The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Means of Dodging Kala which is chapter 42 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 forty-second chapter of the Purvardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 42 - Means of Dodging Kāla

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Agasti said:

1. How is it known that Kāla (death) is nearby, O son of Hara? Tell me a few of those indications as I ask.

Kumāra said:

2. I shall tell those signs which appear in men when death is imminent, O sage.[1] Listen to them.

3. If one breathes in and out through the right nostril alone day and night, his life, even though unbroken, comes to an end within three years.

4. If the air blows constantly for two or three days and nights through Ravi (the right tubular vessel) it is said that his life limit is a year.

5. If the wind (breath) blows through both the nostrils continuously for ten days, along with its egression, the person lives only for three days.

6. Leaving off its two-fold path through the nostrils if the breath blows through the mouth, the person’s departure along the path of death before the end of two days can be foretold.

7. The time when death shall come all of a sudden, should be well-thought of by a person afraid of death.

8. If the Sun is in the seventh house in the Zodiac and the Moon is in the star of nativity and the breath flows through the right (nostril), that time should be seen as Pauṣṇakāla (time of which the Sun is the deity).

9. At that time (of Pauṣṇakāla) if anyone were to see a black and tawny person and immediately some other form, he will live for two years.

10. If semen, faeces and urine or sneeze, urine and faeces were to fall out simultaneously, his life extends but to a year.

11. If anyone sees in the sky groups of Nāgas (serpents, elephants) resembling sapphire and moving about, he shall not live for six months.

12. On a day when there is no cloud, a person should stand with the sun behind him and fill his mouth with water. He shall then spit it out forcibly and quickly. If he does not see a rainbow, then his life will extend to only six months.

13-14. One whose death is imminent does not see Arundhatī, Dhruva, the three footsteps of Viṣṇu and the fourth one, the region of Mātṛs (Mothers). Arundhatī means the tongue; the tip of the nose is mentioned as Dhruva; the steps of Viṣṇu are in the middle of the brows; and the region of the Mātṛs is the middle of the eyes.

15. If anyone perceives blue and other colours or bitter, sour and other tastes otherwise (not in the proper colour or taste without any proper reason such as eye-ailment or fever), he faces death within six months.

16. If a man is sure to die within six months, his throat, lips, tongue, teeth and, the fifth one, palate—all these become parched and lustreless.

17. If the semen, fingers and extremities of the eyes turn blue, the man goes to the city of Yama in the sixth month.

18. If a man engaged in sexual intercourse sneezes in the middle or at the end, it is certain that he will become the guest of Dharmarāja (god of Death) in the fifth month.

19. If a three-coloured (namely of blue, red and yellow colour) chameleon suddenly climbs on to the head and goes away, his life becomes extinct within six months.

20. If after taking excellent bath, the heart (chest) feet or hands become immediately dried up, his life limit is the period of three months.

21. If the imprint on dust or mud of the foot of anyone has the shape of a broken foot, he lives but five more months.

22. If the shadow of anyone trembles even when the physical form is steady, the messengers of Yama will bind that man in the fourth month.

23. If anyone does not see the head of his own reflection in water, ghee, mirror etc., he perishes in a month.

24-26. These are the indicators of death. If the mind swerves, gets confused, if the speech falters, if he sees rainbow-like form (when there is no rainbow), two moons in the nights, two suns in the day, galaxy of stars by the day, the extensive sky, rainbows all-round simultaneously, Gandharva city (imaginary city) on the top of a tree or mountain and the dance of ghosts and devils by the day (he will die soon).

27. Even if he sees anyone of these signs, death shall await only the period of a month and not more.

28. If by closing the ears with the hands, a man does not hear any sound, if a stout man (suddenly becomes) lean or a lean one stout, he returns (i.e., dies) within a month.

29. If anyone sees his shadow resting in the southern direction, he lives for five days and meets with death.

30-31. If in his dream anyone sees himself carried on the back or devoured by Piśācas, Asuras, crows, goblins, ghosts, dogs, vultures, jackals, camels, pigs, donkeys, monkeys, herons, mules and cranes, he ceases to live by the end of a year and comes face to face with Yama.

