The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 1,763,776 words

This page describes The Birth of Kumara Karttikeya which is chapter 27 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-seventh chapter of the Kedara-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 27 - The Birth of Kumāra Kārttikeya

Lomaśa said:

1-2. Similarly all the Mountains were exquisitely worshipped by Viṣṇu, viz. the Mountain Sahya, Vindhya, Maināka, Gandhamādana, Mālyavān, Malaya, Mahendra, Mandara and Meru.[1] These were very scrupulously honoured and respected by Viṣṇu. 

3-5. Śvetagiri was made white (?),[2] Nīlādri (Blue mountain) also was made so (blue), Udayādri, Śṛṅga, the great Astācala, Mānasādri, mountain Kailāsa, the most excellent one among Mountains, and the mountain Lokāloka—all these[3] were honoured by Parameṣṭhin (god Brahmā). Thus all those excellent Mountains were honoured by him. Similarly all the residents of those mountains were also honoured by him.

6. Along with Brahmā, everything relevant and befitting (the occasion) was done by Viṣṇu. On the next day, the procession Varayātrā[4] was taken out.

7. A majority of Gaṇas and all the groups of Suras went to the mountain Gandhamādana along with Himādri and kinsmen.

8-11. All the Pramathas, the Gaṇas of Caṇḍī and many others who had come to Himālaya for the marriage celebration of Śiva, were duly honoured by Śiva, O Brāhmaṇas. On seeing the couple they attained great delight. Śaṃbhu accompanied by Pārvatī and Pārvatī along with Śaṃbhu were in fact like a flower and its fragrance or like the word and its connotation. They are Prakṛti and Puruṣa united into one form. That couple of great lustre shone very well while riding on an elephant.

12-18. Brahmā was then seated in an aerial chariot. Viṣṇu was on his Garuḍa. Indra rode on Airāvata. Kubera sat in his Puṣpaka chariot. Varuṇa rode on his shark (crocodile); Yama on his buffalo; Nairṛta rode on a ghost. The great Fire-god was seated on a goat. Pavana (Wind-god) rode on a deer and īśa on a bull. Thus the Guardians of the Quarters (came to the procession) of the supreme god (Śiva) along with the Planets. Similarly Pramathas and others came there along with their armies.

The Mountains like Himādri the great Mountain, Ṛṣabha, Gandhamādana, Sahya, Nīlagiri, Mandara, Malayācala, Kailāsa of great splendour and Maināka of great lustre, these and other Mountains became engaged in honouring Śiva. All of them were glorious, highly refulgent and charming. All of theṛm came there along with their wives and sons. All those Mountains beginning with Meru were powerful and handsome. In the context of Varayātrā (‘procession of the bridegroom’), they devoted themselves to the worship of Śiva,

19-22. The Mountains beginning with Meru were seated (in their proper places) by Nandin there. The celebration of Varayātrā was duly carried out by Himādri as mentioned (before). They returned along with all kinsmen.

Himavān of great renown stationed in his own abode shone very well, due to the great splendour arising from the contact with Śiva. The great Mountain became famous and well-renowned in the three worlds, because Śaṅkara was delighted with him, due to the offering of the daughter.

Blessed indeed are those noble-souled ones at the tip of whose tongues the two-syllabled name (Śi-va) is always present. They shall accomplish their purpose and be contented.

Those people who utter the two-syllabled name ‘Śi-va’ in their hearts are undoubtedly Rudras in the form of human beings.

23. Lord Śiva is pleased with the slighest offering or gift, even with a leaf.[5]  Mahādeva is always pleased even with the (gift of) water.

24. Indeed Sadāśiva becomes pleased with (the gift of) a leaf, a flower or water. Hence Śiva should be regularly adored by all. He is the donor of good luck unto men here.

25. The unborn great lord is one great luminous refulgence. He is greater than the greatest. He is the great Ātman. He has no inter-space, is devoid of aberrations, has no lord (above him), is devoid of all hindrances, free from doubts and devoid of desire.

26. He is unsullied, is of eternal form. Obstacle-less as he is, he has perpetual bliss. He is the eternally liberated one. The Lord of Devas of this nature was adored by those Devas and others. Bhava (Śiva) worthy of being worshipped by the whole universe was eulogized and meditated upon. He was worshipped and contemplated upon. This omniscient lord is the perpetual bestower of everything.

27. Himavān was already very famous on account of all of his good qualities. He was noble-souled and the most excellent one among the Mountains. (After the marriage) he became one worthy of being saluted by the Lord of the universe.

28. Going back to his own abode along with Menā, the Lord of Mountains of virtuous soul, bade farewell to all the Mountains.

29. After they had gone, Himavān, the most excellent one among and the king of Mountains, (lived happily) with his sons, grandsons and great-grandsons by the favour of Mahādeva.

