The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Birth of Karttikeya (Skanda) which is chapter 70 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.

Chapter 70 - Birth of Kārttikeya (Skanda)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: Birth of Skanda or Kārttikeya and his exploit of killing the Dānava Tāraka are described in Mahābhārata, Vana Ch. 226 and in other Purāṇas. It is adapted here to claim that the Śakti with which Skanda killed Tāraka is in Camatkārapura. Similar claim is made in the Revākhaṇḍa of Skanda Purāṇa for Bhṛgu Kaccha. The differences of the story in (his Purāṇa and in Mahābhārata are noticed at proper places.

Sūta said:

1-3. Similarly there is another Śakti there that destroys sins. It is the Śakti (holy javelin) discharged by Kārttikeya after killing Tāraka in battle.

Further there is also a very great Kuṇḍa filled with clear water caused by himself (Kārttikeya). One who takes his holy bath there and performs the worship is immediately liberated from the sin committed ever since birth and until death.

The sages said:

At what time was that Śakti discharged by him? Tell us. Why was it discharged by the Lord? What is its efficacy? Do narrate it yourself.

Sūta said:

4. Formerly there was a very powerful Dānava named Tāraka. He was successor of Hiraṇyākṣa and he caused terror in all the three worlds.

5. After coming to know that his father had been killed by the powerful Viṣṇu, he went to Gokarṇa mountain and performed a very severe penance.

6. He sustained himself by consuming withered dry leaves and continued the meditation on Mahādeva for a thousand years mentally, verbally and physically.

7-8. He offered excellent articles of worship and different kinds of food-stuffs. Even at the end of those thousand years, Rudra was not pleased. This made the Daitya distressed and he performed still severer penance. He cut off pieces of flesh from his body and consigned them into the sacred fire.

9. Thereupon Mahādeva was pleased. Riding on his bull, the Consort of Umā appeared before him along with all his Gaṇas.

10. In words faltering with excessive delight, Mahādeva joyously rendered all the quarters resonant with his voice of high pitch and spoke:

11. “O Tāraka, I am pleased. Do not persist further in a risky venture like this. Request for anything you may desire, so that I can grant the same.”

Tāraka said:

12. O Lord, thanks to your favour, let me be invincible unto all the Devas. Make it possible for me to defeat all in battle except you.

The Lord said:

13. With my favour, all this will happen. Undoubtedly, O Daitya, whatever has been requested for by you will become effective. You shall be the sole mighty warrior.

14. After saying this, Mahādeva went to his abode. The delighted demon Tāraka too went home.

15. Then, accompanied by a vast army of Dānavas, he went to Amarāvatī, the well-known city of Indra, for fighting with him.

16. Thereafter, a great battle of Devas with Dānavas ensued

and continued for a thousand years when the god of Death never turned back.

17. The Devas faced destruction every day in the battlefield and the Dānavas gained victory with the favour of the Trident-bearing Lord.

18-20. For the purpose of ultimate victory, the Heaven-dwellers resorted to all possible means. Various kinds of armours, mechanical devices, trenches etc., for the sake of general protection were ardently prepared by them, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. Other things also they got ready for protecting the bodies of the principal warriors in particular. The chiefs of Suras created various things to guard themselves from Dānavas day and night.

21. At that time Mudgaras (hammer-like rods), Bhindipālas (a short javelin), Śataghnīs (cannon-like devices capable of killing a hundred at a time), excellent arrows, Prāsas (javelins), Kuntas (spears), Bhallas (spike-like weapons) etc. were prepared. They evolved strategic modes of special battle arrays also.

22. Kūṭayuddhas (deceptive warfare) of diverse kinds, threats, hoodwinking tricks and Indrajāla (wizardry) were made use of entirely.

23. Still, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, they did not gain any victory over the Dānavas. Smitten and shattered in the great battle they became distressed.

24-26. Then the frightened Thousand-eyed One (Indra) said to Bṛhaspati: “O excellent Brāhmaṇa, every day we are getting defeated by the Daityas. The more I get ready with better means of warfare, the greater is our defeat in the tremendous war. Hence, O preceptor of Suras, think of some intelligent means whereby I can win the war and you, a blameless reputation as its result.”

Sūta said:

27. Then Bṛhaspati thought for a long time. After finding out the means of victory in the great battle, his face beamed with delight. Then he said to the Consort of Śacī:

28-34. “That means has been found out by me, O Śakra, whereby most of the enemies can be sportingly defeated in the great battle.

When the Slayer of the Three Puras was requested by him for the desired boon, the Daitya had repeatedly bowed to him and spoken these words:

'O Lord, let me be invincible unto all the Devas with your favour. Make it possible for me to defeat all in battle except you.’

Mahādeva himself will never slay him who is his disciple. Who thinks it fit to cut down even a poisonous tree, should he happen to be the one who had planted it?

‘He who is the father shall be the son as well.’ This Vedic statement is often proclaimed. So let Hara procreate a son who will slay him (Tāraka).

Then we shall appoint him as the commander-in-chief and fight a bitter fight with the Daityas and ultimately gain victory.

