The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Parvati’s Devotional Service to Arunacaleshvara which is chapter 18 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 eighteenth chapter of the Arunacala-khanda (Uttarardha) of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 18 - Pārvatī’s Devotional Service to Aruṇācaleśvara

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nandikeśvara said:

1. Managing the domestic duties on behalf of her husband (while) staying at the root of the Ekāmra (‘a Single Mango tree’) she once entertained people by means of cooked rice and beverages.

2. Once the daughter of the Mountain saw the Lord engaged in performing Sandhyā-rote when his eyes were closed and the palms were joined in reverence.

3. Then she thought thus: ‘Certainly some fortunate woman is being meditated upon now (by him). (His professed) love making to me is, I think, a great fraud.

4. How can the crooked mental attitude of men be known? I have been thoroughly deceived by this extremely clever one through pretended services.

5. I think there he entertains only an insincere courtesy for me in his mind. But when alone, it is the fortunate one who becomes an object of love.

6. “From now onwards I am your slave. I have been bought by you through your austerities.” Saying thus the enemy of god of Love, the Lord with the crescent moon as his crest-jewel, has deceived me.

7. The pride of matrimonial felicity in those women of deluded minds when love is not of an equal proportion can but evoke derisive laughter among the people.’

8. When the Goddess had thus an excited mind on account of the anger of (unrequited) love, her face appeared (as if) scorched by fire and the heat of the sun.

9. Her slightly copper-coloured eyes welling up with tear drops shone much like the blue lotuses filled with water.

10. When her two eyebrows were parted by the circular sectarian mark between them, it appeared as though the bow of the god of Love was broken into two.

11. Her lower lip frequently quivered on account of the weight of her internal wrath, like the bud of the red Aśoka resting on a tender sprout.

12. The circular (i.e. plump) cheeks of Pārvatī were highly flushed and they shone like polished ruby-mirror.

13. Her breasts heaving with the internal tremor shook like a pair of lotus buds oscillated by the bees caught within them.

14. She thought thus: ‘Altogether it is indeed on account of the (unfortunate) absence of my conjugal bliss that the Moon-adorned Lord thinks about another woman.

15. Therefore, I shall go somewhere. What is (to be done) here by me alone and single. Now marital felicity should be acquired by me by performing penance.

16. I must go quietly even as he keeps his eyes closed. If not, he is sure to restrain me by means of (insincere) utterances coming from above his throat.

17. This Gaṅgā who is fond (of them) will bring up my dear children certainly. But, my Lord will not remember me because he is devoted to another woman.’

18. After deciding thus, she turned away at once from the side of the Lord. Without having any particular direction in view she began to go anxiously.

19. The friends Calāvatī, Mālyavatī, Mālinī, Vijayā and Jayā followed their mistress themselves in great bewilderment, though they were forbidden (by her).

20. She roamed about in the holy mountains, forests, cities, lakes and rivers all round.

21. Wandering over the excellent territory named Draviḍa at the foot of the Sahya mountain, she crossed the river Śakti. The Goddess then spoke to Vijayā:

22. “Not very far off in front is seen a mountain completely red in colour and having eight peaks.{GL_NOTE::} This mountain certainly appears to be endued with greatness.

23. On its surrounding valleys and lowlands hermitages of ascetics are seen. They are very sacred and quiet. They are charming on account of the holy penance groves and forests.

24. Let us go and view these holy hermitages. Looking at them my mind is exceedingly pleased.”

25. Delighting her friend, the daughter of the Mountain slowly went to the side of that mountain and saw a hermitage.

26-29. Spiders weave webs here (?) Kuṃbhīras (i.e. sharks etc.) clear away the moss. (Some animals) nourish their young ones with Nīvāra rice; jackals take away fish: Camara deer take away dust heaps with their tails having plenty of hair; buffaloes level up (the bushes) with their raised horns.

Monkeys fetch flowers and fruits for the sages, bears potfuls of honey and boars clay for their ablution and cleansing purposes.

Mutual friendship has been cultivated by (creature with natural animosity such as) crows and owls, parrots and vultures, deer and tigers, lions and elephants, peacocks and serpents as well as rats and cats.

