The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Mahadeva Meets Parvati: Eagerness for Marriage with Parvati which is chapter 25 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 twenty-fifth chapter of the Kaumarika-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 25 - Mahādeva Meets Pārvatī: Eagerness for Marriage with Pārvatī

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Arjuna said:

1-3. O celestial sage, the story that is being narrated (by you) is (life-giving) just like Nectar. O sage tell me further. Lord Maheśvara knows Satī as his own wife and the task of the slaying of Tāraka. He was performing the penance due to the bereavement of Satī. (In spite of all these) why did he burn Smara (Kāma)? You had also said that he performed penance due to the separation from Satī and that the Lord occupied Himādri because of his desire to have union with her.

Nārada narrated:

4-9. It is true, O son of Pṛthā, that this was the desire of Bhava at the outset: “I must not be united with her before performing the penance. Without a penance, one does not become pure in body. Bodily contact with one of impure body is not (proper). Penance is the root cause of all great acts. The achievement of those who have not performed penance does not reach (the level of) great men’s deeds. It is for this reason that the Lord burned that arrogant one (i.e. Kāma).

When Smara was burned, the Lord left off Pārvatī (standing) there bashfully. Accompanied by the Gaṇas, the Lord reached Kailāsa.

The goddess got very much dejected and faltered at every step. Cursing her own life, she wandered here and there.

Himādri asked Rati who was lamenting on his peak:

10. “Who are you, O auspicious lady? To whom do you belong? Why do you cry?” On being asked, Rati recounted everything as it happened.

11. When it was reported thus by Rati, the Mountain became agitated in his mind. He reached the place (of Pārvatī), took his daughter by hand and went to his own city.

12. Through the mouth of her friends, she informed her parents thus: “Of what use is this wretched unfortunate body?

13. I will either get the husband desired (by me) or cast off this body. If the desired object is impossible to be achieved, how can it be obtained without penance?

14. Hence I will dry up my physical body by means of different kinds of restraints. If you both have kindness towards me, permit me for this.”

15. On hearing these words, the mother and father said to that auspicious (girl), “U-MĀ” (‘Oh, do not’)! O excessively frail daughter, your body is not capable of enduring the pain and rigour of penance.

16-17. O girl of gentle appearance, the future events and objects cannot be avoided at any time. Even if a man does not wish for them, the future events do take place. Hence O girl, no purpose will be served by means of penance.”

Śrīdevī replied.

18. My opinion is that this statement of yours is not correct. It is not through destiny alone that objects, are achieved.

19. A man acquires fruit partly by means of fate, partly by means of force (efforts) and partly as a natural sequence. There is no fourth means (for acquisition of fruit).

20. It is said that Brahmāhood was acquired by Brahmā by the power of penance. I do not wish to count what has been acquired by others.

21. If the desired thing is not accomplished through the body which is unstable (i.e. perishable), a foolish fellow will regret later when the body falls off (i.e. passes away).

22. This is the nature of this body. It is born in some place and it dies in another place. In some cases, it dies in the womb and in some cases it dies as soon as it is born.

23. It perishes in childhood, in youth or in old age. Of what use is this fickle body, if one’s own purpose is not achieved?

24. After saying this, she went to the peak of Himālaya, the holy peak of many miracles and mysteries. She was accompanied by her friends and was tearfully looked at by her parents.

25. There, the daughter of the Mountain cast off her (costly) robes and ornaments. She wore divine bark garments and performed penance with great restraint.

26. Installing Īśvara in the heart and enthusiastically reciting Praṇava (i.e. Oṃkāra), Pārvatī became one worthy of being honoured even by sages and was then so honoured (even by them), O son of Pṛthā.

27-31. She used to take holy baths thrice a day. For a hundred years she used to eat only a leaf of Pāṭala (trumpet flower-tree). For another hundred years, she ate only a withered Bilva leaf. For another hundred years, she drank water only and for still another hundred years she lived on air only. Thereafter practising restraints she stood on the big toes of her feet. Then she remained without any food. On account of her penance, people became scorched. Then on seeing the universe energized (Scorched?) by her penance, Hara personally came there in the guise of a Brahmacārin (‘religious student’). He wore divine bark garments and covered himself with the hide of Ruru deer. He held a staff having the requisite good characteristics. He had presence of mind and decent behaviour. There upon, with great respect her friends received him and adored him.

