The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Shailesha and Other Lingas which is chapter 66 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 sixty-sixth chapter of the Uttarardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 66 - Śaileśa and Other Liṅgas

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Skanda said:

1. I shall narrate to you the details of the other Liṅgas around Jyeṣṭheśvara. Listen, O scorcher of Vātāpi.

2. To the right (south) side of Jyeṣṭheśa is the auspicious Liṅga of celestial damsels. There itself is the well of the celestial damsels named Saubhāgyodaka.

3. Those men or women who take their holy bath in the water of that well and visit Apsaraseśvara never meet with misfortune.

4. There itself, near the tank, is a Liṅga named Kukkuṭeśa. By worshipping it the family of the men flourishes and becomes prosperous.

5. The auspicious Pitāmaheśvara Liṅga is on the bank of Jyeṣṭhavāpī. By offering Śrāddha there, the man will make the forefathers joyous.

6. To the south-west of Pitāmaheśa, Gadādhareśvara Liṅga should be worshipped with great care. It accords satisfaction to the forefathers.

7. O sage, in the south-west quarter of Jyeṣṭheśvara is a Liṅga named Vāsukīśvara. It should be worshipped completely.

8. Holy ablution, Dāna and other rites there in the Vāsukikuṇḍa remove the fear of men from serpents due to the power of Vāsukīśa.

9. If anyone takes his holy bath in the Vāsukikuṇḍa on the Nāgapañcamī day, he will never be touched (affected) by the poison issuing forth from serpents.

10. The religious festival should be performed on the Nāgapañcamī day during rainy season there. Serpents become pleased always with that family.

11. On the western side of that Kuṇḍa is Takṣakeśvara Liṅga. It should be carefully worshipped. It accords all the spiritual powers to the devotees.

12. O sage, to the north thereof is the Takṣakakuṇḍa. One who performs libations and other rites in water there, is never attacked by serpents.

13. To the northern side of that Kuṇḍa is Bhairava named Kapālī, who destroys the agitation and fear of the devotees and always accords welfare to the entire holy spot.

14. That great holy spot of Bhairava accords fulfilment of a spiritual endeavour of an aspirant. The Vidyās (Mantras) repeatedly practised there attain fulfilment within six months.

15. There Goddess Caṇḍī with a huge head destroys great obstacles of the devotees. For the achievement of one’s cherished desires, she should be worshipped with the requisite offerings of adoration, oblations etc.

16. An excellent man who makes the pilgrimage to her (holy spot) on the Mahāṣṭamī day becomes famous, wealthy and endowed with sons and grandsons.

17. To the west of Mahāmuṇḍā (‘goddess with a huge head’) is a well-called Catuḥsāgara Vāpikā. One who takes holy bath therein, shall (be deemed to) have taken his bath in all the four oceans.

18. That holy spot is extremely well-known. It is named Catuḥsāgara. There are four Liṅgas there installed by four Oceans.

19. Liṅgas on the four sides of that tank, burn sins on being worshipped. To the north of it is a Liṅga named Vṛṣabheśvara.

20. That has been installed by the Bull of Hara himself out of his devotion (to Hara). By visiting it men will attain salvation within six months.

21-22. To the north of Vṛṣeśvara is (a Liṅga) named Gandharveśvara. To the east of it is Gandharvakuṇḍa. An excellent man should take his holy bath there, worship Gandharveśvara, make gifts in accordance with his capacity and offer libations to the forefathers and Devas. He will rejoice in the company of Gandharvas.

23. There is a serpent named Karkoṭa to the east of Gandharveśvara. A well called Karkoṭavāpī and a Liṅga named Karkoṭakeśvara are also there.

24. A man who takes his bath in that Vāpī (tank), adores Karkoṭeśa and propitiates Karkoṭa Nāga is honoured in the world of Nāgas (Serpents).

25. If Karkoṭa Nāga is visited by men who perform all the rites in the water of Karkoṭavāpī, no poison (originating) from mobile and immobile beings will affect them.

26. To the west of Karkoṭeśa is a Liṅga named Dhundhumārīśvara. The worship of that Liṅga dispels the fear of men from enemies.

27. To the north thereof is stationed Purūraveśvara Liṅga. It should be visited with effort. It accords fulfilment of the four aims of life.

