The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Greatness of Shivalinga which is chapter 31 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 thirty-first chapter of the Kedara-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 31 - The Greatness of Śivaliṅga

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: Though the chapter is named so, it describes the meritoriousness of the vision of Kumāra.

Śaunaka said:

1. After killing Tāraka in the battle, O Brāhmaṇas, what great deed was done by the noble-souled Kumāra? It behoves you to describe everything.

2-3. Kumāra indeed is another Śaṃbhu (i.e. Lord Śiva) by whom everything is pervaded. Śaṃbhu bestows the greatest position on being propitiated by penance (but) Kumāra always yields immediate benefit unto men on being visited (i.e. through his vision).

Indeed those who have committed great sins, those who are not religious at all, even the Cāṇḍālas (who cook dog’s meat), become rid of their sins by seeing (Lord Kārttikeya). There is no doubt about this.

4. On hearing the words of Śaunaka, the exceedingly intelligent disciple of Vyāsa recounted the story of the noble-minded Kumāra.

Lomaśa said:

5. In the battle Kumāra killed Tāraka who could not be vanquished or killed by Devas, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. He gained victory.

6. The greatness of Kumāra is narrated in all sacred texts, in the Vedas, the good Āgamas and the Purāṇas.

7. So also in the Upanìṣads and the two systems of Mīmāṃsā. Kurmāra of sucḥ a nature, O Brāhmaṇas, cannot be (adequately) described.

8-9. By mere sight, he sanctifies the entire universe.

The king of Manes (i.e. Yama) heard about the saviour of this world. Keeping Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Vāsava at the head, he hurriedly came to Śaṅkara, the benefactor of all the worlds. The Lord of the Southern Quarter eulogized (Śaṅkara) with great self-restraint and mental purity:

10-11. “Obeisance to Lord Bharga (the refulgent god), obeisance to the lord of Devas, to Mṛtyuñjaya (‘conqueror of Death’), to Rudra, to Īśāna (‘controller of the world’), to Kapardin (‘one with matted hair’). Obeisance to the blue-throated (Nīlakaṇṭha), Śarva (‘the destroyer of all’), to the lord having a form with sky as a limb. Obeisance to Kāla, the lord of Kāla; obeisance to the lord in the form of Kāla.”

12. On being eulogized by Yama, the lord Īśvara said: “Why have you come? Speak everything to us.”

Yama said:

13. May my words be heard, O Lord of Devas, a great expert in the use of words. Only with a great penance, O Śaṅkara, you are (propitiated and) satisfied.

14. Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds, becomes gratified by great holy rites. There is no doubt about it that he is the lord (i.e. and bestower) of boons always.

15. So also Lord Viṣṇu who can be comprehended only through the Vedas and who is the eternal Lord, is delighted by many Yajñas, fasts and other holy rites.

16. He grants Kevalabhāva (‘salvation’) whereby one is liberated. All men (conform to) my opinion. My words cannot be otherwise.

17. When he is pleased, he grants all worldly pleasures and the riches of heaven etc. On being bowed down and not otherwise, the Sun-god grants health.

18. O Śaṃbhu, the great god Gaṇeśa, if we offer Arghya, Pādya etc. and sandal paste and repeat the Mantras duly, makes our task free from obstacles.

19. So also all the other Guardians of the Quarters bestow benefits in accordance with their capacity. O Śaṅkara, they are pleased with Yajñas, study of the Vedas, charitable gifts etc.

20. This has caused a very great surprise to all the living beings here that the gateway to heaven has been opened wide.

21. By the vision of Kumāra, O Mahādeva, even all the sinners have become heaven-dwellers. There is no doubt about it.

22-27. What should be done by me in the matter of deciding what should be done and what should not be done? (Hitherto) only those persons of meritorious deeds, such as those who are habituated to speak the truth, the quiescent ones, liberal donors, free and independent ones, those who have conquered their sense organs, non-covetous ones, those who are devoid of lust and base attachments, the performers of Yajñas, those who abide by righteous deeds and those who have mastered the Vedas and the Vedāṅgas, attained heaven.

O Śaṃbhu, the goal attained by these meritorious persons, is now attained by base men and Cāṇḍālas by the mere vision of Kumāra of wonderfully miraculous activities. O Lord of Devas, by seeing the son of Śiva in the month of Kārttika on the day of Kṛttikā constellation, people attain the good goal along with crores of the members of their family, avoiding my region. By seeing Kumāra, even Cāṇḍālas attain good position immediately. What shall I do?

