Narada asks sage Pulastya about Vamana incarnation:
Vamana Purana is one of the eighteen Puranas written by sage Vyasa. It contains tales pertaining to Lord Vishnu in his Vamana (dwarf) incarnation. Sage Pulastya while giving answers to Narada’s enquiry narrates the tale of Vamana Purana.
All the Puranas give glimpses of Indian civilization and culture and Vamana Purana is no exception. It also teaches the virtue of righteousness and religiousness. Vamana Purana not only contains the divine tales of Nara-Narayana and Goddess Durga but it also contains tales of famous devotees like Prahlada, the salvation of Gajendra (elephant) etc.
Sage Narada asks Pulastya- “O revered sage! Why did Sri Hari take the incarnation of Vamana? Why did Prahlada fight a battle with the deities despite being a devotee of Lord Vishnu? How did Sati, Daksha Prajapati’s daughter become Mahadeva’s consort in her next birth? I am eager to know the answers to all these questions.”
Pulastya replied- “O Narada! Once, Sati requested Lord Shankar to make arrangements for a permanent abode. At that time, Lord Shankar had his abode at Mandar Mountain. Summer season was approaching and Sati quite rightly had apprehensions of living in the open. Lord
Shankar told her that as he was a recluse, he never felt a need of a permanent dwelling. Though Sati was not satisfied by his answers yet she kept quiet. This way, both of them continued to live there. The summer season had passed and now it was the turn of rainy season to arrive. Sati made the same request to Lord Shankar. This time, Lord Shankar told her that it was impossible for him to construct a house, as he had no wealth. He also told her that he had only a tiger skin as his clothing, the king cobra- his sacred thread, Padma and Pingal (snakes)- his ear-rings and Keval and Dhananjay as his armlets.
After hearing this, Sati became worried as to how she would pass the rainy season without a home. Lord Shankar then assured her that this problem would be easily solved if she lived above the clouds. This way, she would remain untouched by the showers. After this, both of them ascended towards the sky and started living above the clouds. From that day onwards, Lord Shankar came to be known as Jeebhootvahan (one whose vehicle is the cloud).
TALES OF LORD SHIVA
DAKSHA PERFORMS A GRAND YAGYA
Pulastya says- “This way, both Shiva and Sati lived above the clouds till the end of rainy season. When autumn season arrived, both decided on returning to Mandar Mountain. Daksha had organised a grand Yagya in which he had invited all the prominent deities and sages except his own son-in-law, Shankar and his daughter, Sati.”
Narada was surprised as to why Maheshwar- the lord of all splendours was not invited by Daksha. He was also curious to know why Lord Shankar had become a Kapali (a mendicant). Pulastya told him that during the period of final annihilation, Lord Vishnu after waking up from his sleep found a divine entity, who possessed three eyes, who had a trident in his hands and who wore a Rudraksha garland around his neck. Lord Vishnu then created ego, which had its evil effects on both Brahma and Shankar. Lord Shiva in his arrogance asked Brahma, his identity and origin. Lord Brahma then arrogantly asked Shankar, his identity. This way, a dispute ensued that later on turned into a fight in which, Brahma defeated Shankar. Lord Shiva severed two of the five heads of Lord Brahma. But the second head fell and got stuck on Lord Shiva’s left palm. Angrily, Lord Brahma created a terrific creature, which challenged Shankar and ridiculed him by saying that as he (Shankar) was a sinner, therefore, he would not dirty his hands by killing him.
Lord Shankar was ashamed of himself. He went to Badrikashrama and requested Lord Vishnu for some alms. Lord Vishnu asked Shankar to hit on his (Vishnu’s) left arm. Shankar hit Vishnu’s left arm with his trident and the impact resulted in the creation of three streams. The first stream went up in the sky and established itself as Akashganga. The second one was Mandakini, which was received by sage Atri. The third stream fell on the skull, which was stuck in Lord Shankar’s left palm. This resulted in the manifestation of a divine child who was ferocious and well armed with bow and arrows. Shankar instructed him to kill that creature, which was created by Brahma.
A tremendous duel was fought between them, which was inconclusive for thousands of divine years.
ATTONMENT OF LORD SHANKAR
Lord Shiva had committed a grave sin of Brahmahatya. All his efforts of separating Brahma’s skull from his left palm went in vain. In the meantime, an entity named Brahmahatya appeared before him and entered into his body.
Lord Shankar decided to go to Badrikashrama to atone for his sins. After reaching there, he became worried when he did not find Lord Vishnu. He went to take a bath in river Yamuna but as soon as he entered the river, the water dried up. He experienced this strange phenomenon at the Saraswati River as well. He then made pilgrimages to numerous sacred and holy places but still did not become free from Brahmahatya. Dejected, he ultimately went to Kurukshetra where he found Sri Narayana and requested him to free him (Shankar) from the sins of Brahmahatya. Lord Vishnu advised him to go on a pilgrimage to Varanasi where he would be liberated from his sins.
Following Vishnu’s instructions, Lord Shankar went to Varanasi and visited all the sacred sites like Dashashwamedh temple, Lolarka temple and Keshav temple. While he was worshipping Keshav, he said- “Though I have become liberated from my sins, yet I fail to understand the reason why this skull still sticks in my hand.” Keshav told him that his problems would be solved if he takes a bath in the lake, which was near the temple. Lord Shankar took a bath in that lake and ultimately the skull fell on the ground. The place where the skull had fallen later on became famous as Kapalmochan.