The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Praise of Karttika Vow which is chapter 1 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 first chapter of the Karttikamasa-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 1 - Praise of Kārttika Vow

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Obeisance to Śrī Gaṇeśa

1. One should recite this Purāṇa after bowing down to Nārāyaṇa (i.e. Kṛṣṇa) who abides in the hearts of men, Nara (Man i.e. Arjuna), Narottama (i.e. Sage Vyāsa who enlightens people and enhances their spiritual status) and Goddess Sarasvatī.[1]

The sages said:

2. O Sūta, the meritorious greatness of the month of Āśvina has been recounted to us. We wish to hear about another thing (i.e. narration), the greatness of Kārttika (October-November).

3. What is the means of achieving the goal without strain in the Kali age in the case of men of sinful activities, whose minds are defiled by dirty thoughts and are immersed in the ocean of worldly affairs?

4. O holy Sir, please tell us that Dharma among all Dharmas which is the greatest means of achieving salvation, a giver of good results here and salvation (hereafter) to men.

Sūta said:

5. Nārada, the sage and son of Brahmā, asked Brahmā, the preceptor of the universe, the same question as I have been asked by you all.

6. Similarly, Satyabhāmā who was desirous of listening to the greatness of Kārttika asked Śrīkṛṣṇa, the Lord of the universe (the same question).

7. The same was recounted by the sages, Vālakhilyas, in the assembly of sages, in the form of a dialogue between the Sun-god and Aruṇa. It is extremely fascinating.

8. On Kailāsa the greatness of Kārttika was recounted by Śaṅkara to Ṣaṇmukha (Skanda) along with various anecdotes and narratives.

9. After hearing it in the olden time directly from Brahmā, O eminent Brāhmaṇas, the greatness of Kārttika was recounted to Pṛthu by Nārada.

10. Once Nārada, the Yogin, went to Satyalokā and humbly asked the Grandfather of all the worlds:

Śrī Nārada asked:

11. What is that fire, O Brahmā, that burns the fuel of terrible sins irrespective of its being dry or wet? It behoves you to recount it.

12. O Lord of Devas, surely there is nothing in the three worlds within the Cosmic Egg that is not known to you.

13. O Pitāmaha, name particularly the most excellent month among all the months, the most excellent one among the excellent Devas and (the most excellent Tīrtha among) Tīrthas.

Brahmā replied:

14. Among the months Kārttika is the most excellent; among Devas the Slayer of Madhu is the most excellent. The most excellent Tīrtha is the one called Nārāyaṇa.[2] All these three are very rare in Kali age.

Nārada said:

15. O Lord, I am your servant. I am your devotee, O favourite of Hari. Tell me (what are) the pious activities of Vaiṣṇavas. You are omniscient, O Pitāmaha.

16-17. At the outset it behoves you to recount the greatness of Kārttika to me, O Lord. (Then) describe the greatness of the, gift of lamps, the holy observances of those who observe vows, the greatness of Gopīcandana (a species of white clay found near Dvārakā used for putting the vertical sectarian mark on the forehead) and that of Tulasī (the holy basil plant), the greatness of Dhātrī (Āmalaka—Emblic myrobalan) and the injunction regarding holy bath etc. When is the Vrata to be begun? Describe the procedure of Udyāpana (concluding rites).

18. It behoves you to recount all of whatever Vaiṣṇava observances there are. Thereby, with your favour, I shall go to the region devoid of ailments.

Sūta said:

19. On hearing these words of his son Brahmā became delighted. After remembering Rādhā and Dāmodara,[3] he spoke to his son:

Brahmā said:

20. What has been asked by you, O son, for the sake of uplifting the worlds, is well-put. There is no doubt. I shall tell you the greatness of Kārttika.

21. On one side let there be all the Tīrthas and all the Yajñas with adequate monetary gifts (on the other side let there be the month of Kārttika). All those do not deserve (to possess) even a sixteenth part of the (greatness of the) month of Kārttika.[4]

22. On one side there is dwelling in Puṣkara or in Kurukṣetra or on the Himālaya mountain. On the other side there is Kārttika, O son, which is considered most meritorious of all.

23. There is on one side gold equal (in amount) to Meru and all types of charitable gifts and on the other side there is Kārttika, O son, which is always favoured by Keśava.

24. Whatever meritorious rite is performed in the month of Kārttika with Viṣṇu in view—I do not see any end to its merit. It has already been told (to you) by me, O Nārada.

25. On having got an extremely rare chance of being born as a human being which forms the staircase leading to heaven, one should maintain oneself in such a way that one will not fall back (to an inferior birth).

26. After attaining human birth which is very difficult to get, if a man does not perform the holy rites prescribed for the month of Kārttika, O most excellent one among righteous souls, he is (no better than) a murderer of his mother and father.

27-31. The month of Kārttika is the most excellent of all months. It is the most meritorious. It sanctifies all sanctifying things.

In this month, thirty-three Devas are present together, O sage. People perform all these rites now, O Nārada, with full devotion: holy baths; charitable gifts; feeding; holy rites; the various gifts of cow made of gingelly seeds, gold, silver, plots of land, garments and cows.

Suras duly accept those gifts made over (to deserving persons). Whatever is given, O eminent Brāhmaṇa, the penance that is performed, is said by Viṣṇu, the powerful one, to give inexhaustible merit. Relief from sins in the month of Kārttika is highly commended.

