The Brahmanda Purana

by G.V. Tagare | 1958 | 319,243 words | ISBN-10: 8120838246 | ISBN-13: 9788120838246

This page describes birth of skanda which is Chapter 10 of the English translation of the Brahmanda Purana: one of the oldest puranas including common Puranic elements such as cosmogony, genealogy, ethics, geography and yoga. Traditionally, the Brahmandapurana is said to consist of 12,000 verses metrical Sanskrit verses.

Chapter 10 - Birth of Skanda

Summary: Dynasties of Pitṛs: Propitiation of Pitṛs by performing Śrāddha.

Note: This chapter is textually similar to Vāyu-purāṇa 72.

Bṛhaspati said:

1. These seven groups of Pitṛs[1] are considered ās the most excellent among victorious ones. Four of them have forms and three of them are Amūrtis ( formless ones).

2. Listen attentively. I shall tell their worlds as well as creation. I shall recount those who are their daughters and those who are regarded as their grandsons (daughters’ sons).

3. In those worlds named Santānakas the formless yet brilliant groups of Pitṛs abide. They are the sons of Prajāpati.

4. They are the sons of Viraja the Prajāpati. Hence they are well known as Vairājas. They are excellent Brāhmaṇas. These are the Pitṛs, O dear one, who increase the yogic power of the yogins.

5-6a. They perpetually develop the Yogic powers (of others) by means of their own Yogic power. Strengthened and developed by means of Śrāddhas, they develop the Soma (the moon god). Soma who is thus strengthened and developed strengthens and develops the worlds.

6b-8. The mental daughter of these is Menā by name. She was the wife of the great mountain Himavān. Maināka is said to be her son. The excellent mountain Krauñca is also the son of this mountain. The king of mountain begot three daughters of Menā viz.—Aparṇā, Ekaparṇā and the third one Ekapāṭalā.

9. Two of them had places of shelter viz.—Ekaparṇā took shelter under a Nyagrodha tree and Ekapāṭalā under a Pāṭalā (trumpet-flower tree). Aparṇā was without any abode. They performed penance.

10-11 They performed for a hundred thousand years a severe penance that could not be performed by even the Devas and the Dānavas. Ekaparṇā took only a single leaf as her food. Ekapāṭalā had her food with a single Pāṭala (? flower). They took in this food only once in a thousand years.

12. One of them (had performed penance) without taking food. Her mother who was pained on account of her motherly love forbade her (from performing penance) saying ‘U mā’ (O daughter do not).[2]

13. The gentle lady Aparṇā who performed a penance very difficult to be performed (by others) on being addressed in that manner, became well known in the three worlds as Umā: She was extremely fortunate.

14. She became well known by that name on account of her activity expressed in the words of such a derivation. This world with its mobile and immobile living beings had such (splendid) triad of virgins.

15. What had been created by the power of penance of these three virgins will hold good as long as the earth exists. All those three (virgins) were equipped with Yogic power. Penance sustained their physical bodies.

16. All of them had excellent and great fortune. All of them possessed permanent youth. All of them were expounders of the Brahman. All of them had sublimated their sexual urge and potentiality.

17-19. Umā was the greatest (eldest) and the most excellent among them. She had an excellent complexion and was endowed with great yogic power- She approached (and dedicated herself) to Mahādeva. Uśanas the son of Bhṛgu became her adopted son.

Ekaparṇā the chaste lady of good conduct became the wife of Asita. She was given in marriage to that intelligent preceptor of the Yogic cult. Endowed with the perfect knowledge she gave birth to Devala who was Brahmiṣṭha (one who was engrossed in meditation on Brahman).

20. Ekapāṭalā who was the third among those virgins approached (and dedicated herself) to Jaigīṣavya the son of Śata-śalāka.

21. Śaṅkha and Likhita are remembered as his sons but not born of a womb. These were the greatly fortunate splendid daughters of the Himavān.

22-24. That eldest girl was Rudrāṇī (wife of Rudra). She excelled others on account of her good qualities.

Umā and Śaṅkara were pleased with each other in their minds. They were closely united to each other. On coming to know of this, the slayer of Vṛtra (i.e. Indra) became afraid of the birth of a child of those two (deities) engaged in sexual intercourse.

