In the chapter 37, Section 3 of Satarudra-Samhita of Shiva Purana, the story of instruction of Vyasa in the context of Siva’s incarnation as Kirata is mentioned.
Defeated by Suyodhana, the excellent Pandavas went to the forest Dvaita accompanied by their chaste wife Draupadi. Depending upon the cooking-pot given by the sun, the Pandavas spent their time happily. Durvasas the leading sage was induced by Suyodhana to go to the Pandavas in order to deceive them. Accompanied by his ten thousand disciples he approached them and asked for foodstuffs and other things for his disciples. After accepting it, Durvasas and other sages and saints were sent by the Pandavas for their ablution. By want of food, all the Pandavas were sad and resolved to cast off their lives.
Krishna appeared on being remembered by Draupadi. After eating a bit of vegetable he made them satiated at the very moment. On coming to know that the disciples were fully satisfied Durvasas went away. By the grace of Krishna, the Pandavas were freed from a difficult situation. Then they asked Krishna “O lord, what will happen now? A very powerful enemy has arisen. What shall be done at this moment?”
On being asked thus by the Pandavas, lord Krishna remembered the lotus-like feet of Shiva and spoke to them:
“O excellent Pandavas, now listen to the details of my experience involving service to Shiva. After hearing you shall act accordingly. I went to Dwaraka to conquer my enemies. After obeying the instructions of noble Upamanyu I propitiated lord Shiva. I propitiated him for seven months in the excellent mountain Baṭuka. Thus Shiva was pleased with me. Standing there himself he fulfilled all my desires. By his power I acquired excellent efficiency in everything. The lord, the bestower of worldly pleasures and salvation is propitiated by me even now. You too serve Shiva who is the bestower of happiness to all.”
After saying thus and cheering the Pandavas, Krishna vanished from there and remembering the lotus feet of Shiva he hastened to Dwarka.
Pandavas then sent a Bhilla to test the virtues and the strength of Duryodhana. He understood the prosperity, rise and the virtues of Duryodhana and returned to the Pandavas again. On hearing what he had said, the Pandavas were very sad and in their distress spoke to one another. What shall be done now? Where shall we go? Though we can fight now we have been restrained by the bonds of truth.
In the meantime, Vyasa came there with the ashes decorating his forehead, with Rudrakṣa as an ornament and well bedecked in matted hair. He was repeating the five-syllabled mantra. He was fully engrossed in the love of Shiva. He was a heap of lustrous brilliance, a manifestation of virtue itself.
When they saw him they were delighted and they stood up to welcome him. Offering him a seat of deer-hide brightened by Kusha grass they waited in front of him. When he was duly seated they honoured him with great delight after eulogising him in various ways and saying “Ah! we are blessed”.
“O holy lord, by seeing you, we are all satisfied. We have attained the fruits of our austerities and our diverse charitable gifts. O grandfather, by seeing you, all our misery has disappeared, the misery that had been inflicted on us by the wicked people of ruthless activities. Misery disappears at your sight. Was there ever a time when it did not disappear? We know it truly. When a person reaches the hermitage of a sage efficient in all activities, if misery is not dispelled, fate alone is the cause there. Poverty, the cause of misery, will surely be dispelled. Such is the nature of great men. In the fulfilment of desires they are equal to the wish-yielding Kalpa tree. Thus the qualities of the great shall be observed objectively. A person becomes famous by merely resorting to them. The difference between the small and the great shall not be thought of. This is the nature of the great that they will always protect the distressed. The characteristics of the wretched and the miserable are conducive to his glory, for there lies before him an opportunity for strenuous efforts and for serving the good people. Thereafter it is one’s own destiny. No one is to blame for it. Hence O lord, when you are seen, everything auspicious takes place. By your mere arrival our minds are satisfied. Give us instructions whereby our misery can be dispelled.”
On hearing the words of the Pandavas the great sage Vyasa was delighted in the mind and said thus.
“O Pandavas, you need not be over-anxious. You are all blessed and contented. You have not let truth slip by. The noble nature of the good remains unchanged even at death. They do not forsake virtue. They fruitfully resort to Truth. As far as we are concerned, you and the Kauravas ought to be equal. Still our partiality is towards the virtuous. This partiality is approved by the learned. Virtue was at the outset abandoned by the wicked and blind Dhrtarashṭra due to greed. Your kingdom was seized. Undoubtedly you and they are his sons when your real father is dead. You are noble souls and hence you deserve to be viewed sympathetically. Afterwards his son was never dissuaded by him. If only he had done so, this calamity would not have occurred. Whatever has happened cannot be otherwise. He is wicked while all of you are virtuous and truthful. Hence evil will befall only him in the end, to be sure. The seed that has been sown will germinate into a sprout. Hence you need not feel distressed at all. Welfare will dawn on you. You need not entertain any doubt.”
Thus the Pandavas were consoled and cheered by Vyasa. Yudhishtira and others then spoke these words. The Pandavas said:--
“O lord, I have mentioned the truth. Even in the forest misery is being inflicted on us incessantly by the wicked and the evil-minded Kauravas again and again. O holy lord, please dispel our distress. Something auspicious shall be bestowed upon us. We have been advised by Krishna that Shiva shall be propitiated always. We have committed a blunder in not following his advice. May divine lead be given to us again now?”
On hearing these words, the delighted Vyasa, remembered the lotus-like feet of Shiva and spoke to the Pandavas with pleasure. Vyasa said:--
“O Pandavas, of virtuous mind, listen to my words. It has been truly stated by Krishna. Shiva is being served by me too. Let him be served by you with pleasure. Unequalled happiness shall always follow. It is only by not serving Shiva that miseries crop up.”
After considering everything, the great sage Vyasa pronounced Arjuna the most deserving among the five brothers in the worship of Shiva. The excellent sage spoke again to the Pandavas who were firmly established in virtuous rites. Vyasa said:--
“O Pandavas, all of you hear. I shall tell you, what is ever good and wholesome. Shiva shall be viewed as the great Brahman and the goal of the good. Beginning with Brahma and ending with infinity whatever is seen in the universe is Shiva’s form. It shall be honoured and meditated upon. Shiva, the dispeller of all misery shall be served by all. Due to devotion, Shiva becomes pleased in a short time. It is certain that the delighted Shiva bestows everything on his devotees. He gives worldly pleasures here and salvation hereafter. Hence Shiva shall be always served by those who desire the fruits of worldly pleasures here and salvation hereafter. Shiva, the divine Purusha himself, is the slayer of the wicked and the goal of the good. But one shall repeat the lore of Indra at the outset with steady mind. For a Kshatriya of great lustre this alone is conducive to welfare. Hence let Arjuna repeat the lore of Indra at first, steadily. In the beginning the lord will test him and will like to be satisfied with the test. If he is delighted he will remove all obstacles. The lore will yield the granting of the boon by Shiva.”
After saying this he called Arjuna and instructed him in the lore of Indra. Arjuna had his ceremonial bath and facing the east, he, of powerful intellect, received the lore. The great sage gave him the rules of procedure for a king. The liberal-minded Vyāsa thus spoke to Arjuna. Vyasa said:--
“O Arjuna, start from here and go this way to the beautiful mountain Indrakila. There standing beside the river Ganga, perform the penance well. The invisible lore will be beneficial to you. He gave him the blessings thus. The sage then spoke to all. May all the excellent kings stand by virtue? The result will be excellent in every respect. No doubt need be entertained in this respect.”
Blessing the Pandavas thus and remembering the lotus-like feet of Shiva, the great sage Vyasa vanished in a moment.