I read the extract as shown in the image below from Vayuviya Samhita Chapter 14 of Shiva Purana:

enter image description here

In the verse # 9 (the highlighted one), it is said that:

He (Lord Rudra) is brilliant holding the skulls of asura Jalandhara, Brahma and Indra, his tawny hair, mustache and beard are drenched in the surging waves of Ganga.

This line is said in the praise of Lord Rudra (popularly known as Lord Shiva). I am aware that Jalandhara was a demon killed by him. Lord Brahma's one head was also cut by Lord Rudra/Shiva but I don't know of any incident where Indra's head was being cut by Lord Rudra/Shiva. Do we have any scriptures that store some story behind this?

  • 4
    This is probably the head of some previous Indra, not like the story of Shiva temporarily killing Surya discussed in your question here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/3704/36 I don't know of any stories of of Shiva killing a previous Indra, but he did imprison five Indras in a cave, as I discuss here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/6682/36 So it's entirely possible that he killed some other Indra. Nov 24, 2015 at 3:56
  • @KeshavSrinivasan I read your linked question once again and it said that the five Indras that were imprisoned were born as Pandavas, so there is a possibility that they (Indras) died and then they were born as Pandavas and later after being dead again as Pandavas, have gone back to the realms of Indra as per the boon. Btw, can you put it as an answer. I'll wait for sometime for more answers else will mark yours as accepted answer.
    – Aby
    Nov 24, 2015 at 10:11
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Also, this way it will answer your question as well, as they were the Indras not mentioned in the Manvantara cycle, so they must have died and might be replaced by the ones whom we are aware of.
    – Aby
    Nov 24, 2015 at 10:13
  • @Aby: We all know that the five Pandavas were sons of different Devas. How come then they were previous Indras? Jun 24, 2016 at 10:46
  • @InduBhusanNath the Indras reincarnating as Pandavas is discussed in this link. This is described in the Adi Parva of Mahabharata and these Indras were previous Indras who were later incarnated as sons of different Devas.
    – Aby
    Jun 26, 2016 at 12:25

2 Answers 2


This skull could be probably skull of a previous Indra. Rudra at Prakrta Pralaya (dissolution after death of Creator Brahma) burns entire Universe to ashes and wears skulls of Devas as Ornaments. So, there could be a chance that this skull belongs to some previous Indra.

Chapter 46, Uttara Bhaga of Kurma Purana mentions Prakrta Pralaya in detail and says Rudra wears skulls of all Gods as ornaments.

स दग्ध्वा सकलं विश्वमस्त्र ब्रह्मशिरो महत्।
देवतानां शरीरेषु क्षिपत्यखिलदाहकम्॥६॥

Reducing to ashes the entire universe, Mahesvara then shoots a terrific weapon called Brahmasiras, which can even burn the bodies of the gods.

दग्धेष्वशेषदेवेषु देवी गिरिवरात्मजा।
एषा सा साक्षिणी शम्भोस्तिष्ठते वैदिकी श्रुतिः॥७॥

When all the gods were reduced to ashes, Parvati, the excellent daughter of Himalaya, stands by Siva as the only witness of his performance. This has been ordained by the Vedic Srutis.

शिरं कपालैर्देवानां कृतस्रग्वरभूषणः
आदित्यचन्द्रादिगणैः पूरयन्व्योममण्डलम्॥८॥

Lord Siva, wears a garland of skulls of the gods, as an ornament. He fills the sky with the multitudes of suns and the moons.


It is from the time when Rudra killed Vishnu, Indra and many others. This is given in Chapter 100 - Destruction of Daksha's Sacrifice, of the Shaiva Linga Purana:

In the great sacrifice of Daksa, Lord Rudra burned Devas along with Visnu and sages. (2) His Gana named Bhadra was sent by the lord Paramesthin (3)

He (Veerabhadra/Rudra) cut off the head of lord Indra ... ... Without any difficulty he killed thirty three Devas thus. Sportingly he killed three thousand three hundred and thirty three Devas along with the three leading Devas. He killed the leading sages too. This lord killed those Devas who stood in readiness for fighting. Lord Rudra hit them with his fist, swords, arrows and other things. Then Visnu of great splendour and intensified strength lifted up his discus, and fought with Rudra ... ... Through contact with the tips of the bits of the bow he (Rudra) cut off the head of the lord (Vishnu). His head that was cut off fell quickly into the nether worlds wafted by the wind originating from the vital breaths of the Pinaka-bearing lord. (18-32)

But everything went well in the end:

On being requested by lord Brahma, the great lord of all the worlds the bestower of everything gave back their own respective bodies to those who were killed. He gave back the head to Indra, to Visnu, to Daksa and to the leading sages and others. He gave back the tip of the nose to the goddess Sarasvati and to the mother of Devas. He gave back life to all those who were destroyed. (41-46)

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