The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Battle Between the Armies of Taraka and the Devas which is chapter 18 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 eighteenth chapter of the Kaumarika-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 18 - The Battle Between the Armies of Tāraka and the Devas

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nārada said:

1-5. With arrows that pierced through vital and vulnerable points, the quarters were obstructed by the infuriated Jaṃbha and the army of Dhanādhipa Kubera was very much afflicted. On seeing that action of the Daitya, the valorous Kubera drew his bowstring as far as his ear and wounded the extremely powerful Jaṃbha in the chest, in the course of the battle by means of a thousand arrows with fire-like splendour. Then the heroic (Daitya) laughed and discharged in a trice thirty thousand, a hundred thousand, a crore and a thousand million arrows.

On seeing his quickness, the infuriated Dhanādhyakṣa seized a great mace and hurled it at him in the manner in which a person desirous of heaven throws off (i.e. lavishly donates) his wealth. When the mace was discharged, there was a loud noise like one at the destruction of the world.

6. Many kinds of frightened cries of the living beings rose up in the sky. A great (violent) wind blew in the sky covered with clouds.

7-1la. Indeed that mace of Vaiśravaṇa (Kubera) was adored and worshipped in all the three worlds. On seeing that mace approaching, the sight of which was as unbearable as the clusters of streaks of lightning, the Daitya discharged a shower of arrows for restraining the mace. The Daitya of matchless exploits and valour discharged various weapons such as discus, spears, barbed missiles, Śataghnīs (‘killers of hundreds’), sharp-edged spears, clubs tipped with iron, iron clubs, trees and mountains. Crushing and disregarding all those weapons, that mace struck against the chest of the Daitya as though it was the dazzling sun at the close of the Kalpa. Vehemently shattered by it, Jaṃbha vomited frothy blood. He lost consciousness and fell down from the chariot on the ground.

11b-13. On seeing Jaṃbha fallen down, Kujaṃbha of terrible resolve, became highly furious. Filling the quarters with loud shouts, he made a network of arrows around Kubera like a cage around a bird.

The powerful lord of Yakṣas cut off that network of arrows which was as powerful as the network of the illusions of Māyā. Further he discharged other arrows at him.

14. Like an angry man disregarding the wise advice of good people, the Daitya sportingly cut those arrows.

On seeing those arrows devoid of any effect, Dhanādhipa became angry.

15. He took up an unthwartable Śakti (Javelin) that produced a loud noise of hundred bells (fixed on it). Discharged then by him, the Śakti pierced the heart (of the Daitya).

16. Just as the misery arising from the worldly existence pierces the heart of a man deficient in enlightenment, so also the Śakti pierced the heart (of the Daitya) and fell down on the ground.

17-19. Within a moment, the Dānava of terrible form steadied himself. The Daitya then seized a sharp-edged spear that could split even mountains. Just as a vicious man breaks the heart of a man of nobility and dignity through harsh words that rend all vital and vulnerable points, the Daitya pierced the chest of Dhanada in the course of that battle by means of that sharp-edged spear. On account of the stunning blow of that sharp-edged spear Dhaneśa swooned.

20-21. Just as a good man on hearing the vile words (of a wicked man breaks down), so Kubera dropped (i.e. sat) on the seat in the driving box of the chariot.

On seeing him in that posture as though dead, Lord Nirṛti, the Rākṣasa (Guardian of South-West), followed by the army of Niśācaras (Night-walkers) speedily rushed at Kujaṃbha of terrible exploits.

22. On seeing the inviolable and unassailable Lord of Rākṣasas, Kujaṃbha urged and mobilised Daityas against the chariot of the Lord of Rākṣasas.

23-27a. On seeing the army that was excessively terrible and that had very powerful missiles, mobilised (against him) Nirṛti hurriedly jumped off from his chariot. With a keen-edged sword and a shield in his hands, he rushed at the chief of Rākṣasas(?).

Just as an elephant enters a lotus pond and srirs [stirs?] it up, so also he entered the army of Dānavas and agitated it in many ways. He pulled out thousands of them and chopped them off. With his excellent sword, he cut and pierced hundreds of others. He filled the ground with the faces of Daityas wherein the lips had been kept bitten (by them with their teeth).

Then, on seeing his own army almost annihilated, the Daitya Kujaṃbha left off Dhanapati (Kubera) and rushed against Nirṛti.

27b-29a. (In the meantime) Jaṃbha regained consciousness. He captured the followers of Dhanādhyakṣa alive and bound them in a thousand ways with nooses and ropes. The jewels in embodied form as well as the treasures such as Padma and others, and all the divine vehicles and aerial chariots (were, thus captured by him).

