The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 1,763,776 words

This page describes Lohasura Devastates Dharmaranya which is chapter 23 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-third chapter of the Dharmaranya-khanda of the Brahma-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 23 - Lohāsura Devastates Dharmāraṇya

Vyāsa said:

1 -3. Henceforth, I shall narrate what was done by Brahmā formerly, I shall mention everything. Listen with an attentive mind.

Once there was a fight between Devas and Dānavas out of enmity. In that foul war Devas were subjected to terrible mental pain and anguish. Being agitated they sought refuge in Brahmā.

The (Leader of) Devas said:

4. O Brahmā, in what way can I bring about the slaughter of Daityas. Let the means be shown quickly to me. I shall carry it out.

Brahmā said:

5. Formerly on being pleased with the penance of Yama, Dharmāraṇya was created by me, Viṣṇu and Śaṅkara.

6. There is no doubt about this that whatever religious gift is made there, whatever Yajña or excellent penance is performed (there) becomes ten million times fruitful.

7. Be it sin or merit, it becomes increased ten million fold. Hence, O Suras, it has never been attacked by Daityas.

8. On hearing the words of Brahmā, all the Devas became surprised. Under the leadership of Brahmā, they came to Dharmāraṇya.

9-10. They began a great Sattra (sacrifice) lasting a thousand years. Aṅgiras and Mārkaṇḍeya were invited to be the Ācāryas (preceptors). The highly intelligent Atri and Kaśyapa were made Hotṛs (i.e. those who offer the sacrificial offerings into the fire). Jamadagni and Gautama were requested to be Adhvaryus (i.e. those who do all work preparatory to sacrifice).

11. Bharadvāja and Vasiṣṭha were directed to be Pratyadhvaryus (i.e. assistants to the Adhvaryus). Nārada and Vālmīki were made promptors.

12-13. They respectfully installed Brahmā in the seat of Brahmā (Presiḍer over sacrifice). The Suras made an altar having sides twelve kilometres in length. For the chanting of the Vedic Mantras from Ṛk, Yajus, Sāman and Atharva Vedas all the Brāhmaṇas were invited.

14-15. Gaṇanātha and Kārttikeya, the sons of Śaṃbhu, Indra the wielder of thunderbolt and Jayanta, the son of Indra—these all heroic Devas were made the four doorkeepers. Then god Fire was invoked by means of Rakṣoghna Mantra (‘spell for exterminating the demons’).

16. Then, O lord of men, the Devas made the offerings of gingelly seeds mixed with barley and soaked in honey and ghee along with a recitation of Vedic Mantras.

17-21. Āghāras (sprinkling of clarified butter) and portions of Ajya (sacrificial offerings of ghee, milk and other things) were offered. Then grapes, sugarcane, arecanut, orange, lemon and citron were offered. Later, coconut and pomegranates were offered in due course. Honey, clarified butter and milk mixed with sugar and Kṛśara (milk, rice, gingelly seeds boiled and a dish prepared) were offered along with rice and lotuses. At the time of the performance of Yajña, (the Devas) controlled their speech. The blessed ones, carefully thought over (everything) and performed the Yajña with due offerings of monetary gifts. After offering the excellent and auspicious Soma libation, they were extremely delighted.

To the poor, blind and the wretched, cooked rice was given liberally. Particularly cooked rice was given to the Brāhmaṇas as much as they desired. Milk pudding with sugar and ghee as well as vegetable dishes were provided (along with it).

22-24. (The following varieties of dishes and sweets were served:) Mandakas (flat sweet cakes), baked pies, sweet pies, splendid Veṣṭikās (a preparation of pumpkin gourd etc.), a thousand sweets like Pheṇikās, Ghurghuras etc., splendid cooked rice, lentils, pulses like Āḍhakī, green gram, Parpaṭas, Vaṭikās etc., varieties of lambatives consisting of Tryūṣaṇas (pepper, ginger etc.), Kulmāṣas (gruel), Vellakas (black pepper preparation) and splendid Vālakas (coconut cookies).

