The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes The Fight between Devas and Asuras which is chapter 13 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the thirteenth chapter of the Kedara-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 13 - The Fight between Devas and Asuras

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Lomaśa said:

1-2. Then (those Asuras) roared at the Suras, the chief among whom was Indra, and whose strength and valour was great. They challenged them for a fight. The noble-souled son of Virocana got into his aerial chariot. He was accompanied by Daityas who were very powerful and who came in various (groups). With his entire army he rushed at Suras in a terrible way.

3. They had assumed their (original real) forms. They attacked (the enemies) in thousands. Some of them rode on tigers and others on buffaloes.

4-6. Some of them rode on horses, others on elephants; while some others rode on lions, panthers and śarabhas (eight-footed mythical animal), peacocks, royal swans, cocks, horses, elephants, camels, mules and asses. Some drove in carts. Many Daityas came on foot with swords, javelins and daggers in their hands.

7-8. There were demons with iron bars as weapons. Others had nooses, javelins and iron clubs in their hands. Some had thin-bladed swords. Others had bhuṣuṇḍī (a sort of missile) and iron bolts as their weapons. Others came on horses, chariots and elephants and began to strike. Thousands of Asuras, the chief among whom was Bali, rode in aerial chariots.

9. They vied with one another roaring frequently. Vṛṣaparvan then said to Bali, the leading Daitya:

10. “O mighty one, an alliance was entered into with Indra by you. One should not place too much of faith in an evil-minded person.

11-12. By no means should one trust and enter into an alliance with a base person, even if one happens to be weak and inferior. Friendship must be formed with an intelligent person. In case of emergency (he will help one) to make the mishap ineffective.

One must not believe in a person who has been an enemy previously. It is because of you, O Bali, that we have been defeated now! Why should those chronic rogues not try to undo what has been agreed upon?”

13. Those (sturdy Asuras) who could not be thwarted and were desirous of fighting said thus and arrayed themselves suitably. They adorned the battlefield with banners, umbrellas and flags.

14-15. They covered all the quarters with chowries. The battlefield was completely covered up.

Similarly all Suras were also eager to (fight with) Daityas. Those persons of exalted fortune drank the nactar, put on the coats of mail and got on their respective vehicles. Mahendra, the valorous one with vajra (thunderbolt) in his hand, rode on his elephant. The Sun was seated on Uccaiḥśravas and the Moon rode on a deer.

16. They were equipped with umbrellas and chowries. They were rendered splendid by the martial glory born of victory. Desirous of victory, all those persons beginning with Indra bowed down to Viṣṇu.

17-18. Permitted by Viṣṇu, they angrily (rushed at) Asuras. Asuras of huge body, terrible eyes and dreadful exploits (withstood them). The fight of Devas with Dānavas was very terrible, tumultuous and exceedingly dreadful, instilling fear into all living beings.

19-20. Arrows were continuously showered. Everything became excessively wonderful. The rough and harsh noise like Caṭacaṭā reverberated in all the ten directions.

Within a moment, they were wounded by arrows. Struck and hurt by arrows, iron clubs, javelins and iron-tipped missiles, they fell on the ground.

21-22. Even as they were being split and pierced, they split and tore others in the battle. They were shattered with Bhalla,1 arrows and smashed to pieces by Nārācas (iron-tipped arrows). Some of the Daityas, Dānavas and Rākṣasas were hit with many Kṣurapras (arrows with horseshoe-shaped tips) and they appeared to be torn with them. Some Dānavas were shattered and killed by Śilīmukhas (sharp-pointed arrows).

23. On seeing the army of Dānavas broken up thus, Devas roared and moved all round. Delighted, they assembled together and celebrated the victory they had gained.

24-26. The three worlds were filled with the sounds of conchs and musical instruments. Dānavas of great strength became furious with Devas. Bali and all the others rose up once again with great excitement. They were equipped with many aerial chariots resembling the sun. With a desire to conquer each other Devas and Dānavas engaged themselves in tumultuous duels.

27. Mahendra fought with Bali, the lord of Dānavas. Similarly, Yama of great and powerful arms met Namuci in combat.[1]

28. Nairṛta fought with Praghasa. Varuṇa clashed with Kuṃbha. Sadāraya (Wind-god) fought with Nikuṃbha.

29. Rāhu fought a very terrible combat with Soma (the Moon). The Amṛta (nectar) arising from the body of the Moon was imbibed by Rāhu. Due to the contact with nectar (another figure) like Rāhu rose up.

