The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Parvati’s Penance which is chapter 21 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 twenty-first chapter of the Kedara-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 21 - Pārvatī’s Penance

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Lomaśa said:

1. The chaste girl grew up day by day and shone very much. Living in the house of Himālaya, she reached the age of eight years.

2. At that time Maheśa was performing a great penance in a valley of Himālaya. He was surrounded by all the groups of Gaṇas, Vīrabhadra and others.

3. Accompanied by Pārvatī, the intelligent Himavān went to Maheśa engaged in this penance, in order to see his sprout-like feet.

4. When he arrived thus in order to see (the Lord), he was stopped by Nandin who was standing at the entrance. Then for a moment he stood steady.

5. The mountain Himavān informed through Nandin. Śaṃbhu (he. Śiva) was informed by Nandin that the Mountain had come to see him (i.e. Śiva).

6. On hearing his words, Parameśvara spoke these words to Nandin: “Bring the Mountain here.”

7. Saying “So be it” and honouring (his words) Nandin brought the Mountain Himācala to Śaṅkara, the benefactor of the worlds.

8-10. He saw (Śiva) the lord of everyone engaged in penance with his eyes closed. He had matted hair with the digit of the moon as an ornament. He could be understood only through the Vedānta and was stationed in the Supreme Soul. On seeing him, Mountain Himācala of unimpaired inherent strength, bent down his head and saluted him. He then attained the greatest joy. Himālaya, the foremost among those conversant with the use of words, spoke these words to the Lord who is the sole cause of auspiciousness to the universe:

11-13. “I am lucky, O Śaṅkara, the great lord, thanks to your grace. I shall come here everyday, O lord, to pay a visit along with this (daughter of mine). It behoves you, O lord of Devas, to grant me permission.”

On hearing his words, Maheśvara, the lord of Devas, (said): “O Mountain, you may come here everyday to meet me after keeping this girl in the house. Otherwise there would be no audience with me.”

14. With his neck bent down the Mountain replied to Giriśa: “Why should I not come along with this (girl)? Let that be told.”

Śaṃbhu who was performing the holy rites, laughingly spoke these words to the Mountain:

15. “This slender-bodied girl of good lips and exquisite speech should not be brought near me. I am forbidding it repeatedly.”

16. She heard Śaṃbhu’s harsh words, devoid of blemishes and free from any desire. On hearing the words uttered by that ascetic, Gaurī laughed and spoke to Śaṃbhu:

Gaurī said:

17-18. O Śaṃbhu, you are endowed with the power of penance. You are performing a great penance. This inclination for performing penance you have because you are noble-souled. But let this be pondered over: Who are you? Who is the subtle Prakṛti, O holy lord?

On hearing those words of Pārvatī, Maheśa spoke these words:

19. “I am destroying Prakṛti by means of the greatest penance itself. In fact, O lady of good eyebrows, I will stay without Prakṛti. Hence nothing that has been evolved out of Prakṛti should be accumulated together at any time by Siddhas.”

Pārvatī said:

20. What has been said by you, O Śaṅkara, by means of ‘Parā’ speech, is it not Prakṛti? In that case how are you beyond it?

21-22. O lord, of what avail is our disputation and argument? Whatever you hear, whatever you see and whatever you eat, O Śaṅkara, is entirely the evolute of Prakṛti. An untrue speech is meaningless. Why should penance be performed after going beyond Prakṛti?

23. O Lord Śaṃbhu, just now on this mountain Himālaya you have met Prakṛti. But you cannot understand it, O Śaṅkara. What have we to do with (i.e. What is the propriety of) oral dispute and argument, O Lord?

24. If your statement that you are beyond Prakṛti be true, you need not be afraid of me now, O Śaṅkara.

25. Then Lord (Śaṅkara) laughed and replied to Girijā: Mahādeva said:

26. Serve me everyday, O Girijā of excellent speech.

27. After saying thus to Girijā, Maheśa spoke these words to Himālaya: “Here itself, on this very ground, I shall perform a great penance with concentration on the ultimate truth.

