The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Shiva’s Marriage which is chapter 23 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-third chapter of the Kedara-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 23 - Śiva’s Marriage

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: This chapter throws immense light on the customs in marriage ceremony prevalent at the time of the last redaction of the Skanda-purāṇa.

Lomaśa said:

1. In the meantime, the sages deputed by Maheśa came there to Himālaya suddenly.[1]

2. On seeing them, the Mountain Himālaya got up immediately. With a delighted mind, he worshipped all of them and with his neck bowed down, he spoke to them respectfully:

3-4. “Why have all of you come? Tell me the reason for your visit.” Then the Seven Sages said: “We have been sent by Maheśa. We have come to you in order to see the girl. O Mountain, understand us. Show us your daughter immediately.”

5. Saying “So be it” to the group of Sages, Pārvatī was brought there. Himavān, the lord of Mountains, who loved his children, placed Pārvatī in his lap[2] and said laughingly:

6-9. “This is my daughter indeed. But listen to my words again. Śiva is the most excellent one among ascetics. The destroyer of Madana is devoid of attachment. How does he by whom Smara (Madana) has been made Anaṅga (bodiless), seek a marriage alliance?

Offering the daughter in marriage to the following persons is not recommended: one who is very near (i.e. closely related), one who is very far off, one who is extremely rich one, one who is devoid of wealth, one who is unemployed and a foolish fellow.

One shall not offer one’s daughter in marriage to a stupid person, to a person who is devoid of attachment, to a self-esteeming person, to a sick man and to a madcap. Hence, O excellent sages, I must exchange ideas with you and then only I should give her to Maheśa. This is my excellent vow.”

10. On hearing those words of the king of Mountains, those great Sages laughed and immediately spoke to Himālaya:

11. “A severe penance has been performed by her. Śiva has been propitiated by her. Being pleased with her penance, Sadā-śiva is kindly disposed today.

12. O Mountain, you do not know anything about her or him, anything about their greatness. Hence give her (in marriage).

13-14. Give Girijā to Śiva (in marriage); carry out our suggestion.”

On hearing these words of those Sages of sanctified souls, the Lord of Mountains hurriedly addressed the other Mountains: “O Meru, O Niṣadha, O Gandhamādana, O Mandāra, O Maināka, all of you say specifically what should be done today.”

15. Menā who was an expert in the use of words, spoke these words: “Of what avail is a deliberation now? The matter has been decided then itself (already).

16. This girl of great fortune is bora for accomplishing the task of Devas. She should be given to Śiva because she has incarnated for the sake of Śiva.

17-19. She has been propitiated by Rudra. She has been in the mind of (i.e. liked by) Rudra. Let this Satī (chaste lady) of great fortune be given to Śiva. In worshipping Śiva, what she has done is a mere means (to this end).”

On hearing these words uttered by Menā, Himavān became completely satisfied and spoke these words to the sages glancing at her: “This daughter of mine now (shall be given to Śiva).”[3]

20. Then they brought Gaurī there. She had complexion like heated gold and beautiful eyes. Splendid as she was, she wore a girdle round her hips. She was wearing bangles studded with lapis lazuli and pearls. She had dazzling refulgence like the digit of the moon.

21. Gaurī, the splendid lady of bright face, had glittering garments. She was as though a tank of the nectar of beauty- On seeing her even the Sages became deluded. They were confounded and excited. They did not utter a word. On seeing the very beautiful beloved of the lord of the three worlds, having splendid lustre, they appeared to be stunned and crazy.

22-23. Thus those Sages too were enchanted by her beauty. What then in the case of Devas?

So, after seeing the lady of slender frame, the daughter of the Lord of Mountains, who was the beloved of Śiva, they approached Śiva once again. Then those Sages, the favourites of Śiva, spoke to him:

The Sages said:

24. His (Himālaya’s) daughter has undoubtedly been well-adorned by the Lord of Mountains. O Lord of Devas, go (there) in order to marry (her). Go there surrounded by all the Devas.

25. Go quickly, O great Lord, to Pārvatī for the sake of a son.

On hearing their words, he laughed and said:

26. “O Sages of great fortune, marriage has never been seen or heard of by me before. Let its special points be mentioned.”

27-30. Then all the Sages spoke to Sadāśiva laughingly: “O Lord, invite Viṣṇu, Brahmā and Indra. Similarly send for the groups of sages, Yakṣas, Gandharvas, Serpents, Siddhas, Vidyādharas, Kinnaras and groups of celestial damsels. Bring these and many others immediately.” On hearing these words uttered by the Sages, the lord, an expert in the use of words, spoke to Nārada: “Bring Viṣṇu quickly. Bring Brahmā, Mahendra and others too.”

31. Honouring the words of Śaṃbhu with great humility, the sage Nārada who sanctified the worlds and who was a devotee of Viṣṇu, hurried to Vaikuṇṭha.

32-33. He saw Lord Viṣṇu who was seated on the excellent couch and was being served by goddess Śrī. The Lord was the most excellent one among Devas; his lustre was very great and he was four-armed, with a body dark in complexion like a blue lotus. He wore beautiful ear-rings set with gems and jewels of great value. He was refulgent with the excellent gems of his great crown and had the excellent garland of sylvan flowers named Vaijayantī. He was the sole handsome person in the whole world.

