The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Trilocaneshvara (trilocana-ishvara-linga) which is chapter 45 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 forty-fifth chapter of the Caturashiti-linga-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 45 - Trilocaneśvara (trilocana-īśvara-liṅga)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Devadeva said:

1-8. Know. O goddess, that the Trilocaneśvara Liṅga is the forty-fifth deity. Merely by seeing it, all Siddhis (spiritual powers) are obtained.

This is a traditional legend that in the Pīṭha (holy shrine) named Viraja,[1] in the palace of Trilocana (Śiva) built of jewels and rubies, a pair of doves had built their nest and lived as they pleased. The palace (of Śiva) had various windows having various artistic shapes. It appeared like another Ratnasānu (‘jewel-peaked’) Mountain. It shone remarkably with a resplendent dome made of burnished gold. Even the full moon came to rest there out of fatigue as it were.

They (the pair of doves) used to circumambulate the temple in the morning, midday and evening everyday. As they flew round the temple here and there, they produced wind with their wings. Thereby they removed the dust particles sticking to the palace in all the ten quarters. The names (of Śiva viz.) Trilocana, Triviṣṭapa etc., always uttered by the devotees fell on their ears. The four kinds of musical instruments delighting Śaṃbhu very much, entered the cavity of their ears and reverberated. The luminous radiance of the auspicious lights that used to be waved to and fro before the Liṅga entered their eyes and showed the activities of devotees.

9-20. Even abandoning self-sustenance, those birds of steady mind never flew as they pleased seeing various fanciful things. While they circumambulated, they used to swallow rice and other grains or offerings scattered frequently by the people on the ground.

To the south of the Lord there was water originating from Viṣṇu’s body, where they used to bathe and drink if they were thirsty, after which they came back to their perch. Much time thus elapsed even as those two birds of good behaviour moved about in the vicinity of the Three-eyed Lord.

Once they were sitting perched happily on the parapet wall of the temple inside a round window, when a vulture cast his evil eyes on them. The vulture wanted to seize the pair of doves. He descended quickly from the sky and sat on the temple of Śiva. From there he observed the coming and going of the doves. He observed carefully the difficult path through which the birds entered, through which they went out, what did they do, when did they do what they do, how could the two together be easily seized. Thereafter the vulture praised the strength of a fortified place of resort as: ‘Even a weak enemy cannot be captured easily if he is in a fortified place. The task that can be achieved through a single fort by a king cannot be achieved through a thousand elephants and a hundred thousand excellent horses. If the fortress is self-sufficient and has a way out (in case of need), the enemy stationed in the fortress cannot be assailed by anyone anywhere.’

On seeing the Kalarava (dove) birds devoid of agitation and fear, the vulture with eyes turned red through anger, flew up into the sky. Then the clever female dove spoke to the male, her husband, who was very powerful because of the strength of fortification and who, therefore, wanted to thwart enemies (thereby):

Kalaravī (the female dove) said:

21-33. O dear dove, O most intelligent one whose mere voice yields all the pleasures of love, this vulture who has come within the range of your vision is a powerful enemy.

On hearing her words, that Pārāvata, the excellent husband of the female dove, said to her:

Pārāvata said:

O my beloved, why should you worry? O beautiful one, many indeed are the sky-stalkers (birds). Many birds do live near holy shrines and the like. O my beloved, many do not see us staying happily here. If we are to be afraid of all those, O my beloved, we will not have happiness at all. O splendid one, leave your anxiety. Divert yourself in my company. I do not consider this wretch of a vulture as one of any importance.

On hearing these words of the excellent male dove, the female remained silent with her eyes directed towards the feet of her husband. A wife who desires the welfare of her husband may very well advise but with a desire to do what is pleasing to him; she should keep quiet and always carry out his instructions.