32-36. When he expressed his desire to speak to the daughter of the Mountain, he was urged (to wait) thus by (her) friends:

“O holy Brāhmaṇa, this splendid girl of great fortune has taken up holy observances and restraints. In another five Muhūrtas (i.e. four hours) her holy observances will be concluded. Therefore, wait till that time. Thereafter, O Brāhmaṇa, you will carry on a dialogue with our friend on various topics relating to virtue, piety and devotion.”

After saying this, those friends, Vijayā and others, spent their time in front of the Brāhmaṇa describing the activities of the goddess with tears on their faces (eyes).

A little before the close of the stipulated period, the highly intelligent Brāhmacārin, under the pretext of a general survey (of the premises) went to a deep pool of water situated near her hermitage. He fell down into it and therefore cried extremely aloud.[1]

37-39. “I am drowning here. One of you, kindly lift me up.” On hearing him cry aloud in a shrill voice thus, Vijayā and others came there and offered him their hands. Thereupon he sank deeper and deeper and went farther and farther crying louder and louder. “I would rather die than touch a girl without spiritual achievement. This is not a lie.” Thereupon, Pārvatī herself came there after concluding her holy observances.

40-41. She offered him her left hand but he did not approve of it. “O gentle lady, one shall not accept what is not at all clean, what has been done contemptuously and what has been performed by one with some defects. Your left hand is unclean and I will never hold it.”

42-43. On being told thus, Pārvatī said: “I will not offer my right hand to anyone, O Brāhmaṇa, as it has been allotted to the Lord of the Devas. Lord Bhava alone will hold my right hand, even if it were to be shattered by severe penance. What has been said by me is true.”

The Brāhmaṇa said:

44-48. If your pride is of this sort, by whom can (my) departure be prevented? Just like your vow, my vow too is unshakable. We (Brāhmaṇas) are worthy of respect of even Rudra. Of what nature is your penance, tell me, whereby you neglect a distressed Brāhmaṇa who is on the point of death. If you disrespect Brāhmaṇas go away from (the path of) my vision. If you consider them worthy of being worshipped, lift me up. Otherwise not.

Thereupon, after pondering upon the pros and cons in various ways, the splendid lady considered the uplift of the Brāhmaṇa superior to all the other Dharmas. Then she offered him her right hand and lifted him up. It was to demonstrate that a woman redeems a man drowning in the ocean of worldly existence, that the Lord, the source of the world of existence, did so.

49. After lifting him up she took her bath and seated herself in a yogic posture.

50. The religious student then said laughingly: “O splendid lady, what is it that you wish to do that you have adopted a firm yogic posture? O lady of slender limbs!”

51. The goddess replied: “With the Yogic fire I shall burn this body, since I have become Ucchiṣṭa (i.e. left over, spoilt) though my mind was fixed in Mahādeva.”

52. The Brahmacārin then said: “O Pārvatī! After speaking a few words (on some topic) as desired by a Brāhmaṇa you may do as you please.

53. A desire of a Brāhmaṇa should never be disregarded by good people. If you accept this as Dharma, O Pārvatī, speak (with me) for a short while.”

54. The goddess said, “O Brāhmaṇa, speak, I shall wait for a Muhūrta (i.e. 48 minutes).”

Then the holy observer of rites himself said to the goddess accompanied by her friends:

55. “What for, O beautiful lady, is this penance begun in the fresh bloom of your youth? It does not appear to me to be befitting.

56. You have obtained the rare birth as a human being in the abode of the king of Mountains. Why do you, O gentle lady, forsake all worldly pleasures of very rare nature and subject your body to torture?

57. I am much pained on seeing you—a girl of excessively delicate frame—having become extremely afflicted like a lotus plant smitten by frost.

58. O splendid lady, this is another thing concerning you that gives me a great headache that you are desirous of giving up your body. O girl, you are not enlightened.

59. The statement that the god of Love is vile and crooked in regard to human beings is indeed true, because although you are lovable to all, you are subjecting your body to pains this way.

