The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,142,515 words

This page describes Shiva Loses to Parvati in a Game of Dice which is chapter 34 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-fourth chapter of the Kedara-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 34 - Śiva Loses to Pārvatī in a Game of Dice

Note: The author of Skandapurāṇa is a fine storyteller with a sense of humour. In this chapter and the next he describes how Śiva lost everything to Pārvatī in gambling and left his wife and palace in a huff. Pārvatī enticed him to return by assuming the guise of a young Śabarī girl.

Lomaśa said:

1. The lord of the universe, the lord of Devas, ruled the kingdom while dwelling on Kailāsa accompanied by many Gaṇas and in the company of the great (deity) Vīrabhadra.

2. Rudra was accompanied by the Sages and Devas beginning with Indra. Brahmā was engaged in eulogizing him. Viṣṇu remained there like a servant.

3. Along with the groups of Devas, Indra devoted himself to the duties of serving him. Candra (the Moon-god) became the bearer of the umbrella and Vāyu (the Wind-god) that of chowries.

4. Jātavedas (the Fire-god) was his permanent cook; Gandharvas were the musicians, bards and panegyrists of the Pināka-bearing god Śiva.

5-6. Many Vidyādharas and the groups of celestial damsels danced in front of him. Thus Lord Śiva ruled the kingdom without any suspicion or fear on the mountain Kailāsa.[1] He was accompanied by his valorous sons, Gaṇeśa and Skanda, as well as Girijā. He moved about here and there (supervising everything).

7. The wicked mighty Daitya named Andhaka, a great enemy of Devas, was pierced by him with his trident and placed in the sky for a long time.

8. He killed the Asura in the form of an elephant and removed his hide which was (later) made by him his divine robe. The burning of the three Puras (the demon Tripura) was carried out by him. With Viṣṇu as the deity incharge of the protection of Bhūtas (living beings), the lord who was handsome in all his limbs, shone well.

9. (Once) desirous of seeing him, the holy lord Nārada of divine vision went to the excellent mountain Kailāsa which was white like the moon.

10. On seeing that highly powerful mountain served by the great Sudhā (Gaṅgā?), the mountain that had very great wonderful features and was white like camphor, Nārada was struck with wonder. He entered the Gandhamādana mountain.[2]

11. The mountain Gandhamādana was endowed with many wonderful features. It was rendered very splendid by means of blazing sun-stones. It possessed great splendour and it was filled with singing Vidyādharī maidens.

12. There were many Kalpa (i.e. wish-yielding)-trees round which creepers had entwined themselves. Excellent Kāmadhenus (were seen) in the thick shades (of those trees).

13. There were many bees greedily hankering after the fragrance of the Pārijāta grove. There were many swans of sweet voice (Kalahaṃsas) sporting about in the lakes.

14. Peacocks made there loud sounds of Kekā joyously. All the birds chirping with the Pañcama note were very gay and delighted (as if inebriated).

15. Elephants of bright lustre rejoiced in the company of she-elephants. Similarly lions roared in the company of tigers.

16. Bulls, the chief among whom was Nandin, bellowed continuously. There were many divine trees and parks of sandal trees.

17. There were trees such as Nāga, Punnāga, Bakula and Campaka. There were wild rose-apple trees as well as golden Ketakas.

18-19. There were Kalhāras (i.e. white esculent water-lilies), Karavīras, Kumudas (lilies) of many types. There were Mandāras, Badarīs (jujube), Kramukas and Pāṭalas (trumpet trees) and, many other trees along with the creepers winding round them. There were many parks (seen as) twice as many (i.e. double) on that mountain-

20. The wonderful flood of Gaṅgā suddenly coming out of the sky fell on the top of that mountain. It appeared very splendid.

21. A well (plenty) of waters whereby the universe becomes sanctified, was also seen double by the noble-souled Nārada.

22. Everything was seen double then on being looked at by that noble-souled great Nārada, O Brāhmaṇas.

23. Observing everything thus, the holy lord and sage Nārada hurriedly went ahead desirous of meeting Śiva.

24. When he stood at the entrance, he saw a very surprising thing. Two gate-keepers were seen there. (Actually) they had been made artificially by Viśvakarman.

