. I am delighted by this fight with you. You are really great. O lord of Asuras, choose a boon. I am pleased at your valour. I shall give you anything even that which cannot be given, whatever is in your mind.”
On hearing these words of Vishnu, skilled in magic, the intelligent king of the Asuras replied thus: “O Brother-in-law, if you are pleased give me this boon. You stay in my house with all your followers, my sister and myself.”
On hearing these words of the great Asura, lord Vishnu, the lord of gods, said distressingly— “So be it.”
Stay of Vishnu & Lakshmi in Jalandhara city:
Then Vishnu came to the city called Jalandhara along with his followers, the gods and Lakshmi. Then the Asura Jalandhara returned to his abode and stayed very delightedly in the company of his sister and Vishnu. Thereafter Jalandhara appointed Asuras in the authoritative posts of the gods. Joyously he returned to the Earth. Making gods, Gandharvas, Siddhas, Serpents, Rakshasas and human beings, the denizens of his capital, he ruled over the three worlds virtuously. The gods were reduced to be mere slaves.
Narada’s visit to city Jalandhara:
The distressed gods mentally sought refuge and eulogised Shiva. Shiva called Narada and commissioned him with a desire to carry out the task of the gods. Narada went to the gods in the city of the Asuras. Gods explained him the entire situation and their misery. On hearing it, the great sage Narada, the merciful, consoled and assured them. After consoling the gods, the sage went to the assembly chamber of Jalandhara to see the favourite Asura. On seeing the excellent sage, Jalandhara said: — “O brahmin, whence do you come from? What did you see here? O sage, what is the aim of your present visit here?” Narada praised Jalandhara for his achievements and brilliance. On hearing his praise, Jalandhara showed all his glory to Narada. On seeing it, the wise Narada, eager to realise the interests of the gods, spoke to the king of Daityas, Jalandhara, induced by the lord. Narada said: — “O foremost among heroes, you have everything conducive to prosperity. You are the lord of the three worlds. What wonder that you possess all excellent things available in heaven, earth and nether worlds. But O Jalandhara, your mansion is deficient in the most excellent of all ladies. You deserve to bring that.”
Jalandhara said: — “O celestial sage, O Narada, obeisance be to you, O holy lord. Where is this most excellent of all ladies? Please tell me now.”
Narada said: — “Kailasa is very beautiful and it possesses all sorts of things conducive to prosperity. Shiva lives there assuming the form of a naked Yogin. His wife Parvati is exquisitely beautiful in every limb. She is charming and has all the characteristics of a beautiful lady. This occurs to my mind, O valiant Jalandhara that there is none more prosperous in the three worlds than Shiva who possesses the most excellent of all ladies.”
After saying this, the world-renowned celestial sage, Narada, pursuing his attempt to help the gods departed from there by the aerial path.
Rahu’s visit to Kailash:
When Narada departed to heaven after taking leave of the Daitya, the king of Daityas became harassed with pangs of love. Jalandhara said: — “O Rahu of great intellect, go to the mountain Kailas and ask the yogi to give up his wife for me, the enjoyer of all excellent things. Inform him that all the excellent things of the three worlds have come into my possession.”
On hearing his words Rahu went to Kailash and spoke to Shiva: - “I am the messenger of the lord of the three worlds, worthy of being served for ever by Daityas and serpents. The son of the ocean Jalandhara became the lord of all Daityas and now he is the lord of the three worlds. He is the emperor of all. The daughter of Himavat is the most excellent of all ladies. She deserves him better than you who live on alms. He is the enjoyers of excellent things. You are a mere naked ascetic and a Yogin. Surrender your wife unto him.”
When Rahu spoke thus, a terrific being resonant like the thunder came out from the space between the eyebrows of the trident-bearing deity. He had a leonine mouth with a moving tongue; his eyes shed fiery flames; his hair stood at its end; his body was dry and rough. He appeared to be the man-lion incarnation of Vishnu. He was huge in size. He was very terrible. He immediately rushed at Rahu. The terrified Rahu asked Shiva to save him. On hearing the words of the brahmin, the great lord, favourite of the distressed and helpless, spoke to his Gaṇa to leave him.
