I was watching a TV show in which Samudra-manthan was in progress. In that when the poison came out of the sea, Lord Shiv has to drink it but he didn't swallow it. Because if he swallows it, he will die.

Shri Krishna has once said that only those things die which have taken birth but things which haven't taken birth will never die.

If Shri Krishna is right then why didn't Lord Shiv just swallow the poison as he has not taken birth (शिव अजन्मा है)?

Is it true that Lord Shiv would have died if he had swallowed the poison? If yes, then does it mean Shri Krishna is wrong?

I personally feel that both are correct but both are contrasting each other.

  • 9
    IMHO The reason Lord Shiva did not swallow the poison was not because He would have died. But it is to assume the attributes of a Yogi. Lord Shiva is the ideal for Yogis. Therefore He has all the qualities such as 1. Ash smeared symbolizing detachment, 2. Three eyes signifying the awakened Ajna Chakra, 3. The Ganges flowing implying the awakened sahasrara into which flows the all of Purity itself (Ganga), 4. Moon on his head symbolizing the wavering Mind, fully under His control, 5. The Trishul symbolizing His control over the Three Gunas, 6. Tiger skin symbolizing His Courage.
    – Sai
    May 21, 2015 at 4:05
  • 9
    By not swallowing the poison and holding it in His neck forever, He is showing His devotees that the Yogi remains free from all poison called temptation, ego, desire, etc. and remains fully detached, although He participates in worldly activities. The true sannyasi is the One who remains unattached. All the best.
    – Sai
    May 21, 2015 at 4:06
  • 1
    Thank you Sir. Now I understand that both Lord Shiv and Shri Krishna are correct in there situations.
    – Singh
    May 21, 2015 at 4:13
  • Shiva wearing d garland of snake created by him. He is fond of living any where like cemetery area or on mountain hill or jungle. He is also called paahupatinath . This may be the reason to invite Shiva to swallow the poison came out of samudra manthan.
    – user3027
    May 24, 2015 at 2:58

3 Answers 3


According to stories given in Shiva Purana, there is one Lord Shiva who is the main GOD and then Lord Rudra, who is a manifestation of Lord Shiva born from eyebrows of Lord Bramha. The TV serials hardly show this. This Rudra form is actually the one who resides on Mount Kailash and is also the one who married Mata Parvati. But, in most of the stories the name Shiva, Shankar, Mahadev, Rudra, etc are used interchangeably for both of them. So, we cannot be sure that the one who drank the poison is Lord Shiva or Lord Rudra. If he is Lord Rudra then I think since he is born out of Lord Bramha's eyebrows therefore he is not immortal.

According to Vishnu Purana and Shrimad Bhagvatam also, Lord Rudra was created by Lord Bramha but I think in these books Lord Visnhu/Lord Krishna has been shown as the main GOD instead of Lord Shiva and don't think they talk about 2 forms of Lord Shiva.

Following is the text from Shrimad Bhagvatam that describes the birth of Lord Rudra.

There was much anger generated in the mind of Brahmā, which he tried to control and not express. Although he tried to curb his anger, it came out from between his eyebrows, and a child mixed blue and red was immediately generated. After his birth he began to cry: O destiny maker, teacher of the universe, kindly designate my name and place. The all-powerful Brahmā, who was born from the lotus flower, pacified the boy with gentle words, accepting his request, and said: Do not cry. I shall certainly do as you desire. Thereafter Brahmā said: O chief of the demigods, you shall be called by the name Rudra by all people because you have so anxiously cried. My dear boy, I have already selected the following places for your residence: the heart, the senses, the air of life, the sky, the air, the fire, the water, the earth, the sun, the moon and austerity.... My dear boy Rudra, you have eleven other names: Manyu, Manu, Mahinasa, Mahān, Śiva, Ṛtadhvaja, Ugraretā, Bhava, Kāla, Vāmadeva and Dhṛtavrata.

So, I believe Lord Rudra might not be immortal but definitely being a param yogi and one of the main Gods, he has control over his body and senses. He was still capable enough to hold/control the poison in his throat.