30. Then at Gandhamādana, the great god (Śiva) who had resumed his own form, decided in his mind to indulge in sexual dalliance with Girijā in an isolated place.[6]

31-33. Indeed their mutual sexual contact took place through their great penance. Now that their sexual intercourse was begun, that alone became their penance.

It was a mysteriously wonderful phenomenon not liked (by Devas), because it could be compared to Pralaya (ultimate annihilation) [see appendix on Skanda’s birth]. As that great sexual dalliance went on, Devas beginning with Brahmā were not very happy in the matter of deciding what should be done and what should not be done. On account of the semen virile (of Śiva), the entire universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings perished.

34. Brahmā and Viṣṇu, the bestower of spiritual (welfare), remembered Agni mentally. On being remembered, Agni hastened towards them.

35. On being deputed by them, Agni saw the beautiful palace of Śiva. In front of him, he saw Nandin of great lustre stationed at the entrance.

36. Agni whose colour resembled saffron became minute (in size) and entered the inner apartment of Śaṃbhu that consisted of many wonderful features.

37. After reaching the front-yard beautified with many mansions and paved with gems and jewels, the Fire-god sat there and said:

38-39. “O mother, from the harem give alms unto me who have only (my) hands as begging bowl.” On hearing those words (of Agni) who had only the hands as begging bowl, the girl began to give him alms. Thereupon Śiva desisted from sexual dalliance and got up. He became very furious.

40. Raising his trident, Rudra assumed the terrible form of Bhairava. Śiva was prevented by Girijā from killing him (Agni). The girl (Pārvatī) gave aims to Agni Jātavedas[7]  (‘one who knows all created beings’).

41. After taking the alms (the semen of Śiva) in the (palms of his) hand, it was eaten up[8]  by Agni in her very presence. Girijā became furious and cursed him.

42. “O mendicant, on account of my curse you will quickly become Sarvabhakṣa (‘omnivorous’—one who eats everything). You will meet with distress and pain in every respect on account of this Retas (semen virile) immediately.”

43-44. On being told thus, Agni, the bearer of Havyas (offerings in the sacred fire), swallowed the Retas of Īśa and came to the place where all the Devas beginning with Brahmā were staying. After arrival he told them everything about the swallowing of Retas (semen of Śiva) and other incidents. All the groups of Devas beginning with Indra became pregnant.

45-46. Just as Havis (ghee offerings) reaches every god through Agni (so also the semen reached them). By means of the semen issuing out of the mouth of Agni, all the leading Suras became pregnant. They were extremely afflicted with anxiety; they sought refuge in Viṣṇu, the Lord and Master of Devas.

Devas said:

47. You are the saviour of all Devas. You are the lord of the worlds. Hence protection should be accorded, O Lord, kind and compassionate towards those who seek refuge.

48. Afflicted with this semen virile, all of us are about to die. All of us, the heaven-dellers, are already frightened of Asuras.

49-50. (Afraid of Asuras) we sought refuge in Śaṅkara. We got his marriage celebrated (and thought thus): ‘When a son is born to Rudra, all of us will be happy and free from fear in heaven.’

A (new) danger has beset us even as we were steadying ourselves with that thought. How is it possible to remain a live with this (Śiva’s) semen.

51. The three aims (in the life) of ordinary persons axe well prepared (with the help of fate). But without (favourable) fate, without the support of the Lord, it becomes adverse in character, not otherwise.

52. Hence, considering that as the strength (and support) for all embodied beings in the matter of deciding what should be done and what should not be done, all of us think so.

53-55. On hearing that lamentation of Devas, the great Lord, the slayer of the enemies of Devas, spoke these words laughingly: “In view of the gravity of the situation (of the work), let Maheśa the great Lord, be eulogized.”

Saying “So be it”, all the Devas went to Hara with Viṣṇu as their leader. Brahmā and others and all the sages eulogized Hara:

56-58. “Om, obeisance unto Lord Bharga (Refulgence), to the blue-throated, to the beautiful, to the three-eyed lord, to the lord of three Vedas, to the supporter of the three worlds.

We bow to the Lord of three[9] notes (Svara), three Mātrās, three Vedas and three forms. Hail to the Trident-bearing Lord (bestowing) the three aims in life, to the Tridhāma (having three abodes) and to the Tripāda (having three positions). Save us, save us, O Mahādeva, from this semen virile, O lord of the universe.”

59. When he was (thus) eulogized by Brahmā, the Bull-bannered Lord appeared there itself for the sake of the accomplishment of the objective of Suras.

60. At that time, the Lord, the sole kinsman of the universe, was seen by the noble-souled excellent Devas. He was worshipped exquisitely well. He was eulogized with various words of expressive nature and approved by the Vedas.

