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The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, [1840], at


(From the Váyu Puráńa.)

"There was formerly a peak of Meru, named Sávitra, abounding with gems, radiant as the sun, and celebrated throughout the three worlds;

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of immense extent, and difficult of access, and an object of universal veneration. Upon that glorious eminence, rich with mineral treasures, as upon a splendid couch, the deity Śiva reclined, accompanied by the daughter of the sovereign of mountains, and attended by the mighty Ádityas, the powerful Vasus, and by the heavenly physicians, the sons of Aswiní; by Kuvera, surrounded by his train of Guhyakas, the lord of the Yakshas, who dwells on Kailása. There also was the great Muni Usanas: there, were Rishis of the first order, with Sanatkumára at their head; divine Rishis, preceded by Angiras; Viśwavasu, with his bands of heavenly choristers; the sages Nárada and Párvata; and innumerable troops of celestial nymphs. The breeze blew upon the mountain, bland, pure, and fragrant; and the trees were decorated with flowers, that blossomed in every season. The Vidyádharas and Siddhas, affluent in devotion, waited upon Mahádeva, the lord of living creatures; and many other beings, of various forms, did him homage. Rákshasas of terrific semblance, and Pisáchas of great strength, of different shapes and features, armed with various weapons, and blazing like fire, were delighted to be present, as the followers of the god. There stood the royal Nandí, high in the favour of his lord, armed with a fiery trident, shining with inherent lustre; and there the best of rivers, Gangá, the assemblage of all holy waters, stood adoring the mighty deity. Thus worshipped by all the most excellent of sages and of gods, abode the omnipotent and all-glorious Mahádeva.

"In former times, Daksha commenced a holy sacrifice on the side of Himaván, at the sacred spot Gangadwára, frequented by the Rishis. The gods, desirous of assisting at this solemn rite, came, with Indra at their head, to Mahádeva, and intimated their purpose; and having received his permission, departed in their splendid chariots to Gangadwára, as tradition reports 2. They found Daksha, the best of the devout,

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surrounded by the singers and nymphs of heaven, and by numerous sages, beneath the shade of clustering trees and climbing plants; and all of them, whether dwellers on earth, in air, or in the regions above the skies, approached the patriarch with outward gestures of respect. The Ádityas, Vasus, Rudras, Maruts, all entitled to partake of the oblations, together with Jishńu, were present. The four classes of Pitris, Ushmapás, Somapás, Ájyapás, and Dhúmapás, or those who feed upon the flame, the acid juice, the butter, or the smoke of offerings, the Aswins and the progenitors, came along with Brahmá. Creatures of every class, born from the womb, the egg, from vapour, or vegetation, came upon their invocation; as did all the gods, with their brides, who in their resplendent vehicles blazed like so many fires. Beholding them thus assembled, the sage Dadhícha was filled with indignation, and observed, 'The man who worships what ought not to be worshipped, or pays not reverence where veneration is due, is guilty, most assuredly, of heinous sin.' Then addressing Daksha, he said to him, 'Why do you not offer homage to the god who is the lord of life (Paśubhartri)?' Daksha spake; 'I have already many Rudras present, armed with tridents, wearing braided hair, and existing in eleven forms: I recognise no other Mahádeva.' Dadhícha spake; 'The invocation that is not addressed to Íśa, is, for all, but a solitary (and imperfect) summons. Inasmuch as I behold no other divinity who is superior to Śankara, this sacrifice of Daksha will not be completed.' Daksha spake; I offer, in a golden cup, this entire oblation, which has been consecrated by many prayers, as an offering ever due to the unequalled Vishńu, the sovereign lord of all 3.'