28. On hearing the words of Yama, Śaṅkara, spoke these words:

Śaṅkara said:

29. There are good emotions in the minds of the people of meritorious deeds whose sins have come to an end, O Dharma.

30. There is a great desire in them to go to a good holy spot or to visit good people. This desire is caused by previous Karmas.

31. It is only at the end of many births and rebirths that a feeling of devotion to me is generated in the minds of living beings. O Yama, it is the result of many repeated experiences in the course of many births with all feelings.

32. Hence all those in whom good feelings of devotion arise are meritorious ones. What has been the outcome of the repeated experiences of various births need not cause surprise.

33. Women, children, Sūdras [Śūdras?], those who cook dog’s flesh (Cāṇḍālas) and base-born fellows who are born among sinners or stay with them become pure persons, O Dharma, due to the impressions of the previous births.

34-36. They attain white mind (i.e. purity of mind) and through it they derive knowledge in all matters. Due to the previous actions and the working of fate, all become Suras and the Guardians of Quarters beginning with Indra. Those groups of Bhūtas (beings or goblins), these sages and these deities are born in that manner. Even in the case of Kumāra, you need not have any surprise. In connection with the seeing of Kumāra, O Dharmarāja, know from me the following things.

37. Words accompanied by action yield fruits to everyone. Pilgrimage to all the holy spots, Yajñas, and different kinds of charitable gifts—all these should be performed for the sake of the purity of mind. There is no doubt about it.

38. The Ātman is purified through the mind; (one must purify and redeem) the Ātman through the Ātman. I am the (immanent) Soul established in all living beings.

39. I am stationed in the Ātman of all mobile and immobile beings perpetually. I am in yogic communion with them mentally, without anything in between. I am speaking the truth unto you.

40. I am beyond all Dvandvas (i.e. mutually opposed pairs such as pleasure, pain etc.). I am devoid of doubtful alternatives. I am abiding directly in myself. I am eternal. I am in yogic communion perpetually. I am devoid of desire. I am immutable. I am excluded from the controversies of the different Kalpas. I am infinite but can be comprehended by enlightenment.

41. All living beings are seen pursuing worldly existence because they have forgotten their Ātman which is single and characterized by enlightenment.

42. I, Brahmā and Viṣṇu, we three are the causes of Guṇas. We are the causes of creation, sustenance and annihilation. It cannot be otherwise.

43-46. We are all caused by the Karma enveloped by Ahaṃkāra (‘Egotism’). You people, all the Devas, human beings, the birds etc., the beasts etc. and many others have separate existence because you all possess these Guṇas. You are scattered in'the ocean of worldly existence. You are fallen in a mirage and you are fascinated and subdued by Māyā.[1] We, all the Devas, profess to be learned, scholarly and wise. We are all rogues engaged in false arguments. We blame and defame each other.

47. Traiguṇas (i.e. those who come under the control of the three Guṇas) are immersed in the ocean of worldly existence. They are not aware of the reality. They are persons with deep attachment to worldly pleasures. They possess lust, anger, fear, hatred, pride and rivalry.

48-49. Not conversant with reality, they blame and defame one another. They are extroverts and do not see within themselves. Hence one should understand all these as unreal, being differentiated by Guṇas. They should see the sole ultimate reality in that object which is beyond the Guṇas.

50. Hear that it is the greatest abode, wherein difference transforms itself into identity, attachment into absence of attachment and anger into freedom from anger.

51. Sound does not illuminate it because it is Kṛtaka (a ‘product’, that which is caused) like a Ghaṭa (pot). Indeed, O Dharma, sound is evolved (created) because it is directed towards Pravṛttī (action).

52. The place wherein natural opposite pairs (dvandvas) such as Pravṛttī and Nivṛtti (i.e. manifestation and disappearance or activity and inactivity) merge, is considered eternal.

53. It has nothing intervening in between. It is devoid of Guṇas. It is Jñapti (i.e. pure knowledge) alone. It is unsullied. It is free from aberrations. It is devoid of desires. It is pure existence. It is to be understood only through knowledge. It is self-established, self-luminous, refulgent and comprehensible through enlightenment.

54. Those who are endowed with perfect knowledge speak of this as Jñāna (‘knowledge’). They observe it in the form of their own self in everyone. After understanding it as something beyond all and comprehensible only through perfect knowledge, they establish themselves in their own self and impartially.