28. Permission should be granted to me for performing the penance, O Lord of Mountains. Without (your) permission it is not possible to perform penance.”

29. On hearing these words of the Trident-bearing Lord of Devas, Himavān laughed and spoke these words to Śaṃbhu:

30. “The entire universe along with Devas, Asuras and human beings belongs to you. I am an insignificant person, O Mahādeva. What can I give you?”

31. On being told thus by Himavān, Śaṅkara, the benefactor of all the worlds, laughed and respectfully said to the Lord of Mountains: “You may go.”

32. Permitted to go by Śaṅkara, Himavān went to his abode. Everyday he came there along with Girijā to pay a visit.

33-35. Thus some time passed when the father and the daughter continued their visits and service. But Śaṅkara was difficult to be tackled and won over. Suras began to worry about Pārvatī. ‘How will Śaṅkara join Girijā?’ was the thought worrying the minds of Suras. They asked: “O Bṛhaspati, what should we do now? Tell us. Do not delay.”

36-37. Bṛhaspati spoke the following good words (of advice) to Mahendra: “O Mahendra, this must be done by you. Let it be heard. This task can be carried out only by Madana (the god of Love), O King. None else will be competent for it in all the three worlds. The penance of many ascetics has been upset by him. Hence Māra (god of Love) should be requested (in this matter) immediately.”

38. On hearing the words of Guru (Bṛhaspati, the preceptor) Indra sent for Madana. Madana who accomplished (his) tasks came there on receipt of the call.

39. Accompanied by Rati and Mādhava (i.e. the Spring season) the flower-armed deity came to the assembly in front of Mahendra and spoke these proud words in a manner captivating the minds of the people:

40. “Why have I been called today, O Śacīpati (i.e. Indra)? Tell me what work should I do? Do not delay.

41. The moment they think about me, the ascetics meet with their downfall. You do know, O Indra, my valour and prowess.

42. Parāśara, the son of Śakti, knows my power and vigour. Thus many other sages such as Bhṛgu do know it.

43-44. Bṛhaspati too knows it, as well as the wife of Utathya.[1] Bharadvāja was born of her begotten by Guru and was thus illegitimate. Guru had then said, Bharadvāja [‘Beat two (sons) simultaneously (conceived)’]. Prajāpati (Brahmā) knows my heroism and powerful valour.

45. Krodha (Anger) is my kinsman. He has great strength and valour. By both of us, this great universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings has been conquered (and liquidated,

i.e. excited and stirred up). Everything beginning with Brahmā and ending with a blade of grass, the whole world of mobile and immobile beings, has been (flooded and) overwhelmed by us.”

Devas said:

46. O Madana, you are capable of always conquering us. (But) go immediately to Maheśa for accomplishing the task of Suras. Unite Śaṃbhu with Pārvatī, O highly intelligent one.

47. On being requested thus by Devas, Madana, the enchanter of the universe, went away (from that place) immediately in the company of celestial damsels.[2]

48. That wielder of a great bow made the twanging sound of his flowery bow. He took with him charming and fascinating arrows. That hero, the sole conqueror of the worlds, the most excellent one among warriors, Smara, was then seen on the grounds of the mountain Himavān.

49-50. Then all these celestial damsels came there, viz. Raṃbhā, Urvaśī, Puñjikasthalī, Sumlocā, Miśrakeśī, Subhagā and Tilottamā. There were others also to render different kinds of assistance to Madana. These damsels were seen by Gaṇas (attendants of Śiva) along with Madana.

51-53. All the Gaṇas were suddenly enchanted by Madana. Raṃbhā (was approached) by Bhṛṅgi, Urvaśī by Caṇḍa, Menakā by Vīrabhadra and Puñjikasthalī by Caṇḍa(?). Tilottamā and others were surrounded by the Gaṇas then, who had become mad and abandoned all shame although they were high-minded and learned.

The whole of the earth was pervaded by cuckoos, though it was not the proper season (i.e. the spring).

