The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Glory of Karttika which is chapter 3 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 third chapter of the Karttikamasa-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 3 - The Glory of Kārttika

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Brahmā said:

1-5. O great Brāhmaṇa, listen to the greatness of Kārttika further.[1] It (i.e. Kārttika vow) should start on the tenth day (in the month of Āśvina) and conclude on the tenth day (in Kārttika).

It should start on the full-moon day (of Āśvina) and conclude on the full-moon day (of Kārttika). The devotee should start on the eleventh day in the month of Āśvina. After bowing down to Dāmodara he should perform the rite of Saṅkalpa at the outset: “O Dāmodara, obeisance to you. O destroyer of all sins, it behoves you to grant permission to perform the (specific) religious observance of Kārttika. O Puruṣottama, O Lord of Devas, make its observance free from obstacles during the whole of this month.” After praying thus, the devotee should duly begin the religious vow.

What was being narrated to Anūru (Aruṇa, charioteer of the Sun-god) by the Sun-god, was heard by me. It is the cause of the attainment of heaven in Kali. May it be heard.

The Sun-god said:

6-8a. Out of the twelve months, the month of Mārgaśīrṣa is highly meritorious. It is said that Vaiśākha on the banks of Narmadā is more meritorious than that. The month of Māgha at Prayāga is a hundred thousand times more meritorious than that. It is declared that Kārttika is more fruitful than that at any water reservoir.

8b-9a. With all (kinds of) charitable gifts, vows and pious observances on one side and the holy bath in the month of Kārttika on the other side were weighed in balance by god Brahmā (and both were found to be equal).

9b-12a. If in Kali Age people are (found) endowed with many children and plenty of wealth, know that holy bath in the month of Kārttika has been certainly taken by them with great respect.

Those who perform the following in the month of Kārttika are indeed living-liberated souls[2]: Holy bath, gifting away lamps, keeping forests of Tulasī plants, sleeping on bare ground, celibacy, avoidance of two-leafed plants, glorification of Viṣṇu, truthfulness, and listening to the Purāṇas.

12b-14. There is nothing conducive to righteousness on a par with Kārttika; there is nothing more conducive to wealth than Kārttika; there is no Kāmya rite (that which yields desired results) on a par with Kārttika. There is no better rite bestowing salvation than Kārttika (Vrata).

This Vrata was observed by Yudhiṣṭhira for the sake of virtue (Dharma), by Dhruva for the sake of wealth, by Śrīkṛṣṇa for the sake of love and by Nārada for the sake of salvation. Hence it is very excellent and a favourite of Kṛṣṇa.

Aruṇa said:

15. Say, O Sun-god, the immanent soul of all, when should this Vrata be begun to make it completely fruitful? Which deity should be properly worshipped here?

Bhāskara (Sun -god) replied:

16. Viṣṇu, Śarva, I, Goddess and Vighneśvara i.e. Gaṇeśa (are to be worshipped).[3] Though I am only one, I have become five as in the case of a Stage Manager in the course of a play.

17-18. Know, O lord of birds, that these are all our own different forms. Hence holy bath in the month of Kārttika should be taken for the purpose of dispelling all sins by Sauras (followers of the Sun), Gāṇeśas (followers of Vighneśvara), Śāktas (followers of Śakti or Goddess), Śaivas (followers of Śiva) and Vaiṣṇavas (followers of Viṣṇu).

When the Sun is in the Zodiac of Libra, it should be taken for propitiating the Sun-god.

19. Beginning with the full-moon day in the month of Āśvina and ending with the full-moon day of Kārttika, the holy baths should be taken by men for the delight of Śiva.

20. Beginning with the fortnight of Devī and ending with the fourteenth night, Mahārātri, the holy bath should be taken proclaiming, “May the Goddess be pleased”.

21. Beginning with the fortnight of Gaṇa(pati) from the fourth day and ending with the fourth day of the dark half of the month of Kārttika, the holy batb should be taken for the propitiation of Gaṇapati.

22. The devotee should begin the Vrata on the eleventh day in the bright half of the month of Āśvina and conclude it on the eleventh day in the bright half of the month of Kārttika. If he does like this, Janārdana shall be delighted.

23. There is no other month on a par with Kārttika; there is no other city equal to Kāśī; there is no other Tīrtha on a par with Prayāga; and there is no Lord greater than Keśava.

24. If the holy bath in the month of Kārttika is taken casually, or under compulsion, knowingly or unknowingly, (the devotee) shall never meet with torture at the hands of Yama.

25. If one is (physically) incapable of taking the holy bath, he can offer money etc. to another. When the other comes after concluding the bath, one should grasp his hand. Thereby one attains the merit thereof.

26. Or the devotee should offer quilts, blankets etc. to Brāhmaṇas who take the holy bath in the month of Kārttika. Thereby he shall attain the benefit accruing from the holy bath.

