The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Battle between Vishnu and Kalanemi which is chapter 19 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 nineteenth chapter of the Kaumarika-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 19 - The Battle between Viṣṇu and Kālanemi

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nārada said:

1-2. The infuriated Kālanemi did not recognize their (real) forms. He thought Nimi, the great Daitya to be a Deva. Hence with great dexterity and rapidity he caught hold of that hero by the hair and dragged him and roared. Thereupon Nimi said thus to the extremely powerful Kālanemi.

3-4. “I am Nimi, O Kālanemi, do not kill me thinking me to be a Sura. Know that deluded as you are in the course of this battle, ten crores of Asuras, your own people, who were unvanquishable to Suras, have been killed by you mistaking them to be Devas. Hence hurry up. Discharge the Brahmāstra that foils all other missiles.”

5. On being enlightened by him, that Daitya became agitated and let him off. Hurriedly he duly discharged an arrow charged with Brahmāstra.

6. Thereupon, that Brahmāstra blazed in the sky in an extremely miraculous manner. The entire army of Devas became frightened and excited.

7. Counteracted by the Brahmāstra, the Śaṃbara missile became ineffective. When his missile was repulsed, the Sun-god became angry.

8. He resorted to a great Indrajāla (Magic) and made his body extremely terrible. He occupied the whole of the three worlds by means of his exploding, dazzling, mass of rays.

9. The Lord scorched the army of Dānavas whose marrows, bones and blood began to melt away. He made the eyes of the great Dānavas blind.

10-12. The fat of the elephants trickled down; chariots fell on the ground. The horses and the charioteers who were distressed by the scorching heat, heaved deep sighs. Suffering from thirst they went about here and there in search of water. They roamed over valleys and chasms between mountains, the ridges of mountains and the forests. Even as they sought water hovering round one another, an extremely fierce forest-fire raged there burning down all the trees (around).

13-14. The seekers of water saw in front of them waves of water. Though it was in front of them, they could not reach it or get at it. Here and there the great Daityas were seen lying down dead on the ground, without getting water quickly very near them, on the ground.

15. Chariots and elephants fell down. Horses became excessively tired. They ran about here and there. They vomited (blood). Fats got melted. Blood trickled down.

16-18. Crores and crores of Dānavas were seen dead. When such a huge destruction of the Dānavas occurred, Kālanemi became afflicted with fury. Excessive anger made his eyes copper-coloured. He assumed the form of a black cloud. Hundreds of his shining hair were like streaks of lightening. The majestic sound that he produced by striking his arms was like the thunder clap through which he made the hearts in the universe tremble. Covering the entire sky he destroyed the lustre of the Sun completely.

19. He showered cool water over the army of the great Dānavas. Getting that shower, Daityas gained relief gradually.

20-22. Just like the seedlings and sprouts that had got withered (due to heat) and became (fresh) on getting a good shower on the earth (the Daityas became refreshed).

Thereafter, in the form of a cloud, Kālanemi, the great Asura, who could not be defeated, made a terrible shower of weapons on the armies of Devas. On being afflicted through that shower by Daityas and others, Devas could not see any way out like the cows afflicted by chillness. Extremely frightened, they took shelter under one another, among the elephants, horses and the chariots. They concealed themselves in various places.

23-25. While they were trying to hide themselves, they were killed by Kālanemi. Devas were seen falling down with the joints of their limbs broken by the weapons. Their heads were torn asunder; their heads were shattered; their thighs and knees were broken. The chariot wheels were turned upside down. Strong flagstaff’s fell down. Thousands of horses and ten thousands of elephants (were killed). On account of the terrible flow of their blood the whole ground became impassable.

26-28. Thus in the course of that battle, Kālanemi, the great Daitya of immense power, killed within a short period a hundred thousand Gandharvas, five hundred thousand Yakṣas, five hundred thousand Kinnaras and seven hundred thousand leading Piśācas (ghosts). There is no count of the other species of Suras. Infuriated Kālanemi who had become excessively haughty and furious killed crores of them fearlessly.