29b-31a. On regaining consciousness, Dhaneśa saw such a situation and he heaved a deep hot sigh.

Due to fury his eyes turned copper-coloured. He meditated on the divine missile of Garuḍa. Fixing an arrow on his bow, he discharged that arrow that could tear into the enemies, in the middle of the army of Dānavas.

31b-34. At the outset the bow was seen with flames of fire blazing from it. Then crores of sparks arose from the bow. Then the missile made the entire sky all round filled with flames.

On seeing that missile, Jaṃbha of terrible exploits, immediately released the Saṃvarta missile. Then the Gāruḍa missile became quelled thereby.

Thereafter the Dānava, highly excited with wrath, looked at Kubera. He roared and rushed against Dhanada on foot.

35. On seeing the Daitya coming towards him, Kubera became bewildered, and he was about to flee.

36. As he was running away, his brilliant crown adorned with gems and jewels fell on the ground, like the disc of the sun falling from the sky.

37-40. (His followers thought thus:) ‘The defeat and breakup of the Yakṣas of great nobility, has begun in this battle. It is proper to die in the front line of the battle. It is an ornament for us.’ Thus resolved the inviolable followers of Dhanada. Equipped with different kinds of weapons and missiles in their hands they were determined to fight. Those Yakṣas who valued their honour as the greatest wealth stood encircling the crown.

Looking at them with great indignation the Dānava, full of vehement heroism, took up a Bhuśuṇḍī missile as weighty as a mountain and very terrific in shape and size. He then thrashed and pounded the Night-walkers who were protecting the crown.

41-42. After crushing them down, who numbered a hundred thousand, and after defeating Dhanada in battle, the foe of immortal ones placed the crown, the treasures and the wealth (looted) in his own chariot. Taking all these (he went back to his camp) surrounded by his own army. With a loud shout he routed Devas everywhere.

43. Kubera also who was deprived of all his wealth and had the hair on his scalp dishevelled was excessively frightened. He returned on foot alone ancl remained in a dejected mood like a wretched person.

44-48. The delighter of Rajanīcaras (i.e. Nirṛti) clashed with Kujaṃbha.

Resorting to never-failing Māyā (i.e. illusion-creating power) of Tamas (Darkness) the lord of Rākṣasas, the great Daitya (? i.e. Nirṛti) made the universe filled with darkness and bewildered them (everyone). Thereupon, the armies of Dānavas lost the power of sight. They were unable to proceed ahead even from one step to another. Thereupon, Lord Nirṛti killed the great armies of Dānavas by showering different kinds of missiles. Those armies were very much covered with thick darkness.

When the Daityas were being killed, when Kujaṃbha was in a perplexed state of mind, Mahiṣa, the leader of Dānavas, who resembled the cloud at the close of the Kalpa, discharged the missile Sāvitra (i. e. having Savitṛ, the Sun-god, as its deity) adorned with a mass of meteors.

49. When the blazing supreme missile Sāvitra manifested and spread everywhere the extremely terrible darkness was dispelled.

50. Marked by the sparks and flames of the missile, the darkness turned white, like a lake full of full-blown lotuses and devoid of impurities (turning white) in autumm.

51. Then, when the darkness disappeared, the chief Daityas regained (the power of) their eyes. With ruthless vigour and speed, they wrought wonderful (havoc) in the army of Devas.

52. Then, taking up his terrific bow and the arrow comparable to a serpent, Kujaṃbha rushed hurriedly towards the army of Rakṣodeva (Nirṛti).

53. On seeing him approaching, the leader of Rākṣasas (Nirṛti) went close to him and pierced him with sharp arrows having the sound similar to that of Kāla (‘god of Death’) and thunderbolt.

54-56. Neither the taking up, nor the fixing, nor the release was visible in the case of those arrows. With terrible clusters of arrows he split and cut those arrows with great rapidity and facility. He broke the flagstaff of the foe of the immortal ones by means of a very sharp arrow. With (another) sharp-pointed arrow he removed the charioteer from the inner seat of the chariot. With (another) arrow resembling the god of Death he struck him in his chest. Afflicted much by that blow he trembled terribly.

57-58. The great Daitya was afflicted much by the great Rākṣasa (i.e. Nirṛti) like a mountain at the time of earthquake. Considering him invincible in battle the Daitya approached Nirṛti’s chariot on foot. With his left hand he caught hold of Nirṛti and kept him pressed down with his knee.

59. Extremely infuriated he then wished to cut off his head ‘with his sword. On seeing that Nirṛti was held under his control by Kujaṃbha in the course of the battle a great tumultuous uproar was caused among Devas.

60. In the meantime Lord Varuṇa (came there) surrounded by noose-bearing followers. With a noose he fastened both the hands of the great Dānava.

