The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Legend of Vajranga which is chapter 14 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 fourteenth chapter of the Kaumarika-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 14 - The Legend of Vajrāṅga

Arjuna said:

1. O great sage, I wish to hear about the greatness of Kumāranātha, which was mentioned by you in another context. I wish to hear about it in detail.

Nārada narrated:

2. It was after slaying Tāraka, the son of Vajrāṅga, that lord Guha installed this Liṅga, O Phālguna (Arjuna).

3. O son of Pṛthā, there is no doubt about this that Kumāreśa dispels all the sins through direct visits, listening to the stories, meditations and worship and salutation through the Vedic Mantras.

Arjuna said:

4. This story is very miraculous. It is destructive of sins. Relate this in detail and truthfully, O Nārada.

5. Who was this Daitya Vajrāṅga? Of what power and efficacy was Tāraka? How was he killed? How was Guha born?

6. How did the Liṅga named Kumāreśvara come to be installed? What is the benefit from this Liṅga? Speak this in detail to me.

Nārada said:

7. After bowing down to Kumāra, the commander-in-chief, and to īśvara, listen with concentration, O son of Pṛthā, to the great story of Kumāra.

8. The Prajāpati named Dakṣa was a mind-born son of Brahmā. He begot of Vīriṇī sixty daughters, O Phālguna.

9-1la. He gave ten daughters to Dharma, thirteen to Kaśyapa, twenty-seven to Soma (the Moon-god), four to Ariṣṭanemī and two each to Bhūta[1] (?), Aṅgiras and Kṛśāśva.

Listen to the names of these (sisters as well as) co-wives from me. The three worlds are filled with their progeny.

11b-14. Bhānu, Laṃbā, Kakut, Bhūmi, Viśvā, Sādhyā, Marutvatī, Vasu, Muhūrtā and Saṅkalpā were the wives of Dharma. Listen to their sons.

Indrasena, a bull among Devas (i.e. prominent Deva) was the son of Bhānu. Vidyota was born of Laṃbā. From him were born Stanayitnus.

Śakaṭa was the son of Kakut from whom the son Kīkaṭa was born.

From Bhū (Bhūmi), Durga, Svarga and Nanda were born.

Viśvedevas were born of Viśvā. They call them (i.e. Viśvedevas) progenyless.

15-17. The twelve Sādhyas were born of Sādhyā. Arthasiddhi was their son.

Marutvān and Sujayanta were born of Marutvatī. People with perfect knowledge call these two (by the names) Nara and Nārāyaṇa.

The eight Vasus were the sons of Vasu.

The Muhūrtakas were born of Muhūrtā. To all living beings, they (the Muhūrtas) bestow the respective benefits of acts done during their own periods.

Saṅkalpa was the son of Saṅkalpā. Kāma was born as the son to Saṅkalpa.

18-19. Surūpā gave birth to eleven Rudras.[2] They were: Kapālī, Piṅgala, Bhīma, Virūpākṣa, Vilohita, Ajaka, Śāsana, Śāstā, Śaṃbha and Bhava the last one (? ten only). Other attendants of Rudra are remembered as the sons of Virūpā.

20. Svadhā, the wife of the Prajāpati Aṅgiras, gave birth to the Pitṛs. Sanī (?Sacī) gave birth to the holy lord, the son Atharvāṅgirasa.

21. Arcis and Dhiṣaṇā were the two wives of Kṛśāśva, whose sons were the groups of missiles and their Saṃhāra (withdrawal).

22-23a. Pataṅgī, Yāminī, Tāmrā and Timi were the wives of Ariṣṭanemi. Pataṅgī gave birth to Pataṅgas (birds), Yāminī to Śalabhas (locusts etc.).

Herons, vultures etc. were the sons of Tāmrā. The aquatic animals were the sons of Timi.

23b-25. Now listen to the names of the wives of Kaśyapa. They are the mothers of the worlds. It was from them that this universe was born. Their names are conducive to welfare:

Aditi, Diti, Danu, Siṃhī, Danāyus, Surabhi, Ariṣṭā, Vinatā, Grāvā, Dayā, Krodhavaśā, Irā and the two named Kadru and Muni. The Mothers have been glorified.

26. Ādityas were the sons of Aditi. Daityas are glorified as the sons of Diti. Dānavas are said to be the sons of Danu. Rāhu, the planet, is the son of Siṃhī.

27. The powerful group called Danāyu was born of Danāyus. The cows were born of Surabhi. The Yugandharas (Bulls? ‘Pole of a carriage to which the yoke is fixed’) were the sons of Ariṣṭā.

28-29. Vinatā gave birth to Aruṇa and the excessively powerful Garuḍa.

The beasts of prey were the sons of Grāvā.

The group (called) Krodhavaśa was born of (the lady) Krodhavaśā. The trees are remembered as the sons of Irā.

The serpents are remembered as the sons of Kadru and the groups of the celestial damsels were born of Muni.

