The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Aruneshvara (aruna-ishvara-linga) which is chapter 76 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 seventy-sixth chapter of the Caturashiti-linga-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 76 - Aruṇeśvara (aruṇa-īśvara-liṅga)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: The story of the birth of Aruṇa, son of Vinatā (Mahābhārata Ādi, 16.16.23) is adopted to explain why the Liṅga in Mahākālavana came to be known as Aruṇeśvara. Aruṇa repented after cursing his mother for his deformity, when Nārada came and took him to Mahākālavana near that Liṅga. The Liṅga absolved him of his curse and appointed him as the charioteer of the Sun-god.

Īśvara said:

1. O goddess, the Liṅga named Aruṇeśvara is the seventy-sixth deity. Through seeing it dispels sins and bestows cherished desires on men.

2-7. Formerly, O goddess, in Devayuga, there were two blessed daughters of Prajāpati. The two sisters were very beautiful and free from sins. They became wives of Kaśyapa. They were Kadrū and Vinatā. The Delighted husband who was on a par with Prajāpati granted them boons. Kaśyapa who was extremely joyous, granted the boons to his righteous wives. On hearing that he was granting them boons the excellent ladies derived the most exquisite delight. Kadrū wanted a thousand serpents of equal splendour as her sons while Vinatā wanted two sons superior to the sons of Kadrū in strength, virility, splendour and exploit. The husband granted her the boon: “You will get two excellent sons. Let it be so,” Kaśyapa said to Vinatā.

8-14. Vinatā became satisfied when she got the boon as she wished. After getting the sons superior in strength, she considered her desires fulfilled. Kadrū also became glad on getting a thousand sons of equal splendour. “You must be careful in carrying the children in the womb,” said Kaśyapa. When the wives were naturally delighted, due to the boon, Kaśyapa went to forest for great penance. After a long period Kadrū, the lady of charming limbs, begot a thousand (eggs of) Nāgas and Vinatā brought forth two eggs. The delighted nurses kept the eggs of both in pots (heated) with vapour i.e. incubators, for five hundred years. During that period of five hundred years, Kadrū’s sons came out. From the eggs of Vinatā neither of the two children was seen. Eagerly wishing for a son, that poor lady was ashamed. Vinatā then broke open an egg and saw a half-developed son. The upper part was developed and the other part not yet manifested. It is heard that the infuriated son cursed her:

15-24. “O my mother, you were greedy and so made me thus with the limbs not fully developed. Hence you are bound to become a slave for five hundred years, of this lady with whom you always compete. This son, dear mother, will release you from slavery if you do not make him also deficient in limbs like me, by breaking open the egg. He shall become then very powerful. Hence you must patiently wait for his natural birth, if you wish that he should be endowed with special power. You will wait for five hundred years from now.”

After cursing Vinatā, his mother, thus, O goddess, Aruṇa lamented, overwhelmed with grief: “Alas, I have been cruel enough to curse my own mother without any fault! How can I attain a happy state! The mother is Araṇi (i.e. sacrificial wood from which fire is made) unto this body of men. The mother endures much of misery. Only a mother knows the great pain of pregnancy. Hence more affection for children is seen in a mother than in a father. Mother is remembered as the senior-most person worthy of veneration among all those who are to be venerated. The Śruti does not mention any way of redemption for the son (who commits a fault) even if he offers rice-balls in Gayā. If the father dies, it is the mother, who gives relief and happiness to the son. If the mother dies, the father does not show so much affection for the son. A son without a mother is said to be one very deficient and handicapped. When he becomes old, the son becomes more miserable. But when mother passes away the son feels that the entire world is a void.

25-36. As for me, I have become highly sinful and antagonistic to my mother. Undoubtedly I will die after setting myself on fire. It is on account of my previous Karmas that I am born with deficient limbs. Since one must experience the fruit of one’s action, one cannot accuse one’s mother as the cause.”

While Aruṇa, the son of Kaśyapa, was lamenting thus, O lady of wide eyes, Nārada arrived there. On seeing Aruṇa very miserable and disheartened and lamenting frequently, Nārada of cheerful mind laughingly said to himself: ‘Oh, this Aruṇa, son of Kaśyapa, is crying now! This is the elder son of Vinatā born of the storehouse of penance. Brought out within a few days, only half of his body has become developed though he is powerful enough. I shall console this lamenting one, born of the womb of Vinatā. Since he cries out of delusion, if I console him, I will have the credit thereof certainly.’

After thinking thus within his mind, Nārada, the excellent Brāhmaṇa, spoke to Aruṇa these words comparable (in sweetness) to honey and nectar: “O dear one, O Kaśyapa’s successor born of the womb of Vinatā, O mass of splendour of unassailable features, do not be grief-stricken in vain. Events destined to happen, do happen whether for happiness or for misery. The fact that Vinatā is cursed by you is the mysterious working of the Devas. If you have any repentance in your mind for having cursed your own mother, then come to the splendid Mahākālavana at my bidding to the north of Yātreśa, the Lord of Devas, where there is the meritorious Liṅga worshipped by Devas. It is the bestower of everything and is auspicious.”

On being told thus by the noble-souled Nārada Aruṇa came to the splendid Mahākālavana within half a moment.

37-47. He saw the splendid Liṅga there, which appeared like a peak of brilliant mass of light. With flowers he adored it duly and fervently. Aruṇa was told by the Liṅga, O goddess: “Be the charioteer of the Sun-god who wanders. There is no charioteer like you. I have given you the capacity for that purpose. You shall be before the Sun always. O Aruṇa, you will rise before and the Sun will rise afterwards. After your name, I shall be known in all the three worlds undoubtedly as Aruṇeśvara. I shall bestow wealth unto men. Those who always visit me, Aruṇeśvara, named after your name, will go to the greatest place, free from burning and annihilation. Those who visit me with concentration and mental purity will rejoice along with generations of the maternal and paternal families for thousands of crores of Kalpas. Those who visit on a Sunday will never experience the misery born of the ocean of worldly existence for the period when fourteen Indras rule. He who visits Aruṇeśvara on the fourteenth lunar day in the dark half of a month shall undoubtedly raise to Svarga his Pitṛs staying in Naraka. If a devotee visits Aruṇeśvara on Saṅkrānti day (transit of the Sun) and on Sunday, it is as good as if the pilgrimage of Śuṇḍīrasvāmin (i.e. Kārttikeya) was performed by him. There is no doubt about it.” On being told thus by the Liṅga the contented son of Vinatā came to the place where Lord Sun was present. Due to the greatness of this Liṅga, Aruṇa, the son of Kaśyapa, is seen in the sky before the Sun always.

48. Thus, O goddess, the sin-destroying power of Aruṇeśvara Deva has been recounted to you. Listen to that of Puṣpadanteśvara.

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