The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Attainment of Siddhi by Canakya which is chapter 155 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 one hundred fifty-fifth chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 155 - Attainment of Siddhi by Cāṇakya

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

1-7. Henceforth I shall extol Śukla Tīrtha, the most excellent one of all Tīrthas. It is on the northern bank of Narmadā, O Yudhiṣṭhira.

From the point of view of meritoriousness and auspiciousness in appearance, all the other Tīrthas on the earth do not merit even a sixteenth part of that Tīrtha.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

I along with my brothers and all the excellent Brāhmaṇas wish to hear the real greatness of that Tīrtha.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

O king, listen to the origin of Śuklatīrtha. Merely by visiting it, a sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter gets dissolved.

Narmadā is the most excellent one among all the rivers and is destructive of all sins. A sin committed in childhood perishes merely at its sight.

Except Śuklatīrtha, O king, no Tīrthas are bestowers of salvation anywhere.

The greatness of Śuklatīrtha was listened to by me formerly in the company of Devas and sages. O descendant of Bharata, it was narrated by Śitikaṇṭha (the blue-throated god Śiva), the Lord of Devas, on Kailāsa, the most excellent one among mountains. That I shall now recount to you.

8-21. Formerly, in the beginning of Kṛtayuga, Viṣṇu performed an elaborate penance for a thousand years in order to propitiate the Consort of the Daughter of the Mountain. He remained without taking any food except the intake of air. He had stationed himself in Śuklatīrtha.

Thereafter, Maheśvara, the god of Devas, became directly visible. He manifested himself all of a sudden in that Tīrtha, O king.

The area extending to two Krośas (i.e. 2 x 3=6 Kms) was made capable of yielding worldly pleasures as well as salvation. A man who takes his holy bath in the Tīrtha is rid of all sins.

Gaṅgā is meritorious in Kanakhala; Sarasvatī in Kurukṣetra. Whether it be a village or a forest, Narmadā is meritorious everywhere.

Intake of food is the most important of all medicines; of all beverages, water is the most important. Sleep is the most important of all happy and pleasing things, a young woman among the yielders of pleasures, and head is the most important of all the limbs.

Just as the forehead of one who has taken the holy bath is the most meritorious, O excellent king, O Yudhiṣṭhira, so also is Śuklatīrtha the most meritorious on Narmadā.

Just as Gaṅgā is the most meritorious among all rivers, just as Janārdana is the greatest of all deities, so also Śuklatīrtha is declared as the most meritorious on Narmada.

Just as Surabhi (celestial cow) is the most important one among all quadrupeds, just as Brahmaṇa is the most important of all Varṇas, so also, O king, Śukla Tīrtha is the most important of all Tīrthas.

Just as the Sun is the most important one among the Planets, just as the Moon is the most important one among the stars, just as head is the most important of all the limbs, just as truthfulness is the most important of all righteous acts, so also, O son of Kuntī, is Śuklatīrtha the most excellent one of all Tīrthas.

Just as the eternal Supreme Soul is difficult to be comprehended and cannot be pointed out because it is very subtle, so also, O king, is the Śuklatīrtha.

One who is full of great delusion and suffers from slow-wittedness, does not understand clearly Śuklatīrtha established on the banks of Narmadā.

O son of Dharma, of what avail is too much of talk repeated frequently in this context? Śuklatīrtha is highly meritorious and can be approached only through the destruction of sins.

If a devotee offers here a handful of the waters of Revā, it is as though the Pitṛs have been propitiated for thousands and crores of Kalpas.

22-29. The only one that destroys the distress of Pitṛs on the earth is a son.

There was a king named Cāṇakya[1]. Only he knew Śukla-Tīrtha.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

O excellent Brāhmaṇa, who was this person named Cāṇakya? Who was the only person who knew Śuklatīrtha which no one else knew? By what means was it (the Tīrtha) known by him on the surface of the earth? I wish to hear about it. I am very eager.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

He was a king born of the family of Ikṣvāku. He was the great- grandson of Śuddhodana. The saintly king named Cāṇakya enjoyed the entire earth. He was not deceived by any man but all of a sudden the excellent king was deceived by two roguish crows.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

How was that king deceived by the two crows? Formerly the intelligent noble soul had vowed, “I shall not continue to live if any being be deceived by another. I will certainly cast off my life. There need not be any doubt about it.” O leading Brāhmaṇa, explain this to me. My eagerness is intense.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

Realizing that he had been deceived, the king caught hold of the crows and sent them to the abode of Yama inflicting severe punishment.