25. There were Karkaṭikās (cucumbers) mixed with tender ginger and chillies. There were these types of cooked food and varieties of greens and vegetables.

26-28. O king, they fed eighteen thousand Brāhmaṇas along with their sons residing in Dharmāraṇya. This feeding continued everyday. The Devas fed the Brāhmaṇas, religious students for a thousand years (simultaneously) performing Yajñas.

After exterminating the Daityas, O king, they became free from fear. All the Devas and the groups of Maruts immediately went to heaven.

29-31. So also did all the celestial damsels. (Out of) Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara, (Maheśvara) went to the beautiful peak of Kailāsa, (Viṣṇu) to Vaikuṇṭha dear to him, and Brahmā to his extremely auspicious Brahmaloka. All the heaven-dwellers became extremely delighted after reaching the excellent Nandana. Firmly established in their respective abodes, they all became fearless (and carefree).

32-34. After the lapse of a great deal of time, during the transition of Kṛtayuga, a haughty and arrogant demon named Lohāsura assumed the guise of a Brāhmaṇa and began to assail all the Brāhmaṇas, the most excellent ones among those conversant with Dharma. He beat the merchants and the Śūdras with a stout baton. He destroyed Yajñas and swallowed the articles intended for Homa. He defiled altars and sacred pools on seeing them.

35. With urine and discharge of faeces he defiled holy places. He defiled women through thickets and woods, O king.

36. Then all those Brāhmaṇas being extremely terrified by the demon Lohāsura fled and went to all the ten directions along with their families.

37-38. O king, the merchants too, desperate in their fear, followed the Brāhmaṇas agitated and frightened. After going to a long distance, they reflected and got united with the Śūdras and the Brāhmaṇas. Ultimately they reached an extremely holy but desolate region Muktāraṇya.[1]

39. Not very far (from it) they established a colony, O lord of men. They colonized that village in the name of a merchant[2] (Vaṇija-grāma, mod. Bania, near Vaiśālī?).

40. The village was not named after a Brāhmaṇa because they were afraid of the demon. Since the village was colonized by a merchant named Śaṃbhu, it was given his name.

41-45. It became well-known as Śaṃbhugrāma in the world. Some of the merchants who fled due to fright went to a nearby place and made an excellent colony. Awaiting the arrival of the Brāhmaṇas, they made their abodes there. They named their village Maṇḍala and inhabited it.

Some merchants who strayed away from the group of Brāhmaṇas, took to another way, being overcome with the fear of Lohāsura. After reaching a place not far from Dharmāraṇya, they anxiously pondered: ‘What way did we take (and arrived here)? Where did the Brāhmaṇas go (and settle there).’ Anxiously pondering thus, they (ultimately) settled there.

46. Since they went along another path they colonized a village known in the world as ‘Aḍālañja’.

47. O king, the villages were named after the names of the (important) merchants settled therein.

48-51. The merchants and the Brāhmaṇas became confused (mohaṃ prāptāḥ) in their great fright. Hence they were called ‘Moha.’ Thus destroyed and scattered, they wandered over in the ten directions. Neither the Brāhmaṇas nor the merchants stayed back in Dharmāraṇya. It became devoid of inhabitants. Making this rare jewel among the holy spots and pilgrimage centres a place bereft of Brāhmaṇas and devoid of sanctity, the demon gladly went to his abode.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Muktāraṇya: located near Vaṇija-grāma (mod. Bania, near Vaiśālī). It probably represents the forest of Vaiśālī in the District of Muzaffarpur, Bihar.—Studies in Skanda Purāṇa, p. 172.

It is difficult to locate all these villages like Maṇḍala, Aḍālaja, Śaṃbhugrāma but they were most probably round about Dharmāraṇya.

[2]:

Vajik’ is probably a misprint for ‘Vaṇik’ in this context.

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