The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Fight with Mahishasura which is chapter 10 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 tenth chapter of the Arunacala-khanda (Purvardha) of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 10 - The Fight with Mahiṣāsura

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: The chapter describes how the demon Mahiṣāsura was attracted to the goddess Pārvatī due to her beauty and how he was discomfited by her. He was lured through Bṛhaspati and led to meet his fatal end.

Brahmā said:

1. Then oppressed by the demon Mahiṣa, Devas left the earth. Being distressed they bowed down to Gaurī who was performing penance and sought refuge in her.

2. On seeing those terribly frightened Immortal Ones, praying, “O Goddess, grant freedom from fear”, that Goddess asked them, “What is the matter?”

3. Thereupon, with palms joined in reverence, Devas with Indra as their leader, submitted to the Goddess the terror from the leading Daitya to which they were subjected.

Devas said:

4-6. (The Asura) joyously plays in the Nandana park surrounded by celestial damsels. For the sake of sport and pastime, he keeps all the elephants of the quarters, the leader of whom is Airāvata, who have come to his abode along with their mates. He enjoys the vehicles, the chief of whom is Uccaiḥśravas. In his beautiful stables lakhs and crores (of horses) are seen. He wishes to acquire the ram, the vehicle of Fire-god, for his son to ride.

7. He brought the buffalo of Yama and yoked it to (his own) cart. He dragged all the Siddhis and engaged them in his domestic chores.

8-11. He brought the entire group of celestial damsels for his personal service. If there is anything else of great value in the three worlds which has not been acquired, he becomes furious and does not rest till he has brought it.

We have become his servants tormented with perpetual fear. We adore him. We obey his commands. We do not find any other option to take. It has been said that the protection of those who seek refuge is the fruit of austerities.

This Daitya is invincible. He is the most excellent one among powerful persons. He cannot be conquered by Suras or Daityas, because he has been granted boons of prosperity by Śiva.

12. The Ocean, when struck by his horns, says, “I give up” and offers him gems and jewels as present. Thereby the Ocean wishes to seek his favour.

13. This exceedingly haughty demon lifts mountains by means of the tips of his horns, throws them up and plays smearing himself with the finely powdered minerals.

14. His incomparable strength cannot be crushed. He is unassailable unto others. You understand it yourself after striking him with your own brilliance and prowess.

15. This is the great Śakti of Śaṃbhu visible in the form of a woman. He has obtained boons from Śiva. He should be killed by you alone.

16. O Goddess, we do not know anything about the working of Śaṃbhu. Only we should always be protected by you, Mother of the universe.

17. On hearing these appropriate words of (Suras) who had been extremely frightened, the Goddess became kindly disposed in her mind. Granting them freedom from fear, she spoke to them then:

18. “O Immortal Ones, the protection of those who seek refuge in me should be carried out by me, even as I am engaged in a penance. The enemy will become feeble and exhausted due to Kāla (i.e. in due course).

19. I will drag the great Asura by clever means and kill him. It is not proper on my part to kill a sinless one who has not committed any offence today.

20-21. Indeed those who transgress virtue and piety will become (i.e. suffer the fate of) moths in the fire of Dharma.”

On hearing her words Devas bowed down to the Daughter of the Mountain and went back the way they had come. All of them were rid of their fear and they became dsligḥted in their minds.

22. When Devas had departed the lotus-eyed Gaurī became a fascinating Śakti (i.e. enchantress) endowed with splendour and concealed belly.

23. That Goddess established four excellent Baṭukas on four mountains in the four quarters of Aruṇācala for the sake of protection.

24. When the Daughter of the Mountain came from the peak of Kailāsa, the four Mothers had followed her in order to serve her.

25. Four lady attendants had followed her, viz. Dundubhi, Satyavatī, Anavamī and Sundarī.

26. “Let in only a guest overwhelmed with hunger and thirst on a visit to this Aruṇācala and no one else.” So she instructed them.