28. To the east thereof is a Liṅga adored by the elephant of the quarter named Supratīka. It is named Supratīkeśvara. It increases fame and strength.

29. A great lake named Supratīka shines in front of it. By taking holy dip in it and by visiting that Liṅga, a devotee attains the position of the Lords of the quarters.

30. A Mahāgaurī deity Vijayabhairavī is also there. She is stationed in the northern gateway for the sake of protection. For the attainment of a desired object, she should be worshipped.

31. On the beautiful banks of Varaṇā are the Gaṇas Huṇḍaṇa and Muṇḍaṇa. They watch and guard the holy spot. They eradicate all obstacles.

32. They are to be visited with effort for the purpose of keeping the holy spot free from obstacles. After visiting Huṇḍaṇeśa and Muṇḍaṇeśa a devotee shall become happy.

Skanda said:

33. O Enemy (killer) of Ilvala, be attentive. Listen to a story of what happened as an excellent event on the charming banks of Varaṇā formerly.

34. Once on seeing the Lord of the Mountains delighted in his mind, the chaste lady Menā, who was reminded of Umā, heaved a sigh and she spoke thus:

Menā said:

35. O son of venerable elders (Āryaputra), O Lord of Mountains, I have no news of Gaurī ever since her marriage.

36. Where is that Lord now—he who habitually moves about on a stately bull, wears ornaments of serpents and ashes, whose habitation is the extensive cremation ground and who is clad with nothing but the bare quarters?

37. O beloved one, I think that the eight mothers[1] Brāhmī etc. who appear in their exquisite forms, may cause some distress to the girl.

38. That Trident-bearing Lord is without a second; he has no one else. Hence, O lord, may effort be made to get some news about him.

39. At the speech of his beloved wife, the Mountain fond of his child, spoke these words with tears, his speech being obstructed by excessive affection for Umā.

The Lord of Mountains said:

40. I myself shall go, O Menā, to enquire after her. My fondness for her is being scorched unduly, due to the fire-like fact of not being able to see her.

41. Ever since Gaurī set out from my house, I think the Goddess of Fortune too has gone out of my house.

42. O my beloved, accustomed to imbibe the nectarine lisping words of her, my ears have ceased to pay heed to other words ever since that day.

43. Ever since my long-lived daughter went out of my sight, even moonlight causes great distress to me.

44. After saying this the Lord of Mountains took with him jewels and clothes of various kinds and set out when the time was auspicious.

Agastya said:

45. O Six-faced Lord, what were those jewels and how many of them did he take with him, when he set. out? Tell me even as I ask.

Skanda said:

46. (He took with him) two crores of Tulās (weight of a hundred Palas) of pearls and a hundred Tulās of white shining diamonds.

47. O Brāhmaṇa, there were more than nine lakhs of a hundred Tulās highly brilliant (diamonds) of six angles (six cut faces). There were two hundred thousand Tulās of Vidūras (Lapis lazuli) of spotless splendour.

48. O sage, know that there were five crores of Tulās of rubies and nine hundred thousand Tulās of topaz.

49. O sage, in the same way (he took with him) there a hundred thousand Tulās of Gomeda jewels and half a crore of Tulās of blue sapphires.

50. There were a million emeralds and nine crores of Tulās of pure coral.

51. O, sage, it is impossible to calculate the number of the ornaments intended for the eight different parts of the bodies or of the clothes of tender fabric of diverse colours.

52. There were many Cāmaras and fragrant articles. O sage, innumerable were the gold pieces, slaves (men and women) etc.

53. The Lord of Mountains took all these things and set out. After coming to the banks of Varaṇā he looked at Kāśī.

54. All the different storeys (of the buildings there) were studded with many gems. The extensive firmament above was lighted up by the splendour of the rubies of the various palatial buildings.

55. The different quarters shone brightly, due to the golden pinnacles of the mansions. Through the different banners such as Jayantī and Vaijayantī, the city appeared like heaven.

56. It was the wonderful sports-ground of the great eight Siddhis. Due to the various groves abounding in all kinds of fruits, it far excelled the gardens of Kalpa trees.

57. On seeing the exuberance and opulence of Kāśī thus, the Lord of Mountains became ashamed. He spoke these words to his own mind.

