The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Curse to Devendra which is chapter 8 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 eighth chapter of the Vasudeva-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 8 - Curse to Devendra

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: In this chapter also the curse-motif is used to explain Indra’s loss of fortune. The episode is mentioned in BhP and Brahmāṇḍa P. (Purāṇa Index II.106). The object here is to explain why Yajñas involving Hiṃsā came in vogue even after that punishment to Uparicara Vasu.

Sāvarṇi enquired:

1. How is it that sacrifices (involving Hiṃsā) became prevalent again after sacrifices involving injury to animals were given up by Devas at the request of great sages?

2 How is it that the eternal pure Dharma became perverse among ancient and modern Devas, sages and kings?

3. O Six-faced God! A great doubt has been engendered today in me. You are a knower of the truth of all Śāstras. It behoves you to remove that doubt.

Skanda replied:

4. Time (Kāla) is mighty. The minds of the powerful ones who are possessed of desire, anger, taste for liquor, avarice, pride are penetrated by Kāla.

5. Good ideas of men become spoiled by being subjected to anger and pride owing to the transgression of (the advice of) the great ones who speak true and beneficial (words).

6. Even ṃough they are wise, they are intent on doing a criminal act, repent and continuously wander in Saṃsāra.

7. But even Kāla (god of Death, Time) is not able to create aberrations in the mind of those who are devotees of Kṛṣṇa and are devoid of (illicit) desire for pleasure etc., and whose instinctive tendencies have all ceased.

8. I speak the truth that any person who does not resort to proper Dharma (path of virtue), shall never be liberated from Saṃsāra.

9. O most excellent Brāhmaṇa! I shall now narrate to you, the beginning of sacrifices involving violence, as I have heard it from the mouth of my father (Śiva).

10. Here they cite as an illustration this ancient legend in which Nārāyaṇa and Lakṣmī are glorified.

11. Due to his fault of transgressing great sages, the power of mentally perceiving rightly what is good, was lost by Indra called Viśvajit, O sage.

12. Sage Durvāsas, a part of god Śaṅkara, a performer of penance, once happened to go to the river Puṣpabhadrā during his course of wanderings in the worlds.

13. There he saw the wife of a Vidyādhara named Sumati surrounded by her friends. She came down from heaven for water sports.

14. She was called Madakalā (‘one singing softly as if intoxicated’). She was holding in her right hand a very fragrant garland of golden lotuses from the Heavenly Gaṅgā.

15. Seeing her, the sage approached her. Like an intoxicated person, he requested for the garland held by the Vidyādhara lady.

16. Knowing his greatness, she immediately bowed down to him, and out of great respect, she made him wear the garland round his neck.

17. Being highly pleased in mind, the sage went away singing like an inebriated person. On his way, he saw Devendra coming to the great river.

18. His victories were being praised in sweet musical voice by divine damsels and musicians (Gandharvas). He was riding a royal elephant.

19. He saw Indra who was lost in the ecstasy of hearing the sweet (vocal) music of Raṃbhā, whose eyes were fixed on her lotus-like face and looked splendid, embellished as he was with (royal) umbrella and chowries, but he was not looking at him (Durvāsas).

20. Seeing him, the son of Atri (i.e Durvāsas), laughing like an intoxicated person, hurled at him the garland he was wearing round his neck.

21. Indra who was already possessed (as it were), due to his contact with Adharma (unrighteousness), was then overcome with passion, placed it on the temples of the elephant. The royal elephant, with his mind attracted by the fragrance, pulled it down with his trunk.

22. From his trank it fell down on the ground. The elephant crushed it under his feet while he was walking—all this happened while the great sage, a storehouse of penance, was looking on.

23-26. Then the infuriated Durvāsas, with his eyes red like the fire appearing at the time of world-destruction, spoke to Indra:

“O intoxicated wicked-souled one, addicted to licentious pleasures, you are arrogant. You do not welcome the garland, the abode of Goddess Śrī, given by me out of love (for you). You intoxicated fellow do not pay me obeisance, O fool. You do not take cognizance even of me who am the only person who (can) teach a lesson to an arrogant and inebriated fellow like you. You have become blind by getting the kingdom of the three worlds. Now I shall teach you properly. Goddess Śrī, with whose favour you are enjoying the kingdom of the three worlds, has abandoned you along with the three worlds and is submerged in the sea.”

27. As soon as he heard his (Durvāsas’) words terrible like a stroke of thunderbolt, he at once jumped down from the elephant. With his pride humbled, Hari (Indra) fell at his feet.

28. Trembling and bowing down again and again, he prayed: “Compassionate as you are, it behoves you to show favour unto me.”

29-31. He (Durvāsas) spoke out, “O Śakra, I am not verily a sage (like) Gautama.1 Know me to be Durvāsas who is the very essence of non-forbearance and wrath. Other sages spoiled by you are your followers. But I, a desireless sage, have no regard for worms like you. Is there a sinner in the whole of the universe who is not afraid of me, of my brilliant mass of matted hair, and my (angry) sight with curved eyebrows?”

Gautama did not spare Indra for his affair with his wife Ahalyā. He did curse Indra whereby he became goat-testicled (VR I. 49.2-10).

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