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God of Destruction
Fierce form of Shiva
Virabhadra and Daksha
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Vīrabhadra (Sanskrit: वीरभद्र, lit. distinguished hero), also known as Veerabadhra , Veerabathira, Veerabathiran is an extremely fierce and fearsome form of the Hindu god Shiva. He was created by the wrath of Shiva and destroyed the Yagna (fire sacrifice) of Daksha, after Daksha's daughter and Shiva's consort Sati self-immolated in the sacrificial fire. He is described as a warrior who eventually blinded Bhaga, subdued Indra and broke, among many other countless gods, Pushan's teeth. Other gods fled the battlefield unable to sustain his power.
Within Shaivism, the Virabhadra's origins runs as follows. Sati was the youngest daughter of Daksha. While growing up, she set her heart on Shiva and worshipped him. In the Swayamvara of Sati, Daksha invited all the devas and princes except Shiva. Sati cast her garland into air, calling upon Shiva to receive it, and behold he stood in the midst of the court with the garland about his neck. Daksha had no choice but to get his daughter married to Shiva.
One day, Daksha invited all the devas in order to perform a great offering called the Ashwamedha yagna, omitting only Shiva. Sati's urge to attend the event, due to her affection towards her parents, overpowered the social etiquette of not going to an uninvited ceremony; thus, Daksha insulted her in front of his guests. Angered after hearing insults against her husband, she set herself ablaze by her inner yogāgni. The site where Sati had died later on became known as "Satikund", situated in Kankhal, Haridwar.
When Shiva came to know about what had happened, with deep sorrow and anger, he plucked a lock from his hair and thrashed it on the ground. Both Veerabhadra and Bhadrakali were born from it. The former is believed to be the destroyer of Agnana: born with a tall, muscular body reaching the higher heavens, he was as dark as the stormy clouds, with three burning eyes and fiery hair. He also wore a garland of skulls and carried weapons. To provide him the power, arrived Bhadrakali, a wrathful incarnation of Devi.
Destroyer of Daksha
Maheshwara replied, 'Spoil the sacrifice of Daksha'. Then the mighty Virabhadra, having heard the pleasure of his lord, bowed down his head to the feet of Shiva; and starting like a lion loosed from bonds, despoiled the sacrifice of Daksha, knowing that this had been created by the displeasure of Devi. She too in her wrath, as the fearful goddess Rudrakali, accompanied him, with all her train, to witness his deeds.
The myth of Virabhadra's life runs as follows. Shiva directed Virabhadra: "Lead my army against Daksha and destroy his sacrifice". The Devas fled in all directions, the sages cried "Hari, you're the protector of Daksha's Yagna. You solely are the performer as well as giver of fruits in the Yagna. Oh Lakshmi-Narayan! Help us".
Vishnu heard those prayers and apparated out of the Yagna hall in the field. Virabhadra frowned on seeing him. His grip became more firm on his trident.
Virabhadra said in a stiff voice "Hari, how come you're the protector of this Yagna? Have you become Shiva's enemy? How can side with these men of wicked conduct?".
Vishnu smiled and said "Just as Shiva and Shivā, I am subservient to nothing but my devotees. And it's painful to say that Daksha is my devotee and he requested me initially to reside as the ultimate protector of this Yagna. I am bind by my words, as you are by your orders from Mahadeva".
Virabhadra gave a delightful expression. Lowering his head, he said "Oh beloved of Shiva! I asked that just to confirm about your feelings. As is Shiva to me, so are you. How can I fight you?".
Vishnu said "Without any hesitation, fight with me. Defeated, I will go back to my abode".
And saying so, Vishnu blew his Panchjanya conch shell to begin the battle. He hurled his Sudarshan discus at the other ganas in the field who were fighting with the guardians of Yagna. Virabhadra saw this and started pacing towards him. By Vishnu's Maya, a thousand more beings, just like him in attire, issued out from his body for battling. Meanwhile, Mahakali, Katyayani, Chamunda, Ishani, Mundamalini and others were wreaking havoc in the field and producing alarming sounds.
Virabhadra rotated on his spot and flung away the best of his weapons in all ten directions. Those weapons ripped apart the bodies of all those doppelgangers of Vishnu and turned them into ashes. Vishnu held his mace in his hands and was about to strike at Virabhadra when the latter hurled himself towards him and impaled his trident in his chest.
Vishnu fell down on the ground. Suddenly, there sprang a tornado of fire as fierce as the fire that consumes the three worlds at the time of Pralaya.