55. They go beyond the worldly existence which has no beginning, which is caused by Māyā and which cannot be deliberated on because of Māyā. O king of the dead ones, after abandoning Māyā they attain the state of freedom from doubts. They are rid of the sense of my-ness and are devoid of attachment.

56. The worldly existence has (unreal) fictitiousness or fancy (Kalpanā) as its root. Indeed Kalpanā (fictitiousness) is comparable to untruth. Those by whom Kalpanā is eschewed attain the ultimate goal.

57. The notion of silver (presumed) in an oyster shell, the notion of a rope in a serpent,[2] the notion of water in a mirage—all these are definitely unreal, not otherwise.

58. Siddhi (‘spiritual attainment’) is the ability to act as one desires. The unreal thing is dependence. One who is bound is called Paratantra (‘dependent on another’). One who is liberated has the sense of freedom.

59-62. Whence can be bondage to those who, having realized that soul is one, have eschewed the sense of myness and have no external restraints? The bondage (is fictitious and non-existent) like the sky-flower, or the horn of a rabbit. So the worldly existence is unreal. Of what avail is much talk? Of what avail is fruitless blabbing?

Those who are desirous of attaining the greatest region avoid Mamatā (feeling of my-ness or possession). They are the wise ones, the learned ones. They are devoid of attachment and have conquered their sense organs.

Those who have cast off mamatā, those who have eschewed covetousness and anger, attain the greatest region, (as) they are devoid of love and anger.

63. As long as lust and greed, attachment and hatred persist, they do not attain spiritual beatitude. They will know only the words (of the scriptures).

Yama said:

64. Word comes out of sound; but knowledge is devoid of word (sound). How then was it said by you, O lord, that word is non-eternal?

65. The greatest Brahman is Akṣara (‘Imperishable’). Word is of the nature of Akṣara (‘syllable’). Hence it is heard that ‘word’ is mentioned by you as Nirīkṣaka[3] (?) (‘that which observes’).

66. Whatever has to be explained can be explained only through words. How can it be explained without words? Let all these be recounted, O Śaṃbhu, in the matter of deciding what should be done and what should not be done.

Śaṅkara explained:

67. Listen attentively to these truthful words (of great meaning). By hearing this nothing that should be known remains (unknown).

68. All the sages expound knowledge. They are devoid of sins. They repeatedly practise knowledge. Those who are conversant with knowledge know what is knowledge.

69-70. It is only after knowing the three (things), viz. (i) knowledge, (ii) object of knowledge and that (iii) which is comprehended and attained, that it can be described how and by whom it should be known and what is it that was intended to be spoken. I shall explain these things succinctly. Understand it from me. The only and single one (i.e. Brahman) appears to be many in the light of difference.

71. Just as the ground viewed from a Bhramarikā (‘merry-go-round’) appears to be whirling, O Yama, so also the Ātman appears to be many, due to the idea of difference.

72-73. Hence after critically examining it, it should be known through Śravaṇa (‘listening attentively’); it should be meditated upon through close application of the process of Manana (‘deliberation’) in particular.

After comprehending the Ātman, one can easily be released from bondage. This entire universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings is a network of magical delusion.

74. This great extensive worldly existence is full of Māyā characterized by Mamatā (‘sense of my-ness’). After driving out Mamatā one is liberated from bondage easily.

75. Who am I? Who are you? Whence are the others? All these are based on the great Māyā. Just like the fleshy protuberance from the neck of a goat, the entire world is worthless and aimless.

76. (All) this is fruitless and devoid of permanent appearance. It is a showy mass of smoke without any essence. Hence with all effort, remember the Ātman, O Yama.

Lomaśa said:

77. Directed thus by Śaṃbhu, the king of the dead ones became enlightened himself and realized the Ātman.

78. He became famous as the dispenser absorbed in dispensing the fruits of the Karmas of all men and living beings.

Sages enquired:

79. It may be described what highly wonderful feat was accomplished by the noble-souled Kumāra after killing Tāraka in the battle.

Sūta replied:

80. When the Daitya Tāraka was killed, Mountains, the chief of whom was Himavān, approached there and eulogized Kārttikeya with sweet words.

The Mountains prayed:

81. Obeisance to the lord of auspicious form. We salute you, the cause of auspiciousness unto the universe. Hail to you, O kinsman of the universe; obeisance to you, the sanctifier of the universe.

