by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The World of Shukra (Venus) which is chapter 16 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 sixteenth chapter of the Purvardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
The attendants said:
2-3. He inhaled the smoke of burning rice-husks for a thousand years though it was unbearable (and performed a great penance). Thereby he acquired the great Vidyā called Mṛtyusañjīvinī (i.e. that which enables one to resuscitate dead ones to life) from Lord Śiva. Even the preceptor of Devas does not know this difficult Vidyā. (None) except Mṛtyuñjaya (Śiva), Skanda, Gaṇeśa and Pārvatī knows this.
4-6. Who is this one well known as Śukra and whose excellent world is this? How did he acquire Mṛtyusañjīvinī Vidyā from Lord Śiva? Narrate this to me, O Lords and Devas, if you have any love for me.
Then those two Devas recounted to him the great story of Śukra on hearing which, those who have faith, will not have premature death. Nor will they have any fear from spirits, ghosts and vampires.
7-8 When there was a great battle between Andhaka and Andhakavairin (i.e., Lord Śiva) the lords of impregnable Girivyūha (‘Array of the army in the form of mountain’) and Vajravyūha (‘Array in the form of a thunderbolt’), Andhaka left the battlefield and approached Śukra. Getting down from the chariot, he spoke thus:
11. The Daityas and Dānavas entered the unbreakable (i.e., impregnable) Vajravyūha after scattering the Pramatha forces like those who, distressed with heat, would enter a whirlpool.
13. Along with our wives and sons, we serve day and night your pleasing feet with great trust and close intimacy.
14-16. O Brāhmaṇa, be pleased to protect all of us who have resorted to you. See these warriors attacked by the Pramathas of terrific exploits, who pound like the god of Death (our warriors like) Huṇḍa, Tuhuṇḍa, Jaṃbha, Kujaṃbha, Pāka, Kārtasvana, Vipāka, Pākahārin and the heroic Candradamana, who tore up the brave Devas. They are all killed and felled down like sandal trees by Drāviḍas.
17. The time of the utility test has come now for the excellent Vidyā that was acquired by you formerly after inhaling the smoke of rice husks for a thousand years.
18. The benefit of your Vidyā is when you can revive the Daityas. Let all the Pramathas see these resuscitated to life by you.”
19. On hearing these words of Andhaka the descendant of Bhṛgu, the sage of steady mind, smiled a little and spoke to the leader of Dānavas:
20-23. “O lord of Dānavas, everything that has been spoken by you is true. Indeed it is for the sake of the Dānavas that I have acquired this Vidyā. After inhaling for a thousand years the offensive smoke of rice husks, this Vidyā that is conducive to the pleasure of all kinsmen, has been acquired from Īśvara. By means of this Vidyā, I shall revive those who have been shattered (killed) by the Pramathas in the battle, like the cloud that enlivens dried-up crops. In this Muhūrta itself, O king, you will see the Dānavas rising up free from ailments and free from wounds, getting up as though after sleeping.”
24. After saying this to the Lord of the Dānavas, Kavi (i.e. Śukra) recited the Vidyā (Mantra) with respect to everyone (of the Dānavas) and they rose up lifting up their weapons.
26. On seeing those great Asuras, Tuhuṇḍa and others revived again, the demons shouted (gladly) like clouds full of water.
27. On seeing the Dānavas resuscitated to life by Śukra, the leaders of the Gaṇas spoke to one another that the matter should be conveyed to the Lord of the Devas.
28. While that Yuddhayajña (‘sacrifice in the form of battle’) was going on causing a great deal of surprise to the leaders of Pramathas, the son of Śilāda (i.e., Nandin) who became furious on seeing the work of Śukra, approached Maheśa.