Battle of Shiva and Jalandhara:
Rahu informed the entire episode Jalandhara. Jalandhara ordered the entire divisions to start the fight. The gods went to Kailash and requested Shiva to fight with Jalandhara. On hearing the words of the gods, Shiva laughed and called Vishnu. Vishnu informed him about his defeat and he being staying in the mansion of Jalandhara. Shiva agreed to kill the great Daitya Jalandhara. In the meantime, the Daityas went accompanied by a vast army to Kailash and roared like a lion. On hearing the tumultuous roar of the Daityas, lord Shiva became very furious. He ordered Ganas, Nandi and others got ready for the battle. Then a terrible battle was fought between ganas and the Daityas. With the power of Sanjivini, Bhargava resuscitated the forces of the Daityas. Ganas informed Shiva about it. On hearing it, lord Shiva became terribly furious. A terrible Kṛtya came out of Rudra’s mouth. The terrible Kṛtya roamed the battleground devouring the great Asuras and seized Bhargava. On seeing Bhargava seized, the invincible armies of the Daityas became dejected and faded in their faces. They fled from the battle ground. On seeing the army of the Daityas dispersed and frightened of the Gaṇas, the leaders Shumbha and Nishumbha and Kalanemi obstructed the army of the Gaṇas and clashed with Nandi, Ganesh and Kartikeya. Then, Virbhadra accompanied by a crore goblin rushed in. The Kuṣmaṇḍas, Bhairavas, Vetalas, Yoginis, Pisacas, Ḍakinis and Gaṇas came there with him and fought. Thus, Nishumbha and Shumbha, the great Daitya Kalanemi and the other Asuras were defeated. Then Jalandhara furiously fought with Nandi, Ganesh, Kartikeya, Virbhadra and others. On seeing Virbhadra fallen, the terrified Gaṇas abandoned the battle ground shrieking and fled to lord Shiva. On seeing Ganas dejected, Shiva enquired after their health. The Gaṇas then intimated to him everything in detail. On hearing it, lord Shiva assured them of freedom from fear increasing their enthusiasm.
Then the great lord Shiva assumed a terrible form went to the battle-field on his bull. On seeing him, Jalandhara rushed at Shiva discharging thousands of arrows. Thousands of leading Daityas, Kalanemi, Nishumbha, Shumbha and others rushed at Shiva, biting their lips. Shiva afflicted the Daityas with the gusts of wind raised by the arrows. On seeing his army on the rout, the heroic son of the ocean Jalandhara became very furious and hit the bull-bannered Shiva of indefatigable endeavour, with an incessant volley of arrows. Laughingly, lord Shiva split all the arrows of Jalandhara. Then, considering Shiva more powerful, Jalandhara the Daitya, created the illusion of Gandharvas that mysteriously fascinated even Shiva.
On seeing Shiva concentrated in the dance. Jalandhara went to the place where Gauri stood. With his demoniac Maya he assumed the form of Shiva. On seeing Shiva coming, the beloved of Shiva came out. On realising that he was the demon, the terrified Gauri vanished immediately. Unable to see her who disappeared in a moment like lightning, the Daitya immediately went to the place where lord Shiva stood in order to fight him. Parvati remembered lord Vishnu mentally. Immediately she saw the lord seated near her. Parvati commanded him to make the chastity of Daitya’s wife violated. Otherwise, that Daitya cannot be killed.
