(1) The honorable king [Parîkchit] said: 'The godly, the ones of darkness and the humans who worship the austere Lord S'iva, are usually rich and enjoy the senses, but not so those of Lakshmî and her Husband the Lord Hari. (2) On our part indeed of great doubt in this, we wish to understand this matter of the destinations of the worshipers of the two Lords so opposite of character.'
(3) S'rî S'uka said: 'S'iva, always united with his s'akti, is prayed to in his three manifest features of guna: the emotion [his sattva], the authority [his rajas] and the inertia [his tamas], and is thus the [embodiment of the] threefold of ego. (4) From that have the sixteen transformations [lingas] manifested of which someone, pursuing any of these, enjoys the acquisition of material assets [see under S'iva]. (5) Lord Hari however is, indeed absolutely untouched by the modes, the Original Person transcendental to material nature; He is the witness seeing everything, by worshiping Him one becomes free from the gunas. (6) Your grandfather the king [Yudishthhira] asked Acyuta this as he was hearing from Him about the dharma. (7) He, the Supreme Lord, his Master, who for the sake of the ultimate benefit of all men had descended into the Yadu-family, then spoke pleased to him who was eagerly listening. (8) The Supreme Lord said: 'From the one I favor I gradually take away the wealth, after which then poor, suffering one distress after another, that person will be abandoned by his own [attached] people [see also 7.15: 15, 9.21: 12, 10.81: 14 & 20, 10.87: 40, B.G. 9: 22]. (9) When he futile in his attempts to serve the capital gets frustrated and makes friends with those devoted to Me, will I show My mercy. (10) Sober with the wisdom understanding that the subtle, pure, eternal spirit of the Supreme Brahman is one's true self, is one freed from samsâra. (11) Leaving aside Me because I am most difficult to worship, do people worship others from which they quickly find satisfaction in receiving royal opulence. Having become arrogant, proud and negligent do they, surprisingly, then insult those whom they owe the benedictions [see also B.G. 2: 42-44; 4: 12; 7: 20-25; 17: 22, 18: 28].'
(12) S'rî S'uka said: 'Brahmâ, S'iva and others are capable of cursing and showing favor. Brahmâ and S'iva are quick with their condemnations and blessings, my dear King, but the Infallible One [Vishnu] is not. (13) In this connection is as an example the following ancient story told of Giris'a running into danger by offering a choice of benedictions to the demon Vrikâsura. (14) An Asura named Vrika, a son of S'akuni [see 9.24: 5], meeting Nârada on the road, wickedly asked which of the three Lords was most quickly pleased. (15) He said: 'For quick success you better worship S'iva, he is as quickly satisfied by qualities as he is angered by faults. (16) Satisfied with Ten-head [Râvana] and with Bâna who like minstrels sang his glories, got he in great trouble [though] giving them unequaled power.'
(17) Thus informed worshiped the Asura him at Kedâra [in the Himalayas] by offering oblations of flesh from his own limbs into the fire that is S'iva's mouth. (18-19) Out of frustration to obtain the sight of the Lord, was he the seventh day with his hair wetted in the waters of that holy place, about to cut off his head with a hatchet. But then supremely merciful rising from the fire looking like Agni stopped he him seizing his arms and restored he his body on the touch, just like we would. (20) He told him: 'Enough, enough, dear man, please listen, choose a benediction from me, I'll bestow upon you whatever boon you desire. Ah, your greatly tormenting your body is useless, I am pleased by persons who with water approach me for shelter [see also B.G. 17: 5-6]!'
(21) With that offer of the god chose the sinner a boon that terrified all living beings as he said: 'May whomever die on whose head I place my hand!'
(22) O son of Bharata, Rudra hearing this, disgruntled vibrated om and granted it him with an ironic smile; it was like giving milk to a snake [see also 10.16: 37]. (23) To put the favor to a test tried the demon then to put his hand on the head of S'iva and made that way his flesh creep about what he had caused. (24) Pursued by him fled he trembling with fear from the north [of his residence] to as far as the limits of the earth and the sky in all directions. (25-26) Not knowing what to do against it remained the chief demigods silent. Thereupon he went to Vaikunthha, the place luminous beyond all darkness where Nârâyana, the Supreme Goal is manifest. That place is the destination from where the renunciates who in peace gave up the violence do not return [see also S'vetadvîpa]. (27-28) The Supreme Lord, the Eradicator of Distress, who from a distance saw the danger, came before him having turned Himself by the power of His yogamâyâ into a young brahmin student. Complete with a belt, deerskin, rod and prayer beads had He an effulgence that glowed like fire. He respectfully greeted him humbly with kus'a grass in His hands. (29) The Supreme Lord said: 'Dear son of S'akuni, you seem to be tired, for what reason have you come from so far? Please rest a while, shouldn't this personal body be the fulfillment of all desires? (30) If suitable to Our ear, o mighty one, please tell Us what you have in mind. One usually accomplishes one's purposes with the help of others isn't it?'
(31) S'rî S'uka said: 'Thus questioned by the Supreme Lord with words that rained like nectar, vanished all his fatigue and told he Him what he had done. (32) The Supreme Lord said [then to Vrika]: 'That being the case, We can't put faith in his statements. For he's the one cursed by Daksha to become diabolical as the king of the ghosts and devils [see 4.2: 9-16]. (33) If you put faith in him as the 'spiritual master of the universe', then dear friend, just see right now what happens if you place your hand on your own head! (34) If S'ambhu's words this way - or another - prove to be false, o best of the Dânavas, then please kill him who's been fooling you, so that he never lies again.'
(35) He this manner bewildered by the o so clever words of the Supreme Lord, thought no longer and foolishly placed his hand on his own head. (36) Like being hit by lightening was it instantly shattered. He fell down whereupon from the sky could be heard the sounds of 'Victory!', 'Hail!' and 'Right so!' (37) With S'iva freed from the danger now the sinful Asura Vrika was killed, released the celestial sages, the ancestors and the singers of heaven a rain of flowers. (38-39) Bhagavân, the Supreme Personality, then addressed the delivered Giris'a: 'Ah, dear Mahâdeva, see how this sinner was killed by his own sinfulness! What fortune indeed o master, can there be for a living being who was of offense with the elevated saints, not to mention having been in offense with the Lord of the Universe, the Spiritual Master of the Living Being [see also 1.18: 42, 7.4: 20 and B.G. 16: 23]. (40) Whoever hears of or recites this rescuing of lord S'iva by the Lord of the Supersoul, the Inconceivable Personal Manifestation of the Ocean of All Energies, is freed from as well enemies as from the repetition of birth and death.