The fire-god was sent near them by Indra. The firegod was instructed thus—“O Hutāśāna (swallower of the holy offerings), create an interruption in the sexual inter-course of these two.

25. You go everywhere. (You are free to go anywhere). Hence, there can’t be any blame on you.” On being instructed thus, the instruction was duly carried out by the firegod.

26. The lord left Umā and discharged the semen on the ground. Instantly, the firegod was cursed by the annoyed and infuriated Umā.

27-30. In words choked on account of anger she spoke (cursed) the fire-god thus—“O fire-god, even before we were satisfied, you brought about an interruption in our sexual intercourse. You have committed an act that should not have been committed. Hence, you are evil-minded. The extremely lustrous semen of Rudra that has come out thus, has become a foetus. You must carry the same within you. This is the punishment to you.”[3]

On account of the curse of Rudrāṇī due to his (firegod’s) own guilt, O Brāhmaṇa, the fire-god held the foetus within him for many years. He approached Gaṅgā and said: “Let this be heard, O excellent one among the rivers.

31-34. Very great distress is caused to ṃe as I have to carry the foetus within me. O river, hold this foetus for the sake of my relief and welfare. Due to my gracious favour, a son will be born to you. He will be a bestower of boons.”

Saying “So be it”, that great river became very delighted and carried that foetus (although) her mind was being burned. (There was a burning sensation within herself). Being distressed thus on account of a very great deal of stress and strain, that great river castoff that excellent foetus that dazzled like fire.

And then was born the son of Rudra, Agni and Gaṅgā. He had a pinky lustrous complexion.

35-36. He was as brilliant as a hundred suns. He had great splendour and valour. When the son of Jāhnavī (Gaṅgā) the boy of great fortune was born, the firmament was covered (crowded) with aerial chariots as though with a number of birds. The celestial drums of sweet sound were beaten (sounded) in the sky.

37. The Siddhas and Cāraṇas moving about in the sky discharged showers of flowers. The Gandharva chieftains began to sing here and there (everywhere).

38-39. Yakṣas, Vidyādharas, Siddhas, Kinnaras, thousands of great serpents and the excellent birds approached with great reverence the highly fortunate son of Śaṅkara born through the fire-god. Daityas, Vānaras (monkeys) and Rākṣasas were struck by that miraculous force.

40. That child born of the fire-god was seen at close quarters by the wives of the seven sages excluding Arundhatī. They had been on their way for their daily ablution.

41. That lordly son born of Rudra and resembling the rising sun was surrounded by them with great affection as though by his own real mothers.

42. The son of Jāhnavī was desirous of being simultaneously suckled by all those gentle ladies. Hence, the glorious child created six faces (mouths.) Therefore, he is remembered as Ṣaṇmukha (six-faced).[4]

43. When that great lord was born, the groups of Dānavas who could not bear the power of the Devas had a purge[5] (loose motion due to excessive fear). Hence that valorous lord came to be known as Skanda.

44. Since that ancient lord, the slayer of the Asuras, was (breast-fed and) nurtured by Kṛttikās he became well known as Kārttikeya.

45. When that enemy of the Daityas yawned, his (weapon) Śakti (Spear) (named) Aparājitā (unvanquished) came out of his mouth emitting brilliant flames of fire.

46-47. Two very gentle birds, a peacock and a cock were handed over through Garuḍa, for Skanda to play, by Viṣṇn the powerful one; a banner (with cock as the emblem) was given by Vāyu (wind-god) and a great Vīṇā of loud sound was presented by Sarasvatī.

48-50. A goat was given by the self-born lord (Brahmā) and a sheep was given by Śambhu. O Brāhmaṇa, the mountain Krauñca sporting about by means of illusive power was felled by him. Tāraka the excellent Asura was pierced through and thrown down by him. So the lordly son of the fire-god, the valorous enemy of the Daityas, was crowned as commanḍer-in-chief by the Devas along with Indra and Upendra (i.e. Viṣṇu). This leader of the Suras is mentioned as Senāpati (lord of the army).

51-53a. Lord Skanda, the lord of all the worlds caused the purge of the enemies of the Devas. He was surrounded by the different kinds of Pramathas (semi-divine followers of Śiva), groups of goblins, diverse kinds of Mātṛs (mothers) and groups of Vināyakas.

The worlds where Marīci’s sons live are called Somapadas. Skanda and others stay there and the Devas worship them.

