The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Procedure of Puja Mandala Construction which is chapter 27 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-seventh chapter of the Vasudeva-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 27 - Procedure of Pūjā Maṇḍala Construction

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: This chapters and the following describe in detail the Agamic procedure of Viṣṇu worship. This describes the ‘city’ of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in which dwell gods, goddesses, demi-gods, planets etc. Their person, dress, vehicles etc. are graphically described. Here Śiva in the half-man-half-woman form (Ardha-nārīśvara) is regarded as Kṛṣṇa’s attendant. All these form the paraphernalia of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and a representation of their city.

Śrī Nārāyaṇa said:

1. On a piece of ground consecrated by digging, sprinkling, smearing (and such other means) and well-decorated with various colours, a (raised) seat with four legs should be placed.

2. The worshipper with his face to the East should place the legs of the seat in the comers. In those four he should establish Dharma and others in the form of lions (thus making the seat a siṃhāsana for the deity),

3. In the South-East corner Dharma of white colour should be placed. So should be placed Jñāna (Knowledge) red in colour in the South-West, Vairāgya (Absence of worldly desires) yellow in colour in the North-West and Aiśvarya (Divine faculties of omnipotence etc.) of dark blue colour in the North-East.

4. In the body-proper of the seat, Manas (mind), Dhī (intellect), Citta (the reasoning faculty or the heart) and Ahaṃkāra (the ego), each greenish, red, white and black in colour respectively, should be placed in the directions East etc. respectively.

5. On the strip of the seat all the three guṇas, Rajas, Sattva and Tamas, of red, white and black (colour) should be set, O excellent sage.

6. Now in the four parts of Antaḥkaraṇa (the internal organ consisting of Manas, Buddhī, Ahaṅkāra and Citta[1] a pair of Śaktis beginning with Vimalā, should be stationed in each part.[2]

7. The two Śaktis, Vimalā and Utkarṣiṇī, fair-compexioned, wearing green garments, excellently decked with ornaments and playing on beautiful lutes, should be placed in the East.

8. The pair of Śaktis, Jñāna (Knowledge) and Kriyā (Action), red in lustre, clad in yellow garments, one playing on cymbal and the other on a mṛdaṅga (tabor or a kind of drum), should be stationed in the South.

9. The two Śaktis, Yoga and Pradhī (Pradhī—great intelligence), dark (in complexion), wearing red garments, both together yet independently playing on flutes, should be installed in the West.

10. The pair of Śaktis, Satyā and Īśānā, both of golden complexion, wearing dark blue (green?) garments, both playing on a lute-like musical instrument, should be placed in the North.

11. One called Anugrahā with palms folded in reverence, should be established on the strip (of the Piṭhā). All these (Śaktis) should be made two-handed and well-adorned with ornaments.

12. On the seat, Sitadvīpa should be prepared with white cloth. In the middle of it a lotus of eight-petals with a brilliant pericarp should be made.

13. One-twelfth of the area should be left outside the lotus. Its middle should be equally divided by three circles.

14. The first circle is the place of the pericarp, the middle, of filaments, the third is of petals and pointed end-portion outside of it.

15. Around it, a city of four gates should be prepared with various kinds of colour-materials like turmeric powder, saffron etc.

16. Lotus-like decorations with rice-grains should be made. The pericarp of golden colour in the middle of the lotus should be well decorated.

17. O sage, the worshipper should prepare around it red-coloured eight petals in eight direction. They may also be of golden colour.

18. The eastern town-gate should be made red (in colour); the southern, dark; the western, yellow in colour and the northern, crystalline in brilliance.

19. In between the ‘town’ and the lotus, various kinds of flowers (should be spread). In the middle of it Śrīkṛṣṇa with Rādhikā to his left should be installed.

20. At the back of this (pair of) Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa (the worshipper) should then install four-handed Saṅkarṣaṇa, fair in complexion, wearing blue garments, holding an umbrella (over him).

21. On the right side of the Lord one should install four-handed Pradyumna, dark in complexion like a cloud, and wearing yellow garments, standing with a Chowrie in his hand.

22. On the left side of Hari red-garmented Aniruddha of dark-blue complexion like a sapphire, be placed, with a Chowrie in his hand.

23. These three should be adorned with various kinds of ornaments, wearing crowns studded with invaluable jewels, (appearing) beautiful due to youthfulness.

24. Then, in a serial order, the incarnations of Hari should be placed in the eight filaments (petals of the lotus?). A pair of incarnations should be placed in each, (thus placing) sixteen incarnations in the eight Kesaras.

