The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Destruction of Tripura which is chapter 28 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 twenty-eighth chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 28 - Destruction of Tripura

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

[Full title: Destruction of Tripura: Glorification of Jvāleśvara and Amareśvara Tīrthas]

Mārkaṇḍeya said:

1. In the meantime Rudra occupied the banks of Narmadā. While he was sporting in the company of Umā, Nārada arrived there.

2. After bowing down to the Lord of the chiefs of Devas, Śaṅkara along with Umā, he submitted to the Lord the details of what happened then at Tripura:

3-4. “At the behest of my Lord (you), I went to the place where Bāṇa’s palace was situated. After meeting Bāṇa as per formalities, I went to the great Antaḥpura. There I saw thousands of the queens of Bāṇa, the intelligent one. Then I stirred up that city in a befitting manner and in the way it had been desired and have now returned.”

5. On hearing the words of Nārada, the Lord gave his approval saying, “Well done! Well done!” Then the Lord of Devas pondered over the whirling of Tripura.

6-7. He thought: ‘Tripura moves like the discṇs whirled from his hand by Viṣṇu, the powerful one. It has great velocity and it is extensive. It has been preserved by my splendour. Bāṇa is reputed all over the world as one devoted to me. Word has been already given by me particularly to the Brāhmaṇās.”

8-12. Thus Maheśvara, the Lord of Devas, the Lord of the people, thought for a long time regarding the successful completion of the task.[1] The Three-eyed Lord meditated upon Mandara as the bow, the earth as the bow-string, the eternal Lord Viṣṇu as an arrow with the blazing Fire-god with faces (mouths) on all sides as the sharp arrowhead, the excellent-feathered Garuḍa in the centre of the two feathers at the tail-end. Then he made the Earth as the chariot and the two Aśvins as the yoke. (He fixed) god Indra as axel, Kubera (the Lord of wealth) at the front. Yama (was posted) at the right side, while terrible Kāla on the left; the Sun and the Moon were the wheels and Gandharvas spokes.

13-20. Surajyeṣṭha (Brahmā) was made the charioteer; the Vedas were made the excellent horses. The Vedāṅgas were turned into the iron bits in the mouth and the Chandas-s (Metres) were made the reins. The orally uttered Oṃkāra was made the whip by Maheśvara. Dhātā was placed at the head and Vidhātā behind. The Mārutas (Winds) gathered from all the quarters were placed in the Ūrdhva Yantra (the overhead mechanical device). All the following ones were fixed to all the joints: great Serpents, Piśācas, Siddhas, Vidyādharas, Gaṇas and groups of Bhūtas. Meru was stationed in the centre of the pole; the great mountain (Mahāgiri) was beneath the pole. The terrible serpents were stationed in the mechanical device; Varuṇa and Nairṛta in the Śamya (part of the chariot). Gāyatrī and Sāvitrī were stationed at the place where the rein was fastened. All round in the flagstaff of the chariot were placed Satya (truth), Śauca (cleanliness), Dama (control of the senses) and Rakṣā (protection). After making the chariot (embellished with) all the Devas, Maheśvara, the Lord of Devas, stood ready (for battle) wearing the coat of mail and holding the sword with the fingers having protectors made of leather of Godhā (mountain lizard). After adjusting his garments and binding the matted tresses of hair, he got his divine bow ready and fitted his excellent chariot. Stationed in the centre of the chariot, O Yudhiṣṭhira, the Lord shone brilliantly.

21-34. With the twang of the bow, he made the three worlds quake. After making the Vaiśākha-Sthāna (? special warrior posture), Hara remained steady there. After surveying for a long time, the Lord became angry with the eyes turning red. He then controlled himself and meditated on the great Mantra. With a desire to destroy the set of three cities, he released (shot) the arrow when all the three of them stood together in the space. For the period of a split half of a moment, he saw the group of the three cities and smote them with an arrow having three joints and three blades.