  • Well I wasn't aware of these facts, thanks for sharing!
    – Just_Do_It
    Dec 12, 2017 at 13:22
  • But at many places Parvati is referred as wife of Shiva. Why Dec 23, 2020 at 8:33

Adi Shankara in Shivananda Lahiri states that Lord Shiva kept poison in neck and didn't swallow because stomach of Lord Shiva also contains worlds and it was to protect those worlds:

नालं वा परमोपकारकमिदं त्वेकं पशूनां पते
पश्यन् कुक्षिगतान् चराचरगणान् बाह्यस्थितान् रक्षितुम् ।
सर्वामर्त्यपलायनौषधमतिज्वालाकरं भीकरं
निक्षिप्तं गरलं गले न गिलितं नोद्गीर्णमेव त्वया ॥ ३१।।

Oh lord of all beings, Is not your one and only one great help sufficient? For with a view to give protection, To those beings which are movable and immovable, And which are placed inside thine belly, And also to those who are placed outside, The ultra fire producing and fearful herbal poison, Which makes all the devas flee in fright, Has been stopped by you in your neck itself. It is neither swallowed nor spit out!

ज्वालोग्रः सकलामरातिभयदः क्ष्वेलः कथं वा त्वया
दृष्टः किं च करे धृतः करतले किं पक्वजंबूफलम् ।
जिह्वायां निहितश्च सिद्धघुटिका वा कण्ठदेशे भृतः
किं ते नीलमणिर्विभूषणमयं शंभो महात्मन् वद ॥ ३२॥

How was the fierce flame like poison  Which made, all the courageous devas fear, Seen by you , my Lord? Was that fire carried  in your hand, Did it appear like the fully ripe plum  fruit to you? Was it not kept on your tongue, Did it appear as pills from the Siddha doctor? Was it not worn in your neck, Did it appear like a blue gem ornament to you? Oh , Sambhu the great one , be pleased to tell.

Shiva Purana Rudra Samhita Yuddha Khanda chapter 48 also mentions Sukra witnessing worlds inside Lord Shiva's body:

Then a great tumult arose in the midst of the armies of the Pramathas and Asuras. At that great noise, Bhargava who was within the belly of Shiva began to wander seeking an outlet like the unaboded wind. In Shiva's body he saw seven worlds including patala. He saw diverse worlds of Indra, Aditya and celestial damsels as well as the battle between Pramathas and Asuras.

  • 2
    Sukra actually sees whole Brahmanda in Shiva's stomach when Shiva swallows him. Shiva Purana mentions it.
    – The Destroyer
    Dec 12, 2017 at 13:10
  • @The Destroyer can you give me chapter name?.. It would be useful to add it here...
    – Tezz
    Dec 12, 2017 at 14:06
  • 2
    Chapter 48 Yuddha Khanda (Rudra samhita).
    – The Destroyer
    Dec 12, 2017 at 14:44
  • Wow very interesting! Feb 1, 2019 at 18:20

Who else had swallowed the poison then, had Lord Siva not done so? Each and every scripture that has described the Churning of the Ocean episode has confirmed that Lord Siva consumed it. In fact, it was ONLY Lord Siva's ability to swallow the 'Halahala' poison. And another thing, almost all our authentic scripture including the Vedas, the Upanishadas, the Puranas, and the Mahabharata confirms that Lord Siva can NOT die, He is imperishable. The Rig Veda has clearly said Him 'bṛhantamṛṣvamajaraṃ' (RigVeda 6.49.10) Meaning : Great Blissfull and Immortal.

Below are some other such verses :

1.Hridpundariksham viryam vishuddham vicintyamadhye visadam vishokam Achintyambaktyanantarupam Sivam prasanammritam brahmayonim tamadimadhyanthavihinyakam bibhum cidanandarupamabhutam Umasahayam Parameswaram Prabvum Trilocanam nilkantham prashantam dhatya munirgachhyati bhutayonim smastasakshim tamasa parastat || ( Kaivolyopanishad 6-7)