This is the means which I just explained, O Thousand-eyed One. There is no other means of victory in all the three worlds.”

35. Thereafter the Slayer of Pāka went to Śaṃbhu along with the groups of Devas and requested him after bowing down to him humbly:

36-38. “O Bull-emblemed One, it behoves you to exert yourself for the procreation of a son, so that I can appoint him as the commander-in-chief of the Heaven-dwellers.

With your favour I shall gain victory in the battle after killing all the Dānavas including Tāraka.

There is no other means for my victory in the battle with the Dānavas. So says the highly intelligent Devejya (Preceptor of gods i.e. Bṛhaspati) after perfectly considering everything.”

39-40. Thereupon Śaṅkara laughed boisterously and spoke to the Lord of Devas: “O Śakra, I shall soon do what you suggest There is no doubt about it. I shall procreate a son who will destroy all the Daityas. You can make him the commander of your army and be crowned with success always.”

41. After saying thus Mahādeva went to the Kailāsa mountain and started a befitting sexual dalliance with Gaurī.

42. It was fully accompanied by coquettish blandishments, emotional fervour, jocular remarks and other things of the sort. A period of a thousand divine years passed like a moment.

43. Here, all the groups of Devas, harassed by Tāraka and hence utterly terrified in their minds met together and had consultations with one another:

44-45. “A thousand years have elapsed and the Tridentbearing One is continuously engaged in the sexual dalliance. He has not carried out the task of Devas. Hence we shall go to the Kailāsa mountain where Lord Maheśvara is in union with Gaurī in a secluded spot.”

46. In the height of their distress arising from the frustrated hope about (the birth of) an enemy of Tāraka, all the Devas including Vāsava went there itself.

47-48. They reached mount Kailāsa and attempted to go near Bhava. But they were prevented by Nandin saying, “You must not go beyond this. The Lord is present here in a secluded spot along with Pārvatī. Even we have no right to enter. Do not go.”

49. Then all the Devas sent the Wind-god[1] there. They told him, “Let this be quickly found out what Mahādeva is doing there.”

50. Then the Wind-god went to that spot where Lord Śiva was in the acme of bliss in the act of sexual dalliance with Gaurī.

51. There was an emission of the semen but it did not reach the vaginal aperture. At that time the Lord saw Vāyu standing not very far away.

52. Feeling abashed very much the Lord got up instantly leaving his beloved alone in the acme of excitement and emotion saying, “Oh, don’t get up.”

53. He then said to Vāyu who was standing humbly, “Why did you come here? I hope the Heaven-dwellers are all right.”

Vāyu said:

54. Here Śakra and other Devas have been stopped by Nandin. All of them are dispirited and without enthusiasm. They are now waiting on the ridge of the mountain.

55. So, do talk to them and console them with encouraging words. Send them also immediately to the place occupied by the Dānavas.

56. Instantly the Slayer of the Three Puras summoned them. With dejected face, he addressed them as they stood with palms joined in reverence:

The Lord said:

57. I started my endeavour for the procreation of a son for the sake of you all. The seminal fluid has been displaced from the organ of secretion but rendered ineffective by Vāyu (by his intervention).

58. It (seminal fluid) has been retained with great restraint by me within the penis. It cannot go in vain. Tell me where I can deposit it.

59. It is from that, that a great son who will destroy the Dānavas is to be born. He shall be the leader of your army. He will be irresistible in the battle by his enemies.

60. Except Vaiśvānara (Fire-god) no one else is capable of retaining it. It resembles the Kalpāgni fire. So let him come forward and retain this eternal fluid.

61. Then only can I release this intensely powerful seminal fluid lustrous like twelve suns (united together) for the sake of a son in order to win victory.

62. Then all the Suras praised Vahni (Fire) and eagerly said to him, “O Agni, do hold this seminal fluid of Bhava within your mouth.”

63. Carrying out the behest of Śakra unhesitatingly Pāvaka (Fire) quickly opened his mouth.

64. Śaṅkara who had been afflicted by the arrows of Kama thought of goddess Gaurī, experienced the bliss of orgasm and deposited the fluid there (in Agni’s mouth).

65. Being scorched by that fluid that resembled fire appearing at the end of the universe, Pāvaka dropped it on the ground in the spacious grove of reeds.[2]

66. In the meantime the auspicious six Kṛttikās, the wives of the six sages who had been wandering here and there came to that place.

67-68. Śatakratu himself gave them this direction: “This seminal fluid of the Three-eyed Lord should be preserved cautiously (by you). Herefrom will be born a son having the lustre of twelve suns. He will be almost a son unto ye all.”[3]

Footnotes and references:


According to Mahābhārata, Vana 225. 16-18 Agni frustrated the sexual intercourse; Here Vāyu is the disturber.


According to Mahābhārata Agni transferred the semen to Gaṅgā who threw it among Śara reeds.


Mahābhārata and other Purāṇas say that the wives of Seven Sages (Saptarṣis) felt-cold in the early morning and saw fire in the reeds. Arundhatī told them not to resort to that fire. They refused to listen to her advice and sat round the fire for the sake of warmth and became pregnant.

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