The crows said:

30-39. We are the sons of Sunda and Upasunda. We have attained the state of crows for some reason. O blessed one, do not kill us. We have come to a decision in this respect. O bestower of honour, whether we are hurled away through anger or not, we shall attain the greatest goal. Hence command us, O leading king. After carrying out something that pleases you much we shall be freed from the curse in accordance with the utterance of Brahmā.

On hearing the words of the crows Cāṇakya, the excellent king, said: “After knowing that I have been deceived by anyone anywhere, I will not continue to live. Hence (try) to find out the Tīrtha, O birds, at the abode of Yama. I shall send you there duly. After hearing about it, you will tell me.”

Then he adorned the crows with garlands and sanḍalpaste. He sent them asking them to go to Yama’s abode quickly and told them:

The king said:

After going to the city of Dharma, you may move about here and there. If the pious-souled Yama, the great controller, were to ask you, “From where are you coming? Tell me by whom you have been adorned”, my words should be repeated to him without any fear or hesitation: “There was a righteous king named Cāṇakya born of the family of Ikṣvāku. On the twelfth day after his death we were propitiated with food and the like.”

On hearing those words of the king, they went to the abode of Yama. With the full embellishment of garlands and sandal-paste, they began to sport about in the courtyard of Yama. The bold crows were seen by Dharmarāja. He asked them:

Yama said:

40-49. From which place have you come? By whom were you two adorned? O crows, what has happened may be mentioned unhesitatingly.

The crows replied:

There was a righteous king named Cāṇakya born of the family of Ikṣvāku. On his death, on the twelfth day, we were propitiated through food etc.

On hearing their words, Yama, the son of Vivasvān, looked at Citragupta, Kali and Kāla and said to them thus: “It has been enjoined by Brahmā that living beings, such as the oviparous, sweat-born etc., among mobile and immobile beings should come to my presence. Where has that man of evil action named Cāṇakya gone? Let this be searched and found out from the Purāṇas and Itihāsas as to what the fate (of such ones) is.” Thereupon those Dharmapālas (officers of god Dharma) urged by Dharmarāja looked into the opinion of the Purāṇas regarding the coming and going effected by Karmas.

Thereafter Dharma, the most excellent one among those who uphold righteousness, said in a voice as majestic as the thunder of a rumbling cloud, even as the Dharmapālas were listening: “The oviparous, sweat-born and other living beings that die in the pure waters of Narmadā in Śuklatīrtha do not come to my presence. That Tīrtha is highly righteous in the world. It was created by Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara with great devotion and a desire for the welfare of the worlds. Men defiled by major and minor sins who die in the waters of Narmaḍā in Śuklatīrtha become pure. They are not at all under my jurisdiction.”

50-59. On hearing these words uttered by Yama, the two crows quickly surveyed the great city of Yama, O son of Kuntī, and returned.

They bowed down to the king who asked them about what happened and what was heard by them. The two crows who were Dānavas turned into crows, said: “From this place we two went to the excellent city of Yama on the southern side of the earth, after crossing many Yojanas.

That city had divine features with golden ramparts and ornamental gateways. It could bestow everything desired. There were many groups of houses. The city was embellished with jewels and gold, crossing roads, quadrangles and royal highways. The whole region was covered with gardens and parks with clusters of lotuses adorning the ponds. Swans and ducks cackled loudly while the cooings of cuckoos added to the confused noise. The forests were infested with lions, tigers, elephants and monkeys and bears resorted to them.

It was teeming with men and women. It was beautified by continuous festivals. It was resonant with the sound of blowing of conchs, of lutes and flutes. Yama-mārga also is made like the region called Svarga. Having reached the place we were found out by the messengers of Yama. At the behest of Yama, we were sent to the place where the Lord of the universe was present. The Lord was seated on a throne and we were afraid for our very life when we saw him. He had huge thighs, calves, shoulders, belly, chest, arms, face, eyes, nay the whole body was very huge.

