I am referring to this blog where the following is stated:

There is a persistent motif of the deva Rudra (Śiva) being originally refused ritual offerings of the yajña to which the other deva-s were entitled. Rudra eventually acquires his share of the offering, often via a violent confrontation with the other deva-s. One version of this legend, first seen in the Brāhmaṇa texts like the Gopatha Brāhmaṇa of the Atharvaveda, has Rudra destroy the ritual of Prajāpati and injure several of the deva-s upon being excluded from the ritual offering (Gopatha Uttarabrāhmaṇa 2-4).


In parallel in other Brāhmaṇa texts there are other narratives of the confrontation between the progenitor deva Prajāpati and Rudra. One of these involves the slaying of Prajāpati by Rudra for the former’s act of incest with his own daughter. An allusion to this legend is found in the Ṛgveda itself where the deva-s are said to call upon Rudra to enforce natural law by preventing the incest of Prajāpati (RV 10.61.7).

Does the Shiva Puranas or any other non-vedic literature talk of these incidences? From my limited reading, I only know of the Sati's immolation that led Rudra to slay the Prajapati. On the incest issue, is the mythological story of Brahma's head severed by Rudra being alluded to here and confused with Prajapati? If not, which Prajapati is refered to here?

  • I think Daksha was also called Daksha Prajapati and 1st incident is related to when Daksha had not invited Lord Rudra(popularly called Lord Shiva) and then when he was not given respect in Yagna by not inviting him and by no sacrifice in his name. And later after death of Devi Sati, Lord Rudra sent his Gana army with Nandi and Veerbharda to destroy the yagna and punish anyone who goes against them.
    – Aby
    Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 11:17
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    Second incident, i think is regarding Lord Brahma. There is an incident when Lord Bramha was attracted with Sandhya. He was later scolded by Lord Rudra/Shiva and on Sandhya's request after her penance, he booned that people will not have any wrong feelings towards other sex until they reach their teen age.
    – Aby
    Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 11:22

1 Answer 1


There are two seperate incidents. First of all, there is the incident where Shiva destroyed Daksha's Yagna. It's described in various scriptures:

  1. Here is how it's described in this Kanda of the Taittiriya Samhita of Yajur Veda.

    The gods excluded Rudra from the sacrifice; he pierced the sacrifice, the gods gathered round it (saying), 'May it be right for us.' They said, 'Well offered will this be for us, if we propitiate him.' That is why Agni is called the 'well offerer' (svistakrt). When it was pierced (by him) 3 they cut off (a piece) of the size of a barleycorn; therefore one should cut off (a piece) the size of a barleycorn. If one were to cut off more, he would confuse that part of the sacrifice. If he were to make a layer and then to sprinkle, lie would make it swell on both sides. He cuts it off and sprinkles it; there are two operations; the sacrificer has two feet, for support. If he were to transfer it (to the Brahman) crosswise, he would pierce the unwounded part of the sacrifice; lie transfers it in front; verily he transfers it in the proper way. They transferred it for Pusan. Pusan having eaten it lost his teeth; therefore Pusan has pounded food for his share, for he has no teeth. The gods said of him, 'He has lost (his teeth), he is not fit for the offering.' They transferred it to Brhaspati. Brhaspati was afraid, 'Thus indeed will this one fall on misfortune.' He saw this Mantra; 'With the eye of the sun I gaze on thee', he said, for the eye of the sun harms no one. He was afraid, 'It will harm me as I take it.' 'On the impulse of the god Savitr, with the arms of the Açvins, with the hands of Pusan I take thee', he says; verily, impelled by Savitr, he took it with the holy power (Brahman) and with the gods. He was afraid, 'It will harm me as I eat.' 'Thee with the mouth of Agni I eat', he said, for nothing harms the mouth of Agni. He was afraid, 'It will harm me when I have eaten.' 'With the belly of the Brahman', he said, for nothing harms the belly of the Brahman. 'With the holy power (Brahman) of Brhaspati', (he said), for he is fullest of the holy power (Brahman).

