The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Description of Kashi which is chapter 44 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-fourth chapter of the Purvardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 44 - Description of Kāśī

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Skanda said:

1-2. Hara, the Lord of the universe, beautified with the digit of the crescent moon, was staying in his palace studded with precious stones and shining with the splendour of jewels within the caves of Mandara. The place was very high in the firmament, surrounded by the peaks of the mountain and the Devas were occupying the seats all-around. Yet Śaṅkara did not feel delighted because of the rising fever born of the separation from Kāśī.

3. In order to calm down the scorching fire of separation, sandal-paste from Malaya was smeared on his body by the Lord, the enemy of the three Puras. That had dried up and assumed the form of the ash (on his body).

4. Tender stalks of lotus were tied round his hands like bracelets for the removal of the scorching heat. The Lord then shouted out that they were serpents (so stinging and scorching). That turned out to be a fact. Alas! The wish of the Great Lord (prevails).

5. The cool full-moon that had been drawn out by the Devas after churning the Ocean of Milk became lean and thin with its body wasting away due to the heat of the head of the Lord scorched by the fire of separation.

6. On being scorched (with the heat of separation from Kāśī) Hara does not let go even today the heat-quelling celestial river which he had held up in a corner of his extensive matted hair.

7. Śaṅkara of habitual, perfect self-control had become a victim of a great (fire of) separation, but since he covered it up perfectly, he was not known to be so by the Suras present in his assembly.

8. This is very surprising that the pure Lord of the three worlds should be scorched by the fire arising from the separation from his own city, even though the fire is his own form.

9. The Lord always adorns his forehead with a digit of the moon. Still that moon scorched the Lord. When one is in misery who is not against one?

10. The poison is shining in the throat but he is not scorched thereby. It is surprising that he is scorched by the clusters of cod, nectar-like rays of the moon.

11. He was afflicted with the mass of Haricandana (sandal-paste) water applied over the chest for the removal of the heat of separation but not with the poison issuing from the spreading hoods of the serpents.

12. This Lord Hara is capable of destroying all the erroneous conceptions such as those of serpents in garlands. It is surprising that he too had the misconception of a serpent in a distinctly visible garland.

13. That unborn Lord (Śiva) is capable of destroying the three Tāpas (distresses) merely on being remembered. But he too was distressed due to the separation from Kāśī. He then began to prattle thus:

14. ‘Even if the wind blowing from Kāśī were to embrace my limbs, the heat therein may subside but not by diving into a vast expanse of snow.

15. The distress of mine was heightened by the separation of the daughter of Dakṣa. How could it have subsided if the daughter of Himālaya, the creeper that enlivens me, had not manifested immediately?

16. When Dakṣa’s daughter cast off her body, my mind was distressed, but it was not as much as the present distress due to the great heat arising from the separation from Avimukta.

17. O Kāśī, when will I have the joyous pleasure of coming into contact with you whereby all my limbs shall cool down instantaneously and surprisingly?

18. O Kāśī, you have destroyed all sins. The fire due to the separation from you gets increased through the cool drops of the digits of the nectar-rayed moon as though through the offerings of ghee. It is really surprising.

19. Formerly my fever (heat) due to the separation from Dakṣa’s daughter vanished due to the remedy in the form of Himavān’s daughter. Indeed now I will not attain peace unless I see Kāśī quickly.’

20. Śiva had perfectly concealed the aberration due to distress. But when he began to lament mentally, he was somehow understood by the mother of the universe and of all the intellects, as lamenting for separation from something.

21. Even by that beloved who was a half part of his body, the cause of Śiva’s grief of separation was not understood. She, therefore, addressed the following probing words to the Lord who dispels the distress of all living beings that bow unto him.

Śrī Pārvatī said:

22. O omnipresent one, everything is within the grasp of your hand. What separation do you have, O Lord endowed with Yogic power? Sacred ash besmeared by you bestows prosperity (on the devotees). (By your grace) the entire earth is rid all of adversities.

