The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Parvati Goes to Kanci for Penance which is chapter 3 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 third chapter of the Arunacala-khanda (Purvardha) of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 3 - Pārvatī Goes to Kāñcī for Penance

Sanaka said:

1. O Lord, this wonderful greatness of the Lord of Aruṇācala has been heard by Śiva’s grace as well as the favour shown by you, the preceptor of the universe.

2. This greatness is very wonderful. It is conducive to the destruction of all sins. Who are those who worshipped and propitiated the Śoṇa mountain, the bestower of boons?

3. Śiva who has neither the beginning nor the end, has assumed the form of Śoṇācala. O "Lord, it is on account of the penance of you both that he has been abiding here for offering boons.

4. When the name Śoṇādri that yields salvation is uttered even once, all the desired objects come to one’s presence. It is destructive of sins.

5a. The word Śiva has the taste of nectar. Let the procedure of the worship of Śiva and the story thereof (be described).

5b-6a. On hearing these words, Brahmā, the Lord of Devas, who is Mercy itself incarnate, spoke after bowing down to the Lord of Aruṇācala.

Brahmā said:

6b-9. O dear one, let the ancient legend of Pārvatī, how she resorted to the Lord of Aruṇācala and became happy, be heard.

Once Mahādeva, the Lord of Pārvatī, came to his divine gem-set throne fitted with festoons. It was as charming as the Kalpa-tree laden with gems as its fruit and flowers. It was covered with precious stones. It had a canopy bedecked with pearls. It was full of fragrance due to the clusters and nosegays of flowers and divine incense.

10. Swarms of bees from the hanging clusters of garlands hummed and hovered around it. The vehicle of Guha (i.e. the peacock) danced (near it) at the sound of the divine instruments of music, taking it for the sound of thunder.

11-12. Great elephants were afraid as the lion of Pārvatī moved (up and down). The stage (i.e. space) in front of it was resorted to exclusively by the dancing and singing celestial damsels. It was frequented by the Guardians of the Quarters. It was surrounded by prominent ascetics and Brāhmaṇa sages eulogizing (the Lord) with Mantras (selected) from the Ṛg(-), Yajur(-) and Sāma-Vedas and by gods, Siddhas and saintly kings.

13-17a. It was filled with the Gaṇas of different forms and sizes, whose bodies were adorned with sacred ash. They appeared handsome as they wore Rudrākṣa beads and were devoted to Śiva. It was fascinating with the tinkling sound of bells and the sounds of three types of musical instruments such as lute, flute, drum etc., mixed with the sounds of Vedic Mantras. With a desire to bless devotees, the Lord, the consort of Pārvatī, graced the great divine seat. Adopting the pure and auspicious form full of splendour, the glorious Lord, the storehouse of mercy, sported along with Aṃbikā.

17b-23a. He delighted Pārvatī by means of music, diverse kinds of tales, different sorts of games at dice and the hideous dances of the Gaṇas. After bidding farewell to all the Devas, sages and the members of his court, and after granting different kinds of boons to devout people as desired by them, be sported about along with Umā in the parks of variegated and wonderful features abounding in flowers blossoming in all seasons, in rows and studded with gems and jewels; in the fascinating tanks with rows of steps studded with gems; on the peaks of the mountains of sports and pastime and in the groves of golden plantain trees. His fatigue due to these sports was dispelled by the gentle breeze that was cool (as it blew from) the waves of Gaṅgā and fragrant due to the full blown lotuses. In accordance with his desire, the Lord delighted goddess Śivā, his beloved one, the beautiful lady endowed with all felicity, the splendid one in the form of Rati.

23b-28a. The delighted goddess (like) a young girl of youthful simplicity, once thought her lover to be under her absolute control. So once, she went stealthily behind him. With her hands of lotus-like (tenderness and lustre) she sportingly closed the three eyes of Śaṃbhu, the sire of the world, just out of curiosity to know what it was.

When the eyes in the forms of the moon, the sun and the fire respectively were dosed, there appeared a terrible darkness of a very long duration. With half a moment of the Lord crores of (human) years passed by. The universe came to its destruction on account of the darkness caused by the playful sport of the goddess. The universe was filled all over with boundless darkness. Being deprived of the movement of the luminaries, the universe met with its destruction.

28b-33. Devas did not flourish nor did the Vedas shine. No living beings existed. Only the Uṇmanifest (i.e. Prakṛti) remained by itself.

On seeing this untimely destruction of the worlds, it occurred to those (venerable persons) who through their penance had gained a flash of inspiration in their minds: ‘(What) is the source of this darkness causing destruction of the worlds. Certainly, the Lord, the immanent soul of everyone, has not impelled the god of Death. Playfully the goddess has closed the eyes of the conqueror of Tripura. Therefore, the entire unit of the three worlds has become deprived of light. If the three worlds have been pervaded by untimely darkness, what course is left to those of divine origin (i.e. gods) who have acquired their realms by means of penance? Yajñas are not being performed on the earth. Suras are not being worshipped.’

34. On determining this by their mental powers and observing this through their vision born of knowledge, those eternal Sūris (i.e. persons of spiritual wisdom) devoutly bowed down to Śaṃbhu and prayed:

35. “Obeisance to Śiva, the Supreme Soul, the maker of the entire universe, who has assumed separate forms in the nature of Śaktis through Māyā.

36. The inevitable one primordial Śakti in the form of Śiva is the cause of creation, sustenance and annihilation in a sportful manner.

37. She is half of your body, O Lord, Your body is in the form of Śiva and Śakti. Mahādeva is one and only one (without a second). O Lord, without you none else exists.