27. After giving directions to those heroic powerful (Baṭukas) stationed on the bordering mountains, the Daughter of the Mountain performed penance in the vicinity of the hermitage of Gautama.

28. While that slender-bodied lady was engaged in penance, there was no type of distress at all. The clouds showered timely rains and the trees became fruitful.

29. The animals antagonistic to one another by nature gave up their previous animosity. That hermitage dispelled all fears and became worthy of being sought refuge in.

30. That part of Aruṇācala extending to two Yojanas (i.e. 24 kms) was guarded by those four brave Baṭukas stationed on the mountains over the boundary.

31. No cause of fear rose up. Nothing sinking terror was observed. No one was afflicted with sickness. Neither external enemies nor internal enemies (like lust and wrath) prevailed there.

32. All the sages became contented and felt relieved. They praised the Daughter of the Mountain. Some praised that hermitage as the (veritable) region of Siva’s world.

33. By day and night, Gaurī continued to perform severe penance causing satisfaction to Śiva. But the young maiden was not fully satisfied.

34. Mahiṣa of great power and vigour intended to go ahunting. He wandered over the entire forest away from the Śoṇa mountain.

35-37. He was accompanied by the Daitya army. He killed many herds of deer in the forests with great force. He wandered (here and there) quickly eating them (on the way). Some deer were chased by powerful and brave (Daityas) holding bows. Distressed with fear they fled and entered the hermitage. The Daityas who chased them were on the point of killing those deer but were prevented by the heroic Baṭukas hurriedly (shouting), “Do not come here”.

38-40. Then the Baṭukas were asked by the wicked Dānavas, “What is here?” They replied immediately, “A beautiful maiden is performing penance here. No strong man should enter here. It is frequented by sages. This is the place of penance of the Goddess. It accords protection to those who seek refuge therein.”

On hearing these words of those (Baṭukas), the powerful and vicious Dānavas said, “So be it” and retreated. Thereafter, they thought about what should be done by them.

41. By means of their Māyā they assumed the forms of birds and entered the hermitage eagerly. They perched themselves on the branches of the trees in the park in order to see this place from the sky above.

42. In that beautiful forest containing the flowers of all the seasons, she was seen engaged in penance by those soldiers of the Daitya who were skilful in Māyā.

43. On seeing her beauty and grace as well as her firm decision to be engaged in penance, they were extremely surprised. They went (to Mahiṣa) and informed him of this.

44. Distressed by Smara (god of Love) he assumed the form of an old man and entered the hermitage. Then he was honoured by her friends and attendants. He stayed there as though he was rid of his fatigue.

45-49. The old man enquired of them, “What for is her penance?” They replied, “This maiden has been performing this penance for a long time for the sake of pleasing her husband. But that powerful husband is never pleased. At the time of marriage whatever is wished for must be done. But an unusual lord that he is, a great deal of materials, means and implements have been (demanded) by him. A new-born potter shall make fresh pots and bake them in the kiln. These fresh pots should be used for cooking the rice. Similarly all the articles should be freshly acquired and accumulated. They should never be the things seen before. When these materials are ready, let the marriage be celebrated immediately.”

50. On hearing their words thus, Mahiṣa said laughingly, “It is certain that she will obtain me as the fruit of her penance. O young maiden, ascetic lady, listen to my entire wealth and assets.

51. I am Mahiṣa, the excessively powerful lord of Daityas. I am saluted by Suras. The entire space of the three worlds is seized by me.

52. On account of the prowess of my arms, the (title of) unrivalled hero rests in me. O young maiden, I can assume any form I wish. I am the bestower of all enjoyable pleasures.

53. Resort to me as your husband. Through the Kalpa trees brought (by me), I shall get for you fulfilment of all your desires.

54. By means of my penance, I shall create even Viśvakarman from the beginning. By means of my penance, I shall in an instant create thousands of Kāmadhenus.

55. With the nine Nidhis (‘Treasures of Kubera’) acquired by me and kept always at my side, it is possible to achieve every object (you) want. It can be achieved instantaneously.”

56. On hearing his words, Gaurī remembered the Lord. Duly she broke her silence slowly. She spoke to him laughingly:

57-60. (Partly defective text) I will become the wife of a strong person. It is for that purpose that I have been practising penance for a long time. If you are strong, show me your strength.”

On hearing her words uttered in a manner revealing the nature of women, the Asura, Mahiṣa shouted furiously, “You despicable girl! Who is this?”

On seeing that Mahiṣāsura approaching her with a desire to catch hold of her, that young maiden became unapproachable Durgā with fiery form.

On seeing Mahāmāyā blazing and standing in front of him, the demon who himself had the form of a buffalo, increased in size like Meru.

61. With the pair of his horns he constantly struck against the peaks of the Kula mountains. He called together his army that had filled the inner spaces of all the quarters.

62. Thereupon Devas, the chief of whom was Brahmā, bowed down to Durgā who had assumed the form of the Universe-destroying Fire. They worshipped Her with their different kinds of weapons.

63. Remaining concealed by means of their Māyā, Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Sadāśiva gave her four, five and ten missiles and weapons respectively.

64. The Guardians of the Quarters, other Suras, the Mountains and the Oceans—all of them unassailable, worshipped her with their own ornaments and weapons.

65. With many hands blazing due to multitudes of arms and weapons, Durgā, the great Māyā, wore a coat of mail and immediately rode on her vehicle, the lion.

66. Mahiṣa was unable to bear her refulgence that filled alt the quarters. On seeing the terrible form and features of Durgā, he fled.

67. Thereupon, seeing Mahiṣa fleeing because he was unable to bear her own terrible resplendent effulgence, She thought:

68. ‘This wicked Mahiṣāsura must be killed through clever means. With great haughtiness (?) deer are made to turn back by the hunters in the forest.

69. By means of the words of messengers, soft and touching the vulnerable points, I shall attract him, produce anger in him and within a moment face him (in a direct combat).

70. In the case of persons with sinful proclivities, anger may be provoked suddenly when they hear words of righteous import and this will be the cause of their destruction and loss of life.

71. Or, if he happens to be righteous-minded and becomes calm, a violation of duty can be prevented by giving him some advice for his own welfare.

72. Anger must always be eschewed by persons engaged in penance if it is to be fruitful. Violation of duty should never be brooked. Indeed the anger on seeing violation of duty is the greatest penance.’

73. Thinking thus Gaurī mentally called the sage, the preceptor of Suras, by his name (and when he came) sent him towards the Asura. He was asked to assume the face of a monkey.

74. “O monkey-faced great sage, use all your Māyic powers and go. After delivering this message to Mahiṣa come back quickly:

75. ‘O vicious one, do not torment the Lord of Aruṇādri thus. Here the prowess of the evil-minded ones disappears in a moment.

76. Neither the harassment of Kali nor the attack and infliction of pain through the Asuras, nor foolhardiness can bestow auspiciousness even with regard to persons with devotion to Śiva.

77. O Asura, by means of the meritorious deeds of the previous births you have acquired great prosperity and prowess. Do not become a moth in the fire of the Lord of Śoṇādri.

78. The riches and prosperity given by Śiva to you on the strength of your previous austerities, may be burned here immediately like trees in a forest-conflagration.

79. It is here that pious souls and persons endowed with devotion to Śiva always live. This place is likely to be one infested with hundreds of ailments in the case of those who are engaged in torturing others.

80. You have acquired matchless wealth and prosperity. Your strength is unassailable to others. Why are you mean-minded and why do you invite destruction by your own defects?

81. That girl has been seen by me. She is considered to be feeble. But the Lord of Aruṇādri has permeated into her. Hence she is more powerful.

82. Or if you cannot control your mental predilections in spite of various cogent arguments and quotations from scriptures approved of by Śiva, bring your army.

