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Highlights
- The Concept of Hindu Avatars
- The 19 Avatars of Lord Shiva
- The Mighty 11 Rudra Avatars of Lord Shiva


Among the supreme deities of the Hindu pantheon, Lord Shiva is known to be the most remarkable. Shiva is frequently alluded to as the "destroyer", however, it is he who obliterates the adulterations taking shelter in the human psyche. He frees a body of its deficiencies and makes it deserving of accomplishing moksha. It is he who is responsible for obliteration on the grounds that if the 'old' doesn’t perish, the 'new' wouldn't have the option to take birth. Lauded as Bholenath, Mahadev, Shankar, humanity has been blessed with several Lord Shiva's Avatars. Let's learn more about the avatars of Lord Shiva together. 

The Concept of Hindu Avatars

The word “Avatar” means to descend, to manifest, or to be born. In Hinduism, it alludes to the incarnation of God. It is believed that God comes down to Earth in the form of a human (or any other creature) whenever the innocent and pious people of this planet are facing great suffering at the hands of evil. God arrives on Earth protects the innocent, obliterates fiendishness, and reestablishes dharma (nobility).  An Avatar of God, like the Avatars of Lord Shiva, takes birth on Earth in some form to complete a noble mission and then return to his heavenly abode. The Prime Gods (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, or Shakti) cannot be referred to as Avatars; although in some scriptures they are hailed as the Gunnavatars- Brahma represents Satva Guna, Vishnu represents the Rajo Guna and Shiva represents the Tamo Guna. But, the prime gods are generally considered as timeless Gods, not exposed to a birth cycle. Strangely, in the 4 Vedas, which are the earliest wellsprings of spiritual sacred texts, the idea of the existence of the Avatars is not mentioned. The concept was introduced later in scriptural folklores of Itihas and Puranas. The story of Gods coming down to earth in the form of human beings or some other creature (Avatars) has been mentioned in Bhagavad Gita, one of the most essential parts of Itihas Mahabharata

The 19 Avatars of Lord Shiva

To succor the law and equilibrium of nature, there were several different Avatars of Lord Shiva in different Yugas. Kurma Purana discusses 28 Lord Shiva Avatars, yet in Shiva Purana,  19 Avatars of Shiva are spoken about as listed down below.


1. Piplaad Avatar

Lord Shiva was born to Rishi Dadhichi and his wife Swarcha as Piplaad. However, the sage and his wife soon lost their lives because of Shani's position in the sky at the time of his birth. Thus, Piplaad sought revenge on Shani and was the reason behind the planet's fall from its divine home. Afterward, he pardoned Shani, when the Devas intervened, on the prerequisite that the planet could never cause trouble for anyone before it turns 16 years old. Thus, revering the Piplaad avatar of Lord Shiva assists with disposing of Shani dosha.


2. Nandi Avatar

This Lord Shiva Avatar took birth in the abode of Sage Shilada. The sage performed extreme atonement to make himself worthy of Lord Shiva's blessings and asked the Lord to bless him with a child who would live on forever. The child, Nandi later was given the positions of the gatekeeper of Lord Shiva's abode, Kailasha, and the Lord's mount. 


21" Large Nandi - Shiva's Mount and Gana In Brass | Handmade | Made In India

3. Veerbhadra Avatar

One of the 19 Avatars of Lord Shiva, Veerabhadra came on Earth right after Goddess Sati sacrificed herself at the Daksha yagna. Lord Shiva ended up being very angry. He culled a hair strand from his head and tossed it on the ground. Veerbhadra and Rudrakali were conceived from that particular hair strand. This furious Lord Shiva Avatar is said to have broken the conciliatory vessels,  offended the priests, and lastly beheaded Daksha, stomped all over Indra, broke Yama's staff, dissipated the divine beings on all sides; before retreating to his heavenly abode, Mount Kailasha.

Virabhadra - The Trusted Guard of Lord Shiva

4. Sharabha Avatar

According to the Shiva Purana, this Lord Shiva Avatar in the form of part bird part lion was born to subdue Narasimha- the dangerous man-lion avatar of Lord Vishnu after it slew the demon Hiranyakashipu. This among all the avatars of Lord Shiva is revered as Sarabeshwara (Lord Sarabha) or Sharabeshwaramurti.

In this avatar, Lord Shiva has many arms and 4 legs, along with a lion's face. He bears things like a conch, a sword, a discus, an arrow, an agni, a mace, a plough, and a lotus flower, among a few others. His tusks and red eyes give him a very fierce look.


5. Ashwatthama

Impressed by Guru Dronacharya's extreme atonement and dedication to pleasing him so that he would be born as his son, Lord Shiva was born as Ashwatthama, a capable hero who assumed a significant part in the Mahabharata. He was being brought into the world as Bhardwaja's grandson and was raised as a Brahman but was drawn to Kshatriyahood. He was known to have a gem or mani on his forehead, which gave him divine powers. He was a skilled warrior who had mastered the use of every weapon and, according to popular belief, was cursed by Lord Krishna to be immortal and suffer till eternity.


