The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Greatness of Shaktibheda Tirtha which is chapter 34 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 thirty-fourth chapter of the Avantikshetra-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 34 - The Greatness of Śaktibheda Tīrtha

Note: Though the heading of the chapter refers to the throwing down of Śakti by Skanda, the chapter mainly deals with the birth of Skanda.

Sanatkumāra said:

1. I shall describe in detail another Tīrtha known as Śaktibheda where formerly Siva performed the rite of “Jaṭābhadra” (arranging the matted hairs) of Skanda. (vide verse 77)

2. After killing the Daitya named Tāraka, the enemy of Suras, the infuriated Skanda himself threw down the Śakti on the ground.

Vyasa said:

3. O holy Sir, narrate carefully. O great sage, I have a doubt. How was Skanda born? I wish to know this.

Sanatkumāra said:

4. Formerly in the battle between Devas and Asuras, Suras were defeated by Dānavas. Śakra and others became agitated due to fright and abandoning Svarga, they flew in various directions.

5. There, O sage, the three-eyed Lord Mahādeva, the destroyer of the three Puras, was propitiated by the Lord of Devas by means of a severe penance.

6. Thereupon the delighted Mahādeva stood in front of Śakra and spoke these, “I shall grant you any desired boon.”

Śakra said:

7. O Lord Śaṅkara, if out of pity for me, you are pleased (to grant a boon), O Supreme Lord, give me a great general.

Hara said:

O Devendra, through my own vital energy I shall procreate a son, the leader of a great army, the remover of the fear of Suras.

Sanatkumāra said:

8-16. After saying this, Lord Hara, the deity of all living beings, vanished. In his anxiety for a son, the Lord went to Himalaya. He stationed himself in the grove of Devadāru trees and engaged in meditation for the purpose of spiritual knowledge, He, the Lord on whom Brahmā and other Yogins meditate and ponder with self-restraint and breath-control. O sage, he who is worshipped by all creatures as Liṅgamūrti (having Liṅga as his form) has begun to meditate himself. Why? We, the seekers of the greatest truth, do not know.

While the Lord was thus meditating, the Goddess was in the abode of Himalaya. She was in the prime of her youth. It was she who was Satī, the daughter of Dakṣa, who cast off her own body in her father’s house through the power of Yoga. She was angry at the thought: ‘My husband has not been invited to the sacrifice.’ About this goddess (who was born as his daughter) Himavān had already heard from Nāraḍa, the divine sage: “She will become the wife of Bhava.” Hence he did not bother about another bridegroom.

She was about to perform a penance accompanied by her two female companions for (the hand of) Rudra. Her sole thought was: ‘How will Lord Śaṅkara become my husband?’ This was the situation with the Lord in meditation and the goddess as Himavān’s daughter determined to perform a penance (for Siva).

17. The Devas kept the Slayer of Bala (i.e. Indra) in their front and came to the sacred abode of Brahmā in order to see the immutable god Brahmā.

18. After eulogizing him, those Suras spoke, “Do be the refuge unto the Devas vanquished by the Dānavas.”

19-20a. Thereupon Brahmā spoke to the Suras: “Your task as conceived by you has been understood (by me). But in this matter, the fulfilment is impossible without the semen virile of Śaṃbhu. Try to get the Lord of Devas sexually interested in Pārvatī.”

20b. After saying this, Brahmā disappeared like the wealth acquired during a dream.

21-28. Then they all assembled on Meru and began their mutual consultation. To them Śakra said: “Śaṃbhu was already pleased with me. It has been accepted by the Lord that the commander-in-chief of the army will be procreated from his own body. When the matter has come to this (stage) the cause of success (in achieving this) is surely the shark-emblemed one (Kāma or Madana, the god of Love).”

After thinking thus, the Lord of Devas hurriedly summoned Kama and spoke these hearty words: “O Kama, manipulate everything in such a way as out of compassion for the Devas the Lord (Śiva) takes to the Goddess (Pārvatī). This is a great emergency that has come to Devas.”

On hearing the words of Indra, Kāma said laughingly: “I shall accomplish everything if only I get Madhu (Spring) as my associate.”

Immediately after the words of Kāma, Madhu was commanded, “Follow Kāma quickly.”

After getting his friend Madhu, Kāma started along with his wife. With great attention, he made his bow ready and took up the flowery arrow in his hand.

He proceeded towards the grove of Devadāru trees where the Lord of the chiefs of Devas was stationed and Nandīśvara was keeping watch over the entrance like a doorkeeper already with mental concentration.

29. Taking his position on a mango tree, Kama was about to fix the arrow Sumohana (‘fascinating’) when the Goddess entered the hermitage of Bhava.

30. The Lord ceased to meditate and observe the usual Vratas. He was so delighted and felt a thrill in his heart. Thereupon he surveyed all the quarters minutely.

31. He saw Kama seated on a mango tree and became furious. (Kāma) was reduced to ashes by the third eye blazing with the flames of fire.

