In Hindu mythology, Andhaka (अंधक) often refer 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. He is believed to have thousand heads, two thousand eyes, arms and feet.
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 Hiranyaksha's death Andhaka became the king, but 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 but 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, but 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, but Andhaka insisted on acquiring Parvati. He renewed the assault. His trusted general Bali single handedly defeated all the gods and swallowed them . Shiva fired such powerful weapons at Bali which forced him to disgorge all the gods. Shiva in revenge swallowed Shukra, the preceptor of Asuras. Andhaka then 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 Lord Vishnu created Matrikas 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 another version of the Purana, his birth story and being disowned by his clan remains same. His kingdom was taken over by his cousins including Prahlada when he went to the forest to perform a penance to Brahma. During his penance he didn't take water or food and also started chopping off his limbs to please Brahma in desperation. Pleased, Brahma appeared before him and offered him a boon of his choice. Andhaka then asked Brahma to repair his vision and also asked him to make him invincible. Brahma, however, told him that he could not make him immortal since all that take birth must die, though he could choose the condition of his death. Andhaka then asked him that he could be killed only if he lusts after a woman who is like a mother unto him. Brahma agreed and granted all his boons. When he returned to his kingdom his cousins out of fear not only handed his kingdom back but also theirs to his empire. After becoming the lord of all Asuras, Andhaka fought with the Devas along with his army and conquered heaven. He then proceeded to conquer the Nagas, Gandharvas, Rakshasas, Yakshas and the humans. He thus became the lord of all the three worlds. He was a cruel ruler and disrespected the Vedas, the Brahmins and the Devas. Once while travelling, Andhaka happened to visit the mountain Mandara. Charmed by the beauty of the mountain he decided to stay there and ordered his three generals Duryodhana, Vighasa and Hasti to search a place suitable to stay. While searching his generals found a cave in which a hermit was meditating and also saw a very beautiful woman along with him. They told their master about this who ordered them to bring the woman to him. When they told the ascetic to hand over the woman to their master Shiva refused saying if their master wanted her he should himself come and take him. When his generals informed him about this matter, Andhaka became furious and went to fight with the hermit. Andhaka along with his army fought Nandi and the ganas of Shiva. He and his army were defeated and were forced to flee; however, Andhaka soon returned to fight again which lasted or five hundred years. Vishnu, Brahma and the Devas too joined the battle against Andhaka and his army. Andhaka's general Vighasa and swallowed all the gods.Hearing of this, Shiva riding upon his bull attacked him and killed the demon. Shukracharya the preceptor of demons kept bringing back the dead Asuras back to life by using his medicinal art of Mrit-Sanjivan. Shiva then ordered his ganas to catch hold of Shukrachurya. When they brought him to Shiva, he swallowed the demon-guru. Shiva then attacked Andhaka with his trident, but whenever a drop of his blood fell to the ground another demon like him was created. Shiva then ordered the goddess Chandi to drink the blood while he killed the demons created by Andhaka's blood. After killing them Shiva impaled Andhka with his trident and lifted him upon his trident where he remained upon for a very long time. Ultimately, realising his mistake Andhaka apologised to Shiva and started eulogising him. Pleased Shiva forgave him and made him the lord of all ganas.
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, but he refuses. Sometime after Mahishasura and Tarakasur were defeated and killed by the gods a feat which he thought was impossible. Sometime later after this incident, he 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, but she assumed a hundred forms and knocked him unconscious during the battle. He then flees back to Patala, but 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. However, he was 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 recognised him, however, 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, but he was 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.
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. 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 were 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 its 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.
In the Linga Purana, Andhaka's story is related as a variation of accounts of Harvamsa and Kurma Purana. Andhaka was the son of Hiranyaksha and was given immunity from death by Brahma after he performed a severe penance. He traversed the three worlds and conquered the heavens. The Devas retreated to Mandara mountain where the demon followed them. Shiva on the request of the Devas challenged Andhaka. He destroyed his army and impales him on his trident. However, the divine sight of Shiva had burnt away all of Andhaka's sins and he started eulogizing him. Shiva pleased with his devotion forgave him and made him the chief of all his ganas. Andhaka's son is Adi. Another version states that Andhaka fought with the Ganas and Shiva's sons but they lost the battle after which Shiva sends Veerabhadra to battle it out with Andhaka, but every time Veerabhadra killed one of them another one arose because his blood fell upon the Earth. Parvati, angered by this, assumes the form of Kali and destroys each and every copy of Andhaka except for the real one who is saved by Shiva and given a new life.
In the Ramayana and Mahabharata
In the Ramayana, the story of Shiva killing Andhaka is briefly noted in Chapter 30 of the Aranya Kanda, during the moment when Khara, the younger brother of Ravana is killed by Rama. The scripture tells that Andhaka was killed by Shiva's third eye in the forest of the sage Sveta. In the Mahabharata, Andhaka is killed by Shiva, though not by his third eye as in the Ramayana.
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