The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Vritra Killed: Bali Prepares for War which is chapter 17 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 seventeenth chapter of the Kedara-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 17 - Vṛtra Killed: Bali Prepares for War

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Lomaśa said:

1-3. Then on seeing him absorbed (in the Supreme Spirit), the groups of Suras began to think: ‘How do we make (the weapons out of this body)?’ Then the consort of Śacī called Surabhi (the divine cow) and said: “At my instance lick up the body of Dadhīca.” Saying “So be it” and honouring his words, Surabhi licked the body at the same instant. The body was immediately made rid of all flesh by that cow.

4-5. Suras picked up those bones and made weapons out of them.[1] The weapon Vajra (thunderbolt) was made out of his backbone and the weapon Brahmaśiras was made out of his skull. Suras picked up many other bones of that sage (and made weapons out of them). Similarly, Suras who were naturally inimical to Daityas, made nooses out of his clusters of nerves and veins.

6. After making the weapons, all Suras of great strength and exploit hurried back, eager to kill Vṛtra.

7. Then Suvarcā, the wife of Dadhīci, who had been sent away for the purpose of accomplishing the objectives of Suras, came back to that place and saw the dead body of her husband.

8. On coming to know that everything had been the work of Suras, the chaste lady became immediately infuriated. The chaste lady Suvarcā, the wife of the excellent sage, became extremely enraged and pronounced a curse:

9. “O Suras, all of you are very wicked. All of you are weak and greedy. Hence, from today onwards all the heaven-dwellers shall be issueless.”

10. Thus, that ascetic lady cursed those Suras and then came to the root of an Aśvattha tree, (the Indian fig tree) There she tore up her belly.

11. From the belly, the foetus of the noble-souled Dadhīca came out. It was Pippalāda[2] of great lustre. He was a direct incarnation of Rudra.

12-13. With eyes (flared up) with wrath, the mother Suvarcā laughed (in derision) and spoke to Pippalāda, the foetus: “Stay here for a long time near this Aśvattha, O highly magnificent son. Be fruitful unto all.” Speaking thus to her son, that chaste lady Suvarcā followed her husband by means of the greatest Samādhi (concentration).

14. Thus, that wife of Dadhīca went to Heaven along with her husband.

15. After making the missiles and the weapons, Devas of great might and exploits, who were eager to (fight) with Daityas, returned with Indra at their head.

16. Honouring Guru and abiding by his bidding, the many groups of Suras, of great strength and exploit—all of them equipped with great weapons and missiles, came to the earth, the Middle Land (world), and spoke (among themselves).

17. On hearing that Devas with Indra as their leader had come, Vṛtra[3], the great Daitya, went (there) accompanied by the groups of Daityas.

18. Just as the peak of Meru is completely visible, so appeared that great son of Viśvakarman, with great refulgence.

19. Mahendra was seen by him. The great Asura was seen by Mahendra. The meeting of Devas and Dānavas was exceedingly wonderful.

20. Devas and Daityas who had harbored bitter hatred for one another became furious with one another.

21. During that encounter between Suras and Asuras, terrible, high-sounding instruments of martial music were played everywhere and their majestic loud report was heard everywhere.

22. As the instruments were being played, all of them hurriedly and powerfully struck one another with many groups of weapons.

23. In that war between Devas and Asuras, all the three worlds including mobile and immobile beings, were overwhelmed by great fear and became unconscious.

24. Some were cut and broken into two with the weapons. Some were injured by means of arrows and some cut into pieces with Nārāca arrows, weapons and missiles.

25. Some of the heaven-dwellers were maimed and crippled with Bhallas (arrows with crescent-shaped heads). They moved about like the streaks of lightning from clouds that shine in the sky.

26-27. Many heads fell from the sky like stars as though the great confusion and consternation of Mahāpralaya (the great annihilation) had overrun the Middle World, causing the destruction of all living beings. Then Namuci fought with Śakra.

28-29. The king of Devas himself hit Namuci with great force by means of his Vajra. But not even a single hair of the Asura Namuci was cut by that Vajra. All the Asuras and Suras were much surprised at this. Mahendra became ashamed.

30. He struck Namuci with his club, but as soon as that club came into contact with Ṇamuci’s body, it was smashed into pieces and fell down on the earth.

31. Similarly, Purandara struck him with a great spear. That spear colliding with Namuci’s limbs split into a hundred pieces,

32-33. Thus, the slayer of the enemies of Suras struck him with various kinds of weapons. But, Namuci went on smiling and laughing. He did not strike Purandara.

Beset with great worry and thought, Indra kept quiet. He did not know what should be done or what should not be done.

34. In the meantime, during that terrific great battle, an ethereal voice was heard immediately, addressing Indra:

35-36. “Kill this Daitya today immediately, O Mahendra. He is getting terrible and striking terror into the heaven-dwellers. Kill this great leader of Asuras quickly by means of the foam which is near the waters and which is hard to be borne. If struck with any other weapon, he can never be killed. Hence, O lord of Devas, make all possible endeavour to kill this evil-minded Namuci.”

37. On hearing the divine speech that was characterized by truth, that caused perpetual delight and was conducive to auspiciousness, (Indra) who was the most excellent one among those who endeavour, went to the other shore of the ocean and attempted (to kill Namuci) as he had infinite fund of vigour.

38. On seeing him to have come there, Namuci became exceedingly angry. He struck Devendra with his spear and laughingly asked:

39. “Why have you resorted to the shore of the ocean? You have left the battlefield. You have even abandoned your weapon.

40. O evil-minded one, what (harm) has been done to me even by your own Vajra?

41-42. Similarly many other missiles and weapons had been taken up by you previously to kill me, O dull-witted one. Now what will you do to kill me? You have come here to fight, but, O fool, with what weapon do you wish to fight in this battle?

43. I will kill you today itself, if you stand here in the battle. If not, go, being set free by me. “Live long and be happy.”

44. On hearing these arrogant words of that (Daitya) who shone in the battle, Mahendra too became furious. He took up the mysteriously wonderful foam.

