The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Vairagya (non-attachment) and Bhakti (devotion) 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 Vasudeva-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 25 - Vairāgya (non-attachment) and Bhakti (devotion)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Nārāyaṇa said:

1. O excellent sage, I shall now describe to you the characteristics of Vairāgya. It is complete disinterest in all perishable objects.

2. Whatever forms there are, right from Māyā-Puruṣa, all of them are destroyed by the destructive power (Kāla Śakti) of the Lord, as they are subject to his control.

3. The unreality of created objects and the reality of souls have been determined by knowledgeable persons through direct perception, inference and scriptural authority.

4. Kāla (Death, god of destruction) moves in the form of Nitya (daily), Naimittika (periodical), Prākṛtika (of Prakṛti, Primordial Nature) and Ātyantika (final or absolute) Pralayas[1] (destruction).

5. These bodies of souls which are subject to change and in which the stages of childhood, youth and old age are seen in that order, always go on decaying.[2]

6. The process of decay is not noticed as that of the flame of a lamp, or the growth and development of a fruit at every step on the tree, is not seen.

7. In its final stage, great grief is observed. In the stages of wakefulness and others (such as dream, sleep), there is frequent recurrence of grief.

8. Embodied beings suffer terrible misery and pain proceeding from bodily and mental causes and from elements (and oṃer beings) and caused by divine, planetary and supernatural factors.

9. As a result of it, people lament like: “Alas! My son died; my wife is dying; a tiger ate up my father; my daughter-in-law was bitten by a snake.

10-14. Alas! all my belongings are burnt down in the great fire of my mansion. How can I maintain my family as God Indra did not shower rains? My farm was rich with crops, but Alas, it is blighted by the intensity of winter'. My cows are taken away by robbers! Everything in my possession (property) is plundered!

I am severely punished by the king! I am severely beaten by my enemy! What should I do? Whom can I tell that my mother was adulterous?

Alas, the enemy abducted my wife today! I shall drink poison. Alas, my sister is carried away (forcibly) by Mlecchas! Alas, my enemy, the penetrator of my weak points and secrets, has arrived!

I am dying of the excruciating pain of fever. Alas, these are the messengers of Yama, the god of Death!”

Everywhere people are seen lamenting like this.

15. Every moment undergoing birth and death of their bodily states, in the course of time men suffer from pain originating from themselves (i.e. as a result of their own Karmas).

16. The pain of death at the end of the pre-destined period (of sufferings and life) is unparalleled. Even after death, extreme suffering—torture inflicted by the god of Death—is undergone.

17. Getting birth again and again in the species of beings such as viviparous, germinating ones (plants etc.), sweat-bom, egg-bom, according to one’s Karmas one dies with pain.

18a. Thus far the Nitya Pralaya (daily destruction) has been described to you with minute observation. You should understand it.

18b. Now, O sage, I shall describe to you the Pralaya called Naimittika (periodic).[3]

19. The Destruction that is occasioned by the Night of the Creator of the universe (Brahmā) is called the Naimittika (periodic) Dissolution or Destruction. It occurs on everyday (of God Brahmā).

20. O sage, the day of the Creator of the universe consits of one thousand Caturyugas (groups of four Yugas). His night is also of that duration. Boṃ together (the day and night of Brahmā) are called Kalpa.

21. In each day of God Brahmā, there are fourteen Manus, the protectors of bounds of Dharma, O Brāhmaṇa.

22-24. The first Manu is Svāyambhuva, then (the next Manu is) Svārociṣa. Next to him (consecutively) are Uttama, Tāmasa, then Raivata and Cākṣuṣa, Śrāddhadeva (i.e. Vaivasvata), Sāvarṇi, Bhautya, Raucya, then (Manu) called Brahma-Sāvarṇi, Rudra-Sāvarṇi, then (Manu) named Meru-Sāvarṇi and the last is Dakṣa-Sāvarṇi[4].

25. The period of each Manu is seventy-one Yugas. Twelve thousand years of Devas make one Yuga (= Mahāyuga).

26. At the end of the fourteen Manvantaras, the evening of the Creator of the universe sets in, O excellent sage.

27. At the end of the Day (of Brahmā), Vairāja withdraws the powers that sustain the world. Rudra whose soul is Vairāja, then desires to destroy the world.