25-26. Nārada was deluded by them. He asked them then: “I wish to enter. I am desirous of meeting Śiva. Hence permission should be granted to see Śiva.”

On seeing them as if they had not heard (his words), Nārada became surprised.

27. With his vision born of knowledge he saw (the truth) and became silent. After realizing that they were artificial, the lofty-minded sage entered.

28. Similarly others, of the same form as those (two) were seen by that noble-souled (sage). Sage Nārada, the holy lord, was joyously bowed to by them.

29. He saw these and many other wonderful things (there). Then he dearly saw lord Tryaṃbaka accompanied by Girijā.

30. The chaste lady, the daughter of the King of Mountains, was occupying half of the seat of the noble-souled Śaṅkara. The whole of the three worlds is pervaded by her.

31. The slender-bodied young woman Gaurī had sparkling bright eyes of great beauty. It was on account of her that Śaṃbhu, the great lord, was rendered worthy of being accepted.

32. The lord (who was really) without any emotional aberrations (vikāras) was made weak and imperfect through vikāras[3] (by her).

That goddess was seen by him as though joined to half of the body of Śiva.[4]

33. Similarly Śaṃbhu, the lord of the three worlds, was seen by Nārada, as being served by Suras and Asuras. The lord had the lustre of pure gold.

34-35. His lotus-like feet were served by Śaṅkha, the excellent serpent. He was served by the following serpents: Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Takṣaka in particular, the great serpent Padma and Śeṣa in particular. He was continuously served by other excellent serpents. Vāsuki had become a necklace of great lustre and was retained in the neck.

36. Kaṃbala and Aśvatara were his perpetual ear-rings. Other excellent serpents were ensconced at the root of his matted hair.

37-44. He was covered by serpents of many colours and types, e.g. Takṣaka, Kulika, Śaṅkha, Dhṛtarāṣṭra of great lustre, Padma, Daṃbha, Sudaṃbha, Karāla, Bhīṣaṇa—these and many other serpents formed parts of Hara who was the most worthy of being worshipped in the three worlds.

Some excellent serpents shone with a single hood. Some had two hoods, some three hoods of great lustre. Similarly others had four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, eighteen, nineteen hoods. Some serpents had forty hoods. Others fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety, hundred, thousand, ten thousand, hundred thousand, one hundred million, a hundred billion hoods.

Those serpents with endless number of hoods are the serpents adorning Śiva as ornaments. All these were seen then by the noble-souled Nārada.

45. All those serpents were endowed with learning and they possessed precious stones and jewels. They had unmeasured lustre. They were highly refulgent as the ornaments of the neck.

46. His (i.e. Lord Śiva’s) excessively beautiful matted hair was marked (adorned) by the crescent moon. He shone well with his third eye in his forehead.

47-48. Mahādeva had five faces. He had ten arms and his neck was dark in colour like emerald. His broad chest was very beautiful. His hips were big. The highly great pair of feet of Rudra were extremely splendid.

49. The matchless lotus-like foot of Śaṃbhu was seen (by the sage). It was resplendent and beautiful. With its reddish tinge of the (cloud at) dusk, it was highly auspicious. It dispelled distresses. It radiated masses of splendour. It was greater than the greatest. It was the seat and support of the graceful play of beauty. It was the cause of the increase of the happiness of all. The foot (i.e. the pair of feet) of Śaṃbhu was very holy.

50. After seeing the lord greater than the greatest (he saw the goddess). The greatest goddess Satī endowed with beauty and charm was splendid and fascinating. She shone with the greatest prosperity of the auspicious state of wifehood and blessedness.

51-52. After seeing the couple who were pure and refulgent throughout the three worlds, were really non-different but had (apparent) difference, were really devoid of Guṇas but had (apparent) Guṇas, who were really devoid of shape and size but had apparent shape and size, were free from ailments and the bestowers of happiness, Nārada, the beloved (devotee), of the Lord, saluted them joyously. He repeatedly (prostrated) and got up. Then he eulogized the lord and the goddess of the universe.