45. On seeing the foam in his hand, Asuras laughed.

46. Namuci said (to himself), ‘He has exhausted his weapons. Therefore, Purandara wishes to kill me today by means of this foam alone. Indeed Śatakratu (Indra) is liberal-minded.’

47-48. He thus slighted Purandara laughingly. Namuci, the great Daitya, stood in front of him displaying his contemptuous disregard. At that very moment Indra killed him quickly with the foam.

49. When Namuci was killed, all the Devas became delighted. The sages honoured (Indra) with the words “Well done, well done.”

50. After the killing of Namuci in the battle, all Devas became victorious. Daityas were excited with anger. They were furiously desirous of fighting (with Devas).

51. The battle was resumed. Devas fought with Dānavas equipped with many kinds of weapons and missiles. Both were desirous of killing one another.

52. When those Asuras were being struck down again and again, Vṛtra, of great refulgence, approached Śatakratu (Indra).

53. On seeing Vṛtra, all of them including Suras, Asuras and human beings were overcome by great fear. They fell on the ground and lay there.

54. When all the Suras and Siddhas became frightened, the valorous Indra (came there) riding on Airāvaṇa (i.e. Airāvata) (armed) with the thunderbolt in his hand.

55. He shone by an umbrella that was held (over him) and the chowries (by his side) too. He was accompanied by all the Guardians of the Quarters. He was endowed with great power of exploit.

56. On seeing Vṛtra, all the great Devas and the Guardians of the Quarters became terrified. All of them sought refuge in Śiva.

57. All of them mentally contemplated Śaṅkara, the benefactor of the worlds. Mahendra who was desirous of victory, duly worshipped the Liṅga.

58. This was understood immediately by Guru (Bṛhaspati). With great confidence, the highly intelligent Bṛhaspati said to Śakra:

Bṛhaspati said:

59-60. The bright half of the lunar month of Kārttika (October-November), Saturday and Trayodaśī (thirteenth day)—when all these are concurrent, it is undoubtedly conducive to the accomplishment of everything. On that day, at the time of dusk, Sadāśiva should be worshipped in the form of Liṅga, O Devendra, for the accomplishment of all desired objectives.

61. The devotee should take his bath at midday and worship Śiva with sweet scents, fragrant flowers, fruits etc. together with gingelly seeds and emblic myrobalan.

62. Afterwards, at the time of dusk, he should worship an immobile Liṅga, whether it is self-existent or an installed one, whether it is man-made or of divine origin.

63. The devotee should worship that Liṅga with great devotion, whether in the midst of people or in a lonely place, in a forest or in a penance-grove. He should particularly worship at the time of dusk.

64. If the Liṅga is stationed outside a village, it is a hundred times more efficacious than when it is in the village. The merit of the worship of the wonderful Liṅga in a forest is one hundred times more than when it is outside the village.

65. If the Liṅga is worshipped on a mountain, it is a hundred times more efficacious than when it is worshipped in a forest. If the Liṅga installed in a penance-grove is worshipped, it yields a great benefit. It is ten thousand times more efficacious than the Liṅga stationed on a mountain.

66. Hence the worship of Śivaliṅga should be performed efficiently by wise men on the basis of this difference. A holy dip in the sacred spot and other similar rites should also be diligently performed.

67. If the devotee offers five piṇḍas (rice balls) accompanied by holy dip alone, it is splendid. One should perform the holy ablution in a well especially with the water drawn.

68. One should perform the holy dip in a lake after offering ten piṇḍas. The holy dip in a river is especially superior and particularly so in a great river.

69. The holy dip in Gaṅgā is superior to that in all the other holy spots and waters. If the holy dip is performed in a Devakhāta (natural pond or reservoir) it is equal in efficacy to a dip in Gaṅgā. The devotee should perform the rite of holy ablution in a praiseworthy manner.

70. Illumination should be offered to god Sadāśiva with a thousand lamps or a hundred lamps or a series of thirty-two lamps.

71-72- For the sake of Śiva’s gratification, the devotee should illuminate the lamps with ghee. For the attainment of all desired objects Sadāśiva should be worshipped at the time of dusk, in the form of a Liṅga, by men with fruits, lamps, food-offerings, sweet scents, incense and all the sixteen Upacāras[4] (i.e. modes of rendering service during worship) for the fulfilment of all objects.

73. The devotee should circumambulate (Śiva) one hundred and eight times. He should as well exert himself to perform as many prostrations (before Śiva).

74. Sadāśiva should be honoured and worshipped by means of circumambulations and prostrations. Rudra should be eulogized by reciting his hundred names.

75. “Obeisance to Rudra, to Bhīma (the terrible one), to Nīlakaṇṭha (blue-throated god), to Vedhas (the creator), to Kapardin (one having matted hair), to Sureśa (the lord of Devas); obeisance indeed to Vyomakeśa (sky-haired);

76. to Vṛṣadhvaja (bull-bannered god), to Soma (one accompanied by Umā), to Nīlakaṇṭha, to Digaṃbara (one with the quarters for garments), to Bharga (refulgent one), to Umākānta (the husband of Umā), to Kapardīn;

77. to Tapomaya (one who is of the nature of penance), to Vyāpta (one who is pervaded). Obeisance indeed to Śipiviṣṭa (one who is pervaded by rays), to Vyālapriya (one who is fond of serpents), to Vyāla (one who is identical with serpents); obeisance to the lord of serpents,

78. to Mahīdhara (one who supports the earth), to Vyāghra (the tiger); obeisance to the lord of Paśus (individual souls), to Trīpurāntakasiṃha (leonine destroyer of Tripura), to Śārdūlograrava (one whose roaring sound is as dreadful as that of a tiger);

79. to Mīna (fish), to Mīnanātha (to the lord of fishes), to Siddha, to Parameṣṭhin, to Kāmāntaka (the destroyer of Kāma), to Buddha (the enlightened one); obeisance to the lord of the intellect,