32. Lord (Śiva) quickly vanished from the place along with the Gaṇas. Pārvatī, the chaste lady, was struck with wonder. She became ashamed and overwhelmed with misery.

33-38. Himavān raised her quickly and took her home. When the Lord and the Goddess had gone the grief-stricken wife of Kāma began to lament, looking at her husband now reduced to ashes. She was extremely miserable. On seeing Rati excessively distressed, an unembodied voice said, consoling her compassionately as though one would console a distressed companion: “O lady with splendid side-glances, do not weep. Though your husband is without a body, he will carry out all activities and duly accomplish friends ‘task’ when Mahādeva marries Pārvatī. Thereafter, with the blessings and favour of Śaṃbhu, he will undoubtedly rise up. At the close of Dvāparayuga, Kṛṣṇa will live in Dvārakā. Then your husband will be born as an embodied one in the form of his son named Pradyumna.”

On being told thus by the voice coming from the sky, she gave up her gloom.

39-40. At that time, Goddess Umā thought thus in the abode of Himavān: ‘That fiery brilliance of Śaṃbhu has burnt down Kāma. How can that Lord be my husband? How shall the resurrection of Kāma be made possible? This task cannot be accomplished anywhere without a penance.’

41. After concluding thus, in the company of her female companions, the lady of auspicious Vratas performed a great penance at the bidding of her father.

42. During rainy season she remained in the open under the sky performing penance; in winter she stood under water and in summer she allowed her body to be heated amidst five fires. Thus she performed a severe penance.

43. On seeing her engaged in penance, Hara came to her hermitage in the guise of a religious student. Hospitably received by the goddess, he spoke thus:

44. “O lady of slender waist, O lady with tender glances, why do you perform a penance in the prime of your youth? O fair lady, do tell me the reason; for whose sake do you perform the penance?”

45. She answered truthfully and sweetly: “O Baṭu (religious student), the aim of the penance is the attainment of Śaṅkara.”

46. On hearing those words, Hara thought that his own purpose would be achieved delightfully. In order to test the devotion of Umā, he began to censure Śiva.

47. The Daughter of the Mountain was unable to endure the words of the Baṭu. Maheśvara thought that Umā was about to go away from that place. Hence he revealed his own form endowed with three eyes and armed with the trident.

48-49. On seeing Īśa, Bhavānī became bashful. She stood there with face bent downwards. Vijayā (the companion of Umā) said to the great Yogin, “She should be sought after at the abode of her parents.”

“I shall make efforts to take away Pārvatī in marriage.” Saying thus, the Lord vanished. The Goddess returned to her father’s abode. The Chastiser of Smara remembered the seven sages for the acquisition (in marriage) of the Goddess.

50. On being remembered, they came there and bowed down to Parameśvara. They said with hands joined in reverence, “What shall we do? Command us without hesitation.”

51. Thereupon Īśa told all the sages, “Go to the abode of the Mountain and do everything so that Pārvatī, my beloved, will be mine.”

52. After promising to do so, saying “So be it,” they fixed the next appointment with Śaṃbhu. They then went to the abode of the Lord of mountains accompanied by their wives.

53. Offerings were duly given by the Lord of mountains for their reception and they seated themselves. They said, “Give (in marriage) Umā to Śaṅkara who seeks her as his beloved wife.”

54. They were told by the Lord of mountains, “She is already given.” After fixing the day of the marriage and taking their leave of him, they returned to the place where Maheśvara was (awaiting them).

55. All of them told Śaṅkara, “Śivā has been offered by Himavān.” After carrying out their duty, they returned in the manner they had come.

56-60. Brahmā, Indra and other Suras gathered together all the requisites for the marriage. The Bull-vehicled Lord set out with the Gaṇas, the chief of whom was Nandīśa.

Concḥs were blown and Dundubhis were sounded. Brahmā and the immortal beings accompanied him. Īśa reached the abode of the Lord of mountains and the solemn marriage ceremony was performed. After marrying Umā in accordance with the injunctions, he went back to his abode.

There the Lord engaged in love-play and sexual dalliance in a secluded spot. The Devas who became afraid, deputed Agni to Śiva. When Agni went there, Maheśvara was very much ashamed. After concluding the dalliance he deposited the semen into the mouth of Agni. Agni who was scorched by that semen, deposited it in the waters of Gaṅgā.

61. Hara’s semen disgorged by Agni fell into the middle of Gaṅgā. Burnt by Rudra’s semen, Gaṅgā deposited it on her banks.

62-66. The six wives (? i.e. excluding Arundhatī) of the seven sages went to Jāhnavī for taking a bath. After the bath, they were distressed due to chillness. On seeing the blazing fiery refulgence on the bank, all of them thought that it was fire. They warmed themselves with it as they pleased. O sage, the seed soon went up their bodies penetrating them through the holes in the buttocks. It had six faces. They were not able to cast it off against one another because the fire was in front. Afraid of their husbands, the sages, they became worried. Thereafter, by the power of their penance they extracted it from their stomachs. It was unified by all the six of them. The excellent semen was deposited amidst Śara reeds on the top of the Śveta mountain.

