Bhikshatana is a form of Lord Shiva, when he manifested as an ‘enchanting mendicant,’ a wandering ascetic. The rishis in Darukavana had become convinced that karma or action was the supreme thing in this world. They thought that there was no need to worship god. To teach them the value of worshipping god, and that the actions were rewarded by the almighty god, Shiva manifested as a naked mendicant, begging for alms. The wives of the rishis were enchanted with the naked beggar and followed him. Shiva had to quarrel with the rishis. The quarrel was settled when the rishis were made aware that they were fighting with the supreme god. As Bhikshatana, the Lord is depicted as naked, with a snake around the hips and sandals on his feet.

Another version of the legend is that Lord Shiva had to wander as a mendicant in order to expiate the sin of having severed the head of Brahma, till he reached the Himalayas, where he was relieved of his sin.

Updated on 29th August, 2005


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