The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Origin of Vaishvanara which is chapter 4 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 fourth chapter of the Avantikshetra-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 4 - The Origin of Vaiśvānara

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Vyāsa said:

1-5. The archer named Nara was born in the skull. Why was he born now after the birth of Viśvakarman? How was he created by Lord Rudra wilfully? Or was he created by Viṣṇu or Lord Brahmā with a difference in idea? How and by whom from among Śaṅkara, Acyuta and Brahmā was he created? Brahmā is Hiraṇyagarbha who was born as four-faced. How did the wonderful fifth face appear even in him? How (why) did Lord Brahmā of deluded mind, who sent Nara to kill Hara, devote his mind to Rudra?

Sanatkumāra said:

6. Maheśvara and Hari, these two alone abide in Sat (i.e. Brahman). There is nothing, achieved or not achieved, which is not known to those two noble souls.

7. The fifth head of Brahmā itself became the mental son Agni of the same noble soul and it was held by him on the head.

8. He who is mentioned as Brahmā’s Nara is Agni itself, his mental son. Mahādeva held it after keeping it within the fingers.

9-10. (Defective text) After observing the birth of the great Nara at the outset, the Kapāla was rubbed against with the finger. With an arrow he killed him which installed Rajas quality in Brahmā. Sattva quality became deluded by the Rajas quality, since the Lord is one who creates according to his will(?)

Vyāsa said:

11. How was that Agni born, that Agni which was held by Sarva (Śarva?—Śiva). O venerable seer respected by sages, explain this in detail.

Sanatkumāra said:

12. At the outset, he (Śiva?) created Avyakta (the unmanifest) etc. The Cosmic Egg was developed out of it. (Out of it) was born God Brahmā, the grandfather of the world, who was of golden complexion.

13. The Self-born Lord performed a great penance for a thousand divine years. While in penance he recited the Śruti text ‘bhūrbhuvaḥ svaḥ’.

14-17. In view of the contact with Śruti, Agni was born thereafter from his mind. When the Agni fell with face down, it began to burn the earth. Brahmā lifted it up with both the hands and placed it above the earth. Therefore fire is always conveyed to the altar with the right hand. At the outset he fell with the flame directed down. When it was held with flame directed upwards, it was placed supine and created by Brahmā. Then the gigantic blazing Fire burning upwards with flames and loud report, spoke to Brahmā of golden colour:

18. “Why, O Lord, was my consuming of the earth prevented by you? I have been overcome with great hunger. My food be given to me.”

19. On being told thus, Brahmā consigned his hairs into the Fire. The lean Fire ate up all the hairs of Brahmā.

20. He then spoke: “I am not satisfied. There is no peace and satiation to my body.” Brahmā consigned his skin. The Fire consumed the skin.

21. Then Fire spoke to him, “I have no satisfaction.” The Prajāpati (Patriarch i.e. Brahmā) then scraped up the flesh and consigned it into the Fire.

22. He said, “I am not satisfied. My body has no complete satisfaction.” Brahmā consigned his bones into the Fire. He was hungry and so ate them.

23. Thereupon, the body without the Dhātus (constituent elements like marrow, blood etc.) was placed at the disposal of the Fire. On seeing Brahmā without body he said to him:

24. “O Brahmā, I am not satisfied. There is no peace and satiation for my body.” With a Huṃkāra(bellowing sound of HUṂ) that Fire was split into two by the infuriated Brahmā.

25. The two crying Fires pleaded to Prajāpati for food. Again with Huṃkāra, Brahmā split each of them into two.

26. Three of them cried (secretly); one of them openly cried. That Fire was struck down with Huṃkāra by angry Brahmā, O Vyāsa.

27. When the Agni continued to cry, Brahmā was moved with pity. He said, “Consume the body along with its constituents, of those who are overcome with lust.”

28-30. Thus he (that Agni) became Kāla (death) unto the lust. That was the means of subsistence granted to him. On seeing the Akāra Agni (the first fire) perfectly quiet, the mental Huṃkāra Agni burnt within and said, “What is this?” Brahmā told him, “You too have sustenance as you please in the midst of the Devas or in the hermitages of the sages.” On being told thus by him, he expressed his liking for that means of sustenance.

31-32. Again he said: “I shall give this too further. Since this second Agni was born of Huṃkāra, your means of sustenance for quelling hunger shall be, at my behest, the Huṃkāra, whether it is uttered with pride or with indignity.”

33. Calling Ikārāgnī (third Fire), Brahmā spoke thus, “O Agni, this shall be thy means of sustenance, that you burn and consume what is eaten.”

34-36. Summoning Ukārāgni, Brahmā spoke: “O holy Sir, whatever there is on the earth meriting deep meditation, you shall resort to it. I shall also assign to you your place of rest and diet.” On being told thus, that Agni (appropriated) the mountains on the earth, because, O great sage Vyāsa, the Agni was told “on mountain in impassable area.” The same Ukārāgni is the Vaḍavāmukha fire (submarine) in the ocean.