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"In the meanwhile, the virtuous daughter of the mountain king, observing the departure of the divinities, addressed her lord, the god of living beings, and said--Umá spake--'Whither, oh lord, have the gods, preceded by Indra, this day departed? Tell me truly, oh thou who knowest all truth, for a great doubt perplexes me.' Maheśwara spake; Illustrious goddess, the excellent patriarch Daksha celebrates the sacrifice of a horse, and thither the gods repair.' Deví spake; Why then, most mighty god, dost thou also not proceed to this solemnity? by what hinderance is thy progress thither impeded?' Maheśwara spake; 'This is the contrivance, mighty queen, of all the gods, that in all sacrifices no portion should be assigned to me. In consequence of an arrangement formerly devised, the gods allow me, of right, no participation of sacrificial offerings.' Deví spake; 'The lord god lives in all bodily forms, and his might is eminent through his superior faculties; he is unsurpassable, he is unapproachable, in splendour and glory and power. That such as he should be excluded from his share of oblations, fills me with deep sorrow, and a trembling, oh sinless, seizes upon my frame. Shall I now practise bounty, restraint, or penance, so that my lord, who is inconceivable, may obtain a share, a half or a third portion, of the sacrifice 4?'

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"Then the mighty and incomprehensible deity, being pleased, said to his bride, thus agitated; and speaking; 'Slender-waisted queen of the gods, thou knowest not the purport of what thou sayest; but I know it, oh thou with large eyes, for the holy declare all things by meditation. By thy perplexity this day are all the gods, with Mahendra and all the three worlds, utterly confounded. In my sacrifice, those who worship me, repeat my praises, and chant the Rathantara song of the Sáma veda; my priests worship me in the sacrifice of true wisdom, where no officiating Brahman is needed; and in this they offer me my portion.' Deví spake; 'The lord is the root of all, and assuredly, in every assemblage of the female world, praises or hides himself at will.' Mahádeva spake; 'Queen of the gods, I praise not myself: approach, and behold whom I shall create for the purpose of claiming my share of the rite.'

"Having thus spoken to his beloved spouse, the mighty Maheśwara created from his mouth a being like the fire of fate; a divine being, with a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet; wielding a thousand clubs, a thousand shafts; holding the shell, the discus, the mace, and bearing a blazing bow and battle-axe; fierce and terrific, shining with dreadful splendour, and decorated with the crescent moon; clothed in a tiger's skin, dripping with blood; having a capacious stomach, and a vast mouth, armed with formidable tusks: his ears were erect, his lips were pendulous, his tongue was lightning; his hand brandished the thunderbolt;

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flames streamed from his hair; a necklace of pearls wound round his neck; a garland of flame descended on his breast: radiant with lustre, he looked like the final fire that consumes the world. Four tremendous tusks projected from a mouth which extended from ear to ear: he was of vast bulk, vast strength, a mighty male and lord, the destroyer of the universe, and like a large fig-tree in circumference; shining like a hundred moons at once; fierce as the fire of love; having four heads, sharp white teeth, and of mighty fierceness, vigour, activity, and courage; glowing with the blaze of a thousand fiery suns at the end of the world; like a thousand undimmed moons: in bulk like Himádri, Kailása, or Meru, or Mandara, with all its gleaming herbs; bright as the sun of destruction at the end of ages; of irresistible prowess, and beautiful aspect; irascible, with lowering eyes, and a countenance burning like fire; clothed in the hide of the elephant and lion, and girt round with snakes; wearing a turban on his head, a moon on his brow; sometimes savage, sometimes mild; having a chaplet of many flowers on his head, anointed with various unguents, and adorned with different ornaments and many sorts of jewels; wearing a garland of heavenly Karnikára flowers, and rolling his eyes with rage. Sometimes he danced; sometimes he laughed aloud; sometimes he stood wrapt in meditation; sometimes he trampled upon the earth; sometimes he sang; sometimes he wept repeatedly: and he was endowed with the faculties of wisdom, dispassion, power, penance, truth, endurance, fortitude, dominion, and self-knowledge.