Vishnu & Vrinda:
Vishnu went to the city of Jalandhara and thought of violating the chastity of Vṛnda. He assumed a wonderful body and stationed himself in a park of the city. He made Vṛnda see a dream. The gentle lady Vṛnda, the wife of Jalandhara, though of pure rites, had a very bad dream at night on account of Vishnu’s power of illusion. In the dream as a result of Vishnu’s power of illusion she saw the naked form of her husband anointed with oil and seated on a buffalo. He was proceeding in the southern direction. His head had been completely shaved. Later, towards the end of the night she had various bad dreams, such as the whole city was submerged in the sea, all of a sudden, along with herself. The terrified lady began to cry. Terrified lady wandered here and there and saw an ascetic of calm countenance observing silence and accompanied by his disciple. She bowed down to the great sage with palms joined in reverence and prostrated herself in front of him. In the meantime, two lordly monkeys came there taking with them the head, body and limbs of Jalandhara and stood in front of the sage. On seeing the head, body and limbs of her husband, Vṛnda fell unconscious, extremely pained at the misery of her lord. Vrinda said, “O excellent sage, storehouse of mercy, eager to help others, take pity on me and resuscitate my lord.” The sage said: — “This Daitya cannot be enlivened because he has been killed by Shiva in the battle. Those killed in battle by Shiva never return to life. Still, knowing the eternal Dharma that those who seek refuge should be protected, I shall resuscitate him urged by pity.”
After saying this and restoring him to life, that sage who was Vishnu the foremost among those who wield illusion vanished from the scene. Jalandhara thus revived to life by him stood up. Delighted in mind he embraced Vṛnda and kissed her face. On seeing her husband, Vṛnda too was delighted. She forgot her sorrow. She considered everything a dream. Delighted in the heart and with all the dormant passions kindled up, she sported with him for many days in the middle of that forest. Later, she realised that it was Vishnu. Vṛnda rebuked him angrily and spoke: - “O base foe of the Daityas, defiler of other people’s virtue, O wicked one, take this curse from me, greater in force than all persons. The two persons whom you made to appear in front of me shall become Rakshasas and abduct your wife.” The two Rakshasas referred to here were Maricha and Ravaṇa who abducted Sita, wife of Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. You will be distressed on account of separation from your wife. After saying this, Vṛnda entered fire though prevented by Vishnu who was fascinated by her charms. Then the great brilliance of the wife of Jalandhara immediately went to Shivaloka.
Unable to see Parvati, the king of Daityas returned to the battle ground. After a great fight, Lord Shiva hurled the discus Sudarshan which resembled a crore sun and the fire of dissolution. Blazing the heaven and the earth, the discus hit Jalandhara and severed his head with wide gaping eyes. His splendour that came out of his body merged into Shiva just like the splendour that came out of the body of Vṛnda and merged into Parvati. The gods, Siddhas and great sages were delighted. Making showers of flowers they sang his glory loudly. Thus, the entire universe of the three worlds regained their earlier health and normalcy much when the son of the ocean was killed by Shiva of infinite forms.
In the chapter 1 to 10 in Section 2.5 of Rudra-saṃhita (Yuddha-khaṇḍa), the story of building and destruction of Tripura (the three cities) of three sons of Taraka is told.
Boon for three castles:
When the Asura Taraka was killed by Skanda (Kumar Kartikeya), the son of Shiva, his three sons performed severe penances to seek a boom from Brahma. The eldest of them was Tarakakṣa, the middle one Vidyunmali and the youngest Kamalaksa. They sought a boon from Brahma: -
“Build three castles, the one of steel on earth, another of silver in the sky and the third of gold. These castles could join together during midday at the time of Abhijit when the moon shall be in the constellation Puṣhya, at the end of a thousand years. These cities shall never join otherwise. When these cities would join together, Shiva who embodies all the gods sitting in a wonderful chariot containing all necessary adjuncts, may, in his distorted sport, discharge a wonderful single arrow and pierce our cities.”
Brahma granted the boon and asked the Maya to build these castles for the Asuras. The Maya built the cities by means of his penance: the golden one for Tarakakṣa, the silver one for Kamalakṣa and the steel one for Vidyunmali. The three fort like excellent cities were in order in heaven, sky and on the earth. The castles had many Kalpa trees there. Elephants and horses were in plenty. Aerial chariots shining like the solar sphere. There were many palaces, divine minarets resembling the summits of the mount Kailasha. Celestial damsels, Gandharvas, Siddhas, and Caraṇas were also there. There were temples of Rudra. In every house, people performed the rites of Agnihotra. There were excellent brahmins well-versed in sacred texts and devoted to Shiva always. There were beautiful tanks, lakes, wells, rivers and huge ponds. There were very beautiful with plenty of fruit-bearing trees. There were time-indicators, playgrounds and different halls for Vedic studies. Thus, the Asuras, sons of Taraka, after acquiring the boons, lived there.
