The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Dadhici’s Gift of His Body which is chapter 16 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 sixteenth chapter of the Kedara-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 16 - Dadhīci’s Gift of His Body

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Lomaśa said:

1-9. Thereupon Śacī spoke to them the following words full of virtuous advice: “O Devas with Bṛhaspati as the head, do not get despondent. All of you hasten to the place where the excellent Sura (lies hidden) on being attacked by the devil of Brāhmaṇa’s slaughter. Hurry up, O clever ones, to see Śakra. It was for the sake of many (i.e. all gods etc.) that the dull-witted Viśvarūpa was killed by Mahendra. But, he was banished by all (of you). Hence, all of you should go to the place where the lord (is lying hidden). O sinless one, previously Mahendra had disregarded you. On account of that disrespect you became agitated and cursed Purandara. Similarly, O Bṛhaspati, you have been cursed by me. Though (Śakra) has been dismissed, you be loyal (to him) till the end. Just as two persons were brought for my sake even though Śakra is alive, so also, O Brāhmaṇa, even while you are alive (someone else) will do your job. Some person of exalted magnificence and felicity will procreate a son of great renown in your wife.[1] There is no doubt about this. Go immediately along with Suras. Bring Indra. Do not delay. If you do not hasten to go, I will curse you once again.”

10. On hearing the words uttered by Śacī, he went there along with Suras. All of them went to Purandara (Indra) who had been afflicted with the devil of Brāhmaṇa’s slaughter.

11. After reaching the shore of the lake, they made obeisance to Śakra. All of them were seen by Śakra who was staying in the waters.

12. The lord of Devas spoke to them: “Why have you all come here? I am staying here in the waters being overwhelmed by the sin of Brāhmaṇa’s slaughter, alone and engaged in penance, O Devas.”

13. On hearing these words of Indra, all the Devas became perturbed. They spoke to the king of Devas (these) amazing (words):

14. “Words like these should not be uttered by you. Such of your activities as killing of Viśvarūpa had been done for the sake of helping others.

15. A mysterious sacrifice was performed by the sob of Viśvakarmā, whereby Devas and the illustrious sages would be ruined.

16. It was for this reason, O lord, that he was killed by you for the sake of helping others. Thereupon, all of us have come to you to take you to Amarāvatī.”

17-19. While Devas were discussing this matter, the devil of Brāhmaṇa’s slaughter hurriedly said: “I am chaiming[?] Devendra.”

Then suddenly Bṛhaspati spoke these words:

Bṛhaspati said:

We shall now make arrangement of dwellings for your stay.

Thus the devil of slaughter was pacified by Devas on account of the importance of that matter.

20. All those Suras, the intelligent sages, Yakṣas, Piśācas, serpents, birds as well as all the celestial Siddhas and Cāraṇas deliberated on this matter and divided the sin of slaughter into four parts.[2]

21. At the outset, all the heaven-dwellers spoke to Kṣamā (the Earth): “O Earth, for the sake of realizing (our) objectives a portion of the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter should be accepted by you.”

22-23. On hearing those words of Suras, Dharitrī (the Earth) trembled and said: “Let it be pondered as to how a part of the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter can be taken over by me? I am the mother of all living beings. I sustain this universe. But, if I come into contact with sin, I will become exceedingly impure.”

24. On hearing those words of the Earth, Bṛhaspati said to her: “Do not be afraid, O lady, beautiful in every limb. You are sinless. It cannot be otherwise.

25. When Vāsudeva[3] of great glory is born in the family of Yadus, you will become free from sins when his feet are placed (upon you).

26. Do carry out our request. You must not hesitate in this respect.”

27. On being told thus, the Earth devoid of sins did according to their instructions (i.e. accepted a part of the sin).

Then all those Devas called Trees and spoke these words:

28. “A part of the (sin of) slaughter should be taken up by you for the purpose of realizing the objectives (of all the Devas).”

On being told thus, all the Trees who had come there said to Devas:

29-30. “We are all of this nature that we regularly provide ascetics with fruits. If we are tainted by the (sin of) slaughter, all the ascetics too, of great fortune, will become sinners. Hence, let everything be thought of.”

Thereupon, all the Trees that had come there were told by the preceptor Bṛhaspati:

31-32. “None of you need worry about this. If you are cut off into several parts, you will grow further with many branches by the grace of Indra. Then you will be permanently endowed with (possession of branches).” On being told thus, all of them partially accepted the (sin of) the slaughter.

33. Then they called the Waters and all the heaven-dwellers spoke thus to the Waters: “Let a part of the (sin of) Brāhmaṇa’s slaughter be taken up by the Waters for the sake of realizing the objectives (of Devas).”