60-62a. Another Kāla was also present there seated on a great buffalo and adorned with a great crown. Kali and the highly intelligent Citragupta were seen arriving with fires blazing in between.

They were experts in the interpretation of the Veḍic passages. They were discussing the merits and sins of the creatures. They stayed there day and night forever.

62b-70a. At the end of the customary obeisance, Yama with a well controlled form, asked us the reason for our visit. Do listen to what we told him, ‘In Ujjayinī there was a valorous king named Cāṇakya. On the twelfth day after his death we had our food and then came to this abode of Yama.’

On hearing our words Yama shook his head and smilingly spoke these truthful words in the midst of the assembled courtiers, ‘There is a reason why this sinful person Cāṇakya has not come to my world that terrifies all sinners. All the creatures that die in Śuklatīrtha on Narmadā attain the greatest position. There is no need to doubt anything in this matter. Whether a creature is forced or does it voluntarily, if it dies in the area around the holy spot, it shall undoubtedly become an attendant of Rudra.’

On hearing these words of Dharma, we set out and came out of the city. We saw the terrible tortures of various kinds of people in Naraka. O excellent king, there are thirty crores of these horrible hells. Seeing these on the great highway we became terrified and extremely distressed.

70b-79a. The Narakas there are: Raurava and Mahāraurava. Then there are the other hells: Peṣaṇa, Śoṣaṇa, Kālasūtra, Asthibhañjana, Tāmisra, Andhatāmisra, Kṛmipūtivāha. Another hell Mahājvāla was seen. There itself is Viṣabhojana. There are the pairs of hells, Daṃśa and Maśaka and the Yamalaparvatas (twin mountains).

River Vaitaraṇī, the destroyer of all sins was seen. Meritorious persons drink the cool nectar-like water thereof. The same water gets transformed into blood in the case of sinners.

Asipatravana is another hell. Another great rock was seen having the form of a mass of fire. Another large Śālmalī was seen. There are hundreds and thousands of similar hells.

All types of acutely horrible hells were seen where men suffered much. They had committed sins verbally, mentally and physically.

Different types of sins due to arrogance and deceptive words (were seen). Fathers, mothers, elders, brothers—all were in helpless states with imperfect sense-organs. Those who had not redeemed them wandered there in Raurava. These base people spend twelve years in Raurava. Coming back to the mortal world, they become wretched and blind.

79b-89a. Men of sinful deeds who misappropriate the property of temples or of Brāhmaṇas fall into Mahāraurava in the abode of Yama and stay there certainly.

Like insects in chrysalis stage in cocoon, they are subjected to piercing with thorns.

Killers of animals, birds etc., and meat-eaters go to the hell named Peṣaṇa. Those who keep living beings in bondage fall into Śoṣaṇa hell. After enduring the tortures as laid down in the scriptural texts, they come back to the human world as lame, blind and deaf men.

Those who utter falsehood jeopardising cows and Brāhmaṇas fall into the Kālasūtraka hell. The torture therein as per the authors of the scriptural texts is indeed terrible. After experiencing those sufferings those who come back to the human world are born as men of low caste.

Those who forsake the progeny of their own family and keep living beings in bondage fall into the Asthibhañjana hell undoubtedly. After spending a hundred years there they are born as human beings. Those sinners undergo misery as dwarfs and hunchbacked ones.

Those deluded fools who profess to be learned but forsake their own wives go to the terrible Tāmisra hell. There is no doubt in this respect. At the end of a hundred years there they come back to the human world. Those men are congenitally unlucky with skins morbidly affected.

89b-99a. The base men who speak deceptive words and who use fraudulent measures and weights are cooked in the Andhatāmisra hell. After staying there a hundred thousand years they come back to the mortal world and wander in the abodes of enemies as blind and ill-formed wretches.

Those who nourish themselves alone by eating without giving food to Pitṛs, Devas and Brāhmaṇas fall into the Kṛmibhakṣya hell. Even at the time of birth they will have wounds eaten by worms.

