The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,142,515 words

This page describes The Arrival of Sixty-four Yoginis which is chapter 45 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-fifth chapter of the Purvardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 45 - The Arrival of Sixty-four Yoginīs

Skanda said:

1. Then that group of Yoginīs extended their visions from afar and praised the length of their vision which had become fruitful.

2. They praised also the festoons and banners of the groups of divine places, the tips of which were fluttering as though they were inviting respectfully the wayfarers on the paths far away.

3. They also praised the blue sky that appeared to be bright due to the glittering rubies in the places with increased rays.

4.[1] They concealed their divinity by means of their Māyā and assumed the guise befitting Karpaṭikās (an order of ascetics wearing red garments). Thus the group of Yoginīs entered Kāśī in an irregular order (not simultaneously in a group).

5. One of them adopted the form of a woman Yoginī or a Kāpālikā, another became a woman ascetic, one of them became a Sairandhrī (a female attendant) and another (assumed the form of) one fasting for a month.

6. One of them became wife of a gardener, another a beautiful maiden of a barber conversant with the activities connected with cases of delivery and another an adept in science of medicine.

7. A certain Yoginī became a Vaiśya woman—very clever in buying and selling. One of them became a serpent-charmer and another a governess and another a slave girl.

8. One of them became a woman expert in dancing and another an adept in singing. Another became a flute player and still another a lute player.

9. One Yoginī became one conversant with playing on the Mṛdaṅga drum and a certain one an expert in the art of beating time. One of them was a specialist in the art of seduction and another a maker of pearl-necklaces.

10. One became expert in the art of apportioning scents; one was a specialist in the game of dice; another was an adept conversationalist and a certain one became a Catvāracāriṇī (a mendicant woman roaming in quadrangles).

11. One of them became a clever woman climbing a bamboo pole and another a rope-walker. One became a lunatic with curious pranks and another clothed herself with rags picked from the highway.

12. One lived in that city as one capable of blessing the childless with children. Another was an expert in palmistry.

13. A certain (Yoginī) captivated the minds of the common people through her skill in drawing pictures. A certain one roamed there proclaiming herself an expert in the spells of captivating persons.

14. One of them was bestower of supernatural powers through Guṭikās (pills); one of them was able to bestow Añjana Siddhi (supernatural power through use of collyrium); another was an expert in Dhātuvāda (Alchemy) and another bestowed Pādukā Siddhi (transport to a desired place by touching the sandals).

15. One of them taught the arts of Agnistaṃbha (‘arresting fire’), Jalastaṃbha (‘preventing the movement of water’) and Vākstaṃbha (‘arresting the power of speech’); one of them offered Khecaritva (‘the ability to walk in the sky’) and another one offered the power of being invisible.

16. One of them offered the Ākarṣiṇī Siddhi (‘the power to drag to oneself woman or man desired); another offered Uccāṭana (upsetting and unsettling persons of stability); a certain one enamoured the minds of young men through the beauty of her limbs.

17-19. One of them could bestow anything thought of; one of them was an expert in astrology.

In such disguises and professions, the group of Yoginīs entered every house and every yard around. Thus they spent a year roaming about in the city day and night. They were desirous of creating obstacles unto the king, but could not find any inlet or loophole. Their desired missions were not fulfilled. All these Yoginīs gathered together and stayed there taking counsel together. They never went back to Mandara.

20. “If one had been honoured in the open assembly (by being entrusted with a task) but could not carry out the task and if the one is not even wounded, can that one stand in front of the lord and master?”

21-23. Further, the following steps were thought of by the Yoginīs, O sage. ‘We can very well live without the Lord but not without Kāśī. Even if the master is angry with the servant, he can only take away the means of livelihood. But, if Kāśī slips out from the grasp, it may take away all the four aims of life.’

O great sage, ever since then, till today the Yoginīs never left Kāśī and stayed elsewhere, though they wander through all the three worlds.

24-28. (The Yoginīs thought further:) ‘Even after coming to Kāśī, the glorious city, if any wretched-minded man were to think of leaving it, it is he who will be, on the other hand, abandoned by the four Puruṣārthas, viz. Dharma, Artha, Kāma and Mukti. After coming to Kāśī which man of wretched intellect desires to go elsewhere with his mind dwelling on insignificant glory? Kāśī is, as it were, the treasure-chest of salvation. Even if the master turns away his face from us (to express his displeasure), he will see us face to face (to express his pleasure) due to the merit of resorting to Kāśī.

The Lord will be our own merit personified. Hence we shall be contented that we have done our duty.

The Lord, omniscient Śiva, will be coming here in a few days, because the Three-eyed Lord does not feel happy elsewhere except at Kāśī.

This Kāśī is the Śakti (power) of Śaṃbhu. It is not perceptible to all. Śaṃbhu alone knows its greatest happiness.’

29. Having concluded thus in their minds, the group of Yoginīs stayed back in the Ānandakānana of Śaṃbhu, enveloping themselves with an indescribable Māyā.