53b-54. It is heard that the Pitṛs named Barhiṣads are Somapās (imbibers of the Soma juice). The mental daughter of the (Pitṛs) was the river named Acchodā. There is a divine lake named Acchoda from which this river flows out.

55. Those Pitṛs had never before been seen by her. She was born as their mental daughter. Hence, she did not know her own Pitṛs.

56-57. Transgressing those genuine Pitṛs, she chose the son of Aila well known as Amāvasu, as her father. He was traversing the sky accompanied by the Apsaras (named) Ādrikā. He was seated in an aerial chariot in the firmament. On account of her transgression, she was unable to move about in the sky.

58-59. After seeking another father she slipped off from the Yogic power and fell down. Slipping down from the heaven and falling down she saw three aerial chariots of the size of Trasareṇu (an atom). She saw her Pitṛs stationed in them. They were very subtle. They were not very clear. They appeared to have been put in fire.

60. The distressed river falling headlong cried out “Ye save me!”

She was then told by them “Do not be afraid!” Hence, she became stabilised.

61-64. Thereafter, with these words (of humility), she pacified them in her low-spirited despondency. Then the Pitṛs spoke to their daughter who had fallen off from her glory on account of her transgression:—“O lady of bright smiles, you have fallen off from your glory on account of your own fault. The deities (gods) always attain (experience) the fruit of their action through those very same physical bodies with which they perform their actions. In the case of gods, actions fructify instantly and in the case of human beings they fructify after death. Hence dear daughter, you will attain the fruit of your penance after death.” On being told thus, she again pacified and propitiated the Pitṛs.

65-68. After due meditation, they took pity on her and became pacified and pleased. On observing the inevitable future, the Pitṛs of Somapā (imbibers of the Soma juice) type, spoke to their daughter:—“O lady of great lustre, you will become the daughter of this very same king Amāvasu of noble soul, born on the earth among human beings. After that you will attain these worlds once again. In the twenty-eighth Dvāpara Yuga, you will be born of the species of fish. You will become the daughter of this same king Amāvasu and (his wife) Ādrikā. You will give birth to the sage, the son and successor of Parāśara.

69-70. That Brāhmaṇa sage will divide the single Veda into four parts (sections). You alone will give birth to two sons of Śantanu of great brilliance and lustre. They will increase the fame of Śantanu. They will be Vicitravīrya well conversant with virtue and piety, and Citrāṅgada the king equipped with the strength of all living beings.

71. After giving birth to all these, you will once again attain these worlds. Due to your transgression of the Pitṛs you will have a despicable birth.

72. You will become the daughter of that very same king and Ādrikā. After taking birth as their daughter, you will attain these worlds once again.”

73-74. Thus addressed, she was later born as Satyavatī[6] the daughter of a fisherman. She was born as a fish and the daughter of Ādrikā and Amāvasu. She was born of the fish Ādrikā in the confluence of Gaṅgā and Yamunā. Indeed, she was that king’s daughter. She was born due to the semen of that king.

75. The worlds named “Virajas” are in the firmament The groups of Pitṛs remembered by the name ‘Agniṣvāttas’ live there. They have the lustre of the sun.

76. Groups of Dānayas, Yakṣas, Rākṣasas, Gandharvas, Kinnaras, Bhūtas, serpents and Piśācas who seek benefit worship them.

77. These sons of Pulaha, the Prajāpati, have been recounted. Their mental daughter is well known by the name Pīvarī.

78-82. She was a Yoginī (lady of Yogic power). She was the wife of a Yogin and the mother of a Yogin.

In the twenty-eighth Dvāpara Yuga, the glorious great Yogin, Vyāsa will be born. O excellent Brāhmaṇa the yogic cult (power) (will flourish) in him. A sage of great power of penance named Śuka will be born of Vyāsa in the Araṇī, (the wood used for the production of fire by means of attrition), like the smokeless fire. He will be born in the family of Parāśara. That holy lord will beget five sons of Pīvarī, the daughter of the Pitṛs. The sons will be renowned and fully equipped with the Yogic practice. The five sons are Kṛṣṇa, Gaura, Prabhu, Śambhu and Bhūriśruta. He will beget a daughter too (named) Kīrtimatī. She will be a yoginī and the mother of Brahmadatta.

83. He will become a great sage who can go everywhere. He will be a liberated one adopting the Apunarmārga (the pathway from which no one returns i.e. mokṣa) endowed with the rays of the sun.

84. These three sets (of Pitṛs) have been recounted. Understand the remaining four. I shall describe the sets (of Pitṛs) having Prabhā (lustre) as their forms, O excellent Brāhmaṇa (?)

85. Those Kāvyas, the sons of Agni Kavi (?), are the Pitṛs born of Svadhā. They are the Pitṛs in the celestial worlds shining with the luminary bodies. They have great brilliance.

86. In holy rites causing the development and flourishing progress and fulfilment of all desires the Brāhmaṇas worship them. Their mental daughter is well known as Yogotpatti.

87. She was given in marriage to Śukra by Sanatkumāra. She became well renowned as Ekaśṛṅgā. She caused the increase in the fame and renown of the Bhṛgus.

88-89. Those worlds which have rays within are stationed in the heaven enveloping everything.

These are the sons of Aṅgiras formerly nurtured and developed by the Sādhyas. Those Pitṛs are declared asUpahūtas. They shine in the heaven; seven groups of Kṣatriyas who seek benefit, worship them.

90. Their mental daughter is well known by the name Yaśodā. She is considered as the queen mother of Khaṭvāṅga the noble-souled king.

91-92. Formerly, in his Yajña this Gāthā (verse) was sung by the great sages after seeing the birth, from fire, of the noble-souled Śāṇḍilya—“Those men who see the Yajamāna (the sponsor of the sacrifice) Dilīpa with mental purity, are the conquerors of heaven. (That king Dilīpa) is noble-souled and is truthful in his observance of rites.”

93-94. (?) The Pitṛs named Ājyapās are the sons born of Pulaha who was born of Kardama, the Prajāpati. They reside in those worlds which can go wherever one desires. They move about in the sky in various forms and shapes. The groups of Vaiśyas who seek benefit worship these Pitṛs in Śrāddha.

95. Their mental daughter is well known by the name Virajā. She was the chaste wife of Nahuṣa and the mother of Yayāti.

96. The Pitṛs named Sukālas are the sons of the noble-souled Vasiṣṭha, son of Hiraṇyagarbha (Brahmā). The Śūdras worship them.

97. Those worlds where they stay in the heaven are Mānasa by name. Their mental daughter is Narmadā, the most excellent river.

98. She sanctifies the living beings as she proceeds along the Dakṣiṇāpatha (southern tract and territory). She was the wife of Purukutsa and the mother of Trasaddasyu.

99. It is after accepting these that Manu the lord of the Manvantara initiates the Śrāddha rites everywhere.

100. He sponsors the rites of Śrāddha in the case of everyone in the order of the Pitṛs, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. Hence Śrāddha must be offered with faith in accordance with one’s own Dharma (religious duty).

101. In all cases (i.e. all castes and creeds) the Śrāddha (ablation) offered to the Manes in silver vessels or those set with silver propitiates the Pitṛs.

102-104. (?) In the Saumyāyana or Agrāyaṇa rites, (he who performs Śrāddha) shall obtain the fruit of Aśvamedha sacrifice.

If the scion of family propitiates the Pitṛs after the Āpyyāyana (pleasing or propitiating) rites of Soma (the moon), Agni and Vaivasvata (Yama), the Pitṛs (also in turn) delight him. There is no doubt that the Pitṛs bestow nourishment on him who desires nourishment and bestow progeny and heavenly pleasure on him who desires progeny.

The holy rite of the Pitṛs is more important than the rites pertaining to the gods.

105-107. (Partially defective text). It is laid down (in Sṃṛtis) that the propitiation of the Pitṛs should be carried out before that of the Devatàs (gods). The subtle procedure of the Yogas and the abode of the Pitṛs cannot be seen with the physical eye. It can be seen only by means of the power of penance (achieved by the Brāhmaṇas). Thus the following have been recounted here viz—the Pitṛs, their worlds, their daughters, their grandsons, the sponsors of the sacrifice and those who worship as well as those who are worshipped. Among them, four have forms and three are formless.[7]

108. The Devas honour them and offer them Śrāddhas scrupulously and devoutly. All of them join tḥeir palms in reverence. All of them along with Indra worship them with their minds concentrated on them.

109-112a. All these who seek benefit always worship the Pitṛs. (Such seekers) viz—the Viśve Devas, the Sikatās, the Pṛśnījas, the Śṛṅgins, the Kṛṣṇas and the Śvetāmbujas duly worship them. The excellent Vātarasans, the Divākṛtyas, the Meghas (clouds), the Maruts (winds) Brahmā and other heaven-dwellers all the sages beginning with Atri, Bhṛgu and Aṅgiras, the Yakṣas, the serpents, the Suparṇas and the Kinnaras along with the Rākṣasas worship the Pitṛs.

112b-114. These noble-souled Pitṛs, duly honoured and worshipped in Śrāddha bestow all desires hundredfold and thousandfold. They bestow absolution (liberation) after one abandons the three worlds of normal existence involving old age and death. The grandfathers confer yogic power, prosperity subtle body to those who have no physical body, entire disinterested-ness and detachment and infinite bliss.

115-116a. Aiśvarya (prosperity and Mastery of everything) is laid down as Yoga. Aiśvarya is called Yoga. Without the asset of Yogic power, emancipation (from Saṃsāra) is impossible to be achieved.

Absolution is impossible like the movement in the heaven of a bird devoid of wings.

116b-120. The eternal Mokṣadharma (prescribed course for attaining Liberation from saṃsāra) is the most excellent of all Dharmas.[8] Due to the favour of the Pitṛs, that is attained by noble souls. The grandfathers (manes) bestow crores and crores of jewels, pearls, Lapis Lazuli, garments, horses and elephants in millions. They bestow aerial chariots fitted with swans and peacocks and bedecked in pearls and lapis lazuli. The aerial chariots are studded with perpetual flowers and fruits. They are studded with clusters of tinkling bells. They bestow thousands of aerial chariots accompanied by Apsaras and richly equipped with all desirable things. The delighted grandfathers (manes) bestow on men progeny, nourishment, memory, intellect, kingdom and health.

Footnotes and references:


Cf. Pd. P. V. 9.2-3, Vā. P 72.1,73,.60 for similar seven divisions of Pitṛs into those having forms and formless ones.


Kālidāsa echoes this in Kur[?]āra-Sambhava 1.26

Umeti mātrā tapaso niṣīddhā paścād Umākhyāṃ sumukhī jagāma /


The story of Skanda’s birth is given in Mbh. Anuśāsana Chs. 85 and 86.5-14. There is much variation in the accounts of Skanda’s birth in Purāṇas which are a mixture of folk-lore and mythology. The credit of creating a consistent story in a superb epic out of this diverse material must be given to Kālidāsa.


VV. 40-45 explain why Skanda got six faces. The Mbh. account differs.


This is an indecent derivation. Due to the casting off of the Semen of Śiva by Agni and Gaṅgā, the child came to be called Skanda (Skannatvāt skandatām prāptaḥ—states Mbh. Anu. 86.14.


VV 53-74 give the previous birth of Satyavatī, mother of Vyāsa and then the queen of Śantanu.


A brief resume of the seven classes of Pitṛs, their mental daughters etc. may be tabulated as follows:—

Class of Pitṛs: — No. of their Daughters and other details:
1. Vairājas — Menā, Wife of Himavān, mother of Umā, Śiva’s consort.
2. Barhiṣads — Acchodā (river) adopted king Amāvasu as father; cursed by Pitṛs—became Satyavati mother of Vyāsa and queen of Śantanu.
3. Agniśvāttas — Pivarī, married to Śuka, Vyāsa’s son.
4. Kāvyas (Sons of Agni and Svadhā) — Yogotpatti alias Eka-Śṛṅgā, married Śukra.
5. Upahūtas (Sons of Aṅgiras) — Yaśodā, married to king Khaṭvāñga
6. Ājyapās (Sons of Pulaha) — Virajā, married to king Nahuṣa, mother of Yayāti.
7. Sukāla (Sons of Vasiṣṭha) — Narmada (The river), wife of Purukutra  and mother of Trasad-ḍasyu.

Out of these groups (5), (6) and (7) are specially recommended for worship to Kṣattriyas, Vaiśyas and Śūdras. Maṇu III 193-198 slightly differs in the assignment of Varṇas to Pitṛs.


The Phalaśruti—Rewards offered by Pitṛs to the performers of Śrāddha.

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