19 Avatars of Shiva appeared at different times to establish the Dharma. Lord Shiva is known as Mahadev, the greatest of the Devtas. He is also the giver of boons to the devotees. In Puranic Hinduism, he is one among the Trinity. He is responsible for the destruction of the world. However, in Shaivic texts, he is responsible for both creation, and destruction. He is always seen in a meditative posture. It is to show the importance of Yoga and Meditation in one’s life. Let’s see few facts about Avatars of Shiva before going through the list. You can also click here to see the 1000 names of Shiva.
- Avatars of Shiva take different forms to control the preserving power of nature. It is the divine balance between the three Gunas namely Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas.
- Lord Shiva blesses the devotees with wisdom to discriminate between good and bad.
- Hanuman is also one of the Avatars of Shiva.
You can go directly to any Avatar of Shiva by clicking on the link in the table of content.
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One: Piplaad Avatar
Avatar of Shiva known as Piplaad took birth in the house of Sage Dadhichi and his wife, Swarcha. Young Pipalaad lost the parents soon after he took birth. His aunt Dadhimati raised him. He was a bright kind, involved in all kinds of religious studies. In the later part of his life, Pipalaad came to know about the reason behind his father’s death. It was an impact of planet Shani. He became too angry with the planet god. He cursed Shani Dev and wanted to take revenge for his father’s death.
Immediately, Shani fell from the planetary constellation. This made the heavenly gods called Devtas look into the matter because the constellation would lose its balance. At the request of the Devtas, sage Piplaad agreed to forgive Shani. Meanwhile to avoid the impact of the harmful effect of Shani he blessed all the children below sixteen years of age. They would never be affected by the adverse effects of this planet. Also, whoever prays to this form of Shiva is freed from the impacts of Shani.
Two: Nandi Avatar, the bull in the Avatars of Shiva
Nandi Avatar of Shiva is seen as the vehicle of the Shiva himself. However, many of the Puranas consider him as one of the Avatars of Shiva. He took birth in the house of great Sage Shilada. During past lives, the sage used to be an ardent devotee of the great lord. Once he performed an immense meditation to have a vision of the great lord himself. Finally, one day, Shiva gave him his vision and blessed them with a child who would remain immortal on their demand. Since immortality was only possible through Bhakti, Nandi became a great devotee of Shiva. Later on, Nandi became gate-keeper of Kailasha mountain.
Three: Veerabhadra Avatar of Shiva
Third among the nineteen major avatars of shiva is the Veerabhadra avatar. He is one of the fiercest forms of Lord Shiva, also the destroyer of fear. Immediately after, Sati, the wife of Lord Shiva sacrificed herself in the sacred fire. The Veerabhadra incarnated from the hair of Lord Shiva and destroyed King Daksha’s fire sacrifice (Yajna). He also beheaded the Daksha, however later on the request of Gods, Lord Shiva gave Daksha the head of a Goat. In modern days also Veerbhadra is believed to protect the shakti pheetas of the mother goddess.
Four: Bhairava Avatar of Shiva
The Bhairava Avatar among the 19 Avatars of Lord Shiva is also known as Dandapani, or the punisher The literal translation of the word Bhairava is “terribly fearsome form”. It is believed that the Bhairava Avatar punishes the people who have a high amount of Tamas Guna or Negativity. He is also the protector of the 8 directions. Once, this Avatar of Shiva beheaded the fifth head of the Brahma. Bhairava is also the essence of Tantra Yoga.
Five: Ashwatthama Avatar of Lord Shiva
During the time of Mahabharata, the great teacher Dronacharya did immense austerities and penance to please Lord Shiva. Drona wanted Lord Shiva to take birth as his son. The great lord was pleased by his devotion and penance. He blessed Drona with a powerful and intelligent son named Ashwatthama which would be one among the Avatars of Shiva. Although, he took the side of Kauravas in the Mahabharata war. Later on, he would take charge as one of the Saptarishis ( Seven Sages) during the time period called Manvantar.
Six: Sharabha form of Shiva
This Avatar of Shiva took the shape for calming Narasimha, the Avatar of Vishnu. Narasimha was unable to control his anger after he killed the demon Hiranyakashipu, the enemy of his devotee Prahlada. Sharabha Avatar among the Avatars of Shiva was in the form of half lion-half bird. He was able to control the Narsimha form of Lord Vishnu by holding him and taking him to the sky.
Seven: Grihapati Avatar of Shiva
The Grihapati avatar of Shiva took birth in the house of a great sage named Vishwanar. His wife wanted lord Shiva as their son. So, they did extreme penance to please Lord Shiva. Later on, Grihapati blessed them took birth as one of the Avatars of Shiva. He too became a great devotee of Lord Shiva. The devotion and power were so great that Grihapati Avatar of Shiva was not even impacted by the Vajra of lord Indra too.
Eight: Durvasa Avatar, the sage among the Avatars of Shiva
This avatar among the 19 Avatars of Shiva was born to one of the greatest Sage of India named Atri and his wife, Anasuya. Durvasa was known for his short temperament. He cursed people whenever someone made him furious. However, due to his knowledge and achievements, he was respected by all humans and the Devtas. Once he blessed, Radha, the divine lover of Shri Krishna, so that whatever she would cook becomes tasty automatically.
Nine: Rishabha Avatar
In some of the major Avatars, Shiva had to change the form just to control the energies of Lord Vishnu. Once lord Vishnu went to lower realms. He bore sons from the women of Patala Loka. Lord Shiva had to appear in the form of a bull as one of the Avatars of Shiva to kill the sons born to Lord Vishnu along with the women of Patala Loka for divine balance.
Ten: Yatinath Avatar, the Strangest among the Avatars of Shiva
This Avatar of Shiva happened so that a devotee can be tested for the actions. The Yatinath avatar of Lord Shiva once came to a tribal couple. They did their best to safeguard their guest. Aahuk lost his life while safeguarding the guest, Yatinath. Still, he was seen devoted to the service of guest. Pleased by the devotion, Yatinath blessed them to be born again and meet as Nala and Damyanti
Eleven: Hanuman Avatar
Hanuman, the greatest devotee of Lord Vishnu is the eleventh avatar of Lord Shiva. He is also the 11th Rudra. He showed the world, the path of Bhakti, and selfless devotion towards the lord Rama. He proved that devotion itself is the greatest power of all beings.
Twelve: Krishna Darshan Avatar
This avatar of Lord Shiva took form to show the importance of Yajna. He proved to the sons of Manu that, offerings to every Yajna eventually reach to him only.
Thirteen: Bhikshuvarya Avatar
In this form, Lord Shiva appeared as a Bhikshu to save a pious child. This kid had lost the parents. However, he was blessed by Shiva himself and he was brought up very well.
Fourteen: Sureshwar Avatar
Once Lord Shiva had to appear to a young guy named Upamanyu as Indra to test the devotion. The young man made him reveal his true identity through logic and devotion.
Fifteen: Keerat Avatar.
This avatar among the Avatars of Shiva of Lord Shiva had to appear before Arjuna, the Pandav Prince to fulfill the niche of the Mahabharata war. At the suggestion of Lord Krishna, Arjuna meditated to Shiva to seek a weapon called Pashupata. Once he was meditating, a demon named Mooka tried to kill Arjuna in the form of boar. However, Lord Keerateshwar Shiva and Arjuna both pulled the arrow to kill it. Later on, Arjun realized that he is no other than Shiva himself. The place where Arjuna got the blessings is in modern-day Sikkim.
Sixteen: Sunatnartak Avatar, the dancer in the Avatars of Shiva
The dancer form of lord Shiva named Sunatnartak appeared in the King Himawat court. He performed the dance with damru (yoyo). The main aim for this Avatar of Shiva was to present the marriage proposal of Lord Shiva to the Goddess Parvati.
Seventeen: Brahmachari Avatar of Shiva
Just after Sati sacrificed herself in the sacred fire. She took birth as Parvati. However, she had to do immense penance to please Lord Shiva to get him as her husband. He appeared before in the form of a Brahmachari or the form with celibacy. This Avatar of Shiva happened to test the devotion of Parvati.
Eighteen: Yaksheshwar Avatar of Shiva
Once the devtas consumed Amrit, the nectar through Mohini, they became arrogant and egoistic. The great lord appeared in the form of Yaksha to destroy the ego of the Devtas. The Devas couldn’t even move a grass kept by Yaksha lord, this made their ego destroy in seconds.
Nineteen: Avadhut Avatar
Once while traveling to the mountains, Indra couldn’t recognize the beggar form of Shiva. He tried to attack him with the Vajra. However, Lord Shiva paralyzed Indra through his power and destroyed his ego.
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