The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,142,515 words

This page describes Installation of Kusheshvara and Laveshvara which is chapter 104 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 fourth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 104 - Installation of Kuśeśvara and Laveśvara

[Full title: Installation of Kuśeśvara (Kuśa-īśvara) and Laveśvara (Lava-īśvara)]

Note: According to Rāmāyaṇa VII.108.4, Kuśa’s capital was Kuśāvatī; no son of Rāma ruled at Ayodhyā.

The sages said:

1. O Sūta, describe the greatness of those Liṅgas which were installed there by Rākṣasas endowed with devotion.

Sūta said:

2. The terrible Rākṣasas of extraordinary might used to come formerly from the city of Laṅkā in hundreds always for the sake of worshipping them.

3. While coming and going back, they used to devour many people including children and old ones both in the holy spot and on the way.

4. All the human beings in their eagerness to save their lives used to run about here and there.

5. Then many of them went to the great city of Ayodhyā. Exceedingly grief-stricken, they spoke thus to the excellent king Kuśa[1], the son of Rāma:

6-11. “Formerly, the Rākṣasas with Vibhīṣaṇa as their leader had accompanied your father to the holy spot of Hāṭakeśvara. Four-faced Liṅgas were installed by those leading Rākṣasas with their own sets of Mantras, in the western zone of that holy spot. In this connection, everyday many of them come to the holy spot and devour people.

If at all any human being were to worship those Liṅgas, he is doomed immediately. This too has become another terrible calamity. Hence, O king, if you do not save us, certainly the entire world will gradually come to ruin. Particularly, that holy spot is going to be doomed, for the Rākṣasas of ruthless activities and covetous of human flesh, frequent it.”

12. On hearing it, the king immediately entrusted the ministers with the governance of the kingdom.

Then he went to the holy spot along with his army.

13. On seeing that Kuśa had arrived there, the survivors of the excellent Brāhmaṇas upbraided him with harsh words and said thus:

14-18. “O base Kṣatriya, why do you govern the kingdom in such a manner as to let the people be destroyed by Rākṣasas? You are not born of Rāma; you are born of Rāvaṇa. Hence you are indifferent to us tormented by the Rākṣasas.

Indeed, this fact has already been expressed by the people who are expert in the science of ethics and morality. That caste from which the king hails, enjoys flourishing happiness.

Hence you, begot by a Rākṣasa, neglect all the excellent Brāhmaṇas and others who are being devoured by the Rākṣasas. That king is blameworthy, on account of whose defaults, tears of the distressed people fall on the ground.”

Kuśa said:

19. O Brāhmaṇas, be consoled. I was not aware of such a thing as this happening, that the Brāhmaṇas have been subjected to harassment by the Rākṣasas.

20. From now onwards, if any Brāhmaṇa or anyone else is destroyed or ruined, it shall be my sin.

21. After saying thus, the irate scion of the family of Raghu despatched a fearless messenger to Vibhīṣaṇa:

22-28. "Do go at once, O messenger, and tell Vibhīṣaṇa: ‘The deep affection of Rāma that you have enjoyed, has been very amply requited in my case!

O evil-minded one, with excellent words you made me trust in you, but you are now harassing my realm with your hosts of Rākṣasas.

O base Rākṣasa, it was my father who made you settle down in this prestigious position. Hence, I do not kill you in the way in which your brother was killed by my father.

Even if it be a poisonous tree, how can sensible men cut it off, after once nurturing it with great care!

Hence, after this day, if any demon somehow comes to the northern shore of the ocean, I will immediately invade this city Laṅkā of yours along with my army and destroy it. Further, I will bind you and all the Rākṣasas firmly with fetters. Undoubtedly I will put you in prison.”

29-30. On being ordered thus, the messenger went to the Setu quickly. After visiting the deity Rāmeśvara, he was about to proceed further when he was asked by some people: “O dear one, who are you? What is the purpose for which you have come here? Tell us. Usually human beings do not come here’.”

The messenger said:

31. I have been deputed by King Kuśa to the abode of Vibhīṣaṇa on a certain errand. How shall I go there?

The people said:

32. Beyond this no human being can go at all because the Setu was broken in the middle by Rāma of indefatigable actions.

33. Hence, O messenger, all your work with Vibhīṣaṇa can be concluded here by meeting that Rākṣasa.

34. This leading Rākṣasa has adopted this regular practice of worshipping the three deities of Rāmeśvara three times everyday.

