In the Shiva Purana, when Indra and Brihaspati were going towards Mount Kailash to meet Shiva their way was blocked by a naked yogi with matted hair and a radiant face. The yogi was Shiva himself, who had taken the form to test the knowledge of Indra and Brihaspati. Indra did not recognize the yogi and was infuriated at the fact that the man was not moving out of their way. Indra asked him to move but the man did not budge. After getting no reply Indra became enraged and threatened him with his thunderbolt. Upon this action Indra's arm became paralyzed and Shiva neutralized the thunderbolt. Shiva became angry upon this action of Indra and his eyes turned red, frightening Indra. The anger caused Shiva's third eye to open, nearly killing Indra. Brihaspati recognized Shiva and prayed to him, requesting him to pardon Indra. To avoid killing Indra, Shiva sent the fire from his eye towards the ocean and upon meeting with the ocean it assumed the form of a boy. The boy cried terribly which caused Brahma to descend from heaven. The ocean told Brahma that he did not know where the boy came from. Brahma then told him that the boy will one day become the emperor of Asuras, he could only be killed by Shiva and after his death he would return to Shiva's third eye.
Jalandhara's childhood was full of wonders. Borne up by the wind, he flew over the ocean; his pets were lions which he had caught; and the largest birds and fishes were subject to him. Jalandhara grew up to be a handsome man and was made the emperor of Asuras by Shukra, their guru. Jalandhara was exceedingly powerful and is considered to be one of the mightiest asuras of all time. He married Vrinda, the daughter of the Asura Kalanemi. Jalandhara ruled with justice and nobility. One day sage Bhrigu came to meet Jalandhara. He narrated the tales of Hiranyakashipu and Virochana. He also tells him how Vishnu severed Rahu's head and about the Samudra manthan. Jalandhara resented the Samudra manthan. He believed that the Devas had treacherously taken his father, Varuna's treasures. He sent one of his messengers, Ghasmar, to Indra to ask him to return his father's treasures. However Indra refused to do so. A fierce battle took place between the Devas and Asuras. Many warriors were killed on both sides. Shukra revived the Asuras using his Mritsanjivani vidya. Brihaspati revived the dead Devas by using the medicinal herbs from the Drongiri mountain. Shukra ordered Jalandhara to submerge the mountain so Brihaspati cannot use the medicinal herbs to revive the Devas. Jalandhara obeyed the command and submerged Drongiri mountain. Demoralized, the Devas requested Vishnu for his aid. Vishnu agreed but promised Lakshmi that he would not kill Jalandhara since he was born out of the ocean and Lakshmi considered him as her brother. A fierce battle was fought between Jalandhara and Vishnu which remained indecisive until the end. Vishnu was impressed by Jalandhara's valiance in battle and told him about Lakshmi's relationship with him. Vishnu then asked him to demand any boon he desired. Jalandhara asked Vishnu to make Ksheera Sagara his home. He agreed and started living there along with Lakshmi. Without his help the Devas were defeated by Asuras and Jalandhara became the emperor of the three worlds (heaven, earth and hell).
The Devas were unhappy about their defeat. They did not wish to be ruled by Jalandhara despite the fact that he was the son of Shiva. The sage Narada upon consulting with the Devas went to see Jalandhara. On being asked the purpose of his visit by Jalandhara he described the beauty of Kailash where Shiva lived and that he wondered whether any other place matched its beauty. In response, Jalandhara showed off his riches to Narada who commented that he did not have the most beautiful woman as his wife. Narada then continued to describe Shiva's residence and also described to him about Parvati's beauty.
How can you live on alms and yet keep the beautiful Parvati? Give her to me, and wander from house to house with your alms bowl. You have fallen from your vow. You are a yogi, what need have you for the gem of wives? You live in the woods attended by goblins and ghosts; being a naked yogi, you should give your wife to one who will appreciate her better than you do.
Upon hearing these insults Shiva becomes so angry that a fearsome creature (Kīrttimukha) sprang from his brow and nearly killed Rahu, the messenger who had delivered the demand. War being determined on, Jalandhara marched first to Kailash; but finding that Shiva had forsaken it and taken up a position on a mountain near Lake Manasa, he surrounded the mountain with his troops. Nandi (bull) marched against them, and spread destruction, however, the army of the gods suffered losses. Parvati then urged Shiva to enter the war. Shiva carefully warned Parvati to be on her guard during his absence, as it was possible asuras in some disguise might visit her; after this, accompanied by Virabhadra and Manibhadra, two forms of his anger, Shiva went to the battlefield. Upon seeing Shiva and his avatars dominate the battlefield, Jalandhara created an illusion of beautiful apsaras singing and dancing. This distracted Shiva and his army. Meanwhile Jalandhara disguised himself as Shiva and went to Parvati in order to trick her into having sex with him. Parvati recognized him and became very angry. She attempted to attack him but Jalandhara escaped knowing he was no match for the goddess's anger. Parvati then went to Vishnu and requested him to trick Vrinda just like Jalandhara tried to trick her.
Jalandhara's wife Vrinda was very pious. First, Vishnu created an illusion that Jalandhara had been killed by Shiva and is then restored to life by him. Vrinda then embraces Jalandhara who is actually Vishnu in disguise. Vrinda realizes that it is Vishnu in disguise and curses him that someday someone would abduct his own wife (which becomes true when Sita is kidnapped by Ravana) and then enters the fire to immolate herself. Jalandhara, hearing of his wife's deception and death, was mad with rage and left Mount Kailash, and returned to the battlefield. The illusion by this time had ended and Shiva realized the truth. Shiva engaged Sumbha and Nisumbha in battle but they fled. They were later killed by Parvati. Jalandhara then engaged Shiva in battle, who killed him by thrusting his Trishula into his chest and cutting his head off with a chakra (discus) created from his toe. Upon his death his soul merged with Shiva just like Vrinda's soul had merged with Parvati.
- Stella Kramrisch (1992). The Presence of Siva. Princeton University Press. p. 388, 389, 391. ISBN 978-06-9101-930-7.
- Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty, "Asceticism and Sexuality in the Mythology of Siva, Part II." History of Religions, Vol. 9, No. 1. (Aug., 1969), pp. 1-41.
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