30. The heroic Hīraṇyakaśipu and the other (son) Hiraṇyākṣa, the two sons of Diti, were killed by Viṣṇu.

31-35a. Diti whose sons had been killed propitiated Kaśyapa. The gentle lady requested for the boon of another son of great strength who would kill Śakra in battle.

The holy lord granted her the boon (saying), “Observe restraint and perform holy rites for a thousand years.”

On being told thus she did so, staying at Puṣkara with great purity and concentration. While she was practising these holy observances, the Thousand-eyed Lord (Indra) came there and devoutly served her. She permitted him (to render these services). When ten years yet remained for the completion of the thousand years, Diti who was satisfied with the devotion of Śakra, joyously spoke to Śakra:

Diti said:

35b. O most excellent one among Devas, know that I have more or less completed the holy rite and observances.

36. A brother will be born to you. You will enjoy glory along with him. You will enjoy the kingdom of the three worlds without any obstacle or nuisance.

37. After saying this the gentle lady Diti slept during the day with her feet touching her tresses. It was the power of the inevitable destiny that urged her to sleep.

38. On seeing that opportune moment and the loophole (Indra) assumed a Yogic form and entered her body. With his thunderbolt, he cut the foetus in the belly of Diti into seven pieces.

39-40. Maghavan (Indra) cut each of them further into seven pieces furiously. Diti woke up on hearing the cries of (the pieces) that were being cut by his Vajra. She said to Śakra, “It should not be killed. It should not be killed.”

41-43. Śakra told them, “mā rodīḥ” (Do not cry). He came out of the belly and stood in front of his mother (i.e. mother’s sister). Being frightened, he joined his palms in reverence. He spoke these words to his mother who was very angry with him:

“You slept during the day, Mother, with your feet trampling on your tresses. In the open air, you slept for a long time. Your foetus was cut by me. Forty-nine pieces have been made of your (foetus) by means of my Vajra; they are (your) sons.

44. Let your words be true. I shall enjoy the glory and fortune along with them. I shall give them abodes in the firmament as long as I am (there).

45. Since they were told ‘mā rodīḥ’ (by me), they shall become well-known as Maruts.”[3]

On being told thus, Diti became ashamed. She could not reply at all.

46. Indra went along with them. They are remembered as the winds at the extremities of the quarters. Then the sad and dejected Diti said to her husband once again:

47. “O holy lord, give unto me a son who will be the powerful slayer of Śakra and who cannot be killed with the missiles and weapons of the heaven-dwelìlers.

48. If you do not give me a (favourable) reply, O Prajāpati, know that I am dead.”

On being told thus, he said to his unhappy and dejected wife:

49-50. “Be engaged in severe austerities and perform penance for ten thousand years. Then a son named Vajrāṅga will be born to you. His limbs will be adamantine. They cannot be cut even with steel. They will be so hard. He will be a righteous man.”

On getting the boon that gentle lady went to the forest for practising penance.

51-52. She performed a terribly severe penance. At the end of the penance, the noble lady gave birth to a son who was unconquerable, irresistible, unvanquishable and who could not be cut even with Vajra. As soon as he was born, he became the master of all scriptural texts and topics.

53-54. He said to his mother with devotion, “Mother, what shall I do?” Thereupon, Diti who was delighted said, “O dear son, many of my sons were killed by the Thousand-eyed one (Indra). I wish to get adequate compensation for them by getting Śakra slain.”

55. “Of course”, said he. After saying so, the powerful Daitya went to heaven along with his army. With his arms alone as his weapons, he conquered Śakra in the battle.

56. Just as a lion drags a small and insignificant animal, he dragged Devendra by his leg and brought him near his mother even as he was, with great fear, pleading (for release).

57. In the meantime, Brahmā and Kaśyapa of great power of penance came there excessively frightened. Brahmā said to him:

58. “He is pleading (for release). Release him, dear son. Of what avail is he? It is said that insulting an honourable man is tantamount to slaying him.

59. He who is released at our instance, is indeed dead, though he may be breathing (i.e. living). Those who kill an enemy in the battle are not glorified as heroes.

60-61a. Those who release enemies after causing humiliation to their honour and prestige, are indeed better. Just as you carried out the words (i.e. behest) of your mother regarding it to be the most honourable, so also you must carry out the words of your father. Release Vāsava, dear son.”

61b-64. On hearing this, Vajrāṅga bowed down and spoke these words: “I have nothing to do with him. Mother’s behest has been executed by me. You are the lord of Suras and Asuras and my great-grandfather. I shall carry out your directives, O Lord. Here, Śatakratu is released. I do not crave for the rulership of the three worlds already enjoyed by Śakra, which is like a woman enjoyed by another or like a garland enjoyed by another.

What is the essence or what is it that has some intrinsic worth in the three worlds? Let that be spoken to me.”

Brahmā said:

65. There is nothing greater than Tapas (‘penance’). Tapas is the asset of great men. Everything is attained through penance. You are worthy of (performing) a penance, O dear son.

Vajrāṅga said:

66. There will be great pleasure to me by (performing) Tapas. Let there be no obstacle in it through your favour, O Lord.