34-35. Then all the Waters joined together and said to the priest (Bṛhaspati): “All the living beings enveloped by sins sanctify themselves by dispelling whatever sins and evils they are tainted with, by coming into contact with us, through ablutions, cleansing processes and drinking.”

36-38. On hearing their words, Bṛhaspati said: “O Waters, do not be afraid of the sin, though it is difficult to be crossed. Let the Waters sanctify all living beings, mobile and immobile.”

Then Bṛhaspati called women and said: “Now itself a part of the (sin of) Brāhmaṇa-slaughter should be taken up for the sake of realizing the objectives of all.”

On hearing the words of Guru (Bṛhaspati), all the women said:

39-40. “This is the injunction of the Vedas that if a woman commits a sin, other (many) members of her family become tainted with it and not otherwise. O priest, has this not been heard by you? Let it be pondered over.”

On being told thus by the women, Bṛhaspati said:

41-42. “Do not be afraid of this sin, O ye ladies of beautiful eyes. This (act of yours) will bestow benefits on other ladies of the future. The part of the (sin of) slaughter will benefit everyone. (Further) you will have Yathākāmitva (‘ability to love to the heart’s content’).” Thus, four parts of the sin of slaughter were allotted by Suras. The sin of slaughter stayed in those beings, O excellent Brāhmaṇas,

43. Mahendra then became free from sins and he was crowned in the city of Devas by the groups of Devas along with the sages.

44. Accompanied by Śacī, the noble-souled Purandara became the overlord of the universe. He was accompanied by Devas, the leading sages of great magnanimity and groups of Siddhas too.

45. Then, fires and winds became splendid. All the planets were lustrous and quiescent. The earth shone with great splendour; so also the mountains yielded gems and jewels.

46-48. The minds of learned men became delighted. Rivers flowed with nectarine waters. Trees yielded fruits perpetually. Planets and medicinal herbs grew and matured without being cultivated. They were comparable to nectar (in taste and effect). The inhabitants of Indra’s world were all enthusiastic and exceedingly joyous.

Lomaśa said:

49. In the meantime, Tvaṣṭṛ who witnessed the celebrations in honour of Indra became exceedingly infuriated and was afflictted with sorrow for his (dead) son.

50-51. With great dejection, he went (to forest) for performing a severe penance. Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds, became pleased with that penance. Being delighted he said to Tvaṣṭṛ, “O (Tvaṣṭṛ) of good holy rites, choose your boon.”

Thereupon, Tvaṣṭṛ chose a boon that caused fear to all the worlds:

“A son who will be terrifying Devas should be given as boon.”

52. Saying “So be it”, the boon was granted by Brahmā Parameṣṭḥīn. No sooner had the boon been granted than a person appeared there.

53. He was a wonderful Daitya named Vṛtra. Everyday, the Asura increased by a hundred Dhanus (1 Dhanus= about 2 metres) in stature and size.

54. Those Daityas who had been killed by the groups of Suras at the time of the churning of the Milk Ocean and were resuscitated to life quickly by Bhṛgu, came out of Pātāla.

55. The whole of the earth was pervaded by that Asura of great soul.

56. Then, all the sages who had been hurt and injured and all the ascetics hurriedly reported to Brahmā about the calamity that had befallen them. So also did Indra and other Devas and Gandharvas along with the groups of Maruts.

57. Everything that Tvaṣṭṛ intended to do was told by Brahmā.

58-59. “By performing very severe penance, a great overlord of all Daityas called Vṛtra, of great refulgence, has been created for killing you (all).

Still endeavour may be made to see that this Daitya is killed.”

On hearing the words of Brahmā, Devas including Vāsava spoke these words:

Devas said:

60. When Indra was absolved of the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaugh-ter and established (as a ruler) in the heaven, something which should not have been done and which is hard to be born, had been done by us.

61. Many weapons and missiles had been foolishly thrown in the hermitage of Dadhīca. What shall we do now, O Brahmā?

62. On hearing those words, Brahmā laughingly said to Devas: “They have remained there for a long time. Enquire and return, O Suras.”

63. All the Devas went there, but could not see their respective weapons. They asked Dadhīci and he replied: “I do not know.”

64-65. Again they came to Brahmā and all of them told him what the sage said.

Brahmā then said to Devas: “Request him for his bones for the sake of accomplishing the objectives of all (of you). He will undoubtedly give (them).”

66-67. On hearing the words of Brahmā, Śakra spoke: “O lord, for the sake of accomplishing the objectives of Devas, Viśvarūpa was killed. But I alone was made the most (condemned) sinner by Suras, O Brahmā.

