by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes Varahakalpa (continued) which is chapter 20 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 twentieth chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
1-2. Various acts and destructions have been heard by me, with your favour, O sinless one, that were done by Lord Śarva and seen by you. Now I wish to hear about the prowess of the Lord wielding the Śārṅga bow. O eminent Brāhmaṇa, it behoves you to tell me whatever has been seen by you (about Viṣṇu).
Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:
3. Hereafter, I shall recount the characteristic (prognostic) features of the destruction of the subjects, the significant (portentious) mark that is seen and how the Kalpa is recycled.
4. There are falls of firebrands and meteors along with thunder. There is earthquake; a dust-storm as well as terrible loud report.
6. Mountains, oceans, rivers, different types of lakes, trees, creepers and grasses—all get dried up.
7-8. Thus when everything was under turmoil, when all regions were bereft of all medicinal herbs and water, when the three worlds consisting of mobile and immobile beings resembled a dry log of wood, at midday, when the time for ablution arrived, I saw the three worlds becoming inaccessible and in a form of fire too dazzling to be viewed.
9. Two Suns were seen in the east, O dear one. So also in the north and in the west. Similarly in the south too, two radiant Suns were seen.
11. They burnt the entire earth including mountains, parks and forests. Nothing was seen unburnt except Revā and myself.
12. When the earth was being burnt, the smell of ghee and sacrificial offerings issued forth. Thereupon my body became parched. Unbearable thirst too overwhelmed me.
13. I did not find water. Everything was dried up by the Suns. I looked into the Kamaṇḍalu (water-pot). That too was dry.
14. Then I was distressed with grief, particularly overwhelmed by thirst. I jumped up into the sky from the earth looking around.
15-16. Then I espied a house in the firmament beautifully furnished. O excellent king, desirous of seeing it, I passed through the ramparts of diverse types and wonderful features and reached the portals embellished with panels with bolts. The turrets and their tops were quaint and amusing.
17. Its height was eighty-six thousand Yojanas. Half thereof was separately embellished with gold and jewels.
18. O excellent king, in the centre thereof I saw a huge bed. A Being of divine tresses of hairs was lying on the bed.
19. He was lying down stretching a full Yojana long with curly hairs. His splendour was heightened by a wonderful crown of refulgent lustre.
20-2la. He was dark in complexion and had the lustre of lotus petals. His nose was excellent. His face was majestic like that of a lion. His arms were long. Excellent moustache and beard marked his cheeks. He was handsome with Trivalī (curly hairs near the navel) and his ears were adorned with earrings.
21b-23. He appeared to be stout with chubby fleshy limbs. His sides were embellished with Āvarta (eddy-like curves). His hips were extremely splendid. The knees and calves were well rounded. His palms were marked with the outline of a lotus. His excellent nails and fingers were slightly reddish. His voice appeared to resemble the thunder of clouds. He was handsome in every limb. Thus I saw Lord Puruṣottama in the middle of the bed.
24-25a He had a conch, a discus and a club in his hands. He was lying on his right side. His hand was lifted up with the rosary string suspended therefrom. His brilliance was like that of ten thousand Suns. On seeing him I became devoted to him and got ready to eulogize him.
[This eulogy emphasizes the identity of Śiva and Viṣṇu.]
25b-29. “Be victorious, O Īśa; be victorious, O Vāgīśa (Lord of Speech); be victorious, O Lord bedecked with divine ornaments of the limbs. Be victorious, O Lord of Devas. O glorious one, O eternal one, you are Brahman itself. All the worlds are stationed in your body, O Parameśvara. You are our goal.
Indeed, O Lord of Devas, all the worlds have you as the support as they are stationed.
You are the ṃost excellent one of all beings. You are the creator and the support of the Earth. You are the Hautra (function of the Hotṛ Priest) of the Agnihotras. You alone are the Sūtra Mantra. You are the Gokarṇa (shrine), Bhadra Karṇa (a Śiva shrine Karnāli on Narmadā). You are the Maheśvara region.
