The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Kukkuteshvara (kukkuta-ishvara-linga) which is chapter 21 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 twenty-first chapter of the Caturashiti-linga-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 21 - Kukkuṭeśvara (kukkuṭa-īśvara-liṅga)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: Due to a curse King Kauśika used to become a cock (kukkuṭa) at night. As per advice of Sage Gālava, Queen Viśālā took her husband to Mahākālavana and propitiated this Śiva Liṅga.

Īśvara said:

1-6. Know that the Liṅga called Kukkuṭeśvara is the twenty-first deity. Merely by seeing it, birth in the form of a nonhuman being can be averted.

There was a king named Kauśika, who was always seen during the daytime as one adorned with all ornamants but he used to become a cock at night. His sway extended over the entire earth including mountains, parks and jungles. As a result of his previous meritorious acts he inherited a flourishing kingdom with no irritants (enemies). The wife of that king was well-known by the name Viśālā. She had a shapely form and beautiful features. She had mastered all the sixty-four arts. That excellent king ruled the kingdom along with her. Though she was the greatest beloved of the king, esteemed greater than his own very vital breath, yet, O Pārvatī, he never had sexual intercourse with her. Due to this want of sexual pleasure, she was always grief-stricken.

7-11. The time passed on thus. She continued to be lovelorn though in the company of the king. That lady of large eyes, Viśālā, who was conversant with the cries (language) of all animals, once saw a pair of worms engaged in love-quarrel. The male creature was frequently trying to pacify his beloved mate: “O my beloved, I am your slave. O my beautiful one endowed with good colour and graceful charms, give me affectionate company. I am afflicted by the arrows of Cupid. I bow down my head to you. I make my obeisance to you with palms joined together in veneration. There is no other loving and loveable lady in the world on a par with you. Your complexion is of golden colour. You smile sweetly and are devoted to me. Though you are capable of speaking pleasing words, why do you behave like one angry with me? I am so very wretched. O auspicious lady, speak up, why you are wry-faced.”

12-17. She too angrily retorted: “Why do you indulge in useless talk with me? You say, I delight your mind. Still, why do you set me aside and offer crumbs of sweetmeat to another female out of infatuation. You are a base creature.”

The male creature repeatedly averred: “I will not do so again. I touch your feet truthfully. Be pleased with me. I have bowed down to you.”

On hearing these words of his, she relented. The female surrendered herself for the loving dalliance of the male ant.

On observing this wonderful scene, the queen began to wail: “Fie upon my kingdom! Fie upon my fair complexion! Fie upon my youthful charms! I am not loved in return by my lover. I shall surely die.”

After lamenting thus in diverse ways, heaving sighs of despair, the lady of large eyes raved like a mad woman. She went to the penance grove of Gālava. On seeing that sage, the abode of austerities, seated there in the steady observance of holy vows, the lady with a grief-stricken mind bowed down and said:

18-24. “O holy Brāhmaṇa, one great doubt assails my mind. Although my husband is very amiable and endowed with comely features, I am not aware of the reason why our union does not occur. It is he who went to the kingdom of women and conquered them in the war that ensued. He carried off by force eight excellent young women. But he does not display his love towards them. How is it, O holy one of excellent vows? I have plenty of horses and elephants; I have infinite wealth and foodgrains. All the people on the earth obey my commands. But what is that baneful act as a result of which the prime of my youth has gone in vain, O excellent Brāhmaṇa? The king does not engage himself in sexual communion. He is visible only during the daytime and not at night. Is this sin committed in this birth or in another world? O holy Brāhmaṇa, it behoves you to tell me the means of wiping off my evil deeds.” On hearing her words, Gālava spoke these words: “Listen, O dear daughter, as you are conversant with Dharma; listen to what occurred previously; what was done as a result of his childishness by this king resulting in his invisibility during the night.

