The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 351,568 words

This page describes The Marriage Rituals which is chapter 25 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-fifth chapter of the Kedara-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 25 - The Marriage Rituals

Romaśa said:

1. All of them well-received and welcomed by Himādri sat (stayed) there along with their retinues and vehicles. Those Devas were highly delighted.

2. There itself (a mansion) of great dimensions was built by Viśvakarman for the residence of the Self-born Lord (i.e. Brahmā). It was endowed with excessive refulgence.

3. Similarly another abode that shone well, was very charming and of variegated features (and equipments) was made by Tvaṣṭr. It was reserved for Viṣṇu.

He himself built a very beautiful Caṇḍīgṛha (a common parlour?)

4. Similarly he built a huge white mansion of great lustre, well-adored by the excellent Devas. It was made resplendent with the great lustre of Kailāsalakṣmī (the presiding deity of fortune of Kailāsa).

5. It was there that Śaṃbhu was accommodated by Himādri making it well-furnished through his ample resources.

6-7. In the meantime, Menā came there along with groups of friends and attendants and surrounded by sages in order to perform the Nīrājana rite (ceremonious waving of lights) to Śaṃbhu. The entire space of the three worlds was filled with the sound of musical instruments. Nīrājana rite was performed for that ascetic (i.e. Śiva).

8. The great chaste lady Menā looked at the bridegroom and knew (his special characteristics). Recollecting what had been said by Girijā, Menā was struck with wonder.

9. “I see that the handsome features of Parameṣṭhin Maheśa are far more (beautiful) than what had been formerly said by Pārvatī in my presence. Now the handsomeness of Maheśa which cannot be described, has been seen by me.”

10-13. Struck with wonder thus, Menā (went back) surrounded by the wives of Brāhmaṇas.

There Pārvatī was seated, being attended upon by friends and (married Brāhmaṇa ladies). The lady of excellent complexion appeared splendid with the pair of cloths that had not yet been washed (i.e. fresh from the loom). Her bodice was very excellent and divine (as) it was rendered splendid by various kinds of gems and jewels. It was liked by the goddess. It shone with the greatest glory. The daughter of the Mountain wore a necklace embellished with divine gems and jewels as well as very valuable bangles of pure gold. Seated there, Pārvatī was meditating upon Parameśvara,

14. In the meantime, Garga[1] spoke these words: “O clever ones, bring Śaṃbhu quickly to our mansion first at this (auspicious) time for the celebration of the marriage.”

15. On hearing the words of the noble-souled Garga, all the Mountains stood up along with their wives.

16-19. All of them were endowed with very great prosperity and affluence. They were well-adorned and had auspicious things in their hands. Their wives too were well-bedecked in ornaments. Those ladies with lovely glossy eyes were holding many presents and gifts (in their hands). To the accompaniment of the sounds of musical instruments as well as of the chantings of Vedic Mantras they came with their wives to the place where Lord Maheśvara was sitting surrounded by Pramathas and attended upon by Caṇḍī.

Śaṅkara, the benefactor of all the worlds, was surrounded and accompanied by the great sages and groups of Devas.

20. On hearing the loud sound of the musical instruments, all the servants of Śaṅkara suddenly got up along with Devas and sages.

21. Similarly, Gaṇas accompanied by groups of Yoginīs, the lord of Gaṇas of the same uniform splendour and all the Gaṇanāyakas (i.e. leaders of the groups of goblins) followed keeping Śiva at the head.

22. The group of Yoginīs was very fierce with their shouts resembling the sound of Bherī drums. They had kept at their head the terrible Caṇḍī who was adorned with great prosperity and magnificence.

23. She wore serpent Karkoṭaka round the neck. She made a necklace of it. She wore scorpions and venomous reptiles like a Padaka (an ornament of the neck).

24. She wore as the ornaments of her ears, hands and feet of the heroes killed in battle. She wore the heads of others as ornaments upon her chest.

25. The hide of a tiger she wore (like a cloth). She was accompanied by the circle of Yoginīs. She was surrounded by Kṣetrapālas and Bhairavas.

26. Similarly she was surrounded by ghosts and goblins and Kapaṭas (spirits in disguise). There were the exceedingly terrible groups, Vīrabhadra and others, who had been commanded before by Śiva to destroy the Yajña of Dakṣa.

27. So also were Kālī, Bhairavī, the frightful Māyā, Tripurā and the auspicious Jayā, the cause of happiness and welfare.

28. These and many others of very fierce type were desirous of going, keeping Sadāśiva at their head, surrounded by Bhūtas and Pretas.

29-32.. On seeing all these, Janārdana, the devotee of Śiva (said):

Viṣṇu said:

Honour the great sages, the immortal ones as well as Anasūyā and Arundhatī and keep them at the head (of the procession). O Lord, keep Caṇḍī to whom the Guardians of the Quarters bow down, very near you.