29-32. After hailing “Be victorious” to Ugra (Śiva), the cause of all success and bright like gold, Nandin said: “O Lord, the manner of fighting of the leading Gaṇas is very difficult even for the Devas including Indra. That has been rendered ineffective by Bhārgava (Śukra) after easily enlivening these enemies who had died in the battle, by reciting the Vidyā that accords life unto the dead. O Īśa, Tuhuṇḍa, Kujaṃbha, Jaṃbha, Vipāka, Pāka and other great leading Asuras have returned from the abode of Yama. They are moving about routing the Pramathas. O Maheśa, if he were to enliven all those excellent Daityas again and again after being killed, when can we have victory? Whence can there be peace for the leading Gaṇas?”
33. On being reported thus by Nandin, the Lord of the Pramathas, Lord Śiva, the lord of the chiefs of the Pramathas laughingly told Nandin, the king of the chiefs of all Gaṇas:
34. “O Nandin, go quickly and lift up the excellent Brāhmaṇa from the midst of the demons like a vulture seizing a quail and bring him here.”
35. On being told thus by the Bull-emblemed Lord, Nandin shouted loudly in a stentorian and leonine voice. He penetrated the (enemy’s) army quickly and reached the place where the brilliant lamp of the family of Bhṛgu was present.
36. The powerful Nandin caused great agitation among the Daityas and like a Śarabha (fabulous animal with eight feet) that seizes an elephant, he carried away Kāvya (Śukra) who was being protected by all the Daityas with nooses, swords, trees, boulders and rocks in their hands.
37. The Asuras shouting with leonine roar followed him as though they would secure his release, even as he was caught by that powerful (Nandin) with the hairs dishevelled, ornaments dropped down and clothes slipping off.
38. Like clouds showering water, the leading Dānavas sent forth volleys of missiles like thunderbolt, tridents, swords, axes, fierce discus, stones etc. on Nandīśvara.
39. After seizing Bhārgava, the lord of the Gaṇas burned through the fire from his mouth, the hundreds of missiles. When the battle between the Asuras and the Devas became excessively fierce, he tormented the army of the enemies and came near Bhava.
40. “Here is that Śukra, O Lord”. Saying this he handed him immediately over to Bhava. The Lord of the Devas accepted Śukra like an oblation offered by a pure devotee.
41. The protector of the spirits did not say anything. He put Kavīndra (Śukra) into his mouth as though he was a mere fruit. Loud sounds “Hā! Hā!” (expressing grief) were made by all the Asuras.
42-45. When Śukra was swallowed by the Lord of Girijā, the Daityas lost all hopes of victory, like lordly elephants with severed trunks or cows and bulls shorn of their horns, like groups of living beings without bodies, like Brāhmaṇas without (the Vedic) study, like the Sattvaguṇas devoid of efforts, like efforts lacking luck, like women bereft of their husbands, like volleys of arrows devoid of their feathers, like lives devoid of merits, like learning unattended with good character, all the (religious) activities become devoid of their benefits without the Śakti of Bhava. So without that excellent Brāhmaṇa, the Daityas became devoid of hopes of victory.
46. When Śukra who was carried away by Nandin was swallowed by Śiva, the Daityas became distressed, with their enthusiasm for battle getting diminished.
47. On seeing them losing their morale, Andhaka said to them: “We have been deceived by Nandin who carried away Śukra by force.”
48-49. Without (affecting) the bodies, he has taken away the lives of all of us. All our fortitude, heroism, wisdom, fame, zeal, manliness and exploit have been simultaneously taken away when Śukra alone was abducted. Fie upon us by whom this sole excellent representative of our family, the most venerable one of our race, the preceptor, the protector and one who is capable of everything, has not been protected by us at the time of danger!
50. Hence be bold and fight with the enemies. I will kill all of the Pramathas along with Nandin.
52. If that Yogin (i.e. Bhārgava), our lord, comes out of his (i.e. Śiva’s) body by means of his Yogic power, he shall protect the others left among us.”
53. On hearing these words of Andhaka, the Dānavas shouted like thunder and harassed the Pramathas, resolving to fight unto death.
54. “If we have the life-span (destined), the Pramathas will not be able to overpower us. If we have no life-span, of what avail is our departure from the battle after leaving our master?
55. If the people who consider honour as wealth, forsake the master in the battle, they are sure to go to the hell Andhatāmisra.
56. Those who forsake battlefield tarnish their reputation through the darkness of ignominy. They can never be happy here or hereafter.
58. After thinking and deciding thus by talking to one another, those Danujas sounded the war drums and pounded the Pramathas in the battlefield.
59-60. There they created a great deal of havoc by striking one another with various weapons and missiles like arrows, swords, thunderbolts, machine-hurled stones, Bhuśuṇḍīs, Bhindipālas, tridents, javelins, axes, Khaṭvāṅgas, Paṭṭiśas, batons and mallets.
61. There was the din and noise of arrows flying about, bows drawn with twangs, the hissing noise of Bhinḍipālas and Bhuśuṇḍīs and the battle cries (of the soldiers).
62. There was a great tumult of beating of war-drums and the blare of horns, the trumpeting sounds of elephants and the neighing of horses.
63. The entire space between heaven and earth was filled as it were with echoes and reverberations. Hairs stood on ends in the case of both the cowards as well as the courageous ones.
64-65. The armies on both the sides fell into a swoon utterly thirsty, their ears becoming rent and split due to the loud trumpets and neighing of elephants and horses, the flags and flag-staffs torn and broken, the missiles and weapons becoming powerless. They appeared variegated with the vomitted blood and they were deprived of their horses and elephants.
66. On seeing his army hit and shattered here and there by the Pramathas, Andhaka himself came to the battlefield and routed the Gaṇas.
67. The Pramathas perished when hit and struck with thunderbolt-like arrows like mountains struck with Indra’s thunderbolt or as waterless clouds scattered by the wind.
68. On seeing the soldiers going nearby or the soldiers approaching from far off, Andhaka hit every one of them with numerous arrows like the hairs (over the body).
69-70. Andhaka was blinded through the incessant volleys of arrows, tridents and javelins thrown by the ferocious Gaṇas like Vināyaka, Skanda, Nandin, Somanandin, Naigameya, Śākha and the powerful Viśakha.
71-74. A great tumultuous din was produced by the armies of the Pramathas and the Asuras. By that great sound, Śukra who was within the belly of Śaṃbhu searched for an exit like the wind trying to escape, through some hole. He wandered about in the body of Rudra. He saw the seven worlds and their guardians. He saw the mysterious worlds of Brāhmā, Nārāyana [Nārāyaṇa], Indra, Ādityas and celestial damsels. He saw the battle between the Pramathas and the Asuras. He thus wandered around in the belly of Bhava for a hundred years. He could not see any hole to escape through, like a rogue who cannot see any weak spot in a pure man.
75. By the power of Yoga acquired from Śaṃbhu, Bhārgava dropped out (from the body of Śiva) in the form of semen virile. When he bowed down to the Lord, he (Śiva) spoke to him thus:
76. “Since you dropped out like the Śukra (Semen), O scion of the family of Bhṛgu, you are Śukra on account of this act; you are my son. You can go.”
77. When Śukra came out of his body, the Lord rejoiced much. It is good for me that while moving about in my belly, the Brāhmaṇa did not die.
78. On being addressed by the Lord thus, Śukra with brilliance like the Sun entered the army of the Dānavas, like the Moon that enters the cluster of clouds.
79. Just as the great ocean surges with waves gleefully at the rise of the Moon, so also the vast ocean of the Dānava army became delighted at the appearance of Śukra.
80. It was thus that the delighter of the family of Bhṛgu became Śukra by name, while the great battle between Andhaka and the slayer of Andhaka was going on.
81. How Kāvya (Śukra) got the Vidyā, the great Mṛtasañjīvanī with the favour of Śaṃbhu, listen to that, O Brāhmaṇa of good holy rites.
The Gaṇas said:
82-83. Formerly this scion of the family of Bhṛgu went to the city of Vārāṇasī that accords salvation to the four types of living beings viz., oviparous, sweat-born, germinating from seeds and viviparous. He installed the Liṅga of Śrī Śaṃbhu and dug a well before it. Meditating upon Lord Viśveśvara, he performed penance for a long time.