25-26. At the front of the eastern filament the worshipper should install Vāmana and Buddha, both of them dark as a cloud (in complexion), compassionate, quiescent, celibate, wearing sacred thread and white garments, holding a full-bloomed lotus in the right hand, the left hand indicating Abhaya (protection from fear) by its position.

27-28. In the South-East comer, one should place Kalkin and Paraśurāma. Kalkin has a sword in hand, while the other holds an axe. Both of them should be represented as fair in complexion, red-eyed, having matted hair, wearing the sacred thread and white garments, who have given up anger against great enemies[3] (rather: great warriors who have given up their anger[3]).

29-31. One should install Hayagrīva and Varāha in the Southern Kesara. Hayagrīva should be horse-headed with a human body, with four hands holding in each conch and others (Viṣṇu’s weapons). He should be of golden complexion and wearing divine white-coloured garment.

Varāha hould [should?] be boar-faced with human body. He should have four hands holding in each a conch, a discus, an iron pestle and a lotus. He should be reddish-brown like honey in complexion and should be yellow-garmented. Or he may be represented as two-handed.

32-33. He should then install the Fish and Tortoise (incarnations of the Lord), in the South-Western Kesara. They should be of the same form (i.e. that of a fish and of a tortoise) below the waist but the upper form should be man-like. Both of them should hold the conch in the left hand and the iron mace in the right hand. Their bodies should be dark yet beautiful and decked with ornaments. They should be prepared (as above description).

34-35. He should place Dhanvantari and Nṛsiṃha in the Western Kesara. Dhanvantari should be of fair complexion, wearing white garments and holding a pitcher containing nectar. Nṛsiṃha should be Lionfaced with a human body (but) full of mane. He should be like a blue lotus in lustre (complexion) and be two-handed holding a mace and a discus (in them).

36. In the North-Western (Kesara) he should install Haṃsa and Dattātreya, both with matted hair, in yogic attire, white in complexion, holding a staff and water-gourd in their hands.

37-40. In the Northern Kesara he should then install Vyāsa and Gaṇapati. There Vyāsa should be of wide eyes, black in complexion, white-garmented with excellent tawny matted hair. He should be made (represented) as having two hands, holding the Vedas, wearing a white sacred thread and a ring of Darbha grass round his fingers.

The god Gaṇapati should be elephant-faced(-headed) with one tusk. He should be red (in complexion) and red-garmented, with a snake as a sacred thread. He should be fat, four-handed, holding excellent noose and goad and in one holding excellent pen (for writing) books.

41. The worshipper should place Kapila and Sage Sanatkumāra, a permanent celibate, in the North-Eastern Kesara.

42. Kapila should be made (shown) as having a while-complex-ioned body, wearing a beautiful white garment, holding a lotus in one hand and assuring freedom from fear with the other, and of a quiet personality.

43. By the worshipper the sage Sanatkumāra should be made to appear like a five-year old child. He should be naked and with slight matted hair.

44. After installing these deities in the filaments of the lotus in this way, the worshipper should install the attendants in the middle of eight petals.

45-47. One should at first place Viṣvaksena and Garuḍa to the East. Then in the right-handed (clockwise) arrangement he should install a pair of these attendants per petal. Attendants Prabala and Bala (in the South-East), Kumuda and Kumudākṣa (in the South), Sunanda and Nanda (in the South-West), Śrutadeva and Jayanta (in the West). (He should place) Vijaya and Jaya (in the North-West), then Pracaṇḍa and Caṇḍa (in the North) and Puṣpadanta and Sāttvata (in the North-East).

48. All these should be made four-handed, holding a conch, a discus, a lotus and an iron-club (in each hand), wearing crowns and yellow-garments. (They should be) dark in complexion and beautified with excellent ornaments.

49-50. In the intervening space of the eight petals, Siddhi-deities, all experts in playing on auspicious musical instruments, should be installed in due order (as above), for example, Aṇimā in the East, Laghimā in the South-East and so on. The Siddhis (to be so installed are): Aṇimā, Laghimā, Prāpti, Prākāmya, Mahimā, Īśitā, Vaśitā and the eighth Kāmāvasāyitā.

51. These Siddhis should be represented as golden in complexion, decorated with all ornaments, holding (musical instruments like) flute, lute and others and wearing various types of wonderful garments.

52. He should install at the front-end of the petals Vedas and Śāstras. He should place Vedas in the four quarters and Śāstras in the intermediate quarters.

