The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 750,347 words

This page describes Skanda Installed as the Commander-in-Chief which is chapter 30 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 thirtieth chapter of the Kaumarika-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 30 - Skanda Installed as the Commander-in-Chief

Nārada said:

1. Then, along with Suras, Skanda descended from the top of the Śveta[1] mountain. In order to slay Tāraka, he went to the southern direction.

2-3. Thereupon, the son of Pāvaka (i.e. Skanda) was crowned and invested with the power of the overlord of all the spirits and goblins on the banks of the river Sarasvatī, O son of Pāṇḍu. He was made the lord[2] of Grahas (i.e. evil demons harassing people), Upagrahas (i.e. minor demons), Vetālas (vampires), Śākinīs (ogresses), Unmādas (i.e. evil spirits of madness), Apasmāras (epileptic fits) and the Piśācas (ghosts eating flesh) by Devas.

4-6. It was for the purpose of preventing those spirits etc. of wicked intentions from transgressing the limits. Hence he who is attacked by these, shall seek refuge in the son of Pāvaka. Grahas etc. avoid a person whose senses are controlled; none of whose sense-organs are loose and disordered; who is always pure and is never lethargic or idle; who is godly and a devotee of Skanda. They are destroyed even when seen from far by those who are devoted to Maheśvara or to Nārāyaṇa.

7-9a. Then, along with all the Suras, Guha went to the banks of Mahī.[3] There be listened to the excellent greatness of Mahī, recounted by the Devas. Skanda was surprised and he bowed down to the river; thereafter, the Devas, the chief of whom was Śakra, bowed down to Guha who had resorted to the southern bank and established himself there and spoke these words:

9b-16. “O Skanda, no army obtains pleasure and happiness without a sinless Commander-in-chief duly installed as such. Hence allow us to consecrate you as such, with the holy and auspicious waters of Mahī and the ocean. We shall sprinkle those waters over you and it behoves you to glance at us at that place.

Just as the footprints of others get (i.e. are included) in the footprint of an elephant, so also all other holy spots and centres of pilgrimage get merged in the waters of the ocean and Mahī. Just as the Three-eyed Lord is glorified as comprising all the living beings, so also the place of meeting of Mahī and the ocean comprises all the holy spots.

Just as the semi-female form of Rudra bestows everything, so also the holy bath in Mahī and the ocean bestows all benefits. If a person, O Skanda, offers libations to the manes with the feelings of devotion in this holy spot, there is no doubt in this that it is as good as offering the libations in all holy spots. The fact that the water herein is saltish should not be minded much, for just as various grasses etc. of astringent or bitter taste when taken in by a cow, yield sweet milk, so also the water herein bestows delight and satisfaction to Pitṛs.”

17-18. While the Devas were speaking thus, Kapila,[4] the sage proclaimed, “This is true. O son of Umā. Mahī comprises all holy waters. Kardama (my father) and I have understood the great qualities of this Tīrtha. I have abandoned all (the other parts of) the earth and I stay here after putting up my hermitage.”

19-22. Then Maheśvara said “What has been said by the Suras is true.” Brahmā and others also told him, “Here you shall be our leader once again. O hero, we shall perform your sacred ablution here. Command us.” Thereupon, the noble-minded Skanda who was surprised, took his bath there and spoke these words to them. “Let Devas perform the. rite of sprinkling the water over me.”

Thereupon, they collected all the requisites for the consecrative ablution in accordance with (the injunctions of) the Śāstras.[5] Four principal Ṛtviks, viz. Brahmā, Kapila, Bṛhaspati and the fourth one Viśvāmitra performed the Homa-rite in the fire sanctified by Mantras.

23. There were hundreds of other sages too who had mastered the Vedas. There, O descendant of Bharata, Mahādeva performed a miracle.

24-25. He was seen in the form of a Liṅga stationed in the middle of the sacred fire-pit. The Lord had assumed the form of the Liṅga in order to impress that “It is I myself, stationed in the fire, that always receive the Haviṣ offerings.” The Devas bowed down with great joy to that matchless Liṅga.

26-28a. It is destructive of all sins, O son of Pṛthā, and it bestows all desired benefits.