Misdeeds of Sons of Taraka & distress of Gods:
The three worlds came under sway of three sons of Taraka. The excellent sages and the Siddhas were destroyed. The entire universe was exterminated by them. The terrible Asuras took the entire share of the sacrificial benefits to themselves. They initiated evil activities. They prevented the sages from performing their virtuous rites. Later, the gods including Indra were defeated by them. Then, Gods approached Brahma and later Shiva for redressal of their grievances. They eulogised Shiva by various hymns and informed Shiva about entire activities of sons of Taraka. They sought redressal.
Shiva informed them, “Those Asuras are my devotees. O Gods, how can they be slain by us? They should not be slain as long as they continue their devotion to me. Yet, this reason may very well be intimated to Vishnu.”
Then, the gods with Brahma as their head went to Vaikuṇṭha and intimated to Vishnu about their misery. On hearing the distress of the gods as well as the vows observed by the Tripuras, Vishnu spoke as follows: “This is true that where the eternal virtue reigns supreme, no misery raises its head like darkness when the sun is seen.”
On hearing these words, the gods became miserable and dejected. They spoke to Vishnu: “How are we to go about our activities. How can our misery be dispelled? How can we be happy? How are we to remain firm? As long as the Tripuras are alive, how can we observe virtuous activities? All the residents of the three cities give troubles to us.”
On seeing them in that plight, distressed and humiliated, Vishnu thought within himself, “I am the benefactor of the gods. But what can I do in this affair? The sons of Taraka are the devotees of Shiva.” After thinking like this, he thought upon the Supreme Vishnu, the lord of sacrifices, the primordial Puruṣa. Immediately on being thought upon by Vishnu all the sacrifices came where Vishnu was stationed. The eternal lord Vishnu saw the eternal sacrifices and told them looking at the gods too including Indra. Vishnu said: “In order to destroy the three cities and to bring about prosperity in the three worlds, O gods perform the worship of lord Shiva along with the lord of sacrifices.”
On hearing the words of Vishnu, the intelligent lord of the gods and bowing to him lovingly, the gods eulogised the lord of sacrifices. The gods worshipped the Sacrificial Being in accordance with the rules governing the same with the complete rites. Then from the sacrificial pit rose up thousands of Bhutas of huge size and armed with tridents, spears, iron clubs and other weapons. The gods saw thousands of Bhutasanghas armed with tridents and spears and possessing various weapons such as staffs, bows, stones, etc. They had various missiles to strike with. They were in different guises. They resembled the destructive fire and Rudra. They were on a par with the destructive Sun. When they bowed to him and stood waiting in front, Vishnu saw them. The glorious lord of sacrifices who carried out the behests of Rudra, spoke to them. Vishnu said: “O Bhutas, listen to my statement. You are all very powerful and have risen up for fulfilling the task of the gods. All of you go immediately to the three cities. Go there, strike at, break and burn the three cities of the Asuras. O Bhutas, thereafter you can go away as you please for prosperity.
On hearing the words of the lord, the hosts of Bhutas bowed to the lord of the gods and went to the three cities of the Asuras. Immediately after their entry into the cities they were reduced to ashes like moths in the fire.
On realizing that all the gods were distressed and dejected in the mind. Vishnu said, “O good gods, these Asuras and the other residents of the three cities are virtuous. O gods, thanks to the worship of Shiva, their cherished desires are realised. Different means of enjoyment in the world are brought under their control. Hence these Asuras who are devoted to the phallic worship enjoy different kinds of pleasures and prosperity and salvation hereafter. Then putting obstacles in their activities of virtuous rites, by means of magic art I shall destroy the three cities of the Asuras quickly for accomplishing the task of the Asuras.”