31-34. O Lord, you are the Yugas like Kali, Dvāpara, Tretā and Kṛta. You are the suppressor of Pralamba. You are the creator. You are the destroyer. You support the worlds. You are Kāla, the destroyer of all. All the clans of Devas were created by you alone, O God. You are the path of all the worlds. You are salvation, the greatest goal. Brahmā, the eternal one of the Rajas form is the Lord born from you. Rudra originating from (your) Krodha (Anger) is also so (born from you). You are established in Sattva. O Lord, the mobile and immobile beings have been created by you for the sake of sport.”
Thus the Lord was eulogized by me, when my entire body was scorched.
35. O king, the Lord of all living beings was thus eulogized by me with great devotion. Even as I was eulogizing the Lord, I saw there pots filled with water.
86. Thereupon the thirst that had been forgotten by me became increased. I approached the side of that Pūruṣa.
37-38. I thought thus when I was desirous of drinking water: ‘He never saw me. He was asleep. He never woke up. He who is deluded by sin and tries to wake up a sleeping person incurs the great sin of Brāhmaṇa’s slaughter.’
39-40. Even as this was being thought by me, a second being came there. He did not utter anything. He did not see anyone. He had worn an antelope skin on his left shoulder. He had matted hairs. He held a Kamaṇḍalu (water-pot) and a staff. A girdle encircled him. He was three-eyed. He had smeared ash all over the body. He was of great lustre.
41-42. Even as I was desirous of eulogizing him and gazed at him with clear eyes, a woman embellished in all ornaments was seen. She was of excellent beauty in every limb. On seeing her I prostrated on the ground saying “Be victorious”.
43-44. Be victorious, O goddess originating from the limbs of Rudra. Be victorious, O eternal Brāhmī. Be victorious, O Kaumārī, O Māhendrī, O Vaiṣṇavī, O Vāruṇī, be victorious, O Kauberī, O Sāvitrī; be victorious, O Dhātrī of excellent countenance. In this world consisting of mobile and immobile beings protect my body that has become scorched with thirst.”
Śrī Devī said:
45. O tiger among Brāhmaṇas, I am delighted by your splendid speech. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, what is in your mind has been understood by me.
46. Listen, O Brāhmaṇa, I too have adopted this severe vow. Due to the levity common to all women, an austere vow has been adopted by me who am deficient in intellect.
47-48. If a righteous son well-known all over the world is to be born to me, I will first breast-feed a Brāhmaṇa and then alone my son. O great sage, such a son has been born to me. O eminent Brāhmaṇa, if you wish to be alive suck the breasts.
Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:
49-51. In the case of Brāhmaṇas this (namely sucking the breasts) is something not to be done. Again a boy has to be invested with a sacred thread. Otherwise the Vrata cannot be fulfilled. O lotus-eyed one, Brāhmaṇa-hood is difficult to obtain in all the three worlds. Listen now how one becomes a Brāhmaṇa and by means of which Saṃskāras (consecratory rites). First there is the rite of Bījavāpana (‘sowing of the seed’) in women through sacred rites. It is called Bījakṣepa too since the seed is thrown (sown).
52-59. O lady of high esteem, at the end thereof the second one, Garbhādhāna (impregnation), takes place. Puṃsavana rite is the third. Śīmanta is the fourth one. The fifth one is Jātakarma (post-natal rite). Nāmakarma (Naming) is called the sixth rite. Niṣkrāma (taking out the baby in open air for the First time) is the seventh rite. Annaprāśana (formal feeding with food) is the eighth rite. Cūḍākarma (cutting the lock of hair) is the ninth rite. The tenth one is Mauñjībandhana (investiture with the sacred thread). Thereafter the rites of Aiṣika, Dārvika, Saumika, Bhaumika, Patnīsaṃyojana (marriage) are performed. Then follows Daivakarma (offering oblations to gods). Then come Mānuṣyaka (rites in regard to human beings) and Pitṛkarma (propitiation of the ancestors). O splendid lady, these rites are performed on the tenth or eighth lunar days. Then follow the rites of Bhūta, Bhavya, Iṣṭa, Pārvaṇa, Śrāddha, Āgrayaṇa on the Śrāvaṇī dry, during the Darśa and Paurṇamāsī of the months of Caitra and Aśvayuj, Nirūḍhapaśusavana, Sautrāmaṇi, Agniṣṭoma, Atyagniṣṭoma, Ṣoḍaśī, Vājapeya, Atirātra, Āptoryāma, Daśavājapeyas, forbearance towards all living beings, Anasūyā (absence of jealousy), Śauca (purity), Maṅgala, (auspiciousness), Akārpaṇya (absence of miserliness) and Aspṛhā (absence of desire). One becomes a Brāhmaṇa by consecration through these forty-eight Saṃskāras.
