The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Vishveshvara (vishva-ishvara-linga) which is chapter 53 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 fifty-third chapter of the Caturashiti-linga-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 53 - Viśveśvara (viśva-īśvara-liṅga)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: King Vidūratha of Vidarbhā killed by mistake a sage, for which he suffered pain in hell and underwent despicable eleven births. In the last birth, he was hanged from a tree when he happened to see a Śiva Liṅga. He went to heaven by seeing it and was born as a king named Viśveśa. Due to memory of the last birth, he went to serve that Liṅga. He saw the universe in that Liṅga. The Liṅga was pleased with him and as a favour to him the Liṅga adopted the king’s name. Hence it is called Viśveśa.

Īśvara said:

1. Know the great Viśveśvara Liṅga as the fifty-third famous deity well-known in all the worlds.

2-4. Formerly in Vidarbhā, there was a king named Vidūratha. He ruled a realm free from thorns (of dissidents and disgruntled ones). He had a large Antaḥpura full of queens numbering ten thousand. When he went on hunting he killed by mistake a Tāpasa (ascetic) clad in the skin of an antelope and calmly meditating on the eternal Brahman. Deluded by fate, he (wrongly) thought the Brāhmaṇa in the great forest to be a deer and that was why he killed him. As a result of that Kama, he fell into Raurava on death.

5-16. There he endured terrible tortures for the requisite period of time. From there he was reborn into the mortal world as a very poisonous serpent. O my beloved, he angrily bit a Brāhmaṇa in his foot. Hit with a thick stick, he died instantly.

After coming out of Naraka, he became a lion in the second birth. This terrible lion killed a king and so was struck down by the attendants of the king.

Again in the third birth, he became a tiger. With the sharp claws of his paws, he used to kill boars. A certain Vaiśya was killed by him in a certain forest. He was hit with arrows by hunters and thus was killed.

In the fourth birth he was born as an elephant and was killed by a lion.

In his fifth birth he was born as a crocodile in the saline waters of the great ocean. Highly sinful, he killed a woman who wanted to bathe. Fishermen with baits and hooks challenged him and struck him down.

Again in his sixth birth, he was a flesh-eating Piśāca (ghost). By means of well-tested Mantras of great power a Brāhmaṇa, the most excellent one among those conversant with Mantras of Atharva, did away with him.

In the seventh birth he was born a Brahmarākṣasa with a body too despicable to be looked at calmly. He had sharp curved fangs, a terrible mouth and dried-up limbs. Flesh and blood constituted his diet. The highly sinful evil spirit was born in desert lands. King Nimi, a deadly enemy of Rākṣasas, wielded a bow and attacked him in war and struck him down with Brahmāstra.

In the eighth birth, he became a ferocious dog of very black colour. Therein he died due to the wounds inflicted by the kicks of the hoofs of boars.

17-22. In the ninth birth, he became a flesh-eating fox in a cremation ground. On account of his greed, he met with his death when highly distressed with grief in the midst of a forest fire.

In the tenth birth he became a terrible vulture with a sharp beak. Habituated to a diet of putrefying flesh, he was sick and he died ere long.

In his eleventh birth, O lady of excellent countenance, he was born as a Cāṇḍāla in Avantī. He entered the abode of a Brāhmaṇa for taking away some money. The watchman caught him red-handed and bound him instantly. He was brought for being executed and was hanged from the top of a tree. There was a Liṅga there itself, O chaste lady, very near, to the north of Śūleśvara. When the Cāṇḍāla was extremely dispirited in his mind, the Liṅga came within the range of his vision. After dying instantly, he went to heaven. There he enjoyed excellent pleasures and later descended to the earth.

23-29. He was born in Vidarbhā and became well-known as King Viśveśa. Due to the merit of seeing the Liṅga, he could remember previous births. He ruled the kingdom he inherited and enjoyed rare pleasures. Conversant with disciplined and righteous activities, he crowned his well-disciplined and polite son as the king of the realm. Recollecting the earlier incidents, he went to the city of Avantikā. He saw there the great Liṅga too dazzlingly bright to be looked at. With his divinely endowed vision, he saw all the mobile and immobile beings in the centre of the Liṅga. In the middle of the Liṅga were stationed all the oceans, rivers, continents, mountains and other things of divine powers. There was the Moon with the Stars, the Sun with Fire, Dhanada (Kubera), Varuṇa, Yama, Śakra, the Lord of winds, Maruts, Devas, Gandharvas, sages, ascetics, Nāgas, Yakṣas, Piśācas and Rākṣasas of terrible exploits. There were the other deities, including Brahmā, Skanda, Laṃbodara, etc. O goddess, all the three worlds were seen in the centre of the Liṅga.

30-38. After understanding perfectly the power of that Liṅga, the king with great restraint (of the senses) adored Maheśvara, the source of origin of the universe.

The Lord became pleased with him and spoke these words: “Welfare unto you. Choose a boon. What desire of yours shall I grant?”

The king said: “O Lord, if you are pleased with me, I shall have this boon. If men visit you with faith or otherwise, let them not fall into the terrible ocean of worldly existence. Be famous in the world by the name of Viśveśvara.”

When these words were uttered, Viśveśa was again adorned by the Gaṇas. In a brightly illuminated chariot, he went to my world. He was eulogized, O lady of excellent countenance, collectively by the different groups of Gaṇas. He wore a crown. He was adorned with earrings and pearl necklaces. His divine aerial chariot hovered all round. Different kinds of heaven-dwellers along with Indra, Dhanādhyakṣa (Kubera), sages, Siddhas, Gandharvas, groups of Apsarās, all hailed him. Viewing various interesting things along with dances of celestial women, he stayed with me a thousand crores of Yugas. Hence, O goddess, the deity is well-known as Viśveśvareśvara. By perceiving the Viśveśa Liṅga, one is rid of sins.

39-46. An embodied being is rid of the sins committed in the course of seven births, mentally, verbally or through physical activities. By seeing the Viśveśvara Liṅga blessedness and contentment is attained. His ill-luck is destroyed and loss of glorious fortune is averted. The embodied being realizes his desires and acquires mental richness. When Viśveśa is adored, O beautiful lady, evil dreams, ailments, cruel malefic Planets and terrible spirits and goblins perish.

Those few who are endowed with faith, and propitiate the Liṅga become enriched with immediate realization of all their desires. They are born again and again in every Yuga. In the end they realize the ultimate divine goal with my favour.

Auspicious rites are performed when the Liṅga is worshipped. There is no fear of famine there nor fear from premature death. No one is born of the womb of Pretas or of Vetālas. There is no fear of serpents, of fanged creatures.

Viṣṇu, Brahmā, Indra, Kubera, Varuṇa and others of great refulgence and vigour attained great Siddhi through the worship of the Liṅga

Thus, O goddess, the sin-destroying power of Viśveśvara Deva has been recounted to you. Henceforth listen to the story of Kaṇṭeśvara.

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