Thus, lord Vishnu set himself to the task of interfering with the sacred rites of the Asuras. Hence such means shall be followed as will make Vedic Dharma disappear thence. Undoubtedly the Asuras will forsake their worship of the phallic emblem of Shiva. Deciding thus, Vishnu started ridiculing the Vedas for putting up obstacles in the virtuous activities of the Asuras.
Creation of Deceptive text to initiate Tamasika rites:
For causing obstacles in their virtuous activities, Vishnu created a Puruṣa born of himself. He had a shaven head, wore dirty clothes, held a woven wicker vessel in his hand and a roll of cotton in his hand which he shook at every step. His face was pale and weak. In a faltering voice he was muttering “Dharma, Dharma.” He bowed to Vishnu and stood in front of him. He spoke to Vishnu with hands joined in reverence. “O laudable, revered one, please tell me what my names are and what my place shall be.”
Vishnu said: “O intelligent one, born of me, you are certainly identical with me in form. Know why you have been created. I shall tell you. You are born of me. You can perform my task. You are my own. Certainly, you will be worthy of worship always. Let your name be Arihat. I shall assign to you a place afterwards. Now hear with reverence what is relevant to the context. You create a deceptive sacred text of sixteen hundred thousand verses, contrary to Srutis and Smṛtis wherein Varnas and Asramas shall be eschewed. Let that holy text be in Apabhraṃsa lauguage. Let there be emphasis on actions. You shall strain yourself to extend it further. I shall bestow on you the ability to create it. Different kinds of magic arts shall be subservient to you.”
The shaven-head said: :O lord, command me quickly what I shall do. At your bidding, all activities shall be fruitful. Saying this he recited the main tenet in the deceptive philosophy. “Heaven and hell are functioning here itself.”
Vishnu commanded him, “O intelligent one, they shall be initiated by you. They shall be taught strenuously. At my bidding you will incur no sin on that account. You shall go there for destroying the residents of the three cities. Revealing the Tamasika rites, destroy the three cities. After that, you shall go to the desert region and stay there carrying on your own duties and activities till the advent of the Kali age. When the Kali age begins let your Dharma be revealed. You shall then continue to do so by means of disciples and disciples’ disciples. At my bidding your cult shall certainly expand. Depending upon my permission and direction you will attain me as your goal.”
Then the ascetic of shaven head acting in accordance with Vishnu’s behest created four disciples of the like form as himself and taught them the deceptive cult. The four disciples with shaven heads followed the heretic cult. They had the wicker vessel in their hands. They covered their mouths with a piece of cloth. They habitually wore dirty clothes. They did not talk much. Delightedly they used to speak “Dharma is the great gain, the true essence” and some similar words. They held a besom broom made of pieces of cloths. They used to walk step by step very slowly because they were afraid of injuring living beings.
Then, bowing to Vishnu who carried out the wishes of Shiva, the deceptive sage went joyously to the three cities accompanied by his disciples. The sage of great self-control entered the three cities and created illusion. Stationing himself in a garden at the outskirts of the city, accompanied by his disciples he set his magic in motion. That was powerful enough to fascinate even the expert magicians. His magic was ineffective in the three cities by virtue of Shiva’s worship. Then the heretic sage became distressed. He mentally remembered and eulogised Vishnu many times, with an aching heart. He had been so dispirited and listless. On being remembered by him Vishnu mentally thought of Shiva. Receiving his behest by the process of thought forms he remembered Narada. Immediately after, Narada approached Vishnu. After bowing to him and eulogising him, he stood before Vishnu with palms joined in reverence. Vishnu spoke to Narada: “O dear, this is being mentioned to you at the bidding of Shiva. Go to the three cities immediately. The sage has gone there already for deluding the residents of the cities.”