He Who is beyond perception, manifestation, Whose forms are unending, Who is pure, blissful, immortal, the root cause of all the Universe, Who does not have any beginning, middle or end, Who is the only, all-pervading consciousness and beatitude, who is without any form and very much wonderful, that ever magnificent Master Who is conjoint with Mother Uma, omniponent, three-eyed, blue-necked, pacified, the great Yogis attain Him by dint of meditation. He is the source of everything, witness of everything and beyond darkness i.e. Avidya. 2.“.[vāsudeva] nūnaṃ sa deva denānām īśvareśvaram avyayam jagāma śaraṇaṃ drauṇir ekas tenāvadhīd bahūn |” (MBH 10:17:6) “Vasudeva said, “Verily, Drona’s son had sought the aid of that highest of all the gods, the eternal Mahadeva. It was for this that he succeeded in slaying, single-handed, so large a number of warriors”. 3.4. “atha kasmāduchyatē anantō yasmāduchchāryamāṇa ēva | tiryagūrdhvamadhastāchchāsyāntō nopalabhyatē tasmāduchyatē anantaḥ ||” (Atharvasiras Upanishad 4:04) “Next, why is He (Rudra) called ‘ananta’? Because, his end is available neither at the top nor at bottom, nor at right nor at left – therefore He is called ‘ananta (endless)’”. 4.“sa eva sarvaM yadbhuutaM yachcha bhavyaM sanaatanam.h | j~naatvaa taM mR^ityumatyeti naanyaH panthaa vimuktaye |”(Kaivalya Upanishad 9) “He alone is all that was, and all that will be, the Eternal; knowing Him, one transcends death; there is no other way to liberation

5.k ṣ ara ṃ pradhānam am ṛ tāk ṣ ara ṃ hara ḥ k ṣ arātmānāv īśate deva eka ḥ / tasyābhidhyānād yojanāt tattvabhāvād bhūyaś cānte viśvamāyāniv ṛ tti ḥ // Svetatsvara Upanishada //1.10 //

Prakriti is perishable. Hara, the Lord, is immortal and imperishable. The non-dual Supreme Self rules both prakriti and the individual soul. Through constant meditation on Him, by union with Him, by the knowledge of identity with Him, one attains, in the end, cessation of the illusion of phenomena.
6.mahān prabhur vai puru ṣ a ḥ sattvasyai ṣ a pravartaka ḥ / sunirmalām imā ṃ prāptim īśāno jyotir avyaya ḥ // Svetatsvara Upanishada 3.12 //

He, indeed, is the great Purusha, all pervasive and all-powerful. He also inspires the mind to attain the state of purity. He is the Supreme Lord, self-luminous and imperishable. 7.dve ak ṣ are brahmapare tv anante vidyāvidye nihite yatra gū ḍ he / k ṣ ara ṃ tv avidyā hy am ṛ ta ṃ tu vidyā vidyāvidye īśate yas tu so 'nya ḥ //Svetatsvara Upanishada 5.1 //

In the Immutable, infinite Supreme Brahman remain hidden the two: knowledge and ignorance. Ignorance leads to worldliness and knowledge, to Immortality. Brahman, who controls both knowledge and ignorance, is different from both.

Not only this Lord Siva has been stated the Lord of Immortality and knowing Him a person becomes immortal.

puru ṣ a eveda ṃ sarva ṃ yad bhūta ṃ yac ca bhavyam / utāmrtatvasyeśāno yad annenātirohati // Svetatsvara Upanishada 3.15 //

The Purusha alone is all this-what has been and what will be. He is also the Lord of Immortality and of whatever grows by food.

ya eko jālavān īśata īśanībhi ḥ sarvā ṃ l lokān īśata īśanībhi ḥ / ya evaika udbhave sa ṃ bhave ca ya etad vidur am ṛ tās te bhavanti // Svetatsvara Upanishada 3.1 //
24 The one who spreads the net, who rules alone by His powers, who rules all the worlds by His powers, who is one and the same at the time of creation and dissolution of the worlds - they who know Him become immortal.

These are the verses from the 'Shruti' and a 'Shruti' verse is ever TRUE. Therefore, how could Lord Siva die of consuming the 'Halahala' poison when He is not only immortal but also the Lord of immorality and knowing Him one becomes immortal?

Also, the Taittiriya Aranayaka of the Krihsna Yajurveda confirms Lord Sivais the controller of every created being.: ishanah sarvavidyanamishvarah sarvabhutanam brahmadhipatirbrahmano'dhipatirbrahma shivo me astu sadashivom ||

“May the Supreme who is the ruler of all knowledge, ishana, controller of all created beings, the preserver of the Vedas and the one overlord of Hiranyagarbha, be benign to me. That Sadasiva described thus and denoted by Pranava(OM).” (Yajurveda Taittariya Aranyaka 10:21:1 )

So, Lord Siva could easily eliminate the devastating ability of the 'Halahala' poison at His own will ( as the 'Halahala' poison is a created being).

But He swallowed it instead to teach the world the ideals of sacrifice

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