Nārada said:

53. O excellent ones among Devas, I bow down to you both who are greater than the greatest through your Kalā (skill and ingenuity). The couple who shine and who constitute the seed of the universe consisting of the mobile and immobile beings, are seen by me.

54. You two are the parents of all the worlds. Only today have you been realized by me truly. There is no doubt about this that it is due to your favour.

55. They were thus eulogized by the ṇoble-souled Nārada. Along with Pārvatī, Lord Śaṃbhu was delighted and gratified.

Mahādeva said:

56. Are you happy, O Brāhmaṇa? What shall I do for you?

On hearing those words of Śaṃbhu, Nārada spoke these words:

57. “I had the pleasure of seeing you today. O lord, I am gratified thereby. (I have acquired) everything through this vision. I have no doubt about this.

58-59. I came here to the excellent mountain Kailāsa just for some sports. O Lord, you are always stationed in the hearts of men. Yet, it is necessary for all living beings to see you.”

Girijā said:

60. What play should there be with you? Mention it to me quickly.

On hearing her words, he spoke laughingly:

61. “The game of dice of various types is seen here, O Mahādevī. Two can have the game of dice. There is great happiness in playing the game of dice.”

62. Satī who had been annoyed with the sage spoke to him as he stopped after saying this much: “How do you know the renowned game of dice, the gambling game of learned men?

63. You are the son of Brahmā. You are a sage. You make learned men conform to discipline through various well-known words. You always wander through all the three worlds. There is no other person of lofty mind (like you).”

64. On being told thus by the goddess, Nārada of divine vision, laughingly spoke these words to Girijā in the presence of Śiva:

Nārada said:

65. I do not know gambling, nor do I resort to it. I am an ascetic and a servant of Śiva. Why do you ask me (thus), O Princess (most) sacred among the greatest of the leading Yogins?

66. On hearing those words, Satī (chaste lady) Girijā laughingly spoke to him: “You know everything, O Baṭu. See, I shall play the game of dice today with Maheśa in front of you.”

67. After saying thus, the daughter of the Lord of Mountains, the most beautiful lady in the world, took up the dice cubes. Even as the great sage stood witness, she stayed there and played the game with Bhava.

68. The couple earnestly engaged in the game were observed by the sage Nārada. With his mind (pleasantly) influenced by surprise, the learned sage went on observing (the game) and he was extremely gratified.

69. The chaste goddess engrossed in the game of dice was surrounded by her friends and attendants. She clashed with Śiva and played the game of dice fraudulently.

70. Opposed by great fraud he put the stake and Bhavānī was defeated by Śiva when he appeared to smile at it.

71-72. Together with Śiva, Nārada laughed at her satirically. Seeing that she had lost the game and hearing the satirical laughter as well as the derogatory remarks of Nārada, Pārvatī became extremely furious. She hastened to reply to him (suitably) after catching hold of his neck and attempting to turn him out.

73. The two crest jewels (of Girijā) charmingly sparkled. Beautiful in that anger, her splendid face was seen by Hara again and again (with great pleasure). They then played the game of dice.

74-75. Śaṅkara, the benefactor of the worlds, was told by Girijā: “I have lost the game. The wager has been already given. It is not otherwise. What are you going to stake now? Let it be mentioned.”

Then the Three-eyed Lord spoke to Pārvatī:

76. “For your sake, O Bhavānī, this great ornament is being offered as wager: (my famous crest-jewel) the crescent moon, the great necklace as well as the pair of ear-rings.

77. O slender-bodied lady, let me be defeated by you and these ornaments be taken by you easily.”

Then the game of dice with Śaṅkara was resumed.

78. Thus both of them, great experts in the art of gambling, went on playing. Then Śaṅkara who had (staked) many ornaments was defeated by Bhavānī.