28. At first there is a terrific drought lasting for a hundred years. Then all living beings of meagre strength on the earth perish entirely.

29-30. Intensely powerful rays of the Saṃvartaka Sun drink up all liquid from the nether world. Having dried up quickly all water of the lakes, rivers and seas on the earth, the Sun leads all peoples (or regions) to destruction.

31. Then the earth, bereft of all moisture and with all movables and immovables destroyed, becomes bald like the back of a tortoise, extremely dry and shrivelled.

32. Then Rudra in the form of destructive fire emanates from the mouth of Śeṣa, and it burns down the seven nether worlds, the earth, Bhuvarloka and Svarloka (the heaven).

33. The Kālāgni (‘the fire of world destruction’) which has burnt down the worlds and is terrible with its spiral flames, returns after devastating Maharloka.

34. Devas dwelling in the Bhuvar- and Svar-loka (the heaven), who are deprived of their posts and powers, become extremely tormented by the flames of that fire and proceed from Maharloka to Janaloka.

35. Sages, the followers of the path of Nivṛtti (‘abstaining’ from ritualistic acts—Karma) who attained state of Sidḍhas, go for the same reason from the earth to the world of Sages (Ṛṣiloka).

36. Then terrific clouds for destroying the world (called Saṃvartaka clouds) rise up in the sky. They look like a crowd of elephants. They are possessed of lightning, and thunder violently.

37. Some are smoke-coloured; some yellow-coloured. Some are white like night-lotus. Some are red like liquid lac; some like the wing of a blue jay.

38. Extinguishing the great fire they shower with heavy torrents for a hundred years incessantly, day and night. Those thundering thick clouds fill up the interior of the Brahmāṇḍa up to the Polar Star.

39. In that vast sheet of water of that general inundation, on a bed of the (body of the) great Serpent, Lord Vairāja Puruṣa called Aniruddha lies (sleeps).

40-42. Those who have realized the identity of Brahman and Self, and have brought under control the three Guṇas and propitiate Vāsudeva by Nivṛtti Dharma, make their residence in the four worlds of Mahar etc. and stay there as they please, praising Vairāja.

43. Lord Nārāyaṇa, meditating on the form of the Supreme Soul called Vāsudeva. lies absorbed in Yogic sleep.

44. At the end of (Brahmā’s) night, all those beings residing in his belly (during the Pralaya period) along with Brahmā are produced again as before, authorized for the same Karma as before.

45. In this way, the Pralaya called Naimittika (‘periodic’) characterised by the destruction of the three worlds has been narrated to you. Now I shall describe the Prākṛta Pralaya (Destruction of Prakṛti or Primordial Nature)[5].

46. What has been described (up till now) is a Kalpa. Three hundred and sixty periods of that duration constitute the year of God Brahmā.

47. Fifty of them (Brahmā’s year) constitute a Parārdha; two such Parārdhas constitute the life-span of Brahmā. When the period of time called Para (Brahmā’s complete span of life) is completed, there takes place a great annihilation.

48. After withdrawing his form called Virāj by the Rudra form of destruction, Vairāja desires to go (i.e. revert) to his supreme attributeless form.

49. At that time, there is a drought (a rain-less period) of a hundred years as before (at the time of Nitya Pralaya). The fire of destruction born of Saṅkarṣaṇa (Śeṣa) completely bums down Brahmāṇḍa (ṃe universe).

50. Then the extremely terrible clouds called Saṃvartaka pour down torrents of water, (each) as big as a pestle, for a hundred years, O sage.

51. Then by the will of Vāsudeva, there is a complete destruction of all the evolutes of Prakṛti beginning with Mahat and ending with Viśeṣas (i.e. peculiar attributes distinguishing Dravyas).

52. The (elemental) Water at first ‘swallows’ up smell (Gandha) which is a special quality of the (element) Earth. The Earth devoid of (its special quality) smell, becomes dissolved.

53. The (elemental) Fire swallows Rasa (liquid form), a special quality of Water, which thereby merges therein. The (elemental) Wind ‘devours’ Rūpa (colour), the special quality of Fire (Tejas) and it (the elemental Fire) merges therein.