54-55. Aśoka, Caṃpaka, mangoes, Yūthīs (jasmine), Kadaṃbas (Nanclea cadamba), Nīpas (Ixora bandhucca), Priyālas (Buchamania latifolia), Panasas (jack fruit trees), Rajavṛkṣas, Carāyaṇas (?), vine creepers, and Nāgakesaras (Mesua roxburghii), plantains, Ketakīs (Pandanus odoratissimus) etc.—all these trees were in full bloom and they were rendered beautiful by bees.

56-58. By the contact of Madana Kalahaṃsakas (swans) became intoxicated in the company of female swans, he-elephants with she-elephants and peacocks with peahens. Though all these had been free from lust due to the qualities arising from contact with Śiva, they now became excited.

The highly refulgent Nandī, the son of Śailāda and of im-measurable (infinite) valour, pondered over this: Why have these become so all of a sudden? This must be the working of Rākṣasas or of gods.

59. In the meantime Maḍana took up his bow and fixed five arrows to it, O Brāhmaṇas. He resorted to the shade of a Devadāru tree.

60-62. He saw Śaṃbhu performing his penance. The Lord was seated on an excellent seat. He was the lord of all Parameṣṭhins (creators). He kept Gaṅgā (within his matted hair). His throat was blue in colour like Tamāla (dark-barked Xanthochymus pictorius). He had matted hair. He had the crescent moon (as an embellishment). All his limbs were marked by the coiled bodies of many serpents. He had five faces. His gait was in long strides like that of a lion. He was fair in complexion like camphor. He was accompanied by Parā. Maḍana was desirous of piercing the fierce ascetic Maheśa, very difficult of access and the most excellent among highly refulgent ones. In the company of Mādhava (Spring) he was about to hit Śiva with his arrow when Girijā, the mother of the universe, came there. She was surrounded by her friends. She approached Sadāśiva, the most auspicious of all auspicious ones, for the sake of worship.

63. She placed a garland of golden flowers on Nīlakaṇṭha. At that time she had a rare splendour. She appeared very beautiful with white rays (diffused all round). The mother of all people looked (lovingly) at the handsome face of Śiva. Then her eyes bloomed and expanded widely as she smiled.

64. At that time Śaṃbhu was hit and pierced with the arrow called Mohana (‘the Enchanter’) suddenly. On being hit, Śaṃbhu opened his eyes slowly. The lord saw Girijā like the ocean viewing the digit of the moon.

65-67. She had a beautiful delightful face. Her lips were like the Biṃba fruit (Momordica monadelpha). Her eyes brightened with her smile. Her teeth were fine and excellent. She appeared as though she had come out of fire (i.e. she was resplendent). She had a slender body with a beautiful and wide face. Gaurī had all the signs of pleasure (within). She was capable of enchanting the entire universe. It was she who created the three worlds along with Brahmā and others. Making use of the qualities of Rajas, Sattva and Tamas, she caused the origin, sustenance and annihilation (of the worlds). That enchanting goddess, the sole cause of auspiciousness of all auspicious things, was seen in front by Hara who was awakened.

68. On seeing Girijā, the sanctifier of all the worlds, lord Bhava became fascinated. At her sight he was afflicted by Madana. Śiva’s eyes suddenly became expanded due to surprise.

69. The lord of the universe, the lord of Devas (began) to look around. With the mind pained much, Sadāśiva said thus:

70. “I am engaged in penance. I am devoid of blemishes. Yet how was I enchanted by this girl? Whence, why and by whom was this done causing my displeasure?”

71-72. Then Śaṃbhu looked in all directions earnestly. Madana was seen by him in the south with the bow lifted up. The god of Love bent his bow like a circle; kept it ready, drawn in order to pierce and wound Sadāśiva. But by the time he was able to discharge the arrow, O Brāhmaṇas, he was stared at by Maheśa angrily.

73. He was looked at with the third eye by the greatest lord. Madana was instantly encircled by clusters of flames. There was a loud wailing among Devas who stood there watching.