30. Wafting the fragrance of the materials of sacrificial oblation consigned to the sacred fire, a thick cloud of sacred smoke came out through the spaces in between the trees.

31. Cuckoos here recite the Śatarudrīya text; crows loudly repeat the hymns and prayers and Śārikās (Turdus salica) sing Sāman verses.

32. Tigers as well as cows wander among the plants and paddy fields, and elephants spray the trees with the waters from their trunks.

33. In a sacred place that was charming and sanctifying she saw a certain sage engaged in penance.

34. Beneath a Saptaparṇa tree (Alstonia scholaris) he was seated in the ‘heroicposture on a tiger skin of variegated colour placed on a sacred mat of Kuśa grass.

35. He was white in colour owing to the sacred ash smeared all over. With the matted hair having the red lustre of the awn of paddy he appeared like an autumnal cloud with streaks of lighting that are not fickle.

36. His eyes were motionlessly fixed at the tip of the nose; his lips throbbed evenly and with the tips of his fingers he was slowly rotating the rosary of Rudrākṣa beads.

37. Fresh from his ablution, he was wearing two bark garments not very dry along the borders like a mountain having two clouds at the time of dusk.

38. Near the cavity of his chest he had three sacred threads which appeared to be like a net fixed there for catching the wild animals of the six bad qualities, viz. anger, lust etc.

After the requisite customary greetings etc. she asked that ascetic:

Pārvatī enquired:

39-42. Who are you please? What is this excellent mountain where you perform penance?

He replied: “This is Aruṇa mountain highly honoured among holy places. I am sage Gautama. For the sake of salvation I propitiate Śiva by means of penance.”

After saying this he understood from Vijayā and others that she was Umā. He then devoutly bowed down to her many times and took her to his own hut.

With bulbous roots, roots, fruits and other things the sage entertained her and allowed her to perform penance for contributing to the auspiciousness of the universe.

43. Beginning with the manifestation of the Column of Effulgence, he narrated to her everything and related to her the greatness of Śoṇādri fully.

44. “To the east of Śoṇādri there is a holy spot named Sthalīśvara. Śaṃbhu is present there in the form of a refulgent Liṅga.

45. It is a place thickly crowded by Gīrvāṇas (i.e. Devas) beginning with Viṣṇu and Brahmā. Hence, O Umā, it is not possible (for me) to perform penance there without distraction or hindrance.

46. This is a foot (i.e. a valley) of the Śoṇa mountain named Pravālācala. Since it is covered and concealed by holy forests, it has some privacy and seclusion.

47. Therefore, I have installed the Three-eyed Lord here itself. I propitiate the Lord in accordance with my capacity by means of various forms of austerities devised by myself.

48. In the vicinity of my hermitage is this great holy spot. Let a hermitage be created by the Goddess. Indeed a long penance has to be performed.”

49-52. On being permitted by the ascetic the daughter of the Mountain had a hermitage got ready and engaged herself in the task of performing a great penance. In order to protect the hermitage she appointed Satyavatī, Kānanavāsinī, Subhagā and Dhundhumārī in the east and other quarters. For the over-all defence of the entire penance grove she commanded Durgā of unthwartable impetuosity who was capable of carrying out all orders. Thereafter Pārvatī converted her ornamented braid of hair accustomed to wear Mandāra (Erythrina Indica) flowers into a matted hair for the sake of penance.

53. The lady of delicate limbs cast off her silk cloth as light as mist with the fringe as soft as the down of a swan and began to wear rough bark garments.

54. Her delicate fingers, tender like sprouts, could not bear even the strain of plucking flowers (formerly), but now with them she cut sharp-edged Kuśa grass without any adverse effect.

55. As soft and tender as Śirīṣa (Acacia sirissa), she gathered the sprouts of Bilva tree full of thorns as hard and sharp as diamond needles.

56. Early in the morning she used to have her holy dip in the sanctifying river Kamalā. She then duly worshipped the Sun-god with red lotuses.{GL_NOTE::}

57. With the waters of the river Śrīnadī mixed with Darbha grass, Akṣata (‘raw rice’) and Tila (‘gingelly seeds’) Goddess Gaurī performed the water-libations to the Devas, sages and Manes.