54. The (elemental) Ākaśa (Ether) then swallows up touch which is a special quality of Wind. Wind then calms down (and ceases to exist). Ether stands uncovered.

55. Bhūtādi (the origin of Bhūtas) swallows sound, the distinguishing quality of Ether and Ether merges therein.

The Indriyas (i.e. organs of sense and action) become merged in the Taijasa Ahaṃkāra.

56. In the Sāttvika type of Ahaṃkāra, the deities and manas get merged. That which is produced or evolved from a thing gets merged in that, i.e. its source of origin.

57. The three types of Ahaṃkāra (produced from the three Guṇas

i.e. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) are dissolved in the principle called Mahat. That becomes merged in Pradhāna which in turn is dissolved in Puruṣa. It is then dissolved in the Mūla Prakṛti (Primordial Prakṛti).

58. This Pralaya called Prākṛtika is (thus) described. In this, by the will of Hari, the masters of living beings become concealed in Avyakta (i.e. the unmanifest primordial principle from which all the phenomena of the material world are developed).

59. When Māyā, Puruṣa and Kāla get merged in the imperishable refulgence by the Lord’s will, then the Lord alone exists (without a second). That Pralaya is called Ātyantika (Final or Absolute), O Nārada.[6]

60. All this is rendered like Asat (non-being) by the four kinds of dissolutions by the power called Kāla (Time) of the Lord. Non-attachment or dislike of it is called Vairāgya.

61. Knowing that all gods other than Vāsudeva are subject to Kāla (Destruction) and Māyā, and giving up liking (devotion) for them, continuous service with deep affection to him exclusively, is known as Bhakti (devotion).

62-63. He who serves him respectfully with his mind exclusively devoted to him, with the nine Bhāvas[7] (‘types of devotions’), viz. listening (to the stories etc. of the Lord), glorifying (the Lord), remembering (him), bowing to the Lord’s fed, worshipping (him), paying obeisance (to him), servitude, (establishing) friendship with him and (complete) self-surrender, is called a Bkakta (a devotee).

64. The Devotion that is accompanied with three chief duties (dharma) of oneself is called Ekāntika Dharma. It is the Bhāgavata Dharma.[8]

65. This Ekāntika Dharma is known by men by direct contact with the Lord or with his devotees of this (above described) nature, but never otherwise.

66. To men who are desirous of Mokṣa, there is no other means like this, which brings the final beatitude to men, and is destructive of all inauspicious and evil things.

67. For the accomplishment of Ekānta-dharma, he should devote himself to Kriyā Yoga. Thereby a man attains to the stage wherein one is exempted from the consequences of the Karmas, O excellent sage.

68. This great doctrine (Tattva) kept as secret in Vedas and Purāṇas, which destroys the flood of sins, has been described by me. It should be attended to with concentration of mind, with pure intellect, and with ardent faith, O great sage.

69. There is nothing more sanctifying than Vāsudeva. Nothing is more auspicious than Vāsudeva. No deity is greater than Vāsudeva. There is nothing that is desired other than Vāsudeva.

70. Take resort to Vāsudeva whose name, if one unknowingly utters at the time of death here, he, even if he be a Puṣkasa (an outcaste), is relieved (saved) from the stream of Saṃsāra.Note: This chapter gives a combination of the theistic Sāṅkhya theory of evolution of the universe as well as the Purāṇic concept of Viṣṇu creating Brahmā for the same.

Footnotes and references:


Though these are the four Pralayas (destructions of the world) as described in other Purāṇas, the concepts of Nitya and Ātyantika Pralayas are a bit different here.


VV 5-18a describe the Nitya-pralaya. V 13 mentions abduction of wife and sister by Mlecchas.


VV 18b-45 describe Naimittika Pralaya (caused by the night of God Brahmā).


The list slightly differs from that in VāP and PE (p. 403).


VV 45-58 describe the Prākṛta Pralaya i.e. destruction of Prakṛti (the original cause of the universe) itself. It takes place after the life-span of God Brahmā terminates.


This is the concept of Ātyantika Pralaya of this Purāṇa.


These are the usual nine types of Bhakti.


VV 64ff. give the concept of Ekānta Dharma or Bhāgavata Dharma. For the accomplishment of this Dharma Kriyā-yoga is essential.

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