29-33. In that great terrible holocaust of Devas, the heroic Aśvins became excessively enraged. They shone brilliantly with their various missiles and armours of variegated shapes. They struck everyone of the Daityas in the battle with sixty arrows. All those arrows pierced through (the bodies of) the great Daityas and entered the earth along with the feathers fixed to their extremities.

(Kālanemi) somehow came to his senses on account of their hitting with the arrows. He took up a discus with a hundred thousand spokes that had been smeared with oil and that (was considered) a superior weapon in battle. With that discus he cut off the shaft of the chariot of Aśvins. Then the Daitya took up a bow and arrows comparable to serpents.

He showered (volleys of arrows) on the head of the Physicians (i.e. Aśvins), covering the sky above (with the arrows). They too cut off all the arrows of the Daitya by means of missiles invoked by them.

34. On seeing this feat of those two, (the Daitya) was surprised and got enraged. He took up a mallet as terrible as the baton of Kāla (‘god of Death’).

35-39. He whirled it with great force and hurled it against his(?) chariot. On seeing that mallet approaching, even while it was in the sky, both the Aśvins left off their chariots with great speed. That mallet resembling a mountain pounded and thrashed both the chariots. That mallet adorned with a number of gold (plates) tore off the ground (beneath).

On seeing that action of his, the Physicians with wonderful ways of fighting, fought with the great Dānava assaulting him with the adamantine missile (‘Vajrāstra’). On account of terrible strokes from the thunderbolt, the Dānava was wounded. Even as the entire army was watching it, the chariot, the flagstaff, the bow, the umbrella and the armour got split into a hundred pieces in a moment.

40. On seeing that marvellous (i.e. difficult to be performed) deed of the Aśvins, the Daitya of terrible exploits, and great strength discharged the Nārāyaṇa missile in the course of that battle.

41. Thereupon the Vajrāstra (the adamantine missile, thunderbolt) became quiescent. Kālanemi then angrily attempted to catch hold of Aśvins alive.

42. On getting his intention both of them abandoned the battlefield. With all their limbs trembling, they fled on foot to the place where Vāsava (Indra) was present.

43-45. Kālanemi, the Daitya, closely pursued them roaring frequently. The cruel Daitya followed by his entire army entered the army of Indra. When he rushed at Indra like the god of Death at the close of a Kalpa, all the living beings became agitated on seeing him. Giving out loud cries of distress, Devas thought that it was a defeat of Mahendra leading to the destruction of all the worlds.

46. All the big mountains quaked. Meteors fell down from the sky. The clouds roared and rumbled. There was a loud sound in all the quarters.

47. On seeing the ominous happenings of all the Bhūtas (elements, living beings) Devas including Indra became frightened. They mentally sought refuge in Vāsudeva, the Lord of the universe.

48-49. ‘Obeisance to Brahmaṇyadeva, to the Lord helpful to the welfare of cows and Brāhmaṇas; obeisance to Kṛṣṇa, the benefactor of the universe. Repeated obeisance to Govinda. May that Govinda save us.’ Thus the Suras who were overwhelmed by fright, prayed repeatedly.

50-52a. Knowing what they were thinking of the Garuḍa-emblemed Lord woke up. Shaking off his Yogic slumber, the Lord got lip from his bedstead—the Lord whose Iotus-like feet were gently pressed and caressed by the lotus-like pair of hands of Lakṣmī, the brilliant complexion of whose body was akin to the lustre of the autumnal sky and the blue lotus, whose chest shone with the jewel Kaustubha, whose beautiful armlets were as brilliant as the Sun. And he pondered over the agitation of Suras and sent for Vainateya (Garuḍa).

52b-54. On being called, Garuḍa who had been very dejected, came and stood (ready). The Lord who had the powerful brilliance of various kinds of divine missiles, mounted (Garuḍa) and went to the battlefield of Suras. There he saw Devendra who was frightened and attacked by great Dānavas whose colour was like that of fresh clouds and who were excessively furious. And he (Devendra) was like a man who had been (mobbed) by unfortunate wretches seeking some monetary help.