  2. Here is how Janaka describes it in this chapter of the Bala Kanda of the Ramayana:

    Once, during the devastation of the Vedic-ritual of Daksha Prajapati, the mettlesome god Rudra, rancorously outstretching the bowstring of this bow, said this to all gods, superciliously. 'Oh, gods, whereby you have not apportioned my portion of oblations in Vedic-ritual s, as I am also the desirer of such portion, thereby I will shred the highly revered heads of yours with this bow.' So said Shiva to gods. Then, oh, best saint Vishvamitra, all gods are truly dismayed, and on their supplicating, Bhava, namely Shiva, the God of Gods is gladdened. And that Sublime Soul Shiva gladly gave that bow to all of the great souled gods, and oh, godly saint, then those great souled gods gave this gem of a bow of Shiva, the God of Gods, to our ancestor Devaraata, for custodial care.

  3. Here is how Krishna describes it in this chapter of the Sauptika Parva of the Mahabharata:

    After the krita-yuga had elapsed, the gods, desirous of performing a sacrifice, duly made preparation for one according to the directions laid down in the Vedas. They collected clarified butter and the other requisites. And they not only devised what the requisites of their sacrifice should be, but also determined those amongst themselves that should have a share in the sacrificial offerings. Not knowing Rudra truly, the celestials, O king, assigned no share for the divine Sthanu. Seeing that the celestials assigned to him no share in the sacrificial offerings, Sthanu, clad in deer skins, desired to destroy that Sacrifice and with that object constructed a bow. There are four kinds of Sacrifices: the loka Sacrifice, the Sacrifice of special rites, the eternal domestic Sacrifice, and the Sacrifice consisting in the gratification derived by man from his enjoyment of the five elemental substances and their compounds. It is from these four kinds of Sacrifice that the universe has sprung. Kapardin constructed that bow using as materials the first and the fourth kinds of Sacrifices. The length of that bow was five cubits. The sacred (mantra) "vashat," O Bharata, was made its string. The four parts, of which a Sacrifice consists, became the adornments of that bow.

    Then Mahadeva, filled with rage, and taking up that bow, proceeded to that spot where the celestials were engaged in their Sacrifice. Beholding the unfading Rudra arrive there attired as a brahmacari and armed with that bow, the goddess Earth shrunk with fear and the very mountains began to tremble. The very wind ceased to move, and fire itself, though fed, did not blaze forth. The stars in the firmament, in anxiety, began to wander in irregular courses. The Sun's splendour decreased. The disc of the Moon lost its beauty. The entire welkin became enveloped in a thick gloom. The celestials, overwhelmed, knew not what to do. Their Sacrifice ceased to blaze forth. The gods were all terrified. Rudra then pierced the embodiment of Sacrifice with a fierce shaft in the heart. The embodied form of Sacrifice, assuming the shape of a deer, fled away, with the god of fire. Approaching heaven in that form, he blazed forth in beauty. Rudra, however, O Yudhishthira, pursued him through the skies. After Sacrifice had fled away, the gods lost their splendour. Having lost their senses, the gods were stupefied.

    Then the three-eyed Mahadeva, with his bow, broke in rage the arms of Savitri, and plucked out the eyes of Bhaga and the teeth of Pushana. The gods then fled away, as also all the several parts of Sacrifice. Some amongst them, reeling as they sought to fly away, fell down senseless. The blue-throated Rudra, having agitated them thus, laughed aloud, and whirling the horn of his bow, paralysed them. The celestials then uttered a cry. At their command, the string of the bow broke. The string having broken, the bow became stretched into a line. The gods then approached the bowless god of gods and, with the embodied form of Sacrifice, sought the protection of the puissant Mahadeva and endeavoured to gratify him. Gratified, the great god threw his wrath into the water, O king, that wrath, assuming the form of fire, is always employed in consuming that liquid element. He then gave unto Savitri his arms, Bhaga his eyes, and Pushana his teeth. And he also restored the Sacrifices themselves, O Pandava! The world once more became safe and sound. The gods assigned unto Mahadeva all the libations of clarified butter as the share of great deity.