He stopped after saying this.

Brahmā said:

67. If after abandoning a ruthless attitude, you wish to perform penance, O son, with this mind and intellect, the benefit of the whole life has been obtained by you.

68. After saying this, the Lotus-born Lord created (a woman of wide eyes. The Lotus-born Lord gave her to him as his wife.

69. The grandfather (Brahmā) gave her the name Varāṅgī (‘one of beautiful limbs’). Thereafter Brahmā went to heaven along with Kaśyapa.

70-71. Vajrāṅga went along with her to the forest for penance. With his hands lifted up, that great Daitya stood (steady) for a period of a thousand years. His eyes were like the petals of a lotus. He had pure intellect and he performed great penance. He spent an equal period with face bent down and the same period as an aspirant, performing penance amidst five fires.

72. He did not take any food. He performed a terrible penance. He shone as a mass of penance. Then he spent a period of a thousand years under water performing (penance).

73-74. When he went under water, his wife, an extremely chaste woman, stayed on the bank of the same lake meditating about him. She observed the vow of silence without taking any food, thinking that her husband also was without food. Thus the chaste woman performed the penance. While she was performing the penance Indra scared and terrorized her.

75. He took the form of a monkey and came near her. After piercing her eyes, he urinated and emptied the bowels (there).

76. Desirous of causing hindrance to her penance, he tugged at her clothes, shook her face and made her tresses dishevelled.

77. Then he caused her great pain in the form of a ram. Then in the form of a serpent, he coiled round her feet.

78. Indra, the ruler of Devas, dragged her far off from that place. Due to the power of her penance, she could not be killed by him.

79. On account of her forbearance, the exalted noble lady did not become angry even very slightly. Then in the form of a jackal, he defiled the hermitage.

80-81. In the form of fire he burned her great hermitage. In the form of an extremely terrible gust of wind, he pulled and dragged that auspicious lady. Thus when he continued his teasing and scaring tactics in the forms of a lion, a wolf, etc., and never desisted from them, the wife of Vajrāṅga thought that it was the wickedness of the Mountain and got ready to curse him.

82. On observing that she was about to curse, the Mountain hurriedly assumed the form of a man and spoke to that excellent lady of beautiful eyes:

Śaila (the Mountain) said:

83. O lady of great holy rites, I am not vicious. I am a person worthy of being resorted to by all living beings. It is the slayer of Vṛtra who is angry with you and who inflicts great pain on you.

84-85. In the mean time, the period of a thousand years had elapsed. When the time had passed, the Lotus-born Lord became delighted. Coming to the lake, he spoke to Vajrāṅga:

Brahmā said:

86. I shall grant you all that you desire, O son of Diti. Get up.

On being told thus, the great Daitya, the storehouse of the (power of) penance, got up and spoke to the grandfather of all the worlds, these words with palms joined in reverence:

Vajrāṅga said:

87. Let there be no demoniac feeling or emotion in me. Let there be no desire for Śakra’s kingdom. Let there be the ardour for penance, piety and virtue (in me).

88. “Let it be so”, said Brahmā with great surprise in his mind. ‘He treats Śakra with indifference. Who can resist the (inevitable) future?

89-91a. Sages, men and Devas beginning with Śiva and Brahmā do not (i.e. cannot) transgress the future event, like the great ocean, the boundary of the foreshore.’ Thinking thus, god Brahmā vanished there itself.

When the penance had been concluded, Vajrāṅga of steady restraint wanted to take food, but could not see his wife in his own hermitage.

91b-93. ‘One who is without a wife lives in vain.’ Thinking thus, he looked for his wife here and there. He was desirous of performing the daily rituals and looking for his associate in this world and in the world hereafter, saw her crying.

He saw his beloved wife in a wretched plight hiding her face behind a tree and lamenting. On seeing her the Daitya said consoling her:

Vajrāṅga said:

94-95. O timid lady, who has harmed you? Who has offended you even as you were performing penance in your own way? Why do you cry, O lass, when I, your husband, am alive? What desire of yours shall I fulfil? O beautiful lady, tell me quickly.

If a man does not show affection caressing the goddess of his own house, the lady of auspiciousness, adorned with all good qualities, the lady who has come to collaborate with him as in the case of a lame man closely cooperating with a blind man, if he does not fulfil her desires, is he a man? I think, he is not a (real) man.

Footnotes and references:


Bahuputra in VP.


Here only ten Rudras are enumerated in the text instead of eleven. The omitted name is Candra (vide infra I.ii.21.19-20. We do not find consenus on the specific names of these Rudras. For example MtP 5.29-30 give a different list of eleven Rudras as follows: (1) Ajaikapāt, (2) Ahirbudhnya, (3) Virūpākṣa, (4) Raìvata, (5) Hara, (6) Bahurūpa, (7) Tryaṃbaka, (8) Sāvitra, (9) Jayanta, (10) Pinākī, (11) Aparājita.


The story is obviously in support of the popular etymology of Maruts.

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