61. The Noose-bearing (Lord Varuṇa) ruthlessly struck with his iron club, the Daitya whose hands had been tied and whose prowess was (thus) rendered futile.

62. Shedding blood through the tubular vessel on account of that blow, he assumed the form of a black cloud having streaks of lightning.

63-65. On seeing Kujaṃbha in such a plight the demon Mahiṣa wished to swallow both the Suras, viz. Nirṛti and Varuṇa. The keen curved teeth made his mouth powerful. Without making any noise he opened his mouth. Both of them observed the evil intention of that Daityā and became frightened. Abandoning the chariot, they quickly fled from the place on foot. Afraid of Mahiṣa, both of them sought refuge in the Chastiser of Pāka (i.e. Indra).

66-69. The infuriated Daitya, Mahiṣa rushed at Varuṇa. On seeing him about to fall into the jaws of Death, the Moon-god discharged a weapon in the form of a thick boulder of ice. The Moon-god sent a second matchless missile presided over by the Wind-god. The limbs of the armies of Asuras burned all round because of the dry fierce wind, the cold and huge boulder of ice and the weapons wielded by the Moon-god. All the Dānavas were distressed much because their manliness and courage was chilled (and frozen).

70-71. They were unable to take up any weapon. They were unable to move too. With his mouth quaking with chillness, Mahiṣa remained inactive. He sat with his face turned downwards and the hands clasping the shoulders. All those Daityas who could not take any counter-move were conquered by the Moon-god.

72. They abandoned altogether all their desire for battle. They stood there eagerly trying to save their lives. Thereupon Kālanemi who blazed with anger, spoke to the Daityas:

73. “O impassioned ones, you have mastered all missiles and weapons; you are cruel. Each of you is competent to hold aloft the entire universe by means of your arms.

74. Each of you is competent to swallow the entire universe consisting of the mobile and immobile beings. The entire horde of heaven-dwellers is no match unto each of you severally.

75. Why are you then frightened with your eyes indicating the excess of fear you have? Why have you been defeated in the battle? This is not proper on the part of heroes especially of those born as (i.e. in the family of) Daityas.

76. What face will you show to our king Tāraka? With his fury aroused, he will do away with your lives as you have desisted from fighting.”

77-81. Though addressed thus, those great Asuras did not say anything. On account of chillness, they had lost the power of hearing and the ability to utter words. The Daityas had become dumb and almost dead in the course of the great battle. On seeing those Daityas absent-minded and utterly afflicted with chillness, and thinking about his duty befitting the occasion, Kālanemi, the great Asura, resorted to Mānavī Māyā. He expanded his huge body and filled the sky, the quarters and the intervening spaces. The great Dānava created ten thousand suns in his body. He filled the quarters and the intermediate spaces with fires. Then within a moment the entire region of the three worlds became filled with flames.

82. On account of that cluster of flames, the Snow-rayed Lord (Moon) went away quickly. Then gradually the chilly, bad (climate of the) day vanished. It shone brightly.

83. Thanks to the Māyā of Kālamemi, that army of the great Dānavas, shone brightly and splendidly.

On seeing that the army of the Dānavas had regained consciousness, the Sun-god was so furious that the extremities of his eyes became excessively red. He spoke to Aruṇa:

The Sun-god said:

84-87. Take the chariot quickly to the place where Kālanemi has his chariot. In the fierce conflict there, all the living beings will be destroyed. The Moon has been defeated—the Moon whose strength we had relied upon.

On being told thus, the elder brother of Garuḍa, though seated within the chariot itself, drove the horses that had white Cāmaras (i.e. streamers adorning the heads) over their heads.

The Lord of the light of the universe, seized a well-strung bow, O son of Pāṇḍu. The groups of arrows had immediately a lustre like that of poison.

88. He fixed a missile presided over by Śaṃbara (the demon juggler) and discharged an arrow. He discharged a second arrow too combined with Indrajāla (Magic).

89. The Śaṃbara missile created an interchange in their forms within a moment. Devas were given the form of Dānavas and Dānavas were given the form of Devas.

90. Overwhelmed by anger like Kṛtānta (‘god of Death’) at the time of the annihilation of the world, Kālanemi killed his own people, the Rākṣasas(?), through the awful dexterity in the use of missiles, because he thought them to be Suras.

91. He killed some of them with the sword with a very keen edge; some with showers of iron-tipped arrows; some with terrible iron clubs; and some with terrific axes.

92. He made the heads of some, the arms of some and the charioteers of great energy (of others) fall down from the chariot. Some he pounded by the speed of the chariot. Some he thrashed by the fierce blows of his fists.

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