79. The extremely beautiful Gaurī laughed and said to Śaṅkara: “O Śaṅkara, give me now itself the wager that you have lost”

80. Then Maheśa laughingly spoke these words of truth: “I have not been truly defeated by you, O slender-bodied one. Let it be pondered over.

81. I am invincible unto all living beings in every respect. Hence, O chaste lady, these words should never be spoken. Gamble as much as you please. I will win once again. See.”

82-83. Then Aṃbikā said to Maheśa, her husband: “You have been defeated now by me. There is no wonder in this.” After saying thus the lady of excellent face held Śaṃbhu by the hand and said: “O Śaṅkara, you have been defeated. There is no doubt. But you do not know.”

Thus Girijā laughed gracefully and looked at him fascinatingly. He was attacked with words of merriment: “O Lord, the most auspicious of all auspicious things, O enemy of Smara, give me what has been lost (by you) and what had been promised (by you).”

Śiva said:

84. I am invincible to you, O lady of wide eyes. There is no doubt about this. Let what had been said arrogantly be pondered over truly.

85. On hearing his words she laughed and said: “O Lord, Mahādeva is invincible indeed to everyone.

86. But by me alone you have been defeated in the game of dice. You do not know anything in regard to what should be done and what should not be done as well as what was intended to be said.”

87. Thus the couple were engaged in argument. Nārada, the excellent sage, laughingly spoke these words:

Nārada said:

88. O lady with large eyes extending up to the ears, listen to a statement conducive to the auspiciousness of the universe. Was this (Lord), the most excellent one among the great fortunate people, defeated by you? Why do you utter lies?

89. Mahādeva, the greatest sire of Devas, is indeed unconquered. He is called Arūpa (‘formless’), Surūpa (‘of beautiful form’) and Rūpātīta (‘one who is beyond all forms’)!

90. He is one and one alone. He is the Supreme. He is the splendour (of the luminous things). Śaṅkara is the lord of the three worlds. He is the immanent soul of the universe. He is the benefactor of the worlds.

91. O goddess, how is he defeated by you? He cannot be defeated (by anyone) in all the three worlds. O lady of excellent face, you do not know Śiva because of your womanly nature and feelings.

92. On being addressed thus by Nārada, Pārvatī became excessively angry. Incited by jealousy, the chaste lady spoke these words of censure:

Pārvatī said:

93. Nothing should be spoken out of fickleness, O son of Brahmā. Obeisance to you. I am afraid of you, O celestial sage. Welfare unto you. Be quiet.

94-96. Why is Śiva alone spoken highly of by you, O celestial sage, too many (times)? It was by my grace that Śiva was born, Śiva who is cited as Īśvara. There is no doubt about this that he has become well-established through me.

On hearing many such (taunts and censures) Nārada kept quiet. On seeing that (such a situation) had arisen, Bhṛṅgī spoke these words:

Bhṛṅgī said:

97. You must not talk too much, O beautiful lady. My master is invincible and devoid of aberrations, O lady of good waistline.

98. You possess only womanly temperament, O lady of excellent face. You do not know the Lord who is greater than the greatest. Formerly, O Bhavānī, you had come to Ugra, the great lord, after keeping Kāma in front of you.

99. Has this ever been remembered by you? (Do you recollect) what has been performed by the Pināka-bearing Lord formerly? O beautiful lady, tell us (if it is so). Indeed Kāma was made Anaṅga (bodiless) by him. The park belonging to that Mountain, your father, had been burned.

100. It was after that, that Śiva, the Supreme Soul, the lord, greater than the greatest, was propitiated by you.

101. On being told thus by Bhṛṅgī, she became excessively angry. Even as Maheśa was listening, the infuriated lady spoke these words to Bhṛṅgī:

Pārvatī said:

102. O Bhṛṅgī, it is out of partiality that these words are spoken to me. You are a favourite of Śiva, O stupid one. Hence you have this attitude of difference.

103. I am of the nature of Śiva, O foolish one. Śivā is permanently stationed in me. How then could you use words showing difference between Śiva and Śivā?

