Virabhadra (Veerabhadra) (Sanskrit: वीरभद्र, IAST: "Vīrabhadra") was a super being created by the wrath of Rudra (Shiva), when he stepped in to destroy the Yagna of Daksha Prajapati, after Dakshayani (Sati) or Devi self-immolated in yagna fire. Along with him was created, his consort Bhadrakali, from the wrath of Devi [ 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.'] .

Vīrabhadra was a great warrior who eventually blinded Bhaga and broke, among many other countless gods, Pushan's teeth. Other gods fled the battle field unable to sustain his power. He is the head of Shiva Gana or the followers of Shiva.

A temple dedicated to him, is situated in the town of Veerbhadra, near Rishikesh in Uttarakhand.


Sati was the youngest daughter of Daksha, the chief of the gods. When Sati grew up she set her heart on Shiva, worshipping him in secret. In the Swayamvara of Sati, Daksha invited all gods and princes except Shiva. Sati cast her wreath into air, calling upon Shiva to receive the garland; and behold he stood in midst of the court with the wreath about his neck. Daksha had no choice but to marry Sati with Shiva. [Sister Nivedita & Ananda K.Coomaraswamy: Myths and Legends of the Hindus and Bhuddhists, Kolkata, 2001 ISBN 81-7505-197-3]

One day Daksha made arrangements for a great horse sacrifice, and invited all the gods omitting only Shiva. Sati, being greatly humiliated, went to the banquet and Sati released the inward consuming fire and fell dead at Daksha's feet. Narada bore this news to Shiva. Shiva burned with anger, and tore from his head a lock of hair, glowing with energy, and cast upon the earth. The terrible demon Vīrabhadra sprang from it, his tall body reached the high heavens, he was dark as the clouds, he had a thousand arms, three burning eyes, and fiery hair; he wore a garland of skulls and carried terrible weapons. Vīrabhadra bowed at Shiva's feet and asked his will. [Sister Nivedita & Ananda K.Coomaraswamy: Myths and Legends of the Hindus and Bhuddhists, Kolkata, 2001 ISBN 81-7505-197-3]

Destroyer of Daksha

Shiva directed Virabhadra: "Lead my army against Daksha and destroy his sacrifice; fear not the Brahmanas, for thou art a portion of my very self". On this direction of Shiva, Virabhadra appeared with Shiva's ganas in the midst of Daksha's assembly like a storm wind and broke the sacrificial vessels, polluted the offerings, insulted the priests and finally cut off Daksha's head, trampled on Indra, broke the staff of Yama, scattered the gods on every side; then he returned to Kailash. [Sister Nivedita & Ananda K.Coomaraswamy: Myths and Legends of the Hindus and Bhuddhists, Kolkata, 2001 ISBN 81-7505-197-3]

Vīrabhadra takes the form of Sharabha, a giant bird with four legs and two heads.

The compromise with Shiva

After the destruction of Daksha's sacrifice, the defeated gods sought Brahma and asked his counsel. Brahma advised the gods to make their peace with Shiva. Brahma himself went with them to Kailash. Brahma prayed Shiva to pardon Daksha and to mend the broken limbs of gods and rishis. Shiva accepted his advice and restored the burnt head of Daksha with that of goat's head, and the broken limbs were made whole. Then the devas thanked Shiva for his gentleness, and invited him to sacrifice. There Daksha looked on him with reverence, the rite was duly performed, and there also Vishnu appeared riding upon Garuda. He spoke to Daksha, saying: "Only the unlearned deem myself and Shiva to be distinct; he, I and Brahma are one, assuming different names for creation, preservation, and destruction of the universe. We as the triune Self, prevade all creatures; the wise therefore regard all others as themselves." Then all the gods and rishis saluted Shiva and Vishnu and Brahma, and departed to their places; but Shiva returned to Kailash and fell once more into his dram. [Sister Nivedita & Ananda K.Coomaraswamy: Myths and Legends of the Hindus and Bhuddhists, Kolkata, 2001 ISBN 81-7505-197-3]

Vīrabhadra is prominently worshipped today in South India. The famous Lepakshi temple (Veerabhadra temple (Lepakshi)) in Andhra Pradesh is dedicated to Lord Vīrabhadra. His is one of the primary Pancha-acharyas (gurus) for Lingayats mainly from Karnataka. .

Consort Bhadrakāli

Consort of Virabhadra was Bhadrakali, also known as the gentle Kali, is generally an auspicious form of the goddess Kali, and the legend states that she came into being by Devi’s wrath, when Daksha insulted Shiva. It is believed that Bhadrakāli was a local deity, which was assimilated into the mainstream Hinduism, particularly into Shaiva mythology. Sometimes, she assumes terrible aspect, and is represented with three eyes, and four, twelve or eighteen hands. She carries a number of weapons, with flames flowing from her head, and a small tusk protruding from her mouth. [Anna Dallapiccola: Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend ISBN 0-500-51088-1]


The historian Ram Swarup Joon has given the chronology of Virabhadra, obtained from the records of the Bards of Dholpur, in his book ‘History of the Jats’ (1938, 1967) as under: [RS Joon: History of the Jats’ (1938, 1967) ]

In the branch of Puru there was ‘Sanyati’ whose son was Virabhadra. Virabhadra had four sons 1. Pon Bhadra 2. Kalhan bhadra 3. Atisur Bhadra and 4. Jakh Bhadra.

*Pon Bhadra is the originator of Punia gotra.
*Kalhan Bhadra is the originator of Kalhan gotra.
*Atisur Bhadra had Ajanta Jata Shankar and his son Dahi Bhadra in the lineage. Dahi Bhadra is the originator of Dahiya gotra.
*Jakh Bhadra is the originator of Jakhar gotra.

According to Ram Swaroop Joon, the descendants of above spread as under:

(a) Pon Bhadra’s descendants Punias to Haryana, Brij, and Gwalior

(b) Kalhan Bhadra’s descendants Kalhans to Kathiawar and Gujrat.

(c) Atisur Bhadra’s descendants to Malwa

(d) Jakh Bhadra’s descendants Jakhars to Punjab and Kashmir

(e) Dahi Bhadra’s descendants Dahiyas to Punjab and Central Asia

ee also



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