23. O Lord, in the absence of your supervision in a moment all the worlds become annihilated and undergo miserable plight. O Lord, if anyone is not favoured by you with the least of mercy, he undergoes downfall as an alien.

24. The moon the sun and fire do not cause distress unto you, O Three-eyed One, because they are your eyes. Your beloved with refulgent water i.e. Gaṅgā is on your head itself.

25. These serpents always resort to your arms (as ornaments). O Blue-throated One, no poison affects you. O Vāmadeva, I am the splendid woman constituting your left side here and acting favourably to your mental predilection.

26. When this was uttered in a way conducive to welfare by the mother of the seed of the worldly existence, with a selected collection of words, Giriśa (Śiva) began to speak (in reply).

Īśvara said:

27. O Kāśī, the Lord having eight cosmic forms[1], Bhava, Hara, has been certainly captivated by you, Kāśī.

This is understood by Śivā (Pārvatī) quickly.

28. Thereupon Śivā (Pārvatī) described Avimukta, the city that bestows salvation, the sylvan creepers whereof had been her childhood friends.

Pārvatī said:

29. O Smarahara (Śiva), we shall go to Kāśī, the city that is held on the trident by Bhava at the time of deluge, when the water reached upto the sky, where it assumed the splendour of a lotus.

30. O Dhūrjaṭi, even the realm of (my father) the Lord of mountains does not delight me so much as your Kāśikā, the foremost city which is no part of the earth though it is on the earth (as it is held aloft by the Lord on his trident).

31. O Lord, how will that city of Kāśī become the object of our vision, the city where there is no fear arising from Kali Age, the city wherein (if) one dies, he is not reborn, the city where there is no fear arising from sins.

32. Don’t we have thousands of cities everywhere abounding in all types of prosperities? But I swear by you, none like Kāśī has come within the range of my vision, O Śiva.

33. Aren’t there hundred cities in Heaven, the source of origin of all fanciful things? But, O Purāri (Śiva), in comparison with the city of thine, the destroyer of worldly sufferings, they are all worthless.

34. The fever due to the separation from Kāśī does not effect you as much as it affects me. For the quiescence of the distress, the only remedy is that city or my native land.

35. O Lord, after attaining Kāśī, the bestower of peace all round, the cause of the destruction of all sorts of distress, the distress due to the separation from my native land has not been thought of by me.

36. The Lakṣmīs of salvation have not been directly perceived by any embodied being anywhere. I am aware, O Lord, O bestower of happiness, indeed Kāśikā is the salvation akin in form to the bestower of all happiness and welfare.

37. Neither by performing meditation on the Absolute (Brahma), avoiding unsteadiness of sense-organs, nor by (performance of) Kratu (sacrifice) and other rites, nor by Vedic knowledge and lore, is salvation attainable as easily as by casting off the body at Kāśī.

38. Nowhere is such happiness possible as is found in Kāśī. It is neither in heaven nor elsewhere in the world. How can it be found even in Pātāla which is so very beautiful. Where can be even a talk of happiness in the mortal world?

39. O trident -bearing Lord! Your holy place Avimukta is never bereft of the Lakṣmī (glory) of salvation. If a meritorious creature were to exercise (control over) his mind there, he will always be practising the Yoga with the six ancillaries.

40. Through the Yoga with six ancillaries, men cannot achieve that bodily Yoga-Siddhi instantaneously which one attains very easily, O Śiva, by fixing the eyes on you for a moment after reaching Kāśī.

41. Better indeed is a brute without the gift of intellect and not a human possessing the power of intellect, which refuses to be benefited by failing to visit Kāśī (by postponing to go there) as life is transient resembling a bubble of water on a lotus leaf.

42. The two eyes that have seen Kāśī are blessed; O Śiva, the body that resides in Kāśī is blessed; the mind that has resorted to Kāśī is blessed; the face is blessed that has been turned towards Kāśī.

43. Even a dust particle of Kāśī is excessively sacred and always destroys Rajas and Tamas qualities. It is as brilliant as the splendour of the moon. It is held in great esteem by the Suras when it sticks to their forehead touching in making obeisance to the region around Maṇikarṇikā.