104. Those words that bestow auspiciousness, uttered by Pārvatī were heard by Bhṛṅgī then. The infuriated Bhṛṅgī spoke to Pārvatī in the presence of Śiva:

105. “In the course of the Yajña of your father Dakṣa, the censure of Śiva was heard by you. Due to the hearing of what is displeasing and disquieting, the body was abandoned by you at the very same instant.

106. O lady of slender body, what is done by you now, out of excitement? Don’t you know a person who censures Siva.

107. How were you born of the most excellent one among the Mountains, O lady of excellent complexion? How were you subjected to great distress, O lady of good waistline, on account of a severe penance.

108. Now you do not have devotion combined with love for Śiva. You are a beloved of Śiva, O lady of slender limbs. Hence I am speaking thus to you.

109. There is nothing greater than Śiva in all the three worlds. You must have devotion combined with love for Śiva, O lady of excellent complexion.

110. You are a devotee, O great goddess, O most excellent one among highly fortunate ones. Let him be served scrupulously as he has been attained by you by means of penance. Śiva is the most excellent one.

111. He is the lord of all. You must not do otherwise. It behoves you not to do otherwise.”

On hearing Bhṛṅgī’s words Girijā spoke to him:

Girijā said:

112. O Bhṛṅgī, be quiet and steady. Otherwise go away. You do not know what should be said and what should not be said. Why do you babble like a ghost?

113. By which man or woman was Śiva brought here by means of penance? Who am I? Who is this as understood by you? You speak to me with the attitude of difference.

114-115. Who are you? By whom have you been united? Wherefore do you talk too much? I will curse you. What will Śiva do now?

On being spoken to reproachfully by Bhṛṅgī, the chaste lady then cursed: “O stupid Bhṛṅgī, O favourite one of Śaṅkara, be devoid of flesh.”

116-117. After saying thus, Pārvatī, the goddess, beloved of Śaṅkara, became furious. She held Śaṅkara by the hand. The lady of slender limbs took away the serpent Vāsuki from his neck.

118. Similarly she removed many other ornaments also. The infuriated lady hurriedly took away the ornaments of Śaṃbhu. His crescent moon and his excellent elephant hide were removed.

119. The serpents Kaṃbala and Aśvatara that had been worn by Maheśa as ornaments were removed by the great goddess laughingly with tricky words.

120. Even his loincloth was taken away laughingly with the utterance of tricky words.

At that time the Gaṇas and the friends (of Pārvatī) felt embarrassed and ashamed.

121-122. (The friends and others) turned their faces away. Bhṛṅgī of great penance, Caṇḍa, Muṇḍa, Mahāloman, Mahodara and many other Gaṇas became miserable. On seeing them in that plight, Maheśa became ashamed.

123-126. Śaṅkara who became angry spoke these words to Pārvatī:

Rudra said:

All the sages are laughing satirically. Similarly Brahmā, Viṣṇu and these Devas, Indra and others—all of them are laughing (at me). O splendid lady, what has been done by you? You are born of a (good) family, O slender-limbed one. Why do you behave like this? If you know for certain, O lady with excellent eyebrows, that I have been defeated by you, do like this. Give me the loincloth alone. Give me the loincloth only. It does not behove you to do otherwise.

127. On being told thus by Śaṃbhu, the Yogin, Pārvatī, the chaste lady of charming face, laughed and spoke these words:

128. “What have you to do with a loincloth? You are a sage of sanctified soul. (Some time back) you wandered through Dāruvana with the cardinal points alone for your garment (i.e. you were naked).

129. Under the pretext of begging for alms, the wives of the sages were enchanted. While you were going, you were greatly adored by them.

130. Your loincloth fell down (penis?) there. Nothing else was uttered by the sages. Hence what you have lost in the gambling game, should be abandoned by you.”