One who lives upon the fortune of others emits a foul odour. Those who swerve from their duties, the sinners bereft of the discipline of Varṇa and Āśrama endure sufferings in the Pūyasaṃpūrṇa hell (filled with putrid things) for ten thousand years. When the period is complete they take human birth but afflicted with ailments they become repulsive to all other living beings.

A man of greed and delusion, a wicked man who administers poison and an arsonist alike sink into the Viṣasaṃpūrṇa hell. After a period of a hundred years he comes up from it. He is reborn as a miserly, unlucky human being.

Those who fail to make gifts of sandals, shoes, umbrella, quilt and covering sheets are eaten by Daṃśas (flies) and Maśakas (mosquitoes) for seventy births.

Those who take away the wealth of their fathers, those who are engaged in abusing and beating them are afflicted in the place where the Yugmaparvatas (twin mountains) are present.

99b-110a. Those who approach a woman in her menses will drink blood in the terrible Vaitaraṇī river with blood in the stream. The perpetrators of sins are subjected to torture in the terrible Asipatravana.

Those who always inflict pain on others, men who cohabit with low-class women are also tortured there.

Great sinners engaged in intimacy with the wives of preceptors are compelled to embrace (heated) Śilās (rocks) for a period of seventy births.

Those who sport about with the wives of others are made to embrace terrible (heated) images of iron full of many spikes in the hell Śālmalī.

One who abducts other men’s womenfolk or misappropriates the assets of a Brāhmaṇa shall become a cruel Rākṣasa in a waterless forest region.

A sinful soul who takes away the properties of deities in temple or Brāhmaṇas out of avariciousness has to sustain himself with the leavings of the food of vultures.

These are the sins for which punishments are meted out at the bidding of Yama. Merely the sight of these and the listening to their descriptions generate fear.

There are others who enjoy in the abode of Yama the benefits of the gifts they had made. They were seen even as the messengers of Yama who were narrating to them at the bidding of Yama.

They were surrounded by (and carried by) chariots, elephants and horses. O blessed one, those who had performed series of penances and derived their benefits were seen there.

That world accords the desires of the men who gift cows, gold, plots of land, jewels, quilts, food, houses etc. Men who offer food here along with beverages sport about in the abode of Yama fully satisfied and contented.

110b-115a. O excellent king, whatever is given as gift here in Śuklatīrtha, even if it be as little as the tip of a hair, has everlasting benefit. Thus everything seen and heard has been recounted to you. Carry out whatever you desire if you are capable and if possible release (us).”

On hearing their words Cāṇakya was delighted in his mind. He congratulated the two birds again and again and sent them off.

When both of the crows departed, O descendant of Bharata, he gave everything he possessed to Brāhmaṇas, discarded lust and anger and went to Amara mountain (Amarakaṇṭaka).

There he fastened firmly a raft with black strings. Meditating on Lord Janārdana he floated on quickly. One shall wish for health from the Sun and wealth from the sacred fire. One attains knowledge from Īśāna and salvation from Keśava. The string that was dark blue in colour became red and shone like pure crystal. On seeing the rope shining so the highly intelligent (king) immersed himself in the pure water and attained the Vaiṣṇava region.

115b-116a. One should desire (pray for) health (absence of ailments) from the Sun, wealth from Fire-god. From Īśāna one obtains (spiritual knowledge). One attains Mokṣa (final beatitude) from Keśava.

116b-119. The black-coloured ropes (of the raft) became blue, red (and finally) resembling pure crystal (which was the effect of the waters of Śuklatīrtha) and the highly intelligent king immersed his body in the auspicious Śuklatīrtha. The noble-souled prince attained the region of Nārāyaṇa, the eternal one called Acyuta (Unswerving or Eternal), which the knowers of the Vedas sing about.

Thus the Siddhi (attainment of perfection) of king Cāṇakya has been described to you. I shall describe another thing also. Listen with concentration.

Footnotes and references:


As verses 25ff show, this Cāṇakya is a king. He is different from Cāṇakya of Mudrārākṣasa.

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