The next day also the vulture came and remained watching the pair with unrestricted watch in the same manner as the god of Death who watches a person whose days are numbered. Thereafter, in a circular motion the vulture flew around the palace. The beloved wife said: “Dear Lord, was the wicked enemy seen by you?” On hearing her words the Kalarava said again: “O timid one, what can he do to me, a sky-wanderer? My fortress is on a par with Svarga, where I have no fear from the enemy. This (vulture) does not know those modes of movement in the firmament with which I am fully conversant. These are the eight modes of movement in the sky: Praḍīna, Uḍḍīna, Saṇḍina, Kāṇḍa, Vyāṇḍa, Kapāṭikā, Sraṃsinī, Maṇḍalavatī. Nowhere does any bird has the skill of moving in the sky in the same way as I have, O my beloved. Take it easy. Why worry when I am alive and active, O my beloved?”

34-44a. On hearing his words, the chaste one kept mum like a dumb person. The next day also, the vulture came and sat on the rock as if he was very happy; he was a little away from the perching place of the birds. After sitting there an Āyāma[2] away from them, the vulture went away at the end of a Yāma (three hours). The female dove said again then: “O my lover, this place is defiled by the sight of the wicked and so should be abandoned. The cruel bird was sitting very close to us, as if he was very much delighted.” He (male dove) contemptuously replied once again: “What will he do, my beloved? By their very nature females are generally very timid.” That vulture of great strength came there the next day too. He sat there facing them for two Yāmas. Thereafter he observed their pathway and quickly went away in the direction from which he had come.

After the departure of the bird, she said to the male: “Lord, we shall go to another spot. Death is imminent. If he comes into view next time our abode as well as our happiness will be destroyed. O my lover, can one who has the power of the wing capable of moving everywhere jeopardise one’s life through an undue attachment to the native place? A sensible one who does not go elsewhere after leaving his own place likely to be visited by misfortune becomes a cripple and gets doomed like a tree on the banks of a river.”

After listening to the utterance of his beloved the male dove afflicted by the inevitable fate, repeated the same words: “O my beloved, do not fear though harassed by that bird.”

44b-53. The next day the vulture came in the morning itself. He stayed steadily at the threshold till the evening. When the sun had disappeared behind the western horizon and the bird had gone, the female dove came out of the nest and spoke to the husband: “Dear Lord, this is the opportune moment for clearing out. Even as the god of Death is far off, do go away abandoning even me who loquaciously plead thus. As long as you are alive nothing is difficult for me to get in this world. If the self is protected by men forsaking even the wives and riches, they can have wives, sons, riches and abodes once again. Everything can be regained as in the case of King Hariścandra. This Ātman (Self) is the dearest kinsman. This Ātman is the greatest asset. This Ātman is the greatest means of earning Dharma, Artha, Kāma and Mokṣa. As long as there is the well-being of one’s self, so long there is the well-being of the three worlds. The well-being is to be wished for along with fame leading to heaven. Death is preferable to well-being bereft of fame. Fame is attained by persons treading on the ethical path. Hence the moral path is to be considered carefully. O Lord, go away from this spot. If you do not go away at dawn you will ruefully remember me (i.e., regret your mistake).”

Even after being advised thus by his wife, the female dove of great intellect, he, prevented by the inevitable fate, did not clear out of that spot.

54-65. The next day, early in the morning, the powerful vulture came near the exit door with some food for his later use. The way-out was blocked by him. The highly powerful vulture stayed there for many days. He spoke to the dove: “Fie upon you, devoid of manliness! O evil-minded one, either you fight or you come out at my instance. If you die of starvation, you will later certainly meet with hell. Even fate will be incapable of extending assistance though nudged and prodded.”

On being taunted thus by the vulture, the dove in the company of his wife fought with the former resorting to the portals of his own fort. Hungry and thirsty, he was firmly grasped and held by the powerful vulture with his powerful claws and the female dove was held with the beak. The vulture soon carried them off and flew into the sky thinking about a place free from any other bird where he could make a meal of them (undisturbed).

