The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Markandeya Rescued in the Pralaya which is chapter 3 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 third chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 3 - Mārkaṇḍeya Rescued in the Pralaya

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

1-11. O great sage, the terrible annihilation of seven Kalpas has been witnessed by you. There is no one else here, O holy Sir, who is so long-lived as you. Padmanābha (Viṣṇu with a lotus in the navel), the slayer of Asuras, who has a thousand feet [1], eyes and bellies has been seen by you when he was lying asleep in the vast expanse of water. When the mobile and immobile beings were being burnt, it was through the grace of that Lord that you were not destroyed. It was due to the boon granted by the Noble Soul. O sinless one, what were the miracles seen by you, as you were wandering about? O holy Sir, mention this. My curiosity is great. When the terrible end of the Yuga was imminent, when there was excessively terrible destruction, when all the worlds were formerly afflicted with drought extending to more than a hundred years, when the destruction of vegetation and medicinal herbs was awful, when there were neither the Devas nor the Dānavas, when everything was devoid of vigour, when there was no utterance of Vaṣaṭ, when everything was defiled much by Kali, when the rivers, lakes, ponds, puddles and parks became dried up, when, O holy Sir, Maharloka merged into Janaloka, where were the noble-souled sages, the Brāhmaṇas, the Kṣatriyas, the Vaiśyas, etc. and the sages equipped with divine splendour? O great sage, when all beings are destroyed, which of the living beings remained stable (alive)? Did they disappear altogether? Do mention, O highly fortunate one, all these things severally. What are the elements? O eminent Brāhmaṇa, how can one attain Siddhi when the terribly hideous Kāla had caught hold of even Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Indra and Rudra?

On being enquired thus by Dharmarāja, the wise Sage Mārkaṇḍa surrounded by groups of sages, said thus:

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

12-22. O king, let all the sages along with you listen to the great Purāṇa narrated by Śaṃbhu to the Vāyudevatā [2]. This ancient work was heard by Skanda from Vāyu. Vasiṣṭha heard it from him and Parāśara from him. From him (Parāsara) it was heard by Jātūkarṇya and by the great sages from the latter. Thus it was traditionally narrated by hundreds of excellent Brāhmaṇas. The Saṃhitā consisting of a hundred thousand verses was narrated by Śaṃbhu indeed by thoroughly exploring earlier all the Śāstras and the deeper meaning of the Vedas in fact. Later it was classified into four, in accordance with the four Yugas, after due consideration by great sages, of the deficiency in the intellects of men. After propitiating Paśubhartṛ (i.e. Paśupati-Śiva), the great Lord, I heard this Purāṇa which I shall narrate entirely to you. On hearing this, O king, all the creatures are freed from all sins, mental and physical, accumulated in the course of seven births. With the favour of Viṣṇu Parameṣṭhin, the Lord of Devas, I have repeatedly witnessed the terrible destructions of seven Kalpas. When the whole universe was utterly burnt by the twelve Ādityas and everything was turned into a vast expanse of water, I had to swim through the ocean with the movement of my arms. Wandering (swimming) thus, I became utterly exhausted. Then, O king, I saw in the water the ancient Puruṣa, the Lord without beginning and destruction, having lustre like that of the Sun. He had brightened the peak of the Lord of Mountains and all the ten quarters. A second person, Manu, was seen, accompanied by his sons and grandsons.

23-32. He too was drifting in the great deep sea enveloped in darkness. He was whirling round and round as though perched on the rim of a wheel, without resting even for a short while.

Swimming in the great sea with the movements of the arms, I became afraid and dispirited. Stationed there, I saw the great Fish in an inebriated state. O descendant of Bharata, he spoke to me on seeing me: “Do come; do come.” He was Maheśvara in the form of a fish, the most important and the chief of all. Thereupon, O Lord of men, I hurriedly proceeded near the mouth of that Lord. I lost consciousness and became utterly exhausted and disgusted. Then I saw at the extremity (end) of the ocean, a meritorious river meandering as it wished[3]. She had many whirlpools and eddies. Waves were set in motion in the waters and she seemed to laugh boisterously by means of the foams. Fishes of diverse kinds swimming therein made the waters agitated. There was a young woman of comely appearance in the. middle of the river. She was dark in complexion like the petals of a blue lotus. The current of the river was quite agitated with ripples. Her bodily limbs had the divine golden colour. She shone remarkably like molten gold. She had kept a big boat pressed on either side by the pair of her knees. Manu asked her: “O divinely excellent lady, who may you be? O celestial lady of great beauty, what may be the purpose for which you stand here? When both Suras and Asuras have perished, you are moving about in the ocean gracefully! The rivers, the oceans and the mountains have perished. O chaste lady, how is it that you alone among these many stay behind? I wish to hear the great reason therefor. O goddess, tell me without omitting anything.”

The Abalā (the frail lady) said:

33-41. I am the sin-destroying meritorious river well known by the name Amṛtā. I have originated from the limbs of Īśvara. Whence is fear if you resort to me? O Brāhmaṇa, I have brought this boat for your sake. Śaṅkara is stationed therein. Hence it will not get destroyed.

On hearing her words, my eyes became dilated with wonder. I got into the boat, O great king, along with Manu. With palms joined in veneration, I bowed down to the Lord, the all-pervading great Īśāna, the bestower of freedom from fear, and eulogized him:

“Obeisance to Lord Sadyojāta and Vāmadeva. Obeisance unto you in every birth. Obeisance to you who are attainable through devotion. Obeisance to Bhūḥ and Bhuvaḥ. Obeisance to the Lord senior to Rāma (Viṣṇu). Obeisance to you, O fair Lord Kāla; obeisance to one in the form of Kali. Obeisance to the incomprehensible one, the one of unmanifest form; to the great Lord and abode of brilliance. We do know the Lord of Lords, O Rudra. Obeisance, obeisance to you. Obeisance to the cause of the creation and annihilation of the universe. Obeisance.”

Thus eulogized by me before the creation (of the world), the great Lord became pleased with me. Then he said: “O devotee of excellent holy rites, choose a boon.”[4]

Footnotes and references:


An echo of Puruṣa-sūkta (RV X.90). Here Viṣṇu is identified with the Primeval Man.


VV 12-14 give the Text-transmission of Revā Khaṇḍa through Guru-paramparā as follows: Śaṃbhu->Vāyu->Skanda->Vasiṣṭha->Parāśara->Jātūkarṇya->Vyāsa->Sūta.


Six Kalpas are described to affirm the imperishability of Revā. Sage Mārkaṇḍeya is a witness as he too was with her in those Pralayas.


This seems to be an abrupt end of the chapter.

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