27 -29. In the month of Kārttika, Rādhā and Dāmodara should be particularly worshipped.

The idols of Rādhā and Dāmodara may be of gold, silver (or if it is not possible, of) copper or clay. They may be even pictures or figurettes made on the ground with flour pastes etc. and painted with colours. Those who worship these idols or pictures etc. of Rādhā and Dāmodara underneath a Tulasī plant should be known as living-liberated souls.

30. A man may be defiled by thousands of sins, but through the holy bath in the month of Kārttika, he will certainly become liberated. There is no doubt about this.

31. O bird, if Tulasī is not available, the worship should be conducted beneath a Dhātrī (Emblic myrobalan) plant. But the main worship is to be conducted in the mystic diagram of the Sun.

32. All the Devas are invisible but he (the Sun-god) is the visible Lord. All the Devas are under the control of Kāla (Time, Death) but the Sun-god is Kālakāla (Regulator or death(?) of Kāla).

33. One who is incapable of worshipping in this manner should worship an idol. There is greater merit in worshipping a Brāhmaṇa than an idol.

34-38. A poor man is a deserving recipient of charitable gifts. If he happens to be learned, he is particularly so. If a Brāhmaṇa is not available, black cows are charming. A fixed idol of Viṣṇu is better than a mobile (portable) one.

He who worships and bows to the idols installed by Śūdras, goes to hell along with ten ancestors and ten descendants.

If one touches the idol worshipped by a Śūdra, he will burn (get burnt) his family up to the seventh generation.

Hence one must enquire and worship an idol that has been installed by Brāhmaṇas. Better than this is an idol made by Devas. It yields worldly pleasures and salvation.

If an idol is not available either an Aśvattha (fig tree) or a Vaṭa (banyan tree) should be worshipped, since Aśvattha is a form of Viṣṇu and Vaṭa is a form of Śiva.[4]

39. A base man who eats Tulasī Śāka (basil leaf cooked as a vegetable dish) or betel leaf knowingly or unknowingly in the month of Kārttika shall go to hell.

40. Hari is always present in the circular line in the Śālagrāma stone. Hence by all means one should worship the Śālagrāma stone.

41. Cows have become eaters of faeces on account of Rudra’s curse.[5] Still they are to be worshipped because they yield merit in both the worlds.

42. In the month of Kārttika, one who takes food on a leaf of Palāśa tree (Butea frondosa) which is born of a part of god Brahmā, shall go to the world of Viṣṇu.

43. Aśvattha is a form of the Lord (Viṣṇu) and Vaṭa is a form of Sadāśiva. Hence by all means one should worship Aśvattha in the month of Kārttika.

44-46. A woman devotee should circumambulate (an Aśvattha tree) a hundred thousand times in the month of Kārttika. On Saturdays she should worship Rādhā and Dāmodara beneath it. She should then feed a couple representing Rādhā and Dāmodara. After feeding the couples, she should take food with restrained speech. (By observing this Vrata) even a barren woman shall get a son. Nothing need be said about others? Viṣṇu is always present in all as in a Brāhmaṇa.

47. He is present in the Aśvattha tree among trees, and in the Śālagrāma among stones. Hence the worship of Viṣṇu should be performed at the root of Aśvattha.

48. The worship of Aśvattha should be conducted on Saturdays by touching it On other days if a man touches it he will become poor.

49. Those men who perform holy bath, keep religious vigil, light the lamps and keep a forest of Tulasī plants in the month of Kārttika are the forms of Viṣṇu.

50. Those men who sweep the temple of Viṣṇu, offer Svastika etc. and those who worship Viṣṇu are living-liberated souls.

51. I shall mention the time for the holy bath in the Tīrthas that will be beneficent. Know from me the benefit thereof and the rites concerning the holy bath and all other connected things.

Footnotes and references:


VV 1-5 state the days on which the Kārttika Vratas are to be begun and concluded and the Saṅkalpa.


The various Vratas during Kārttika.


This shows a synthesis of the main five sects of Hinduism. This oneness is represented by Pañcāyatana worship. The credit of this synthesis is given to Ādi-Śaṅkarācārya. VV 18-22 specify the day (tithi) on which a follower of a specific deity is to begin and conclude the Kārttika Vrata.


As per Sanatkumāra Saṃhitā, Aśvattha is a form of Viṣṇu, Vaṭa (banyan tree) is a form of Śiva, Palāśa (Butea frondosa) is god Brahmā and mango tree is Indra. (Comm.)


According to Sanatkumārasaṃhitā, the Divine Cow (Kāmadhenu) gave false evidence that Brahmā had seen the upper part of the head of Śiva. Śiva cursed her (and her species) to eat faeces by the mouth which told a lie. (Comm.)

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