In the chapter 39 to 41, Section 3 of Satarudra-Samhita of Shiva Purana, the story of killing of the demon Muka and Incarnation of Kirata is mentioned.
Arjuna performed the ablution duly, and the Nyasa (the mystic placing of fingers etc.) in accordance with the Shastric injunctions. He performed the meditation of Shiva with great devotion in the manner explained by Vyasa. Like a great sage, he stood on the sole of a single foot. He fixed one of his eyes at the sun and stood repeating the mantra. Repeating the five-syllabled mantra of Shiva the most excellent of all the mantras and mentally remembering Shiva with pleasure he performed the penance. The splendour of the penance was such that the gods were surprised. They went to Shiva again and told him sincerely.
The gods said:--
“O lord of all, a penance is being performed by a man for your propiation. O lord, why don’t you grant him what he desires.”
After saying this, the gods eulogised him in different ways. Fixing their eyes to his feet they stood there in agony.
On hearing their words the lord of benevolent mind, the delighted Shiva laughingly spoke thus to the gods, Shiva said:-
“O gods, you go to your abodes. Undoubtedly I shall carry out your task in every respect.”
On hearing those words of Shiva, they became assured. They therefore returned to their abodes.
In the meantime there came the demon Muka, instigated by the wicked Duryodhana, wielding Maya against Arjuna. O great Brahmin, he had assumed the form of a boar. He came along the path where Arjuna was staying. He was digging up the peaks of mountains and trees in plenty. He was roaring and grunting in diverse ways and was rushing at a great speed. On seeing the demon Muka, Arjuna remembered the lotus-like feet of Shiva and began to think.
“Who is this? Where does he come from? He seems to be very ruthless in actions. Certainly he is coming here to harm me. It occurs to me that he is my enemy, to be sure. Formerly many Daityas and Danavas had been killed by me. He may be one of those come here to wreak vengeance. Or he may be some friend of Duryodhana acting for his welfare. Verily he is a benefactor on seeing whom the mind becomes pleased. If on seeing anyone the mind is agitated he is surely an enemy. The conduct declares the family, the body declares the diet, the mode of speech declares the amount of learning and the eye indicates the affection. The concealed mind is revealed by the general mien, the mode of walking, the activities, the speech, the features of the eyes and the face. The eye is of four sorts—the resplendent, the impassioned the squinted and the ruddy. The features are likewise different, O scholars. It is resplendent, when friends meet. It is impassioned at the sight of the son. It is squinted in contact with the beloved and it is ruddy at the sight of the enemy. In regard to him my sense-organs are excited. He must be an enemy. Undoubtedly he shall be killed. I remember the words of my preceptor now—“O king, a person causing misery shall be killed by you by all means. No doubt need be entertained in this respect. It is only for this purpose that I hold the weapons. There is no doubt in this.” After thinking thus he placed the arrow ready there and stood up.
In the meantime, Shiva, favourably disposed to his devotees, assumed the wonderful form of an efficient hunter and came there along with his Gaṇas in order to slay that Daitya, to protect Arjuna as well as to test his devotion. The hunter had tucked up his lion-cloth and folded up Shiva’s banner. His body was lined with the white ash. He held a bow and arrows. He carried the quiver suspended over his back. The Gaṇas too assumed the form of hunters. Shiva too became the chief of Bhillas. The Commander-in-Chief started various sounds. The grunting sound of the boar too spread over the quarters.
Arjuna was excited by the sound that spread in the forest. Even the mountains were agitated by these sounds. “Oh, can this be Shiva the benefactor? I have heard about this as mentioned by Krishna. Vyasa too has mentioned and the gods too. Shiva is mentioned as the benefactor. Shiva is the cause of happiness. Even in dreams, misery does not befall those who worship him with devotion. If it happens at all, it is due to their previous activities. He can convert poison into nectar and nectar into poison. Whatever he wishes he certainly does. How can an efficient man be thwarted?
Devotees of yore and future devotees must keep their mind steady after considering all those aspects, whether one is in affluent circumstances or not, whether death is imminent or not or whether people praise or censure. Misery is quelled. Shiva is always the bestower of happiness through the merit and sin of individuals. Sometimes Shiva makes us miserable in order to test us. Since he is compassionate he is said to be the bestower of happiness ultimately. A gold piece can become pure only when it is put into the fire and purified. This has been heard by me from the Sage. Hence I shall attain blessed happiness through his worship alone.”
While he was musing thus, the boar came within the range of his arrow-discharge. In order to protect Arjuna, Shiva, favourably disposed towards his devotees, came there closely pursuing the boar. Between the two the animal rushed on and then halted. A wonderful horn was seen. Then both of them discharged the arrow. Shiva’s arrow hit the tail; Arjuna’s arrow hit the snout. Shiva’s arrow hit the tail and stopped at the snout. It struck the ground and entered it. Arjuna’s arrow pierced through the body. It came out of the tail and fell at its side. The boar who was a Daitya fell dead on the ground. The gods were much delighted. They showered flowers. Bowing down and eulogising, they cried shouts of victory. On seeing the cruel form of the Daitya, Shiva was glad and Arjuna was happy.