35. In the morning Vibhīṣaṇa performs the worship of Maheśvara in the portion of the setu near the gateway of Laṅkā.

36. He worships at noon the deity Rāmeśvara installed in the second portion of the Setu submerged in the water.

37. Always at midnight he comes here with great devotion and worships this deity. There is no doubt about it. It is the truth that has been uttered (by us).

38. So, wait here unruffled in this very spot with mental concentration, till that noble-souled Rākṣasa comes here.

39. Later you can freely go to his palace in his company or to your own abode if he dismisses you.

40. On hearing their words, the messenger became delighted. “So it shall be”, he said and waited there.

41. As midnight approached, Vibhīṣaṇa came to that splendid shrine surrounded by Rākṣasas.

42. He was riding iṇ an excellent aerial chariot. He was eulogized all round by the Rākṣasas in the form of bards. Others sang songs.

43. Coming out of the excellent aerial chariot, he circumambulated the deity Rāmeśvara three times. After bowing down to the deity, he recited the following prayer loudly:

[Vibhīṣaṇa’s prayer]

44. "Obeisance to you, O Lord of the chiefs of Devas, O bestower of freedom from fear on your devotees. You are endowed with hands and feet all round. You have eyes, heads and faces everywhere.

45. You are Yajña; you are the Vaṣaṭkāra. You are Candra; you are Prabhākara (Sun). You are Viṣṇu; you are the Fourfaced One. You are Śakra. You are the great Īśvara.

46. Just as oil is always concealed in gingelly seeds, so also, O Śaṅkara, you stay hidden in all the worlds.

47. Just as fire, latent in wood, is not perceived though it is present in it, similarly you are not perceived by the deluded ones, though you are present everywhere.

48. Just as ghee lies hidden in curd, so also, O Lord, you are stationed (unseen) in all living beings mobile and immobile.

49. Just as a man digging the ground obtains water therefrom, so also one who always worships you attains salvation undoubtedly.

50. As long as you are not pleased with embodied ones, Svarga continues to be difficult of access and the brave are hostile (to them).

51. O Lord of Devas, as long as you are not propitiated and pleased, prosperity remains unsteady and ailments of different kinds begin to assail.

52. O Lord, as long as your are not pleased with embodied beings, so long there is misery arising from one’s sons and one’s wife.”

53. After eulogizing thus he duly bathed the Liṅga and then applied sweet scents and divine unguents.

54-55. With great ardour and faith, he performed an elaborate adoration with the flowers of Pārijāta, Santāna, Mandāra and Kalpa trees. Thereafter, he adorned the Lord with divine ornaments and garments.

56-58. He himself sang, beating time with his hands, where the seven notes of the gamut were remarkable and pleasing with proper intonation and regular fall and rise of the notes. It was characterized by proper Tanas (key notes), Rāgas and Grāmas. Thus, he served the Lord devoutly.

As Vibhīṣaṇa was about to leave for Laṅkā, the messenger came before him and repeated the message of Kuśa.

59. In particular, he repeated the words which Kuśa had uttered in front of him with reddened eyes and great anger.

60. On hearing it, Vibhīṣaṇa stood humbly with palms joined in reverence and spoke to the messenger loudly:

61-62. “O excellent Dūta (Messenger), if the Rākṣasas had behaved thus in the kingdom of Rāma’s son, it amounts to this that I too have behaved so (i.e. I accept the responsibility for it). It is indeed a great favour of that noble-souled one, Kuśa, that he sent you to me who have so long been an ignorant fool.”

63-64. After saying this, he found out all the Rākṣasas who usually went to the mainland and always caused destruction.

He brought them to the presence of the messenger and shedding tears angrily, sternly warned each one of them.

65-67. “Kuśa is my noble-souled overlord. All those Rākṣasas of wicked soul who went to his kingdom and perpetrated the destruction of the people shall become hideous ghosts and spirits in great misery. (Being banished) they will be lurking at the gates of Laṅkā always overwhelmed with hunger and thirst. They will be censured by all the people. They will be deprived of all pleasures and enjoyments. They will have to endure the chill of blizzards and the heat of the scorching sun. Phlegm and urine shall constitute their food intake.”