34. Nārada approached him and spoke to him the words of Śaṃbhu. The most excellent one among the sages, the omniscient one playing on his lute called Brahmavīṇā, spoke to him with great respect:

35. “Come, come, O Mahāviṣṇu. Come quickly to (meet) Mahādeva. You are the only one to manage the affairs efficiently in the matter of the marriage of Śaṃbhu.”

36. The Lord laughed and said to Nārada: “How did the idea of marriage occur to the Trident-bearing Lord?” Although the lord had understood the matter, he asked Nārada about it.

Nārada said:

37. By means of a great penance, Rudra was gratified by Pārvatī. He himself went to the place where the chaste daughter of the Mountain was seated.

38-40. Śaṃbhu who was gratified by Pārvatī, said to her “I am your servant.” He requested Pārvatī: “O lady of great splendour, choose (me) in marriage quickly.” So spoke Śaṃbhu. He calls you now.

On hearing his words, Janārdana, the lord of Devas, prepared himself to go to Śiva. He was accompanied by Nārada and surrounded by his Pārṣadas. The great soul Acyuta, the great Lord of leading Yogins, mounted on Suparṇa (Garuḍa) and went through the path of the sky. Hari was accompanied by Nārada and excellent Devas.

41-42. On seeing the Śārṅga-bearing Lord (i.e. Viṣṇu), the Lord Śiva whose lotus-like feet are worthy of being meditated upon by Yogins, stood up joyously and embraced Viṣṇu.

Then the lords Hari and Hara stood up in the same place and enquired of the welfare of each other.

Īśvara said:

43-48. O Viṣṇu, I have been undoubtedly won over by the penance of Girijā. It is for the purpose of marriage tint I am going to Himālaya.

I shall tell the exact position to you. Formerly when Satī was given to me by Dakṣa, the marriage rite was not performed by me in accordance with the injunctions. It is only now that all the rites should be very elaborately performed by me. I do not know all those rites connected with marriage alliance. I do not know anything that should be performed by me.

After hearing those words of Śaṃbhu, the slayer of Madhu laughed. When he was about to say something, Brahmā came there hurriedly along with Indra and all the Guardians of the Quarters.

Similarly Devas, Asuras, Yakṣas, Dānavas, serpents, birds, celestial damsels and the great sages, all these gathered together to speak to the Lord. Then they bowed down their heads and spoke to Īśa:

49. “Go ahead, go ahead, O Lord Mahādeva, along with us.” Then Viṣṇu spoke these words appropriate to the occasion:

50-52. “O Śaṃbhu, it behoves you to perform the rites in accordance with the injunctions laid down in the Gṛhyasūtras.[4] Perform the holy rite of Nāndīmukha.[5] Fix the Maṇḍapa.[6] Perform all the religious rites connected with them. Some of the men learned in the Vedas perform this rite avoiding the confluence of great rivers. O Lord, let the Maṇḍapa be fixed now.”

Śaṃbhu who was told thus by Viṣṇu, did so for the sake of his own welfare.

53. Everything conducive to prosperity was performed by him along with Brahmā and others. Kaśyapa accompanied by Brahmā performed the worship of the Planets.

54-56. Similarly Atri, Vasiṣṭha, Gautama, Guru, Bhṛgu, Kaṇva Bṛhaspati (?), Śakti, Jamadagni, Parāśara, Mārkaṇḍeya, Śilāvāka, Śūnyapāla, Akṣataśrama, Agastya, Cyavana, Garga and many others came to the presence of Śiva. Directed by Brahmā there, they performed the rites in accordance with the injunctions.

57. All of them who were masters of the Vedas and the Vedāṅgas (i.e. ancillary subjects) tied an amulet (round the arm) of Maheśa in accordance with the injunctions of the Vedas. They tied the marriage thread also (round his wrist) for the sake of auspiciousness.

58-60. The sages who knew the reality performed various auspicious rites reciting the Sūktas (hymns) of Ṛgveda, Yajurveda and Sāmaveda. They made Śiva, the great Ātman, take the ceremonies of oil bath etc. The famous matted hair of Śiva, the Supreme Soul (assumed the form of fine tresses). The garland of skulls turned into a fine necklace fitted with many pearls. Those serpents that had been round his limbs instantaneously turned into ornaments of gold.

61. Maheśvara, the lord of Devas, richly endowed with all ornaments and surrounded by Devas went to the city of the king of Mountains.[7]

62-64. The terrible deity, Caṇḍikā, became Varabhaginī[8] (‘sister of the bridegroom’). Caṇḍī who was adorned with serpents as ornaments and who was seated on a ghost went ahead taking a gold pot of great lustre and filled (with water) on her head. She was accompanied by her retinues. Mahācaṇḍī had a brilliant face and terrible eyes. There were thousands of hideous Bhūtas (goblins). Accompanied by them Caṇḍī of deformed face went ahead.