Devas said:

14. O Mahādeva, lord of Devas, be the bestower of boons on Devas. It was to help Girijā that Madana had been sent now.

75-81. In vain was Madana of great lustre burned by you. It is by you alone, the sole kinsman of the universe, that the task of Suras should be carried out by means of your great splendour. O lord Śaṃbhu, (a son) will be born of her and by him alone can our objective be achieved. O Mahādeva, Devas are very much afflicted by Tāraka. For that purpose grant life unto this (Madana) and woo Girijā, O lord of exalted fortune. (Please) be capable of accomplishing the task of Devas. All of us, the heaven-dwellers, were protected by you from the demon in the shape of an elephant. Certainly we have been saved from the Kālakūṭa poison (by you), not otherwise (by anyone else). Undoubtedly we have been protected from Bhasmāsura by you, O Lord of everyone. This Madana came here for accomplishing the task of Suras. Hence he should be protected. That will be a great help to us (also). Without him, O Śaṅkara, the entire universe will be ruined. How can you also be devoid of Kāma (Love)? Let this be pondered over by your own intellect.

82-88. Then Maheśvara who was overwhelmed by anger, spoke to Devas: “You must all be without Kāma. It cannot be otherwise.

It was when Kāma was kept at the head, that all the Devas including Vāsava had a fall from their positions. They were overwhelmed by misery and became wretched.

Certainly Kāma is the cause of a fall into hell in the case of all living beings. This Anaṅga (‘Bodiless one’) is an embodiment of misery, understand what I say. Tāraka too whose conduct of life is very bad will be devoid of Kāma. How can a man commit a sin without Kāma? Hence for the sake of peace and calmness unto everyone, Kāma was burned by me. Let the mind be directed towards penance by you all, Suras, Asuras, the great sages and other living beings. The entire universe has been rendered by me rid of love and anger. Hence I will not resuscitate this sinner, the cause of misery, O Suras; keep waiting for that sole form which is not other than (you all), which yields spiritual pleasure and enlightenment and which is characterized by bliss. It is difficult to guage its depth.”

89. On being told thus by Śaṃbhu Parameṣṭhin, all the great sages spoke to Śaṅkara, the benefactor of all the worlds:

90. “What has been said by Your Honour, O Śaṃbhu, is indeed exceedingly conducive to our welfare. But we shall say (something) which may be listened to attentively and comprehended fully.

91. This universe was permeated by Kāma and Krodha (anger) even while it was being created. Indeed the whole of it is in the form of Kāma. That Kāma is not killed.

92. O Mahādeva, it was by Kāma that the four (aims in life) named Dharma (Virtue), Artha (Wealth), Kāma (Love) and Mokṣa (Salvation) have been given a single (composite) form. That Kāma is not killed.

93. It was by Kāma that the universe of the nature of everything from Brahmā to an immobile being has been united together. How was that Kāma, very difficult to be tackled indeed, burned by you?

94. The universe decays and declines due to Kāma. The universe is protected and sustained by Kāma. The Universe is produced by Kāma. Hence Kāma is very powerful,

95. It is from Kāma that the fierce Krodha (anger) takes its origin. You yourself have been won over by Krodha. Hence, O Mahādeva, it behoves you to resuscitate Kāma.

96. Indeed, O lord, the mighty Madana has been brought under control by you. Only a man of power can exercise his power because of being powerful.”

97. Though he was entreated thus by the sages, Hara’s anger became doubled. He became desirous of burning (everything) by means of his third eye.

98. The Pināka-bearing, Bull-emblemed Rudra, Sadāśiva was bowed to and eulogized by the sages, Cāraṇas, Siddhas and Gaṇas.

99. On account of his anger, after burning Madana and leaving off that Mountain named Himavān, he vanished immediately.

100. The lofty-minded goddess Girijā saw that the Lord had vanished and that Manmatha had been burned along with the cuckoos, mango trees, bees and Caṃpaka flowers,

101. On seeing Madana burned down, Rati began to cry for a long time shedding tears. The goddess pondered over this with great dejectedness. She was anxious as to how to win over Rudra.

