The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Annihilation by Twelve Suns which is chapter 17 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 seventeenth chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 17 - Annihilation by Twelve Suns

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

1. On being eulogized thus by Brahmā and others and by the leading sages who had gone to the world of Brahmā, the Lord began the annihilation of the universe.

2. Brahmā saw the face of Mahādeva, the imperishable southern face (mouth) highly awful and hideous. Its great curved fangs produced loud reports while gnashing. The face resembled the abysmal depths of the nether worlds.

3-5. The eyes were tawny like fire and lightning streaks. The face was frightening and causing the hairs to stand on end. The faṇgs and the tongues were huge. The neck was covered by great serpents, and the necklace was constituted of the great heads of the Asuras. It caused great Pralaya. It swallowed the Havis in the form of the waters and winds of the oceans. The face of Mahādeva resembled Baḍavāmukha (the open entrance to the submarine fire). He saw him licking up the entire world by the tip of the tongue.

6. It extended to thousands of Yojanas, nay hundreds of thousands of Yojanas. All the ten quarters appeared hideous with flesh, fat and suet abounding therein.

7. Hundreds and thousands of the curved fangs grew large. Pitāmaha saw Suras, Gandharvas, Asuras, Yakṣas, Uragas and Rākṣasas stuck up at the tips of the curved fangs.

8-9a. O great king, I too saw the universe caught as if in a machine within the structure of the curved fangs, with the necks shattered and thereafter it was found to enter his open mouth.

9b-10. Just as the rivers roaring due to the movement of different waves dashing against one another, with the confused mass of great foams, fall into the ocean and get merged therein, so also the extensive range of the entire universe having, many living beings, impenetrable like a vast ocean, entered the blazing spacious mouth of Rudra. It was terrible with rumbling sounds as of clouds.

11. From his mouth a huge column of flames and hideous sparks issued forth, scattering smoke everywhere. They had different forms and they illuminated all the quarters with the brilliance of fire.

12. The face of Maheśvara of myriad miraculous forms with curved fangs and tremulous tongues seemed to be garlanded with thousands of solar flames. Though one and single he revealed himself in twelve ways.

13. Twelve Ādityas came out of the mouth of Rudra. Resorting to the southern quarter, they began scorching the earth.

14. All earthly creatures resting on the different trees and grass blades that had already been dried up earlier due to drought, became utterly confused over the entire range of the surface of the earth.

15. Being burnt suddenly by those Suns coming out of Rudra, everything became enveloped in smoke. All the stars and planets got destroyed.

16. The entire terrestrial sphere became suddenly kindled and it blazed forth. All the mobile and immobile beings became enveloped in a garland of flames.

17. In all the seven continents and oceans, rivers and lakes the fire consumed the entire universe as though it were the sacred clarified butter being consigned to it in the course of a sacrificial rite.

18. The Ādityas born from Rudra, refulgent with extensive fiery brilliance and overwhelmed with great flames burnt the whole universe.

19. The rays of the Ādityas got mutually entangled. Thus the Lord burnt the three worlds consisting of mobile and immobile beings.

20. Maheśvara became the fire itself of the size of the seven continents and burnt completely the entire earth consisting of the seven continents and encircled by the seven oceans.

21. Then it burnt the earth with Sumeru and Mandara as its limit. Thereafter it pierced through the seven Pātālas and burnt Nāgaloka.

22. O Yudhiṣṭhira, the Agni continued to burn and blaze after completely burning down the seven Pātālas beneath the earth along with the stars.

23. When fanned with bellows a metal piece seems to blaze at night along with the burning charcoal. In the same manner everything in the universe blazed forth on being kindled by Saṃvartāgni.

24. Bereft of trees, grass-blades, springs, lakes, and rivers and with the clusters of the peaks of mountains scattered, the ground became comparable to the back of a tortoise.

25. After making the entire universe chaotically unsettled through the series of flames and sparks and merged in Cit (the conscious, sentient Being) Maheśvara, Rudra, remained in his own great form.

26. Accompanied by most of the Mātṛgaṇas, Yakṣas, Uragas and Rākṣasas, the goddess Harilocanā (‘having green eyes’, ‘having leonine eyes’) merged in Mahādeva.

27. Like the flame of fire that has become quiescent, the goddess attained the state of extinction. O sinless one, the entire universe along with the three worlds became completely burnt down.

28. With the favour of Rudra, Narmadā not born of a womb, and I were excluded from this annihilation. Ten thousand Yugas were thus concluded by me as though subsisting in water (of Narmadā).

29-31. The Trident-bearing Lord was propitiated formerly by me. Hence I became immortal and free from old age. I had also recited the following scriptural passages: Aghamarṣaṇa, Ghora Mantra, Vāmadeva Sūkta, Tryaṃbaka Sūkta, Ṛṣabha Sūkta, Trisuparṇa, Durgā Sūkta, Sāvitra Sūkta, Bṛhadāraṇyaka, Bṛhatsāman and Uttara Sāman. So also, the great Raudrī Gāyatrī, Śivopaniṣad, Pratiratha Sūkta and Mṛtyuñjaya Sūkta.[1]

32. The earth extending to the rivers and oceans was reduced to ashes. But the highly esteemable Narmadā comparable to Amṛta, was excluded (spared).

33-34. The following are the Kulaparvatas: Mahendra, Malaya, Sahya, Hemakūṭa, Mālyavān, Vindhya and Pāriyātra. These mountains were completely burnt down by the twelve Ādityas. (Due to heat) the rocks in them were severely shattered. They are seen reduced to ashes. But Narmadā did not perish then.

35-36. Himavān, Hemakūṭa, Niṣadha, Gandhamādana, the excellent mountain Mālyavān, Nīla, Śveta and Śṛṅgavān—these great mountains were resorted to by Devas and Gandharvas. All of them were completely burnt down by the Yugāntāgni (Fire at the end of the Yuga). The great rocks and boulders of all these were shattered.

37. Thus the utter annihilation of everything except that of the highly meritorious Narmadā was earlier seen by me at the close of the Yuga, O excellent king.

Footnotes and references:


The author has confused Vedic Sūktas, individual Mantras and a Purāṇic compendium of seven chapters called “Śivopaniṣad.”

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