30-32. All these things were seen by Śaṃbhu, the great lord. “There is no doubt about this that I am the base and support of all living beings. I am affectionate and dear to all, Asuras as well as Suras.” On being told thus Rāhu bowed down to Śiva. The Moon stationed on his crest discharged nectar out of fear. On account of it, many such heads were produced simultaneously. Śaṃbhu made them into a beautiful garland and tied it to his head like a (decorative) head-ornament.

33. By swallowing Kālakūṭa for the purpose of accomplishing the objective of Devas, he became blue-throated with a garland of skulls (thus) made.

34. Maheśvara wore the garland of skulls.

35. By means of that garland shone the noble-souled Hara, the primordial lord of Devas, the destroyer of Tripura. He is the lord by whom the great demon Gaja (Elephant) was struck down and the huge (demon) Andhaka was reduced to dust.

36-37. It was Śiva by whom Gaṅgā was held in the middle of his head. He, the dispeller of fear, kept the Moon on his crest. Vedas, Purāṇas, Āgamas, different kinds of Śrutis and scriptures argue and discuss variously in accordance with difference in their respective texts. In the course of their discussion they become dumb. Śiva, the sole friend of the universe, is being investigated and described differently according to the opinion of the preceptors of different Āgamas.

38. Abandoning the eternal lord Śiva, the supreme spirit that could be comprehended only through the Vedas, deluded people commit blunders. They do not realize Śiva of the form of the Great Spirit.

39. Śiva is the Paramātmā (Supreme Soul) by whom everything is created and sustained. He pervades everything and evolves everything. The entire universe is a part of this Lord. He may, perhaps, be comprehended through the Vedānta.

40. A person always engaged in devotion to Śiva is undoubtedly Śiva, whether he is rich or poor, noble or base.

41. If a person becomes delighted on seeing the splendid worship of Śiva performed by others, he gets a gift (i.e. merit) equal to his (i.e. that of the worshipper).

42. People should offer rows of lamps in the month of Kārttika with great faith. A devotee who offers lamps thus is honoured in heaven for as many thousands of Yugas as the number (of hours) during which those lamps burn in front of the Liṅga.[2]

43. If the lamps with safflower oil are offered in the temple of Śiva, those who offer them rejoice in Kailāsa in the presence of Śiva.

44. If the lamps with linseed oil are offered in the temple of Śiva, those who offer them rejoice in Kailāsa in the presence of Śiva.

45-46. As a result of the offering of lamps, people become Jñānins (endowed with perfect knowledge).

If the lamps with gingelly oil are offered in the temple of Śiva, they (the offerers) go to Śiva in the company of a hundred members of their family.

47. Those by whom lamps are filled with ghee and lit in the temple of Śiva, go to the highest abode in the company of a hundred thousand members of own family.

48. Those who worship Śiva always with camphor, aloe and incense and those who perform the rite of waving lights everyday along with camphor, attain Sāyujya (identity with the Divinity). There is no doubt about it.

49. Those who worship the Liṅga once, twice or thrice a day with care are Rudras (themselves). There is no doubt about it.

50. If the devotees wear Rudrākṣa beads[3] at the time of the worship of Śiva, when charitable gifts are offered, when penance is performed, in the holy spots and during festive occasions with care, their merit is infinite, O Brāhmaṇas.

51. Listen, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, to what Śiva has said about Rudrākṣa beads. There are Rudrākṣas with one face, two faces etc. up to sixteen faces- Among these, two should be known as the most excellent ones. O Brāhmaṇas, which redeem (devotees).

52. They are the five-faced Rudrākṣa and the single-faced Rudrākṣa. Those men who always wear the single-faced Rudrākṣa, go to the world of Rudra and rejoice in the presence of Rudra.

53. Japa, penance, holy rites, yogic practice, holy bath, charitable gift, worship etc.—if these splendid rites are performed while wearing Rudrākṣa beads, these rites yield infinite results.

54. If a Rudrākṣa bead is tied round the neck of even a dog, it will be redeemed thereby. There is no doubt about it.

55. Due to the association of the Rudrākṣa bead one’s sin will be destroyed. Knowing this one should perform auspicious rites after wearing a Rudrākṣa bead.

56. If the devotees have Tripuṇḍra (three horizontal parallel lines on the forehead) (marked) with Vibhūti (sacred ash) sanctified by Mantras, they will undoubtedly become Rudras and (rejoice) in the world of Rudra.

