Sadhguru tells us the story of Keertimukha – a demon who ate himself, and why he is considered to be above even the gods.


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Sadhguru: There is a story about Keertimukha. Every temple is adorned with the image of Keertimukha. Once, there was a yogi who gained some powers. He came to Shiva and started trying to bother him. Shiva ignored him but the guy would not leave. Shiva was in one of those moods, so he just created a creature, a demon in a human form, and said, “Eat this nuisance up.”

He ate his own body up because Shiva said so. No reason, no sense, he simply ate it up. So he rose above all gods.

When the yogi saw this, he fell at Shiva’s feet and said, “Please, this once, let me go. I will never again bother you.” Then Shiva told the demon, “Okay, leave him.” But because the demon was created particularly to eat this yogi, he came with an empty stomach, so he said “You created me to eat him and now you are saying don’t eat him. What am I supposed to do?” Shiva was in one of those blissed-out moods, and said “Ah, you eat yourself.”

After some time, he heard crunching noises, and when he looked, the demon had eaten himself up completely. The whole body was gone and in the end, he was eating up his arms. Shiva looked at him with his two arms sticking in his mouth – everything else gone – and said, “Oh, you are a glorious face. One who is able to eat himself up like this is a truly glorious face. You are above all gods.”

Keertimukha – The Glorious Face

Keertimukha statue getting installed above the Adiyogi - Abode of Yoga, iii, TN

So every temple has the face of Keertimukha. He ate his own body up because Shiva said so. No reason, no sense, he simply ate it up. So he rose above all gods. What is being said is that he rose above time, space and everything. He is above gods means he has risen beyond all these dimensions, because even gods are subject to some of these realities. He is above all that. If the demon had eaten the yogi, that is not a very beautiful thing to happen. But somebody eating himself up is a tremendously beautiful thing because if the divine has to enter you, if the divine has to manifest itself within you, you need empty space. It is only in moments of emptiness that you have known love, joy or peace. Only if emptiness happens, divine will happen to you. If you want to do things beyond the limitations of the physical, mental and even the life energies, you need to be like that. Otherwise you don’t touch those dimensions at all. If you consume yourself, you become a glorious face.