102. After pondering over this for a long time, the chaste lady Girijā fainted. Rati saw Girijā whose beauty was very great, who was high-minded and crying, and spoke:

103-104. “Dear friend, do not get dejected. I shall resuscitate Madana to life. For your sake, O wide-eyed lady, by means of penance I shall propitiate, Hara, Rudra, Virūpākṣa, the lord of Devas, the sire of the universe. Do not be anxious, O lady of beautiful lips and buttocks. I shall revive Madana back to life.”

105. After consoling thus the daughter of the Mountain the chaste lady Rati immediately (proceeded to) perform a great penance. The lady of excellent waistline performed the penance in order to get back her husband.

106. She performed the penance at the very same place where Madana was burned by Rudra, the Supreme Soul. Nārada saw her performing the penance.

107-108. He hastened to the side of the beautiful lady Ṛati and said: “Whom do you belong to, O lady of wide eyes? What for are you performing the penance? You are a young woman richly endowed with beauty and great conjugal felicity.”

On hearing the words of Nārada, she became very angry. She spoke these harsh words in a sweet manner:

Rati said:

109. You have been recognized by me; you are Nārada.[3] Undoubtedly you are a bachelor. O (sage) of holy rites, it behoves you not to show your form (V.l. you desire to have a look at the women of others).

110. Go back along the path you have come by. Do not delay. O Baṭu, you do not know anything. You are only a great quarrel-monger.

111. You are a leader among the following groups of people: Those who are passionately devoted to other men’s wives, insignificant persons, libertines, those who indulge in vices, those who are stubborn and those who do not perform any holy rites.

112. On being rebuked thus by Rati, the excellent sage Nārada himself hurriedly went to Śaṃbara, the leading Daitya.

113-114. He intimated to the king of Daityas that Madana had been burned by Rudra who had become furious. Then he continued: “His wife is a noble-minded lady. Bring her here, O highly fortunate one. Make her your wife, O mightly one. Among all those beautiful ladies who have been brought by you, that Rati, the wife of Madana, will be the most beautiful one.”

115. On hearing these words of the celestial sage of sanctified soul, he went to that place where the highly splendid lady was staying.

116. On seeing Rati, the large-eyed enchantress of Madana, Śaṃbara, the cause of the grief of Devas, laughingly said these words:

117. “O slender- bodied lady, come along with me. Enjoy my kingdom and its pleasures as much as you wish, O gentle lady, by my favour. Of what avail is the penance?”

118. On being told thus by Śaṃbara of great soul, that slender-bodied queen of Madana spoke these words in sweet voice:

119. “I am a widow, O mighty one. It does not behove you to speak thus. You are the king of all the Daityas with all the (royal) characteristics.”

120. On hearing these words, Śaṃbara who was deluded by lust, became desirous of catching hold of her hand. He was prevented by Rati.

121-122. She pondered over his invincibility mentally and said: “O foolish one, do not touch me. You will be burned (by the fire) arising from my contact. My words cannot be otherwise.” Then Śaṃbara of great splendour said laughingly:

123. “O proud lady, do you want to terrify me with many threats (like these)? Go ahead to my abode quickly. Of what avail is so much talk?”

124. The slender-bodied, lofty-minded lady was forcibly taken to his great city by Śaṃbara who was addressed thus (by Rati).

125. She was made the head in charge of his kitchen, under the name Māyāvatī.

The sages asked:

126. Was everything authorized by Pārvatī regarding bringing Madana back (to life)? The slender-bodied beloved of Madana was abducted by Śaṃbara. Subsequent to this, O Sūta, what happened there? Let it be described.

Sūta said:

127. On seeing that Śiva had gone away after burning Madana with his great prowess, the beautiful lady Pārvatī stayed there itself and engaged herself in penance.

128. The slim lady was enquired[4] by her father and mother: “O girl, come back to our abode quickly. Do not exert yourself. It does not behove you to strain yourself.”

129-132. On being told thus by both of them, Girijā spoke these words:

Pārvatī said:

I am not coming home, O mother,O father. Listen to me clearly. This is a true statement of mine full of Dharma (virtue) and Artha (prosperity), whereby you will be contented and delighted.