57. The dung of a tawny-coloured cow should be gathered before it touches the ground. It must be dried and burned by the devotees of Śiva for preparing Vibhūti.

58-59. It is called Vibhūti. It destroys all sins. At the outset, a single line should be drawn carefully with the thumb on the forehead. Then, two lines should be drawn, one above and one below the previous line by means of two fingers avoiding the middle finger. If the three lines are clearly visible on the forehead, that person is a devotee of Śiva. He should be known as the destroyer of sins by (his) mere sight, like Śiva.

60-61. Those devotees of Śiva who keep matted hair, keep five, seven or nine such clusters. Those who do so in accordance with the injunctions in Śaiva treatises, do attain Śiva. There is no doubt about this. Rudrākṣa beads should be worn particularly by Śiva’s devotees.

62. Sadāśiva can be worshipped with a very little quantity (of materials) or with profusely rich material. The devotee redeems thereby ten million members of his family and rejoices with Śiva.

63. Hence, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, there is nothing greater than Śiva. When this is told in the scripture (it must be known that), everything has Śiva for its cause.

64. Indeed Śiva is the bestower of the worlds. He is the maker of the worlds. He rejoices along with (his devotees). Know, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, that the whole universe consists of both Śiva and Śakti.

65. The two-syllabled name Śi-va saves one from very great danger. Hence, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, let Śiva be contemplated upon and remembered.

The sages said:

66-68. The greatness of Somanātha has been understood. It was due to his grace that all were saved from the fear of the heads of Rāhu by Parameṣṭhin. Suras beginning with Indra and others (were saved by the lord) in that dreadful battle. Thereafter, what did all those Suras do? Let it be narrated. Everything about the greatness of Śiva as narrated by you was heard directly (while) uttered by you orally. Let the narration of the battle be made exactly as it happened.

Lomaśa said:

69. When Suras were defeated by Daityas, all of them sought refuge in Śaṃbhu. The excellent Suras bowed down to Śiva. All of them immediately decided to fight.

70. Similarly, all Daityas who were very powerful and enthusiastic began to fight. Equipped with great missiles, they came into contact with Devas and fought again and again.

71. Thus, all Suras and Asuras who were desirous of victory and who were exceedingly furious, fought with one another with javelins, swords, spears, iron bars and axes. Being struck down and hit by Suras with many great arrows and missiles combined with one another Asuras (though) indomitable fell down in the same manner as lions falling into Gaṅgā.

72. They made the entire earth muddy with flesh and blood. They made the entire earth including oceans, forests, mines, trees and mountains (full of blood and flesh).

73. Deep rivers of blood lashed and swept heads, headless bodies, great armours, flags, chariots, banners and heads of elephants and horses.

74. These rivers instilled fear into the minds of cowards. Brahmarākṣasas crossed these bloody rivers and made the other goblins, ghosts, Pramathas and Rākṣasas cross them.

75. There were groups of female devils such as Śākinīs, Ḍākinīs etc. and thousands of Yakṣiṇīs. Rejoicing in the company of each other, they were engaged in various sports.

76. Thus, in that highly dreadful battle Devas and Asuras clashed directly with one another. There Bhūtas, Pramathas and Rākṣasas continued their sports.

77. Devendra of wonderful exploits fought with Bali. The infuriated son of Virocana (Bali) struck Devendra with a javelin.

78-79. Mahendra of quick and nimble steps dodged that javelin. He struck Bali, the lord of Daityas, with great effort and force with his great thunderbolt of sharp edges The valorous (lord of Devas) cut off his (Bali’s) arms. (Thereupon) he fell down dead on the ground from his aerial chariot resembling the sun.

80-81. On seeing Bali fallen, Vṛṣaparvan furiously showered Mahendra and his elephant with a volley of arrows like the cloud showering a mountain. Mahendra bore the sharp arrows. Then a terrible battle ensued between Mahendra and Vṛṣaparvan.

82-85. Indra, the tormentor of the enemy’s army, caused Vṛṣaparvan to fall down. Then he killed Dānavas in the battle with his great thunderbolt. Some were pierced through the head. Some were hit in the neck. Some were rendered bewildered and afflicted by the furious Indra. Similarly, Dānavas were killed by Yama, Vayu and Varuṇa. Others were killed by Kubera and Nairṭta. Some were killed by Agni and torn asunder by Īśa

86. Thus the powerful Asuras of great exploit were killed by Suras and the guardians of the worlds. It was due to the favour of Śiva that they were killed then.