Then the male dove was told by his wife of excellent intellect: “O Lord, thinking me to be a mere female you slighted me. Hence you got into this messy affair. What could I do? I am only a feeble female. Even now, my dear, if you carry out a single suggestion of mine, I will suggest something beneficial to you. Do this unhesitatingly. Acting in accordance with a single suggestion of mine will not make you hen-pecked. Even as I am held within his beak, even as he continues to be hovering in the sky not yet touching the ground, bite his claws with your beak to get yourself out.” On hearing these words of his wife, the bird did so. Afflicted much in the legs, the vulture squeaked and squealed much. As he squealed the female dove was let off the beak. As the claws were chipped, the male dove also fell down.

66-76. Effort should never be abandoned by wise men even in calamities. Where is the beak! Where is the injury to the claws! Where is that miraculous release of the two! (Seemingly insignificant incidents have a good cumulative effect.) It is proclaimed in scriptural treatises that continued effort on the part of a weak man is conducive to welfare. In accordance with the destiny effort will always bear fruit. Hence learned men praise effort even during the time of calamities.

As time passed on, both of them died in Jaṃbūmārga.[3] Those who die in Jaṃbūmārga attain everlasting Svarga. With the remnant of the merit he was born as a splendid Gandharva youth named Parimalālaya, son of Mandāradāma. He was a storehouse of many a lore, and was endowed with skill in arts. Attaining a youthful body (i.e. youth), he became one interested in devotion to Śiva. Having conquered the sense-organs and the mind, he adopted the vow of having only a single wife. Attachment to another man’s wife will affect longevity, fame, strength and happiness and prevent the attainment of Svarga. Hence a sensible man should avoid it. Another regular observance the pure and clean prince took up as a result of the practice in the previous birth was to resort to Trilocana. He decided that even as the body is devoid of ailments, as long as the sense-organs are unimpeded, Trilocana should be meditated upon undoubtedly in Avantī. The Lord is the abode of all merits, the illuminator of all the objects, the cause of the realization of all desires, the cause of the supreme bliss.

77-87. Thus Parimalālaya, the son of Mandāradāma, assiduously used to visit Triviṣṭapa in Kāśī. The female dove was born in the palace of Ratnadīpa, the king of Serpents, in Pātāla with the name of Ratnāvalī. The daughter of the Serpent king Ratnadīpa was the single crest-jewel of all Nāga girls in regard to beauty, behaviour and skill in arts and good qualities. She had two female companions. One of them was Prabhāvatī by name and the other Kalāvatī. Both of them were splendid and followed her as though they were her shadow and bodily lustre that never parts from her body. They were the companions of Ratnāvalī, O Maheśvarī.

As childhood passed off and youthfulness began to bloom, she started regular worship of Śiva following her father, a devotee of Śiva (doing the same). Her vow was: “I will break silence everyday only after worshipping the Three-eyed Lord at Kāśī in the company of these two friends. Not otherwise.” Thus that Nāga maiden, accompanied by the two companions, worshipped the Three-eyed Lord, and only then did she go home. She worshipped me with excellent fresh flowers, splendid and sweet-scented. She herself wreathed garlands of variegated colour with those flowers and worshipped the Lord. All the three sang melodiously and gracefully. All the three danced with different groups of women (to accompany them). All the three used to play Vīṇās (lutes), Venus (flutes) and Mṛdaṅgas joyously and conclude the play (on the musical instruments) simultaneously. They were all experts conversant with tempos and the beating of the time.

88-98. Thus those three Nāga maidens propitiated Īśa with garlands of various designs and patterns.

On the fourth lunar day, they took their holy bath in the auspicious Pilipila Tīrtha, worshipped Trilocana and went to sleep in the pavilion itself. While they were asleep the three-eyed Śiva with the moon as ornament came out of the Liṅga. Goddess Śakti shone on the left side and the Lord had serpents as the sacred thread. Serpents of the river Gaṅgā constituted his girdle. The Lord then said to those girls, “Get up.”

