The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Story of Vajrangada which is chapter 22 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-second chapter of the Arunacala-khanda (Uttarardha) of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 22 - The Story of Vajrāṅgada

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: The following chapters tell a story to emphasize the importance of circumambulating the Aruṇācala hill on foot only. The curse of Durvāsas becomes ineffective by the (unintentional) circumambulation by the beasts (viz., the horse and the deer). The beasts (i.e. the imprecated divine beings) regained their original form and status due to this unintended Parikramā. King Vajrāṅgada got back not only his original strength but Siddhi as well by rendering service to Aruṇācala by donating villages as Agrahāra, digging tanks and wells, arrangement for the stay of devotees etc.

Mārkaṇḍeya said:

1-3. O Lord perpetually experiencing the bliss of Śiva, O Lord Nandikeśvara, I have been delighted by you through the nectar of the glory of Śoṇeśa.

How did Vajrāṅgada, the Pāṇḍya king, transgress Śoṇa? How did he regain prosperity and affluence through devotion to him alone? How were the overlords of Vidyādharas, viz. Kāntiśālī and Kalādhara who had been struck down by the curse of Durvāsas, protected by Śaṃbhu in the form of Śoṇa?

Nandikeśvara said:

4. O son of Mṛkaṇḍu, indeed you have obtained the fruit of longevity because your devotion to the Lord of the Bhūtas (i.e. Śiva) is so steady and firm.

5. I Shall recount to you the details of the story of Vajrāṅgada as well as the events in the lives of Vidyādharas whereby the power of the Lord of Śoṇādri has come to be revered in the world.

6. Formerly there was a king named Vajrāṅgada in the land of Pāṇḍyas (i.e. Madurā). The earth was (as if) a doll placed upon the column (in the form) of the (powerful) arms of that king.

7-8. He was virtuous, wise and conversant with justice. He was majestic, courteous and efficient. He was calm, modest and intelligent. He was a blessed and contented man keeping the vow of one wife only. He was glorious and engaged in the worship of Śiva. He was the most excellent one among those people of good habit and practice. Having conquered his enemies he administered the territory between the bridge (i.e. Rāmeśvara in the south) and Kedāra (in the north).

9. Once wandering about on his excellent horse under the pretext of hunting, he entered the forest in the outskirts of Aruṇācala.

10. On seeing a musk deer of excessive fragrance there he eagerly rode his horse in pursuit of it.

11. Chased by him that deer went round the Śoṇaparvata in the manner of circumambulation with the speed of mind and then fell down.

12. With strength dwindling and fatigue increasing the King fell down from his horse bereft of lustre like a person of exhausted merit falling from heaven.

13. For an unknown reason he was as though harassed by a Mātaṅga (i.e. Cāṇḍāla). Like a person possessed by an evil spirit the King did not know his own self for a moment.

14. He thought thus: ‘What is this? Without any reason whatsoever my strength has been lost. Where has my vehicle, the horse, gone suddenly?’

15. While he was engrossed in anxious thought thus, incompetent to understand it, the sky was suddenly seen as having matted hair through the streaks of lightning.

16. Even as he was watching, the horse and the deer immediately cast off their animal bodies and attained the state of beings striding through the sky.

17. They shone with crowns, ear-rings, necklaces and bracelets. They wore silk clothes as under-garments as well as upper clothes. They had garlands too.

18. Appearing as though they dispelled the darkness arising from his agony by means of the clusters of rays of their teeth, they spoke to the King whose mind was overwhelmed with wonder and dismay:

19. “O King, do not get dejected. Understand that, thanks to the power of the Lord of Śoṇādri, this new state of ours is a result of that.”

20. The King was somewhat consoled by those words of those two (beings). With palms joined in reverence he humbly spoke to them both:

21. “Who are you please, by whom such a sudden shock and grief as this has been caused? O gentle Sirs, speak out. Indeed saving distressed persons is a characteristic of great men.”

22. When this question was put by him, Kalādhara who was directed by Kāntiśālī spoke to the wondering King:

23. “Know, O King, that formerly we were the leaders of Vidyādharas. We were close friends of each other like Vasanta and Madana.

24. Once we went to the penance grove of sage Durvāsas at the side of the golden mountain. It was (actually) impossible of access even mentally (to others).

25. We saw his holy flower-garden which extended to more than a Krośa (i.e. 3 kms.), which yielded materials for him to propitiate Śiva and perform penance. It was shining brilliantly with flowers.

