In Hindu mythology, Andhaka (Sanskrit: अन्धक, IAST: andhaka, lit. he who darkens) often refer to a malevolent asura who is killed by Shiva for trying to abduct Parvati despite being their child.[1][2][3] His story finds mention in various Hindu texts, including Matsya Purana, Kurma Purana, Linga Purana and Shiva Purana.[4] He is believed to have thousand heads, two thousand eyes, arms and feet.[5]

Shiva slays Andhaka, c. 1590, Akbar's translation of Harivamsa



In the Shiva Purana, when Shiva was meditating on Mandara mountain, Parvati who was in a playful mood covered Shiva's eyes due to which the whole universe was covered in darkness. The sweat that oozed out of Parvati's hands due to her touching Shiva, fell to the ground and created a horrible looking and blind boy. Parvati was terrified on seeing him; however, Shiva said that since he was born due to their physical contact he was their child. When the demon king Hiranyaksha who was childless performed penance to please Shiva in order to beget a child Shiva gifted the child to him and named him Andhaka due to his blindness. After Hiranyaksha's death Andhaka became the king, but he was not regarded as an Asura since he was a divine product. Disowned by majority of his clan, he performed a severe penance to please Brahma. Brahma thus appeared to him and offered him a boon. Andhaka demanded Brahma to make him invincible and to repair his vision. Brahma granted these wishes but warned him that he can be killed by Shiva. Andhaka went back to his kingdom and subdued all his opponents and even the Devas.[6]

One day he asked his minister whether there was anyone who could match his strength, majesty and riches. The minister informed him that he did not have the company of a beautiful woman. He informed him that the world's most beautiful woman (Parvati) belonged to a matted ascetic who lived on Kailash and if he wished to be truly matchless he should possess her. He sent a messenger and told Shiva to hand his wife to him. Andhaka thus attacked Shiva with his greatest warriors, but they were defeated by Shiva's army. One day when Shiva and his ganas were away Andhaka found Parvati alone. She fought with Andhaka but when she found him to be too overwhelming requested the gods to aid her. The battle went on for many years and when Shiva found out about this he declared a truce. Many attempts were made for a peaceful resolution, but Andhaka insisted on acquiring Parvati. He renewed the assault. His trusted general Bali single-handedly defeated all the gods and swallowed them . Shiva fired powerful weapons at Bali which forced him to disgorge all the gods. Shiva in revenge swallowed Shukra, the GURU of Asuras. Andhaka then started attacking Indra. Shiva intervened to save Indra and began to attack the demon with his trident. However, whenever Andhaka's blood fell on the ground a clone of his got created. Then Lord Vishnu created Matrikas who licked the blood of the demon every time he was hurt which prevented creation of Andhaka's clones. Shiva thus finally killed him by hacking his head off. However, since he had chanted Shiva's name before dying he was made a gana-chief by Shiva.[6]

In another version of the Purana, his birth story and being disowned by his clan remains same. His kingdom was taken over by his cousins including Prahlada when he went to the forest to perform a penance to Brahma. During his penance he didn't take water or food and also started chopping off his limbs to please Brahma in desperation. Pleased, Brahma appeared before him and offered him a boon of his choice. Andhaka then asked Brahma to repair his vision and also asked him to make him invincible. Brahma, however, told him that he could not make him immortal since all that take birth must die, though he could choose the condition of his death. Andhaka then asked him that he could be killed only if he lusts after a woman who is like a mother unto him. Brahma agreed and granted all his boons. When he returned to his kingdom his cousins out of fear not only handed his kingdom back but also theirs to his empire. After becoming the lord of all Asuras, Andhaka fought with the Devas along with his army and conquered heaven. He then proceeded to conquer the Nagas, Gandharvas, Rakshasas, Yakshas and the humans. He thus became the lord of all the three worlds. He was a cruel ruler and disrespected the Vedas, the Brahmins and the Devas. Once while travelling, Andhaka happened to visit the mountain Mandara. Charmed by the beauty of the mountain he decided to stay there and ordered his three generals Duryodhana, Vighasa and Hasti to search a place suitable to stay. While searching, his generals found a cave in which a hermit was meditating and also saw a very beautiful woman along with him. They told their master about this who ordered them to bring the woman to him. When they told the ascetic to hand over the woman to their master, Shiva refused saying if their master wanted her he should take her himself. When his generals informed Andhaka about this, he became furious and went to fight the hermit. Andhaka along with his army fought Nandi and Shiva's ganas, but were defeated and were forced to flee; however, Andhaka soon returned to fight again which lasted or five hundred years. Vishnu, Brahma and the Devas too joined the battle against Andhaka and his army. Andhaka's general Vighasa swallowed all the gods. Hearing of this, Shiva riding upon his bull attacked him and killed the demon. Shukracharya the preceptor of demons kept bringing back the dead Asuras back to life by using his medicinal art of Mrit-Sanjivani. Shiva then ordered his ganas to capture Shukrachurya. When they brought him to Shiva, he swallowed the demon-guru. Shiva then attacked Andhaka with his trident, but every drop of Andhaka's blood that fell to the ground, created another demon-clone like him. Shiva then ordered the goddess Chandi to drink the blood while he killed the rest of the demons created by Andhaka's blood. After killing them all, Shiva impaled Andhka with his trident and lifted him thereupon, where he remained upon for a very long time. Ultimately, realising his mistake Andhaka apologised to Shiva and started eulogising him. Pleased Shiva forgave him and made him the lord of all ganas.[4]