80. to Kapota (pigeon), to Viśīṣṭa (superior one), to Śiṣṭa (of good discipline), to Paramātman (the Supreme Soul),to Veda, to Vedābīja (seed of the Vedas); obeisance indeed to Devaguhya (secret known only to gods);

81. to Dīrgha (long one), to Dīrghadīrgha (longer than the long one), to Dīrghārgha (one of long respectable offering), to Maha (festival); obeisance to Jagatpratiṣṭha (one who is established in the universe); obeisance indeed to Vyomarūpa (one in the form of the firmament);

82. to Gajāsuravināśa (one who has destroyed the demon in the form of an elephant), to Andhakāsurabhedin (one who has split the demon Andhaka), to Nīlalohitaśukla (one of blue, red and white colours), to Caṇḍa-Muṇḍapriya [Caṇḍamuṇḍapriya] (one who is fond of Caṇḍa and Muṇḍa);

83. to Bhaktipriya (one who is fond of devotion), to Deva (resplendent lord), to Jñānajñāna (knowledge of knowledges) to Avyaya (the immutable), to Maheśa (the great lord), O Mahādeva. Obeisance to you, to Hara (the destroyer);

84. to Trinetra (the three-eyed god), Triveda (one who is eulogized in the three Vedas); obeisance, obeisance to Vedāṅga (the embodiment of Vedas), to Artha (wealth), to Artharūpa (one who has the form of wealth); obeisance indeed to Paramārtha (the Ultimate Reality),

85. to Viśvarūpa (one who has the cosmic form), to Viśva (the universe). Obeisance indeed to Viśvanātha (lord of the universe), to Śaṅkara (the benefactor), to Kāla (god of Death), to Kālāvayavarūpin (one who is in the form of the units of time);

86. to Arūpa (formless), to Sūkṣma (the subtle one). Obeisance indeed to the subtler than the subtlest. Obeisance to you who reside in the cremation ground; obeisance to you, wearer of the elephant hide,

87. to Śaśāṅka-śekhara [Śaśāṅkaśekhara] (one who has the moon as the crest-jewel), to Rudra, to Viśvāśraya (the support of the universe), to Durga (unattainable), to Durgasāra (the essence of the unattainables), to Durgāvayavasākṣin (one who is witness unto the limbs of Durgā);

88. to Liṅgarūpa (one who is in the form of the Liṅga), to Liṅga; obeisance to the lord of Liṅgas; obeisance to Oṃkāra; obeisance indeed to Praṇavārtha (the meaning of Praṇava).

89. Obeisance, obeisance to you, the cause of the causes, to Mṛtyuñjaya (the conqueror of Death), to Ātmasvarūpin (one who is in the form of the Soul), to Bhavasvarūpīn [Bhavasvarūpin?] (one who is of the form of the world), to Triyaṃba (one who has three eyes), O Asitakaṇṭha (dark-throated), O Bharga (refulgent one).

O Gaurīpati (Consort of Gaurī), obeisance to Sakalamaṅgalahetu (the cause of all auspiciousness).”

Bṛhaspati said:

90. The hundred names of Maheśa should be repeated always by a Vratin (‘observer of holy vows’) along with circumambulations and prostrations of that number with great effort. This should be done at the time of dusk for the sake of gratifying Śaṅkara,

91. Such is the holy observance fully explained to you, O Śakra, of great intellect. Perform this quickly. O lord of exalted fortune, fight only afterwards, O Lord.

92. By the grace of Śaṃbhu, victory etc. will come to you.

93. This highly refulgent Daitya has formerly propitiated god Śiva by (performing) penance on mountain Gandhamādana.

94. There was a king named Citraratha. Know, O Indra, that his park was near the city of Śiva. His park was named Caitraratha.

95. O Indra of exalted fortune, the six infirmities of human beings (viz. grief, delusion, old age, death, hunger and thirst) do not find a place in that park. Hence that park named Caitraratha was exceedingly auspicious.

96. A wonderful vehicle had been given to that king by Śiva himself. The vehicle could go wherever one desired to go. It was fitted with small ornamental tinkling bells and was attended upon by Siddhas and Cāraṇas. It was rendered resplendent by Gandharvas, Apsarās, Yakṣas and Kinnaras.

97. Once he was wandering round the earth, big mountains, different kinds of islands etc.

98-99. Once in the course of his wanderings, the great king named Citraratha came to Kailāsa. There he saw an exceedingly wonderful assembly hall of Maheśa, that shone on account of the Gaṇas. He saw Maheśvara also who looked splendid with the goddess adhering to half of his body.

100-101. When he saw Sadāśiva accompanied by the goddess (as well as closely joined to the goddess), he spoke these words: “We, the ministers etc. and others, O Śaṃbhu, cling to worldly pleasures. Others there are who are enslaved by (and enamoured of) women. We are indeed ignorant too, but out of shyness we do not enjoy the company of women in the midst of people.”

102-104. On hearing these words, Maheśa laughingly said in a just and proper manner, even as all were listening: “All are afraid of popular censure and not otherwise. The poison Kālakūṭa which could not be digested by anyone was swallowed (by me). Still a mocking criticism about me was made by this king. This is difficult to be digested by me.”

Girijā called Citraratha and spoke these words:

Girijā said:

105. O evil-minded one, O ignorant fellow, why was Śaṅkara mocked at and ridiculed along with me? O dull-witted one, you will see the consequences of your action.

106. He who mocks and ridicules equanimous and even-minded good people, whether he is a Deva or a human being, should be known as the meanest of all mean people.

107. These leading sages of great magnanimity, those anchorites steeped in the Vedas and these (philosophers) Sanaka and others, worship Śiva. Are they ignorant ones?

108. O confounded one, among all the people (you suppose that) you alone are Abhijña (one with rich experience and profound knowledge) and not other people. Therefore, I shall make you a wiseacre Daitya excluded (excommunicated) by Devas and Brāhmaṇas.

Bṛhaspati continued:

109. On being cursed thus by goddess Bhavānī, the excellent king Citraratha, immediately fell from heaven.

110. He took birth in the race of Asuras and came to be known by the name Vṛtra. He was gradually made to perform penance by Tvaṣṭṛ.