On hearing the words uttered by Viṣṇu, Sadāśiva, the Lord of the universe, laughingly said thus:[2] “O Caṇḍī, be pleased to stay here itself till the marriage is completely celebrated. O splendid lady, you know my feelings and emotions in the matter of what should be done and what should not be done.”

33-36. On hearing these words of Śaṃbhu of unmeasured splendour, Caṇḍī who had become much infuriated with Viṣṇu spoke. Similarly all the other Pramathas said to Viṣṇu in great anger:

“Whenever Śiva appears, we too are present there, O Lord. Why were we prevented by you on this occasion of great festivity and happiness?”

On hearing those words, Keśava spoke these words directed towards Caṇḍī, Pramathas and others of the same type: “You have not been referred to by me. It does not behove you to be angry.”

37. On being told thus by him, all the Gaṇas of whom Caṇḍī was the chief one resorted to an isolated place with burning sensations in their hearts at the statement of Viṣṇu.

38. By that time all the ministers of the Lord of Mountains came to Maheśa hurriedly in great flurry with their wives.

39. The sounds of five types of musical instruments and the loud sound of the chanting of the Vedic Mantras (were heard). They were accompanied by ladies who were singing (melodiously).

40. They came thus to the place where Śaṃbhu (was seated) surrounded by everyone. They came with pots (of water). Sadāśiva was bathed. He was adorned with all ornaments by women who were singing auspicious songs.

41. The sages, Devas, Gandharvas and others, the excellent Mountains and the women who were well-adored (adorned?) went in front of Śaṃbhu.

With a great umbrella held over his head (Śiva) shone very well.

42-44. He was fanned with chowries. He had a crown with which he shone excessively. Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Candra and the Guardians of the Quarters went ahead endowed with great refulgence. They too shone well. Conchs, Bherīs, Paṭahas, Ānakas and Gomukhas (varieties of drums) were sounded. Musicians too accompanied the party. There was great auspiciousness (everywhere). The Vāditras (musical instruments) were repeatedly played in that great festival.

45-46. The blessed Arundhatī, Anasūyā, Sāvitrī and Lakṣmī (were present there) surrounded by the Mātṛs (Mother deities). Accompanied by them all, the sole kinsman of the universe shone with great refulgence. He was surrounded by the Moon, the Sun, the Fire-god and the Wind-god along with the excellent Guardians of the Quarters and great sages.

47. He was fanned directly by Pavana (Wind-god); the umbrella was held aloft by Śaśī (the Moon-god); the Sun stood in front as lamp-bearer. Viṣṇu accompanied by Śrī remained at the side.

48. Devas accompanied by the sages showered him with flowers scattering them all round. Śaṃbhu went towards the great mansion, the ground of which had been paved with gold and which appeared splendid with great prosperity.

Worshipped by human beings, Devas and Dānavas with great service and attendance, Śaṃbhu entered that mansion.

49. Śaṃbhu who arrived there thus entered the Yajñamaṇḍapa (i.e. the hall erected for the purpose of the holy rite). Parameśvara was eulogized by Devas by means of songs of praise.

50-51. The excellent Mountain made Maheśa get down from the elephant. He was made to sit on a raised seat and the great rite of Nīrājana was performed by Menā along with her friends and the priest. Everything such as the offering of Madhuparka[3] etc. was performed there itself.

52. Urged by Brahmā, the priest, the holy Lord performed various preliminary rites connected with the splendid and auspicious ceremony fit for the occasion.

53-55. The slender-bodied Pārvatī was seated on an altar inside the Maṇḍapa, She was adorned with all ornaments. Hara was directly brought there by Viṣṇu and Brahmā. Persons beginning with Vācaspati began to look into the Lagna (auspicious hour). Sage Garga was seated in the Ghaṭikālaya (i.e. the room where the water device called Ghaṭikā Pātra to know the exact time is kept). When the stipulated hour was reached Praṇava (was uttered),

56. Proclaiming “OM PUṆYA” (auspicious) etc., Garga made the bride join her palms in reverence. Thereafter, Pārvatī took a handful of Akṣata (rice grain) and showered it on Śiva.

57-59a. Rudra was worshipped by her with curds, Akṣata, Kuśa grass etc. Pārvatī of beautiful face was filled with great joy on looking at Śaṃbhu for whose sake a great penance, very difficult for others to perform, had been performed by the great goddess.

The life-giver of all living beings in the universe had been attained on account of that penance.

59b-60. Thereafter, the Bull-bannered great Lord was told by Nārada and other sages beginning with Garga and Sanaka: “O Three-eyed one, worship Pārvatī reciprocally.” Then that slender-bodied lady was worshipped with Arghya, Akṣata and other things.

61. Being worshipped by each other Pārvatī and Parameśvara, constituting the universe, shone then very much.

62-63. They were covered with the glory of the three worlds. They looked at each other (lovingly). The divine couple, the great goddess and the god, were then (honoured) by means of Nīrājana rite by Lakṣmī and Sāvitrī particularly as well as by Arundhatī. Similarly Anasūyā looked affectionately at Śaṃbhu and Pārvatī of great renown and performed Nīrājana rite with pleasure and love displayed in her eyes.