37-40. That other Fire who was split was summoned by Brahmā, because he had the desire for an abode and told thus by Brahmā: “You are the eye of all the world. Hence you illuminate the consecrated speech of the twice-born. The divine meritorious speech destroys sins. The unpolished, unconsecrated (speech) destroys longevity. Hence the speech of the twice-born should be known as meritorious and luminous. Speech is the mother of the twice-born and it is well-established in the mouth. Unpolished speech is inauspicious because untrue words have been incorporated. It kills the utterer. Agni is the Brāhmaṇa making use of Saṃskṛta (Polished Speech).”

41-42. Prajāpati once again summoned Akāra Agni without eyes and uttered the Vedic speech. With closed eyes that Agni said to Brahmā, “I am the mouth (face) of the speech. Give unto me an abode that is the greatest and most excellent of all luminaries.”

43-44. Brahmā spoke to him, “Since you desire a luminous abode, the brilliant orb of the sun shall be your abode. Since the eye that looks at splendour becomes weak, one shall look at that which is bright without opening at all.”

45-48. Then Pitāmaha spoke to that split Agni Ikāra which was split up and which approached Brahmā looking at him with gentle glance: “O being of great Sattva (inherent strength, Sattva quality), since you have come here quickly with gentle look, I shall give you an abode charming to all living beings. You will become the moon of cool rays with excessively cool (quiescent) soul. With divinity you will excel all other luminaries. You will be gentle and extremely refulgent. Stationed above the trees, you will excel all other luminaries with your radiance.” After saying this he let him go, and summoned Ukāra Agni.

49-51. Saying “Come here,” he held him and placed him on his head. Stationed there it became the upper and the fifth head. Thus the Ukāra Agni of this form and feature became well-established. Hence one should speak in regard to Agni and Sūrya (Sun) as the same. That (head) in the form of Bhavāgni spoke to the great Brahmā, “Grant unto me too charming abode like that of yours.”

52-55. Brahmā said to him, “Oh fire! What abode appeals to you?” Agni replied to him, “Tell me the greatest abode.” Then Brahmā said, “There is no (befitting) excellent abode. So it shall be like this. If you wish to stay here, if you will stay here always, move about in the world; be the cause of the maintenance of the world. With all your Sattva and prowess, stay here for the outcome (of everything). You are equipped with the splendour of great flame and you are splendid. If you were to attain the excellent power of excelling in brilliance all creatures, it cannot be the primordial Dharma because there is the deluded desire due to Māyā.”

56. On being told thus by Brahmā, that Agni blazed into a thousand forms. He was permeated with infinite flames and resorted to by different Varṇas (colours) etc.

57. It was in the forms of Akāra, Ikāra and Ukāra. Brahmā looked at him (consolingly). But it did not subside. The fire increased once again.

58-60. Everything was enveloped along, below and sideways by Bhavāgni. Brahmā found himself cast above and allround with the flames. He became afraid and blue with extreme anxiety. Desirous of knowing the Lord of all, the storehouse of brilliance, Prajāpati kept the palms joined in reverence on the head and eulogized him with the mystic words of Niruktas and Sūktas and Ṛk, Yajus and Sāman.

Brahmā said:

61. I make obeisance to you, O seven-splendoured one. Obeisance to the great Ātman, the greatest of the great. Obeisance to the source of wonders, to the storehouse of brilliance.

62. You are the seed of all living beings. You enchant and fascinate. At the time of Yugāvarta you become unbearable darkness(?)

63. Obeisance to you of the upper head; you are of the nature of Sattva; you are the soul of the earth; you are water created through the blazing flames, O lord of Jalajas (lotuses, creatures of aquatic origin), O Jalecara (one who moves about in the water—submarine fire)(?).

64. O Hutāśana (fire), the lord of the waters, O lord having the eyes blossoming like the petals and leaves of lotus, O Kṛṣṇakānti (‘one having dark splendour’), O Kṛṣṇamārga (of dark path), O bestower of the path unto heaven.

65. Obeisance, obeisance, O lord in the form of Yajñas, O lord who consign Āhutis in the course of Yajñas. O Svarṇagarbha (‘one with golden womb’), O Śamīgarbha (‘one originating from the Śamī fuel’), O eternal lord, be victorious.

66. Obeisance to you, O Citrabhānu, O lord of Devas with darkness as diet, O Mahāhāra (consumer of a great lot), O Svāhāpriya (beloved of Svāhā), O dispeller of darkness, O lord with kindled splendour.

67. Obeisance, obeisance, O fierce Vaiśvānara fire, O Ūrdhvapāvaka (‘fire whose flames blaze upwards’), O Sarvaga (‘omnipresent one’), O Vibhāvasu (‘with splendour as his wealth’). O highly fortunate Kṛṣṇavartman (‘of dark path’).

