The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Greatness of the First Day in the Bright Half of Karttika which is chapter 10 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 tenth chapter of the Karttikamasa-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 10 - The Greatness of the First Day in the Bright Half of Kārttika

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Brahmā said:

1. On the Pratipad day (first day of Kārttika) the devotee should take bath with unguents and then perform the Nīrājana rite. Dressed neatly, he should spend the day in listening to good stories, singing songs and making gifts.

2. God Śaṅkara formerly created the fascinating Dyūta (game of dice) on the first day in the bright half of the month of Kārttika. It is true.

3-4a. Listen to the greatness of the kingdom of Bali (spoken) accurately. Men and women should take bath with gingelly oil. If out of delusion one does not do so, one goes to the abode of Yama.

4b-5. Formerly, at the beginning of Kṛtayuga, Bali was the great king of Dānavas. The earth as well as his own head was given to Vāmana by him. At that time the Lord himself was delighted and he spoke to Bali:[1]

6-8. “O sinless one, since you have given me the earth on the first day in the bright half of the month of Kārttika with great devotion, I am delighted thereby. I shall grant you a boon. O king.”

After saying this, he granted the boon: “O king, the first Tithi of the month of Kārttika shall be known by your name. If devotees take oil bath etc. and worship on this day, O king, that shall give everlasting benefit. There is no doubt about it.”

9-12. Ever since then, the Pratipad Tithi has become very famous in the world. If the Pratipad overlaps the previous Tithi (i.e. new-moon day) this is not to be accepted at all.[2]

One should not take oil bath if on the Pratipad day there is Darśa (new-moon day) of about a Muhūrta’s duration, otherwise there will be death.

If the Pratipad of Bali is overlapped by Darśa (new-moon day) and if any auspicious rite is performed on that day, his wealth etc. will perish.

If the Bali-Pratipad (the first day of Kārttika) is vitiated by Darśa and if any woman, out of delusion, performs Ārtikya (waving of lamp around the face) on that day, women will meet with widowhood and their progeny will certainly die.

13-15. If there is Pratipad next day at least for a Muhūrta (48 minutes) without being overlapped, that alone is to be accepted for the holy rites, festivals etc., as laid down by learned men.

If on the next day there is no Pratipad at all even for the shortest while, the one that is overlapped can be taken. There shall be no sin in doing so. On that day, an idol should be made with cowdung in the courtyard; curds should be sprinkled there in front of it.

16-20. After placing Ārtikya(?) there, the devotee should do like this in accordance with the injunctions.

On that day, O great sage, if people do not take bath with unguents, during the whole of that year there shall surely be nothing auspicious unto them.

For the whole of the year one shall be in the same form and features as one was on that auspicious day. Hence one should perform auspicious rites.

If one wishes to enjoy very splendid pleasures, divine and charming, one should celebrate the beautiful festival of lights on the thirteenth and following days.

Śaṅkara and Bhavānī played the game of dice by way of fun formerly. Śaṃbhu was defeated by Gaurī in the game and let off naked. For that reason Śaṅkara became miserable while Gaurī was ever happy.

21. O wise men! Game at dice (gambling) is forbidden at all times except on this Pratipad. If one wins a game at the outset, one shall have happiness for the whole of that year.

22. Lakṣmī who was requested by Bhavānī remained in the form of a cow.[3] Govardhana is to be worshipped in the morning and the game of dice is to be played at night.

23-26. Cows should be adorned (but) they should not be milked. Bulls should not be engaged to bear burden: “O Govardhana, O supporter of the earth, O protector of herds of cows, you are lifted up by the arms of Viṣṇu; be the bestower of crores of cows (to me). May Lakṣmī dispel my sins, Lakṣmī who stood by in the form of a cow for the sake of the guardians of the worlds, and who bears ghee for the sake of Yajña. Let cows be in front of me. Let cows be behind me. Let cows be in my heart. I stay amongst cows.”

Thus should be worshipped Govardhana.

27-29. The king should please the different kinds of people with suitable presents etc. Devas and saintly people should be pleased by goodness (of nature and behaviour). Others by offering food; the learned men by giving them (the opportunity for) disputations, and the members of the inner apartment by means of garments, betel leaves, incenses, flowers, camphor, saffron, foodstuffs of various types and different kinds of edibles. He should propitiate rural people by giving them bullocks and vassal kings by giving them wealth. Groups of (common) people and the infantry should be propitiated by means of excellent necklaces. The king should satisfy the good people specifically by giving them splendid bracelets with his name engraved on them.

30-32. After propitiating (everyone) befittingly, the king should watch the fight (combats, duels etc.) of wrestlers and of other men, of bulls, buffaloes and well-equipped foot-soliders [soldiers?] of the king.[4] Seated on a (raised) platform he should see personally, actors, dancers and Cāraṇas and make cows and buffaloes fight and then provide them with garments to cover them. Calves should be attracted through cows. There may be arguments and counter-arguments.

33-35. Then, in the afternoon, the devotees fix up the effigy of Mārgapālī[5] (road protectress—a deity made of Kuśa and Kāśa grass) in the Eastern direction, O sage of holy rites. They fix it on the pillars of the fortness and trees. The effigy shall be of divine nature with many props. Horses and elephants should be taken beneath Mārgapālī. Cows, bullocks, male buffaloes and female buffaloes should be tethered in big herds. Through eminent Brāhmaṇas who have performed Homas, they should get them tied (near) the Mārgapālikā.

36. Then, O sage of good holy rites, he should make obeisance repeating this Mantra: “O Mārgapālī, obeisance to you, O bestower of happiness to all the worlds, let the horses, elephants and cows stay happily beneath you.”