68. After heaping this curse on them, the excellent Rākṣasas said again to the messenger with palms joined in reverence.

69-71. “From now onwards no Rākṣasa will go there. Hence go and tell Kuśa, the excellent one among the descendants of Raghu, in my words: ‘May this crime be condoned because this has been perpetrated due to ignorance.’

Rākṣasas as a class are wicked and very greedy for human flesh. They have been punished in your presence, O messenger.

Whatever other duty there may be concerning Devas or human beings can be unhesitatingly communicated to me ever at your service.”

The messenger said:

72. O Rākṣasa, go there yourself quickly and uproot all those Liṅgas installed by the Rākṣasas.

73-74a. This alone is the greatest task. It will be conducive to the happiness of all people.

These Liṅgas with four faces were installed with the Mantras specially pertaining to the Rākṣasas and worshipped by those Rākṣasas.

74b-75. If a person (being ignorant of the Rākṣasa way of worship) inadvertently worships them, he instantly falls down dead. That is why I request you this, O king of Rākṣasas. The presence of Liṅgas there on the earth (human world) is as good as the continued presence of all the Niśācaras there.

Vibhūṣaṇa said:

76. Earlier, in the presence of Rāma it was promised by roe that none would go to the mainland beyond Rāmeśvara.

77. There is another reason also for this, O messenger, as stated by learned men. One shall not dislodge a Śivaliṅga installed whether duly or unduly.

78. Being a devotee of Maheśvara myself and having undertaken a solemn pledge, how can I go there and break the Liṅga myself?

79. So, that king should be pacified with these words of mine: “If anything improper or irrelevant has been uttered by me do punish me.”

80. After saying so, he adorned the messenger with many jewels taken from the ocean and sent him off to the king.

81. Then the Rākṣasas who had been imprecated by him said to him in great grief, “O Lord of Rākṣasas, grant us all relief from the curse.”

Vibhīṣaṇa said:

82. O base Rākṣasas, I shall not extend favour to you after you have been cursed, particularly because you are cheats.

83. The most excellent one among the scions of Raghu’s family may be favourably disposed towards you undoubtedly by my request. Till then as per my order wait for some time.

84. After saying so, the leading Rākṣasa sent off king Kuśa’s messenger, a human being worshipping the deity (with these words):

85. “After going there, tell King Kuśa immediately my message. ‘O Lord, bless these Rākṣasas of wicked souls, who have been cursed by me. Let the wretched ones have their food.”

86. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, on being told by Vibhīṣaṇa thus, the messenger of Kuśā accompanied by Vibhīṣaṇa’s messenger to Kuśa left the place immediately.

87. The messenger went speedily and respectfully reported to Kuśa, after bowing down to him and standing by with humility:

88. “O Lord, Vibhīṣaṇa was seen by me at the shrine of Rāmeśvara where he had come accompanied by many Rākṣasas for the purpose of adoration.

89. O Raghunandana, he was told me all that you wanted me to say. Everything he listened to with great humility.

90. O Lord, the subjects were harrassed by his wicked Rākṣasas greedy of human flesh, without his knowledge.

91. On hearing about it from me, he punished them all. O excellent king, those of them who committed brutality in the mainland were all turned into ghosts and spirits of defiled activities and diet.

92-96. He told them further, ‘You will become afflicted with hunger and thirst.’

He was then requested by all of them after bowing down to him repeatedly, ‘O Lord, all of us have been cursed. Do this favour to us (by condoning our crime).’ On being asked by them thus, he said, ‘O base Rākṣasas, I will not condone and bless you. Nor will I give you food. It was at the bidding of Kuśa that ye sinners have been restrained and punished by me. He may be favourably disposed towards you.’

O King, for that purpose a messenger too has been sent to you by that Rākṣasa (i.e. Vibhīṣaṇa). What is proper may be entirely pursued by you. To be sure, there is no need to tell much. There cannot be any other devotee fully endowed with devotion and power like this Vibhīṣaṇa who is your devotee.

97. From now onwards the Rākṣasas will never roam about on the mainland. They will desist from it undoubtedly at the bidding of his. O king, be at ease.