On hearing his words, Narada went there quickly where the ascetic expert in magic was stationed. Then Narada approached the lord of the three cities. Narada said: “A certain sage, very virtuous and excellent master of lore has arrived here. He possesses complete knowledge of the Vedic lore. Many cults have been observed by me but none of them is like his. Seeing the eternal virtue in this cult we have got ourselves initiated into it. O great king, O excellent Asuras, if you have any interest in that cult, you shall get yourself initiated into it.”
On hearing his words full of significance, the lord of the Asuras was deluded and exclaimed with surprise in his heart. The Tripura ruler said: --
“O sage of pure mind, you shall perform my initiation. I shall become your disciple. On hearing the frank words of the ruler of the Asuras the heretic sage, professing to be eternal, spoke emphatically.” O excellent Asura, if you are prepared to act according to my behests, I shall initiate you, otherwise not, even if you strive for a number of times. The Asura said: “I shall carry out whatever command you are pleased to give. I will not transgress your orders. True. It is certainly true.
On hearing the words of the Tripura-ruler, the excellent sage removed the cloth from his mouth and spoke. “O lord of Asuras, take initiation in this most excellent of all cults. By this initiation you will become contented.”
Saying thus, the deceptive sage immediately performed the initiation of the ruler of the Asuras, in accordance with his cult observing all rules. When the ruler of the Asuras was initiated along with his brothers, the residents of the three cities too got themselves initiated. The entire Tripuras were filled with the line of disciples of the sage, an expert in great art of illusion. “Since Narada has been initiated, we too shall be initiated.” Resolving thus, the Asura approached the sage. On seeing his features, the Asura was deluded by his magic.
Arihat told him:
“The entire universe is eternal. It has no creator nor it is an object of creation. It evolves itself and gets annihilated by itself. There are many bodies from Brahma down to a blade of grass. They themselves are the gods for them. There is no other God. Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra are only the names of embodied beings just like my name Arihat etc. Just as our bodies perish when their time arrives, so also the bodies of all beings from Brahma to a mosquito perish when their time arrives. There is no other virtue equal to the mercy shown to living beings. Hence all men shall strenuously practise acts of mercy to living beings. Non-violence is the greatest virtue. Affliction of others is a great sin. Salvation is defined as non-dependence on others. Eating the food of our choice is heavenly bliss. The hoarding and amassing of vast wealth are useful only for the propitiation of twelve organs of senses. Of what avail is the propitiation of other things? The twelve organs of senses are the five organs of activity and the five organs of knowledge together with the mind and intellect. Happiness is heaven and misery is hell. Narrating his opinions to the leader of the Tripuras, the ascetic addressed the citizens with great zeal. One shall seek and enjoy happiness as long as the body is hale and hearty, as long as the sense-organs are not impaired and as long as the old age is far off. It is unnecessary to divide the people into different castes. When all are men who is superior and who is inferior? How can sons born of the same body or from the same body be of four different castes?”
Addressing the lord of the Asuras and the citizens thus, the sage with his disciples spoiled the Vedic rites in a determined manner. He then criticised the womanly virtues of chastity and manly virtues of continence etc. Similarly, he attacked and repudiated the divine rites, Shraddhika rites, sacrificial rites and holy observances and festivals, pilgrimages and anniversaries. Worship of Shiva, propitiation of his phallic form, adoration of Vishnu, Sun, Ganesh and other deities in accordance with the sacred texts were repudiated by him. The heretic sage, an expert in wielding magic art, foremost among the deceptive, criticised the ceremonial ablutions and charitable gifts that are made on auspicious occasions.
The glory that they had acquired by the boon of Brahma, the lord of the gods, went out forsaking them, at the behest of Brahma. When the Asuras had become so, when they had abandoned the worship of Shiva, when the virtuous rites of chaste women came to an end and evil conduct came to stay, Vishnu was apparently contented. Accompanied by the gods, Vishnu went to Kailas and intimated their activities to Shiva.