84-93. He showered the Lord with different kinds of flowers such as Rājacaṃpaka, Dhattūra, Karavīra, Kuśeśaya, Mālatī, Karṇikāra, Kadaṃba, Bakula, Utpala, Mallikā, Śatapatrī, Sinduvāra, Kiṃśuka, Aśoka, Karuṇa flowers, Punnāga, Nāgakesaras, the small Mādhavī flowers, Pāṭalas, Caṃpakas, Bilva, Navamallī, Vicikila, Kunda Mucukundaka, Mandāra, leaves of Bilva, Droṇa, Marubaka, Baka, Granthiparṇa, Damanaka, Surabhū, Cūta sprouts, Tulasī, Devagāndhārī, Bṛhatpatrī, Kuśa shoots, Nandyāvarta, Agastya, Śāla, Devadāru, Kāñcanāra, Kurabaka, Dūrvāṃkura, Kuraṇṭaka flowers. He adored with each of these flowers separately and with other foliages, also with hundred thousands of leaves he worshipped Śaṅkara.
Strenuously he bathed the Lord a hundred thousand times with Pañcāmṛta measuring a Droṇa and with many kinds of sweet-smelling bathing materials. With sandal-paste and Yakṣakardama, he smeared the Lord a thousand times. He applied the Lord of the Devas with sweet-smelling unguents. He offered songs and dances to the Lord. He eulogized Lord Śaṅkara with many prayers from the Śruti, the Thousand Names and other prayers and hymns. Thus Śukra performed the austerities for five thousand years.
94. When he did not see the Lord even a bit inclined to bestow boons, he adopted other terrible and unbearable vows.
95-96. Kavi (Śukra) washed the great dirt of the mind in the form of fickleness by means of the waters of deep meditation and absorption. He cleansed the mind along with the sense-organs many times. After making that gem of mind free from dirt, he offered it to the Pināka-wielding Lord. Then he inhaled the smoke of rice husk for a thousand years.
97. Then the Lord became pleased with the noble-souled Bhārgava. With a lustre brighter than that of a thousand Suns, he came out of the Liṅga.
99-100. On hearing these words of Śaṃbhu the lotus-eyed Brāhmaṇa became excessively delighted. Hairs stood on their ends all over his body. With eyes beaming with pleasure, he eulogized the Eight-formed Lord. Keeping his joined palms over his head, he uttered: “Be victorious; be victorious.”
(VV 101-109: Prayer by Śukra)
101. (Śiva as the Sun-god praised) With these brilliant lustres, you assail the entire darkness and make the desires of the night-stalkers set and disappear. O jewel of the day, for the welfare of the three worlds you shine in the firmament. O Lord of the universe, obeisance to you.
102. (Śiva-as the Moon-god praised) In this world, every moment, with your great lustre extending beyond the billowy shore, you increase the pleasure of the night-blooming lilies and the seas. You have routed the entire host of darkness and are excessively splendid. O Moon with cool rays, filled with the flood of nectar, obeisance to you.
103. (Śiva-as the Wind-god) O breaker of the stubborn ones, O wind that makes all creatures flourish, who makes the clan of serpents delighted, O omnipresent one, obeisance to you. On the sacred path you always move about (or you are adorable in the Vedic path). You are worthy of being attended upon. O enlivener of the universe, who is able to live without you?
104. (Śiva as the Fire-god) O immortal one, O Pāvaka (Fire), O immanent soul of the universe, O sole sanctifier of the universe, without your sanctifying sole power, the universe, consisting of the divine, corporeal and animal activities, does not live and function. Hence obeisance to you who bestow peace at every step.
105. (Śiva as Water) O great Lord in the form of water, O sanctifier of the universe, O Lord of diverse excellent conduct, since you make this diverse-featured world pure and free from impurities through imbibing and plunging, O Lord of the universe, I bow down to you.
