In Hindu mythology, Andhaka (अंधक) often refers to a malevolent asura who is killed by Shiva for trying to abduct Parvati. His story finds mention in various Hindu texts, including Matsya Purana, Kurma Purana, Linga Purana and Shiva Purana.
In the Shiva Purana, when Shiva was meditating on Mandara mountain, Parvati who was in a playful mood covered Shiva's eyes due to which the whole universe was covered in darkness. The sweat that oozed out of Parvati's hands due to touching Shiva fell to the ground and created a horrible looking and blind boy. Parvati was terrified on seeing him however Shiva said that since he was born due to their physical contact he was their child. When the demon king Hiranyaksha who was childless performed penance to please Shiva in order to beget a child Shiva gifted the child to him and named him Andhaka due to his blindness. After Hiranaykasha's death Andhaka became the king however he was not regarded as an Asura since he was a divine product. Disowned by majority of his clan he performed a severe penance to please Brahma. Brahma thus appeared to him and offered him a boon. Andhaka demanded Brahma to make him invincible and to repair his vision. Brahma granted these wishes however warned him that he can be killed by Shiva. Andhaka went back to his kingdom and subdued all his opponents and even the Devas.
One day he asked his minister whether there was anyone who could match his strength, majesty and riches. The minister informed him that he did not have the company of a beautiful woman. He informed him that the world's most beautiful woman belonged to a matted ascetic who lived on Kailash and if he wished to be truly matchless he should possess her. He sent a messenger and told Shiva to hand his wife to him. Andhaka thus attacked Shiva with his greatest warriors however they were defeated by Shiva's army. One day when Shiva and his ganas were away Andhaka found Parvati alone. She fought with Andhaka but when she found him to be too overwhelming requested the gods to aid her. The battle went on for many years and when Shiva found out about this he declared a truce. Many attempts were made for a peaceful resolution however Andhaka insisted on acquiring Parvati. He renewed the assault. His trusted general Bali or Vidhasa (name depends on different recensions) single handedly defeated all the gods and swallowed them icluding Vishnu. Shiva fired such powerful weapons at Bali which forced him to disgorge all the gods. Siva in revenge swallowed Shukra, the preceptor of Asuras. Andhra the started attacking Indra. Shiva intervened to save Indra and began to attack the demon with his trident. However whenever his blood fell on the ground a copy of him was created. Then the gods invoked Chandi who licked the blood of the demon everytime he was hurt and prevented another copy of him was created. Shiva thus finally killed him by hacking his head off. However, since he had chanted Shiva's name before dying he was made a gana-chief by Shiva.
In the Vamana Purana, the story of Andhaka's birth remains same. Andhaka was the son of Hiranyaksha and cousin of Prahlada. Andhaka and Prahlad along with their army defeated the Devas and their army making Prahlada the king of the three worlds. Sometime later, Prahlada battles Vishnu due to the curse the sages gave him and he loses the battle. Upon his loss, he appoints Andhaka as the king and goes to apologise to Vishnu who forgives him. Upon returning, Andhaka tries to make him the king again however he refuses. However in this story, Andhaka instead asks Shiva for invincibility upon a condition that he can be only killed if he looks upon his mother with lust since he thought that it could never happen. He then desired a beautiful wife and was told of Parvati who was the most beautiful woman in the world. Andhaka did know about the story of Parvati but did not know that she was his mother. He went to Shiva's abode and tried to abduct Parvati however she assumed a hundred forms and knocked him unconscious during the battle. He then flees back to Patala however still wants to acquire Parvati. Prahlada tried to dissuade him and also told him the story of his birth that he was born from the sweat of Shiva when Parvati covered his eyes. He was however unsuccessful in persuading Andhaka who along with his army attacked Shiva, his army and the deities. Most of his army was destroyed in the battle. Upon seeing this he took the disguise of Shiva to fool Parvati and abduct her. She however recognised him and hid behind bushes along with her servants. Unable to locate her he returned to the battle. Kartikeya and Ganesha accompanied by the ganas destroyed his chariot. Shiva battled him and pierced him in the heart. He was however able to recoup and strike Shiva with his mace. The blood that fell on the ground from the wound in turn gave rise to the eight forms of Bhairava. Shiva lifted the impaled Andhaka on his Trishula. The sweat emanating from Shiva gave rise to a girl and a boy who was the colour of charcoal who consumed the blood of Andhaka before it fell on the ground. Shiva named the girl and the boy Charchika and Mangala and held Andhaka impaled on his trident for thousands of years which reduced his body to a mere skeleton-like. He begged for forgiveness and started praising Shiva upon which Shiva said he would only agree if he accepted parvati as his mother. Andhaka did so and also accepted Shiva as his father. He was forgiven and made a gana-chief. Shiva took him to the Mandara mountain where Parvati also blessed the same boon to him and he later became famous by the name of Bhringi.