53. He should station the Ṛgveda in the East. The Veda is wearing a rosary of beads, white (in complexion), short (in height), pot-bellied, quiescent, with lotus-eyes and white garments.

54-55a. He should place Yajurveda in the South. The Veda is medium in height, thin-waisted, brown-eyed, with a big fleck. It is yellow (in colour), wears red garments. It holds a rosary of beads in the left hand and Vajra-grass (a Darbha-like grass) in the right hand.

55b-56. In the West he should install the Sāmaveda which is tall in stature and has the brilliance of the sun. It holds a rosary of beads in the right hand, a conch in the left. It is large-eyed, wears golden (-coloured) garments, and is engaged in singing.

57. He should place the Atharvaveda to the North. It is white in body, attired in blue, holding a rosary (of beads) in the left hand, and a Khaṭvāṅga (a skull-topped club) in the right hand. It has the brilliance of fire, is red-eyed and old in age.

58. In the South-East corner he should station Dharmaśāstra, seated on a lotus. It is white-complexioned and holds in its hands a necklace and a balance.

59. In the South-West corner he should place Sāṅkhya with long hair and nails. It is fat-bodied, white in complexion and holds a rosary of beads (to mutter Mantras) and a staff.

60. In the North-West comer he should then install Yoga, of golden complexion, thin-waisted, who has placed both of his hands on his lap and fixed his gaze on the tip of his nose.

61. In the North-East (he should) place Pāñcarātra, white in complexion, wearing a wreath of sylvan flowers, holding in his hand a rosary of beads and a ploughshare.

62. The garments of these four should be white, fine yet of strong texture and the eyes should be (represented) as long like lotus-petals.

63. One should install in the intermediate space of the ends (of petals) great sages along with their wives, reciting the Vedas, in a serial order, like East, South-East (South, South-West etc.).

64. He should install Marīci associated with (his wife) Kalā (in the East), Atri also in company of Anasūyā (in the South-East), Aṅgiras along with Śraddhā (in the South), Pulastya with Havirbhū.

65. (He should place) Pulaha in association with Gati (in the South-West), Kratu with Kriyā (in the West), Bhṛgu associated with Khyāti (in the North-West), Vasiṣṭha in company of Arundhatī (in the North).

66. All these are (to be shown as) two-handed, lean, having matted hair and overgrown beards and mustaches, performers of penance, and holding in their hands staffṣ and water-gourds.

Outside the lotus, in eight quarters and intermediate quarters, Guardians of the Quarters of whom Indra is prominent (should be installed), along with their vehicles, in the order of cardinal points (as above).

67-69. In the East, he should install four-armed Indra riding his (elephant) Airāvata. He is shown as holding a thunderbolt, a goad, a lotus (in three hands) and as promising boons (by the position of fingers in the fourth). He is gold-like in complexion. His garments are beautiful and orange in colour. He is decked with various ornaments, of wide eyes with reddish outer angles. He should be endowed with all auspicious characteristics.

70-71. In the South-East corner he should install Fire-god, red in complexion, four-handed, holding in each hand a pike (Śūla), a spear (Śakti) and sacrificial ladles called Sruc and Sruva. (He is) seated in a gold-chariot (drawn by) of four parrots, with Wind as his charioteer. (He has) three eyes, smoke as his garment, tawny-coloured beard and matted hair and reddish-brown eyes.

72. He should install in the South Yama, dark-complexioned with gold(-coloured) garment. He is fourhanded, holding in each (hand) a staff, a sword, an axe and a noose. Decorated in different kinds of ornaments, he is riding an intoxicated buffalo.

73-74. In the South-Western direction he should place Nairṛta, of (a head with) erect hairs, with uneven (number of) eyes, having two hands holding a sword in one and a noose in the other, and using human beings as vehicle. (He should be shown to be) of green beard, smoke-like complexion, wearing black garment, richly adorned with a number of gold ornaments, terrible to non-Vaiṣṇavas.

75-76. Then, in the West (he should install) Vamṇa having the lustre of the (precious stone called) sapphire, wearing white garments. He is four-handed and adorned with pearl necklaces. He rides on a chariot drawn by seven swans. He holds a noose with both of his hands. With the other two (hands) he holds a vessel studded with gems and a conch.

77. In the North-West he should install the Wind-god of green complexion. He has two hands and wears black garments. He rides on drops of water. His hair is let loose and the mouth is open (agape) and has his (own) banner.