64. Similarly all the Brāhmaṇa ladies performed the Nīrājana rite again and again. All of them laughed joyously on looking at the chaste lady and Śaṃbhu.

Lomaśa said:

65. In the meantime, urged by the preceptor Garga, Himālaya accompanied by Menā began the rite of offering the virgin.[4]

66. Menā, the better-half of Himādri, the highly fortunate lady adorned with all the ornaments took up the golden pot.

67-69. Then Viśvanātha, the bestower of boons, was told by Himādri: “After due consultation with Brahmā, Viṣṇu and the noble-souled preceptor Garga, I am today performing the rite of offering the virgin to the Trident-bearing Lord of Devas, O Brāhmaṇas. May the procedural Mantras suitable for this occasion be recited.”

Agreeing that it should be so, the excellent Brāhmaṇas who were aware of the (proper) time (of the ceremony) said:

70. “O dear one, let your Gotra and lineage be mentioned.[5] O highly fortunate one, say.” On hearing these words, the pleasant-faced one turned his face away; one who should not be bewailed attained a pitiable state.

71-75. Lord Maheśa who had a pitiable face when he had no reply to offer, was seen in such a state by the excellent Suras, sages and groups of Gandharvas, Yakṣas, ascetics and Siddhas. Then Nārada did something funny.

Nārada, the son of Brahmā, took out his Vīṇā. Then the intelligent one was prevented: “O holy Lord, do not play your lute.” On being requested thus by the Mountain, Nārada spoke these words: “Bhava was directly asked by you to mention his Gotra. O Mountain, his Gotra and family is Nāda (Pure Sound) alone. Śaṃbhu is well established in him. Hence, Śaṃbhu is identical with Nāda. Hence, O scorcher of enemies, this Vīṇā is played now by me.

76. O Parvata (Mountain), Devas beginning with Brahmā do not know his Gotra and family; what then to say of others?

77-78. You are confounded. You do not know anything about what should be said or should not be said. All worldly objects are external to Maheśa. O Mountain, whatever is originated, whatever has a birth, becomes dead. There is no doubt about it. This Virūpākṣa (one with uneven eyes) is devoid of form and features. (Hence) he is called Akulīna (having no family).

79. O excellent Mountain, your son-in-law is undoubtedly one without a Gotra. No criticism or comment should be made in this matter by you who are very learned.

80. All people do not know Hara. Why should I talk much on this, O Lord? Even these sages are confounded, O glorious one, because they are ignorant of him.

81-82. Brahmā does not know him (and his) head, the head of Parameṣṭhin (the great Lord).

Viṣṇu went to the nether worlds (and the foot of the Lord) was not seen. The whole range of the three worlds has been pervaded by that unfathomable Liṅga. Understand this. What purpose is served by this?

83. That (Liṅga) has certainly been propitiated by this daughter of yours, O Himālaya. How is it that you do not know exactly, O great Mountain.

84-85- This universe is created by these two. It is sustained by these two.”

On hearing these words of the noble-souled Nārada, all of them, the chief of whom was Himādri and at whose head was Indra, became surprised in their minds and they said: “Well-done! Well-done!”

On realizing the majesty of Īśvara all those clever ones (sages) became overwhelmed by surprise. They spoke to one another:

The sages said:

86-87. It was at his bidding that this wide world was born. This is greater than the greatest, being of the form of self-consciousness. Everything becomes the object of the imagination of Parameśvara who is independent. This noble-souled one has the three worlds for his own form.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Garga—An ancient sage, a royal astrologer in King Pṛthu’s court (Mbh, Śānti, 59.111.) A famous work on Astrology, Garga-Saṃhitā, is attributed to him and the present text, the authenticity of which is doubtful, is still believed to be his work. There is another Garga, the family priest of Yāḍavas. He was sent by Vasudeva to perform the thread ceremony of his sons at Gokula (BhP X.81ff). The Garga in SkP may be a different person of the same Gotra.

[2]:

Caṇḍī’s behaviour being unsuitable to this occasion creates laughter among the readers, but caused embarrassment to the parties in the marriage ceremony.

[3]:

A respectful offering made to a guest or a bridegroom after his arrival at the door of the father of the bride. It generally consists of honey, ghee, curds, milk.

[4]:

This is Kanyādāna (giving the bride to the bridegroom). In this ceremony the father of the girl says that the bridegroom should not prove false to the bride in Dharma, Artha and Kama (the three Puruṣārthas in life) and the bridegroom pledges, he won’t do so (nāticarāmi). This is done even now (vide Pāraskara Gr. S. 1.3). See also infra ch. 26.3.

[5]:

A humorous situation. Śiva, the creator and destroyer of the universe, is Gotra-less but is asked about his Gotra and lineage. The Lord is Nāda himself as is later shown by Nārada and explained that he is without a Gotra (vv 71-74).

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