37. O son, cows, great bulls, kings, princes and Brāhmaṇas in particular should go beneath the Mārgapālī.

38-44. By crossing Mārgapālī they become free from ailments. They are happy.

After doing all these the devotee should perform the worship of Bali[6], the king of Daityas, directly in a mystic diagram drawn on the ground. The worship is to be performed at night after drawing the picture of the great demon Bali in five different colours. He should be fully adorned with all the ornaments and accompanied by Vindhyāvalī. He is surrounded by Dānavas, Kūṣmāṇḍa, Maya, Jaṃbha, Ūru and Madhu. The whole face is dark in colour. He has brilliant ear-rings and a crown. The king of Daityas should have two arms only.

After making the picture, he should worship it within his own house in a large hall in the company of mother, brothers, kinsmen and other people.

He should worship with lotuses, lilies, red lotuses and sweet-smelling flowers. There should be Naivedyas of cooked rice, milk, jaggery, milk puddings, liquor, meat, wine, various kinds of foodstuffs (articles to be licked, sucked and eaten etc.). Accompanied by his ministers and priest, the eminent king should worship with the following Mantra. He will be happy for a year:

45. “Obeisance to you, O King Bali, O lord, O Son of Virocana, O enemy of Devas, the future Indra; may this worship be accepted.”

46-48. After performing this worship in accordance with the injunctions, he should keep awake. He should celebrate a great festival at night through dances and story recitals.

The common people also should place the offerings of white rice grains within their houses. They should install King Bali and worship him with fruits and flowers.

O sage of good holy rites! All that is to be done with Bali in view. Whatever is (so) done is stated to give everlasting benefit by sages who have realized the truth.

49. Whatever is given as charitable gift, whether it be small or large in quantity, shall yield everlasting benefit. It shall be auspicious and pleasing to Viṣṇu.

50. (Viṣṇu said thus to Bali:) “O Bali, may all the Vedic rites of those men who do not worship you come over to you.”

51. This great festival that tends to favour Asuras, has been granted to Bali, O dear one, by Viṣṇu who was delighted.

52-55. Thus every year, one day and one night in the month of Kārttika have been given to the king of Dānavas on the earth, as if it was the ideal for him.

If a king performs this, how can there be the fear from sickness in his kingdom? There will be prosperity and plenty, welfare and perfect health. His wealth will be excellent. All the people will be free from diseases and devoid of ail types of calamities. O sage of good holy rites, this festival of Kaumudī is celebrated in order to generate and regulate noble feelings and sentiments on the earth. Everyone will have delight or gloom, weal or woe in accordance with his manner of acting on this particular day.

56-57. If anyone weeps, the whole year will be a year of lamentation; if he is gay, the whole year shall be one of gaiety; if he enjoys pleasures (eats and drinks), the whole year becomes pleasurable. If he is normal and healthy, he shall be so (throughout the year). This Tithi in the month of Kārttika is mentioned as being special to Viṣṇu as well as to the Demon.

58. Those who splendidly celebrate the festival of lights causing delight unto all the people and who perform auspicious worship of King Bali, the whole year of (their) families (which are) blessed with charity, enjoyment, pleasure and intelligence will pass with delight and excessive joy throughout.

59-60. After performing the worship of Bali, the devotee should celebrate Gokrīḍana[7] (sports of cows and bulls). If on the day of the sports of cows the moon becomes visible, Soma Rājā (the shining Moon) kills the animals and the worshippers of the cows.

61. The sports of cows should be celebrated on the day when the Darśa (new-moon) overlaps Pratipad (first day). This is the accepted position. If a person celebrates it on a day when Pratipad is overlapped by Dvitīyā, he will meet with destruction of money and death of wife and son.

62. The cows are to be adorned then. They should be adored with offerings of Gogrāsa etc. (morsels of food). They should be taken out of the city to the accompaniment of intrumental and vocal music. They then should be brought back and the rite of Nīrājana should be performed.

63. If the duration of Pratipad is short, a woman should perform the Nīrājana rite. Thereafter, on the second day in the evening, the auspicious rite of garlanding shall be performed.

64. If the Pratipad be joined with the previous Tithi (the new-moon day), the rite of Yaṣṭikākarṣaṇa[8] (pulling out of stick/string?) be performed.

65-66. The Yaṣṭikā (string) should be made of Kuśa. It should be fresh and firm. That should be brought to the entrance of the temple, of palace of king or to a crossing of four roads. The princes should hold one end and the people of the lower castes the other end. After holding it they shall pull at it as many times as their strength permits.

67-69. The two teams should consist of an equal number of persons. All of them should be very strong. If in this (tug of war), the inferior castes win, the king shall be victorious throughout the year. A line should be drawn behind each of the teams holding the string. If the people cross the line they are considered to have won and not otherwise. It is the king who is to draw this line of victory carefully.

Footnotes and references:


VV 6-8 explain why the 1st day in the bright half of Kārttika is called Bali Pratipadā.


VV 9-14 specify which should be accepted as the Pratipad Tithi.


VV 22-29 describe the custom of Govardhana worship. Govardhana is a hill 18 miles from Vṛnḍāvana in Mathurā Dist. (U.P.) Kṛṣṇa is said to have held it up on his small finger and protected cows, calves and people of Vraja under its umbrella, while Indra poured a deluge of rain for one week.


VV 30-32 advise the king to watch war-games of men as well as those of animals.


VV 33-37 describe the procedure regarding Mārgapālī. This deity is regarded as a protector of cows etc. on the way.


VV 39-58 prescribe the procedure of Bali worship.


VV 59-63: sports of kine: bull-fights are a part of this festival.


VV 64-69. This is an interesting social event: a Tug-of-War wherein a bamboo stick or a rope of Kuśa grass is used.

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