  4. Here is how it's described in this chapter of the Srimad Bhagavatam:

    Vīrabhadra tore off the mustache of Bhṛgu, who was offering the sacrificial oblations with his hands in the fire. Vīrabhadra immediately caught Bhaga, who had been moving his eyebrows during Bhṛgu’s cursing of Lord Śiva, and out of great anger thrust him to the ground and forcibly put out his eyes. Just as Baladeva knocked out the teeth of Dantavakra, the King of Kaliṅga, during the gambling match at the marriage ceremony of Aniruddha, Vīrabhadra knocked out the teeth of both Dakṣa, who had shown them while cursing Lord Śiva, and Pūṣā, who by smiling sympathetically had also shown his teeth. Then Vīrabhadra, the giantlike personality, sat on the chest of Dakṣa and tried to separate his head from his body with sharp weapons, but was unsuccessful. He tried to cut the head of Dakṣa with hymns as well as weapons, but still it was hard to cut even the surface of the skin of Dakṣa’s head. Thus Vīrabhadra was exceedingly bewildered. Then Vīrabhadra saw the wooden device in the sacrificial arena by which the animals were to have been killed. He took the opportunity of this facility to behead Dakṣa.

Second of all, there is the incident where Shiva cut off Brahma's fifth head in response to Brahma's attempted incest with his daughter Saraswati, which I discuss in my answer here. Here are some scriptures which mention it:

  1. Here is how it's described in this chapter of the Shatapatha Brahmana of the Yajur Veda:

    Pragâpati [Brahma] conceived a passion for his own daughter... 'May I pair with her!' thus (thinking) he united with her. This, assuredly, was a sin in the eyes of the gods. 'He who acts thus towards his own daughter, our sister, [commits a sin],' they thought. The gods then said to this god who rules over the beasts (Rudra), 'This one, surely, commits a sin who acts thus towards his own daughter, our sister. Pierce him!' Rudra [i.e. Shiva], taking aim, pierced him.

  2. Here is how it's described in the Jnanasamhita of the Shiva Purana:

    Brahma desired Sarasvati and went to her, asking her to stay with him. She, being his daughter, was furious at this and said, 'Your mouth speaks inauspiciously and so you will always speak in a contrary way.' From that day, Brahma's fifth head always spoke evilly and coarsely. Therefore one day when Siva was wandering about with Parvati and came to see Brahma, Brahma's four heads praised Siva but the fifth made an evil sound. Siva, displeased with the fifth head, cut it off.

  • Thanks for the answer. The latter part of question is why Prajapati is associated with the incest story? I have heard of the Brahma version cited above. Also, what is your take on the point that these stories are purely cosmic allegories as described in the blog.
    – Naveen
    Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 17:24
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    @KeshavSrinivasan I have a doubt about the second incident. Devi Saraswati was created by Lord Brahma as his partner and although it seemed incest but she was created intentionally. And later Goddess Saraswati had to marry Lord Brahma. Secondly the text in the question says 'deva-s are said to call upon Rudra to enforce natural law by preventing the incest of Prajāpati'. Here Lord Rudra cannot enforce any law. It was because of law thing that I thought it was the incident of Sandhya, in which the law was made that people will know about sexual desire only after attaining puberty.
    – Aby
    Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 17:34
  • @Naveen Both Brahma and Dakshas are Prajapatis. And yeah, some people like Purva Mimamsakas try to interpret Hindu stories in terms of astronomical and other natural phenomena, but I think Hindu stories literally happened the way they're described. Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 22:57
  • @Aby I think Sandhya is the same as Saraswati. In any case, the gods clearly identify it as incest. In the Shatapatha Brahmana they say "This one, surely, commits a sin who acts thus towards his own daughter, our sister. Pierce him!" The Matsya Purana excerpt quoted in my answer here says the same thing. Regardless of whether he created her intentionally for that purpose, she was still his daughter and thus it is still incest. Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 23:14
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    In that case, every human is an incest product according to Abrahamic religions as Eve was literally brought to life by using Adam's rib, thus making her his 'product'. Commented May 26, 2016 at 4:51

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