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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Origin of Virabhadra[edit]

When Dakṣa, the Prajāpati, performed a great sacrifice, he did not invite Śiva, his own son-in-law, for the same. Satī, Śiva’s wife and Dakṣa’s daughter, went to attend the sacrifice much against the advice of her husband. Dakṣa ignored her and also reviled her husband Śiva.

Unable to stand the insult, she gave up her body using her yogic powers. When Śiva got this news, he was infuriated. He created an ogre from his hair and commanded him to destroy Dakṣa’s sacrifice. This ogre was Vīrabhadhra. He was a partial manifestation of Rudra/Śiva.


Iconographical Representation of Virabhadra[edit]

Iconographical works show Vīrabhadra in different ways. He is shown with two arms, four arms or eight arms. Objects shown in his hands are:

  1. Sword
  2. Shield
  3. Bow
  4. Arrow
  5. Trident
  6. Skull-cup
  7. Goad
  8. Antelope
  9. Mace
  10. Hand-drum

He wears a garland of several heads and rides on a vetāla or a vampire. Bhadrakālī[1] and Dakṣa with the head of a goat in the posture of supplication are shown by his side.

Position of Virabhadra[edit]

Vīrabhadra is shown in a small shrine in all the temples of Śiva. He is also shown in the panels showing the Saptamātṛkās.


  1. Bhadrakālī is his spouse.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore