The Skanda Purana
by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The Construction and Installation of the Chariot of the Lord which is chapter 25 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-fifth chapter of the Purushottama-kshetra-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
Chapter 25 - The Construction and Installation of the Chariot of the Lord
[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]
1-7. On this being said, Nārada thought over everything in the light of the injunctions of the scriptures. He wrote everything in the proper order on a leaf and informed the king.
After hearing the contents of the leaf and pondering over it again and again, the king handed it over to Padmanidhi saying: “O Padmanidhi, whatever is written here, you collect together. Make the hall full of gold; embellish it with gold. Let there be the following abodes: the divine abode of Brahmā, the abode of Brahminical sages free from impurities, and abodes for the residence of Indra and other Suras, of Siddhas, of the residents of the mortal world, of the prominent sages, of the kings, of the residents of the nether worlds, of the serpent kings, O Padmanidhi, of the residents of the three worlds. Every house should be furnished with suitable seating arrangement.
O Padmanidhi, carry it out with great promptness. Till the time of gathering the materials together Viśvakarman also will assist you.”
As Indradyumna was ordering thus, the sage said to him; “This must be done apart from the collection of the requisites with spaces apart (in different places).
8. Three excellent chariots, perfectly fitted with gold and adorned with silken cloths, jewel-studded necklaces etc. of great value, should be made. They must be big and strong.
9. The chariot of Śrī Vāsudeva should be marked with Garuḍa emblem. Let a lotus-emblem be placed on the top of the chariot of Subhadrā.
10. The chariot of Viṣṇu should be carefully fitted with sixteen wheels, that of Bala with fourteen, and that of Subhadrā with twelve.
11. The width of the chariot of the Discus-bearing Lord shall be sixteen Hastas (i.e. 16 x 45=720Cms); that of Bala fourteen and that of Subhadrā twelve.
12. (Defective text) He is the place of rest of all the worlds. His idol is made in a sitting posture. If he were to move, the worlds will perish. Hence there is no movement (? vehicle).
13. Let him see the universe consisting of the mobile and immobile beings in the mirror of knowledge. Hence there is a clean mirror always in his hand which is free from impurities.
14-15. The Palm-tree is called Tāla because it is stationed in Tala (surface of the earth). The Lord is always marked with it. Hence that alone should be made the emblem devoid of impurities, of the incarnation of Śeṣa as Balabhadra. So he is known as Tāladhvaja (having palm tree as the emblem). Or the plough alone shall be made the excellent emblem of the Lord with one in his hand.
16. O king, the Lord should not be made to stay in an uninstalled chariot, Mansion, pavilion or city. That shall be fruitless.
17. Hence at the outset, the installation of the chariot of Hari should be made. Let the requisites thereof be collected together. It should be carried out by me.
18. This is the command of my father. I have come here immediately after receiving this command”.
On hearing these words of his, three chariots were made.
19-22. The three chariots were made by Viśvakarmā in a single day through the money and articles acquired by Padmanidhi.
The axles, wheels, pillars, flags-taffs, emblems etc. were very splendid. The chariots were spacious and fitted with ornamental festoons.
They were beautiful with different kinds of wonderful features. There were carvings of couples in wonderful combinations and there were small images placed in different parts.
Half of them was completed with gold coverings. They were comparable to the chariot of the Sun-god himself. They had a loud rumbling sound like that of clouds. They had the qualities of attracting the eyes. They were yoked with hundreds of white horses having the speed of wind.
They were installed by Nārada in accordance with the injunctions of scriptures in an auspicious Lagna (Sun’s entrance into a Zodiacal sign), in a Muhūrta (good time of the day) on a good Tithi (Lunar day) as instructed by Astrologers.
The sages said:
23-24. O holy lord Jaimini, speak out. You are omniscient. You are honoured by us. What is the procedure whereby the chariot of Hari should be installed? Tell us as it should be, so that we may know the details of the procedure.
25. I shall tell you the procedure whereby it was installed by the noble-souled Nārada and which was seen by me formerly.
