In this chapter of Anushashana Parva of Mahabharata Lord Shiva tells the reason why his neck is blue. He states:

देवकार्यार्थ सिद्ध्धयर्थम् पिनाकं मे करे स्थितम् ।।
इन्द्रेण च पुरा वज्रं क्षिप्तं श्रीकाङ्क्षिणा मम ।
दग्ध्वा कण्ठं तु तद्यातं तेन श्रीकण्ठता मम ।।

The bow Pinaka is always in my hand for accomplishing the purposes of the deities. In days of yore, Indra, desirous of acquiring my prosperity, had hurled his thunderbolt at me. With that weapon my throat was scorched. For this reason I have become blue-throated.

Similarly in this chapter of Harivamsha Parva Lord Krishna also states:

 दत्तः प्रहारः कुलिशेन पूर्वं
        तवेशान सुरराज्ञातिवीर्य ।
    कन्ठे नैल्यं तेन ते यत्प्रवृत्तं
        तस्मात्ख्यातस्त्वं नीलकण्ठेति कल्पः ॥२-७४-३१

O highly valiant lord! Long ago, the king of deva-s, Indra struck your neck with vajra. Hence there was a mark of blue. Hence you became famous as the one with blue neck. You perceive all. Even then you pardon all such deeds.

The most famous reason for why Lord Shivas neck is blue is that he drank the Kãlakuta poison during Samundra Manthan which made his neck blue. However the blue necked epithet is itself described in SataRudriya portion of YajurVeda, and also in Kaivalya Upanishad which I also discuss here. Epithets described in the Vedas are eternal so there can be many stories which make Lord Rudras neck blue. Similarly the above story is one of them.

So, my question is:
What is the story of Indra attacking on Lord Shiva's neck with his Vajra?

As a sidenote, Indra also tried to attack Lord Shiva just after Tripura Samhara when Mahadeva took Vyuptakesha form as discussed here.. Here Lord Shiva paralyses Indras arm as:

Sakra, through ill-feeling endeavoured to strike that child with his thunderbolt. The divine lord Mahadeva, smiling, quickly paralysed the arm of the enraged Sakra.

Similarly in the chapter 29 of Rudra Samhita, Shiva Purana, Sati is condemning all Gods and sages about their participation in Dakshas sacrifice. Particularly for Indra she says:

इन्द्र त्वं किं न जानासि महादेवस्य विक्रमम् ।
भस्मिकृत पविस्तेन हरेण क्रुरकर्मणा ।।

Oh Indra you are all aware of the prowess of  Mahadeva. The lord - performer of difficult tasks reduced your Vajra to ashes.

So, it is possible that Sati here is hinting the same incident to Indra.

  • 2
    During birth of Jalandhara, Indra tries to hurl his thunderbolt at matted man (Shiva in disguise) but Brihaspati finds out matted man was Shiva and warns Indra. May be a variant (story of different Kalpa) has this story. Padma Purana also doesn't mention Indra hurling his thunderbolt.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 7:45
  • I've never heard of Shiva's blue neck being due to Indra's Vajra, but I do know of one other explanation of Shiva's neck being blue, namely that it's because Shiva was choked by Vishnu's incarnation sage Narayana. Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 15:50

1 Answer 1


The story of Indra hurling Vajra at Rudra's throat is described in Vaishnava Khanda of Skanda Mahapurana.

This is how Chapter 14 Kartikamasa Mahatmya, Vaishnava Khanda of Skanda Purana describes the story.

  1. Formerly Sakra went to the Kailasa mountain to pay a visit to Siva. He was surrounded by all the Devas and accompanied by groups of celestial damsels.
  2. When he reached the abode of Siva, he saw a person of terrible activities there. He was highly terrifying on account of his curved teeth and hideous face.
  3. He was asked by him (Indra) : “Who are you? Where has the Lord of the universe gone?" Though asked thus frequently, O king, he did not reply.

8-9. Then the infuriated Lord with the thunderbolt in his hand rebuked him and spoke these words: "Oh! Though you are being asked by me, you have not replied. Hence I shall kill you with my thunderbolt. O vicious-minded one, who is there to save you?' After saying this, the Thunderbolt-bearing Lord smote him with force with his thunderbolt.

  1. Thereby his throat became blue and the thunderbolt was reduced to ash. Then Rudra blazed with his refulgence as if he would burn (everything).
  2. On seeing it Brihaspati immediately joined his palms in reverence. He made Indra prostrate flat on the ground and began to eulogize.

This is during birth of Jalandhara. But Shiva Purana and Padma Purana doesn't mention this story. As per Shiva Purana, Rudra stopped Indra's hand and he couldn't hurl it at Rudra. Padma Purana doesn't even mention this confrontation at all.

This difference is due to Kalpa Bheda, as Skanda Purana mainly mentions events of Satpurusha Kalpa while Shiva Purana and Padma Purana mention stories of Sveta and Padma Kalpas respectively, as discussed in this answer.

Also, it is interesting to note that Skanda Purana says Shiva as Linga absorbed Kalakuta Poison contrary to popular story of drinking Poison (or storing it at throat).

This is how Chapter 10, Kedarakhanda-Maheshwara Khanda of Skanda Purana describes kalakuta Episode.

Lomasa said

52-54. On being eulogized thus by Ganesa, the Lord (Siva), the sanctifier of all living beings, assumed the form of a Linga and consumed the Kãlaküta that arose there and caused the destruction of all the worlds. He made everything free from impurities. Since the lord Was endowed with great compassion and considerateness, all Devas, Asuras and human beings and all the three worlds were instantaneously saved.

So, Story of Indra hurling Vajra happened in Satpurusha Kalpa.

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