111-112. It is said that Vṛtra became invincible on account of that great penance. Hence worship god Śaṃbhu now during the time of dusk in accordance with the prescribed method. Then kill Vṛtra, the great Daitya, for accomplishing the cause of Devas.

On hearing these words of his preceptor, Indra said: “Tell me the mode of the performance of the worship of (Śiva) during Pradoṣa (dusk time) along with its Udyāpanavidhi (the concluding rites).”[5]

Bṛhaspati said:

113. In the month of Kārttika when Saturday and Trayodaśī (13th day) coincide, all the requirements are complete for the sake of getting the benefit of the entire holy rite.

(Procedure of worshipping god Śiva)

114-115. A silver bull should be made. There must be a good Pīṭha (seat) upon its back. The devotee must keep the Three-eyed Lord, the consort of Umā, upon it. The lord must have five faces and ten hands. Half of Ms body must be the chaste daughter of the Mountain. Thus both Umā and Maheśa should be made of gold by the learned devotee.

116. All these (the bull etc.) must be placed in a copper plate and covered with a cloth. The Liṅga must be placed along with Umā with all the necessary offerings of enjoyment (food offerings, scents, incense etc.).

117. During the night the devotee should keep a vigil in accordance with the injunctions and with great faith.

At the outset the bathing rite should be performed with Pañcāmṛta (five sweet ingredients in fluid form). (Then the following Mantras should be recited in offering each.)

(The Mantra at the time of bathing the god with cow’s milk:)

118. “O lord of Devas, O lord of the chiefs of Devas, bathing is offered by me with cow’s milk. Accept it, O Parameśvara (great Lord).”

(The Mantra while bathing the god with curds:)

119. “O Lord, bathing is performed by me now with curds. Accept what has been offered by me. Be highly delighted now.”

(The Mantra at the time of bathing with ghee:)

120. “O Lord, bathing is performed by me now with ghee. Accept what has been offered with faith for the sake of gratifying you.”

(The Mantra for bath with honey:)

121. “This honey is given by me for the sake of your pleasure. Accept it, O Lord of Devas. Be the bestower of tranquillity on me.”

(The Mantra while offering bath with sugar:)

122. “O lord, bathing is performed by me now, O lord of the chiefs of Devas, with sugar. Accept this which has been offered with faith. O Lord, be delighted.”

123. Thus the Bull-bannered Lord must be bathed in Pañcāmṛta. Afterwards Arghya (materials of worship) must be offered by the intelligent devotee in a copper vessel with this following Mantra for the gratification of the consort of Umā:

(Mantra for offering of Arghya:)

124. “You are the most befitting person for being worshipped by this Arghya, O consort of Umā. Accept this, O Lord, offered by me. Be pleased, O Śaṅkara.”

(Mantra for offering Pādya:)

125. “Accept, O Lord of the chiefs of Devas, the Pādya (water for washing the feet) offered by me to you along with fragrant flowers and sweet scents. Be pleased. Be the bestower of boons.”

(Mantra for offering a seat:)

126. “A seat along with another seat has been offered by me, O Lord, for the sake of your peace and calmness. O Lord of Devas, always be the bestower of boons on me.”

(Mantra at the time of offering Ācamanīya:)

127. “Ācamanīya (i.e. water for the ceremonial sipping) has been given to you. O Lord Viśveśvara, accept; O great Īśāna, be delighted with me today, O Lord.”

(Mantra while offering the sacred thread:)

128. “A golden sacred thread which consists of Brahmagranthi (knot) and which causes all holy rites to function is offered by me to you, O Lord.”[6]

(Mantra while offering sandal paste:)

129. “Sweet scents and sandal paste have been offered by me, O Lord, with great devotion. O Śaṃbhu, Bhava, make me fragrant.”

(Mantra while offering a lamp:)

130. “O Śaṃbhu, an excellent lamp[7] kindled with ghee has. been offered by me. Accept it, O Lord of Devas. Be the bestower of knowledge on me.”

(Mantra while offering incense:)

131. “Excellently superior lamp[8] invigorated with all medicinal herbs (has been offered by me). Accept it, O great Īśāna, for the sake of my peace and calmness.”

(Mantra before Āratī—Waving of lamps:)

132. “O Parameśvara, accept the row of lamps offered by me. By virtue of my offering of waving of lights, be the bestower of splendour on me.”

133. By persons who are conversant with injunctions (regarding worship) the Lord should be (carefully and) deligently worshipped on that night (by offerings) in the following order: fruits, lights etc. food-offering, betel-leaf etc.

134. The devotee must keep awake thereafter whether in a house or in a temple. The canopy over the dais must be put up with various, wonderful decorations. God Sadāśiva should be worshipped by means of songs, musical instruments and dance.

135. It is in accordance with these injunctions that the concluding rites in the worship at Pradoṣa should be performed duly for the sake of the fulfilment of all objects.

136. Śatakratu (Indra) performed everything mentioned by Guru (Bṛhaspati). With him as his main help, Indra engaged himself in the battle.

137. Śatakratu fought against Vṛtra along with Suras. The fight between Devas and Dānavas was fierce.

138. In that exceedingly fierce battle that caused destruction among Devas and Daityas, the duels were extremely terrifying and tumultuous:

139-142. Vyoma fought with Yama. Tīkṣṇakopana fought with Agni, Mahādaṃṣṭra fought with Varuṇa and Mahābala fougḥt with Vāyu. All those engaged in duels were desirous of (suppressing) the strength of one another. The excellent Devas of powerful arms were heroic in battle. They became victorious then. All the leading Daityas met with very great defeat on all fronts. On seeing the leading Daityas defeated by Suras, running away as fugitives, Vṛtra of great strength spoke these words with extreme wrathfulness:

Vṛtra said:

143. O Daityas, why are you greatly distressed? Why are you so frightened? All of you are running away abandoning the war of wonderful (events).