106. (Śiva as Ākāśa—the Ether) O lord in the form of the firmament, this universe becomes full-fledged and developed because you give it the space externally and internally. O merciful one, it breathes by your grace. It becomes shrunk through its own nature and merges in you. Hence I bow down to you.
107. (Śiva as the Earth) O Lord in the form of the Earth, O Lord of the universe, O dispeller of darkness, who else than you sustains the universe? O Lord, greater than the greatest, O Lord embellished by the Daughter of Himalaya and by the serpents! Among those who maintain control of mind there is no person worthy of being eulogized other than you. Hence I bow down to you.
108. (Śiva as the Supreme Soul) O Hara in the form of the Ātman, this universe, consisting of the mobile and immobile beings, is pervaded by this series of your forms. O Lord in the form of the Supreme Absolute, O Lord with eight divine forms, O immanent being having the inner soul as abode, O Lord existing in every form, I bow down to you always.
109. O Lord adorable to Umā. O Bhava, the most venerable among all venerable ones, O Lord with forms spread over the universe, O Lord accessible to those who bow down, O Lord, the true one among all objects, hence, I bow down to you.
110. After eulogizing his dear Lord Bharga with the octave of the eight forms, Bhārgava bowed down again and again, placing his head on the ground.
111-114. On being eulogized thus by the excessively brilliant Bhārgava, the great Lord lifted him up from the ground with his hands. Holding the Brāhmaṇa who had bowed down, the Lord said, illuminating the quarters through the moonshine-like lustre of his teeth: “I consider you on a par with my two sons because of this excessively fierce penance hitherto not performed by anyone else, the meritorious activity of installing the Liṅga, its propitiation, the offering of the gem of the mind which is pure and steady and the holy activity in the great holy spot of Avimukta.
115. You get into the cavity of my belly with this body itself. Coming out through my organ of generation, you have the status of being my son.
116-118. I shall grant you another boon difficult to be acquired even by my attendants. I have a pure Vidyā named Mṛtasañjīvanī which I have kept concealed from Viṣṇu and Brahmā. It has been evolved by me by the power of my penance. O extremely pure one, it is in the form of a Mantra which I shall pass on to you today. O storehouse of pure penance, you deserve that Vidyā.
119. O most excellent one among the masters of Vidyā, if you recite this Vidyā (i.e., Mantra) in respect of any particular person, he will certainly come back to life.
120. Your brilliance shall be one surpassing the sun, fire and stars in the sky. It shall be dazzling. Be the foremost one among the Planets.
121. If men or women were to undertake any journey facing you, all their undertakings will perish by your glance.
122. O noble one of excellent holy rites, marriage and other rites, all pious activities, taking place after your rise shall become fruitful unto men.
123. All inauspicious lunar days shall become auspicious due to your association. Your devotees will have plenty of semen and hence of prolific progeny.
124. If people worship the Liṅga installed by you under the name Śukreśa, they will achieve success.
125-127. Listen to the benefit acquired by those men, who observe Naktavrata (taking food only at night) every Friday for a whole year, those who perform libation rites in the Śukrakūpa on your day (i.e., Friday) and worship Śukreśa. Those men will have never failing semen. They will have sons and plenty of semen. There is no doubt about this that they will be endowed with manliness and conjugal bliss. They will have no hindrance of any sort. All those people shall be happy.”
After granting these boons, the Lord vanished in the Liṅga.
The Gaṇas said:
128. O scorcher of foes, Śukreśa is to the south of Viśveśvara. Those who are devotees of Śukreśvara live in the world of Śukra.
129. Merely by visiting it, one is honoured in the world of Śukra. Thus, O highly intelligent one, the situation of the world of Śukra has been recounted.
Footnotes and references:
Mentioned below in w 21, 22, and 95-96, 116-119. For such penance by Śukra see VaP. 11.35. 116-118; also PE p.761 where Vāmana Purāṇa, Ch. 62 is mentioned.
God Śiva is eight-formed (Aṣṭamurti). Each form of Śiva is here eulogized by Śukra or Bhārgava.