At the end of the rite of Homa, an excellent seat studded with divine gems and jewels was offered by Himālaya. Skanda sat there in that auspicious seat.

Thereafter, the Devas poured the sacred water to the accompaniment of holy Mantras, in accordance with the injunctions, over Kumāra, the son of Śaṅkara. All the auspicious materials required for the same had been duly collected together.

Then the (following) gods sprinkled water over Kumāra, the son of Śaṅkara (for installing him as the Commander-in-chief).

28b-37a. Indra, Viṣṇu of great valour, Brahmā, Rudra, all the Planets beginning with Sun-god, the two gods, Fire and Wind, Ādityas, Vasus, Rudras, Sādhyas, the two Aśvins, Viśvedevas, Maruts, Gandharvas, celestial damsels, divine sages, Brāhmaṇical sages, Vālakhilyas, Marīcipās, Vidyādharas, Siddhas with yogic power, sages Pulastya, Pulaha and others, Manes, Kaśyapa, Atri, Marīci, Bhṛgu, Aṅgiras, Dakṣa, Manus, Luminaries, Seasons, Rivers in embodied forms such as Mahī and others, Oceans beginning with Saltish Ocean, Holy Spots beginning with Prabhāsa, Earth, Firmament, Quarters, Trees, Mountains, Mothers beginning with Aditi who personally performed special auspicious rites for Guha, Serpents, chief of whom was Vāsuki, Garuḍa and Aruṇa (the two brothers), Varuṇa, Dhanada, Yama with his attendants, Rākṣasa Nirṛti, Goblins, Flesh-eaters, Dharma, Bṛhaspati, Kapila, Visvāmitra and various other groups of Devas too numerous to be mentioned. All these performed the rite of ablution by sprinkling the holy water over Guha joyously on the bank of Mahī.

37b-38. Thereafter Paśupati gave unto him the great army of all the Bhūtas (Goblins) that was very terrible. It made a loud rumbling sound and was capable of subduing the haughtiness of Devas, Daityas and others. Viṣṇu gave him the Vaijayantī garland that increased strength.

39. Umā whose lustre was like that of the Sun gave him two dustless clothes. Gaṅgā gave him an excellent divine Kamaṇḍalu (water-pot) originating from nectar (or producing nectar).

40. Along with the Ocean Mahī, the great river, gave him the necklace of rosary beads with great joy. Bṛhaspati gave Kumāra a staff.

41. Garuḍa gave his beloved son Mayūra (‘Peacock’) having a cluster of feathers of various colours as tail. Aruṇa gave him a cock Tāmracūḍa (‘having copper-coloured crest’).

42-44. Lord Varuṇa gave him a goat fully possessed of strength and vigour. Brahmā gave him a deer-hide that was (conducive to) victory and the acquisition of sacred knowledge. He gave him four attendants also who had great vigour and prowess. They were his mental sons named Nandisena, Lohitākṣa, Ghaṇṭākarṇa and the fourth one who was well-known as Kusumamālin and had excessive strength. Then Lord Sthāṇu (Śiva) gave him his great Pārṣaḍa (named) Kratu.

45. Indeed in the course of the war between Devas and Asuras this infuriated attendant had killed with his hands fourteen million Daityas of terrible deeds.

46. Yama then gave him two attendants comparable to Yama and Kāla. They were Unmātha and Pramātha. They had excessive vigour and great lustre.

47. The joyous Sun-god gave unto Kārttikeya, O son of Pṛthā, his two constant followers, the Subhrāṭs.

48. Soma (the Moon) gave his attendants Maṇi and Sumaṇi who resembled Kailāsa peak and had white garlands and (scented) unguents.

49-52. Agni gave him (two attendants) of great strength, viz. Jvālājihva and Jyotiṣ.

Viṣṇu of long strides gave Skanda three attendants, viz. Parigha, Bala and Bhīma of very great strength.

Vāsava, the slayer of the warriors of enemies, gave the son of Maheśa two attendants Utkrośa and Pañcaja who wielded thunderbolt and baton (respectively). Indeed those two had slain in battle many enemies of Mahendra.