38. Thanks to your sporting activity, this world has met with untimely destruction. May your genuine mercifulness making the worlds flourish, increase.

39. Due to the withdrawal of lights for the duration of half a winking of yours, innumerable years of the worlds have gone by causing their destruction.

40. Therefore, be pleased, O Sadāśiva, the embodiment of mercifulness; O Kāla (i.e. god of Death), stop this destruction of the worlds initiated through love’s sport.”

41. On hearing these words of those devotees endowed with Siddhis the Lord, the embodiment of mercifulness, said, “O Gaurī, leave off my eyes.”

42. The goddess desisted from continuing the closure of the eyes of Hara in the form of the moon, the sun and the fire. The universe became bright and brilliant.

43. On being asked “How much time has passed?”, Siddhas bowed down and said, “Along with your half a winking crores of (human) years have elapsed.”

44. Looking smilingly at his beloved, the exceedingly liberal-minded Lord, the embodiment of mercy, spoke about a few points of great piety and righteousness:

45-47. “O pretty girl of youthful simplicity! You have done this thoughtlessly as it caused the destruction of the world. I regard it improper on your part, you being the mother of the universe. I too destroy all the worlds when the proper time of dissolution comes. On account of your immaturity the worlds have met with destruction at the most improper time.

Which lady (in a position) like you will commit this sort of improper action despised by good people, even for fun? A person who is an embodiment of sympathy and mercy does not harass (others).”

48. On hearing these words of Śaṃbhu she became agitated, because she was afraid of the loss of Dharma. The beloved wife of the Lord asked him, “What shall I do in order to countervail it?”

49. Being pleased at that repentance and devotion of the goddess, Lord Śiva, the storehouse of sympathy, spoke:

50. “You constitute my own person. Hence what expiation is to be suggested? Still, this path of virtue is being maintained by you.

51-52. (Defective Text) You are the embodiment of Śrutis, Smṛtis, holy rites, liturgical texts, lores, Devas and others. I am the great principle (?) and am identical with it. You, the goddess inseparable from me, should be one entertaining a desire for creating the worlds.

53. Hence the expiatory rite for you is being laid down in the manner befitting the world.

After pondering over Śrutis and Smṛtis Dharma has been ascertained as of six types.

54. If it is not abided by the master it is likely to be abandoned by the dependents and followers. I am not able to stay anywhere even for a single moment after leaving you.

55. I myself shall perform the entire penance, stationed in the Ātman. The entire earth shall be fruitful through your penance.

56. By the contact with your lotus-like feet and the sight of your penance and your own presence (the people) will dispel the trouble caused by defilement.

57-58. Perform meritorious deeds for the uplift of the land of Karmans. On observing your austere rites in the world, all the people will have firmer inclination towards righteousness. There is no doubt about it. Your sympathy will make the earth contented and blessed through your activities in maintaining piety and virtuousness. You have been told about all these things, O gentle lady, by the eternal Vedas.

59-63. There is a city named Kāñcī.[1] It is endowed with all riches and is well-known. It is a direct representation of heaven full of Devas on the surface of the earth. It is said that any penance performed there has infinite benefits.

Devas and all the sages desire to stay there forever. There (is a river) well-known as Kaṃpā.[2] It is destructive of all great sins. Crores of sins of the men staying there tremble (with fear).

There is one mango tree there.[3] It shines with perpetual sprouts. It has. perfectly cool shade along with flowers, fruits and sprouts. Japa, Homa and charitable gifts performed there yield infinite benefits.

64. Let the Gaṇas of different forms and sizes, Ḍākinīs, the groups of Yogins and others, the chief of whom is Viṣṇu serve you all round.

65. I shall be devoid of attributes and be undivided. I shall be present in your lotus-like mind. O gentle lady, do not become agitated due to separation from me.”

66. On being told thus by the Lord of Devas, the goddess, with surprise in her eyes, went near Kaṃpā along with her friends in order to perform penance.

67-68. On seeing Kaṃpā, the river without impurities resorted to by groups of ascetics, and the single mango tree Ekāmra with tender sprouts, warding off the (evil) eye, laden with fruits and flowers and completely agitated with the chirping sound of cuckoos, she became pleased. Then she remembered Lord Maheśvara.

69. With her limbs enveloped by the fire of love, she became as though emaciated on account of penance.

Gaurī addressed Vijayā who was present near her at her side.

70-72. Her limbs were enveloped by (the feelings of) love and grief (because) she was agitated on account of the separation from Purāri (i.e. Śiva): “I have come here for perpetually worshipping the Lord, the dispeller of sins, by means of austerities. But this single mango tree, the kinsman of the god of Love, with fresh outcome of sprouts and flowers reminds me (of Śiva). My mind has been agitated much by the mind-born lord of love. How can I bear the separation from Śiva? Therefore the sole antidote for the same is seen in remembering the feet of the Lord who has the young moon on his crest.”

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Kāñcī—Kanchipuram on the river Palar in Tamil Nadu 43 miles south-west of Madras. The eastern portion of the town is Vaiṣṇavite (Viṣṇu-Kāñcī) and the western portion is Śaivite (Śiva-Kāñcī). Śiva hereof is known as Ekāmranātha (with Kāmākhyā as his consort). It contains the famous Tīrtha Śiva Gaṅgā. One of the seats of Śaṅkarācārya is here.

[2]:

Probably the river Palar.

[3]:

According to authority the Ekāmra is a single mango tree under which, it is described in Aruṇācala Māhātmya, Pārvatī had performed penance. It has been flourishing in the temple of Ekāmreśvara at Kāñcī from time immemorial. It appears that god Śiva got his name Ekāmreśvara from this “Single Mango Tree”.

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