Śaṃbhu is greater than the greatest. The mighty Madana was burned by him. I shall bring that Śiva to ray presence here itself. Śaṃbhu is difficult of access to those beings who wish for a home (and homely comforts). Hence, O mother, I am not coming home. Let all these things be pondered over.

133. Himavān of great refulgence then said to his daughter: “Śiva who is bowed down to by Devas themselves cannot easily be propitiated. Indeed it is impossible for you to attain him. Hence you go back to your own abode.”

134. With her throat choked up by and filled with tears Menā said to her daughter: “O slim girl, proceed homewards quickly.”

135-136. Then Pārvatī laughed and said to her mother: “Listen to my vow, dear mother. Indeed, with my great penance I shall fetch that clever (lord) here itself and woo him. O lady of excellent complexion, I shall destroy the Rudratva (dreadfulness) of Rudra.”

137. Abandoning all pleasure, the lofty-minded daughter of the Mountain performed the propitiation of Śaṃbhu by means of profound meditation.

138-140. Many of Girijā’s friends attended upon her, viz. Jayā, Vijayā, Mādhavī, Sulocanā, Suśrutā, Śrutā, Śukī, Pramlocā, Subhagā, Śyāmā, Citrāṅgī, Cāruṇī, Svadhā and many others such as the beautiful lady Devagarbhā etc.

For performing the great penance, the lady of sweet laughter built an altar exactly at the place where Madana was burnt by the noble-souled Rudra. She established herself upon it.

141-142. She refrained from drinking water and subsisted on leaves. Thereafter, she avoided green leaves and took up only dried ones. Later on she stopped eating the dried leaves too when the lady of slender waist became famous as Aparṇā.[5]

143. After a lapse of a great deal of time, the chaste daughter of the Mountain gave up drinking water and became engaged in subsisting on air only. Then she supported her body on a single big toe.

144. With the greatest contentment, the chaste lady propitiated Śaṅkara by means of austere penance, for the sake of the delight of Śaṅkara too.

145. Resorting to the noblest of mental feelings, (the goddess) the cause of the auspiciousness of all auspicious things, performed the greatest penance for the delight and pleasure of Maheśa.

146-147. Thus she performed the penance for a thousand divine years. Then, accompanied by his wife, Himālaya came there to his daughter Pārvatī who had determined (to practise penance). (In the capacity of a) trustworthy adviser, he spoke to Mahāsatī (i.e. Girijā):

“Do not get afflicted and don’t strain yourself, O Mahādevī, O beautiful one, by performing this penance.

148-150. Where is Rudra seen? O girl, undoubtedly he is devoid of love and attachment. You are very young and slim. Due to this penance you will become confounded undoubtedly. I am speaking the truth. Hence, O lady of excellent complexion, get up and go home immediately. What have you to do with that Rudra by whom formerly Madana has been burnt because he was devoid of any feeling? O sinless one, how will (i.e. can) you solicit him (as a husband)?

151. Just as the moon stationed in the sky cannot be grasped, so also Śaṃbhu is difficult to be attained. O girl of pure smiles, understand this.”

152-153. Similarly, the chaste lady was told so by Menā, Sahya Mountain. Meru, Mandāra and Maināka.

On being urged thus by these, the slim girl Pārvatī of pure smiles, who was engaged in the penance, spoke to Himavān laughingly:

154. “Has what had been said by me before been forgotten by you, father? O mother, has it been forgotten by you? O my kinsmen, listen to my vow now itself.

155-158. By means of my penance, I will gratify Śaṅkara, the benefactor of the worlds, (although) this great lord is detached and devoid of attachment because Madana has been killed by him. All of you go. You need not worry in this matter. By means of my penance I will bring him here; I will bring (that lord) by whom Madana was burnt and by whom the forest of the mountain was burnt. Indeed Sadāśiva can be conveniently served through the great power of penance. Understand him, O exceedingly fortunate ones. It is true. I am saying the truth.”[6]

159. That daughter of the king of Mountains—she who habitually spoke very little—conversed thus with her mother Menā, (father) Himālaya and also with Meru and Mandāra.