98-99. With regard to the Liṅgas, O king, the Rākṣasa submits: ‘O great king, I should not at all come here. At the instance of Lord Rāma, I have no power to step into Jaṃbūdvīpa. Whatever duty I may have to perform, whether divine or human, I shall do it staying here alone even if it be very difficult.’

100. For that purpose, O great king, a human being, a worshipper of the deity Rāmeśvara, has been sent as his messenger. Do meet him.”

101. Then at his bidding, the messenger sent by the leader of the Rākṣasas came there along with tributes and presents of various kinds.

102. For the king thirteen Prastha-fuls of pearls each of the size of a Dhātrī (Indian gooseberry) fruit were brought by him.

103. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, sixteen Droṇas of lapis lazuli, emerald and other jewels of excellent quality and devoid of blemishes were also brought.

104. There were numerous garments of divine quality brought which were pure like fire, and gold of the finest purity without any limit.

105. The messenger displayed all these to the noble-souled Kuśa, O Brāhmaṇas. He circumambulated him and then bowed down to him.

106. “O tiger among kings, Vibhīṣaṇa, the eminent Rākṣasa bows down to you with devotion. He speaks to you through my mouth:

107-109. ‘O king, thanks to your father, everything is quite all right in my kingdom. I abide here worshipping every day the deity Hara installed by your father.

O king, whatever has been committed atrociously on the earth (i.e. the mainland) by those wicked-souled ones unknown to me, may be excused.

On account of you, O Lord, these Rākṣasas have been cursed by me. Assign the diet unto them who are in the form ghosts and spirits.”

Kuśa said:

110. At my bidding let them (ghosts and spirits) come here and fill all the Liṅgas assiduously with dust particles all round.

111. Thereafter, I shall tell you what could be their food on the earth (mainland). Listen carefully, O worshipper of the deity (priest).

112. Always, when the Sun enters Libra, they must come over to the earth (mainland) and divert themselves earnestly until the Sun is seen to enter Scorpio.

113-114. If during the Pretapakṣa (dark half of Bhādrapada) or during the period of Sun’s transit in Virgo as well as Libra, it is my command that those Rākṣasas should assume the form of fever and infest their bodies. Undoubtedly they can feed on them in diverse ways for the period of a month.

115. If people offer anything without resorting to the proper procedure, or if they eat anything in that manner or if Śrāddha is offered and partaken of in this manner, the Rākṣasas should always infest them in the form of Jvara (fever).

116. All the ghosts and spirits should be told of my words entirely. Let them come here in the month of Kārttika and do as per my words.

117-119. Further, O messenger, Vibhīṣaṇa should be told by you these words of mine: ‘Inadvertently I spoke very harsh words to you. O highly esteemed one, I know (hope) that you are unperturbed thereby. On seeing the people suffer those words were blurted out by me.

Since you, the king of Rākṣasas, continue to stay on the earth I feel that my father Rāma, the foremost among those who wield weapons, also continues to live.’

120. After saying thus the descendant of Raghu honoured the messenger with various kinds of clothes and different kinds of jewels taken from fivers.

121. For Vibhīṣaṇa also, Rāghava sent many things which were ready at hand there as presents.

Sūta said:

122. Similarly, the king made all excellent Brāhmaṇas happy and comfortable and gave them all those pearls etc.

123-124. Whatever came as present from Laṅkā was given to them. Documentary charters etc. were presented along with elephants and horses. Towns of wonderful features, villages and cities were gifted away. Whoever asked for anything was given the same immediately.

125-126. The deities of Kuśeśvara and Laveśvara were installed. Those two brothers hailing from the family of Raghu dedicated themselves to the leading Brāhmaṇas and made provision for their proper subsistence. With full satisfaction they (both) returned to the city of Ayodhyā.

Footnotes and references:


Rāma was succeeded by Kuśa at Ayodhyā but Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa notes the desertion (of Ayodhyā after Rāma). Hearing the complaints of people that Rākṣasas who visited their Liṅgas at Hāṭakeśvara devour people, Kuśa sent a messenger to Vibhīṣaṇa to prevent Rākṣasas from coming to Hāṭakeśvara. He got the area of the Rākṣasa Liṅgas buried under dust though that resulted in the burial of other ancient Tīrthas too. Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa does not mention this, but our author tells this legend for the glorification of Hāṭakeśvara.

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