65. All the exceedingly terrible Gaṇas went behind her. The terrible Rudras numbering eleven crores also went behind them. They were the great favourites of Rudra.

66. Then all the three worlds became pervaded by the loud sound of Ḍamaru, the sounds of Bherīs and Bhāṅkāras (varieties of drums) and the sound of conchs.

67. So also there was a tumultuous sound of Dundubhi drums. All over-eager Devas and all Siddhas accompanied by the Guardians of the Quarters followed close behind the Gaṇas.

68-70a. Mahendra seated on his Airāvata was proceeding ahead in the middle (of the group) with a white umbrella held aloft. He was being fanned by chowries and surrounded by many Suras. O Brāhmaṇas, many of these sages, Bharadvāja and others, were also going ahead towards (the place) of the marriage of Śiva.

70b-73. Śākinīs, Yātudhānas, Vetālas, Brahmarākṣasas, Bhūtas, Pretas, Piśācas and others such as Pramathas etc. followed Caṇḍī and asked about her, “Where has Caṇḍī gone?” Running at a very great speed, they came up to her. Even as she was proceeding ahead, they bowed down to her. They said to Caṇḍī who was accompanied by Bhairava and whose lustre was very great, “Where are you going, O Caṇḍī, without us? Say specifically.”

74-76. That Caṇḍī laughed and said to the Bhūtas who were listening: “Mounted on a ghost, I am going (to attend) the marriage ceremony of Śaṃbhu. I am holding this golden pot on my head (for the same purpose).” Then Caṇḍī changed herself into the form of Śīva’s nearest female relative.

Surrounded by all the Bhūtas, she went ahead of all. Gaṇas followed her and Suras were behind Gaṇas.

77. The Guardians of the Quarters beginning with Indra and the sages were leading those who followed behind. Behind the sages were the Pārṣadas (Attendants) of great lustre.

78-80. They were fully conversant with the unfathomable nature of Viṣṇu. They were more charming than Mukunda. All of them resembled clouds (in colour). They had garlands of sylvan flowers. All of them had the body-mark Śrīvatsa. All were clad in yellow robes. They had four arms. They wore ear-rings. All of them appeared splendid by means of crowns, bangles, arm-lets, necklaces, anklets, threads, waist-bands and rings. They had the characteristic features of great men. In their midst was Viṣṇu, the slayer of the enemies of Suras. He was accompanied by Śrī.

81. Hari, the greatest Soul, the sole kinsman of the universe, who had rendered the three worlds completely auspicious, who is established in the heart by persons of great magnanimity and who is the bestower of the greatest objectives and aims (in life), shone in the company of Śiva.

82. Hari, the great Lord, was seated on Garuḍa. The great Lord was accompanied by Lakṣmī. The sole Lord of all the worlds was being fanned by chowries. He was accompanied by all the leading sages.

83. Viriñci (i.e. Brahmā) was seated on his own vehicle. Accompanied by the Vedas along with the six ancillary subjects, he, Hiraṇyagarbha, was surrounded by Āgamas along with Itihāsas and Purāṇas.

84-86. Maheśa was thus accompanied by Brahmā and Hari. He was surrounded by the leading Suras. He was encircled by the sages. The Bull-bannered Lord who cannot be attained by all, who is difficult of access even to leading Yogins, was seated on a. bull that resembled a pure crystal, that was given to virtue and that was characterized by cows (? that had all the fine characteristics of bulls). He was accompanied by the Mothers also. Accompanied by these and Asuras and Dānavas and adorned by learned scholars, Maheśa then went to Himālaya, the most excellent one among Mountains, for the marriage with the most excellent young woman.

Footnotes and references:


This is called Vara-preṣaṇa (sending persons to negotiate for the hand of the girl). This was prevalent at the time of the Ṛgveda (RV X.85.8-9), Gṛhya-sūtras (e. g. Baudhāyana 1.1.14-15, Āpastaṃba 11.16, IV.1-2 and 7). This practice is noted by Bāṇa (6th cent. A.D.) in Harṣacarita, 4th Ucchvāsa. This old practice is still preserved among non-Brahmins in Maharashtra.


Evidence of child-marriage at the time of our text. Pārvatī who performed penance for a long time, must have been too old to sit in the lap of her father.


VV 13-20 describe Vāgdāna or betrothal.


Though the name of the Gṛhyasūtra is not given, the general items of the ceremony are common. It is difficult to pinpoint the Sūtra followed by the author.


The Śrāddha rite offered to the manes before the festive rites of marriage. This is mentioned only in the Baudhāyana Gr. S. 1.1.24. Other Gṛhyasūtras are silent about it.


Maṇḍapa-karaṇa or creating a pandal for social ceremonies like Upanayana (thread ceremony), in marriage is prescribed in Pāraskara Gr. S. 1-4.


This is called Vadhūgṛhāgamana (bridegroom’s going to the bride’s house). Śāṅkhāyana Gr. S, 1.12.1 mentions it.


The author’s sense of humour becomes obvious in describing Caṇḍī as the ‘Vara-bhaginī’ (bridegroom’s sister) and her antics during the marriage ceremony.

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