144-145. O heroes, resolve to fight. Display your respective valour. O mighty ones, kill the groups of Suras with maces, spears with sharp edges, swords, javelins, iron clubs, mallets, swords with thin edges, small javelins hurled at the enemies, nooses, maces and even your fists.

146. Then Devas fought Asuras with great weapons and missiles made out of Dadhīci’s bones. They tore up Asuras.

147. This was repeated often. Again and again Daityas were killed by Devas. They met with defeat. Again and again, they were urged by Vṛtra to fight Suras.

148. The excellent Daityas were being killed by the leading Suras. They fled in all directions. Some of the Dānavas were frightened so much that they appeared to be eunuchs.

149-153. The leading Daityas were rebuked and censured by furious Vṛtra: “O Puloman of great fortune; O Vṛṣaparvan, obeisance to you. O Dhūmrākṣa, O Mahākāla, O Vṛkāsura, the great Daitya, O Sthūlākṣa, the eminent Daitya, O Sthūladaṃṣṭra, obeisance to you. The excellent battlefield is the gateway to heaven for Kṣatriyas of great magnanimity. Why do you abandon it and run away? Those who meet death in the battlefield attain the greatest position. A learned man must desire to die in battle. Those who forsake the battle(field) certainly go to hell.

154-155. If men who have committed great sins fight in a battlefield with weapons in their hands for the sake of Brāhmaṇas, their servants or for their own sake and get killed being hit with weapons in the battle, they go to the highest region. There is no doubt about it.

156. Those whose bodies are cut off by means of weapons for taking up the cause of cows or their own masters, those who die or those who are wounded in war do attain the greatest goal (heaven).

157. If persons of great heroism are killed in battle, they attain the greatest region even if they be sinners. They attain the region not easy of access even to the learned men.

158-159. Pilgrimage to holy places, study of the Vedas, worshipping of the deities, performances of Yajñas and other different kinds of holy rites conducive to welfare—all put together do not deserve even a sixteenth part of the holy action of those who fall in battle. This has been laid down in all the saered treatises.

160. Hence the valorous and glorious act of fighting should be carried out by you without suspicion or fear. It should not be otherwise, because the Vedic statements are authoritative.

161. All of you belong to the profession of heroes. You are magnanimous and dignified due to nobility of birth and course of conduct, but if you run away from the war-zone like cowards, you are sure to go to those worlds of cowards like them.

162. According to Smṛtis, all of them (cowards) certainly go to the world of sinners (i.e. hell).

163. Those worst sinners who adhere to unrighteous things, the slayers of Brāhmaṇas and the defilers of the preceptors’ bed go to hell. In the same manner those who stray away (desert) from war, incur the same sin and go to hell.

164-165. Hence you people who are capable of bearing the burden of the work of your master must fight.”

On being told thus by the noble-souled Vṛtra, the Asuras carried out his words. They fought a furious battle with Suras terrifying all the worlds.

166. When that tremendous and tumultuous battle ensued, Vṛtra, the sole lord of the great Daityas, who was overwhelmed by extraordinary wrath, said to Indra accompanied by the excellent Devas:

Vṛtra said:

167. Listen to the words uttered by me. It is conducive to your welfare. It is connected with virtuous objects. Although you are the lord of Devas, you do not know what is good and what is not.

168. What were your objectives for which Viśvarūpa was killed by you?

169. Whatever these persons do for the accomplishment of their tasks is futile: Those who do not see far into the future, those who are foolish and confounded, those who are excluded from piety and virtue and those who are incompetent. Know all these, O Devendra. Let it be pondered over mentally.

170. Hence be virtuous and free from the taint of sin. Then fight with me. You are the slayer of my brother, O Indra. Hence I will kill you.

171. Be steady. Do not run away surrounded by Devas.

On being told thus by Vṛtra, Śakra became exceedingly furious. He mounted on the elephant Airāvata and went ahead with a desire to kill Vṛtra.

172. On seeing Indra coming, Vṛtra, the most excellent one among the powerful persons, said laughingly even as all the others were listening (to it):

173. “Strike me at the outset. Then I shall kill you.”

174. On being told thus, Devendra hit hard with his mace Vṛtra of great strength and the most excellent one among those who possess power at the knee.

175. Seeing that mace coming, Vṛtra caught hold of it sportively. With that very same mace, he struck back immediately Indra, the king of heaven.

176. That Gadā (mace, iron club) knocked down Purandara, along with his Vajra. On seeing Śakra fallen, Vṛtra spoke to Suras:

177. “O Devas, take your lord to your own city Amarāvatī.”

178-179. On hearing these truthful words of the noble-souled Vṛtra, all the Suras did so. Eagerly they removed him even while he was seated on the elephant, from the battlefield and surrounded him with fear. All those Suras left the battlefield and went to heaven.

180. When Devas had departed, the great Asura Vṛtra danced and laughed loudly and thereby the quarters were filled with that (sound).

181. The entire earth including the mountains, parks and forests shook and trembled. All mobile and immobile things became agitated.

182. On hearing that Devendra had gone (from the battlefield), Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds, came near him. With the water from his Kamaṇḍalu, he touched (sprinkled) Devendra. At that very same instant, Purandara regained consciousness.

183. Seeing Brahmā in front of him, Indra became ashamed. Brahmā, the grandfather, said to Mahendra who felt ashamed:

Brahmā said:

184. Vṛtra is endowed with the power of penance (done by himself). He is endowed with the power of penance of Tvaṣṭṛ also. He abides by the holy rite and vow of celibacy. This Vṛtra of great fame has become invincible due to his severe penance. Hence conquer him by means of penance.

185. Vṛtrāsura, the lord of Daityas, can be conquered only through great penance, O Śakra.

On hearing the words of Brahmā, Hari (i.e. Indra) remembered the Bull-bannered Lord.

186. The noble-souled Purandara urged by his (preceptor) Bṛhaspati began to eulogize (Lord Śiva) with a prayer.

Indra prayed:

187. Obeisance to lord Bharga, who is very difficult to be approached by Devas. O lord of Devas, be the bestower of boons for the sake of the accomplishment of the tasks of Devas.