26. Though we are humble and well-behaved, we did not have at that time the good qualities of intelligent persons be fitting their Sattva nature. We entered that garden eager to gather flowers.

27. Since that spot was highly pleasing to the heart, Kāntiśālī who was excessively haughty, moved about frequently stamping on the ground with force when he placed his feet on it.

28. Vicious in mind and fascinated by the excessive fragrance of the flowers, I handled the blooming flowers (frequently).

29-30. (Partially defective) Durvāsas who was like a mass of penance, was seated on his tiger’s skin under a Śāṇḍilya tree (Aegle Marmelos). He appeared to blaze like fire. At the height of anger his thick-set lower lip began to throb. His brows became crooked and they were knitted in a terrible manner.

31. Richly endowed with brilliant splendour as he was, he became furious. His body was covered with perspiration. The sage looked at us as if he would burn us with his eyes. He rebuked us:

32. ‘O sinners! Transgressors of good manners and formalities! You are highly proud. Who are you? You have become locusts for the blazing fire of my anger.

33. This penance-grove of mine is holy. It sanctifies all living beings. Even the Sun and the Moon do not touch this with their feet (i e. their rays do not fall here).

34. This park is (as if) synonymous with the service rendered to the enemy of the Puras. Even the wind does not blow here, nor do bees stick to this place.

35. Therefore, let this sinner become a horse in the terrestrial world. He has defiled this garden by treading upon it. Let him be afflicted on the earth by being the vehicle of others.

36. This other,one had greedily coveted the fragrance of the flowers. Let him fall in an exceedingly fierce mountain cave. He shall be reborn as a musk deer.’

37. When the thunderbolt of this curse was made to fall on us by that sage of fierce fury, our haughtiness vanished instantaneously and we sought refuge in him.

38. We grasped his feet and spoke to that brilliant sage: ‘This curse of yours will not be in vain. Let its end be mentioned.’

39. Then, on seeing us extremely distressed in our minds, O King, the leading sage became very cool out of sympathy and favourably obliging to us.

40. He spoke: ‘Nowhere can you, wicked-minded ones, get redress as here. By the circumambulation of Aruṇādri the curse shall subside.

41. Formerly the Lord, the enemy of the Puras, presided over a splendid assembly. He was served by the Guardians of the Quarters, viz. Indra, Upendra, Yama and others.

42. At that time the presiding deity of the Nandana forest offered him a certain red fruit as present.

43. On account of their childish nature Gajānana and Ṣaḍānana became curious and eager. They requested their father for that tempting fruit.

44-45. Thereupon the Lord spoke to his sons excessively coveting the fruit. He kept the fruit concealed in his hand and said to the children: ‘I shall give this fruit to the boy who is competent to circumambulate this entire earth encircled by the Lokāloka (mountain).’

46. When this was mentioned by the Lord of Pārvatī with a smile on his moon-like face, Skanda began to circumambulate the earth.

47. But Laṃbodara (i.e. Gaṇeśa) circumambulated his father, the Lord in the form of Śoṇaśaila, and instantly stood in front of him.

48. On seeing his cleverness the Three-eyed Lord lovingly sniffed at the head and gave the fruit to Heraṃba.

49-50. ‘From today onwards be the presiding deity of all fruits.’ After granting this boon to the Single-toothed Lord Śaṅkara spoke to the attendants in the assembly, viz. all the Suras and Asuras, rendering the hall whitish grey in colour by means of the spreading lustre of his teeth resembling moonlight:

51. ‘This Śoṇādri is my immobile form. He who devoutly circumambulates this shall attain Sārūpya (‘Identity of form’) (with me).

52. If anyone’s feet begin to pain on account of the circumambulation of this (mountain), he shall become an emperor and obtain the permanent region that is the most excellent of all.’

53. At the bidding of Śaṃbhu thus all the Devas circumambulated Śoṇaśaila and obtained their respective desires.

54. You two are defiled on account of your haughtiness. Hence you are punished by me. By the circumambulation of Śoṇādri the curse will come to an end in your case.

55-56. By coming into contact with the Pāṇḍya king, Vajrāṅgada, even as animals, you will have an opportunity to circumambulate Aruṇādri.

Thus we two were forced to be born immediately as a horse and a deer due to the excessive burden of our sins. Our bodies became dried up due to the Halāhala poison of the curse issuing from the great ocean of the great sage prone to be furious.”

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