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Jalamdhara

by Stephen T. Naylor
Jalamdhara was one of the asuras. At one point he attained so much power that he was able to conquer the world. He was the son of Ganga and the sea. His birth was at the urging of Shiva. It seemed that one day, the gods went to visit Shiva at his home on Mount Kailasa. They entertained him with songs and dancing, and he was so pleased with their display, that he offered to grant them any wish. Indra asked that he be made as great a warrior as Shiva himself was. Shiva granted the request, and the gods departed. Shiva wondered what Indra planned to do with this new power; as he was pondering, his Anger at Indra's wish became manifest, a black shape who appeared before the god. It asked that Shiva make it look like the god. Shiva did so, then ordered his Anger to go to the river Ganges and have her mate with the sea. Their union produced a son; when he was born, the earth trembled and wept, and the universe shook with thunder. Brahma perceived the power of the child, and named him Jalamdhara. He could fly on the winds, float over the oceans, and tame the most savage of lions. He was to be the instrument of Shiva's uncontrolled Anger to seek revenge on the gods.

Jalamdhara was given a kingdom when he grew to manhood and a wife named Vrinda. This kingdom grew powerful, and Jalamdhara felt he had the strength to challenge the gods. He gathered his armies and invaded heaven. The war was brutal and thousands died. Jalamdhara had the ability to raise the dead, however, so his armies never grew weaker. Finally Vishnu met the demon in single combat, but even he was no match for him, and was only saved from death through the begging of Lakshmi. Jalamdhara chased the devas from heaven and ruled in their place.

The gods were not ready to give up, however. They went to Shiva and asked for his help. Shiva now saw the result of his Anger, and was ready to do what ever he could to overthrow Jalamdhara. He advised the gods to combine their powers and create one unstoppable weapon. The gods created flames which burned white hot; Shiva added the power of his third eye, and Vishnu contributed the fire of his divine anger. Shiva coalesced this together under his foot, where he compressed it into a flaming discus. The weapon was so bright that Brahma's beard was turned red by it, and Shiva had to hold it under his armpit to hide its brilliance.

While the gods were plotting their vengeance, Jalamdhara had laid siege to Mount Kailasa. He had started to lust after Shiva's wife Parvati. Parvati escaped from him and turned herself into a lotus flower, while her attendants transformed themselves into bees and swarmed around her as protection. While he was doing this, Vishnu learned of it; he took on the appearance of the demon, and went to Jalamdhara's wife Vrinda. When Vrinda learned the next day that she had slept with someone other than her husband, she put a curse on her seducer, then died from grief.

Jalamdhara was furious when he learned of her death, and rushed to meet the forces of the gods again, this time to crush them forever. Another horrible battle ensued, with Shiva and the demon meeting in combat. Shiva pulled forth the flaming discus and let it fly, severing the head of his creation turned enemy. Jalamdhara was not to be discouraged by anything so minor as the removal of his head, and promptly grew another. Shiva severed that one as well, only to see yet another grow in its place. Shiva grew desperate and called on the goddesses for help. They came to the battlefield in the form of hideous ogresses. They drank the blood of the asura as it flowed onto the ground, and he soon became too weak to continue the fight and was defeated. Thus the gods were able to regain their rightful home.


Article details:

  • Also known as:
    Jalandhara

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