67-70. He manifested himself on the first day of the bright half, became smooth and equal on the second day, took form on the third day and became characterized with all features; all the limbs full-fledged on the fourth day with six faces and twelve eyes. Embellished on the fifth day he rose up on the sixth day. He shone upon three worlds with his red-white brilliance.

All the Suras beginning with Śakra heard him born thus. Brahmā soon arrived and performed all consecratory rites duly. A firm and splendid, sturdy Śakti was offered by the delighted Lord of Pārvatī.

71. Then a peacock was assigned as his vehicle by Gaurī. A goat was given by Agni. The Lord of the rivers offered him a cock.

72-75. He was honoured by the Kṛttikās (Pleiads) with a Śūla (javelin) and they nourished him with the desire of having a son. Then all consecratory rites having been performed, he was congratulated by Brahmā and others.

His names are sixteen:

1: Śaktihasta—Equipped with Śakti in the hand.
2: Devasenāsamāvṛta—Surrounded by the army of Devas
3: Vittādhipena—Coronated and assisted by the Sahāyena Abhiṣikta (Lord of Wealth)
4: Pāvaki—Son of Agni
5: Ṣaṇmukha—Six-faced
6: Gāṅgeya—Son of Gaṅgā
7: Kārttikeya—Son of Kṛttikās
8: Guha—Stationed in the cavity of the heart
9: Skanda—The emitted one
10: Umāsuta—Son of Umā
11: Devasenāpati—Commander-in-chief of the army of Devas
12: Svāmī—Master
13: Senānī—Leader of the army
14: Śikhidhvaja—Having peacock-emblemed banner
15: Kumāra—Prince
16: Śaktidhārī—Holder of Śakti

No harassment in regard to that man who recites these names devoutly.

76. Mahāsena, the destroyer of the Dānavas, who was born thus was brought by Śaṃbhu to Kuśasthalī in order to assign him a holy spot.

77. He was crowned and coronated by him (Śiva) and the matted hairs were trimmed. Hence this divine Tīrtha is called Bhadrajaṭa.

78. In the assembly of all the gods, Maheśvara spoke sweetly to Mahāsena whose coronation was concluded and who had acquired all missiles:

79. “Dear son, along with all the Devas, Śakra should be protected by you. The demons who harass the Devas should be exterminated entirely.”

80. When a great festivity went on like this wherein the vast crowd of Pramathas agitated like a sea, all the Mātṛs (Mothers) stationed in the nether worlds came there.

81. I shall tell you, listen. Based on their mode of eating, Śaṅkara has assigned names to them. O great sage, what they are?

82. Those who are fond of eating food placed on Vaṭa leaves should be known as Vaṭamātṛs. Those who eat out of the palms of their hand are indeed Carpaṭa-Mātṛs.

83. The ninety-six Mātṛs who had assembled at the time of Paulabhojana (Bulky meal—Buffet dinner) of Satī in order to play with Śaṃbhu are the Paulamātṛs.

84. Seeing all these is meritorious. It is destructive of evil spirits and malignant Planets. O sage, these deities should be seen always with effort by men.

85. After acquiring Śakti, Lord Mahāsena of great holy vows, Devasena, killed Tāraka, the leader of the Dānavas with force.

86. After giving away the flourishing kingdom rid of thorns to Indra, he returned to Kuśasthalī and stayed there.

87-88. After killing the Lord of the Daityas thus, Lord Gāṅgeya of great strength threw down the Śakti into the waters of Śiprā. It pierced (its way down to) Pātāla. Thereupon, O Vyāsa, due to the piercing thrust of the Śakti, Bhogavatī came out and was duly honoured by all the Devas, sages and ascetics.

89. All the Tīrthas all over the earth falling into the seas etc. were deposited in Śaktibheda. They number hundreds and thousands of crores.

90. More meritorious than this in all the three worlds is the Koṭi Tīrtha. Śiva, designated Koṭi Tīrtheśvara, has been installed there by Brahmā.

91. A man who takes his holy bath in Koṭi Tīrtha and visits Śiva named Koṭīśvara is rid of all sins like a serpent of its slough.

92. A man who devoutly loves (his) Pitṛs and performs Srāddha there, O sage, obtains the entire benefit of ten horse-sacrifices.

93. Keeping the Pitṛs in view, whatever is offered as gift at Koṭi Tīrtha becomes undoubtedly ten million times more efficacious.

94. A man who makes the gift of a milch cow there, goes beyond all the worlds and attains the greatest goal.

95. He is honoured in Śivaloka as many thousands of Yugas as there are hairs on his body as well as on those of his progeny.

96. He who visits Śaktidhara on a new-moon day or on a full-moon day, will never be issueless, moneyless or sick in the course of seven births.

97. An excellent man who enters into the waters of that Tīrtha attains everlasting worlds as long as the moon and the sun are present.

98. O sage, a man who loves Pitṛs and performs the rite of Vṛṣotsarga (‘setting a bull free’) obtains everlasting position rare in the case of even Suras.

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