131. On hearing it, Rudra the great lord became angry with Pārvatī. He stared at her angrily with his third eye.

132. On seeing Śaṅkara furious, all the groups of Devas as well as the Gaṇakumārakas (i.e. sons of the Gaṇas or son-like Gaṇas?) became overcome by great fear.

133-135. All of them said to one another slowly with suspicion and fear: “Rudra is angry now with Girijā. Just as Madana was burnt so also she (will be burnt). The words cannot be otherwise.” Those Gaṇas and all the celestial sages who were discussing thus were looked at by the goddess with the glowing gesture of married blessedness. The chaste lady spoke laughingly to the Satpuruṣa (the Supreme Being, the Principle of Existence):

136-138. “Of what avail is your stare with your greatest eye? I am not Kāla nor Kāma nor the sacrifice of Dakṣa. I am not Tripura, O Śaṃbhu, nor Andhaka, O bull-emblemed Lord. What will come out of your staring thus? In vain have you been a Virūpākṣa (i.e. of uneven three eyes) before me.”

Parameśvarī spoke these and many other similar words. On hearing those words, the lord became inclined to go away:

139-141. ‘A forest alone is the excellent (resort) today. A lonely forest is really the best resort now. One who is alone, who has kept his mind and soul under control and who has eschewed all possessions is really happy. He is a learned man. He is wise. He is the knower of the greatest truth. He, by whom lust and attachment have been eschewed, becomes liberated and happy.’ After thinking thus, Śrī Śaṅkara of great compassionate nature abandoned Girijā and went away to the wonderful forest region. Separated from his beloved wife, he went to the Siddhāṭavī (‘forest of the Siddhas’), full of Paramahaṃsas (‘great Yogins of high spiritual power’).

142. On seeing Śaṅkara come out, all the inhabitants of Kailāsa, all the Gaṇas beginning with Vīrabhadra came out and followed him.

143-144. Taking up the umbrella, Bhṛṅgī went behind him. The chowries used for fanning resembled Gaṅgā and Yamunā. Taking them up, the intelligent Nandī went behind him. The bull went ahead and shone along with the aerial chariot.

145-146. With all these splendid things, Mahādeva shone with refulgence. The goddess Pārvatī went to the harem with, dejected mind. Surrounded by many friends, attendants and others, Girijā mentally thought about Parameśvara.

147-149. Leaving off the Gaṇas then, Śaṃbhu went very far off. Mahādeva left behind Gaṇeśa, Kumāra, Vīrabhadra and others, Bhṛṅgī, Nandin, Caṇḍa, Somanandin and other inhabitants of Kailāsa. Mahādeva of great penance went alone and single. He went far into the forest. (Ultimately) Śiva reached Siddhavaṭa.

150-153. A divine seat was made by the Earth for him. It was made wonderful by means of saffron, jewels, Siddharatnas (‘precious gems’) and lapis lazuli. It was polished and brightened by whitewash. Maheśa, the lord of Yoga sat there.

He sat in the lotus posture. Maheśa, the most excellent one among the knowers of Yoga, kept his eyes shut and meditated on the pure Ātman by means of Ātman,

Mahādeva, the moon-crested lord, shone during the meditation.

The noble-souled Śeṣa was his Yogapaṭṭa (upper cloth). Vāsuki, the great king of serpents, was tied round the waist.

The Ātman was eulogized by him. The Ātman was considered the immanent soul of everything. He who was to be known through Vedāntas cannot behave like worldly men. He was single and infinite without any limit or boundary. He cannot be guessed or known by Logic. He is of the form of self-enlightenment. The sole lord of the worlds remained thus visualizing the (Supreme Spirit) greater than the greatest.

Footnotes and references:


v.l. The 4th pāda of the verse: mahatā vikrameṇa ca—“with great valour”.


The Purāṇa identifies Gandhamādana and Kailāsa mountains. It indicates a later period for this Purāṇa, as the author was not aware of the different locations of the two mountains.


vikāra’ may be taken as ‘a change’ of form or nature.


This is the Ardhanārīśvara concept. In Trika-Śaivism of Kashmir, Śiva and Śakti form one body as it were.

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