82. We bow down to you by whom, merely through your sight, Cāṇḍālas have been made excellent ones. We seek refuge in you, the sole kinsman of the universe.

83. Hail to you, O son of Pārvatī. Obeisance to you, O son of Śaṅkara. Obeisance to you, O son of Kṛttikās. Obeisance to you who are born of the Fire-god.

84. Obeisance to you, O lord worthy of being worshipped very well by the excellent Devas. Obeisance to you, O lord, the most excellent one among the possessors of perfect knowledge. Obeisance to you, O most excellent one among Devas. Be pleased, O lord worthy of being sought refuge in and competent to destroy all agonies, O Lord.

85. On being praised thus by Mountains, Kārttikeya, the son of Umā, was pleased in his mind and became eager to grant them a boon.

Kārttikeya said:

86. O excellent Mountains, listen to my words now. You will be served (resorted to) by both Karmins (i.e. those who are devoted to holy rites) and Jñānins (i.e. those who are devoted to the path of knowledge).

87. Stones served with great effort are found only in you. At my instance, let them purify the universe. There is no doubt about it.

88. All mountain regions will become holy spots and not otherwise. They will become divine temples of Śiva and other holy shrines.

89. There is no doubt that at my instance they will become splendid and great pilgrim-spots of various forms.

90. This excellent Mountain Himavān who is my maternal grandfather and is highly fortunate, will be the bestower of fruits on ascetics.

91-94. Mem, this lord of Mountains, will be the support (of all). The excellent Mountain Lokāloka and the Mountain of the Rising Sun, of great fame, will become the lord himself in the form of a Liṅga and not otherwise. The following Mountains will be the destroyers of sins: Śrīśaila, Mahendra, Sahyācala, Mālyavān, Malaya, Vindhya, Gandhamādana, Śvetakūṭa, Trikūṭa and Mountain Dardura.[4] These and many other Mountains are the embodiments of Liṅga. At my instance these will become the destroyers of sins.

95. Thus the son of Śaṅkara granted boons to those Mountains. Then Nandin spoke (to the lord) honoured by all the Āgamas:

Nandin said:

96. O Lord, the Mountains have been made embodiments of Liṅga by you. How should the shrines of Śiva be worshipped by all the Devas?

Kumāra said:

97. Liṅga should be known as the shrine of Śiva, the trident-bearing lord of Devas. (It should be worshipped) by all human beings and Devas beginning with Brahmā, diligently without any lethargy.

98-101. Liṅgas made of sapphire, pearls, coral, lapis lazuli, lunar stone, Gomeda, ruby, emeralds, gold, silver, copper, brass and zinc, Liṅgas made of precious stones and metal have been described to you. Only the pure ones should be worshipped. They are the bestowers of all desired objects. Among all these (that made in) Kāśmīra is the most excellent one. It gives all pleasures of this world and the next one to the devotee who worships.

Nandī said:

102. How is it that you have told that Bāṇa-liṅga[5] is the most excellent and worthy of being worshipped? Explain everything, O Lord of holy rites.

Kumāra said:

103. The stones that are seen in the waters in the middle of the river Revā, shall be in the form of Liṅga, by the favour of Śiva and not otherwise.

104-106. Their roots should be made smooth and placed over the Piṇḍikā (‘pedestal’). They should be scrupulously worshipped by one who has the initiation called Śīvadīkṣā.

One shall worship Śiva joined to the Piṇḍī in accordance with the injunctions of the scriptures.

The Lord of the universe should bestow boons on the worshipper, not otherwise.

The five-lettered Mantra should always be in the mouth (of the worshipper); the mind should be directed towards the contemplation on Śiva; he must have impartiality towards all living beings. He should be dumb in giving expression to slander. He should be an impotent fellow in regard to other men’s wives.

Footnotes and references:


The Māyāvāda of Śaṅkara seems to be well-established at the time of this Purāṇa showing the latter’s post-Śaṅkara date. The philosophical exposition in vv 46-63 and later in vv 68-77 contains an exposition of Śaṅkara’s Advaita doctrine.


A wrong statement about Adhyāsavāda. It should be ‘the notion of a serpent in a rope’.


Probably Nirakṣara ‘perishable’ instead of ‘Nirīkṣaka.’


Nīlgiri hills—De 53.


Liṅga-type stones formed in Narmadā are called Bāṇa-liṅgas. See vv 103-105 below.

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