87. Then the great and excellent Daitya who was equipped with excellent missiles and weapons came in to kill the excellent Suras. The evil-minded demon who was very cruel in his heart advanced alone.

88. Armoured and armed with a trident, he rode on a lion surrounded by one hundred millions of Daityas, all riding on lions.

89. All those lions of great strength and exploit were equipped with coats of mail. The great Daityas riding on those lions were also equal to them.

90. On seeing the entire army of Daityas, that was adorned by lions and led by Kālanemi, advancing, the Devas with Indra, their leader, became exceedingly frightened. Then they began to ponder.

91. ‘What shall we all do now? How will we conquer this wonderful and countless army surrounded by lions?’

92-93. When they were thinking thus, Nārada happened to come there. The old story of Kālanemi’s power of penance was told to Mahendra by Nārada. He told him about his invincibility in battle, by virtue of the power of boons granted to him.

94. “O Devas, we are not competent to conquer (this army) in the battle ground without Viṣṇu’s help. Hence, let the great lord Viṣṇu, the lord dark in complexion like the Tamāla leaves, the bestower of boons, be remembered by (all of you) desirous of conquest.”

95. On hearing the words of Nārada, Devas hurriedly meditated on Mahāviṣṇu, the tormentor of the enemy’s army, the Supreme Soul. Remembering the lord, they prayed to him thus:

Devas said:

96. Obeisance to you, the lord, the cause of the auspiciousness of the universe. O Śrīnivāsa (Abode of Śrī), obeisance to you. O Śrīpati (Consort of Goddess Lakṣmī), obeisance, obeisance to you.

97. Today we are exceedingly frightened. We are oppressed by the fear of Kālanemi. It behoves you, O lord, the bestower of freedom from fear to Devas, to save us from the Daitya.

98. On being meditated and remembered thus, the dark-complexioned Hari, the bestower of freedom from fear to all the worlds, appeared before them riding on Garuḍa.

99. The lord with the discus in his hand came there for the victory of Devas.

They all saw Mahāviṣṇu seated on Garuḍa and stationed in the firmament, the invincible lord Śrīvāsa (the resort of Śrī) who was desirous of fighting.

100. On seeing the lord like that, Kālanemi who was very mighty and highly infuriated, said laughingly (loudly): “Who are you, O exalted one of great fortune? You are excellent in form and features. You are young and dark-complexioned and possess the valour of an elephant in rut. A sharp-edged brilliant discus is held by you in your hand. Why? Let me know, O Lord.”

The Lord said:

101. I came here for the purpose of fighting, for the fulfilment of the cause of Devas. Be steady, O stupid one, I shall undoubtedly burn you now.

102. On hearing the words of the Lord, the valorous Kālanemi became angry and said to lord Adhokṣaja (Viṣṇu):

103. “You are the lord and root-cause of Devas. You are highly proud of your ability to fight. If you are a brave warrior, fight with me now.”

104-107. Lord Mahāviṣṇu of great lustre laughed and said: “Either you be stationed in the sky, or I shall be stationed on the earth. O mighty one, fight either in the sky or on the ground, so that the battle will not be on uneven planes and blameworthy.”

Saying “So be it” the Daitya of great mangificence, surrounded by one hundred million Daityas who were dignified and glorious and seated on lions, who were powerful and ruthless, rose up in the sky slowly. He was accompanied by the groups of Asuras. He was desirous of killing (Viṣṇu) the lord of cosmic form. He took up another fierce trident with a desire to fight with Hari. His mouth and face had a hideous form due to his (curved ferocious) teeth as well as (his desire to send) an oral message (to his followers).

Footnotes and references:


Bhalla, Nārāca, Kṣurapra, Śilīmukha are different kinds of arrows.


It is an age-old practice to illuminate temples with oil-lamps in the month of Kārttika (November-December). VV 42-47 describe the ‘fruit’ of using different kinds of oil for these lamps.


Rudrākṣa is the ‘berry’ of Elaeocarpus ganitrus. It is of different kinds, ‘one-faced’, ‘five-faced’ etc. Genuine ‘one-faced’ Rudrākṣa is rare and is valued highly. VV 50-55 describe the spiritual importance of wearing Rudrākṣa.

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