After getting up they rubbed their eyes which were large enough to reach the ears. They twisted and contorted their limbs and rolled their eyes (thus shaking off the vestiges of sleep). When they looked in front, their minds became bewildered and excited. Then the Three-eyed Lord coming there unexpectedly was seen by them. They came to know through the familiar signs that it was Īśvara. The girls then saluted and eulogized delightedly with choked throats and were overcome with awe.

“Be victorious, O Śaṃbhṇ. Be victorious, O Īśāna. Be victorious, O Lord, the bestower of all, the omnipresent one. Be victorious, O destroyer of Tripuras. Be victorious, O slayer of Andhaka. Be victorious, O slayer of Jalandhara. Be victorious, O destroyer of the arrogance of Kandarpa. Be victorious, O creator of the three worlds. Be victorious, O Lord saluted by the three worlds. Be victorious, O Lord of devout people. Be victorious, O leader of the Pramathas. Obeisance to you; obeisance to you; we bow to you. Obeisance, obeisance, obeisance to you, O three-eyed one. Obeisance to you, O Triviṣṭapa.”

After saying this, the girls prostrated on the ground like logs of wood. Then the Moon-adorned Lord raised those girls and said:

99-109. “The son of Mandāradāma named Parimalālaya, the most excellent one among Vidyādharas, will be the husband of you all. After enjoying the pleasures all around for a long time in the Vidyādhara world you will go to Avantikā, meditate on me and attain Siddhi. Even in the previous birth you all and he had evinced devotion to me. Hence your birth is free from impurities and sanctified by devotion. If people recite or read this prayer of Prabhāvatī in front of me, I will grant them all desires. This is my boon unto you.”

When the Lord of Devas said thus, those girls became delighted in their minds. They bowed down to Īśāna with hands cupped together in veneration.

The Nāga Maidens said:

We ask, O Lord. Do recount, O Śaṅkara, the merciful one, how all the four of us served you in the previous birth. Therefore, the incidents of the previous birth of this worthy person and all of us may kindly be narrated, O storehouse of mercy.

On hearing this utterance of their wishes revealed lovingly by the girls, the Lord spoke about the activities of a previous birth of those girls as well.

Īśvara said:

Listen ye, all the three Nāga maidens, attentively. I shall recount to you the story of the previous birth of his as well as yours. This Ratnāvalī was formerly a female dove. That excellent Vidyādhara was the husband, male dove, of hers. These two stayed in my palace happily for a long time. The dust particles clinging to the palace were removed by them through the wind from their flapping of their wings.

110-120. Above and below, many circumambulations were made as they flew in the sky and frisked about in the courtyard of the temple. They took their bath in the Caturnada Tīrtha, the water whereof they drank also frequently. These two Kalaravas (doves, sweet-warblers) joyously produced sweet notes too. You (i.e. Gaurī) were much delighted by these two with steady minds after seeing the fanciful activities of my devotees. Auspicious lamps of mine were seen by these two many times. The nectār-like syllables constituting my name were drunk by these. On account of the power of their being of non-human species, they did not die in my presence. They died in Jaṃbūmārga that caused the attainment of heaven. Then this female dove became the daughter of Ratnadīpa. Her husband, the male dove, was born as the son of a Vidyādhara.

This Prabhāvatī who is born in this life in the abode of the king of Nāgas is your companion. I shall recount her previous birth. This Kalāvatī is the daughter of Triśikha, the Lord of serpents. Listen to the details of her previous life which I shall narrate. In the third previous life, they were the daughters of the great sage Cārāyaṇa. They were of excellent behaviour and they loved each other much. Urged by them, their father Cārāyaṇa gave them to Nārāyaṇa, the son of Amuṣyāyaṇa. Before attaining the prime of youth, he went to a forest for bringing sacrificial twigs. As adverse fate would have it, he was bitten by a serpent. The names of the two daughters of Cārāyaṇa were Bhavānī and Gautamī. They had to suffer the misery of widowhood. They were distressed very much.