Then those Mountains went away the way they had come while glancing (this way and that).

160. When all of them had gone, the chaste lady with the greatest being as her object of desire, performed the penance surrounded by her friends.

161. By that great penance the entire universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings became scorched. At that time all Suras and Asuras sought refuge in Brahmā.

Devas said:

162-164. O lord, the whole of this universe, mobile and immobile, has been created by you. It behoves you to save us, Devas. None other than you can be capable of protecting us.

On hearing these words, Brahmā pondered over them mentally. He understood that a great fire had been produced by the great penance of Girijā. Having realized it, Brahmā immediately went to the wonderful Ocean of Milk.

165-171. There he saw Lord Viṣṇu sleeping on his excellent and exceedingly splendid couch named Śeṣa. The pair of his feet was continuously served (kneaded) by Lakṣmī. He was served by Tārkṣya (Garuḍa) with stooping neck and standing a little away. He was also served by Śrī, Kānti, Kṣānti, Vṛtti, Dayā and others. Viṣṇu was accompanied by the nine Śaktis. He was surrounded by his Pārṣadas (attendants). Kumuda, Kumudvān, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanātana of exalted fortune, Prasupta, Vijaya, Arijit, Jayanta, Jayatsena, Jaya of great lustre, Sanatkumāra of excellent power of penance, Nārada, Tuṃburu and others served him and attended upon him. The great conch of Viṣṇu, named Pāñcajanya, his iron club Kaumodakī, the discus Sudarśana and the exceedingly wonderful bow Śārṅga—all these were seen in embodied form by Parameṣṭhin.

All the Suras and the Dānavas came very near Viṣṇu, the great Ātman. On the shore of the Ocean of the great Ātman, they spoke to Viṣṇu, the lord of all Parameṣṭhins:

172. “Save, save us, O great Viṣṇu, save us who have been scorched and who have sought refuge in you. We have been scorched by the severe and dreadful penance of Pārvatī.” The great Lord sat up on his couch Śeṣa and said:

173-174. “I shall go to the Supreme Lord Śiva along with you all. O Suras, we shall pray to Mahādeva in the matter of Girijā. There itself, we shall do something so that the Pināka-bearing Lord of Devas will be led to grasp her hand and marry her.

175. Hence we shall go to that place where the great Lord Rudra is seated, where the greatest cause of auspiciousness (viz. Śiva) is engaged in a severe penance.”

176-177. On hearing the words of Viṣṇu, all Suras and Asuras said: “We will not approach the Uneven-three-eyed god (Virūpākṣa) of great lustre. He will burn us in the same manner as he has burnt the unconquerable Madana formerly. There is no doubt in this matter.”

178-180. Lord Viṣṇu, the great lord, laughed and said: “All of you need not be afraid. Sadāśiva is the embodiment of auspiciousness. He is the destroyer of fear of all Devas. He will not burn (you). Hence, O clever ones, all of you must go along with me.

I seek refuge in Śaṃbhu who is the ancient Puruṣa, is the overlord of excellent form, who is greater than the greatest and is engaged in penance. His form is the greatest one and he is greater than the greatest.”

Footnotes and references:


This refers to Bṛhaspati’s rape of his pregnant sister-in-law (brother Utathya’s wife).


VV 47-58 give a beautiful description of the romantic transformation of Śiva’s penance-grove.


Rati rebukes Nārada for his overtures (vv 109-111). Nārada takes revenge by instigating Śaṃbara, King of Daityas, to abduct Rati. He made her the chief of his kitchen under the name Māyāvatī (vv 113-125).


If the reading Vicāritā is emended as Nivāritā, the meaning would be “was prevented”.


Explanation of Pārvatī’s epithet ‘Aparṇā.’ Cf. Kālidāsa’s Kumārasaṃbhava V. 28.


Pārvatī, being Śakti, speaks so confidently, as she knows her close relation of being identical with Śiva.

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