25-31. Certainly your husband, the son of Vidūratha, had been a veritable meat-eater, indulging in crimes with mind engrossed in sensual pleasures. He was then excessively delighted with the meat of cocks. Many cocks were eaten by that prince. Many years thus elapsed when he continued to eat them. After a long time, the king of cocks, Tāmracūḍa, asked his ministers, ‘What is the reason that cocks do not come here now?’ The fact of the consumption (eating up) of cocks was mentioned by someone: ‘Without any justifying reason, O king, all the cocks were eaten away by the wicked Kauśika, the son of Vidūratha.’ The infuriated Tāmracūḍa pronounced the imprecation on the evil-hearted Kauśika: ‘The awful disease of consumption will befall him.’ Ever since then, the prince became feebler and feebler everyday. Medication only aggravated the disease which afflicted him much. Assailed thus by the consumptive disease, his mind felt inclined towards death. With some such desire in his mind, he went to the hermitage of Vāmadeva. Repeatedly bowing down to Vāmadeva, he asked:

32-41. ‘O holy Sir, what is that sin whereby the body wastes away day and night? This body of mine is being nourished by different kinds of meat. Yet why does this happen?’

Vāmadeva told him: ‘Cocks were eaten by you. You have been cursed by Tāmracūḍa, the king of cocks. Seek refuge in him alone. He will tell you the remedy.’

Thereupon, the prince went to Tāmracūḍa. After visiting Tāmracūḍa he bowed down to him with great devotion. He said with palms joined in veneration: ‘I have sought refuge in you. Save me. Being ignorant of the consequences, just for the sake of nutrition, O Lord, the cocks were eaten away by me. O Lord of Devas, it behoves you to forgive this sin of this miserable person.’ Tāmracūḍa said: ‘Since you implore, O king, you will have human form during the daytime. You shall be the administrator and protector of the worlds. You will only then be the Lord meting out punishment. But at night you shall be a cock bereft of the ability to enjoy pleasures.’ Hence, O dear daughter, he is not seen because he assumes the form of the lower creature.”

After hearing the words of that noble-souled Gālava, the queen, the lady of large eyes, honoured the excellent sage Gālava and devoutly asked him: “How is the curse to come to an end?” Gālava concentrated and saw through meditation and said:

42-48. “There is a Liṅga that averts the possibility of being born as a bird. It is in Mahākālavana situated to the east of Jvāleśvara Deva. Merely by perceiving it, the curse will come to an end.” She bowed down to the excellent sage and came hurriedly to the place where the tiger-like king was engaged in hitting and hunting many kinds of animals. The beloved one with tremulous eyes was viewed with blooming eyes and she was delighted with various kinds of tender nectarine words. Thereafter the fawn-eyed lady was asked by the king: “O my beloved, what should be done by me now? Let it be said.” She said: “O great king, you accompany me to the meritorious Mahākālavana that destroys all evils.” On hearing her words, the joyous king hastened. The king was led to the vicinity of this Liṅga. After adoring that Liṅga that averts the possibility of being born as a bird, O Pārvatī, the king stayed there along with his beloved.

49-58. That night he was not turned into a cock as always had been the case before. By the grace of Śiva, he became a charming one with a divine form. Kāma, the Lord of love, was excelled by him with an unparalleled refulgence. At that the king was struck with wonder. He thought, ‘What is this power whereby I have been liberated from the curse that was unsurmountable.’

The king asked his beloved with a face resembling the full moon: “How was I liberated from the curse? By what meritorious deed?” Then she joyously conveyed the report in detail as had been mentioned by Gālava for the sake of getting rid of the curse. “O king, you are liberated from the curse by the power of this Liṅga.” Again he propitiated that Liṅga and enjoyed pleasures on the earth for a long time. The king went to Svarga along with her and was eulogized by groups of Suras.

Ever since then, O goddess, that Liṅga became well-known by the name of Kukkuṭeśvara in this world. It bestows all desired benefits.

Those who worship the Liṅga named Kukkuṭeśvara are never again born as lower creatures. Nor will they suffer from separation. They will never fall into hell. They will have no misery, no old age and no fear. Men will not die prematurely, nor will they experience pain. They will be richly endowed with fair complexion and conjugal bliss in every Yuga.

If the devotees visit the Kukkuṭeśvara Liṅga on the fourteenth lunar day, all the Pitṛs in their families will become liberated, whether they have fallen into the hell or are born as lower creatures, or as animals or as trees.

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