60. After realizing this, O highly esteemed lady, it does not behove you to compel me to drink breast-milk. O gentle lady, how can one like me drink breast-milk?
61-70. On hearing these words of mine, the lady spoke these words: “If you do not drink the breast-milk, the boy will die. It is heard in the three worlds, in the Vedas and in the Smṛtis that one is rid of all sins but cannot be rid of the sin of infanticide. The sin of killing will be incurred by you. Even a great devotee of the Lord has to suffer the consequences of infanticide in a hundred births. On death he incurs the state of a dog extending to three hundred years. At the close thereof he is born in the womb of a crow. There too he suffers the consequences of the sinful act during eight hundred births. He becomes a pig during ten births, at the close of which he is born as a worm. Then he has a gradual rise in the births of cow, elephant, horse and human being. Thus it is heard in Śrutis, Śāstras and the Vedas. O scorcher of enemies, O excellent Brāhmaṇa, the killing of a child brings about a sin more heinous than all other sins. A Brāhmaṇa committing the slaughter of a boy, is certainly cooked in Naraka. He undergoes torture at the hands of Yama for eight hundred years. If you drink my breast-milk, the fault is less severe. If you do not drink the sin shall extend to many years. In case you drink the milk there will be much merit besides the alleviation of hunger and thirst. Hence do not entertain in your mind any doubt. Do come, O Brāhmaṇa; for the sake of the boy drink the milk from my breasts.”
71-74. On hearing those words I became ready to drink the milk from the breasts. I was never satisfied in the course of drinking the excellent breast-milk. O descendant of Bharata, thirty-three thousand years thus elapsed. Deluded by the deceptive slumber for a long time I woke up in the lap. After the delusion of sleep had vanished, O son of Pāṇḍu, I looked around and could not see the sleeping being or the boy. O descendant of Bharata, I saw those four water-pots. Nor was that goddess to be seen. All of them had gone somewhere.
75. While I was reflecting thus and standing there pondering over everything, the goddess spoke these words with slight laughter.
Śrī Devī said:
76-80. That sleeping person was Kṛṣṇa. The second being that came was Hara. The four pitchers were the oceans, O excellent Brāhmaṇa. The boy seen by you was Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds. I should be known as Pṛthivī consisting of the seven continents and mountains. Here, O Brāhmaṇa, you see the excellent river Narmadā who left you on the ground where she is well-established. She of auspicious features flows for the good of all living beings. She is well-known as River Revā. Hence Narmadā has not become defunct. After realizing this be calm and normal, O great sage.
After saying this to me that Divinity vanished there itself.
81. It is thus that the Lord stationed in Sattva used to lie always during Pralaya—the great Lord in the form of Sattva on whose support the universe is sustained.
82. Thus the great and excellent miracle was seen and experienced by me. It is meritorious and destructive of all sins.
83. O excellent one among men, it has thus been narrated and it was this that you had asked for. O king of mighty arms, what else do you wish to hear?
Footnotes and references:
VV 49-58 give a list of 48 Saṃskāras. The list contains the names of sacrifices like Agniṣṭoma, Sautrāmaṇi etc., which can hardly be called ‘Saṃskāras’. Old Smṛtis like Manu or Yājñavalkya do not specify the number of Saṃskāras. P.V. Kane in HD II.i deals with 16 Saṃskāras which are regarded as essential.