44. Neither the world of Devas, nor Satyaloka, nor the world of serpents can be on a par with Maṇikarṇikā, because the ear of a person who dies at that place becomes fit to receive Brahmarasāyana (Praṇava or Rāmamantrarāja).

45. The region of Maṇikarṇikā is the source of excellent refulgence, where the expanse of darkness (i.e. ignorance) which is accumulated and increased in the course of hundreds of births and which cannot be quelled by fire or the rays of the sun and the moon, gets destroyed.

46. Is (It is as if) the region of Maṇikarṇikā, the throne of ultimate salvation or the soft bed of the Lakṣmī of salvation, or the source of origin of the great bulbous root (i.e. the prime cause) of the highest bliss?

47. By means of minute particles of refulgent pebbles persons who are happily seated (in Maṇikarṇikā) count the number of those creatures who have previously attained salvation there. They themselves eagerly await the destruction of their bodies, which constitutes a great festival unto them.

Skanda said:

48. After describing the city of Vārāṇasī thus, O sage, Aparṇā (Pārvatī) once again urged the Pināka-wielding Lord to proceed to Kāśī.

Śrī Pārvatī said:

49. O Lord of Pramathas, O Lord of all, O bestower of boons, you are ever independent in your existence. Kindly see that I am enabled to go to Ānandavana.

Skanda said:

50. On hearing this Giriśa became pleased. He spoke unto Girijā whose words had excelled even nectar in sweetness and who was brilliant in the exposition of Kāśī.

Śrī Devadeva said:

51. O my beloved Gaurī, I have been thrilled and refreshed by the sprays of nectar in the form of your words. Now I shall endeavour to reach Kāśī.

52. O great goddess, you are aware that I enjoy only that thing which is not enjoyed by others and not other things.

53. As, at the behest of the Grandfather (Brahmā) King Divodāsa is administering the city righteously what remedy should be employed?

54. How can that righteous King Divodāsa who is eager to protect the subjects, be dislodged from that city of Kāśī?

55. Since there can be obstacles only on the path of the unrighteous and not that of others, O goddess, whom should I send there who will dislodge him from Kāśī?

56. If anyone puts in obstacles to those who follow the righteous path, he himself will face obstacles on the other hand, O enhancer of love.

57. Without any fault (on his part), I am not enthusiastic enough to assail him. Indeed, O dear one, those who strictly adhere to righteousness should be protected by me.

58. Old age will not afflict him. Death will not desire to take away his life. Ailments do not torment him who sticks to the path of righteousness here.

59. Even as the Lord was thinking thus, he saw in front of him a group of Yoginīs of great maturity, capable of accomplishing hard tasks.

60. After discussing the matter with the goddess, O great sage Vyomakeśa, Hara called the group of Yoginīs and spoke these words:

61-63. “O Yoginīs, hasten to my city Vārāṇasī where King Divodāsa rules the kingdom with adequate adherence to righteousness. O intelligent Yoginīs equipped with the power of Yoga and Māyā, proceed in that manner which will make the king swerve from his duty and abandon Kāśī. O Yoginīs, quickly carry out such means as will enable me to go to Vārāṇasī after renovating it.”

64. Having accepted with bowing heads this behest considering it as a divine favour, the group of Yoginīs bowed down again and departed therefrom.

65. Those Yoginīs were highly delighted. With a speed far exceeding that of the mind, they passed through the sky talking to one another.

66-67. “Today we are further blessed because the Lord of Devas himself bestowed his favour and sent us to the glorious Ānandakānana. Today all of a sudden we had two rare advantages, the honour conferred by the Three-eyed Lord and the opportunity to visit Kāśī.”

68. Thus, the delighted group of Yoginīs departed from the pleasure-grove in the Mandara mountain, travelled through the sky quickly and espied that city.

Footnotes and references:


The eight forms of Śiva are five elements, the Sun, the Moon and the self.

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