121-129. Hence a sensible man intending to marry should scrupulously avoid a girl whose name is after a deity or a river.[4]

Once, out of delusion these two girls plucked and ate banana fruits, not offered to them, at the hermitage of a certain sage of divine features. The daughters of the Brāhmaṇa performed many Vratas, fast etc. (by way of atonement) and died. In their next birth they became monkeys. As a result of their stealth of fruits, they had to be born as monkeys. Due to their preservation of modesty, they were born in Avantī. That Brāhmaṇa Nārāyaṇa who had regularly served his parents but was bitten by a serpent was reborn as a dove at Kāśī. Thus in a previous birth he had been the husband of these two as well. He will be the future husband of all of you three.

There was a big Nyagrodha tree at the side of the palace (Temple). On that tree that was habitable, these two became monkeys. They sportingly had dips in the Tīrtha constituted by the waters from the body of Viṣṇu. When they were thirsty, they drank water from the same Tīrtha. Due to their natural (congenital) fickleness they made many circumambulations of the shrine and saw the Liṅga many times.

130-137. In the vicinity of the Nyagrodha tree, they moved about as they pleased. They were then bound in a noose by a wandering mendicant in the guise of a Yogin. They were then trained by him for begging alms. When their carefree gamboling and frisking stopped ultimately those two monkeys died somewhere. Due to the merit of residence in Avantī, service to the Three-eyed Lord, and the (merit of) circumambulation, these were born as daughters of the Nāgas. Now they will obtain the Vidyādhara prince as husband, enjoy the pleasures of Svarga and attain salvation in Avantī.

If auspicious rites are performed, even so little, by persons, they will attain salvation as the fruit with my favour. In all the three worlds, Avantī is always the most excellent city. There the Oṃkāra Liṅga is excellent and more than that certainly is the Trilocana Liṅga here.

Stationed in the Liṅga here, I grant worldly pleasures and salvation. Hence with all efforts the Three-eyed Lord (Trilocana at Avantī) should be worshipped.

After saying this, the Lord of the chiefs of Devas entered the inner precincts of the palace in the form of the Liṅga that is the most auspicious in all the three worlds. The girls returned to their abodes, narrated all the details to their mother and became fully contented.

138-147. Once, in the month of Mādhava, Vidyādharas and Nāgas came there along with all their retinues and belongings and met one another in the great holy spot devoid of Rajas quality, in the vicinity of Trilocana. Due to the boons granted by the Lord the three Nāga girls were offered to the Vidyādhara after the (formal) enquiries about the antecedents and nobility of one another.

Mandāradāma became pleased on getting the three daughters-in-law. Ratnadīpa the leader of the Nāgas, Padmī the Lord of Bhujagas and Viśikha (Triśikha) the Lord of the Phaṇins—these three were delighted on acquiring the splendid Parimalālaya as son-in-law. Having become mutual kinsmen, they rejoiced much and their eyes beamed and bloomed. After celebrating the marriage, they entered their respective abodes extolling the greatness of the Trilocana Liṅga.

The glorious Vidyādhara prince enjoyed great pleasures along with the Nāga maidens. Then he visited Avantī and served Trilocana. Singing sweet songs in the company of the Nāga maidens, he completely forgot himself in the contented bliss and got merged into the Liṅga. The greatness of Trilocana was meticulously guarded in the Kali Age by the Lord. Therefore, men of deficient power do not worship that Liṅga.

By hearing this story of Trilocana, even a great sinner will be a man free from sins. He attains liberation. Thus, O goddess, the sin-destroying power of Trilocana Deva has been recounted to you. Listen to the (story of) great Vīreśvara.

Footnotes and references:


A country around Jajpur in Orissa. Viraja is known as Gadā Kṣetra of Śāktas—N.L. De, p. 38.


When one’s two hands are stretched outwards, the distance between the tip of the middle finger of one hand and that of the other is an Āyāma.


(Mod.) Mount Abu—N.L. De, p. 80.


A peculiar old superstition recorded elsewhere as in the commentary on Manu (III.9) and in Vātsyāyana’s Kāma Sūtra II.1.13.

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