188. The liberal-minded consort of Śacī was thus engaged in eulogy. Indeed he was very prompt and skilful in matters concerning himself. He was slow-witted but was certainly devoted to worldly (pleasures).

189. Deluded persons devoted to worldly pleasures do not attain the highest region of Īśa, even if they are engaged in devotion to Śiva (as) they are passionate and sensualist.

190-192. Those people who are free from impurities, egotism and arrogance and who worship Mṛḍa (the Gracious), īśa (the Supreme Lord), Śaṃbhu, the greatest lord, who bestows perfect knowledge are really great people. Śaṅkara is the bestower of boons on them both here and hereafter.

Mahendra was a great sensualist. Śarva had been eulogized by Mahendra who was passionate.

There is no doubt that Śaṃbhu can rarely be approached by sensualists. Hence Sadāśiva can always be visualized directly by non-sensualists.

193. Indeed the king of Suras was exceedingly passionate. He (professed to be) very efficient in accomplishing his own tasks. Hence Śacīpati (Indra) (had) always to strain and exert himself. He was perpetually indulgent in his own lust and similar emotions of the heart.

194-195. On account of the seriousness of the matter, Maheśa, of the form of the Liṅga, who was the seer and vision of all, understood (everything) and spoke to Indra who was eulogizing: “O Indra, go to Vṛtra, the Dānava, along with Suras. O Śatakratu (Indra), he can be conquered in the battle only through the power of penance.”

Indra said:

196. By what means can this great and excellent Daitya be conquered? O Śaṃbhu, let that be mentioned immediately whereby my success can be (achieved).

Rudra said:

197. He cannot be killed in battle even by the excellent Devas. Hence a mean act (of trickery) must be performed by you today.

198. Formerly this (demon) had been cursed by Pārvatī in ray presence. (At that time) he had been a king named Citraratha, well reputed in all the three worlds.

199. He was wandering (here and there) in an excellent refulgent aerial chariot given by me. The leading Daitya had to be born of this womb (of a Daitya) because of His satirical ridicule.

200-201. Hence, O excellent one among those who are expert in wars, know him to be invincible in war.

Thus Mahendra was told by Śaṃbhu, the greatest Yogin. Saying “So be it” and honouring it, Śakra took up devout observances and restraints.

202. O highly fortunate sages, he made up his mind to stay near Vṛtra for a thousand years waiting for a weak and vulnerable point in order to kill Vṛtra.

203. With the permission of Guru (Bṛhaspati), his priest, the thunderbolt-armed Indra stood out of Antaredī and carried on his activities vigorously.

204. Once Vṛtra, the Daitya Chief, surrounded by all Daityas casually came to Narmadā.

205-206. Vṛtra endowed with manliness, always thought thus: ‘Indra has met with defeat aṇd discomfiture. He has been taken to heaven by Devas. All my enemies have been struck down. There is no one like me.’ Thinking thus, O Brāhmaṇas, he came to Narmadā at the time of dusk.

207. At that time of dusk, the very great (Daitya) Vṛtra, the most excellent one among powerful persons, surrounded by Asuras, was seen by Indra.

208. On that day, Trayodaśī (thirteenth day) was in conjunction with Saturday. Bṛhaspati caught hold of the hand (of Indra). Indra was urged by Guru (to perform the worship of Śiva).

209. At that time, the Liṅga-form Oṃkāra (a famous Jyotirliṅga) on the bank of Narmadā was worshipped by Indra by means of circumambulations, prostrations (etc.) in accordance with the injunctions (of sacred scriptures).

210. Due to the greatness of the holy rite during the dusk hours as well as the grace of Śaṅkara, the valorous (lord) armed with the thunderbolt became (very powerful) instantly.

211. Though he was endowed with the (power of) penance, the great Vṛtra was overcome by sleep during the time of dusk. He was roused (from sleep) by Śuṇḍa.

212. Since he slept during the time of dusk, the merit that had been earned through penance was ruined at the very same instant. He became devoid of splendour.

213-215. On account of the curse of the goddess too, Vṛtra became disappointed in his desired object, (More than) a quarter of the duration of the dusk had passed, when Vṛtra entered the holy waters surrounded by different kinds of Daityas with diverse kinds of weapons. Śatakratu, the consort of Śacī, who was seeking the weak and vulnerable points, understood the same and so slowly approached him to kill his enemy.

216-217. By that time all the excited and terrible Daityas of horrifying exploits stood up simultaneously unable to bear (the attack of) Śatakratu. Thereafter ensued a battle with them as they had a very strong army. Then all Devas came there for rendering assistance to Indra.

218-220. With very great speed and force Daityas and Devas fought (one another). The battle that was fought during the night resulted in the crushing and destroying of both, Suras and Asuras. The battle became extremely terrible as many weapons and missiles were used by them. When the war of exceedingly severe and terrible nature went on thus, Vṛtra took up his exceedingly powerful spear and got ready. He faced Indra and roared terrifically. The reverberation of the loud shout frightened all the three worlds.

221-222. Mahendra mounted on (his elephant). Airāvaṇa shone then with the umbrella that was refulgent like the disc of the moon, being held high up above him. Even as he was being fanned by chowries, he spoke to the great Daitya:

Indra said:

223. O Vṛtra, you are surrounded by a great army (although) you are the hero of heroes on account of your great penance. Fight with me.

224. On being told thus by him, Vṛtra spoke these words: “O Indra, strike me first. Afterwards I shall kill you.”

225. Saying “So be it” and thinking about it, Purandara was desirous of discharging the exceedingly unbearable thunderbolt of a hundred sharp edges. But he was prevented by that priest of great lustre, the most excellent one among the intelligent persons. Thinking that it should be so, Indra did accordingly.

226-227. The lord of Devas took up an iron club and struck Vṛtra with it. Vṛtra warded it off like a miser dodging a guest. On observing that his iron club had been futile, Indra became full of anxiety.