55. On being frequently eulogized by Suras, Viṣṇu went there for protecting them like a pure meritorious deed for protecting (one) from misfortune.

56. Then the chief Daitya saw an orb of lustre in the sky like that of a hundred suns rising simultaneously.

57. Dānavas wished to know the source of that refulgence. Then they saw Garuḍa as terrible as the fire at the close of the Kalpa.

58. They saw four-armed Hari of matchless splendour seated thereon. On seeing him the chief Asuras became highly delighted in their minds.

59. “This is that lord Keśava, the slayer of enemies, the refuge unto all. If this (Lord) is defeated all the Devas are also defeated. There is no doubt about it.

60-61. It is by depending upon him that Guardians of the Quarters and the immortal ones partake of their shares in the Yajñas”. Saying thus the ten great warriors of Daityas, Kālanemi and others, gathered together from various places, encircled him from all sides, and hit him with various weapons.

62. Kālanemi pierced Janārdana with sixty arrows; Nimi hit him with a hundred arrows and Mathana with eighty arrows.

63. Jaṃbhaka struck him with seventy arrows and Śuṃbha with ten arrows. The remaining Daitya leaders hit Viṣṇu with an arrow each.

64-67. They hit Garuḍa with ten darts each in the battle. Unable to brook that action of theirs Viṣṇu, the slayer of Dānavas, killed (i.e. struck) each of the Dānavas with six arrows discharged straight.

Kālanemi once again pierced the chest of Viṣṇu by three arrows (each) drawn as far as the ear. Due to anger Kālanemi’s eyes had become red.

Those three arrows resembling heated gold, on his (Viṣṇu’s) chest shone like the brilliant rays of Kaustubha of sparkling lustre. Pained a little on account of those arrows Hari seized a mallet.

68-69. Raising it he discharged it with great velocity towards the Dānava. Even before it reached him, the great Dānava who had become infuriated split it into small pieces like gingelly seeds, with hundred arrows, even as it was still in the space. Thereby he exhibited his dexterity and rapidity of action.

Thereupon Viṣṇu who became infuriated seized a terrible barbed missile.

70-71. With that he speedily struck the heart of the Daitya. Regaining consciousness in a moment, Kālanemi, the great Asura, seized a Śakti, the tip of which was very sharp and which produced a loud sound like that of a boisterous laughter, with the golden bells (attached to it). The delighter of Diti pierced the left arm of Viṣṇu by means of that Śakti.

72. As blood trickled from it, his arm that had been pierced by the Śakti, shone like a blue cloud from which lightning streak flickers frequently.

73-75. Then the infuriated Viṣṇu took up a huge bow and seventeen arrows that had sharp tips which could pierce vital parts. With six and three arrows he pierced the heart of the Daitya with four the charioteer and the flagstaff with a single arrow. He cut the bowstring and the bow with two arrows and the arm with one arrow. Like a man deluded by defects, he was deeply hurt in the heart.

76. He became red (all over the body) on account of the blood that had flowed down. He was tall and his mind was agitated by pain. Like a Kiṃśuka (‘Butea frondosa’) tree shaken by the wind, he trembled much.

77. On observing him trembling, Keśava seized a mace. With great force (i.e. velocity) he hurled it at Kālanemi for killing him.

78-79. That terrible (mace) immediately fell on Kālanemi’s head. The Asura’s crown was shattered and his head was shattered to pieces. From all the pores (in his body) blood oozed out. He appeared like a mountain from which the minerals flowed out. Broken down, devoid of consciousness, he fell down in his own chariot with the life still clinging to him.

80. As the Dānava fell within the chariot, Acyuta, the slayer of enemies, the Lord with the discus as his weapon, spoke these words with a smile:

81-82. “O Asura, you are left off. Go. You can have some relief now. Be alive. Within a short while I alone shall be your annihilator.”

On hearing these words of Viṣṇu, the Lord of all, the charioteer who was afraid of the Lord of all the worlds, took away the chariot of Kālanemi very far away within a moment.

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