In regard to the set of the three cities, O most excellent one among the descendants of Bharata, all the people became highly frightened. The terrible ones in the form of Kāla began to laugh boisterously for the destruction of all Asuras. The men experienced pain and distress. They remained motionless with eyes not at all winking as though they’vere drawn in a picture. The Devas in their abodes prattled and laughed loudly. They (Asuras?) saw themselves adorned in red garments in dreams. With the red garlands round their heads, they fell into muddy whirlpools. They saw themselves with oil smeared on the heads. O excellent king, they saw themselves riding in the vehicles drawn by donkeys. The great Saṃvartaka wind, resembling the final destruction of the Yugas, uprooted many of the houses and groups of trees. There were earthquakes with loud thunder-like reports. Thousands of meteors fell down. The Lord showered blood mixed with much rough gravel. In the sacrificial fire-pits of the Brāhmaṇas, the fire, though properly oblated, burned with smoke and sparks. The elephants were rid of the stage of rut. The horses became deprived of their Sattva (intrinsic strength). Even when not played upon, there came sound from thousands of instruments. Though not shaken, the flag-staffs and various kinds of umbrellas fell down. The trees and the leaves began to burn. Everything was upset and there was much of hue and cry.

35-44. The violent gust of wind demolished the gardens of various kinds. Induced by it, all the flames and sparks blazed. The trees, hedges, creepers and houses all round were enveloped by the fire that blazed in all the directions. Everything that burned was seen blazing with the lustre of a Kiṃśuka leaf. On account of the smoke, it was impossible to go from house to house. All the people in Tripura began to wail and lament on being completely burned by the fire of the anger of Hara. The whole city of Tripura enkindled in all the quarters, began to burn. The tops and peaks were shattered in thousands and they fell down. The smoke-enveloped fire was seen blazing all round. It spread from quarter to quarter, dancing as it were. It rushed through forests, temples, all the houses and turrets. Urged by Kāla himself, the fire blazed everywhere in the city. Burning furiously as though enkindled by the anger of Hara, it burned everything in the worlds. The whole region around the three cities consisting of children and old people burnt along with the vehicles, forests and doorways of the houses. Some were engaged in taking food. Others were engaged in drinking liquor. The courtezans were engaged in dancing and singing. Distressed by the flames of fire, they embraced one another. O excellent king, all those who were being burnt became senseless.

45-60a. Other Dānavas there were burned and deluded by the fire. With their faces overwhelmed with the smoke, they could not go elsewhere. The lotus ponds abounding in golden lotuses and stirred up by the swans and Kāraṇḍava birds and the different kinds of tanks and wells blazed there. The parks in the cities and the lakes were seen burnt by fire. They were covered by faded lotuses. The extensive buildings and palaces over a range of eight Yojanas, resembling huge peaks of mountains, originally rendered splendid by jewels, were seen now completely burnt down and shattered on the ground. When the men, women, children and old people were being burnt everywhere, the ruthless fire went on burning. There was loud lamentation and wailing. O excellent king, some woman was sleeping soundly. Another was in intoxicated state. One lady of distinction had been sporting about and lying on her large bed. A woman of large eyes bedecked in a number of necklaces, who had been asleep, became distressed due to the smoke. The wretched woman too fell into the fire. A certain woman fond of her son had been closely embracing her son. She too was burnt by the blazing fire in Tripura. A certain golden-complexioned lady bedecked in sapphire saw her husband fallen. She too fell over him. A certain lady of solar lustre was lying asleep on her lover. When distressed by fire, O king, she embraced his neck still more closely. Another lady of cloud-like complexion had a loose girdle of gold and white upper cloth. She fell down on the ground. A certain lady had the lustre of the moon and a Kunda flower. She was adorned in sapphires. She was found praying to the fire with palms joined in reverence and kept over her head. While the clothes of a certain woman were burning the tresses of hair of another woman were seen blazing, O descendant of Bharata. All were frightened by even golden vessels, that resembled the blazing fire. A certain excellent lady distressed by too much of misery, lamented like a female osprey on seeing the husband reduced to ashes. She fell down on his head and embraced him closely. Another woman saw her husband reduced to ashes in her own house. She was distressed very much and lamented like a female osprey. A certain woman saw her mother and father senseless. She trembled and fell down on the ground in utter distress like an exhausted mare. A certain excellent woman on being burned ran about here and there. When a woman turned her face she could not see her son who h,ad been in her lap.

60b-64a. Kuṃbhila’s house was burnt and it fell on the ground. So also the ruthless fire burnt the houses of Kūṣmāṇḍa, Dhūmra, Kuhaka, Baka, Virūpanayana, Virūpākṣa, Śuṃbha, Ḍiṃbha, Raudra, the excellent Asura Prahlāda, Daṇḍapāṇi, Vipāṇi, Siṃhavaktra, Dundubha, Saṃhrāḍa, Ḍiṇḍi, Muṇḍi, Kravyāda, Vyāghravaktra, Bāṇa’s brother and Bāṇa. So also the houses of other Dānavas, arrogant due to their strength.