58-61a. ‘The jewels and the rubies put forth excellent lustre on the palaces, streets, ramparts, houses, turrets, doors of diverse kinds etc. The space between heaven and earth is fully brightened with the masses of lustre. I know that such opulence and abundance does not find a place even with the abode of Kubera. It does not exist even in the region of Vaikuṇṭha. What to say of other (worlds)?’

61b-62. Even as the Lord of Mountains was thinking thus in his mind, a pilgrim came within his view. The Lord of Mountains beckoned to him respectfully and asked him:

Himavān said:

65. O excellent pilgrim, sit on this seat. O traveller, tell me the details of your city. What are the special characteristics of this place? What unprecedented thing has happened?

64. Who is the chief administrative head here now? What are his activities? If you know tell everything to me.

65. On hearing the speech of the Lord of Mountains, O sage, the pilgrim began to narrate:

The Kārpaṭika (pilgrim) said:

66-67. I shall narrate, O eminent king, listen; I shall mention everything that you ask. O honoured one, only five or six days have elapsed since the arrival of the Consort of the Daughter of the Lord of Mountains, the Lord of the universe from the beautiful Mandara mountain after Divodāsa had gone to heaven.

68. He who is omnipresent and the presiding deity of the entire universe is the ruler and administrator here. He is Śarva, the bestower of everything. He has vision all-round. O lord, how is he not known (to you)?

69. I think you have a stony form, a heart harder than stone, since you do not know the Consort of the Daughter of the Mountain, Viśveśvara in Kāśī.

70. Better indeed is that mountain Himālaya, though his interior is naturally hard, because he propitiated the Ruler of the universe by giving (in marriage) his daughter dearer to him than his very vital breath.

71. Though Gaurī’s father has congenital hardness, he has become worthy of the esteem of even Viśvaguru (Brahmā), because he had propitiated Śaṃbhu by means of his daughter who was like a garland (worthy of being worn on the head).

72. Who can profess to know the activity of that Lord worthy of being known only through the Vedas? I know only this much that the entire universe is activised by him.

73. The presiding deity (of this city) has been mentioned by me. So also the activity of the said presiding deity. The unprecedented thing about which you have asked, I shall now mention. Listen.

74. The Companion of the Daughter of the King of Mountains rejoices on having come to Kāśī. At present, he, the Consort of Umā, is stationed in the excellent Jyeṣṭheśvara Sthāna.

Skanda said:

75. Whenever that traveller uttered the nectar-like letters that constitute the tender name of Girijā, the Lord of Mountains became excessively delighted.

76. If the nectar-like name Umā has been imbibed by anyone in the universe, O Pot-born One, he will no more suck the breasts of a mother thereafter.

77. If anyone remembers day and night, the two-syllabled Mantra, namely Umā, O Brāhmaṇa, Citragupta will not remember him even if he were a sinner.

78-79. Again the delighted Himavān heard the utterance of the Kārpaṭika.

The Kārpaṭika said:

O king, have you not even heard with your ears that unprecedented thing viz. that a big mansion is being built by Viśvakarman for the sake of Viśveśvara, the bestower of salvation on all living beings? The mansion is being built elaborately.

80. There the walls of the palace all-round are made of (bars of) jewels, and rubies. Their splendour excels even the brilliance of the Sun.

81. There are one hundred and twelve sparkling pillars as though eight of them were intended to support each of the (fourteen) worlds.

82. In that palace the splendour and beauty all-round is hundred crores of times more than what exists in the fourteen worlds.

83. The foundation slabs of lunar stone jewels that have the sparkling lustre of the pillars made of jewels of diverse colours are covered by those pillars.

84. Dolls of remarkable splendour made of blue sapphire and rubies hold jewel-set lamps and perform Nīrājana (‘waving of lamps’) rites day and night.

85-86. On the glossy rocky platform shaped like a lotus and made of glittering crystals, various forms of objects made of gems appear as though perfectly set up by a painter in his picture. They have various colours like pale red, yellow, madder, blue and spotted.

87. Rows of ruby-studded pillars dazzle the eyes. They appear like the sprouts of the Glory of Salvation in the surrounding holy spot Avimukta.

88. Near that palace huge heaps of jewels resembling peaks of mountains have been made by the Gaṇas who brought them from various oceans.

89. The Gaṇas have brought masses of jewels from the treasuries of the-Nāgas from the nether worlds and have heaped them near the palace like huge mountains.