68. Further, at the very same instant, I was made niḥśrīka (‘devoid of glory and splendour’) by my preceptor. It was indeed a good luck that I have now entered my mansion.

69. Even if, after getting Dadhīci killed, many of his bones (are taken) and weapons are made from them, those (bone-made) weapons will be inauspicious, O Lord.

70. Thus, I am perpetually in fear of sin. How can I kill this king of Daityas named Vṛtfa who has been begotten by Tvaṣṭṛ?”

Hearing the words of Śakra who was perpetually in fear of sins, god Brahmā spoke thus: He enlightened (Indra) through the instruction of Arthaśāstra.

71. “One can withstand and even kill a desperado whether he be a Brāhmaṇa or an ascetic in case he rushes at one and desires to kill one. One does not become a Brāhmaṇa-slayer thereby.”

Indra said:

72. I am afraid of causing the death of Dadhīca, O Brahmā. There is no doubt about this that a great sin will result from that Brāhmaṇa-slaughter.

73. Hence, Brāhmaṇas should not be slighted or insulted by us. Many defects result from insulting (them). It cannot be otherwise.

74. Only that which brings about great merits should be done by a wise man. Only such acts should a learned man think of doing (and plan).

75-77. On hearing his disinterested words, Brahmā spoke to him:

“O Śakra, make use of your own intelligence. Go to Dadhīci quickly. Ṛequest for Dadhīci’s bones in view of the gravity of the matter.” Saying “So be it”, Śakra, accompanied by his preceptor and Devas, went to the auspicious hermitage of Dadhīca, which contained different kinds of animals devoid of their natural animosity.

78-80. Cats and mice were joyous in each other’s company. Lions and she-elephants along with their young ones found joy in remaining in the same place. Different species of animals were engaged in sports in one another’s company. Serpents and mongooses were playing about in one another’s company. Devas-who saw these and many other miraculous things in that hermitage were surprised very much.

81-82. They saw the pre-eminent sage seated in his excellent seat. He was shining with great splendour like the sun or like a second fire. The excellent sage was accompanied by ṭhis wife) Suvarcā, just as Brahmā is accompanied by Sāvitrī.

83-85. After bowing down to him Devas spoke these words:

“You are a donor (famous) in the three worlds. (Hence) we have come to you.”

On hearing the words of those Devas, the sage spoke: “O excellent Suras, tell me what for have all of you come. I shall give it. There is no doubt about it. My word cannot be otherwise.”

Then all those Suras in a body said to Dadhīci, as they were seekers of their own selfish interests:

86-88. “We have been desirous of seeing you as all of us are (mortally) afraid of dangers, O Brāhmaṇa. Hearing about you as a saviour, Brahmā has urged us. So we have come. Understand all these things. O sage of good holy rites, it behoves you to give us.”

On hearing their words (the sage said): “Let it be mentioned what should be given?”

89-90. Then Devas said: “O Brāhmaṇa, give us your bones for the sake of making weapons in order to destroy Daityas.”

Then the Brāhmaṇical sage laughed and said: “Wait for a moment, O Devas. I shall myself give up my body today.”

91-93. After saying this to them, he called his wife Suvarcā. The sage of great splendour said: “Listen, O gentle lady of pure smiles. I have been requested by Devas for my bones. I am forsaking this body. I shall go to the world of Brahmā by means of profound meditation. There is no doubt about this that when I have gone to the world of Brahmā, you will also attain me there by means of your own virtue. Do not become worried over this unnecessarily.”

94. After saying this to his wife, he sent her to his own hermitage. Then, the Brāhmaṇa went into a state of concentration in the presence of the Devas,

95. By means of the greatest concentration of mind, he cast off his own body. Immediately he went to the world of Brahmā from where no one returns.[4]

96. The most excellent one among the groups of sages, named Dadhīci was a favourite (devotee) of Śiva. He was initiated (in the cult) of Śiva. It is for the sake of helping others that the Brāhmaṇa quickly abandoned his body at that time.

Footnotes and references:


Seduction of Tārā (Bṛhaspati’s wife) is attributed to Śacī’s curse in the text.


The distribution of the sin of Brahmin-slaughter among women, fire, trees and cows as briefly mentioned in Mbh, Śānti 342.53 (vanitāgnivanaspatigoṣu) is expanded in vv 21-41 here but the sin is distributed among the earth, trees, waters, and women in our text.


The influence of Kṛṣṇa cult is obvious.


The supreme sacrifice of Dadhīca in giving his bones for making a weapon (Vajra) out of them for killing Vṛtra is mentioned in Mbh, Śalya 51 but it does not mention his wife Suvarcā. As a propagandist of Śaivism, our text claims Dadhīca as Śiva’s devotee.

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