64b-70. In every house the women who were being burnt began to lament uttering piteous words. They found themselves without support. They approached Śiva: “O Pāvaka, if you have any enmity towards the menfolk of the demon, what offence has been committed by the women who are like a cuckoo in the cage of domesticity. You are not ruthless. You are not too wicked. What anger do you cherish towards the womenfolk? Have you not heard this in the world that women should not be killed at any cost? But in your case you have the additional power in burning when you are induced by the wind. Mercy has not been shown by you. You do not have any chivalry towards women. Even barbarians (Mlecchas) show mercy on hearing the words of women. But a barbarian of barbarians is insensitive. He can not be restrained.” Even as the women were lamenting thus, there, O descendant of Bharata, the fire continued to blaze with profuse flames and sparks. On seeing all these, Bāṇa who also felt scorched said:

71-79a. “I have been a sinful soul in having slighted Hara and so I am doomed. Sinful and foolish that I have been, my (future) worlds have been destroyed.

Cows and Brāhmaṇas in this world as well as hereafter have been slain. Foodstuffs and beverages have been destroyed, so also Maṭhas (religious institutions), parks and penance-groves. The hermitages of the sages, the parks of deities, the abodes of Gaṇas etc. have been demolished. Due to that sin my penance and power have been upset. What shall I do with my wealth? With my kingdom? With my Antaḥpura? I had been of deluded intellect. I would rather seek refuge in the feet of Śaṅkara. Neither mother nor father, neither kinsmen nor other people excepting Maheśāna can be the dispeller of the greatest distress. The fruit of the sin committed by oneself is to be tasted by oneself. I shall also get burned along with all those good men.” After saying thus he kept the Śivaliṅga on the head and hurriedly went out of the house. He was enveloped by fire. Utterly distressed, with all the limbs sweating profusely, faltering frequently he began to eulogize Hara with words choked and sought refuge in him.

79b-82. “O Śaṅkara, if I am to be killed, I have already been completely burned by the fire of your anger. O Mahādeva, let not this Liṅga be destroyed by you with your favour, O Great Lord. I have adored, O most excellent one among Suras, I have meditated with devotion, O Lord. Hence it behoves you to guard this which is dearer to me than my life. If I am to be blessed by you, O most excellent one among Suras, or if I am to be killed, O Mahādeva, let my devotion to you be constant in every birth, whether among animals, insects or birds, in any of the brutish creatures as a result of my own Karma; let my devotion to you be firm and unshakeable.”

83. After saying thus the highly esteemed Bāṇa, the most excellent one among devout persons, propitiated the Lord of the chiefs of Devas by means of a hymn as follows:

Bāṇa said: [Eulogy of Śiva:]

84-100. O Śiva, O Śaṅkara, obeisance to the annihilator of everything. Obeisance to the one that dispels the distress of those who are afraid of the worldly existence. Obeisance, O Lord, O destroyer of the body of the Flower-weaponed One (Manmatha), the person who likes to please young women.

Be victorious, O Lord of Pārvatī; be victorious, O essence of the ultimate truth. O Lord who have made a necklace of terrible serpents, be victorious, O Lord who have applied pure ashes on his limbs.

Be victorious, O root-cause of all Mantras, the sole deserving person in the universe.

Be victorious, O Lord with clusters of matted hairs rendered tawny by the venomous serpents.

Be victorious, O Lord whose bow Pināka is held (ready) by Bhairava.

Be victorious, O odd-eyed one, O Lord without attachment.

Be victorious, O Śaṅkara wearing the waves of Gaṅgā.

Be victorious, O Lord with terrible forms, with the Khaṭvāṅga in the hand, O moon-crested one.

Be victorious, O most praise-worthy one in all the worlds.

Be victorious, O Lord of the most excellent ones among Suras, O essence of the world of Suras.

Be victorious, O Śarva, who have burnt down all essential things.

Be victorious, O Lord worthy of being glorified, the purest one of all the worlds.

Be victorious, O Bull-emblemed One, with conducts of diverse kinds.