6. Bhairava Avatar

One of the fiercest of the 19 avatars of Lord Shiva, the Bhairava avatar came into existence when Lord Brahma lied with regards to his mission for superiority, Lord Shiva Avatar of Bhirava beheaded Lord Brahma's fifth head. Brahma Hatya was a serious offense and the Bhairava Avatar of Lord Shiva had committed it, and consequently, Shiva had to carry the skull of Brahma and wander as a Bhikshatana for 12 years. In this avatar, Lord Shiva punishes those who commit sins of arrogance, greed, and lust. 


22" Lord Shiva as Bhairava In Brass | Handmade | Made In India

7. Durvasa Avatar

Lord Shiva chose to be born as the Lord Shiva Avatar of Durvasa to Sage Atri and his wife, Anasuya. This avatar of Lord Shiva came on earth to ensure proper discipline in the universe. Durvasa was a sage known for commanding huge respect both from human beings and devas. He was known for his short temper and only consumed the Durva herb. 


Maharsi Durvasa and Sri Durvasa Asrama

8. Grihapati Avatar

This Lord Shiva Avatar was brought to this world by the devoted admirer of Lord Shiva, Shuchismati. This avatar of Lord Shiva was knowledgeable in each and every one of the Vedas yet was cursed to have a short lifespan because of planetary positions. His excursion to Kashi was disturbed by Indra however Lord Shiva came to his safeguard and favored Grihapati by saying "even Kaalvajra would not have the option to kill you." Grihapati turned out to be extremely satisfied. The Shivalinga which he revered, later on, became renowned as 'Agnishwar linga'. Grihapati was appointed as the Lord of all directions by Lord Shiva.


9. Lord Hanuman

Lord Shiva was mesmerized by the presence of Lord Vishnu in his Mohini avatar during Samudra Manthan. The energy released during this time was gathered by the Saptarishis and placed in the belly of Mata Anjani, with Lord Shiva's approval. In this manner, one of the most powerful of the 19 avatars of Lord Shiva, Lord Hanuman, was conceived. This Lord Shiva Avatar was born to Mata Anjani and Kesari.

In the epic of Ramayana, Lord Hanuman played a key role in helping Lord Ram on his quest to reach Mata Sita by defeating Lanka king Ravana. He was known for his devotion to Lord Ram and is considered immortal because of a boon granted to him by his Lord.


Lord Hanuman Tanjore Paintings

10. Vrishabha Avatar

Lord Vishnu deceived every one of the asuras, during the Samundra Manthan, by creating a mirage of charming beauties. At the point when the asuras saw them, they coercively took these charming beauties to their house - Patal Lok. From that point forward, they again got back to assume responsibility for the Nectar which had been taken by the divine beings. While Vishnu went to demolish them in Patal Loka he, at the end of the day, became involved with the Maya and fathered numerous corrupt children there, who caused a commotion for the Gods. It was then the Lord Shiva Avatar of Vrishabha appeared as a bull and killed every one of the horrible children of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu came to battle the bull avatar of Lord Shiva, however, after perceiving that it was Lord Shiva's Avatar, he left the battle and retreated to his abode.

11. Yatinath Avatar

The Lord Shiva Avatar, Yatinath visited a tribal man, Aahuk, and his significant other who were vigorous aficionados of Lord Shiva. Their humble home couldn't oblige the Avatar of Lord Shiva disguised as a visitor, so Aahuk chose to rest outside. Sadly, he was killed by a wild creature in his sleep. His wife chose to end her own life but she was honored by the Lord Shiva Avatar, Yatinath, that they would be brought into the world as Nala and Damyanti in the following life.


12. Krishna Darshan Avatar

The Lord Shiva Avatar of Krishna Darshan speaks about the significance of yagna and customs in an individual's life. Prince Nabhag who was kept from his portion of the realm by his siblings had been asked by his dad to teach a sage to dispose of every one of his connections to effectively perform a yajna. At the point when the yagna was successfully performed, Sage Angiras satisfied was ready to give him all the abundance which was halted by Krishan Darshan Avatar of Shiva. Krishna Darshan Avatar taught Nabhag the importance of pious salvation and gave his blessings.


13. Bhikshuvarya Avatar

This Lord Shiva Avatar is known to keep human beings safe from all dangers of the world that might befall them. He took the form of a bhikshuk after King Sathyartha died in battle and his wife passed away by falling prey to a crocodile and their newborn was left in a forest. He saved the child and passed him on into the care of a poor woman who nurtured him until he grew up and avenged the death of his father and regained his lost kingdom.


14. Sureshwar Avatar

The son of Sage Vyaghrapaad, Upamanyu was graced with the presence of Lord Shiva Avatar, Sureshawar (as he showed up as Indra) and Goddess Parvati camouflaged as Indra and Indrani.  To test his commitment, the two of them advised Upamanyu to quit his atonement and stop revering Shiva. Upamanyu was infuriated and rejected their proposal even after being brutally cursed. Shiva and Parvati were highly impressed by his complete commitment and dedication Shiva guaranteed Upamanyu that he would be available close to his abode alongside Parvati until the end of time.


