The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 1,763,776 words

This page describes Turbulence of the Annihilation (Pralaya) which is chapter 15 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 fifteenth chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 15 - Turbulence of the Annihilation (Pralaya)

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

1-10a. Then Kālarātri of blazing (very bright) eyes, surrounded by thousands of terrible Mātṛs indulged in the destruction of the entire universe.

The fierce Mothers, the Śaktis identical with (or pertaining to) Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, the Śaktis of Vāyu, Indra, Anala (Fire), Kubera, Yama, Toyeśa (Varuṇa), Skanda, Kroḍa (i.e. Varāha) and Nṛsiṃha moved about striking terror.

In the course of that ultimate annihilation, the Mothers moved around armed with discuses, tridents, clubs, swords, thunderbolts, Śaktis, Ṛṣṭis, Paṭṭiśas, Khaṭvāṅgas and blazing torches urgently prompted by Umā—all of them overran all the ten quarters.

The entire range of the three worlds all over became completely burnt, when they heavily trod over with hissing sounds of Huṃ and resultant outbursts.

The entire earth all round became awful to look at, as skulls, variegated tresses of hairs etc., lay scattered all over along with hues and cries, laments and shouts of distress. The streets were split and cracked with the debris of the houses and ornamental gateways lying shattered.

The entire Jaṃbū Dvīpa that is said to have hundreds and thousands of sectors, lay demolished per force. People residing in Jaṃbū Dvīpa and (other) Dvīpas like Śāka, Kuśa, Krauñca, Gomeda, Śālmali and Puṣkara and those residing in mountains, were all seized by death and by goblins and groups of Mother-goddesses who were decked with the skulls of great Asuras. They were drunk with suet, marrow, blood and flesh. They were giving out terrific shouts. They were inebriated with smell of wine.

10b-13a. Mahāmāyā appeared surrounded with thousands of flames. Her earrings were dazzling like lightning. Her body became red with the blood gushing forth. She was very terrible (to look at). Fond of human flesh and suet, she was drinking blood there. With a skull in hand, the terrible (Mahāmāyā) was devouring Suras and Asuras. Dancing, boisterously laughing, shouting loudly, taking somersaults, she struck terror in the three worlds. Her laughter was like the peals of thunder.

13b-14. After having swallowed up the earth ending with seven seas, she came to the place where Lord Maheśvara lived on the bank of Narmadā, along with Mother-goddesses.

15. Laughing loudly, (the goddess) danced on the stout bodies of Amaras (immortal ones = Devas). The word ‘Amaras’ means ‘gods’ and ‘Kaṭa’ means ‘a body’.{GL_NOTE::}

16-17. O excellent king, as this mountain is scattered over (enveloped) with bodies, heaps of shattered bones and bodies dripping with suet, fat and blood, so it is called ‘Amaraṅkaṭa’ by the wise ones. It is greatly sanctifying and sacred all over the world as it is created by Śaṃbhu.

18-30. Śaṅkara is ever present there along with Umā. Hence I too stationed myself at the tip of its foot, with steady observances.

Humble with the fervour of obeisance I continued to eulogize Nīlalohita.

Along with Mṛtyu, the joyous Śaṅkara began to dance even as the Gaṇas and the groups of Mothers started beating the time.

The Gaṇas joyously danced in groups with flesh, fat and suet in their hands. They had Khaṭvāṅgas, firebrands, Paṭṭiśas and Parighas too. There were dwarfs, those with matted hairs, those with shaven heads and those with long neck, lips and hairs. Gaṇas with long penises, protruding bellies and arms loosely suspended were dancing and laughing. The faces of some were hideously distorted. The arms, mouths etc. were fiercely contorted and twisted.

When the transit of the (Yuga) period set in they made Amara as Kaṇṭaka (thorn). Among them, I saw the highly terrible Mṛtyu, the cause of fright for the entire universe.

I saw Mṛtyu dancing there. His hairs were tawny-coloured like a lightning streak. The goddess bedecked in clean garments was stationed near him. The earrings produced jingling sound near her cheeks. She had serpents serving the purpose of the sacred thread. She was adoring Maheśvara by means of diverse kinds of offerings.

There I saw Mother Narmadā revered and bowed to by the entire universe. There were waves and whirlpools therein. She resembled the ocean with excellent billows rising up. Invisible due to the great lake and the rivers falling therein, she had the visible form as well. O descendant of Bharata, she was being honoured by Suras, Siddhas and groups of sages.

In the middle I saw the terrible aspect of Narmadā called Saptasaptaka. She had great waves and foams. She flooded the entire universe. She was Mṛgakṛṣṇāṃbarā (clad in the skin of a black antelope). She was flowing in seven ways (currents) producing thunderous sound as of the rumbling sounds of smoking Aśani (thunderbolt).

Thus I saw the incomparable havoc of destruction, O excellent king. The rays of the sun and the moon disappeared from the world consisting of mobile and immobile beings.

31-36. There was a great evil portent. The stellar sphere had completely vanished. It caused everything to whirl continuously like Alātacakra (circular movement of a firebrand). It was scattered over with millions of air-chariots of Kinnaras and great Uragas. There was a terrible, roaring wind which shook the mobile and immobile beings. It was the well-known Saṃvarta issuing from the mouth of Rudra. It dried up the seven oceans. May Hara protect you all day by day—Hara with dust particles smeared all over his body, with eyes and hairs tawny in colour, with his matted hairs tied up. He held a large resplendent trident and shouted loudly. He held the big brilliant Śūla (trident) and bow. There was a crown on his head. He had put on coat-of-mail. He had smeared all his body with the ashes of cremation ground. Garlands of skulls covered his neck. Great serpents were tied to the top of his head as though they were threads. Goṇasas (lizard-like serpents) entwined his limbs. There were the celestial river, the crescent moon, the poison and fire on the head. He was clad in the hide of elephant. He played on the Ḍamaru. The terrible Khaṭvāṅga and Pināka were held in the hands.

37-42. The divine being pervaded through the seven worlds. The great extending arms (serpents?) encircled all the limbs. His eye resembled the rising Sun with the centre like a tender sprout. It was pink in colour like the cloud at dusk, red lily, ruby, saffron and a streak of lightning. During the period of the conclusion of the Yuga, he played with heated Liṅga and blazing eye. Like Meru the Lord appeared as though he was discharging golden shafts. He walked there making the mountain shattered to pieces through the kicking with the tips of his feet. He was desirous of annihilating the entire heaven. He was laughing hideously. The sole Lord of the universe desirous of annihilating Svarga burst out his boisterous laughter, agitated and annihilated the entire heaven.

On seeing the excellent unborn Lord, the great Lord engaged in annihilating the universe, that Kālarātri accompanied by the Mothers and all the Gaṇas began to worship Śiva. Nandin and Bhṛṅgin and other Gaṇas bowed down to that Lord of all the living beings, the most excellent one in the universe, the cause of all, Hara the enemy of Smara. They bowed to him day and night.

Footnotes and references:


A popular etymology of mountain ‘Amara-kaṇṭaka the source of Narmadā.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: