Gajasura was a Danava in Hindu mythology. He was the son of Mahishasura and wanted to take revenge for the death of his father. He was eventually killed by Lord Shiva.
- Father: Mahishasura
Penance to Brahma and Boons
When the asura Mahishasura was slain by Durga devi, all the devas became really happy. Peace was once again restored. But Mahishasura’s son Gajasura wanted to take revenge for the death of his father.
Gajasura decided to perform penance to Lord Brahma. He went to a valley in the Himalayas. He kept his arms lifted, only stood on his two big toes, looked up at the sky, and started doing penance for a long time. Because of his severe penance, a fire appeared in his hair and spread all over the world and other worlds. This fire was so powerful that even the bodies of water, the planets, and the Sun were overwhelmed by the massiveness and heat of the fire. This fire soon reached Swarga, so the devas fled to Satyaloka, the loka of Brahma.
“Oh Lord Brahma, please save us from the scorching fire of Gajasura. We have fled Swarga and come to you for refuge. Please stop this fire. Otherwise, the three worlds will all burn,” Indra pleaded.
Brahma went to Gajasura with Daksha, Bhrigu, and a few others. Brahma told Gajasura to wake up and ask for a boon. Gajasura got up in a hurry and praised Lord Brahma.
“Let me be immune from men or women overwhelmed from lust. Let me be very powerful and not be able to be defeated by gods, the guardians of the world, and all others. Let me enjoy all of the riches,” Gajasura asked for his boon.
Conquest of the Three Worlds
Gajasura used his power to conquer the Trilokas. He conquered all the Asuras, Nagas, human beings, devas and devis, Gandharvas, Yakshas, etc. He then decided to take residence in Amaravati, the city of Indra. Gajasura excercised strong authority over all the devas.
Gajasura soon became extremely prosperous, but he still always wanted more. He also disobeyed the scriptures. Soon, he truly became evil and drunk with power. He started harassing pious brahmins and sages, along with humans beings on Earth and the devas, for no reason at all.
Encounter with Shiva and Death
Once, Gajasura went to the city of Kashi. Everyone there was terrified and started fleeing in fear. The devas approached Lord Shiva.
The devas said, “Oh Lord Shiva, save the people of Kashi. Gajasura has come there and is terrorizing everyone there, who are your devotees. When he sets foot on Earth, it trembles. When he breathes, the oceans surge. When he runs, trees shatter. He is extremely tall and has magical powers. Please protect your devotees!”
Hearing the devas, Shiva immediately went to Kashi with the intention of slaying to Gajasura. When Gajasura saw Shiva stomping towards with his Trishula, he roared. The following battle between them was definitely ferocious. They launched weapons of all sorts at each other. Finally, Gajasura pierced Shiva. Gajasura was just about to rush at Shiva with a sword when Shiva realized that Gajasura had to be slain by his Trishula. Shiva pierced the Trishula through Gajasura’s body.
At that moment, Gajasura realized the glory of Lord Shiva. He said, “Oh great lord, I am your devotee. You are the lord of the three lokas. You are the destroyer of Andhaka and the slayer of the Tripuras. I want to submit to you. Trust me, oh lord, I am not lying. You are the only person deserving worship.”
Hearing that, Shiva laughed. He then said, “Oh Gajasura, I am delighted. Please choose a boon.”
“Oh Lord Shiva, if you are delighted, then please wear this elephant hide of mine. It has been sanctified by your Trishula. It is gentle, it is your size, and it is of divine nature. Even during my penances, when there was fire everywhere, this hide didn’t burn. It is truly special, so I wish to give it to you,” Gajasura replied. “And I would like another wish, my Lord. I would like for you to also be called Kritivassas (one who wears elephant hide).”
“Let it be so. Your boons are granted. Also, let this holy place become a way for everyone to achieve liberation. The sight of your meritorious body will give anyone salvation,” Shiva said.
Lord Shiva then wore Gajasura’s hide. As he witnessed Shiva wearing his hide, Gajasura died. On this day, everyone was very happy and celebrated. The devas were relieved and returned to Swarga. The entire universe was back to normal.
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3 thoughts on “Gajasura”
Namaste Aarsh Shroff, to which place does this refer?
Also, let this holy place becomes a way for everyone to achieve liberation.
Searching in google for Kritivassas I am guided ot Bhubaneshvar, where two demons Kriti and Vasas are mentioned. But your myth plays in Kashi.
Thanks for your answer.
The story of Gajasura is mentioned in Shiva Purana Volume 2 Chapter 57. When Shiva says “Also, let this holy place become a way for everyone to achieve liberation”, I am referring to the city of Kashi because that is where the battle between Shiva and Gajasura occurred.
To answer your second question, I looked into the story of the demons Kriti and Vasas at Bhuvaneshwar. This story is a local folk story of Bhuvaneshwar and it isn’t mentioned anywhere in the ancient Hindu scriptures. Hence, I am going to disregard it. In the story of Gajasura, it said that Shiva was named “Kritivassas” because he wore Gajasura’s hide.
Thank you Aarsh Shroff for clearing my confusion.
… and sorry for the late reply …