The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Prithukeshvara (prithuka-ishvara-linga) which is chapter 49 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-ninth chapter of the Caturashiti-linga-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 49 - Pṛthukeśvara (pṛthuka-īśvara-liṅga)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: The object of this Chapter is to explain the name Pṛthukeśvara and its efficacy in absolving King Pṛthu of his sin of killing a woman (Pṛthvī) and intending to kill a cow. The story of Pṛthu in Mbh, Śānti 59.98-128 does not mention his intention of self-immolation for absolving himself from his sin. Nor does Nārada appear there to direct him to Mahākālavana. The Purāṇa utilises the story of the great ancient King Pṛthu for the glorification of this Liṅga.

Īśvara said:

1-8. Listen to (the story of) Pṛthukeśvara Liṅga, the forty-ninth Lord of Devas. Merely by seeing it a man becomes an emperor.

In the family of Svāyaṃbhuva (Manu), O goddess, there was a king named Aṅga. Sudurmukhā, the daughter of Mṛtyu, was married to him. A son named Vena was born to him. He was an atheist and a detractor of Dharma (Piety, Righteousness). He used to misappropriate assets of shrines and Brāhmaṇas and kidnap other men’s wives. On being cursed by Brāhmaṇas, O goddess, he died instantly.

His thigh was pressed and churned. From it barbarian classes of people issued forth. They were born of the maternal part of the body. They were black in complexion like a mass of collyrium. A righteous son was born out of the paternal part of the body, when the right hand was pressed and churned by the excellent Brāhmaṇas. It was Pṛthu of well-known exploits. He was coronated by the excellent Brāhmaṇas. He performed a very severe penance. By a great boon of Viṣṇu, the king achieved overlordship. On seeing the subjects weeping and wailing in great distress without regular study of the Vedas, without the utterance of Vaṣaṭ in the course of sacrifices and without adequate wealth, the king became miserable. He wished to milk[1] (the essence from) the three worlds including Devas, Asuras and human beings.

9-18. In the meantime Nārada, the excellent sage, came there. On seeing the infuriated Pṛthu, he spoke these words: “O king, do not give vent to anger that will bring about only the destruction of the three worlds. The different kinds of vegetation and crops have been swallowed (withheld within) by this earth. This is my opinion.”

On hearing the words of Nārada, Pṛthu became excessively furious. He felt inclined to burn down the Earth completely along with the mountains, forests and parks. He discharged an arrow with Fire-god as the deity, whereby the Earth became scorched. In her distress and fear, she assumed the form of a cow and approached Pṛthu. On being about to be assailed by him also, she spoke to the king: “O excellent king, as a cow I have sought refuge in you. O king, the cow should not be killed. Bring a calf and milk me.” On hearing her words, the excellent king made Himālaya a calf and milked lustrous jewels and vegetation (medicinal herbs and food). The subjects became happy with beaming faces. A great festival began to be celebrated. Yajña, Dāna and other holy rites were inaugurated with auspicious acclaim. Then the king began to think: ‘A sin has been committed by me. It is ordained that women should not be killed. A cow and a Brāhmaṇa too should not be killed. The Earth in the form of a woman has been struck by me out of delusion. I was inclined to kill a cow. Hence I shall set up a pyre and certainly enter the fire therein.

19-27. Even as Pṛthu of unmeasured splendour was pondering thus, Nārada the holy sage came there again. O my beloved, on seeing Pṛthu distressed and in such a situation the intelligent Nārada, said: “What is this, O king?” Thereupon he mentioned: “A sin has been committed by me. O Brāhmaṇa, a woman who should not be killed has been assailed and I have even the inclination to kill a cow. What horrible worlds I will have to go to, after perpetrating this horrible deed! I am a Brāhmaṇa-slayer, a sinful man; I will undoubtedly die. Hence redeem me, O Brāhmaṇa, by instructing what is good.” On hearing his words, Nārada said, explaining the excellent greatness of the Liṅga that subdues great sins: “O king, there is a Liṅga that destroys great sins in Mahākālavana. It is to the west of Abhayeśvara. Go there immediately, O king; you will become pure.”

On hearing the words of Nārada, Pṛthu went there and saw the beautiful Liṅga. Instantly he became rid of sins. The king became lustrous like an aggregate of suns.

Thereupon, O lady of excellent countenance, a name also was assigned by the beings moving in the sky: “From today this deity will become well-known as Pṛthukeśvara because he has been adored by Pṛthu.

28-34. Those who visit the deity Pṛthukeśvara, the Lord of Devas, will have their desires fully realized on the earth. By seeing Pṛthukeśvara a sin committed wilfully or unknowingly will disappear quickly. By visiting Pṛthukeśvara one can destroy quickly all the sins perpetrated verbally, mentally or physically, whether secretly or openly or incidentally. Those who devoutly adore the deity Pṛthukeśvara attain sovereign kingdom in the mortal or heavenly world. After enjoying the realm of human beings on the earth and of the Devas (in heaven), they will go to the greatest region of Brahmā Parameṣṭhin.” After saying thus, the groups of Devas adored Pṛthukeśvara. Pṛthu then ruled the earth along with the cities and mountains.

Thus, O goddess, the sin-destroying power of Pṛthukeśvara Deva has been recounted to you. Listen to (the story of) Sthāvareśvara.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

From v 10 below, the reading should be ‘dagdhum’ (to burn) and not ‘dogdhum’ (to milk).

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