The story of Virabhadra


Lord Shiva was married to Sati, the beautiful daughter of Daksha.  (Daksha being the son of Brahma and one of the great creator gods.)  Shiva and Sati loved each other deeply, but Daksha wasn’t so pleased with the match.  Daksha’s ego was crushed when his wishes were not taken into consideration and Shiva and Sati married anyway.

Daksha hosted a great party, where all the other gods and goddesses were invited – except for Sati and Shiva.  (Does this sound like Christmas in your family???) Sati was upset by not being invited, and decided to go to the party anyway.  When she arrived, she was not acknowledged.  Her red-faced, embarrassment conjured up so much heat and energy that she spontaneously burst into flames.

Shiva was distraught when he received the news.  He was overcome with sorrow and cut his hair off in despair. From the matted locks he formed a great warrior- Virabhadra (vira meaning “hero” and bhadra meaning “blessed” and “fortunate”) Shiva sent Virabhadra to go to the party and slay everyone present.

It is told that he entered the ritual, coming up from the ground (picture Warrior I with arms raised high), finding his target and setting eyes on him with focus (picture the Warrior II gaze over the index finger), and slaying Daksha (Warrior III, as though our body was a sword, or as if we were holding a sword in our outstretched hands).

There is some violent drama in this story – not really very yogic. But let’s think, what is it all about?  The ego of Dhaksha – he wanted things his way and was rather petty in his actions.  How often do we let our own egos get in the way?  Maybe our egos are barricading our happiness or that of our loved ones.

I’m not suggesting that a yoga pose can solve all family crisis this Christmas time… but perhaps the odd Virabhadrasana vinyasa may bring some of us to our senses!

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