26-29. A splendid hall shall be made to the north-east of the chariot. A pavilion shall be made in its middle. A square altar shall be made there, O Brāhmaṇas. It shall be free from impurities. The sides shall measure four Hastas (4 x 45=180 Cms.) and the height shall be one Hasta. On the night previous to the installation, in an auspicious hour, the auspicious rite of Svastivācana shall be performed after which the sprouts shall be fixed (ṃe rite of Aṅkurārpaṇa) after offering oblations to the thirty-two Devas in accordance with the injunctions.
In the morning, a holy mystic picture of circle, lotus or Svastika should be made on the Altar. A water-pot shall be placed thereon.
30-36. A decoction of five trees (i.e. exudation from the barks) shall be poured into it. The intelligent devotee shall pour into it the holy waters of Gaṅgā etc. along with clay and tender shoots, all types of scents, five precious stones, all medicinal herbs. After filling it thus in accordance with the injunctions the preceptor shall sit facing the East. He should be pure (in mind and body). Remembering Viṣṇu he should thereafter fill it with Pañcagavya. The pot shall be covered with a silk cloth. There shall be splendid and sweet-smelling garlands round its neck. Fruits and tender leaves must be placed upon it. The auspicious thread must be tied. There the idol of Narasiṃha, free from ailments, the Lord of Devas, should be put. The devotee shall then recite the Mantrarāja (Oṃ etc.) and pray duly with offerings etc. for the sake of favour after invoking Hari therein. Then, O Brāhmaṇas, he should worship duly with external offerings of various kinds. To the north-west of that water-pot one thousand and eight Homas shall be performed by the preceptor by means of sacrificial twigs, ghee and Carus. The residue of the offerings shall be put in the middle of the pot at the end.
37. The chariot should be decorated beautifully by means of banners, garlands of sweet-smelling flowers etc. All the parts of the chariot should be sprinkled with water mixed with sandal paste and sweet scents.
38-39. Black aloe-wood should be fumigated. Conch-shells and Kāhāla trumpets should be sounded. Samīraṇa (Wind-god) shall be installed in the flag of Nṛsiṃha. Then after duly worshipping with red garlands having sweet-smelling flowers the following Mantra should be recited and Suparṇa (Garuḍa) be prayed to:
40. “I salute Suparṇa, the golden-coloured lord of birds, who is the cause of the life of the universe, who is a body of Viṣṇu, who is the vehicle as well as the emblem of Viṣṇu, on thinking about whom the foetuses in the wombs of the multitudes of Serpent females are aborted immediately, whose face is marked with the red dirt and the fat of serpents severed by means of his fierce, moving beak, who is of the nature of the Vedas and who is free from impurities.”
41. Reciting the Vedic Mantras in chorus, blowing conch-shells and playing on various musical instruments and uttering the excellent Sūkta (along with oṃers), the priest should place Suparṇa on the top of the chariot.
42. Then a water-pot should be waved about it and on all the sides of the chariot. Accompanied by a Brāhmaṇa, the Mantrarāja should be recited three times and the chariot should be sprinkled with water.
43. Then the Pūrṇāhuti (final oblation into fire) should be offered. Monetary gifts should be given to Brāhmaṇas and the preceptor. Thereby, that preceptor will become pleased.
44-47. At the end, the devotee should feed Brāhmaṇas with milk puddings, honey and ghee.
The installation of the chariot of Balabhadra shall be done while reciting the twelve-syllabled Mantra. The Mantra for the ploughshare emblem shall be the one beginning with “The plough is thunderbolt. It protects” etc. Or the twelve-syllabled Mantra is also glorified.
The chariot of Subhadrā shall be installed with Lakṣmīsūkta. The lotus-emblem shall be raised and unfurled after reciting this Mantra: “O seat of residence of Śrī, You have originated from the whirlpool of the navel of the Enemy of Mura. You have assumed the form of the group of Cosmic Eggs. You are the seat of the Four-faced Lord. Be steady.”
48-53a. There is this much of difference. The Havis should be offered five times for each of the three separately. Everything connected with one should be completely performed separately. After installing the chariots the devotee should offer as gifts gold, cows, clothes, grains and money with great devotion to the Lord.