Vishnu stood up and his eyes were red with anger. The ground was trembling and the asteroids were hitting the earth. He immediately rained powerful arrows at his foe from all directions. Angered all the more by this quite unexpected attack, Virabhadra also climbed a chariot and retaliated by sending fiery arrows in the direction of Vishnu. Thus started, they went on exchanging many a mighty astra and shastra as though two wild and mad elephants were at war; and the three worlds trembled with their movements; their mutual shouts of anger and wrath raised a thunderous din that filled the directions with rolling echoes. Both used celestial weapons - one upon the other; but none of them was affected in the least though they struck awe into the hearts of the onlookers and shook the three worlds. Both were equally matched and both were adept and quick with their hands and weapons in offensive and defensive. Keenly watching the fierce duel and thinking that Virabhadra might come out victorious, Brahma decided to become the charioteer of Virabhadra. Taking charge of the chariot instantly, he steered it ever so skillfully that Virabhadra, though angry at first, soon became reconciled and even appreciative on beholding the expert manner in which Brahma conducted the many intricate manoeuvres of the chariot. Continuing the duel, Virabhadra showered multiple weapons of tremendous power at Vishnu who retaliated with equal might. Thus proceeded a long-drawn-out battle between Hari and a manifestation of Hara, filling the three worlds with amazement; causing earth-quakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, landslides and storms and outbreaks of fire. The firmament reverberated with thunder and lightning. At last, discovering that it was impossible to subdue Virabhadra by any ordinary methods, Vishnu decided to take his life once and for all by using his invincible Discus-Sudrasana - feared in all the worlds for its efficacy. So, twirling it around his right index finger, he let loose the mighty Sudarsana and it roared into the intervening space with such tremendous momentum and acceleration that it flew cleaving the air with incandescent jets of flame spouting off tangentially from its thousand revolving teeth.
As mentioned in Skanda Purana, Lord Vishnu threw Sudarshan Chakra on Virabhadra to kill him. Virabhadra tried to stop by stunning Hari by casting a spell upon him. The Sudarshan discus stopped spinning on his index finger as Vishnu became numb. He broke the spell and suddenly heard the victorious cries of Shiva ganas. He thought that it would be the perfect timing to get defeated and clear the pathway for Virabhadra.
Thinking so, he mounted an arrow upon his bow. Virabhadra immediately striked his arrows at his bow and broke his shaft. Thus, accepting the defeat, Vishnu hurriedly went away to Vaikuntha while Brahma went to his Satyaloka.
Seeing the path cleared, Virabhadra smiled weirdly and announced his hordes to proceed to the chamber of Yagna. The body of Sati was fully burnt in the hall and had turned black now. Black smokes were fizzing out from her lifeless body. Daksha remained oblivious of this sight while his wife had just fainted when Sati had invoked the fire.
Vishnu said in a celestial voice to Brahma "Today the curse of Dadhichi has turn out to be true. Due to an ancient fight, he cursed all of us, you, me and all Devas to be devoured in the fire of Rudra's anger. Now no one can save Daksha. And even the words of Sati have come true. She said all of us would suffer by siding with Daksha. No more she's Dakshayani. Now she's Daksha-Yagna-Vinaashini".
- the Horse-sacrifice of the Prajapati Daksha The Mahabharata translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli (1883–1896), Book 12: Santi Parva: Mokshadharma Parva: Section CCLXXXIV. p. 315 Mahadeva created from his mouth a terrible Being whose very sight could make one's hair stand on its end. The blazing flames that emanated from his body rendered him exceedingly awful to behold. His arms were many in number and in each was a weapon that struck the beholder with fear. p. 317. “I am known by the name of Virabhadra’’ and I have sprung from the wrath of Rudra. This lady (who is my companion), and who is called Bhadrakali, hath sprung from the wrath of the goddess.”
- Vishnu Purana SACRIFICE OF DAKSHA (From the Vayu Purana.) The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, 1840. p. 62, "In former times, Daksha commenced a holy sacrifice on the side of Himaván, at the sacred spot Gangadwara, frequented by the Rishis. The gods, desirous of assisting at this solemn rite, came, with Indra at their head, to Mahadeva, and intimated their purpose; and having received his permission, departed in their splendid chariots to Gangadwára, as tradition reports.” 62:2 The Linga Purana is more precise, calling it Kanakhala, which is the village still called Kankhal, near Haridwar.p. 66 Rudrakali. p. 68 Vírabhadra said, 'I am not a god, nor an Aditya; 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. Bhadrakali also, who has sprung from the anger of Devi, is sent here by the god of gods to destroy this rite. Take refuge, king of kings, with him who is the lord of Uma; for better is the anger of Rudra than the blessings of other gods.'
- Sister Nivedita & Ananda K. Coomaraswamy: Myths and Legends of the Hindus and Buddhists, Kolkata, 2001 ISBN 81-7505-197-3
- "Full text of "Sree Lalitopakhyanam"". archive.org. Retrieved 4 May 2016.