Lord Shiva is also known as ‘Tryambakesh‘ for he has Three eyes unlike any other gods of Sanatan Dharma. But do you know how many times has lord Shiva opened it? And especially, what caused him to open it? Following are the incidences along with the brief stories related to them:
1. Indra’s arrogance (Birth of Jalandhara)
Once Lord Indra and the Dev Guru Brihaspati were going to Kailasa (Lord Shiva’s abode) to seek Shiva’s wisdom for some matter. Lord Shiva being the Trikal Gyani, he was aware of their forthcoming arrival. He thought of testing Indra’s devotion and check how much he actually knows him.
Shiva disguised himself as a sage and went down to sit in the path of Indra and Brihaspati. Upon seeing him, initially, Indra inquired as to who he is and requested him to move away from their path. Shiva did not budge, he deliberately ignored Indra as if he did not even hear him. Indra repeatedly asked him to move from the path but Shiva kept ignoring him and chose to sit still without even acknowledging Indra’s existence.
Shiva: Angry at Indra
Enraged by this, Indra took out his Vajra and raised it to strike the sitting hermit. Shiva intercepted this attack and paralyzed Indra with his divine powers which ultimately neutralized Indra’s attack. But, this audacity of Indra made him the recipient of the wrath of Shiva. Then after Shiva’s both eyes went red. As if it was not enough to scare Indra, he almost opened his third eye to destroy him.
1.1. Birth or Jalandhar
In the meantime, Sage Brihaspati recognized Shiva and started praying and asked forgiveness for Indra. Brihaspati’s attempt to calm Shiva worked. But now his rage needed to be channeled elsewhere. Shiva directed it towards the ocean as he gazed at it with his third eye. The energy of his sight caused the birth of Asur Jalandhar. He later became the king of Asuras (Demons).
Moreover, he was killed by Shiva himself in a battle. Jalandhar then returned to the third eye from where he was born.
2. Burning of Kamdev (To destroy Lust)
Among many forms of Shiva, one prominent one is as a ‘loving husband’. Also, we all are aware of how Devi Sati, the first wife of Lord Shiva died. But after her demise despondent Shiva was inconsolable. He couldn’t imagine himself involved with any other woman. Hence, to overcome this grief he chose to go into Samadhi (deep meditation).
Shiva in Meditation
Years went by but he did not open his eyes. In the meantime a demon Tarakasur raised himself to great significance and started harassing innocents, also defeated Devatas (gods) alongside.
The essence of his power was the boon he received from Lord Brahma. The boon limited his death only at the hands of the son of Lord Shiva. Because of this, it was of utmost importance that Shiva gives a progeny. On this side, bereft of all worldly problems, he was in deep meditation. It was next to impossible for anyone to wake him up from his Samadhi.
Finally, the gods came up with a plan. They decided that Kamadeva (God of love) would strike Shiva with one of his flower arrows. Subsequently, it would soften Shiva’s heart which would make him love again. Kamdev was aware of the perils of the said work. Nevertheless, for the greater good, he took up the task into his hands.
2.1. Arrow of Kamadeva
He went to Lord Shiva. After a while, he saw a lady lustering with beauty passing by along with her companions. She was none other than Devi Parvati. At this very moment, he struck a bolt at Shiva’s heart which filled it with love and romance. But, Shiva noticed the change in his emotions, and instead of giving in to the brimming desires of his body he got enraged for someone had disturbed his meditation. A minute later he realized that it was Kamdeva’s deed. He looked at Kamdev with his third eye and before Kamdev could even explain himself he was reduced to ashes.
Shiva Burning Kamdev
At least, This sacrifice of Kamdeva did not go in vain. His arrow ultimately led to the marriage of Shiva and Parvati which finally gave birth to Bhagwan Kartikey who killed the demon Tarakasur.
Gradually Shiva calmed himself down. He gave his ear to the heart throbbing cries of Kamadeva's wife Rati. Her screeching melted Shiva’s heart. Out of compassion, Shiva promised that Kamdev would reincarnate in Dwaparyuga as the son of Lord Krishna, and he would be named Pradymna.
3. Birth of the demon Andhaka
One fine day when Shiva was sitting on his mat while Devi Parvati found herself in a playful mood. She went behind Lord Shiva and closed his eyes with her hands from behind. Immediately, the entire universe was covered in darkness. Instinctively, Shiva opened his third eye.
Parvati covering Shiva's eyes.
But, due to the heat of the fire inside his third eye, sweat oozed from the hands of Devi Parvati. Few drops of that sweat fell down on the floor which gave birth to a deformed black demon.
It was furious, ungrateful, blind deformed, and black in color. It had matted locks of hair and fine hair all over the body. It sang, cried, laughed, danced, put out its tongue like a serpent and thundered fiercely. When this curious creature arose, Siva smilingly spoke to Parvati, Lord Siva said:- “You did it yourself by closing my eyes. O my beloved, why are you afraid of it now?
After that, Devi Parvati took her hands off Shiva’s eyes, and the light spreaded around the universe.
This demon is known as Andhaka.
Apart from these 3 incidents, there are other stories relating to the third eye of Lord Shiva such as The Story of Sage Pippalada, and the Story of Maa Durga but there is no clear mention of him opening his third eye.
Read more: Why is lord Shiva called Adi Guru?