32. If during dream any man sees his own body adorned with fragrant red flowers, red perfumes or red clothes, Alas, he lives only for eight months.

33. If anyone mounts an anthill, sacrificial post or heap of dust in dream, he perishes in six months.

34-35. If, in dream, a man sees himself mounted on a donkey with the body smeared with oil or the; head shaved, if he sees his ancestors in dream being taken to the southern direction, or if a man sees grasses or dry twigs on his head or body, he does not live in the sixth month.

36. If a man sees a black man wearing black clothes and holding an iron rod standing in front, he cannot live beyond three months.

37. If anyone is embraced by a dark-complexioned virgin in dream, he sees the city of Yama within a month.

38. If in dream a man goes towards the east riding a monkey, he sees Saṃyaminī (city of Yama) within five days.

39. If a miserly person becomes munificent and if a munificent one becomes miserly, if the nature undergoes aberration, then he faces death.

40. The significant indications of (the advent of) Kāla (god of Death) are many. After knowing them a man should resort to Yoga.

41. O Sage, I am not aware of any other means of deceiving Kāla except Mṛtyuñjaya (‘Conqueror of Death’—Śiva), the Lord of Kāśī who prevents future births.[2]

42. Sins roar and King Yama roars only as long as a devotee does not resort to Viśveśvara.

43. Who does not become respectable (even to gods) if he has reached the residence of Viśveśvara, drunk the waters of Gaṅgā flowing towards the North and touched the excellent Liṅga of Viśveśa?

44. Even if angry, what will Kāla do to the men dwelling in Kāśī where Śiva himself whispers the Mantra of redemption into the ears at the proper time.

45. Just as infancy passes off, just as childhood goes off the way it comes, so also the period of youth and old age is what vanishes quickly.

46. As long as there is no onslaught of old age, as long as there is no feebleness in the sense-organs, a sensible man should eschew everything insignificant and seek refuge in Kāśī.

47. May other signs of the advent of Kāla stand aside, O Pot-born One. Old age itself is the first sign. It is surprising that none is much afraid of that even.

48. When overcome with old age, one is insulted by all like a man devoid of wealth, when the ruby of the prime of youth is taken away.

49. Sons do not carry out his behest, wife gives up love and kinsmen do not mind him when the man is in the embrace of old age.

50. Even a loving wife turns her face away on seeing (the husband) embraced by old age, naturally suspicious as if of another (rival) woman.

51. There is no sickness on a par with old age; there is no misery on a par with old age; old age itself is death unto men because it causes loss of respect.

52. Neither by penance nor through Yogic practice, can Kāla be so conquered as he is conquered through stay in Kāśī without any delay.

53. Who feels a keen desire to attain Kāśī without excessive store of Puṇya (merit), without Yajñas, without Dānas (gifts) and without Vratas, Japas, etc.?

54. Attainment of Kāśī is Yoga; attainment of Kāśī is penance; attainment of Kāśī is Dāna; and attainment of Kāśī is identity with Śiva.

55. If Vārāṇasī is resorted to, what is Kali Age, who is Kāla, what is old age, what is evil, sin, what is pain and ailment, what are obstacles? (All these are insignificant and ignorable.)

56-57. Kali Age afflicts them, Kāla desires to kill them and sins afflict and torment them who have not resorted to Kāśī. Those who have resorted to Kāśī and worshipped Viśveśvara, get rid of the bondage of Karmas by attaining the Tāraka Jñāna.

58. Rich men do not get as much happiness as is obtained inexhaustibly by meeting with death at Kāśī.

59. Blessed is one who duly resides in Kāśī and not one who occupies the region of heaven-dwellers. The former acquires the end of misery and the latter the end of happiness.

60. Though Lord Īśa was stationed on Mandara abounding in lovely caves, he did not feel pleased without Kāśī where King Divodāsa was staying.

Footnotes and references:


VV 2-40 give the indications prognosticating death within a particular time-limit. These are pseudo-scientific superstitions.


VV 41ff. emphasize that Kāśī and its presiding deity are sure means of dodging Kāla.

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