Shiva immediately sent his attendant to fetch the arrow. The Arjuna too came there. The Gaṇa and Arjuna reached the place simultaneously for the arrow. Arjuna rebuked him and took up his arrow. The Gaṇa said—“O excellent sage, why do you take this arrow? The arrow is mine. Leave it off.”
“O forest-roamer, what do you say without understanding? You are a fool. This arrow had been discharged by me just now. How can it be yours? It is engraved with my name in many lines. The feathers are mine. How does it become yours? You insist according to your wild nature.”
On hearing his words, the leader of the Gaṇas laughed and spoke to Arjuna who was in the garb of a sage. O sage, listen. You are a sage in disguise. You are not a true sage. You do not perform penance. People are being deceived by you. How can a saint utter a lie? Do not take me to be single-handed. Know me to be the commander-in-chief. My master is sitting there with many hunters. In every respect, he is capable of destroying or blessing you. It is his arrow that has been taken by you now. This arrow will never remain with you. O sage, why do you wish to lose the fruit of your penance? Truly have I heard that penance is marred and wasted by theft, pride afflicted by deceit and the breaking of promise. Hence O sage, whence will you derive the fruit of penance?
If you do not give up this arrow you will be an ungrateful fellow. It was certainly to save you that my master discharged this arrow. Your enemy has been killed by him and you have kept the arrow to yourself. Very ungrateful indeed are you. You are making your own penance fruitless. You do not speak the truth. What you wish to gain thereby? If you have any need for the arrow, you may approach my master and request him. He can give you many similar arrows. My master is here. Why don’t you request him? Unmindful of his help to you, you wish him harm. This does not behove you. Eschew this fickleness.”
On hearing his words, Arjuna, son of Pṛtha, was angry. After remembering Shiva, he spoke these measured words. Arjuna said:--
“O hunter, listen. I shall explain. Your words are not true. O forest-wanderer, I know you. You are true to the caste in which you are born. I am a king. You are a thief. How can a war be pursued? I must fight with people equal in strength to me, never with base people. Your master will be only like you. We are the benevolent donors and you the forest-dwellers, thieves. How can the king of foresters be requested by me now? O forest-wanderer, why don’t you beg the arrow of me? I shall readily give you the arrows. Certainly I have many. If a king docs not give what is taken, your objection may come up. Then O forester, how can I simply give away the arrow, if what I am desirous of doing is not being understood? Why should there be a long talk? Let your master come and fight with me. Defeating me in the battle, let him take the arrow and return to his abode. Why should there be any delay?”
On hearing these words of Arjuna who derived his strength from the mercy of lord Shiva, the forester spoke these words. The forester said:--
“You are ignorant. You are not a sage. Why do you invite death? Give up the arrow and stay here happily or you will come to grief.”
Thus challenged by the forester who derived his strength from Shiva and who was a Gaṇa, Arjuna, son of Pandu remembered Shiva and said. Arjuna said:--
“O forester, listen attentively to my words. If your master comes here I shall show my strength. It does not behove me to fight with you. I shall fight with your master. The fight between a lion and a jackal is very ridiculous. You have heard my words. You shall see my strength now. O Bhilla, return to your master. Do as you please.”
O sage, thus addressed by Arjuna, the Bhilla returned to the place where the general Kirata, the incarnation of Shiva, stood. He mentioned Arjuna’s talk in detail to lord Shiva, the great soul in the form of Bhilla. On hearing his words, lord Kirata was much delighted. It was Shiva dressed as a Bhilla who had come there with his army. On seeing Kirata with his army, Arjuna, son of Pandu, took up his bow and arrows and faced him. Then Kirāta sent the messenger again and through him delivered the message to Arjuna, the great soul. Kirata said:--
“O sage, see this army coming. Give up the arrow and go away. Why do you seek death for a trifle? Your brothers are in distress. Your wife is grief-stricken. I think your kingdom will slip off your hands, I am sure.
It was just to test the firmness of Arjuna that the great lord said this, the great lord Shiva who had assumed that form to protect Arjuna by all means. What the lord said, the Gaṇa of Shiva mentioned that to Arjuna in detail after approaching him. On hearing that, Arjuna replied to the messenger “You shall tell your general that the reverse of what he says will happen to him. If I were to give up the arrow that belongs to me I shall be the cause of ignominy to my family. Well may my brothers be distressed. Let all my knowledge be fruitless. So, come on to fight with me. No lion is ever frightened of a jackal. A king is never afraid of a forester.”
Thus replied by Arjuna the Bhilla returned to his master and conveyed all that Arjuna had said. Lord Shiva, a Kirata, heard the message and approached Arjuna along with his army.
On seeing him come, Arjuna meditated on Shiva and fought with him a terrible battle. Arjuna split the arrows discharged by Kirata and his gaṇas. Then he thought upon Shiva. When distressed by him, the Gaṇas fled to the quarters. Then Shiva summoned the chief Gaṇas. But they did not respond to his call. Shiva and Arjuna of great strength and exploit fought each other with various weapons of war.
