Updated: Feb 20, 2022
Story of Virabhadra
Vīrabhadra (Sanskrit: वीरभद्र, lit. distinguished hero) is an extremely fierce and fearsome form of the Hindu god Shiva. The story of Virabhadra goes like this,
Sati was the youngest daughter of King Daksha (one of the sons of Lord Brahma, the Creator). While growing up, she sets her heart on Shiva. But in her Swayamvara (an ancient Indian practice of choosing a husband), Daksha invites all the devas (Gods) and princes except Shiva. King Daksha did not approve of his daughter marrying a dreaded hair yogi who danced, sang, and consumed intoxicants. Nevertheless, Sati marries Shiva and makes her home with him in Kailash.
One day, Daksha invites all the devas (Gods) to a great offering called the Ashwamedha Yagna, except Shiva. Sati decides to attend the event alone, due to her affection towards her parents. However, Daksha mocks at her in front of his guests that she must have come to her senses and left her husband. Angered after hearing insults against her husband, she announces “since you have given me this body I no longer wish to be associated with it!” and bursts into flames, leaving the body her father had given her. At this moment, Shiva senses that his true love has died and falls into a state of grief. Grief turns into rage, he rips a dreadlock from his scalp and throws it down from the heavens. He summons the great warrior Virabhadra to rise and seek revenge against Daksha. Virabhadra descends, destroys Yagna and beheads Daksha. Later Shiva arrives, looks around at the carnage and the people hiding in fear, his anger turns to compassion as he realises that revenge will not bring back his dead wife. Filled with remorse Shiva re-absorbs Virabhadra into his body, finds a goat's head and places it on Daksha’s headless body bringing his father-in-law back to life. After Daksha awakens, he recognizes Shiva’s kindness and bows. Shiva mourns the loss of his great love and retreats to the Kailash mountain where he immerses himself in meditation for thousands of years.
Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose)
Virabhadra rises with his body reaching to the skies, his hair like fire and weapons in his many hands, forming the pose Virabhadrasana 1. Virabhadra sets his sight on Daksha, draws his sword and beheads him, forming the pose Virabhadrasana 2. Then he takes Daksha’s head and places it on a stake and this forms the final pose Virabhadrasana 3.
Stand in Tadasana (standing postion).
Spread your legs sideways 1.2 - 1.5 meters apart. Inhale deeply and raise your arms sideways in line with the shoulders (parallel to the ground), palms facing down.
Turn the right foot sideways 90° to the right and left foot slightly to the right. Keeping the left leg stretched out, tighten at the knee. Stretch the hamstring muscles of the left leg.
Exhale and bend the right knee till the right thigh is parallel to the floor. A right-angle (90°) must form between the right thigh and right calf. The bent knee should not extend beyond the ankle but should be in line with the heel.
Stretch out the hands away from your body (sideways), as though you are being pulled from the opposite ends.
Turn your face to the right and gaze at the right palm. Stretch the back muscles of the left leg fully. The back of the legs, the dorsal region and the hips should be in one line.
Stay in the pose from 20 seconds to half a minute with deep breathing. Inhale and return to position/step 2.
Repeat the same on the left side.
From position 2, exhale, lower your hands and come back to Tadasana.
Leg muscles become shapely and stronger with this pose. It relieves cramp in the calf and thigh muscles, brings elasticity to the legs and back muscles. It also tones the abdominal organs. This pose increases stamina.
(1) Virabhadra: The Rise of the Warrior (https://beyogi.com/virabhadra-rise-warrior/)
(2) The Mahabharata (https://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m12/m12b111.htm)
(3) Vishnu Purana (https://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/vp/vp043.htm)
(4) Light on Yoga, by BKS Iyengar (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_on_Yoga)