Be victorious, O Lord with well-arranged garland of human skeletons, O Lord, O Kāla unto the skeleton of the body of Aghāsura.

Be victorious, O blue-throated one, O Lord with the gait of an excellent bull.

Be victorious, O suppressor of the sins of all the worlds.

Be victorious, O Lord whose feet have been bowed to by Siddhas, Suras and Asuras.

Be victorious, O Rudra who take one across the terrible ocean of worldly existence.

Be victorious, O Giriśa worthy of being honoured by the Lord of Suras.

Be victorious, O Lord of subtle form, O Lord worthy of being pondered over.

Be victorious, O Lord by whom the Tripura has been burned, O intrinsic strength of the universe.

Be victorious, O truth of all scriptures.

Be victorious, O Lord difficult to be comprehended. O redeemer from worldly existence, O redeemer of devotees from the terrible, big ocean of worldly existence full of the sins of Kali.

Be victorious, O Lord of the groups of Suras, Asuras and Devas. Obeisance, O Lord with faces of horse, monkey, lion and lordly elephant. O Lord of great shortness, stoutness and great length! It is impossible for Amaras to perceive you, O Nirañjana (one devoid of afflicting attachment). I bow down to your feet.

Be victorious, O Lord accompanied by Aṃbā (Mother goddess), O Lord Hara having the splendour of excellent eyes. What is it that one who reaches the greatest height does not destroy by not attaining you? Then, even penance will be one that disturbs mostly; though great, it is very terrible. Neither sons nor kinsmen, neither wives nor all the friends of the world will approach one in difficulties, one who moves about alone. Whatever has been done by one, auspicious or inauspicious, that alone will accompany him like a caravan when he goes ahead. There is no fear unto a person who moves about without much wealth about him. A rich man will not be rid of fear. Hence I shall forsake wealth. Greedy persons commit sins. Even after hearing all about righteousness, after having comprehended it, men are not pure in every detail.

You are Viṣṇu, the Lord of the universe. You are the eternal Lord in the form of Brahmā, O Lord of the chiefs of Devas. You are Indra, O Lord of Suras. Obeisance to you. You are the Earth; you are Varuṇa; you are the wind; you are the Fire-god; you are the initiation; you are the householder performing the sacrifice; you are the firmament; you are Soma (the Moon, the Soma juice); you are the Sun; you are the Lord of wealth; you are Yama; you are Guru (Jupiter); the entire universe is pervaded by you in the same manner as the three worlds are enveloped by the refulgent splendour of the Sun.

101. On hearing this hymn composed by Bāṇa, Lord Maheśvara eschewed his anger. Delighted within himself he spoke these words:

Īśvara said:

102-103. From now onwards, O Dānava, you need not be afraid. Stay in your golden abode or by my side along with your sons, grandsons, kinsmen and wife. From now onwards, O dear one, you are one who cannot be killed by any enemy.

Mārkaṇḍeya said:

104-105a. O descendant of Bharata, again a boon was granted by the Lord of Devas: “Honoured and adored by Suras and Asuras, do reside happily at your pleasure in heaven, mortal world and the nether regions, without perishing and without changing.”

105b-112. Thereafter, Rudra restrained the fire. His third Pura was saved by Lord Śaṃbhu. The other two engulfed by the clusters of flames fell down on the ground. Rising half above the flames reached heaven (?). The sound Hā-Hā uttered by the groups of sages was great and loud. So also the lamentations of the gods of great esteem, Siddhas, Vidyādharas and others. One piece fell on Śrīśaila. O king, the second one fell on the mountain Amarakaṇṭaka. Since it fell down blazing it is remembered as Jvāleśvara[2]. When the Tripura was burnt down, O king, when the excellent piece fell down, Lord Rudra stayed there as the person restraining the clusters of flames for the sake of protecting the sages continuing lamentations of Hā-Hā Maheśāna stood there accompanied by Umā and Vṛṣabha, his own form. He who at least remembers mentally Amarakaṇṭaka with devotion, shall undoubtedly attain more merit than that of Cāndrāyaṇa.

