Incarnation of Shiva as Sureshvara – Shiva Purana
In the chapter 32, Section 3 of Satarudra Samhita of Shiva Purana, the story of incarnation of Shiva as Sureshvara is mentioned.
The intelligent son of Vyaghrapada, Upamanyu, the beloved of the good, became the son of a sage in another birth. He achieved great attainments then. Upamanyu, the son of Vyaghrapada, while yet a small child stayed in his uncle’s house along with his mother. Due to adverse fate he was very poor. Once he tasted a little milk in his uncle’s hermitage. Approaching his mother he implored for milk, yearning for it. On hearing the words of her son the pitiable mother went in and thought of a proper means to satisfy the child. She ground some seeds and grains she got by gleaning, into a paste with water. She gave this artificial milk to her son after fondling and coaxing him. After drinking the artificial milk given by his mother the boy said “O, this is not milk” and cried again. On hearing the cry of her son, she wiped off his lotus-like eyes and said in grief.
The mother said:--
“How can we the dwellers of the forest for ever have milk? Without the grace of Shiva we can never have milk. O son, only that can be attained what we had dedicated to Shiva in our previous birth. We need not worry in this matter.”
On hearing the words of his mother, the son of Vyaghrapada excessively fond of his mother, freed of his grief, replied to her,
“O blessed mother, do not grieve. Cast off this sorrow. If Shiva is the benefactor, everything will result in welfare. O mother, listen to me. If there is lord Shiva anywhere, sooner or later I shall achieve the ocean of milk”.
After saying thus with pleasure and repeating “Let there be a welfare”, he bowed to his mother and left her. He began to perform penance. It was on the mountain Himavat that he went to perform his penance with pure mind taking nothing in except air. He installed Shiva’s phallic image of clay after making a pedestal for it with eight bricks. He invoked Shiva along with Parvati into the phallic image with devotion. He repeated the five-syllabled mantra. The boy worshipped Shiva with leaves, flowers and other things.
Due to the penance of the boy Upamanyu, the great soul, the whole world consisting of the mobile and immobile beings blazed as it were. In the meantime, requested by Vishnu aud others, Shiva assumed the form of Indra in order to test his devotion. Parvati took the form of Saci. The Gaṇas became the gods, Nandin became the elephant Airavata. Everything belonging to Shiva became that of Indra. Then Shiva accompanied by Parvati and the Gaṇas, and assuming the form of Indra went to the hermitage of Upamanyu in order to bless him. Shiva in the form of Indra said:--
“O boy of good rites, I am pleased with you and your penance. Mention the boon you wish to have. I shall give you whatever you desire. There is no doubt about this.”
The boy replied with palms joined in reverence, “I choose devotion into Śiva.”
On hearing it Indra said—“You do not know me the lord of the gods, the lord of the three worlds, Indra, bowed to by all the gods. O Brahmin sage, be my devotee. Worship me alone on every occasion. I shall grant you every benefit. Leave off Rudra devoid of attributes. Enough of Rudra devoid of attributes. What purpose of yours can be achieved by his worship? He is out of the caste of the gods. He has become a Pisacha.
On hearing these words, the son of the sage considered them an obstacle to his austerities. Repeating the five-syllabled mantra he told him who had come to create obstacles. Upamanyu said:--
All this has been mentioned by you indulging in insult of Shiva. Incidentally you have mentioned that Shiva, the lord of the gods, is attributeless as well as Pisacha. You do not know Shiva, lord of the chiefs of gods, the father and progenitor of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha and greater than Prakṛti. I choose the boon from that deity, whom the philosophers call eternal, the single, the multitude, separate from the existent and non-existent and the unmanifest. I choose the boon from that deity whom the knowers of reality consider free from causations, disputes and the bestower of the principles of Sankhya and Yoga. There is no greater entity than lord Shiva who is beyond the attributes. He is the cause of all causes. He is the most excellent of Brahma, Vishnu and other gods. I do not wish to take a boon from you or Brahma or Vishnu. Nor do I want any boon from any other god. Let Shiva be the bestower of boons on me. Of what avail is speaking much? I tell you the truth and my decision. I do not request any other god except Shiva.
I infer that I have committed sins in the previous birth since I am forced to hear the insult to Shiva, on hearing which one shall shed his own mortal body at the very same moment. He goes to Shiva’s region thereby. After saying thus, Upamanyu who was prepared to die cast off his desire for milk and got ready to kill Indra. He took some ashes from the receptacle and invoked it with the mantra Aghorastra. Thereafter discharged it against Indra and roared.
Remembering the feet of Shiva, his favourite deity, he got ready to burn himself. He stood there bearing the fiery pose. When the Brahmin was engaged thus, the lord in the form of Indra warded off the fiery pose of the Yogin by gentle means. At the behest of Shiva, Nandin the favourite of Shiva delightedly caught hold of the Aghorastra discharged by him, in the middle. Assuming his own form with the moon for his crest, lord Shiva revealed it to the Brahmin.
Thus Shiva was seen seated on his bull accompained by the goddess. He was surrounded by the leading Ganas and the divine weapons, the trident and others. Then Upamanyu was swept by the waves of the ocean of delight and he prostrated on the ground like a staff, with his mind humble with devotion. In the meantime the smiling lord Shiva called him saying “Come on, Come on” and kissed him on the head. He granted him boons.
“Dear Upamanyu, I am pleased with your excellent behaviour. O Brahmin sage, you are very firm in your devotion. I just desired to know you thoroughly. Enjoy the pleasure of eating sumptuously forever along with your kinsmen. Be ever happy and free from misery. Be devoted to me. O fortunate Upamanyu, you have been made eternally my son today. Parvati, here, is your mother.
Then considering his great penance, the delighted Shiva gave ten boons to the sage Upamanyu. He bestowed on him the knowledge of Shiva and his rites. He instructed him in the vows of Shiva. He gave him fluency of speech and efficiency. He bestowed his own region on him. After granting him the boons, lord Śiva took him with both the hands, sniffed at his head and showed him to the goddess saying: “This is your son.” Listening with pleasure and placing her hands on his head she granted him the everlasting status of a son. She gave him undecaying, compressed ocean of milk, the prosperity and power of yoga, the undying knowledge of Brahman and the great assets. After receiving from Shiva and Parvati the excellent boons, and the eternal status of their son, he rejoiced much.
“O lord of gods, be pleased. O supreme lord, be pleased. Grant me the greatest devotion unto you, divine and unswerving. O great god, give roe great faith in persons devoted to you, the state of being your servant, your great affection and your constant presence.”
“O dear Upamanyu, O sinless one, you are blessed. You are especially my devotee. Whatever has been chosen by you has been given to you. Be unaging and undying and free from misery. Be respectable to all, free from aberrations and the foremost among devotees. O excellent Brahmin, yon will have undwindling kinsmen, family and race. Your devotion to me will be permanent.”
After saying this and granting him all excellent boons, the lord vanished from there, accompanied by Parvati and the Gaṇas.