"This being, then, knelt down upon the ground, and raising his hands respectfully to his head, said to Mahádeva, 'Sovereign of the gods, command what it is that I must do for thee.' To which Maheśwara replied, Spoil the sacrifice of Daksha.' Then the mighty Vírabhadra, having heard the pleasure of his lord, bowed down his head to the feet of Prajápati; and starting like a lion loosed from bonds, despoiled the sacrifice of Daksha, knowing that the had been created by the displeasure of Deví. She too in her wrath, as the fearful goddess Rudrakálí, accompanied him, with all her train, to witness his deeds. Vírabhadra the fierce, abiding in the region of ghosts, is the minister of the anger of

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[paragraph continues] Deví. And he then created, from the pores of his skin, powerful demigods, the mighty attendants upon Rudra, of equal valour and strength, who started by hundreds and thousands into existence. Then a loud and confused clamour filled all the expanse of ether, and inspired the denizens of heaven with dread. The mountains tottered, and earth shook; the winds roared, and the depths of the sea were disturbed; the fires lost their radiance, and the sun grew pale; the planets of the firmament shone not, neither did the stars give light; the Rishis ceased their hymns, and gods and demons were mute; and thick darkness eclipsed the chariots of the skies 5.

"Then from the gloom emerged fearful and numerous forms, shouting the cry of battle; who instantly broke or overturned the sacrificial columns, trampled upon the altars, and danced amidst the oblations. Running wildly hither and thither, with the speed of wind, they tossed about the implements and vessels of sacrifice, which looked like stars precipitated from the heavens. The piles of food and beverage for the gods, which had been heaped up like mountains; the rivers of milk; the banks of curds and butter; the sands of honey and butter-milk and sugar; the mounds of condiments and spices of every flavour; the undulating knolls of flesh and other viands; the celestial liquors, pastes, and confections, which had been prepared; these the spirits of wrath devoured or defiled or scattered abroad. Then falling upon the host of the gods, these vast and resistless Rudras beat or terrified them, mocked and insulted the nymphs and goddesses, and quickly put an end to the rite, although defended by all the gods; being the ministers of Rudra's wrath, and similar to himself 6. Some then made a hideous clamour, whilst others fearfully shouted, when Yajna was decapitated. For the

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divine Yajna, the lord of sacrifice, then began to fly up to heaven, in the shape of a deer; and Vírabhadra, of immeasurable spirit, apprehending his power, cut off his vast head, after he had mounted into the sky 7. Daksha the patriarch, his sacrifice being destroyed, overcome with terror, and utterly broken in spirit, fell then upon the ground, where his head was spurned by the feet of the cruel Vírabhadra 8. The thirty scores of sacred divinities were all presently bound, with a band of fire, by their lion-like foe; and they all then addressed him, crying, 'Oh Rudra, have mercy upon thy servants: oh lord, dismiss thine anger.' Thus spake Brahmá and the other gods, and the patriarch Daksha; and raising their hands, they said, 'Declare, mighty being, who thou art.' Vírabhadra said, 'I am not a god, nor an Áditya; nor am I come hither for enjoyment, nor curious to behold the chiefs of the divinities: know that I am come to destroy the sacrifice of Daksha, and that I am called Vírabhadra, the issue of the wrath of Rudra. Bhadrakálí also, who has sprung from the anger of Deví, is sent here by the god of gods to destroy this rite. Take refuge, king of kings, with him who is the lord of Umá; for better is the anger of Rudra than the blessings of other gods.'

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"Having heard the words of Vírabhadra, the righteous Daksha propitiated the mighty god, the holder of the trident, Maheśwara. The hearth of sacrifice, deserted by the Brahmans, had been consumed; Yajna had been metamorphosed to an antelope; the fires of Rudra's wrath had been kindled; the attendants, wounded by the tridents of the servants of the god, were groaning with pain; the pieces of the uprooted sacrificial posts were scattered here and there; and the fragments of the meat-offerings were carried off by flights of hungry vultures, and herds of howling jackals. Suppressing his vital airs, and taking up a posture of meditation, the many-sighted victor of his foes, Daksha fixed his eyes every where upon his thoughts. Then the god of gods appeared from the altar, resplendent as a thousand suns, and smiled upon him, and said, 'Daksha, thy sacrifice has been destroyed through sacred knowledge: I am well pleased with thee:' and then he smiled again, and said, 'What shall I do for thee; declare, together with the preceptor of the gods.'