113-120. Since, O most excellent one among the descendants of Bharata, the excellent mountain is highly meritorious, it shall always be destructive of all sins. It is overgrown with various kinds of trees and creepers. It is rendered splendid by different kinds of flowers. Various kinds of hedges and creepers abound therein. It is overspread by various creepers. It is infested by lions and tigers. It is adorned by herds of deer. It is always joyously filled with the roaring sound of the beasts of prey. There on that mountain Śaṅkara, the Lord of the chiefs of Devas, is served by thousands of gods, the chiefs of whom are Brahmā, Indra and Viṣṇu. He who falls off the precipices of this mountain Amarakaṇṭaka, sports about successively in all the fourteen worlds, O king, i.e. the worlds[3] of Indra, Vahni, Kubera, Vāyu, Yama, Nirṛti, Varuṇa, Soma, Sūrya, Brahmā (whose region is devoid of pain), Viṣṇu, Umārudra and thereafter that of Īśvara. The greatest world is that of Sadāśiva. It is quiescent, subtle, the luminosity that is beyond all sense-organs. An intelligent devotee gets merged into it undoubtedly in accordance with this procedure.

Yudhiṣṭhira said,:

121. O excellent sage, is there any special procedure envisaged in regard to falling down the precipice? O great sage, I have a great doubt in this regard; do tell me everything.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

122-132. Listen, O son of Pāṇḍu, I shall tell you that procedure. After performing a rite at the outset, a devotee shall fall down the precipice. He shall at first perform three Kṛcchra rites after performing the Japa a million times. He should take in only vegetables (greens) and barley water. He should take ablutions three times (a day) and remain clean. He should worship Īśa, the three-eyed Lord of Devas, three times. O great king, the number of Homas shall be one-tenth thereof(?) He should perform the Japa of the Lord a hundred thousand times and worship with scents and garlands. At night he shall in dream see himself seated in an aerial chariot. Thereafter he should hurl himself. One who hurls himself in accordance with this procedure shall attain the heavenly world and sport about along with Devas. After enjoying soul-stirring pleasures for thirty crore thirty thousand years, he shall return to the earth and enjoy the whole earth under his single umbrella. He will be adored by the people. Freed from ailments and grief he will live for a hundred years. That Tīrtha is well-known in all the three worlds as Jvāleśvara. O son of Kuntī, the river Jvālā created by Śiva flows there. After extinguishing the fire in the city of Bāṇa, it joins Revā, O great king. The devotee should take his holy bath there in accordance with the injunctions. Duly uttering the Mantras he shall propitiate the Pitṛs and deities with water mixed with gingelly seeds and offerings of balls of rice. He shall attain the benefit of Pauṇḍarīka sacrifice. O king, he who performs Anāśaka (‘no destruction’, ‘not taking food’) in that Tīrtha is rid of all sins. He goes to Rudraloka.

133-142. He shall become the Lord of Amaras (Devas) served by hundreds of Devas and attended upon by groups of sages. So he shall be excessively meritorious. The Amarakaṇṭaka Tīrtha extending to a Yojana all round is very meritorious. It is excellent and meritorioṇs, because there are crores of Rudras. If a devotee circumambulates that lofty mountain, it is undoubtedly as good as though the entire earth has been circumambulated. The three kinds of sins incurred through mind, words and deeds become destroyed: So said Śaṅkara.

O king, by the side of Amareśvara is the Tīrtha Śakreśvara. Formerly it was installed by Śakra after performing penance.

The auspicious Tīrtha named Kuśāvarta has been created by Brahmā. It is well known as Brahmakuṇḍa. Beyond that is Haṃsatīrtha. So also Aṃbarīṣa Tīrtha and Mahākāleśvara. To the east of Kāverī is the Tīrtha Mātṛkeśvara, These are on the southern bank of Revā, O great scion of the family of Bharata. They dispel sins if they are resorted to, bathed in or if the Dāna rite is performed. Śiva is famous as Bhairava on Bhṛgutuṅga, O great king. To the south thereof is the Tīrtha Capaleśvara. These are situated on the northern bank of Revā. They dispel misery. By worshipping them and bowing to them, one shall attain the benefit of the pilgrimage. They cause obstacles to men, if they are not visited or adored.

Footnotes and references:


The description of the Chariot and other preparations against Tripura are reminiscent of similar preparations given in Mbh, Karṇa, Chs. 33-34. Here the enemy is Bāṇa, a devotee of Śiva.


The Tīrtha Jvāleśvara is etymologically connected with the burning of the second city out of Tripuras.


A list of 14 Bhuvanas.

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