90. The devotee of Śiva, the son of Pulastya (i.e. Kubera) has caused crores of gold peaks to be brought through Rākṣasas from the excellent mountain (Meru) and dumped there (near the palace).

91. O king, on hearing that a palace is being built, the devotees residing in other Dvīpas (continents) have brought numerous ruby pieces.

92. Cintāmaṇi (wish-yielding divine jewel) itself has distributed all kinds of jewels wished for by Viśvakarman in the course of his building activity day and night.

93. The wish-yielding celestial trees yielded many banners of different colours with great devotion everyday there.

94. Day by day, the oceans of curds, milk, sugarcane juice and ghee bathe it continuously with pots of Pañcāmṛtas.

95. There the divine wish-yielding cow, Kāmadhenu, bathes devoutly Lord Viśveśa in the form of a Liṅga with currents of honey milked by herself.

96. Mountain Malayācala serves the Lord by means of sandal juice. The divine camphor-producing trees named Karpūrāraṃbhā serve devoutly the Lord by means of masses of camphor.

97. These are the various unprecedented wonderful things that happen everyday in the abode of Śaṅkara. How is it, O hard-hearted one, that you do not know the Lover of Umā?

98. On perceiving such an opulence of his son-in-law, the King of Mountains was overwhelmed with excessive shame, O Pot-born One.

99. The King of Mountains gave a handsome reward to the Kārpaṭika and when he went away, he was lost in thought.

100. With his eyes bulging out due to dismay, he said to himself: ‘It is good, O ashamed one, since you have heard (what should be heard).

101-102. So much of rich opulence is seen here in the abode of my son-in-law who sports about and who is the Lord of the three worlds that the presents brought by me for my daughter and to satisfy my son-in-law appear to me worthless.

103. I have been thinking that he continues to be what I had seen of him formerly, as one with a senile, feeble bull as his sole asset and one averse to all active pursuits.

104. No one knows him fully. He had no family at any time. He does not have even a single name. It cannot even be guessed as to which family he belongs.

105. What is his conduct? What are his activities? He is an Īśvara (Lord) only in name. There is nothing to be seen around him that would indicate his prosperity and affluence.

106. He who was so before, has begun to bestow riches in the form of salvation on even the meanest of a wretch. With a pleasant face, he makes all rites fruitful.

107. He is the omniscient one to be known only through the Vedas. The entire universe is his progeny. He is one whom no one has known even at the outset. It is he who is (reputed to be) one who should be known through the Vedas.

108. He alone is the omniscient one who always has remained misunderstood and unknowable. Not even a single name of his can be fully comprehended by any man.

109. It is certain, he bears all the names of everyone as his names. He belongs to all climes and regions. He is bestower of all supernatural powers on all.

110-112. His native land is unknown. He is averse to all avocations, whom, hard-hearted that I have been, I had viewed formerly as one devoid of all good conduct. But he is actually one from whom the Śrutis and Smṛtis learn all good conduct. He whom I had taken to be an Īśvara only in name is the real Īśvara, one who displays his affluence through others. He is the basis of all Guṇas; he is beyond all Guṇas. He is both Para (cause) and Apara (effect).

113. He is junior to me. He is elder to me and beyond me. He is greater (and older) than the greatest (the elder-most). I am the Lord of Mountains. Umā’s husband is the Lord of the universe.

114. I am one of limited assets. He is one with immense, immeasurable wealth. The presents I have are worthless and insignificant. This is not the opportune moment to meet him.

115-116. After returning (home) and coming back later I shall do something.’

After resolving thus in his mind, the Lord of Mountains called together all his followers in the evening, all the mountains of great prowess. He gave them the order in these words:

“All of you are greater in power than others.

117. You have to carry out this sole behest of mine before sunrise (tomorrow). Erect a temple of Śiva hurriedly.

118-121. If this is carried out, I shall become contented here in this world and in the other world too. If anyone erects a temple of Śiva after coming to Kāśī, it is as good as he has made all the three worlds equipped with temples. It is as meritorious as though all great gifts have been duly made by him on an excellent day of festivity to a deserving person with more faith than even for his daughter’s sake. If the great abode of Śaṃbhu is built by anyone in accordance with his wealth acquired through righteous means, the Goddess of Fortune will never forsake him. It is as though all austerities involving the sole intake of withered leaves have been performed by him.