O foremost one among the descendants of Bharata, the delighted Aśvins gave Skanda (two attendants) Vardhana and Bandhana who were great experts in Āyurveda.

53. Vāyu gave Kārttikeya two attendants Bala and Atibala who had big mouths and were very powerful.

54-56. Lord Varuṇa gave the warriors Ghasa and Atighasa.

O son of Pṛthā, Himavān gave his daughter’s son (two attendants) Suvarcas of noble soul and Ativarcas.

Meru gave Kāñcana and Meghamālin. The delighted Vindhya gave the son of Svāhā the two splendid attendants Ucchrita and Atiśṛṅga who were great fighters with stones.

57. Accompanied by river Mahī the Ocean gave the two heroic attendants Saṃgraha and Vigraha who wielded iron clubs.

58. Pārvatī of beautiful and auspicious appearance gave the son of Agni Unmāda, Puṣpadanta and Śaṅkukarṇa.

59. Suparṇa gave the son of Jvalana (Fire-god) two attendants Jaya and Mahājaya, two serpents who were the most excellent ones among mighty warriors.

60. Thus Sādhyas, Rudras, Vasus, Pitṛs and all others who are the foremost in the world gave attendants to Skanda.

61. They were exceedingly powerful, of varying grades of strength and potentiality. They had different kinds of weapons and ornaments. They are too numerous, O Phālguna, to be reckoned.

62. The Mothers gave the Lord groups of Mothers who were very auspicious and by whom the three worlds including mobile and immobile beings have been pervaded.

63-69. The Mothers are as follows: Prabhāvatī, Viśālākṣī, Gopālā, Gonasā, Apsujātā, Bṛhaddaṇḍī, Kālikā, Bahuputrakā, Bhayaṅkarī, Cakrāṅgī, Tīrthanemī, Mādhavī, Gītapriyā, Alātākṣī, Caṭulā, Śalabhāmukhī, Vidyujjihvā, Rudrakālī, Śatolūkhalamekhalā, Śataghaṇṭākiṅkiṇikā, Cakrākṣī, Catvarālayā, Pūtanā, Rodanā, Āmā, Koṭarā, Meghavāhinī, Ūrdhvaveṇīdharā, Jarāyus, Jarjarānanā, Khaṇṭakheṭī, Dahadahā, Dhamadhamā, Jayā, Bahuveṇī, Bahuśirā, Bahupādā, Bahustanī, Śatolūkamukhī, Kṛṣṇā, Karṇaprāvaraṇā, Śūnyālayā, Dhānyavāsā, Paśudā, Dhānyadā, Sadā. These and many other Mothers (were given unto him). O leading scion of the family of Bharata, since they (those Mothers) are innumerable, I am not able to reckon them.

70-71. They dwelt on trees and quadrangles; they had their abodes in the places where four roads meet; they lived in caves and cremation grounds and they had mountains, cascades and cataracts as their regular dwelling places. They had different kinds of dress and ornaments. They assumed different kinds of forms. They spoke different languages and they wielded different kinds of weapons. They surrounded Guha there.

72-73. Then the glorious Guha shone like another Guha (i.e. He was matchless). He was crowned and invested with the office of the Commander-in-chief by the different Devas and great sages.

Then the son of Fire-god bowed down severally to all of them, the leaders among whom were Bhava and Brahmā, and said to them.

“Let the boon be chosen.”

Footnotes and references:


The portion of Himālaya to the east of Tibet (De 200).


Skanda’s association with evil spirits etc. is a legacy of pre-Epic period. For example, In Pāraskara Gr. S. a demon Cough is called Kumāra and Mahāsena is a disease-demon.


The march of Guha’s army appears to be as follows: Western Himālayas to Sarasvatī, thence to Mahī-sāgara-saṅgama. Tāraka’s capital was near Cambay. Skanda’s route being unexpected, Tāraka was taken by surprise (vide infra 31.42-46 and his rebuke of Kālanemi, his commander-in-chief infra 32.3-4).


Kapila’s presence was natural as his hermitage (now known as Mātṛgayā) was in that area.


VV 22-37 give the Purāṇic procedure of installing a commander.

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