Bhagavatam Purana 10.88

Bhagavatam Purana, Book 10, Chapter 88

Here is an English translation of this important chapter which explains how Shiva is easily pleased (“āśutoṣa”). In verse twenty, Shiva says: “prīyeya toyena nṛṇāṁ prapadyatām”.

This chapter contains a cautionary tale about the need to choose only good, sattvik, and non-selfish boons. Evil intentions will backfire.

The king (Pariksit) submitted:

Those among the gods, demons and men that worship Lord Siva, who has spurned all enjoyments, are generally found to be wealthy and enjoying the pleasures of sense; but not so those who are devoted to Lord Visnu (the Spouse of the goddess of wealth and consequently endowed with all enjoyments). (1)

We are (according) eager to know how it is that the lot of those worshipping the two (Lord Siva and Lord Visnu) of contrary disposition is (quite) the opposite (of what might be expected). Great indeed is our doubt on this point. (2)

Sri Shuka replied:

(Pariksit!) Lord Siva ever remains united with His Sakti (Energy). He is invested with the three Gunas and is the deity presiding over Ahankara (the Cosmic Ego), which is threefold (in character), viz., Sattvika, Rajasika and Tamasika. (3)

Out of these three varieties of Ahankara are evolved the sixteen final evolutes (viz., the mind from the Sattvika type, the ten Indriyas from Rajasika, and the five gross elements from the Tamasika). He who worships the deity presiding over anyone of these obtains access to all forms of (earthly) prosperity. (4)

Lord Visnu, on the other hand, is the Supreme Person Himself, (far) beyond Prakrti and devoid of the (three) Gunas (modes of Prakrti); He is omniscient and the witness (of all hearts). Anyone worshipping Him is rid of the (three) Gunas. (5)

(Pariksit!) at the conclusion of the Aswamedha sacrifices your grandfather, King Yudhisthira, while listening from (the lips of) the Lord to an exposition of (the various types of) sacred duties put this (very) question to Sri Krishna. (6)

(Pariksit!) Sri Krishna, the almighty Lord, who appeared in the race of Yadu for ensuring the highest good of men, felt (much) pleased (to hear the question) and spoke to the king, who was eager to listen (in the following strain). (7)

The glorious Lord said: Him on whom I shower My grace I gradually deprive of wealth. His own people thereupon forsake him when he is (thus) reduced to penury and stricken with sorrow. (8)

When, striving (once more) with intent to acquire wealth, he finds all his attempts abortive (through my grace) and, getting disappointed, makes friends with My devotees, that is the time I show My (special) grace to him, whereby he attains (oneness with) that supreme infinite Brahma which is (very) subtle (and therefore difficult to comprehend) and consists of pure consciousness and Truth. That is why people turn their back on Me as one very difficult to please and (proceed to) worship other deities. (9-10)

Elated through the royal fortune obtained (through such worship) from gods who are quickly propitiated, they get intoxicated (with pride) and go astray. Forgetting the very gods that conferred boons on them, they neglect them. (11)

Sri Shuka continued: Dear Pariksit! Brahma, Visnu, Siva and the other gods have the power to curse as well as to bless. (Of these again,) Lord Siva as well as Brahma (get propitiated and angry soon and) are (therefore) very prompt in blessing as well as in cursing, (but) not so Visnu. (12)

In order to illustrate this truth, the wise relate an ancient anecdote showing how by conferring a boon on the demon Vrika Lord Siva (who has His abode on Mount Kailasa) got into trouble. (13)

(Pariksit!) meeting (the celestial sage) Narada on the way, this evil-minded demon, Vrika by name, son of Shakuni, inquired (of him) which of the three gods (Brahma, Visnu and Siva) was quick to propitiate. (14)

The sage replied, “Betake yourself to Lord Siva. You will (thereby) gain your object very soon; He it is who is soon Pleased with a small measure of merit and gets angry equally quickly through a slight offence. (15)

Pleased with Ravana (the ten-headed monster) and Bana (the demon), who (simply) glorified Him like bards, He conferred (on them) immense wealth and power, and courted serious trouble thereby (in that Ravana uprooted His very home, Mount Kailasa, while Bana secured from Him a boon that He should ever guard his city).” (16)

Instructed thus (by Narada), the demon worshipped Lord Siva (the Destroyer of the universe), propitiating Him by means of (oblations of) his own flesh out of his body through the mouth of fire at the sacred spot of) Kedara (a summit of the Himalayas). (17)

Unable to gain the sight of the Lord (even after worshipping Him in this way for six days) he proceeded out of despair, on the seventh day, to lop off with his sword his (very) head, the hair on which were wetted through a dip in the holy waters of that place, (and offer it as an oblation to Lord Siva). (18)