15. Kirateshwar Avatar

One of the 19 avatars of Lord Shiva, Kirat (a hunter) descended to earth while Arjuna was contemplating killing an Asura named Mooka, masked as a pig. Arjun's contemplation was disturbed by the sudden appearance of Lord Shiva's Avatar and after seeing the boar, Arjun and the Kirat struck it simultaneously. A battle broke between the Kirat and Arjuna with regards to who struck the boar first. The latter challenged Kirat for a duel. Master Shiva was impressed by Arjuna's courage and offered the young champion his Pashupati Astra.


16. Suntantarka Avatar

This Avatar of Lord Shiva asked Goddess Parvati’s hand in marriage from her revered father Himalaya. He disguised himself as a wandering dancer and reached the court of King Himalaya. Holding a damru in one hand, he started performing in the king’s court, leaving everyone enamored.

Upon being asked for a reward for his performance, Lord Shiva, in his Suntantarka Avatar, asked for Goddess Parvati’s hand in marriage. When King Himalaya realized that it was Lord Shiva himself who had come to his kingdom, he agreed to his proposal.


17. Brahmachari Avatar

Among all the 19 Avatars of Lord Shiva, this incarnation was the one who tested the willpower of Goddess Parvati to marry him.  He appeared before her as a Brahmachari and asked her the reason for her penance. When she revealed that she wished to marry Lord Shiva, the Brahmachari started speaking ill of the latter, which angered Goddess Parvati. Seeing her devotion towards him, Lord Shiva revealed his true form to Goddess Parvati, which pleased her. 


18. Yaksheshwar Avatar

At the point when the gods in the wake of overcoming the Asuras during Samudra Manthan, had become egotistical, Lord Shiva hated it, as pride was not a quality for divine beings to have. A Lord Shiva Avatar then, at that point, introduced some grass before them and requested that they cut it.

Lord Shiva endeavored to obliterate their bogus pride through this heavenly grass. No one could cut the grass and the pride disappeared. This avatar of Lord Shiva, at that point, came to be known as Yaksheshwar.


19. Avadhut Avatar

This Avatar of Lord Shiva was a reincarnation that came into existence to battle the egotistical nature of Lord Indra. 

He took the form of a sage and appeared before Lord Indra while passing by Mount Kailash along with other Gods. On being asked to move from the way, Lord Shiva remained unmoved in this avatar. When Lord Indra could not budge him despite using all his might, his pride shattered, and Lord Shiva disclosed his true form. 


Avadhut Gita

The Mighty 11 Rudra Avatars of Lord Shiva

Rudra Avatar of Lord Shiva is a notable incarnation of Shiva in Hindu Dharma. Rudra in a real sense implies a mighty storm and signifies a form of Shiva, his generally rough and enraged self. He is one of the three heavenly beings accepted to have made the universe.

Hindu sacred writings like Vishnu Purana, Matsya Purana, and Bhagavad Gita utilize the word Rudra to coin the eleven types of Shiva (Ekadasha-Rudras) born to end the savagery and oppression of rakshasas on the planet and paradise. Various sacred texts have different histories of these Rudra Avatars of Lord Shiva.

The 11 Rudra Avatars of Lord Shiva are

1) Kapali 2) Pingal 3) Bheem 4) Virupaksha 5) Vilohit 6) Shastra 7) Ajapaad 8) Ahirbudhnya 9) Shambhu 10) Chand and 11) Bhav.

These 11 Rudra Avatars of Lord Shiva, came into existence to protect divine beings and were gifted in battle. They obliterated the rakshasa and once again gave Indra, his rightful throne, as the legitimate King of the Gods and the city of Amrawati Puri since the time was forever made the city to shield it from such rakshasas and help the divine beings in their battle against evil. 

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Key Takeaways
1. Lauded as Bholenath, Mahadev, Shankar, humanity has been blessed with several Lord Shiva's Avatars.
2. Kurma Purana discusses 28 Lord Shiva Avatars, yet in Shiva Purana,  19 Avatars of Shiva
3. Lord Shiva was born to Rishi Dadhichi and his wife Swarcha as Piplaad.
4. Veerabhadra came on Earth right after Goddess Sati sacrificed herself at the Daksha yagna.
5. Lord Shiva was born as Ashwatthama, a capable hero who assumed a significant part in the Mahabharata.
6. The Bhairava avatar came into existence when Lord Brahma lied with regards to his mission for superiority
7. Lord Shiva chose to be born as the Lord Shiva Avatar of Durvasa to Sage Atri and his wife, Anasuya.
8. Lord Hanuman most powerful avatars of Lord Shiva, was born to Mata Anjani and Kesari.
9. Lord Shiva Avatar of Vrishabha appeared as a bull and killed every one of the horrible children of Lord Vishnu
10. The Lord Shiva Avatar of Krishna Darshan speaks about the significance of yagna and customs in an individual's life. 
11. The son of Sage Vyaghrapaad, Upamanyu was graced with the presence of Lord Shiva Avatar, Sureshawar (as he showed up as Indra)
12. Rudra Avatar of Lord Shiva is a notable incarnation of Shiva in Hindu Dharma.

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