60. (The one whom you desire) is naked. His antecedents and family background are unknown. He is a bearer of a trident. He is the Lord of the groups of goblins. His abode is cremation ground. His vehicle is a bull. He smears his body with ash.

61. He covers himself with the hide of an elephant. His limbs are adorned with serpents etc. He wears matted locks of hair. He is deformed in the eyes. He is devoid of Guṇas (‘qualities’). How can he be suitable unto you?

62. Nobility of birth, good conduct and other qualities have been spoken by learned men as the qualities in a bridegroom. Not even one among them finds a place in him. Hence he is not suitable unto you.

63. Formerly the moon-light (the moon’s digit) was worthy of being pitied on account of its desire to be in contact with him, O Pārvatī. Now you have become a second one wishing his company.

64. Although we ascetics view everyone equally, O Pārvatī, this enterprise on your part pains me. It is like having Śūla (i.e. stake for impaling criminals) for consecration as Yūpa (i.e. sacrificial post).

65. How can you have (he endure) all these things, viz. riding on a bull, residence in cremation ground, being hand in hand with one who has serpents round his arms and silken cloth tied with elephant hide?

66. Everything provoking the derisive laughter of the common people, and everything irrelevant has been begun by you. Being a woman, how was a contact with Bhūti (ash, riches) desired by you?

67. Hence retract your mind from this (i.e. Śiva), the enemy of Madana, the antagonist of everyone. O fawn-eyed one, desist from wooing the monkey-eyed one.”

68. On hearing the Brahmacārin who was Īśvara himself and who was speaking against Īśvara, the goddess became infuriated and said in words faltering (due to emotion):

69. “O Brāhmaṇa, do not, do not speak against Śaṅkara thus. A man enters dense darkness through the contemptuous insult of the Lord of Devas.

70. You do not understand the activities of the Lord properly. Listen, O Brāhmaṇa, so that you shall be absolved of this sin.[2]

71. He is the primordial cause of all the worlds. Therefore, who can know his family? He is glorified as Digvāsas (i.e. having the cardinal points for his garments) because the entire universe is his form.

72. He is called Śūlin because he bears the Śūla—the trident in the form of the three Guṇas. The Bhūtas are those who are not in bondage, those who are liberated in every respect. He is the Lord of those Bhūtas.

73. The cremation ground (is symbolic of) the whole world. He stays there because he is compassionate towards the suppliants. Bhūti (‘prosperity’) constitutes riches and he bears it. Hence he is called Bhūtibhṛt.

74. Dharma is called by the name Vṛṣa (bull). He rides on it. Therefore he is called Vṛṣī. Serpents are the defects beginning with anger. The Lord identical with the universe holds them (under control).

75-78. Different kinds of holy rites (Karmayogas) are the matted locks of hair he wears. The three Vedas are the three eyes. The three Puras means the physical body having the three Guṇas. The Lord reduces it to ash. Therefore, he is remembered as Tripuraghna. How can those people with subtle vision who understood Mahādeva of such a nature remain without worshipping Hara. Or, O Brāhmaṇa, since all people are afraid of worldly existence, they do everything after thinking and pondering upon everything. This has been done by me too after thinking deeply. Whether he is auspicious or inauspicious, you too do worship him.”

79. When she said thus, the lips of the Brāhmaṇa quivered slightly. On coming to know of it, she said to the friend: “He is desirous of saying something.

80. Let this Brāhmaṇa be prevented. He speaks disparagingly about great men. It is not only he who speaks thus but he who beats the same also will be a sharer in the sin.

81. Or what have we to do with an argument with the Brāhmaṇa? We shall close our ears and go away. Let him be whatever he is.”

82. When, after saying thus she got up, closed her ears and was about to go, Hara assumed his real form and caught hold of her garment.

83. On seeing the Lord, the great goddess became agitated. Umā bowed down to Maheśāna with bent (head) and eulogized (him).

84. Mahādeva spoke to her: “O splendid lady, I am your slave. I have been bought by you with the wealth in the form of peṇance. Command me as you please.”

The goddess said:

85. O Śaṃbhu, you are the Lord of my mind. That has been already given to you by me. My parents are the lords of my body. It behoves you to honour them.

Mahādeva said:

86-87. On seeing you endowed with beauty, your father took a vow: “I will give my daughter only in a Svayaṃvara and not otherwise.” Hence let his words be so. O lady with excellent buttocks, you urge Himācala to conduct a Svayaṃvara. I shall accept you therein.

88. After saying this to her, Lord Mahādeva, the pure one seated among the pure ones, went to the place he wished to go. She went back to her city.

89-94. On seeing the goddess, the Mountain along with Menā was delighted. After embracing her and sniffing at her head, he asked and she said everything. Himācala announced the Svayaṃvara of his daughter as commanded by the Lord of Devas.[3] He announced it with great delight in all the worlds. The two Aśvins, the twelve Ādityas, Gandharvas, Garuḍa, Serpents, Yakṣas, Siddhas, Sādhyas, Daityas, Kiṃpuruṣas, Mountains, Oceans etc., nay all those who were the most excellent ones in the three worlds, all the thirty-three crore, thirty-three thousand, thirty-three hundred and thirty-three Devas, went to the excellent Svayaṃvara of the daughter of Lord of Mountains. On being invited, Viṣṇu laughingly said to Meru:

95-97. “Dear one, she is our goddess. Go. I shall bow down to her.”

The daughter of the Mountain, the goddess, got into a splendid aerial chariot made of gold and beautified by all gems. It was guarded from all sides. She was bedecked in all ornaments. She was eulogized by the dancing celestial damsels, different groups of Gandharvas, splendid Kinnaras and bards. She stood there holding the Vīrakāṃsya (i.e. bell-metal vessel for the hero).

98. (A maid) of Pārvatī named Śālinī, with face resembling the full disc of the moon at dusk held the white umbrella, radiating rays of precious stones mixed (studded,) in it.

99. She was surrounded by the divine ladies with chowries in their hands. She had a garland (in her hand) made of flowers coming from the celestial tree.

100-101. While she was standing thus, while all the three worlds were present there, the bull-emblemed Mahādeva, for the sake of sport, became a small child. Lord Bhava was then held and guarded in the lap of a certain person named Jaya. To him of course he was the Lord of the truthful meaning(?)

102. On seeing that child in his lap, gods enquired one another, “Who is this?” Infuriated much they shouted loudly.

103. The slayer of Vṛtra raised his hand and lifted up the thunderbolt (to strike him). That hand of his so lifted up ramained in that position.

104. It was paralysed sportingly by the Lord of Devas in the form of a child. He not only could not discharge the thunderbolt but also could not move his hand.

105. Towards that child Vahni (‘Fire-god’) could not hurl his Śakti, though he stood up (for the same). Yama could not discharge his baton. Nirṛti could not send the sword against the child.

106. King Varuṇa could not send his noose. Nor was Samīraṇa (‘Wind-god’) able to hurl his flag-staff. Soma could not discharge Guḍa (i.e. elephant’s armour) nor could Dhaneśa hurl his great and strong iron club.

107. The Ādityas could not hurl different weapons nor could the Vasus discharge the threshing rod (i.e. pestle). Dānavas beginning with Tāraka could not discharge their extremely terrible weapons.

108-111. These as well as others in the worlds were rendered motionless by the Lord of Devas. Pūṣan gnashed his teeth. In his deluded state, he looked at the child, immediately after being seen by Śaṃbhu, his teeth fell down. Bhaga made his eyes deformed (i.e. he viewed with a distorted vision). His eyes split. The Lord took away the strength, the splendour and the Yogic power of everyone.

Even as those Suras stood thus with great fury Brahmā meditated on it and understood the act of Hara. Hence Vidhi (i.e. Brahmā) approached Mahādeva and eulogized him with great purity.

112-114. Brahmā eulogized through the secret names from Purāṇas, Sāman-songs, and the Vedas:

“Obeisance to you, O Mahādeva, obeisance, obeisance to the great goddess, it is by your grace that Buddhi etc. and the entire universe function. All the Devas are dull and stupid; they have not recognised Śaṅkara, the great Lord who is saluted by all the Devas and who has come here. O Devas, seek refuge in him immediately, if you wish to live.”

115-118. Then the Suras who were highly excited bowed down and eulogized the Lord:

“Obeisance, obeisance, O great Lord. Save us, save us, O Lord of the universe, (though) we are of bad conduct and we have engaged ourselves in self-injury. Oh! See our stupidity. Though we know that Umā, the great goddess, will be your wife, we have gathered here. It is proper if our kingdom is taken away by Asuras because our intellect (has gone astray) thus. What has been done! Or this is not our fault since we are Paśus (brutes, or Jīvas).

119. O Lord, we do everything on being impelled by you, the Pati (‘Lord’). You are Īśvara, the Lord of all Jiving beings, the Supreme Lord.

120. You whirl the entire universe as though it has been, placed on a machine. You whirl it through your Māyā. We have been deluded thereby and it was so that we have come to the Svayaṃvara.

121. Obeisance to that Lord of the Paśus; obeisance to you. Be pleased with us.” Thereupon, the three-eyed Lord of Devas, became pleased with them.

122. On being eulogized by Brahmā, the Lord made all of them as before (by removing their paralysed state).

Thereupon, Daityas, the chief of whom was Tāraka, became infuriated and spoke thus:

123. “Who is this Mahādeva?[4] We do not worship or honour him”. Thereupon the boy laughed and sportingly made a Huṃkāra (i.e. loud humming sound).

124. Merely because of that Huṃkāra those Daityas went (i.e. were thrown back) to their own city. Everything connected with that Svayaṃvara celebration was forgotten by them.

125-129. It was due to the power of Mahādeva that the Daityas of terrible activities became so.

O Phālguna, such is the power of Śiva over Devas and Daityas. How then can the meaning of the word Īśvara be applied to anyone other than he (Śiva). Undoubtedly, those who do not worship the Three-eyed Lord of this universe, are deluded and stupid. Their regret later on will be great.

Thereafter, on being eulogized by the Suras beginning with the Lotus-born Lord, the Three-eyed Lord of Devas assumed an excessively wonderful body. All the Devas became dazzled by his refulgence. Therefore, all the Devas including Indra, the Moon and the Sun, Brahmā, Sādhyas, Vasus, Viśvedevas, Yama and Rudra requested the Lord for (a divinely powerful) vision.

130. Śarva, the husband of Aṃbā, granted them as well as to Bhavānī and the Mountain the most excellent vision in order īo see his own excellent physical body.

131. After obtaining the divine and the most excellent vision by the favour of Rudra, the Devas including Brahmā saw Maheśvara.

132. Thereupon the sages sang, the sky-walkers showered flowers and the divine Dundubhi drums were sounded loudly.

133. The chiefs of Gandharvas sang; the groups of the celestial damsels danced; all the lords of the Gaṇas rejoiced. Pārvatī, Aṃbā too rejoiced.

134-136. Brahmā and others considered Bhavānī and Īśvara complete (on their being united). In the presence of the heaven-dwellers, the delighted goddess placed the divine fragrant garland at his feet. They said, “Well done! Well done!” With their heads touching the ground they bowed down to him worshipped by and accompanied by the goddess. All the Devas including Brahmā joyously sang, “Be victorious”.

Footnotes and references:


This ruse of drowning in a pool by Śaṅkara to catch hold of the right hand of Pārvatī and her determination to end her life as she got polluted by helping the disguised Śiva out of the pool by her right hand, is an innovation not given in Kedārakhaṇḍa Ch. 22, vv 42 ff.


VV 70-78 explain the underlying meaning of Śiva’s epithets.


The Svayaṃvara of Umā and the subsequent fight with gods is not mentioned in Kedārakhaṇḍa chs. 23-27. But there is only the description of marriage of Umā and Śīva.


This is strange. Tāraka is a devotee of Śiva. Skanda refuses to kill him saying “My arm does not discharge the Śakti to kill a devotee of Rudra” (Infra Ch. 32 v. 92). Even after killing Tāraka, Skanda laments for Tāraka (infra Ch. 33. v 8) and established three Liṅgas for him (ibid, Ch. 33 vv. 49-66) as expiation.

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