(O King!) the highly merciful Lord Siva (who wears matted locks on His head) rose out of the flames, (brilliant) like the god of fire, and, holding Vrika by the arms with His own, deterred the latter (from that terrible act) even as we would deter a friend from committing suicide. Through His blessed touch the demon was whole again. (19)

The Lord said to him, “O dear one, enough of this, no more of this. Ask of Me any boon of your choice, (and) I shall grant it to you. I should be pleased with (a little) water offered by men who resort to Me. Oh, in vain is this body tormented by you (so) cruelly.” (20)

The highly wicked demon (thereupon) sought from the Lord a boon which was terrifying to all beings. (He said,)” On whosesoever head I should place my hand, let him die.” (21)

Hearing that request, O scion of Bharata, Lord Rudra looked grave as it were (for a moment), and (then) laughingly said,” Amen!” He thus conferred on him a boon, which was as good as giving milk to a serpent. (22)

Thus assured (by the Lord), the said demon was as a matter of fact possessed with the desire of laying his hands on (Goddess) Parvati; and in order to test (the efficacy of) the boon, the demon, it is said, proceeded to place his hand on the head of Lord Shankara (Himself). The all-blissful Lord (now) got dismayed at His own act (of granting that boon). (23)

Trembling in great fear, He fled before the Asura, who now pursued Him. He covered the whole length of the earth and heavens and reached the very end of the cardinal points; but (finding the Asura still pursuing Him) ran (further) in a northerly direction. (24)

Finding no remedy for the trouble, all the great gods kept quiet. Finally Bhagavan Shankara went to the shining region of Vaikuntha, lying beyond the sphere of Prakriti. (25)

It is the realm of Bhagavan Narayana, the supreme resort of recluses who, having taken a vow of complete non-violence have attained perfect tranquillity of mind. On reaching this region one does not return to mundane life. (26)

Seeing Siva in that miserable plight, from a distance, Bhagavan Narayana, who removes all affliction, assumed the form of a young Brahmacari (religious student) by dint of His Yogamaya (wonderful creative power) and appeared before Vrikasura. (27)

Adorned with a girdle made of Munja grass, (black) deer-skin, a staff and a rosary of Rudraksa beads. He shone by His lustre like the fire. Holding a (bunch of) Kusa grass in His hand, He hailed the Asura like a humble student. (28)

The Lord (disguised as a Brahmacari) said: O Vrikasura, evidently you are (much) fatigued. Have you covered a long distance? Rest yourself awhile. This body is the source of all blessings. (Why do you put it to unnecessary exertion?) (29)

Mighty as you are, please tell me, if the matter is fit for our ears, what you have set your mind upon. For people generally seek to accomplish their object through persons chosen for their help. (30)

Sri Shuka went on: (Pariksit!) thus questioned by the Lord in words raining nectar (as it were) the Asura felt refreshed and related to Him in order of sequence all that he had done. (31)

The Lord said: “If it is so, then we do not believe his words. Do you not know that under the curse of Daksa He has adopted the ways of Pisacas (evil spirits)? He is now the ruler of Pretas (genii) and Pisacas. (32)

O lord of demons, if you still repose faith in Shankara as the Teacher of the world, the truth may be verified (by you) this very instant, O dear friend, by placing your hand on your own head. (33)

O chief of Asuras, if the words of Shankara are found to deviate from truth in any wise, you had better do away with that liar so that he may not (live to) utter a falsehood again.” (34)

The words spoken by the Lord were so very sweet and cast such a magic spell on him that he lost his reasoning power, and the wicked Asura in utter forgetfulness placed his hand on his own head. (35)

Instantaneously he fell down with his head split as if by a stroke of lightning; and shouts of triumph, salutations and applause were raised (by the gods) in heaven. (36)

On the sinful Vrikasura rained having been killed, gods, manes and Gandharvas showers of flowers, and Bhagavan Shankara was redeemed from a precarious situation. (37)

The almighty Lord Visnu (thereupon) said to Shankara, who was (now) free, “O Lord! O supreme Deity, this wicked Asura has been killed by his own sins. O Lord, having actually sinned against the great who can possibly be happy? Much less could he be happy who did wrong to You the Lord and preceptor of the universe. (38-39)

Sri Hari is an ocean of powers, which are both incomprehensible and beyond the range of speech. He is no other than the Supreme Spirit beyond Prakrti. He who relates or listens to this story of His rescuing Lord Shankara (from trouble) gets completely freed from (the cycle of) births and deaths and is rid of the fear of enemies. (40)

Thus ends the eighty-eighth discourse entitled “Lord Rudra rescued (from trouble),” in the latter half of Book Ten of the great and glorious Bhagavata-Purana, otherwise known as the Paramahaṃsa Saṃhitā.

The above chapter is from “Srimad Bhagavatam Purana” published by Gita Press, translated by Goswami and Shastri. For an alternate translation of this chapter, see Vedabase: