Pages Navigation Menu

Official Website of the World's Oldest Living Spiritual Organization

Shiva Leela Two – Lifting Curse off White Elephant

Shiva Leela Two – Lifting Curse off White Elephant


Sage Duruvasa Rishi once worshipped the Adi Shiva Lingam at Tilivanam, the original self-manifestion of Lord Shiva. The lotus flowers which he offered to Mahadeva, dropped from the head of Lord Shiva. He carried the sacred lotus to Indra’s paradise, the king of heaven. Indra was riding on his white elephant in a procession, and was on his way to encounter the gaints. Because of his arrogance of prosperity, Indra casually received it with one hand and placed it on the elephant’s head between its tusk. It threw the lotus down and trampled it under its foot.

Curse by Durvasa Rishi on Indra and the White Elephant

For doing so Durvasa Rishi pronounced on it a curse, to the effect, “That it should become a wild elephant of the woods”; but as the animal implored mercy, the period was limited to a hundred years. To Indra, the Rishi gave the curse that his head would be shattered by a Pandiyan, the royal dynasty of Madurai kingdom. They both begged to be forgiven and released from the curse.

So he relented and reduced the force of the curse: that the elephant would be restored to normalcy after hundred years and that what was meant for the head would be shifted to the role of hair on the head.

The white elephant came down to earth to Kadambavanam (Madurai) where it worshipped Lord Somasundarar by pouring water. Lord Shiva who is simply pleased without any cause, showers His mercy to even the animal species, what to speak of humans. Showing His infinite mercy again to the elephant, who had sincerely prayed to Him, Lord Soma Sundareshwara granted it a boon.

Lord Sundareshwara Releases the Curse and Grants Boon

The elephant requested the Lord to accept it as the ninth elephant along with the inseparable eight elephants. He told the elephant to bear Indra who was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Bearing Indra was equivalent to bearing the Lord. And so the elephant went westward, and created a sacred well in his own name.

The white elephant which is the divine vehicle of Indra, came to be known as ‘Airavata’.

About Airavata

Airavata  is the white elephant who carries the Hindu God Indra, king of heavens. It is also called ‘Ardha-Matanga’, meaning “elephant of the clouds”; ‘Naga-malla’, meaning “the fighting elephant”; and ‘Arkasodara’, meaning “brother of the sun. ‘Abharamu’ is the elephant wife of Airavata. Airavata has four tusks and seven trunks and is spotless white.