Shiva said: “there is no doubt in this that I will destroy the three cities of the Asuras if they persist in indulging in evil activities. But the great Asuras are my firm devotees. They shall be killed only by me, for they have been forced to abandon their excellent virtue under false persuasion. Let Vishnu or anyone else slay them now that they have been made to abandon their Dharma. The Asuras of the three cities have become devoid of devotion to me.”
Brahma said: “There is no sin in this, since you are the great lord, the great Brahman and the saviour of gods and sages always. It is at your own bidding that they have been deluded. You induced them to be deluded. Although the Asuras have forsaken their duties and your worship, they cannot be killed by others. Hence, O great lord, the saviour of the lives of the gods and the sages, the terrorists shall be killed by you for the protection of the good.”
Shiva’s Chariot to destroy Tripura:
Then the divine chariot of lord Shiva was built by Vishvakarman with devoted effort. The right wheel was the sun and the left wheel was the moon. The right wheel had twelve spokes. The twelve Adityas presided over them. The left wheel had sixteen spokes. The sixteen spokes of the left side wheel consisted of the sixteen digits of the moon. The six seasons constituted the rims of the wheels of the chariot. The Pushkara of the chariot was the sky. The inner side of the chariot was Mandara. The rising and the setting mountains constituted the poleshafts. Mahameru was the support and the Keshara mountains the sharp sides. The year constituted its velocity. The two Ayanas northern and southern constituted the junctions of the wheels and axles. The Muhurtas constituted the joints and the Kalas the pins of the yoke. The division of time Kaṣṭha constituted the nose of the chariot and the Kṣaṇas the axle-shaft. The Nimeṣas constituted the bottom of the carriage and the minutest divisions of time constituted the poles. The firmament constituted the fender of the chariot; Heaven and salvation the flag staffs; Abhṛamu and Kamadhenu constituted its harrows at the end of the shafts. The unmanifest principle formed their shaft and cosmic intellect the chariot’s reeds. The cosmic Ego cosmic corners and elements its strength. The cosmic sense-organs constituted the embellishments of this chariot on all sides. Faith was its movements. The six Vedangas were its ornaments. The Puraṇas, Nyaya, Mimaṃsa and Dharma Shastras constituted the side trinkets. The forceful and excellent mantras with their syllables and feet, of all characteristic features and the stages in life constituted the tinkling bells. Ananta embellished with thousand hoods constituted its fittings. and the main and subsidiary quarters, the pedestals of the chariot. The clouds Puṣkara and others constituted the gem-studded banners of glowing colours. The four oceans are remembered as the bullocks of the chariot. Ganga and other rivers shining in excellent female forms and decorated in all ornaments held the Camaras in their hands. Lord Brahma was the charioteer, the gods were holders of the bridle. Praṇava the Vedic divinity constituted the long whip of Brahma. The syllable A constituted the great umbrella, Mandara the side staff. The lord of mountains became his bow and the lord of serpents the bowstring. Goddess Sarasvatī in the form of the Vedas constituted the bells of the bow. The brilliant Vishnu became the arrow and Agni the spear-head. The four Vedas are said to be his horses. The remaining planets became their embellishments. His army came up from water. The winds were his feathers, wings etc. Vyasa and other sages were the drivers of the vehicle.
Shiva said: “O excellent gods, you will not fall even in your animalhood. Let the process of release from animalhood be practised. He who performs the divine rite of Pasupata will be released from animalhood.”
Hence all the gods and Asuras became the animals of the lord. Shiva became the lord of animals. Bhṛngin, the chief of all Gaṇeshas, surrounded by lord of Gaṇas and gods went speedily to destroy the three cities like Mahendra seated in an aerial chariot.
In the auspicious moment called Abhilaṣa Shiva drew the bow and made a wonderful and unbearable twanging sound. He addressed the great Asuras and proclaimed his own name. Shiva discharged an arrow that had the refulgence of countless suns. The arrow which was constituted by Vishnu and whose steel head was fire god blazed forth and burnt the three Asuras who lived in the three cities. It thereby removed their sins. The three cities reduced to ashes fell on the earth girt by the four oceans. Tarakakṣa was burnt along with his two brothers.