The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1970

This page relates “boyhood sports of karttikeya” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Chapter 3 - The boyhood sports of Kārttikeya

Nārada said:—

1. O lord of subjects, O Brahmin, O creator, what happened thereafter? Please tell me the same.

Brahmā said:—

2. O dear, then the powerful sage Viśvāmitra, urged by Brahmā, came there casually and was delighted.

3. On seeing the unearthly splendour of that brilliant boy, he became very delighted. He bowed to the boy.

4. With a delighted mind he eulogised him with the words prompted by Brahmā. Viśvāmitra realised his power.

5. The boy too was delighted and became the source of great enjoyment. Laughingly he spoke to Viśvāmitra. It was very surprising.

Śiva’s son said:—

6. “O great one of perfect wisdom, it is due to the will of Śiva that you have come here by chance. O dear, perform my purificatory rites in accordance with Vedic injunctions.

7. From now onwards you remain my priest conferring your love on me. It is certain that you will become the object of worship of all.”

Brahmā said:—

8. On hearing his words, Gādhi’s son[1] (Viśvāmitra) was highly delighted and surprised. He spoke to him in a tone, by no means highly accented.

Viśvāmitra said:—

9. Listen, O dear, I am not a brahmin. I am a Kṣatriya, son of Gādhi, famous as Viśvāmitra and a servant of brahmins.

10. O excellent boy, I have thus narrated my life to you. Who are you? Now mention everything about your life to me who am surprised.

Brahmā said:—

11. On hearing his words the boy told him about his life. The divine boy, the cause of great enjoyment and protection, said to Gādhi’s son with great pleasure.

Śiva’s son said:—

12. O Viśvāmitra, thanks to my favour, you now become a brahminical sage. Vasiṣṭha and others will for ever regard you with respect.

13. Hence, at my behest you shall perform my purificatory rites. Keep this as a great secret. You shall not mention it anywhere.

Brahmā said:—

14. O celestial sage, in the manner laid down in the Vedas he performed the purificatory rites for the son of Śiva.

15. Śiva’s son, the cause of great enjoyment and protection, was glad and conferred divine wisdom on the sage.

16. The son of Agni made Viśvāmitra his priest. Form that time onwards he became a great brahmin and an expert in divine sports of various sorts.

17. O sage, the very first sport that he performed thus has been narrated to you by me. O dear, listen to another sport of his with wonder. I shall narrate it to you.

18-19. At that time he was known as white in colour. Agni went there and seeing his son who was divine and very holy called him “O dear son.” Agni embraced and kissed him too. He gave him a miraculous weapon, spear.

20 Guha took the spear and ascended the peak. He hit the peak with his spear and the peak fell down.

21. Ten thousand billions of heroic demons came there to attack him but were killed on being hit with the spear.

22. There was great hue and cry. The Earth, the mountains and the three worlds quaked. Indra the lord of gods came there.

23. With his thunderbolt he hit on his right side. A person named “Śākha[2] of great strength came out of that side.

24. Śakra struck him again with his thunderbolt on his left side. Another strong person named Viśākha came out of that side.

25. Then Indra struck his heart with his thunderbolt. Another person very powerful like him named Naigama came out.

26. Then the four of great heroic strength including Skanda rushed to attack Indra. I offered my protection to Indra.

27. Afraid of Guha, Indra with all the gods went away to his region agitatedly. O sage, he did not know his secret.

28. That boy remained there itself as fearless as before. O dear, he was highly pleased and continued his divine sports of various sorts.

29. Meanwhile the six ladies named Kṛttikās came there for bath and they saw the lordly boy.

30. All of them desired to take and fondle him O sage, as a result of their simultaneous desire for taking and fondling the boy, a dispute arose.

31. In order to quell their mutual dispute, the boy assumed six faces and drank milk off their breasts. O sage, they were all satisfied.

32-33. Realising his desire, the Kṛttikās, O sage, took him to their region joyously. Feeding him with their breast milk they nursed and nurtured Śiva’s son who was more refulgent than the sun.

34. They never let him go out of their sight. He became the object of their love, dearer to them than their own lives. Verily he who nurses and nurtures the child has the right of possession over the son.[3]

35. With great love they gave him the rarest garments and excellent ornaments in the three worlds.

36. Feeding him specially on the choicest delicacies day by day they brought up the boy prodigy.

37. O dear, once that son of the Krttikās went to the celestial assembly and showed wonderful feats.

38. The boy of wonderful miracles showed his rare splendour to the gods including Viṣṇu.

39-40. On seeing him, the gods and sages including Viṣṇu became surprised and asked the boy “Pray, who are you?” On hearing it he did not say anything in reply. He returned to his abode and remained concealed as before.

Footnotes and references:


Viśvāmitra, the son of Gādhi or Gāthin, was a born Kṣatriya who by intense austerities attained Brāhmaṇa-hood. ŚP. attributes this change to the favour of Kumāra who raised him to Brāhmaṇahood in order to enable him to perform his purificatory rites.


Śākha, Viśākha and Naigama are the three brothers of Kumāra. Accoiding to ŚP. they are his very self. SP. RS. iv. 23-25.

V.S. Agrawal gives quite a different interpretation. According to him Kumāra is the symbol of the life-principle manifesting in every individual. Kṛttikās are the six yogic cakras located in the human body in the golden reed. Kumāra who is born in this six-jointed single reed is called (i) Kārttikeya and (ii) Śākha. The life-principle then branches out in the form of five gross elements and the mind which together are called (iii) Viśākha. As the popular God of the merchant community Kumāra is called (iv) Naigama or Naigameya.


Verses 34-36 of this chapter are the same as verses 31-32 of the following chapter.