61. Even as the Devas continued eulogizing, Parameśvara said: “Do not be frightened, all of you, now afflicted with this semen virile.

62. Now itself, O Suras, you all should vomit it.”

Thinking that it should be so, all those groups of Devas beginning with Indra, O Brāhmaṇas, vomited that semen virile of Śaṅkara.

63. Abruptly that miraculous semen virile became as lustrous as heated gold and as huge as a mountain.

64. All those groups of Devas beginning with Indra became happy. Excepting Agni all of them became exceedingly delighted.

65. Śaṅkara the benefactor of all the worlds, was addressed (thus) by Agni: “O Mahādeva, O most excellent one among Devas, what should be done by me now?

66. Tell me that now, O Lord, whereby I shall always be happy so that I can continue to carry Havya (the oblations in sacrifices) unto Devas.”

67-68. Then Śiva said directly even as the Devas were listening: “Let the semen be discharged in some Womb.” Thereupon Agni laughingly said to Lord Śaṅkara: Your semen is unbearable. How can this semen which blazes like poison, be borne by ordinary persons?”

69. Then Lord Maheśvara said to Agni: “Let the semen be discharged every month in the body of those who are warmed up in the menstruation period.

70. Saying “So be it” and accepting his words, the Fire-god of great lustre, who was shining with great splendour and whose power and influence is very great, sat there in Brāhmamuhūrta[10] (before dawn).

71-73. The wives of the sages got up very early in the morning. Those chaste ladies who habitually took early morning baths were afflicted with chillness. They saw the blazing fire and wanted to warm themselves. They were prevented from doing so by Arundhatī. Although they too were prevented from doing so, the Kṛttikās warmed themselves. While they warmed themselves thus, minute particles of the semen virile (of Śiva) entered the pores in their skin at the roots of the hair quickly.

74-76. Agni then got rid of the semen virile and became reposed and tranquil. Then the wives of the sages went to their respective abodes. They were cursed by the sages. They became the constellations Kṛttikās moving about in the sky. At that time all of them became distressed due to their deviation from chastity. They discharged the semen virile on the top of the mountain Himavān.

77-80. Abruptly that semen virile, having the lustre of heated gold, (floated) in Gaṅgā. It was quickly encircled by Kīcakas (hollow bamboos).

On seeing the infant with six faces, all the Devas became joyous. They were ultimately told by Garga: “Let it (the child) be (conveniently) taken away. This son of Śaṃbhu, thanks to the grace of Śaṃbhu, shall become eternal and Sarva (identical with all).” Kārttikeya of great strength was born on the banks of Gaṅgā. (Kārttikeya,) the son of Gaṅgā sat up after a day and a night had passed. Śākha and Viśākha were exceedingly powerful (?). This Ṣaṇmukha was very powerful.

81. When Ṣaṇmukha (‘six-faced’god Skanda) was born of Gaṅgā as the son of Śaṅkara, Girijā immediately experienced that milk was oozing out from her nipples.

82. Looking at Śiva, she said: “O Śaṃbhu, there is great exudation of milk (from my breasts, why is it so?). O Mahādeva, let it be looked into.” Though omniscient, Mahādeva spoke to her like an ignorant one.

83. Nārada came there and told them about the birth of the child: “A beautiful son is born to Śiva and Śivā.”

84. On hearing those words, O Brāhmaṇas, all the Pramathas became most delighted in their minds. Gandharvas became eager to sing.

85. In view of the birth of a son to the noble-souled Śaṅkara the mountain (Kailāsa) became dazzlingly brilliant and shone with many flags, banners, festoons and sprouts as well as with aerial chariots,

86-87. Then all the groups of Suras, Sages, Siddhas, Cāraṇas, Demons, Gandharvas, Yakṣas, all attended upon by groups of celestial damsels—all these gathered together immediately and along with Śaṅkara they proceeded ahead to see Gāṅgeya (Skanda, ‘Gaṅgā’s son’) stationed on the sand-bank (of Gaṅgā).

88. Then the Lord mounted on his bull along with Girijā and was accompanied by other Suras beginning with Indra.

89-90. Then conchs, Bherīs (drums) and many other musical instruments were played. At the very same time, the Gaṇas beginning with Vīrabhadra followed the lord of all They were excited with sportive spirit and they played different kinds of musical instruments. They played stringed musical instruments of different kinds.

91. Some were engaged in dances. Others were musicians. Those who eulogized and those who were being eulogized sang songs of praise.

92. Those Suras, Siddhas, Yakṣas, Gandharvas, Vidyādharas and Serpents and such others were delighted in their minds in the company of Siva. They went ahead in order to see the son of Śaṅkara, the bestower of boons.

