Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Shiva Disrupts a Celestial Sacrifice

Tales of Shiva

This story is based on [Maha:10.18].

Once the Krita-Yuga had ended, the celestials wished to perform a grand sacrifice to enhance their own powers. Following the instructions laid down in the Vedas, they duly prepared the sacrificial altar and collected the clarified butter and other offerings essential for the Yagna. A share of the sacrificial offerings was allotted to each deity, in proportion to their power and influence.

However, not knowing the magnificence of Lord Shiva, the celestials considered him of little account, and left him out of the sacrifice altogether. No part of the Havis was allotted to him. When Mahadeva (Shiva) came to know of this insult, he became enraged. In anger, he constructed a powerful bow that was five cubits long, and whose string was infused with the essence of a sacred Mantra known as vashat.

Armed with this bow, and his unerring arrows, he arrived at the sacrificial hall. When the immortals beheld his angry visage, with his matted locks swaying like angry snakes as he trod purposefully at them, they ran away from the hall in fear. The Goddess earth trembled, along with her diverse mountains and seas. As Vayu was terrified the life-giving wind ceased to move and as a result of Agni's stupefaction, the sacrificial fire, although fed with clarified butter, did not blaze forth. The planets swerved from their ordained courses and the Sun and the Moon lost their splendor. There was gloom and despair all around.

Seeing that Rudra (Shiva) was intent upon his destruction, the deity that was the embodiment of the sacrifice took the form of a deer and fled away, accompanied by Agni. Mahadeva gave chase to them both, and harried them with sharp arrows shot from his celestial bow.

With Agni and the sacrificial deity gone, the immortals began to lose their powers. Their luster dimmed, and they began to decay rapidly. Rudra then turned his attention on the stunned celestials and with his bow, he broke the arms of Savitri (Surya) and plucked out the eyes of Bhaga. He broke the teeth of Pushan. He then whirled the horn of his bow, and laughed aloud, paralyzing the assembled celestials.

Pandemonium broke out as the remaining gods fled away from this scene of destruction. At last, they made an united stand, and combining all their power, they caused the string of Shiva's bow to break. In the brief respite that ensued, they sought refuge with him, and by singing his praises, tried to gratify him.

Pacified, the benevolent Shiva forgave the immortals and allowed the sacrifice to proceed. He restored the arms of Savitri, the eyes of Bhaga and the teeth of Pushan. From that day, it has been ordained that no sacrifice is complete without an offering to the Lord of Lords, the puissant Mahadeva.

Last Modified At: Sun Mar 20 20:33:20 2005