Jvarasura – The Fever Demon 

- February 15, 2021

Jvarasura the fever demon
Illustration: Sanjhiya Mayekar

According to the Shanti Parva and Vishnu Parva, one day when Shiva’s father-in-law, Daksha was performing a yagya, he invited all the gods except Shiva. It is believed that Daksha disliked Shiva and thought he was not worthy of his daughter. Sati noticed all the gods heading out and questioned Shiva. He informed her about the event and explained the situation. Sati felt very sorry and was deeply hurt by her father’s act. Unable to bear his wife’s grief, Shiva grew uneasy. A drop of sweat emerged from his third eye. 

This drop of sweat took the form of a fearful monster. The Vishnu Parva describes the asura as ‘…as fierce as Yama the god of death and fearful like a thousand clouds with a thunderbolt, gaping and sighing, with a tight body and horrible face, rendered so by many eyes.’ As soon as he was created, he dashed into all gods giving them a terrible fever. The gods became uneasy and turned to Shiva for help. Hearing their plea, Shiva took the fever off their bodies. However, the energy radiating from the asura was so intense that no one being or place could handle it in the intact form. Thus, Shiva divided the asura into several pieces.

He named the demon Jvarasura because, in many Indian languages, Jvara means fever and Asura, means demon. Thus, Jvarasura became a fever-inducing demon. Shiva took the parts of Jvarasura and gave it to other living beings. Doing so everybody understood that Shiva is the highest power and should be respected by all beings. Since then, it is believed that Jvarasura causes: 

  • Headache for elephants
  • Sore throat for horses 
  • Hoof-rot for cows
  • Sore-eyes for cuckoo 
  • Weariness for tigers 
  • Hiccups for parrots 
  • Fever for humans 
  • Algae on water 

According to Skanda Purana, when Jvarasura spread diseases on the earth, Shitala, an incarnation of Katyayani, got rid of all the diseases. Shitala means the ‘one who cools’. Thus, she is the goddess who cures diseases and cools the body of the fever heat. Some texts say that since then, Jvarasura became Shitala’s servant while many other texts depict Jvarasura and Shitala as companions. 

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