228. As he was thinking thus, Vṛtra spoke to him rebukingly: “O Śakra, has the wonderfully contemptible vulgar act performed by you been forgotten? It was on account of it that you have become a thousand-eyed one due to the curse of the great sage Gautama.

229-230. Those heroic persons who restrain their different sense-organs do attain victory and not others like you. Undoubtedly the battlefield is extremely terrible unto sinners.”

231. Thus the great Daitya rebuked Devendra. The lord of Devas then shook his trident that was on a par with lightning.

232. With that great spear, Vṛtra of wonderful exploits shone like Rudra, the destroyer of (creation at the end of) Yugas, by means of his penance.

233. On observing him in that posture, Śatakratu, the lord of Devas, rushed at Vṛtra, the great Dānava, with a desire to kill him.

234-236a, On seeing Purandara rushing at himself with a desire to kill him (Vṛtra) laughed loudly instilling fear in Śakra. Opening his mouth very widely, the lord of Daityas with great splendour came there suddenly to swallow Śakra He grabbed into his mouth, Śakra along with his elephant, thunderbolt and crown. He then danced and roared.

236b-238. Within a moment, Purandara was (completely) swallowed.

There was a great shout of Alas! Alas! from the Devas who watched it. There was an earthquake and thousands of meteors fell. The entire universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings was enveloped in darkness. Vṛtra who was dancing then became exceedingly brilliant.

239. Being pierced (in the heart), all the Devas came to Brahmā and reported to him everything that was done by the Asura Vṛtra.

240-241. On hearing it lord Brahmā became distressed and surprised very much: ‘How has this wonderfully serious crisis in the case of Mahendra taken place?’ Then, along with Devas, Brahmā, the grandfather of all the worlds, eulogized Lord Giriśa with great concentration of mind.

Brahmā eulogized:

242-247. Om, obeisance to Mahādeva whose form is Liṅga. I bow to the lord of cosmic form. Obeisance to Virūpākṣa (of uneven three-eyes). Save, O lord of the three worlds. Save Purandara who has been swallowed by Vṛtra.

At that time a very clear, fine, ethereal voice spoke even as all were listening. It referred to the process of the worship of Liṅga. It was addressed (to everyone) desirous of his welfare: “What has been done by Indra who has undertaken the holy Pradoṣa rite is incomplete and imperfect in regard to Nirmālya (remainder of the previous worship), Pīṭhikā (pedestal), Chāyā (shadow) and Prāsāda (palace). The pedestal has been crossed by him as he was circumambulating.

Those confounded persons who cross it are undoubtedly Worthy of being punished by Caṇḍa, the chief of Gaṇas. Hence circumambulations and prostrations should be carefully performed along with the worship of the Liṅga.

Indeed the worship of the Liṅga should be carefully performed by those who have had the initiation for the sake of quelling all the sins. It should be performed with the sole intention of attaining spiritual (welfare).”

248. On hearing those words not originating from any embodied being, Suras beginning with Brahmā asked with palms joined in reverence to the ethereal voice, the cause of everything auspicious:

249. “How are we to worship the Liṅga? By what method or procedure? (When should it be:) in the morning, at midday or in the evening?

250. What are the flowers to be used in the evening as well as at midday? Are they the same as in the morning? Say exactly as it is.”

251-254. Then the ethereal voice said in detail: “The following flowers can be used on all the three occasions: Karavīra (oleander, Nerium odorum), Arkapuṣpa (Gynandropsis pentaphylla), Bṛhatī Puṣpa (Solanum indicum) Dhattūra (the white thorn-apple), Lotus, Āragvadha (Cathartocarpus fistula), Punnāga (Calophyllum inoplyllum), Bakula (Mimusops elengi), Nāgakesara (Mesua roxburghii), white Lotus, Kadamba and Mandāra (Erythrina indica). Many other excellent flowers and many varieties of lotuses should be known as always sacred by learned men.

255-256. Jātī, Mallikā (Jasmine varieties), Mogaraka flowers, Nīla flower (blue flower), Kuṭaja (Wrightia antidysenterica), Karṇikāra (Cassia fistula), Kausumbha (wild safflower) and red lotus. These are the flowers for the worship of the Liṅga during midday. They are mentioned as the best by me. Now I shall tell you about the evening (worship).

257. Caṃpaka flowers are undoubtedly sacred on all the three occasions. At night Mogaraka flowers are very sacred. There is no doubt about it.

258. After knowing these differences in the modes of worshipping the Liṅga, the due process of worship, should be followed by those who are conversant with the injunctions. The worship shall always be in the temple of Śiva.

259. One shall not perform circumambulation through the space between the bull and Liṅga. Nor should one go beyond the Pīṭhikā. If that is done, one shall incur a sin.

260. Further the circumambulation was performed by Śakra with Rājasa trait of character. Hence it has become fruitless.

261. Purandara has been swallowed today by Vṛtra along with his elephant. That action whereby Indra is released should be performed by you people.

262. You must perform the rite in accordance with the injunctions in Mahārudra. He shall become liberated at the same time. O Devas, Purandara will thus become liberated. There is no doubt about it.”

263. Following those words, Devas scrupulously worshipped Rudra as per the. injunctions (and reciting) Rudra-sūkta.[9]

264. Suras worshipped Rudra with eleven recitations of the Rudra-sūkta. They performed Havana (fire offerings) rites to the extent of one-tenth (of the recitations), O excellent Brāhmaṇas.

265. Desirous of setting Purandara free suddenly, Devas performed Japa, Pūjā and Havana. Then the king of Devas, by the grace of Śaṃbhu, came out after breaking open his belly.

266-268. On seeing that the lord of Devas had come out by means of his prowess, along with his elephant, thunderbolt, crown and ear-rings and Purandara of great prowess had regained his great glory, many of the celestial war-drums and conchs were sounded. Gandharvas, celestial damsels, Yakṣas and the sages became joyous. Immediately after Purandara got liberated, all the heaven-dwellers became extremely delighted.

Then Śacī came to the place where Purandara got liberated.