93. When they looked at Gāṅgeya resembling Śaṅkara, they saw that the three worlds were pervaded by great splendour.

94-96. The infant (boy) enveloped in refulgence was of the lustre of heated gold. His bright face was endowed with glorious magnificence. His beautiful face with a fine nose and eyes twinkling with a smile, was pleasant. He was beautiful in every limb. On seeing the exceedingly miraculous Gāṅgeya of renowned Ātman, the infant (boy) with solar radiance, Pramathas and all the Gaṇas beginning with Vīrabhadra, saluted him.

97-99. They flocked round him on the left and the right and waited upon him. Similarly, Brahmā, Indra surrounded by Suras, sages, Yakṣas and Gandharvas surrounded the boy. They prostrated on the ground like a log of wood. Some bent down their necks (in reverence). Others bowed down their heads honouring him as the immutable lord. In that great festival, different kinds of musical instruments were played. The sages recited the Śāntì verses on that festival.

100-101. In the meantime Śaṅkara, the Lord of Girijā, reached the place. He quickly dismounted from his bull along with Pārvatī, O sages of holy rites.

Accompanied by Bhavānī and filled with great pleasure, the lord, the sole kinsman of the universe, saw his son. With great affection, the lord of all, having the (bodies of) serpents (as ornaments) became delighted. He was surrounded by Pramathas.

102. With great excitement, Pārvatī embraced Guha. Flooded with great love, she made him suck her breasts that exuded milk.

103. Then the infant-lord was given great ovation and the Nīrājana (waving of lights) rite was performed by Devas who rejoiced in the company of their wives. The whole of the firmament was pervaded by great shouts of victory.

104. All of them served the infant-lord—the sages with the loud chants of the Vedic passages, the musicians with songs and those who played musical instruments with the same.

105. Giriśa (i.e. Śiva) took on his lap that infant-lord dazzling with great brilliance. The spouse of Bhavānī shone as the most excellent one among those blessed with sons. He was endowed with glory.

106-107. The couple were delighted together. On being sprinkled (with sacred waters) by the sages and being surrounded by excellent Suras, Kumāra (the infant-lord) played in the lap of Śaṅkara. With both hands he caught hold of and pressed Vāsuki that was round the neck (of Śiva).

108-110. After pressing his face, he counted his hands, not in the correct order, saying one, three, ten and eight. Lord Śaṃbhu told Girijā about this laughingly.

Due to the gentle smile (of the infant), Lord Maheśa in the company of Girijā attained the greatest joy. On account of the affection, his speech faltered. The sole lord of the worlds, the sole kinsman of the universe did not say anything.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Most of these are still known by their old names like Sahya (the Western Ghats), Vindhya etc. But those which are not in the present map of India but were a part of Purāṇic India are known by the following current names:

Gandhamādana—The northern ridge of the great Hindukush arch with its northern extension—the Khwaja Mohammad range.

Mālyavān—Sarikol range to the east of Pamir (Meru).

Meru—The Pamirs.

[2]:

Probably Śvetaḥ kṛtaḥ is a misreading for Śvetakūṭaḥ, the name of a mountain.

[3]:

Mountains not found in the present map of India:

Śṛṅga (gin)—Kara Tau—Kirgiz—Ketman Chain.

Śveta.—Nura—Tau—Turkistan—Atbashi Chain.

Udayācala, Astācala, Lokāloka are unidentifiable mythical names.

[4]:

Varāt in Marathi and Varaghoḍā in Gujarati.

[5]:

Cf. BG, IX.26.

[6]:

The artistic presentation of fhe love-sport of Śiva and Pārvatī in Kumārasaṃbhava VIII stands in sharp contrast with the Purāṇic narration thereof.

[7]:

Jātavedas

(1) That from which is formed (got) Vedas (wealth).

(2) Mbh, Sabhā 31.42 states: That for which Vedas were created:

vedāstvam artham jātā vai jātavedas tato hyasi |

(3) The third derivation is as suggested in the translation.

[8]:

bhikṣita is most probably a misprint for bhakṣita.

[9]:

The triads recorded in vv 57-58 are as follows:

  1. The three Svaras (accents) are Udātta, Anudātta and Svarita.
  2. Mātrās are units of time or foot in Metrics. They are Hrasva (short), Dīrgha (long) and Pluta (lengthenṇd or prolated).
  3. Three Vedas—Ṛk, Sāman and Yajus.
  4. Three forms—Brahma, Viṣṇu and Śiva.
  5. Three aims of Life—Dharma, Artha and Kama.
  6. Tridhāman—Shining in the three worlds.

[10]:

Brāhmamuhūrta: the last half-watch of the night: paścimārdha-prahara (Mitākṣarā).

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