We know that Lord Śiva is known as Kṛttivāsa, but what is the exact meaning of "Kritti"? Does it really mean hide or skin?

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    kṛttivāsa = kṛti+vas+asun, kṛtiḥ carmavāsaḥ asya, one who wears skin as vastra and; kṛti = kṛ+ktin, kriyatē iti prayatnaḥ, so, basically Gajasura (who represents Mada) and kṛttivāsa is the one who killed that Mada gajasura and put his skin on him.. basically if we offer all we do or place our all activities (kṛti) on Ishwara , we don't get Mada.. even kārtavīrya has similar meaning.. Mada is bad side of venus in astrology and Parashurama, good Venus, killed him. Even if you see krittivaseshwar temple in kāṣi, all that area has ṣukra related temples like Mrtyunjay, Jamadagneshwar.
    – The Destroyer
    Dec 3, 2023 at 7:22

3 Answers 3


Sivapurana has a story of how Siva became krittivasa (elephant)skin-wearer

SP 2.5.57

Lord Śiva said:— 56. O Gajāsura, O excellent Dānava, O depository of great valour, O well-intentioned one, I am delighted. Choose the boon favourable to you.

Sanatkumāra said:— 57. On hearing the words of lord Śiva, the granter of boons, the lord of Dānavas, the delighted Gajāsura replied.

Gajāsura said:— 58. O nude one, if you are delighted, O lord Śiva, wear this hide of mine sanctified by the fire of your trident.

  1. It is of your size, it is gentle to the touch, it has been kept as a stake in the battlefield, it is worth seeing, it is of divine nature and it is always pleasing.

  2. Let it ever emit an agreeable smell, let it be soft for ever, let it be ever free from dirt, let it be your best ornament always.

  3. O lord, even after being scorched by the flames of the fire of penance for a long time, this hide was not burnt, hence it is the storehouse of holy fragrance.

  4. O nude one, if my hide is not meritorious how did it get into contact with your limbs in the battlefield?

  5. O Śiva, if you are satisfied, please grant me another boon. Beginning from today let your name be Kṛttivāsas (one clad in elephant-hide).

Sanatkumāra said:— 64. On hearing his words, Śiva who is favourably disposed to his devotees, was pleased and replied to Gajāsura, the son of Mahiṣa “Let it be so”.

  1. Lord Śiva, the favourite of his devotees, becoming delighted spoke again to the Dānava Gajāsura whose mind had been purified by devotion.

Lord Śiva said:— 66. “In this holy place, a means to the achievement of liberation, let your meritorious body become phallic image yielding liberation to all.

  1. It will be the foremost of all phallic images yielding salvation, destroying great sins and named “Kṛttivāseśvara”.

Monier Williams dictionary says

कृत्ति a f. skin, hide, RV. viii, 90, 6; VS. ; AV. [ID=54781] a garment made of skin (fr. √3. कृत्?), Nir. v, 22 [ID=54782] the hide or skin on which the religious student sits or sleeps, &c. (usually the skin of an antelope), W. [ID=54783] the birch tree, L. [ID=54784] the bark of the birch tree (used for writing upon, for making hooka pipes, &c.), W. [ID=54785]

  • Thanks! Are there more examples of the word "kritti" being used in the Vedas?
    – Vom
    Jul 19, 2023 at 16:43

In the context of Lord Shiva, the term "Kṛttivāsa" is not commonly associated with the meaning of "hide" or "skin." Instead, "Kṛttivāsa" is a divine epithet that refers to Lord Shiva as the one who resides or dwells in Kṛttikā, which is a group of stars also known as the Pleiades.

The Pleiades or Kṛttikā is a cluster of stars in the Taurus constellation and holds great significance in Hindu Dharma. It is considered the abode of Lord Shiva, and his association with this cluster is celebrated during the festival of Kartik Purnima.

The term "Kṛttivāsa" can be understood as "Kṛttikā-vāsa," where "Kṛttikā" refers to the Pleiades, and "vāsa" means "residence" or "dwelling." Therefore, Kṛttivāsa denotes Lord Shiva as the one who resides in the Kṛttikā stars.

As for the term "Kritti" meaning "hide" or "skin," there might be other contexts or meanings associated with it, but it is not directly related to the epithet "Kṛttivāsa" used to refer to Lord Shiva.

  • Thanks! But as far as i know the term is "Kṛtti" + "Vāsas" which is "hide" plus clothing , on the other hand the term Kṛittikā is "कृत्-तिकन्" (correct me if I'm wrong) . I had some doubts related to "kritti" actually meaning skin . Btw , Śrī Vīrabhadra is also known as "Mṛgendrakṛttivāsas" or clad in the skin of a deer.
    – Vom
    Jul 20, 2023 at 16:45

Kritti - Hide/Skin.

Vasa - Cloth.

Krittivasa - Wearing Skin as a Cloth.

“parame vruksha aayudham nidhaaya kruthim vasaan Aachara pinaaka bibradhaagahi |” (Yajurveda iv:5:10:j).

“And come to us wearing the hide of tiger. Please bring along thine bow pinaaka, as an ornament”.

Sharabha Upanishad.:

हरिं हरन्तं पादाभ्यामनुयान्ति सुरेश्वराः । मावधीः पुरुषं विष्णुं विक्रमस्व महानसि ॥ ५॥

कृपया भगवान्विष्णुं विददार नखैः खरैः । चर्माम्बरो महावीरो वीरभद्रो बभूव ह ॥ ६॥

" When Lord Rudra, the God of all had abducted Lord Vishnu by catching his foot, all gods prayed him that he should have mercy on Lord Vishnu and should not slaughter him. Lord Rudra had badly pierced the body of Lord Vishnu by stern blows of his acute nails. The most chivalrous Lord Rudra has been addressed as Virabhadra at that time when he put on leather apparel of Narsimha at that moment"- 5-6.

Sometimes refering the above verse people say that Krittivasa means Bhagawan Shiva wearing the skin of Lord Narasimha as cloths.

I hope this helps.

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