The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Sati Casts off Her Body which is chapter 88 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 eighty-eighth chapter of the Uttarardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 88 - Satī Casts off Her Body

Agastya said:

1. O Six-faced One, tell me the interesting story as to what was done by the sage, the son of Brahmā, after reaching the world of Śiva.

Skanda said:

2. Listen, O Pot-born One, I shall tell you what was done by the noble-souled Nārada after hurriedly going to Kailāsa, the abode of Śaṅkara.

3-8. By the celestial path the sage arrived at the abode of Śaṃbhu. On seeing Śiva and Śivā, he bowed down and Siva returned the salute respectfully.

The sage occupied the seat pointed out by him watching their game of dice. They continued the play with the dice and when they did not stop, the sage was prompted by eagerness and said:

Nārada said:

O Lord of Devas, the entire Cosmic Egg is your play. O Lord, the twelve months are the houses in the chess board and the thirty lunar days the dark (squares) and the bright ones are the chessmen. The two Ayanas (transits of the Sun) are the two dices. The two stakes are success and defeat entitled Sṛṣṭi (creation) and Pralaya (annihilation). The success of the Goddess is Sṛṣṭi and the success of Dhūrjaṭi is Pralaya. The duration of the game of both of you is cited as the maintenance (of the universe). Thus the entire Cosmic Egg is a mere play of the Lord and the Goddess.

9. Neither the Goddess will defeat her Lord nor Īśa will defeat the Śakti. I am desirous of submitting something. O mother, let it be heeded to.

10. Despite being the leader of omniscient ones, the Lord is not aware of anything because he is stabilized far above honour and dishonour.

11. He is Sporting Soul (one who assumes body sportively) endowed with certain attributes but on pondering over deeply, he is (found) utterly without any attribute. In spite of his engaging himself in activities, he is not affected by those activities.

12. Stationed in the middle (heart) of everything he takes up an attitude of neutrality. This Maheśāna has an impartial vision of (equally viewing) friends and enemies in respect of everything.

13. You are the Śakti of this Lord, the greatest object of honour to everyone. Even to Dakṣa, you have given honour as befitting a progeny.

14. But certainly you alone are the one mother of all the universe. Brahmā, Keśava and Vāsava have come out of you.

15. Being deluded by the Māyā of the Three-eyed Lord, you do not know yourself. That is why, O Satī, my mind is pained.

16. Other women too who are chaste and endowed with great fidelity to their husbands do not take into account anything except the pair of feet of their husbands.

17-18. Or, let this matter be set aside. I shall mention the relevant matter on hand. Today I have seen something unusual near Nīlagiri in the vicinity of Haridvāra. Therefore, I have come to you. I am eager to say something urged by a very surprising and sad event.

19-20. This is the cause of surprise that in the sacrificial pavilion of Dakṣa, all the men in the whole of the three worlds along with their women-folk were seen. All of them were equally well-adorned with their lotus-like faces beaming with pleasure. Oblivious of all other activities they all took part in the sacrifice of Dakṣa.

21-22. The event that caused grief was this that the couple of Bhava and Bhavānī that dispels worldly existence (Saṃsāra), that from which this world originated, in which it functions and in which it will certainly merge, was not seen. The inability to see you both (absence of both of you) made me very sad.

23. It was not only this that took place there, something else also happened. It is not possible for me to describe it. That Dakṣa was the person who spoke it.

24. On hearing those words, Brahmā walked away. He (Dakṣa) was rebuked very much by the great sage Dadhīci.

25. Even as the Devas and the sages stood watching the patriarch was cursed. On hearing the words of abuse he used, ears were closed by me.

26. On hearing the abusive censure of Bhava many Brāhmaṇas, the chief of whom was Durvāsas, walked out in protest along with Dadhīci.

27-28. But the great Yāga went on with the lay public jubilant and well-nourished. I was unable to bear to look at it. Hence I came away, O Goddess! I am not enthusiastic enough to speak anything further out of deference to your sisters there along with their husbands.

29. On hearing this Goddess Satī, the daughter of Dakṣa, cast off the dice from her hand and meditated for a short while.

30-31. She said, “Let it be so. My refuge is Bhava alone.” After deciding thus in her mind, Satī, the daughter of Dakṣa, got up immediately and bowed down to Śaṅkara. Joining her palms in reverence over her head, the Goddess submitted to the Lord:

Devī said:

32-33a. Be victorious, O destroyer of Andhaka, O Three-eyed Lord, O slayer of Tripuras! Your feet are my refuge, O Sadāśiva; grant me the permission (to go). Pray do not prevent me. I shall go to my father.

33b. After saying this, she placed her head at the lotus-like feet of the enemy of Andhaka.

34. Then Goddess Mṛḍānī was told by Śaṃbhu: “O fair lady, get up. Tell me, O beautiful lady enjoying conjugal bliss, what is it that you lack here?

35. O Goddess, it was by you that conjugal bliss was granted to Lakṣmī, excellent lustre to Brahmāṇī, and the state of being ever fresh to Śacī.