The Linga Purana describes a completely different tale in which Andhaka is the son of Hiranyaksha's son who by virtue of his austere penance received a boon of immortality from Brahma. In the course of time he conquered all the three worlds and started tormenting the deities and as a result of which they had to take refuge in the causes of Mandarachal mountain. The deities went to Shiva and narrated their woeful tale to him. They also requested him to kill Andhaka so that they could live in peace. Shiva went to the place where Andhaka lived accompanied by all the deities. When Andhaka saw them coming, he attacked menacingly with his various weapons. The deities became scared and started fleeing. Shiva then killed Andhaka with his trident. He then lifted the corpse with the help of his trident and kept in that position for a very long period. The divine sight of Lord Shiva had liberated Andhaka from all his sins.Finding himself in a helpless position, Andhaka eulogized Shiva and begged for forgiveness. At last, Lord Shiva became pleased and brought Andhaka down after lowering his trident. He gave him the designation of a Ganapati and made him the lord of his ganas.
In the Kurma Purana too, Andhaka is the natural son of Hirankyasha and becomes the king of the Asuras after the death of Prahlada. Like other variants he lusts after Parvati and goes to Madara to abduct her when Shiva is away. Shiva had entrusted Nandi for guarding his household and the gods including Vishnu to attend to and protect Parvati. When Andhaka arrives Nandi battles with him and pierces him with a trident and upon falling of his blood to the ground a thousand more demons like him are created who defeat Nadi and the Devas. He then prays to Vishnu for aid. When Vishnu arrives he creates many mother goddesses (The Matrikas) who vanquish the demons. When Shiva returns Andhaka returns to try to abduct Parvati again. Shiva and Vishnu battle Andhaka and his army. Vishnu tells Shiva to kill the demon since only he was capable of doing so. Shiva impales him on his trident and begins to dance. But by his mere touch, Andhaka's sins were burnt away and he begged him for forgiveness and made a gana-chief. Shiva then made Andhaka a handsome man who then bowed to Parvati for forgiveness who accepted him as her son.
In the Matsya Purana, Andhaka the son of Hirankyasha tries to abduct Parvati from Shiva. A battle ensues in the Mahakala forest and that blood that flows him in turn gives rise a thousand more demons like Andhaka. Shiva creates numerous divine mothers, the Maitrikas who drink the blood of the demons every time they werw attacked. Upon them becoming satiated, he requests Vishnu's aid who creates the goddess Suska-Revati who drinks the blood of all the demons and kills them. When Shiva is about to strike the killing blow, Andhaka surrenders and begs for forgiveness by praying to him. Pleased by his devotion, Shiva makes him a gana.
According to the Harivamsa Purana, Andhaka was a daitya and the son of Diti and the sage Kashyapa. After the defeat of Daityas by Vishnu, Diti made a plea to Kashyapa to give her such a son who couldn't be defeated by the gods. Kashyapa granted her boon and told her that except Shiva no one would be able to kill his son since he had no supremacy over Shiva. Kashyapa then touched her belly and a child was born with a thousand eyes and limbs. He wasn't blind but since he walked like a blind person he was called Andhaka. Overtime Andhaka became arrogant since he could not be harmed by anyone. Once when Andhaka went to the court of Indra he tried to take the hold of all the nymphs and defeated all the gods in the fight. He began hindering the performance of yajnas by the gods who feeling tormented, approached Narada for assistance. Narada wore a garland of Mandara flowers which had a very sweet fragrance and upon smelling them when Narada came to see him, Andhaka enquired the source of the flowers. Narada told him that the flowers were available in the Mandara forest which was protected by Shiva's guards and no one could enter the forest without his permission. Andhaka arrived, telling the mount Mandara of his invulnerability and asked him where the forest was. The mountain refused to oblige him and disappeared. Andhaka in anger uprooted the whole mountain and with the help of his Asura army started grinding the mountain which destroyed all it's natural beauty. Shiva upon knowing this blessed the mountain with a boon which restored it to its original splendor. The summits of the mountain started killing the Asuras who had attempted to destroy them. Upon seeing this, Andhaka calls out the owner of the mountain He wanted to burn the whole Mandara mountain. Shiva upon seeing this became angry and thus killed Andhaka. In response, Shiva carrying a mace and mounted on his bull arrived there for killing Andhaka. When Shiva released his spear, it struck the demon on his chest and immediately reduced him to ashes.
Some millions of years later, three of Andhaka's generals (Duryodhana [This is not the Duryodhana from the Mahabharata], Vighasa and Hasti) happened upon Shiva and Parvati in a cave, but did not recognise them. They thought that the woman was beautiful enough for their king, and so hurried back to tell him the good news.
Andhaka asked them to return and ask for the woman in marriage. Shiva refused and Andhaka rushed to the cave to do battle.
There then followed a battle that lasted for hundreds of years and involved many other gods and demons, but finally Shiva killed Andhaka by thrusting his trident through his son's chest. In some accounts, Lord Shiva held Andhaka on His (Lord Shiva's) trident until the Sun withered away Andhaka's sins. After that time, Andhaka was purified by the Lord's touch and became a Gana (attendant) to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
The myth stresses Andhaka's unnatural lust for his mother, a product of his blindness and inability to recognize moral wrongs.
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- "Vamana Purana". Retrieved August 16, 2014.
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- "Linga Purana". Retrieved August 16, 2014.
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