"Then Daksha, frightened, alarmed, and agitated, his eyes suffused with tears, raised his hands reverentially to his brow, and said, 'If, lord, thou art pleased; if I have found favour in thy sight; if I am to be the object of thy benevolence; if thou wilt confer upon me a boon, this is the blessing I solicit, that all these provisions for the solemn sacrifice, which have been collected with much trouble and during a long time, and which have now been eaten, drunk, devoured, burnt, broken, scattered abroad, may not have been prepared in vain.' 'So let it be,' replied Hara, the subduer of Indra. And thereupon Daksha knelt down upon the earth, and praised gratefully the author of righteousness, the three-eyed god Mahádeva, repeating the eight thousand names of the deity whose emblem is a bull."


61:1 The sacrifice of Daksha is a legend of some interest, from its historical and archeological relations. It is obviously intended to intimate a struggle between the worshippers of Śiva and of Vishńu, in which at first the latter, but finally the former, acquired the ascendancy. It is also a favourite subject of Hindu sculpture, at least with the Hindus of the Śaiva division, and makes a conspicuous figure both at Elephanta and Ellora. A representation of the dispersion and mutilation of the gods and sages by Vírabhadra, at the former, is published in the Archæologia, VII. 326, where it is described as the Judgment of Solomon! a figure of Vírabhadra is given by Niebuhr, vol. II. tab. 10: and the entire group in the Bombay Transactions, vol. I. p. 220. It is described, p. 229; but Mr. Erskine has not verified the subject, although it cannot admit of doubt. The groupe described, p. 224, probably represents the introductory details given in our text. Of the Ellora sculptures, a striking one occurs in what Sir C. Malet calls the Doomar Leyna cave, where is "Veer Budder, with eight hands. In one is suspended the slain Rajah Dutz." A. R. VI. 396. And there is also a representation of 'Ehr Budr,' in one of the colonades of Kailas; being, in fact, the same figure as that at Elephanta. Bombay Tr. III. 287. The legend of Daksha therefore was popular when those cavern temples were excavated. The story is told in much more detail in several other Puráńas, and with some variations, which will be noticed: but the above has been selected as a specimen of the style of the Váyu Puráńa, and as being a narration which, from its inartificial, obscure, tautological, and uncircumstantial construction, is probably of an ancient date. The same legend, in the same words, is given in the Bráhma P.

62:2 Or this may he understood to imply, that the original story is in the Vedas; the term being, as usual in such a reference, ###. Gangadwára, the place where the Ganges descends to the plains--or Haridwar, as it is more usually termed--is usually specified as the scene of action, The Linga is more precise, calling it Kanakhala, which is the village still called Kankhal, near Haridwar (Megha Dúta, p. 63 p. 59). It rather inaccurately, however, describes this as upon Hansa peak, a point of the Himalaya.

63:3 The Kúrma P. gives also this discussion between Dadhícha and Daksha, and their dialogue contains some curious matter. Daksha, for instance, states that no portion of a sacrifice is ever allotted to Śiva, and no prayers are directed to be addressed to him, or to his bride. Dadhícha apparently evades the objection, and claims a share for Rudra, consisting of the triad of gods, as one with the sun, who is undoubtedly hymned by the several ministering priests of the Vedas. Daksha replies, that the twelve Ádityas receive special oblations; that they are all the suns; and p. 64 that he knows of no other. The Munis, who overhear the dispute, concur in his sentiments. These notions seem to have been exchanged for others in the days of the Padma P. and Bhágavata, as they place Daksha's neglect of Śiva to the latter's filthy practices, his going naked, smearing himself with ashes, carrying a skull, and behaving as if he were drunk or crazed: alluding, no doubt, to the practices of Śaiva mendicants, who seem to have abounded in the days of Śankara Áchárya, and since. There is no discussion in the Bhágavata, but Rudra is described as present at a former assembly, when his father-in-law censured him before the guests, and in consequence he departed in a rage. His follower Nandí curses the company, and Bhrigu retorts in language descriptive of the Vámácháris, or left hand worshippers of Śiva. "May all those," he says, "who adopt the worship of Bhava (Śiva), all those who follow the practices of his worshippers, become heretics, and oppugners of holy doctrines; may they neglect the observances of purification; may they be of infirm intellects, wearing clotted hair, and ornamenting themselves with ashes and bones; and may they enter the Śaiva initiation, in which spirituous liquor is the libation."

64:4 This simple account of Sati's share in the transaction is considerably modified in p. 64 other accounts. In the Kúrma, the quarrel begins with Daksha the patriarch's being, as he thinks, treated by his son-in-law with less respect than is his due. Upon his daughter Satí's subsequently visiting him, he abuses her husband, and turns her out of his house. She in spite destroys herself. Śiva, hearing of this, comes to Daksha, and curses him to be born as a Kshetriya, the son of the Prachetasas, and to beget a son on his own daughter. It is in this subsequent birth that the sacrifice occurs. The Linga and Matsya allude to the dispute between Daksha and Sati, and to the latter's putting an end to herself by Yoga. The Padma, Bhágavata, and Skánda in the Kásí Khanda, relate the dispute between father and daughter in a like manner, and in more detail. The first refers the death of Sag, however, to a prior period; and that and the Bhágavata both ascribe it to Yoga. The Kásí Khanda, with an improvement indicative of a later age, makes Sati throw herself into the fire prepared for the solemnity.

67:5 The description of Vírabhadra and his followers is given in other Puráńas in the same strain, but with less detail.

67:6 Their exploits, and those of Vírabhadra, are more particularly specified elsewhere, especially in the Linga, Kúrma, and Bhágavata Puráńas. Indra is knocked down and trampled on; Yama has his staff broken; Saraswatí and the Mátris have their noses cut off; Mitra or Bhaga has his eyes pulled out; Pushá has his teeth knocked down his throat; Chandra is pummelled; Vahni's hands are cut off; Bhrigu loses his beard; the Brahmans are pelted with stones; the Prajápatis are beaten; and the gods and demigods are run through with swords or stuck with arrows.

68:7 This is also mentioned in the Linga and in the Hari Vanśa: and the latter thus accounts for the origin of the constellation Mrigasíras; Yajna, with the head of a deer, being elevated to the planetary region, by Brahmá.

68:8 As he prays to Śiva presently, it could not well be meant here that Daksha was decapitated, although that is the story in other places. The Linga and Bhágavata both state that Vírabhadra cut off Daksha's head, and threw it into the fire. After the fray therefore, when Śiva restored the dead to life, and the mutilated to their limbs, Daksha's head was not forthcoming: it was therefore replaced by the head of a goat, or, according to the Kásí Khanda, that of a ram. No notice is taken in our text of the conflict elsewhere described between Vírabhadra and Vishńu. In the Linga, the latter is beheaded, and his head is blown by the wind into the fire. The Kúrma, though a Śaiva Puráńa, is less irreverent towards Vishńu, and after describing a contest in which both parties occasionally prevail, makes Brahmá interpose, and separate the combatants. The Kásí Khanda of the Skánda P. describes Vishńu as defeated, and at the mercy of Vírabhadra, who is prohibited by a voice from heaven from destroying his antagonist: whilst in the Hari Vanśa, Vishńu compels Śiva to fly, after taking him by the throat and nearly strangling him. The blackness of Śiva's neck arose from this throttling, and not, as elsewhere described, from his drinking the poison produced at the churning of the ocean.

Next: Chapter IX