36-37. It is due to you that I am competent to protect the vast prosperity and overlordship. Having attained you as Śakti assuming a sportive form, I create this, protect this and consume this (universe). O lady, I am encouraged by you. O sharer of my left half, why should you wish to forsake me?”

38-39. On hearing this utterance of Śiva, Śivā (Satī) said to Maheśvara: “O Lord of my life, I am not going anywhere leaving you. My mind will stay steady at the pair of your feet. I am going to see the Kratu of my father. I have not seen a Yajña anywhere.”

40-42. On hearing the words of Kātyāyanī, Śaṃbhu said then: “If a Kratu has not been seen by you, I shall perform a Kratu then. Or you, the holder of my Śakti, create another Kratu rite. Let there be another Yajñapuruṣa. Let there be other guardians of the worlds. Create quickly other sages for performing the duties of Ṛtviks.”

On hearing this utterance of Śaṃbhu, the Goddess said again:

43-44. “O Lord, the festivities of my father’s Yajña should be seen by me certainly. Grant me permission. Do not let my words be otherwise. Who is competent to turn back one’s mind or the water that flows downwards, O Lord? Do not prevent me now.”

45-48a. On hearing this, the omniscient Lord of goblins said: “O Goddess, do not go forsaking me. Once you go you will never meet (me). Today it is Saturday. It should stop you from going towards the east. O my beloved, the star (constellation) is Jyeṣṭhā. The lunar day is the ninth. The Yoga is the seventeenth one (i.e. Vyatīpāta); separation today is inauspicious. You were born when half of Dhaniṣṭhā was over. Therefore it is the fifth day today. Do not go, O Goddess. If you go now, you will never see me again.”

48b-49a. Again the goddess said: “If I am, even by name, Satī, I shall be able to serve you with another body.”

49b-52. Thereupon Bhava spoke again: “Who is competent to prevent a woman or a man if his mental predilection is extremely excited. O Goddess, there is no meeting again. I am speaking the truth. But, O fair lady, O my beloved, should one value and wish for great honour as the prized asset, one should not go even to the house of parents, if (one is) not invited. Just as a river having flowed into the ocean does not flow back, so also your return after going now is impossible.”

Devī said:

53. If I am attached to the pair of your lotus-like feet, you alone will be my Lord in the next birth.

54-56. After saying this, the Goddess departed with eyes blinded due to anger. What should be done by persons desirous of going on some purpose was not done. She did not bow to Mahādeva, nor did she circumambulate him. That was why she did not return after her departure.

Even today, those who depart without bowing down to Maheśāna and without circumambulating him do not return like the days that elapse.

57. The walking on foot even that holy path was considered very hard by that queen of the Lord of the three worlds.

58. On seeing Satī walking on foot, the Lord too was pained in his mind very much. Then he called his Gaṇas:

59. “O Gaṇas, take the aerial chariot with mind and wind as its wheels, yoked with ten thousand lions and having the main pole of the flag rising like Sumeru.

60. The great gust of wind (Pravaha) shall be its banner and the cosmic intelligence shall be the marked middle pole and Narmadā and Alakanandā shall be the shafts.

61. The sun and the moon shall act as the umbrella there and the excellent Vārāhī Śakti shall be the Makaratuṇḍa (the fitting in front shaped like the snout of a crocodile).

62. Gāyatrī itself shall be the yoke; Takṣaka and others shall be the ropes; the charioteer is Praṇava and the sound of Oṃkāra shall be the creaking sound.

63. The Aṅgas (ancillary subjects) shall be the protective fittings and the seven metres shall be the front fender (for protection against collision).”

On being ordered by Hara thus, the Gaṇas took the chariot quickly.

64. After the goddess had been seated in the aerial chariot, the attendants accompanied the great Goddess shining with divine splendour (surpassing that of the sun—Comm.).

65. In a moment the wife of the Three-eyed Lord saw the open yard of Dakṣa’s assembly. She got down quickly from the aerial chariot stopped in the firmament.

66-69. Observed (fearfully) by the awestruck guards, she entered the hall of sacrifice. She saw her mother wearing a crown and dressed in auspicious clothes, and her sisters dressed and adorned duly accompanied by their husbands. They had various emotions. Some were surprised. Some were arrogant. Some were delighted and some were frightened. They looked on probably with the thought, ‘This beloved of Hara has come unexpected and uninvited. How could she come in a moment in the aerial chariot?’ Without saying a word to all those, Satī went near Dakṣa. The father and the mother said, “You have come. It is good.”

Satī said:

70. O my dear father, if it is good that I have come, how is it that I was not invited like these my sisters?

Dakṣa said:

71. My dear daughter, O blessed one without a parallel, O auspicious one to all, this is not at all your fault. This is my own fault.