83. With my brilliance I shall instantly burn your growing army whereby you are proud of your strength and through which you harass all the worlds.

84. Bring your entire army and place it in front of me along with their weapons. I shall immediately destroy it through my own soldiers created (by me).

85. Along with your army you will be cut down and you will be freed here itself from this life. Who knows what Śiva wishes?

86. Though prevented, people are induced by their previous Karmans. Being helpless, they commit sins again and reap befitting fruits.’

87. In order to make him turn away from evil pursuits and urge him to acquire virtues of eternal value, more and more kind words and sympathetic suggestions must be offered by you too.”

88. The monkey-faced sage went as a messenger and stood in front of Mahiṣa. He repeated everything uttered and commanded thus by Gaurī.

89. He (the demon) heard everything and became very furious. He rushed at the sage and began to swallow him but, thanks to his Māyic power, the sage managed to get away.

90-91. Thereafter, the evil-minded one called together all his army. It was fully armed and ready for battle. It was terrific unto all the worlds. It resembled the four oceans that come surging up at the end of the Yuga. He ordered it to fight and the matchless group of selected soldiers from the army besieged Śoṇādri.

92. On seeing the wonderful army of the Daityas, Gaurī created many terrible fiery heroes, many groups of Bhūtas (i.e. goblins).

93-95. The goblins were of various sorts: single-footed ones, single-eyed ones, single-legged ones, those with hanging ears, those with flabby breasts etc. Some of them had their faces in hands and feet; some had their heads in their bellies. Thus they set out. They spoke to one another like this: “I will swallow everyone. This is not sufficient for me. I myself will kill the entire army of the Daityas. What is there to be done by you? You may simply stand here looking on. I alone will be fighting here.”

96. Even as they were talking thus, even as the Gaṇas were engaged in these conversations, the Goddess blew her conch in order to kill the multitude of the Daityas through the groups of Yoginīs.

97. On seeing Her in that form the soldiers of the Daitya rushed in. Holding their weapons aloft they displayed their prowess in front of their master.

98. The Daityas showered weapons in every quarter. She checked them all by means of the arrows discharged from her bow.

99. The goblins and the vampires created by the Goddess were invincible. They fought with the lakhs and crores of chariots, lordly elephants and horses.

100. Mothers of different kinds and features, Ḍākinīs (‘witches’), groups of Yoginīs, Piśācas (‘ghosts’), Pretas (‘spirits’) and demons were created once again by her refulgence.

101. The great Asuras were swallowed, ground into powder, split, torn and killed instantaneously by the invincible army created by the Goddess.

102. The Goddess with the weapons was seen blazing brilliantly along with the groups of Bhūtas who had killed the Asuras, who were dancing and who were satisfied with the blood and flesh they consumed.

103. When She (the Goddess) came to the penance ground from the Kailāsa peak, some Mothers had come along with her in order to protect her body.

104. They were Dundubhi, Satyavatī, Antavatī (Anavamī) and Sundarī. These four attendants followed her.

105. Cāmuṇḍā created by the Goddess was highly terrible on account of her curved teeth. She moved about fully contented with the blood, flesh, suet and hides of the Daityas.

106-110. She caught hold of a certain Asura and began to dance. On seeing her the haughty demon (appeared to) blaze her with the fire of his anger. With the tips of his horns he tossed the groups of clouds. His terrible eyes reaching the ears, rolled in a fierce manner. With his long tongue that resembled the flame of blazing fire, he licked the peaks of the lofty mountain. Kicking with the hoof, he tore up the ground. The dust particles were raised up frequently. With his roar he made the quarters resonant. His continued harsh roar was terrible. Devas had the erroneous notion that the Cosmic Egg would split thereby. They became deluded. He held up his tail like a rod. Striking with it he shattered the innumerable weapons that were showered oṇ him. Only for his sure death did he rush towards Bhavānī who was seated on a lion. She shone brilliantly with three folds over her navel.

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