269. There he was crowned along with Śacī by the great sages. The auspicious rite of Puṇyāhavācana (repetition of the words ‘Today is an auspicious day’ etc.) was performed with great effort by everyone.

270. Thus Mahendra was crowned by the sages then. The earth became extremely auspicious then, O excellent Brāhmaṇas.

271. The quarters became clear. The sky was rid of its impurities. Then the fires became tranquil, so also the minds of exalted souls.

272. When Śatakratu was liberated, these and many other miraculously wonderful auspicious omens occurred.

273. When the great festivities of those exalted persons were taking place, Vṛtra’s dreadful body fell down.

274-277. There itself the extremely sinful Brahmahatyā fell on the ground. The space between Gaṅgā and Yamunā is called Antarvedī. It is well-known as a sacred land (Puṇyabhūmi). It is famous as the sanctifier of the worlds. The land where the Vṛtrahatyā (Brahma-hatyā) fell dead is a sinful region. Since there was a great deal of impurity (Mala) that place is glorified as Mālava.[10] The great head of Vṛtra fell on that ground of impurity within six months after being cut off by all the Devas including Vāsava. Thus by slaying Vṛtra Śakra attained victory.

278. The consort of Śacī sat on the throne of the overlord without any mental worry or agony.

In the meantime Daityas approached Bali who was staying in Pātāla and recounted to him all the activities of Śakra.

279. On hearing their words the son of Virocana became angry. He asked Śukra how Indra could be won over.

280. This was said to Bali by him: “O king, perform a great Yajña today for the acquisition of the chariot of victory. Your victory will be achieved by means of that.”

281. Bali who was making preparations for the Yajña, was told by Bhṛgu thus. The liberal-minded son of Virocana quickly gathered together whatever materials were required for the Yajña and kept them in store.

282. The great Yajña was started by the noble-souled son of Bhṛgu. Bali took up the Dīkṣā (initiation) and performed the Homa in the sacred fire.

283. When the Homa was duly performed in the sacred fire in the course of the holy rite in accordance with the injunctions, a miraculously wonderful chariot came out from that fire for Bali.

284. It was yoked with four horses. The emblem was that of a lion of great lustre. It was adorned by means of white horses. The chariot was glorious and equipped with weapons and missiles.

285. Then, urged by Śukra, he performed the Avabhṛtha (Valedictory) bath. After worshipping the chariot, Bali rode in it.

286. Surrounded by Daityas and desirous of fighting Purandara, Bali, the great son of Virocana, immediately went to heaven.

287. After coming there along with his army, he laid siege to Amarāvatī. On seeing that their city had been besieged, all the excellent Suras pondered and deliberated on it for a long time and said to Bṛhaspati:

288. “What shall we do now? O highly fortunate one, the chief Daityas have come. All of them are exceedingly terrible, very efficient in war and desirous of fighting.”

289. On hearing their words Bṛhaspati said:

290. “O Suras, these terrible (Daityas) beginning with Ghṛta (?) have been incited by Bhṛgu. All of them have become invincible by penance as well as valour.”

291. On hearing these words full of good qualities, all the Suras became ashamed. Indra too lost his sense on account of worry. He became ashamed on being openly rebuked.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

VV 4-5 describe the different weapons made out of the bones of Dadhīci.

[2]:

Pippalāda—There are different persons—sages—of this name. One is a teacher of Brahma-vidyā in Praśna Upaniṣad (I.1); another in Atharva-śikha mentioned along with Sanatkumāra. This may be the same mentioned in the Guru-Paraṃparā (Teachers’ list) of the Atharvaveda. The Pippalāda of our text is different. He is the son of Dadhīci and Suvarcā. Mbh, Śānti 47.9 mentions one Pippalāda, but he seems to be a different person.

[3]:

Vṛtra—The Vedic Vṛtra is transformed beyond recognition in Purāṇas. In his previous birth he was Citraketu (according to BhP VI.14.10), a Gandharva who, due to his criticism of Śaṅkara’s public dalliance with Pārvatī, was cursed by her to be an Asura. He was born of Tvaṣṭṛ who got the boon from god Brahmā of having an Indra-śatru as his son. But due to his wrong accent, he, instead of asking ‘Killer of Indra’ as his son requested a son whose killer is Indra. Both Mbh (Vana 101.15, Sānti [Śānti?] 283.59-60) and our text send him to the higher world (Vaikuṇṭha as per Mbh and Śivaloka as per our text) after his death.

[4]:

They are: Āvāhana (invitation), Āsana (offering seat), Pādya, Arghya, Ācamanīya (offering water to wash feet, to sip etc.), Snāna (bath), Vastra (offering clothes) and Yajñopavīta (sacred thread), Gandha (ointment, sandal etc.), Puṣpa (flowers), Dhūpa (incense), Dīpa (lamp), Naivedya or Upahāra (food, eatables), Namaskāra (bowing), Pradakṣiṇā (circumambulation), Visarjana (send-off).

[5]:

VV 112-135 give details of Śiva-worship on the 13th day of the bright half of Kārttika. The success of Indra is attributed to Indra’s observance of this Vrata and Vṛtra’s negligence of the same. The whole episode is meant to glorify the Vrata of god Śiva.

[6]:

V.L.

Yajñopavītaṃ sauvarṇam mayā dattaṃ ca Śaṅkara |
gṛhāṇa parayā tuṣṭyā, tuṣṭo bhava tu sarvadā ||

“O god Śaṅkara, a golden sacred thread has been given by me. Please accept it with great satisfaction. Please be for ever gratified.”

[7]:

Offering incense precedes the offering of a lamp in Pūjā. Verse 131 should have come here.

[8]:

Dhūpam is the correct reading and not Dīpam as the offer of incense precedes the offer of lamps.

[9]:

Tait. S. IV. v and vii corresponding to Vāj. S. chs. XVI and XVIII.

[10]:

A popular etymology of Malwa, a part of Madhya Pradesh. As a matter of fact, the land where the tribe or people called Mālavas settled is Malwa.

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