58. In a mystic circle made of sands she invoked the Sun-god and worshipped him with lotuses. Thereafter Gaurī circumambulated it and bowed to it a thousand times.

59. She herself installed a Liṅga of Śaṅkara. Pārvatī worshipped it in accordance with the injunctions laid down in the Āgamas.

60-61. She propitiated the Sun-god by offering seat, making idols and reciting Mūla Mantras. She performed the various ancillary rites. In the different quarters she worshipped (the attendants) the chiefs of whom were Daṇḍin and Piṅgala, Śaktis beginning with Dīptā, the planets beginning with the Moon in the different quarters. She showed the mystic gestures of Dhenus (cows) etc. The Nirmālya (‘remnants of the worship’) was dedicated to the fierce splendour (of the Sun). She then offered the foodstuffs prepared.

62. With the extremely good Argha (i.e. water and other materials of worship) she sprinkled all round. She worshipped the door and the site of the abode. She performed the Nyāsa and other rites too.

63-67. She performed the purificatory rite of the Bhūtas (elements). Afterwards she performed the Antaryāga (‘internal sacrifice’).

Assuming the lotus-posture in her heart she worshipped Jñāna (Knowledge), Dharma (Virtue) and others in due serial order. She assigned Vāmā and other Śaktis (‘power-deities’) on the petals (of the heart-lotus). The Sun and god Brahmā were posted at the tip of the Petal, the Moon-god and Viṣṇu at the end (tip) of the filaments, the Fire-god and god Śiva at the tip of the pericarp (of the heart-lotus). Above that she placed the group of Śaktis and had the Pañca Brahmans[1] installed then. With the limbs (of her mental self) she received them with Pādya (‘water to wash feet’) and other relating formalities of reception and performed their ablution. She offered them sandal-paste, flowers and other articles of worship. She offered them incense and waved lamp (light) before them. She again worshipped the Pañca-Brahmans and six Aṅgas. She performed all the due formalities of worship of Indra and others and of (their weapons like) Vajra and others according to injunctions. She then scattered flowers in eight directions.

68. After worshipping the five faces (of Śiva) she completed the worship of Caṇḍeśvara. She always worshipped Śiva by means of circumambulation, obeisances and other due formalities.

69-70. She performed the Homa rite by means of those materials which yield conjugal felicity in accordance with the injunctions laid down in Śivāgama. At the end of the worship when the fire is removed, she made the customary Upacāras (‘services’). She herself then welcomed and rendered services to guests with bulbous roots, roots, fruits etc.

71-73. She performed various types of penances in various seasons. During summer she used to stand on the tip of her big toe in the middle of the five fires. During early winter she used to stand in whirlpools and get nourishment from the nectar of the Moon. During the nights of rainy season despite the downpours of rain she stood motionless in darkness. She appeared as a streak of lightning accompanying a cloud. She spent the nights of late winter season displaying lotuses in the form of her hands and feet and the Moon in that of her face. She could display these without any fatigue.

74. By offering the seeds of Nīvāra paddy she nurtured the deer staying in the neighbourhood—the deer that had never experienced violence.

75. With great love and affection she brought up and nursed all the trees in the hermitage by regularly pouring water in the basins at their roots, the water brought in big pots by excellent girl-attendants.

76. That daughter of the leader of Mountains circumambulated the Śoṇa mountain everyday in the company of her friends for the fulfilment of her ambition.

77. She performed the Japa of the five-syllabled Mantra (viz. Namaḥ Śivāya). She uttered and recited hymns to Śiva. Mentally she meditated upon the Lord in the form of the Śoṇa mountain.

78. Everyday the daughter of the Mountain offered obeisance to the Lord of Aruṇācala by a regular performance of circumambulation etc. Conversant with the injunctions laid down in the Śivāgamas she performed the penance for a long time.

Footnotes and references:


It appears that Pārvatī discovered Aruṇācala by chance.


VV 56ff give the daily routine of the performance of penance by Pārvatī. The procedure of Śiva-worship as detailed here is based on Śaiva Āgamas.


The Pañca-Brahmans are the five ‘faces’ (aspects) of Śiva, viz. Sadyojāta, Vāmadeva, Tatpuruṣa, Aghora and Īśāna.

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