The Lord should be placed in the installed and well-decorated chariot in accordance with the injunctions along with the singing of Vedic Mantras.
There should be auspicious utterance of “Be victorious” to the accompaniment of various musical instruments. Chowries should be waved. Incenses should be burnt. Flowers should be showered.
The deity should be taken towards the chariot by Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas or Vaiśyas. The chariot should be carefully drawn by tamed horses of good features, or by bullocks or by men of great devotion to Viṣṇu.
53b-60a. All the people should be fed to their heart’s content, pleased with different kinds of food, unguents etc. Offerings should be made above the chariot to the Devas, O Brāhmaṇas, while reciting Balimantras:
“May you all accept the offerings, O Devas, Ādityas, Vasus, Maruts, Aśvins, Rudras, Suparṇas, serpents, evil spirits, Planets, Asuras, Yātudhānas, all the deities present in the chariot, Guardians of Quarters, protectors of the worlds and Vināyakas causing obstacles. May the great divine sages grant welfare to the universe. Let these prevent all obstacles. Let them not be inimical. Let Daityas and groups of goblins be satisfied and gentle.”
Thereafter, the Lord is taken along the level ground which reciting the following Mantras: Gāyatrī pertaining to Viṣṇu, the sacred Sūkta (hymn) of Viṣṇu and the Mantras Vāmadevya, holy Mānastokya (RV 1.114.8) etc. and Rathantaras.
Then there shall be the loud utterance of Puṇyāhavācana along with the sound of musical instruments.
The chariot of the Discus-bearing Lord should be taken very slowly and affectionately.
60b-65. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, I shall now describe the evil portents in regard to the chariot:
If the shaft breaks there is danger to Brāhmaṇas; if the axle is broken there is destruction of Kṣatriyas; if the beam of the balance breaks there is destruction of Vaiśyas; if the pin of yoke breaks there is danger to Śūdras. If the axle pin breaks there shall be drought; if the pedestal breaks there is danger to the subjects. If the wheel of the chariot breaks it forewarns that the army of enemies shall invade. If the flagstaff falls, O Brāhmaṇas, another person shall certainly become the king. If the idol breaks one can predict that the king will die. If the chariot is shattered there shall be destruction in the whole of the realm.
If these and other inauspicious portents occur the offering to the deities should be made once again; so also the Śānti Homa should be performed. The Brāhmaṇas should be fed once again or food-grain should be given to them.
66-69. The sacred fire should be kindled in the north-eastern quarter of the chariot. Homa should be performed by means of sacrificial twigs with ghee, honey, Ājya (i.e solid ghee, or any substitute such as oil etc.) smeared at the roots and the tips.
The sacrificial twigs should be from Palāśa tree, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. The devotee should be initiated by means of the Mantrarāja. The devotee should perform the Homa by means of the Mantra of initiation. There should be special result from everything. At the end of the Homa he should perform Śāntivācana rite:
70. “Hail to the Brāhmaṇas; let there be the welfare of the king always. Hail to the cows; let there be welfare unto the subjects. Let there be peace to the whole universe.
71-74. May there be welfare unto the bipeds; let there always be peace unto the quadrupeds. Welfare unto the subjects; so also let there be welfare unto our soul.
Let there be calmness unto the Lord, Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, Svaḥ (names of the three worlds) and auspiciousness. Let there be peace, let there be auspiciousness; let there be welfare all round us.
O Lord, you are the creator of the universe; you alone are the nourisher; O Lord of Devas, protect the subjects. O Lord of the universe, create peace.”
O king (?), one should perform the rite of Grahaśānti (pacifying the Planets) etc. after knowing the evil Planets of the person undertaking the journey.
Footnotes and references:
VV 8-18 and up to 22 describe the chariots meant for Vāsudeva, Balabhadra and Subhadrā.
Pañcagavya: A collection of five products of cow, viz. milk, curds, ghee, urine and dung.
Viṣṇu Gāyatrī: nārāyaṇāya vidmahe/vāsudevāya dhīmahi/ tan no viṣṇuḥ pracodayāt //