Vyāsa said:

30-51. On hearing this, the sage asked the Six-faced Lord again: “O Lord, what are their names? Enumerate them. What benefit accrues by worshipping the Yoginīs at Kāśī? What is the holy occasion on which they are to be worshipped? How are they to be worshipped? Mention that.”

32 On hearing these questions concerning the Yoginīs, the son of Umā replied: “O sage, I shall mention. May Your Holiness listen attentively.”

Skanda said:

33. O Pot-born One, I shall mention the names of the Yoginīs, on hearing which all the sins of the persons of worldly existence perish instantaneously.

34-41. The sixty-four names of the Yoginīs[2]: (1) Gajānanā, (2) Siṃhamukhī, (3) Gṛdhrāsyā, (4) Kākatuṇḍikā, (5) Uṣṭragrīvā, (6) Hayagrīvā, (7) Vārāhī, (8) Śarabhānanā, (9) Ulūkikā, (10) Śivārāvā, (11) Mayūrī, (12) Vikaṭānanā, (13) Aṣṭavakrā, (14) Koṭarākṣī, (15) Kubjā, (16) Vikaṭalocanā, (17) Śuṣkodarī, (18) Lalajjihvā, (19) Śvadaṃṣṭrā, (20) Vānarānanā, (21) Ṛkṣākṣī, (22) Kekarākṣī, (23) Bṛhattuṇḍa, (24) Surāpriyā, (25) Kapālahastā, (26) Raktākṣī, (27) Śukī, (28) Śyenī, (29) Kapotikā, (30) Pāśahastā, (31) Daṇḍahastā, (32) Pracaṇḍā Caṇḍavikramā, (33) Śiśughnī, (34) Pāpahantrī, (35) Kālī, (36) Rudhirapāyinī, (37) Vasādhayā, (38) Garbhabhakṣā, (39) Śavahastā, (40) Āntramālinī, (41) Sthūlakeśī, (42) Bṛhatkukṣī, (43) Sarpāsyā, (44) Pretavāhanā, (45) Dandaśūkakarā, (46) Krauñcī, (47) Mṛgaśīrṣā, (48) Vṛṣānanā, (49) Vyāttāsyā, (50) Dhūmaniḥśvāsā, (51) Vyomaikacaraṇā, (52) Urdhvadṛk, (53) Tāpanīdṛṣṭi, (54) Śoṣanīdṛṣti, (55) Koṭarī, (56) Sthūlanāsikā, (57) Vidyutprabhā, (58) Balākāsyā, (59) Mārjārī, (60) Kaṭapūtanā, (61) Aṭṭāṭṭahāsā, (62) Kāmākṣī, (63) Mṛgākṣī, (64) Mṛgalocanā.[3]

42. If any man repeats these sixty-four names everyday at dawn, midday and dusk, all his sufferings due to evil spirits become subsided.

43. Neither Ḍākinīs nor Śākinīs, neither Kūṣṃāṇḍas nor Rākṣasas afflict him who recites these names.

44. They give peace to infants and the unborn. They accord victory in battle, royal household and debates.

45. He who serves Yoginī Pīṭhas (pedestals) shall obtain desired powers. One who repeats other Mantras in front of their pedestals shall also achieve powers.

46. The Yoginīs become quickly pleased with oblations, adorations and offerings and dedications of incense and lamps and they shall fulfil all desires.

47. In autumnal season a devotee conversant with Mantras, should perform a great Pūjā in accordance with the injunctions and make ghee offerings. He shall attain great benefit.

48. In the month of Aśvayuj (October-November), beginning with the first lunar day of the bright half and ending with the ninth day, a man should worship (the Yoginīs). He shall obtain whatever is desired.

49. The excellent man should observe fast on the fourteenth day in the dark half and keep awake during the night. He shall obtain great benefit.

50-51. The devotee should repeat all the names affixing the Praṇava in the beginning and using them in the Dative case and perforin one hundred and eight Havanas for each name at night with Guggulu (aromatic gum resin) mixed with ghee, making each lump of the size of a small Badarī fruit. He shall obtain great benefit and whatever power he may desire, the man shall obtain it.

52-54. On the first day in the dark half of Caitra a Pilgrimage (Yātrā) should be performed assiduously for the purpose of quelling obstacles to the holy spot by meritorious persons. If anyone staying in Kāśī, out of contempt or indifference, does not perform the annual pilgrimage, the Yoginīs create obstacles unto him. Keeping all of them ahead at Kāśī in Maṇikarṇikā, a devout man should perform obeisance. Merely on account of this he can ward off all obstacles.

Footnotes and references:


VV. 4-17 describe the various professions of women of that period.


Though there might have been separate temples for the Yoginīs formerly, now they are worshipped in one temple called ‘Chauṃsaṭhī Devī Temple’. The temple is small, located in a tiny lane in the Bengali Tola area, high above the Chauṃsaṭhī (or Rana Mahal) Ghāṭ. (BCL 158)


The names in this list show that these so-called Yoginīs must be ogresses worshipped by the masses before their Brāhmaṇīsation. They came to be called “Yoginīs” after their absorption in the Śaiva cult.

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