32-35a. Hence charitable gift is made with great care and effort, O Brāhmaṇa, in the month of Kārttika. Whatever is given in the month of Kārttika by men with Viṣṇu in view, especially the gift of cooked food, gives inexhaustible merit. Just as, O Nārada, O Brahminical sage, there is no destruction of rivers, mountains and oceans, so also, O sage, the gift that is made in the month of Kārttika has no destruction, O Brāhmaṇa. The sin is split into a thousand.

35b-37. On seeing the arrival of the month of Kārttika, if a man refrains from taking other people’s cooked food, everyday he secures without difficulty the benefit of the holy rite Atikṛcchra.[5]

There is no month on a par with Kārttika. There is no Yuga equal to Kṛta. There is no scripture comparable with the Vedas. There is no Tīrtha on a par with Gaṅgā. There is no charitable gift on a par with that of cooked rice. There is no happiness on a par with that of the wife.

38. Wealth acquired by justifiable means is the rarest thing for those who make charitable gifts. Performance of rites by mortals in a Tīrtha is also a rare (chance).

39. O tiger (i.e. prominent one) among sages, worship of Śālāgrāmā[6] stone and remembrance of Vāsudeva are the rites that should be performed in Kārttika by one who is afraid of sins.

40. If a person passes Kārttika of such a nature without doing anything (meritorious), he will certainly see the destruction of the merit acquired before.

Nārada said:

41. How is the excellent rite of Kārttika to be performed by a weak person? O Pitāmaha, tell me that whereby he too shall obtain its benefit,

Brahmā said:

42-45. If a man is (physically) incapable, he should perform the Vrata in the following manner. He should give money to another person and make him perform the Kārttika Vrata (for himself).

He should take the merit from him by means of the rite of Dana saṅkalpa (i.e. ceremonious pronouncement of religious gift).

If he is incapable of making monetary gifts, O excellent one among the divine sages, he should drink the water from the Tīrtha. If a person is incapable of doing that too, he should joyously remember Hari always and repeat the names with due observances. Then, he will acquire the full benefit of the Kārttika Vrata.

46-48. The rite of Harijāgara (i.e. keeping awake for the whole of the night) should be performed in the temple of Śiva or Viṣṇu. If there be no temple of Śiva or Viṣṇu, he can perform it in the temple of any deity. If one is in an emergency, one can stay in the forest of Durgā(?) and perform the rite. He can also perform it at the root of a fig tree or in a forest of basil plants. If (literary) compositions on Viṣṇu’s names are sung in the presence of Viṣṇu, the man obtains the benefit of the gift of a thousand cows.

49-51. One who plays on a musical instrument shall obtain the benefit of the Vājapeya sacrifice. The dancer shall obtain the benefit arising from taking a plunge in all the Tīrthas. The person who gives money to these people shall obtain all these merits. By listening to or by seeing (these) one obtains one-sixth of the benefit. If a person is in difficulties and he cannot obtain water anywhere, or if a person is afflicted with sickness, he should perform the Mārjana (‘wiping off’) rite by taking (i.e. muttering the) name of Viṣṇu.

52. If a person who has started the Vrata cannot perform the concluding rites, he should feed Brāhmaṇas for the sake of concluding the Vrata.

53. If a person is incapable of gifting away a lamp, he should light other people’s lamps. Or he should protect another man’s lamp from the blowing winds etc.

54-55. If there is no worship of Viṣṇu (if Viṣṇu worship is not possible), Tulasī or Dhātrī (Emblic myrobalan) should be worshipped. If everything else is not available, the Vratin should worship Brāhmaṇas or cows. If these too are not available, he should repeat the names of Viṣṇu.

Nārada said:

O Brahma, recount in detail the holy rites due in the month of Kārttika.

Footnotes and references:


Traditionally a new work should begin with a benedictory verse (Maṅgalācaraṇa), as it helps the prevention of obstacles in completing the work. SkP is not one book but a library of books. This benedictory verse shows that this Māsa-Māhātmya was an independent work incorporated in SkP. There is another Kārttika-Māsa-Māhātmya in PdP VI, Uttara Khaṇḍa, Pūrvārdha, Chs. 88-118, which is textually more or less the same as in our SkP.

This verse was at first used for Mbh (originally named Jaya). But it came to be associated with Purāṇas like BhP and lesser works like such Māhātmyas. The commentator interprets Narottama as ‘Vyāsa’.


Nārāyaṇa Tīrtha or Nārāyaṇa Saras: It is at the Sindhu-Sāgara-Saṅgama, 81 miles north-west of Bhuj, capital of Cutch (Gujarat). There was a great lake here in ancient times. (HD IV, 785.1)


The special importance attached to Rādhā and Dāmodara in this work shows the establishment of Rādhā cult.


A typical example of Atiśayokti (Exaggeration) found in Purāṇas. It is such denigration of Yajñas by later Brahmin writers which adversely affected the Yajña cult. Even Dāna is regarded as inferior to Kārttika observances.


Atikṛcchra: Kṛcchra is a general term for several penances involving fasts. In Atikṛcchra one morsel of food is to be eaten in the morning only (and complete fast at night) for three days, after this one morsel to be eaten at night only for three days and it is followed by complete fast for three days (Manu XI. 213). Gautama 26.22 states that it purifies all sins except Mahāpātakas.


Śālagrāma: Black stone found in the river Gaṇḍakī and worshipped as a symbol of Viṣṇu.

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