78-79. In the North he should place Kubera of golden complexion. He has four hands, holding in them an iron mace, a javelin, a trident and a vessel of precious stones. He is attired in blue. He is bearded and rides a palanquin. His left eye is reddish-brown. He wears a number of ornaments and puts on an armour.

80. In the North-East he should install the great Rudra in his halfman-half-woman form. The left half should be made (represented) as Pārvatī and the right half as Śaṅkara.

81. In the (male) half as Īśvara there should be matted hair decorated with the (crescent) moon. In the Umā-half (the female half) there should be a decorative Tilaka-mark on (the forehead) and the hair parted on this side of the head, leaving a partition line (from the forehead upwards).

82. The forehead of (male) half is smeared with sacred ash (lines), while the other half is beautified with a saffron-mark. The (male) half has the sacred thread of a serpent, while the (female) half is adorned with a necklace (on the breast).

83-84. On the (female) half a plump breast covered with a bodice, on the waist a gold waistband and gold-anklet on the feet should be shown. The garment should be orange-coloured. The two hands should be decorated with bangles with jewelled rings (on the fingers), holding in one hand a trident and a rosary of beads in the other.

85. On the right (male) side should be a waistband made of serpents and an elephant’s hide as a garment. The two hands have coils of serpents (as an ornament) and they hold a mirror and a lotus-flower.

86. God Mahādeva of this (half-man-half-woman) form riding a bull should be installed.

In this manner the worshipper should install the Guardians of the eight Quarters.

87. The worshipper should install eight Planets out of the town, each Planet occupying his own cardinal point, and riding his own chariot.

88-89. The Sun should be stationed in the East. He should be yellow-garmented, and red in complexion (like red lead). He is two-handed with a lotus in (one) hand. He rides in a chariot having one wheel of twelve spokes. To this chariot of excessive refulgence are yoked green-coloured seven horses to the left side.

90-91a. In the South-East corner the fair-complexioned, white-garmented Bhṛgu (Venus—but Bhṛgu is a male sage in Indian mythology) should then be posted. He is two-handed, holding a staff and a water-gourd and is pleasant and gentle in appearance. He rides in a chariot made of gold, yoked with ten horses of variegated colours.

91b-92. In the South, Mars, red in complexion with red attire should be placed. He is four-armed, holding an iron mace, a javelin, a trident (in three), the fourth promising boons. His gold chariot should be shown (as) yoked with eight red-colour horses.

93-94a. Rāhu should be installed in the South-West corner. He is attired in blue. He is four-handed, holding in them a shield, a sword, a javelin (Śakti) and a spear (Śūla). His mouth is terrible and he is dark in form. He should be made as riding in an iron chariot yoked with eight horses of black-bee colour.

94b-95. Saturn should be installed in the West. He is sapphire-blue in complexion. He is two-handed with a bow and a trident in his hands. He is of lazy (dim?) eyes and wears black garments. He is stationed in a chariot made of black iron, yoked with eight horses of variegated (spotted) colours.

96-97. He should install in the North-West corner the fair-complexioned Moon-god attired in white. He has two hands, in one of which he holds an iron mace. He rides in a chariot with three wheels, each having a hundred spokes. It is watery. Ten horses white like Kunda flowers are yoked on either side of it.

98. In the northern corner the son of Soma, i.e. Budha (Mercury), having two hands should be posted. With one hand he affords freedom from fear and with the other he confers boons. He is red in complexion. He is to be made as occupying a golden chariot yoked with eight horses of greenish and yellowish colour.

99. In the North-East corner the Planet Guru (Jupiter) should be installed. He is golden in complexion and white in dress. He is two-handed, lotus-eyed, holding a staff and water-pot of gourd (in his hands). He is seated in an excellent gold chariot yoked with eight white horses.

100-101. In this manner, the worshipper should install all the Aṅga-devatās of the Lord in due order in places within the interior of the city (formed) in the pericarp (of the lotus). He should install the Vibhava-type of forms of the Aṅga-deities of Vāsudeva. He should install them as betel-nuts or flowers and unbroken rice-grains.

Footnotes and references:


Jhalkikar, Nyāya-kośa, p.38.


In Tāntrika worship, Śaktis are the special deities situated on the seat or throne of the main deity (pīṭhādhiṣṭhātṛ-devatāviśeṣaḥ) (Ibid., p.781).


In Devanagari script ‘ya’ (ya) and ‘tha’ (tha) are mistaken for each other due to close resemblance. Hence the reading mahārayau be better emended as mahārathau ‘great warriors’. The line ‘tyakta-krodha-mahārathau’ should be interpreted as ‘great warriors who have given up their anger’.

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