For the 2006 film, see Veerabhadra (film).

A statue in Dharmapuri district depicting Veerabhadra
Affiliation Aspect of Shiva
Consort Bhadrakali

Virabhadra or Veerabhadra (Vīrabhadra) is a 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.[1][2] He is described as a warrior who eventually blinded Bhaga, subdued Vishnu and broke, among many other countless gods, Pushan's teeth. Other gods fled the battlefield unable to sustain his power.


Sati was the youngest daughter of Daksha. When Sati grew up she set her heart on Shiva, worshipping him. In the Swayamvara of Sati, Daksha invited all gods and princes except Shiva. Sati cast her garland into air, calling upon Shiva to receive the garland; and behold he stood in midst of the court with the garland about his neck. Daksha had no choice but to get Sati married with Shiva.[3]

One day Daksha made arrangements for a great horse sacrifice called the Daksha Yaga, and invited all the gods omitting only Shiva. Sati's urge to go to her home due to the affection towards her parents overpowered the social etiquette for not going to an uninvited ceremony. Daksha insulted her in front of others. Unable to bear further trauma she ran into the sacrificial fire. The site where Sati had died later on became famous as "Jwalamukhi devi".[4]

Then Shiva came to know about this and with deep sorrow and anger, plucked a lock of hair and thrashed on the ground. Lord Veerabhadra, and Rudrakali were born. Virabhadra is believed to be the destroyer of Agnana, his tall, muscular body reached the high heavens, he was dark as the clouds, three burning eyes, and fiery hair; he wore a garland of skulls and carried terrible weapons. To provide him the power, arrived Bhadrakali, a wrathful incarnation of Devi.

Destroyer of Daksha

Virabhadra with 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.

Shiva directed Virabhadra: "Lead my army against Daksha and destroy his sacrifice". On this direction of Shiva, Virabhadra appeared with Shiva's ganas in the midst of Daksha's assembly like a storm and broke the sacrificial vessels, polluted the offerings, insulted the Brahmin priests, trampled on Indra, broke the staff of Yama and scattered the gods on every side.

[5] Lord Vishnu could not let his devotee - Daksha be mortified by Virabhadra. He therefore got astride his Garuda, armed as he was with Conch, Discus and Bow and Arrows, and rushed out to give battle to Veerabhadra to the great joy of all the scared assembly of victims. He immediately rained powerful arrows at his foe from all directions. Angered all the more by this quite unexpected attack, Veerabhadra 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 sastra 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 Veerabhadra might come out victorious, Brahma decided to become the charioteer of Veerabhadra. Taking charge of the chariot instantly, he steered it ever so skillfully that Veerabhadra, 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, Veerabhadra 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 Veerabhadra 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. Seeing Vishnu's Discus approaching him thus, Veerabhadra coolly opened his vast mouth and swallowed it at one gulp; and was none the worse for it.

Lord Vishnu was astonished at this miracle and was filled with admiration for Veerabhadra. Instantly he flew to his side in great ecstasy and praised his erstwhile opponent thus: " 0 Veerabhadra Mahavira! There is none to equal you here nor in the seven worlds! None can now stop you from punishing the wicked Daksha. You were born of the body of Shiva himself to punish these evildoers; and I see that none can oppose you nor come in your way. Who is there to stand equal to you in might and strength, when my invincible discus-which is capable of powdering a diamond-hard mountain - has not made a scratch on you! It has disappeared into your body now, and seems as though it had never existed! It is a wonder how you swallowed this all-destructive and up to-now invincible discus as though it were a ball of sweet! There is none to oppose you now. you may punish Daksha to your heart's content. Daksha, the enemy of Lord Shiva, caused his own daughter to burn herself; and must certainly now meet his own doom.

Brimming with anger, Veerabhadra beheaded Daksha and marched along with his army to Mount Kailash to testify the completion of his assigned task.


Veerabhadra at Jejuri, Maharashtra.
Carved pillars of the Lepakshi temple

Virabhadra is prominently worshiped today in South India. Most temples of Shiva will have a statue of Virabhadra. He is one of the primary deity of Veerashaiva Lingayat, Pancha-acharyas mainly from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.


  1. 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.”
  2. 1 2 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.'
  3. Sister Nivedita & Ananda K. Coomaraswamy: Myths and Legends of the Hindus and Buddhists, Kolkata, 2001 ISBN 81-7505-197-3
  4. From Puran sati khand in part two of Rudra Samhita"
  5. "Full text of "Sree Lalitopakhyanam"". Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  6. Uddana Veerabhadra Temple
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