122. If after reaching Kāśī, a Śiva temple is caused to be built by anyone, it is as though all the excellent and great Makhas (sacrifices) have been performed by him.

123-124. If the temple of the Lord of Devas is built in Ānandakānana, it is as though all sacrifices have been performed by him with special excellence.”

On hearing his command thus, the followers built an excellent temple before the night dawned. At the same time Śaileśvara Liṅga was installed by the Lord of Mountains. The entire Maṇḍapa (Pavilion) was rendered white due to the sparking lustre of lunar-stone jewels.

125. He caused a laudatory inscription too to be made with excellent writings of the characters, mentioning his superiority over all the other mountains.

126-127. Thereafter, at the break of dawn the King of Mountains took his holy dip in the whirlpool of Pañcanada, bowed down to Kālarāja, worshipped him and discharged the heap (of jewels) all-round. He hurriedly left the place followed by his attendants, the Mountains, and went back to his abode.

128-130. In the morning the two Gaṇas, Huṇḍaṇa and Muṇḍaṇa, saw the beautiful temple of the Lord on the auspicious bank of Varaṇā and became delighted. They came to Mahādeva to intimate to the Lord about the temple not seen before. On seeing Mahādeva to whom Umā was showing the mirror, the two Gaṇas prostrated themselves on the ground before him and stood with palms joined in reverence. When the permission was granted with a gesture from the eyebrows, they submitted:

131-132. “O Lord of Devas, we do not know (by whom) a very beautiful palace has been erected on the banks of Varaṇā. He must be someone of steadfast devotion. O Lord, till last evening it was not seen by us both. It has been seen only this morning.” On hearing this utterance of the Gaṇas, Īśāna spoke to the Daughter of the Lord of Mountains.

133-134. Though the omniscient Sarvajña (Śiva) had come to know of everything, he spoke like one who did not know: “O Daughter of the King of Mountains, we shall go to see that palace.” After saying this, Īśa set out along with his Gaṇas and the Daughter of the Mountain, O sage, riding on a great chariot since he was eager to see the palace.

135. Giriśa saw the palace on the banks of Varaṇā. Though it had been built in the course of a single night, its structure was extremely beautiful.

136. Getting down from the chariot, he entered the sanctum sanctorum where he saw the great Liṅga entirely made of lunar-stone.

137. It was extremely sparkling with its brilliance. It was like a sprout of the glory of salvation. It accorded great pleasure to the eyes. It was destructive of the likelihood of rebirth.

138. While Īśvara evinced a desire to know by whom the Liṅga was installed, he saw before him the laudatory inscription commemorating the constructor.

139. After reading it as it were a little within his mind, the Slayer of Kama said to the goddess: “Well; see your own father’s creation.”

140-142. On hearing it, Umā was extremely delighted. She had experienced horripilation all over her body. It was as though the sprouts of the glory of bliss spread over her body attaining the splendour of Kadamba flowers. Thereafter the goddess bowed down to the feet of the Lord and said: “O Lord, you must station yourself in this excellent Liṅga day and night. To those devotees of this great Śaileśa Liṅga of Maheśa you will grant great opulence here and glory hereafter.”

143-144. After saying “So be it”, the Lord said to Pārvatī further: “The devotees should take their holy dip in Varaṇā and worship Śaileśa. They should offer libation to the forefathers and joyously make gifts in accordance with their capacity. They will never experience a return to the worldly life.

145. O fair lady, I shall be ever present in the great Śaileśvara Liṅga. I shall grant salvation to those people who worship this Liṅga.

146. No misery shall ever assail those residents of Kāśī who see Śaileśvara on the excellent banks of Varaṇā.”

147. A boon was granted by Umā in respect to the Liṅga there, O Pot-born One: “There is no doubt about this that the devotees of Śaileśvara are my own sons.”

Skanda said:

148. Thus Śaileśvara Liṅga has been described to you, O great sage. Now, I shall explain to you the origin of Ratneśvara.

149. After hearing the greatness of Śaileśa with great faith, a man will give up the slough of sin and attain Śivaloka.

Footnotes and references:


The eight mothers are: Brahmāṇī, Vaiṣṇavī, Vārāhī, Nārasiṃhī, Kaumārī, Māhendrī, Cāmuṇḍā and Caṇḍikā.

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