72-75. It is my mistake that you were given to such a husband by me who is ignorant and senseless. If I had known him that this Īśvara is no Īśvara at all, how could I have given you to that person having Māyā (deceit) for his form? I was contented with his name Śiva (‘Auspicious One’) but did not know that he was not auspicious in form. He was extolled before me by Pitāmaha in diverse ways. ‘This is Śaṅkara (‘Benefactor’), this is Śaṃbhu (‘Enjoyer of Bliss’), Paśupati (‘Lord of Animals’), Śiva (‘Auspicious’), Śrīkaṇṭha (‘Embraced by Glory’), Maheśa (‘Great Lord’), Sarvajña (‘Omniscient’), Vṛṣadhvaja (‘Piety-emblemed’). You give your daughter to this Mahādeva wielding the bow.’

76-80. O faultless one, you were given to him (in marriage) at the instance of Brahmā by me. I did not know that he is Virūpākṣa (‘Odd-eyed’), Ukṣaga (‘Moving about on a bull’), Viṣabhakṣin (‘Swallower of poison’), Resident of the cremation ground, Śūlin (Trident-bearing, suffering from colic pain), Kapālin (holding the skull), appearing to be handsome by the contact of Dvijihva’s (serpents, scandal-mongers), Supporter of Jala (‘water, sluggish ones’), Kapardin (‘having matted hairs’), Having Kalaṅki (spotted one the Moon) kept on the head, soiled and smeared with dust. Sometimes he wears only a loin cloth; in some places he is nude like a madcap. In some places he wears a hide; he is fond of begging for alms; hideous goblins are his followers; Sthāṇu (Standing like a post), Ugra (fierce), having such fearful ones for attendants, assuming the body of Mahākāla; human bone constitutes his weapon. He is devoid of caste and race.[1]

81-84. Where is Hara and where is this sacrifice, the abode of auspiciousness! No one knows him well. Even one who knows him is deceived. Of what avail is much talk? O daughter equipped with all good behaviour, he is covered with dusty clothes (i.e. only Bhasman—holy ash constitutes his robes). His ornament is human bone. Serpents tied to his arms are his bracelets. Matted hairs hang loose from his head. The tips of his hands are busy in playing on his Ḍamaru. He has the fragmented (crescent) moon as the crest-jewel. He is interested in displaying his Tāṇḍava dance. All his activities are inauspicious. Where is that (inauspicious) Hara and where is the sacrifice, the abode of all auspiciousness! Hence, O Mṛḍānī, auspicious unto all, you were not invited. (What a great difference between Hara—the dispeller of Ignorance and its effects, granting liberation to all and the sacrifice, the resort of the inauspicious Saṃsāra—Comm.).

85. Superfine silk clothes, splendid jewels, gems and ornaments, all these have already been kept ready for you. Come, see them and accept them.

86. How can the odd-eyed trident-bearing Śiva fit in here, among the Devas and Indra of very auspicious dress and features?

87. On hearing this utterance of her father, the chaste lady Satī became very grief-stricken in her heart. She began to speak:

Satī said:

88-89. O Lord, after hearing two Padas (words of a verse) nothing else was heard by me even as you continued to speak. That I shall explain to you. You have aptly said, “No one knows him well. Even one who knows is deceived, who knows that Sadāśiva?”

90-94. You were deceived before by contracting an alliance with him. You are deceived even now as you are prattling without any sense. If you had considered Śaṃbhu then as you describe him now, how could you have given me to him whom no one knows? Or, in the matter of an alliance with him, it is not your intellect that was the cause. Dear father, the cause thereof was the weightiness alone of my merit.

After repeating (such words) many times she continued: “You are the procreator of this body. Rebuke of my husband has been heard by me through this body alone. An expiation for this is that it should be cast off. A good woman of esteemed birth must continue to live as long as the rebuke and insult of her dear Lord is not heard.”

95. After saying this, she consigned the sacrificial twig of her body to the fire ignited by her wrath, by way of restraining her breath.

96. Thereupon, all the Devas including Indra lost their colour and radiance. The fire did not burn as brightly as before through the Āhutis.

97-101. Instantly, the capacity of the Mantras became reduced. Some of the excellent Brāhmaṇas enquiring one another said, “Alas, what great calamity has befallen like this?” A violent gust of wind blew, capable of swaying even mountains. Within a moment the ground of the pavilion of the sacrifice was covered (with grass and dust). There appeared an unexpected streak of lightning and thunderblast that shook the earth. Meteors fell down from the sky. Ghosts and vampires danced. Falcons and vultures hovered in the sky above. Jackals and vixen howled inauspiciously beneath the Sun. The clouds showered drops of blood there.

102. A loud report of earthquake rose from the earth causing tremor of the hearts. Divine weapons clashed with one another terribly.

103-106. The sacred sacrificial objects and offerings were defiled by jackals and hounds. Cakoras and crows flew over the sacrificial pavilion. The sacrificial hall turned instantly into a cremation ground. Everything got stuck up in the place where it was. All objects became motionless as though painted in a picture and lacked lustre. Viṣṇu and others became awestruck and suspicious. Dakṣa and his attendants became pale-faced. The Brāhmaṇas then resumed the Yajña somehow.

Footnotes and references:


All these above-mentioned epithets have two meanings, one derogatory and one complimentary.

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