Shiva spears Andhaka

In the Vamana Purana, the story of Andhaka's birth remains same. Andhaka was the son of Hiranyaksha and cousin of Prahlada. Andhaka and Prahlad along with their army defeat the Devas and their army making Prahlada the king of the three worlds. Sometime later, Prahlada battles Vishnu, but loses the battle due to a curse the sages have given him. Upon his loss, he appoints Andhaka as the king and goes to apologise to Vishnu who forgives him. Upon returning, Andhaka tries to make him the king again, but he refuses. Sometime later, Mahishasura and Tarakasur are defeated and killed by the gods a feat which he thought was impossible. After this incident, Andhaka desires a beautiful wife and is told of Parvati who was the most beautiful woman in the world. Andhaka, not knowing the story of Parvati and that she is his mother, goes to Shiva's abode and tries to abduct Parvati, but she assumes a hundred forms and knocks him unconscious in the battle. Andhaka then flees back to Patala, but still wants to acquire Parvati. Prahlada tried to dissuade him and also reveals to him, his true origins about his being born from the sweat of Shiva when Parvati covered his eyes. Andhaka, however, is not persuaded and attacks Shiva and other deities with his army. Most of his army is destroyed in the battle. Seeing Andhaka disguises himself as Shiva to fool Parvati and abduct her. She however recognises him, and hides along with her servants. Unable to locate her Andhaka returns to the battle. But Kartikeya and Ganesha accompanied by the ganas destroy his chariot. Shiva then battles him and pierces his heart, but Andhaka is able to recover and strike Shiva with his mace. The blood that falls on the ground from the wound, gives rise to the eight forms of Bhairava. Shiva then impales Andhaka on his Trishul and lifts him. The sweat that emanates from Shiva gives rise to a girl, and a boy who is the colour of charcoal who consumes Andhaka's blood before it falls onto the ground. Shiva names the girl and the boy Charchika and Mangala and holds Andhaka impaled on his trident for thousands of years which reduced his body to a mere skeleton-like figure. Andhaka then begs for forgiveness and started praising Shiva upon which Shiva agrees to release him only if he accepts Parvati as his mother. Andhaka does so and also accepts Shiva as his father. He is forgiven and made a gana-chief. Shiva took him to the Mandara mountain where Parvati also blessed the same boon to him and he later became famous by the name of Bhringi.[2][7]

In the Kurma Purana too, Andhaka is the natural son of Hirankyasha and becomes the king of the Asuras after the death of Prahlada. Like other variants he lusts after Parvati and goes to Madara to abduct her when Shiva is away. Shiva had entrusted Nandi for guarding his household and the gods including Vishnu, to attend to and protect Parvati. When Andhaka arrives, Nandi battles with him and pierces him with a trident and upon spilling of his blood, a thousand more demons like him are created who defeat Nandi and the Devas. Nandi then prays to Vishnu for aid. When Vishnu arrives he creates many mother goddesses (The Matrikas) who vanquish the demons. When Shiva returns, Andhaka returns to try to abduct Parvati again. Shiva and Vishnu battle Andhaka and his army. Vishnu tells Shiva to kill the demon. Shiva impales him on his trident and begins to dance. But by his mere touch, Andhaka's sins are burnt away and he begs for forgiveness and is made a gana-chief. Shiva then made Andhaka a handsome man who then bows to Parvati for forgiveness who accepted him as her son.[2][8]

In the Matsya Purana, Andhaka the son of Hirankyasha tries to abduct Parvati from Shiva. A battle ensues in the Mahakala forest and that blood that flows him in turn gives rise a thousand more demons like Andhaka. Shiva creates numerous divine mothers, the Maitrikas who drink the blood of the demons every time they are attacked. Upon them becoming satiated, he requests Vishnu's aid who creates the goddess Suska-Revati who drinks the blood of all the demons and kills them. When Shiva is about to strike the killing blow, Andhaka surrenders and begs for forgiveness by praying to him. Pleased by his devotion, Shiva makes him a gana.[2]

According to the Harivamsa Purana, Andhaka was a daitya and the son of Diti and the sage Kashyapa. After the defeat of Daityas by Vishnu, Diti made a plea to Kashyapa to give her such a son who couldn't be defeated by the gods. Kashyapa granted her boon and told her that except Shiva no one would be able to kill his son since he had no supremacy over Shiva. Kashyapa then touched her belly and a child was born with a thousand eyes and limbs. He wasn't blind but since he walked like a blind person he was called Andhaka. Over time, Andhaka becomes arrogant since he cannot be harmed by anyone. Once Andhaka goes to the court of Indra, abducts all the nymphs and defeats all the gods in the fight. He also begins hindering the performance of yajnas by the gods, who feeling tormented, approach Narada for assistance. Narada visits Andhaka to counsel him, but Andhaka is intrigued by the garland of Mandara flowers worn by Narada which have a very sweet fragrance. Andhaka enquires about the source of the flowers and Narada tells him that the flowers are in the Mandara forest protected by guards which no one can enter without Shiva's permission. Andhaka goes to Mandara forest, telling the mount Mandara of his invulnerability and asking him the whereabouts of the forest. The mountain refuses to oblige and disappears. Andhaka in anger uproots the entire mountain and with the help of his Asura army starts grinding the mountain destroying all its natural beauty. Shiva, upon knowing this, blesses the mountain with a boon which restored it to its original splendor. The mountain summits started killing the Asuras who had earlier attempted to destroy them. Upon seeing this, Andhaka calls out the owner of the mountain wanting to burn the entire Mandara mountain. In response, Shiva carrying a mace, mounts his bull for killing Andhaka. When Shiva released his spear, it strikes the demon in the chest and reduces him to ashes.[2][3][9]

In the Linga Purana, Andhaka's story is related as a variation of accounts of Harvamsa and Kurma Purana. Andhaka was the son of Hiranyaksha and was given immunity from death by Brahma after he performs a severe penance. He traverses the three worlds and conquers the heavens. The Devas retreat to Mandara mountain where the demon follows them. Shiva on the request of the Devas, challenges Andhaka, destroys his army and impales him on his trident. However, the divine sight of Shiva burns away all of Andhaka's sins and he started eulogizing him. Shiva pleased with his devotion forgave him and made him the chief of all his ganas.[2] Andhaka's son is Adi. Another version states that Andhaka fought with the Ganas and Shiva's sons but they lost the battle after which Shiva sends Veerabhadra to battle it out with Andhaka, but every time Veerabhadra kills Andhaka, another one of them arises as his blood falls upon the Earth. Parvati, angered by this, assumes the form of Kali and destroys each and every copy of Andhaka except for the real one who is saved by Shiva and given a new life.

In the Ramayana and MahabharataEdit

In the Ramayana, the story of Kali killing Andhaka is briefly noted in Chapter 30 of the Aranya Kanda, during the moment when Khara, the younger brother of Ravana is killed by Rama. The scripture tells that Andhaka was killed by Shiva's third eye in the forest of the sage Sveta. In the Mahabharata, Andhaka is killed by Kali, though not by her third eye as in the Ramayana.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Stella Kramrisch (January 1994). The Presence of Siva. Princeton University Press. pp. 375–. ISBN 978-0-691-01930-7. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Charles Dillard Collins (1 January 1988). The Iconography and Ritual of Siva at Elephanta. SUNY Press. pp. 58–. ISBN 978-0-7914-9953-5. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  3. ^ a b George M. Williams (27 March 2008). Handbook of Hindu Mythology. Oxford University Press. pp. 54–. ISBN 978-0-19-533261-2. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  4. ^ a b B. K. Chaturvedi (2004). Shiv Purana. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. pp. 106–. ISBN 978-81-7182-721-3. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  5. ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 67.
  6. ^ a b Dr. Vinay (2004). Shiv Puran. Diamond Pocket Books Ltd. pp. 76, 77. ISBN 978-81-7182-207-2.
  7. ^ "Vamana Purana". Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  8. ^ "Kurma Purana". Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  9. ^ Ganga Ram Garg (1992). Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World Vol. 3. Concept Publishing Company. p. 449. ISBN 978-81-7022-376-4.