Sanatkumāra said:

68. Then on being eulogized thus, Agni spoke to Virañci, “O Brahmā, I am pleased with you. Let good intention and activity flourish.”

69. On being told thus, Brahmā bowed down and spoke again, “O lord, I wish to know what and who you are.”

70-73. He then spoke to Brahmā, “You are the patriarch but only an individual being. The greatest form cannot be comprehended. Therefore, see my (form) through a befitting (vision).” Thereupon, he saw with the divine (vision) the eternal Lord, the omniscient Īśvara, the creator of even Vidhi (Brahmā), the being beyond the existent and the non-existent, since the Lord creates everything: fire, firmament, earth, the visible and the invisible, the greatest region, the entire universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings, the past, the present and the future; he enjoys (consumes) everything. Then Prajāpati eulogized the ancient, unborn, immutable Lord referred to by means of a hymn as excellent and transcending all power.

74-80. Then the Lord, Prajāpati, saw the supreme being of excessively red colour, having (innumerable) hands and feet all around and many fiery heads and mouths around. Bowing down the head to the Lord, the maker of the manifest and the unmanifest, he eulogized thus: “I make obeisance to you, the Atman, the source of origin of the universe and the observer thereof. You watch and observe by means of your (divine) eye whatever there is in the universe, whether mobile or immobile—earth, wind, sky, the three worlds, the lord of Lokāloka, the universe, mobile or immobile, all the types of creation such as Tattvasarga (creation of the Tattvas or entities), Bhāvasarga (creation of the subjective feelings, emotions etc.) and Bhūtasarga (creation of the living beings) etc. You observe the self too of the splendour of Brahman.”

Thus that majestic Lord without beginning was eulogized.

Thereupon the Lord said to Brahmā: “Everything has been seen factually by you. You have become equipped with humility and basic experience. Do create all the subjects. In the matter of the maintenance of all the worlds I am the maker and you the imitator. Make it. It should be in the same model as has been created by me before.”

81-82. On being told thus by the Lord of the Devas, Brahmā spoke these words: “I make obeisance to you, O Mahādeva, Bhava; obeisance to you, O Śarva. I wish to get an assistant while creating the subjects with your favour. O Lord of the universe, let him be given by you.”

Maheśvara said:

83-84. If you desire that I should be born, if you are desirous of a son and if you wish to create, your intention will be realized when you meditate. I, the Lord, will attain the state of your son and will cut off your fifth head. There I shall create both Nara and Nārāyaṇa.

Brahmā said:

85. How is that Lord Nārāyaṇa to be thought of by us? Do proclaim. He, our blessed friend, shall be worthy of our adoration.

86-91. Thereafter Brahmā saw Acyuta, Hari, the auspicious Lord Nārāyaṇa pervading everything approachable by means of his radiance. He saw Lord Nārāyaṇa who was the very splendour of Maheśvara moving up. The Lord touched, with his finger, the distressed Brahmā who had the form of Śrī because of the similarity of Śakti and said the following words: “O Brahmā, the sage, the follower of Nārāyaṇa who is your own refulgence, shall be born for the sake of protecting the worlds. He will be the most excellent one of all archers. This highly powerful Śakti of Nārāyaṇa belongs to me.”

After saying this, the majestic Lord seized that fire with his hand. He pressed and consecrated the fire held between the nails of the fingers of the right hand. After honouring him thus and after showing Nara to Brahmā, Lord Maheśvara vanished there itself.

92. Thereafter at the end of the Yuga, Brahmā said to that Agni touching him with both the right and left (hands) as though consoling him:

93-94. “Here itself in the family of mine and yours, Bhṛgu and Aṅgiras of renowned activities will undoubtedly be born as the sons. Therefore, Yajña of creation will take place after dividing the Agni into two. You two stay there depending on Dāna (gifts).”

95. The Agnis brought together by Brahmā urged (nudged?) Brahmā. Hence they should be prepared thus duly by means of attrition.

96. That is why the combination of Bhṛgu and Aṅgiras is cited (as existing) in Aśvattha and within Śamī tree. These two together are called Daiva (divine).

97. Hence the fourth (Agni) is spoken of as beneficial to the son (? conducive to the birth of a son). Thus, O Vyāsa, this Nara was born in the previous life.

98-100. Thus the fifth head of Brahmā became transformed. He who will understand this excellent Tejaḥ-sarga (creation of fire) by the Lord goes to the same world as Brahmā. He is quiescent and he has full-control over the sense-organs. He has conquered the sense-organs.

O Vyāsa, that man of good mentality who faithfully listens always to the origin of Agni, that indicates the greatness of Paśupati, and he who devoutly expounds it to Brāhmaṇas and gods shall become blessed by Bhava. He will be adored by the gods in Śivapura.

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