Taking pity on him Shiva approached Arjuna, but Arjuna hit him heavily. Shiva split the weapons of Arjuna as well as his armour. Arjuna stood in his bare body. Although afflicted by fear, Arjuna remembered Shiva and fought a duel with the general spiritedly. The earth along with the oceans shook due to their fight. “What will happen now?” Thinking thus, the gods were distressed. In the meantime, lord Shiva stood in mid-air and fought. Arjuna too did likewise. On seeing that wonderful battle the gods were surprised. Then Arjuna came to the ground, remembered the lotus-like feet of Shiva and caught hold of his feet deriving sufficient strength, thanks to his meditation on Shiva. Catching hold of his feet, Arjuna whirled him. Lord Shiva, favourably disposed towards his disciples, laughed indulging in divine sports.
Then Shiva smiled and revealed his wonderful auspicious form as he is always well disposed to his devotees. On seeing that beautiful form, the form of the excellent supreme being as mentioned in the Vedas, Shastras and Puraṇas, the form which Vyasa had advised him to meditate upon, the form which bestows alt Siddhis, the form of Shiva, Arjuna was abashed and surprised much.
He joined his palms in reverence and bending his head he bowed to the lord with pleasure. Then he spoke in a delighted manner. Arjuna said:--
O Shiva the merciful, O lord of all, my fault shall be forgiven by you. What you have done? By concealing your own form you have deceived me now. Fie on me who fought with you, my master, O lord. Thus Arjuna, son of Pandu, repented. He fell at the feet of lord Shiva. Cheering up in various ways the delighted lord Shiva replied to Arjuna.
“O Arjuna, do not worry yourself. You are a great devotee of mine. I have done this just to test you. Give up your sorrow.”
After saying this and lifting Arjuna with his own hands, the lord rid him of his bashfulness through his own lordly qualities. Delighting Arjuna honoured by heroes, Shiva, favourably disposed towards his devotees, spoke to him with pleasure. Shiva said:--
“O Arjuna, foremost among the sons of Pāṇḍu, I am delighted. Choose your boon. By your hits and blows I have been worshipped by you. I consider it so. This has been done by my own will. The fault is not yours. There is nothing which cannot be given to you. Choose whatever you desire. In order to establish the rule of your fame among your enemies what you have done is auspicious. You shall not be struck with grief. Eschew all your feebleness.”
Thus addressed by lord Shiva, Arjuna stood carefully and spoke to Shiva with devotion. Arjuna said:--
“O good lord, O Sadshiva, is your desire, is your compassion to be described by me? You are the favourite of your devotees, you are Shiva, the bestower of welfare. Obeisance to you, the lord of gods. O Sadashiva, obeisance to you. Obeisance to you, the five-faced one. Obeisance to Kapardin (one with matted hair), obeisance to you, the three-eyed. Obeisance to the delighted one, obeisance to the thousand-faced. Whatever splendid form is seen, its splendour is yours. You are in the form of pure consciousness. You sport about inṣṭhe three worlds in different guises. There is no limit to your excellences as that of the dust particles, or stars in the sky or rain-drops. Even the Vedas cannot enumerate your good qualities. O lord, how can I, deficient in intellect, describe any? Whatever be your nature, obeisance be to you. It behoves you to take pity. O lord, I am your slave, O lord Shiva, you arc my master.”
On hearing his words, lord Shiva, who was highly delighted spoke to Arjuna delightedly. Shiva said:--
“Of what avail is a long talk? Listen to my words. O son, choose your boon quickly. I shall give you everything.”
Thus urged by him, Arjuna bowed to Sadashiva with palms joined in reverence and with head bending down. He spoke with words choked with devotion. Arjuna said:
“What shall I say? You are the immanent Soul of all. Still let my detailed explanation be heard by you, O lord. Whatever danger I had from enemies has vanished at your sight. Please do that which may confer worldly Siddhis on me.”
After saying this and bowing to Shiva who is favourably disposed to his devotees, Arjuna stood by with shoulder drooping down and palms joined in reverence. Seeing Arjuna, son of Pandu, the foremost of his devotees, lord Shiva was extremely glad and satisfied. Lord Shiva gave him Pashupata missile that could not be thwarted by anyone at any time and spoke thus. Shiva said:--
“I have given you my own great missile. You will become invincible thereby. You will reap success over your enemies through this. I shall tell Krishna also. He will help you. He is my own soul, my devotee and he carries out my task. O Bharata, due to my power, you will rule over your kingdom unhindered. You shall perform righteous deeds of various kinds always along with your brother.”
After saying this and placing his hand over his head, Shiva vanished after being duly worshipped by Arjuna. The delighted Arjuna, after obtaining the excellent missile from the lord, returned to his hermitage remembering devotedly his chief preceptor and Shiva. When he arrived, his brother felt fully revived as the body with vital airs. They felt happy at his sight. Draupadi of good rites was also delighted.