The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Defeat of the Army of Gods which is chapter 119 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 nineteenth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 119 - Defeat of the Army of Gods

Note: Chapters 119-121 deal with the story of the creation of Kātyāyanī and killing of Mahiṣāsura. Mahābhārata, Vana 231-92 states that Skanda killed him.

The sages said:

1-2. O Sūtaja, it has been mentioned by you that Goddess Kātyāyanī destroyed Mahiṣa. How was it? Narrate it to us. Of what nature was that heroic Dānava who had assumed the form of a buffalo? Why was he slain by the goddess. Tell it to us in detail.

Sūta said:

3. In this context I shall expound to you the excellent greatness of the goddess completely. Even if it is merely listened to, there shall be the destruction of the enemies of all mankind.

4. Formerly, there was a Dānava named Mahiṣa. He was son of Hiraṇyākṣa. Assuming the form of a buffalo, he enjoyed the three worlds.

The sages said:

5. O Sūtanandāna, was he born along with the form of a buffalo? Or did he become so due to a curse as a result of a crime? Tell us.

Sūta said:

6. Indeed he was born with a fine form and features. His face resembled a lotus. His arms were long and his neck was thick. He was characterised by all excellent features. He was endowed with brilliance and vigour. He was called by the name Citrasama.

7. Ever since his childhood he generally avoided other vehicles like horses etc., and used to rouse the buffaloes (for the purpose of riding).

8. Once that son of Danu was seated on a buffalo and moved about near the banks of Gaṅgā killing aquatic birds.

9. It happened that the excellent sage Durvāsā was seated in the lotus pose on the bank of Gaṅgā, practising excellent meditation.

10. Since the Dānava was keenly looking for birds, his mind was no better than absent in regard to the leading sage. He was not at all noticed by him and the Brāhmaṇa was trampled upon by the buffalo under his hoofs in its mad rush.

11. Smeared with the blood from his wounds, the sage saw the Dānava before him. Further, the fellow did not bow down to him. This enraged him.

12-13. The sage then took up water in his hand and said angrily: “O sinful one, my body was trampled upon by the hoofs of your buffalo and you have caused disturbance to my meditation, so you shall become a buffalo. O evil-minded one, you will be aware of this perfectly as long as you live.”

14. Thereupon, he became a huge buffalo of dark complexion. He was like another mountain of collyrium. His horns were very long.

15. With great humility he pacified the sage: “O Brāhmaṇa, I was too childish to observe things. Do put an end to the curse.”

16-17. Then the sage said to him: “My words cannot go in vain. As long as you live, this will be like that. O highly evil-minded one, you will have this despicable form of a buffalo.”

After saying so, the leading sage left the banks of Gaṅgā and went elsewhere. The demon went to Śukra and said thus:

18-19. “I have been cursed by Durvāsas for some reason and have been turned into a buffalo. Hence you should be my refuge. O leading Brāhmaṇa, do employ some means so that with your favour, the brutish form vanishes and I regain my original physical form.”

Śukra said:

20. Excepting Lord Maheśvara, this curse cannot be altered by anyone else.

21. Hence hasten to the holy spot of Hāṭakeśvara that bestows all Siddhis and propitiate the excellent Liṅga.

22. O excellent Dānava, acquisition of perfection is very quick even in the sinful age of Kali. All the more so in the first yuga (called Kṛta).

23. On being told thus by Śukra, the Dānava immediately went to the holy spot of Hāṭakeśvara and performed a great penance.

24. With great devotion, he installed a great Liṅga of the Trident-bearing Lord and thereafter erected a palace comparable to a peak of Kailāsa.

25. The large-hearted Dānava continued the strenuous ordeal of the penance for a long period.

26. Then Mahādeva became pleased. He appeared before him and said: “O Dānava, I am pleased with you. Choose a boon.”

Mahiṣa said:

27. I have been cursed by Durvāsas and have been turned into a buffalo. Hence with your favour, let this brutish form vanish.

Śrī Bhagavān said:

28. His utterance (curse) cannot be altered at any rate. Hence I shall suggest an easy means to you. Listen to it.

29. All types of sensual pleasures, human, divine and demoniac, will resort to your physical form.

30. It is for the sake of sensual pleasures that a human form is sought after by Suras and Asuras. Hence this body of yours will obtain all those pleasures.

Mahiṣa said:

31. If thus, O Lord of the chiefs of Devas, I will obtain sensual pleasures, let this physical form of mine be indestructible.

32. It may not be killed by the ten categories of divine beings and, all human beings, brutes, Nāgas and birds, O most excellent one among Suras.

Śrī Bhagavān said:

33. O Dānava, no embodied being can be indestructible on the surface of the earth. Hence, O leader of Daityas, except this one, seek other ones (boons).

34-36. Then he thought for a long time and spoke to the Bull-emblembed One: “Leaving womankind alone let there not be my destruction by others.

Further, O Śaṅkara, if a man takes his holy bath in my Tīrtha with great faith and unperturbedly visits you thereafter, let him have the fulfilment of all desires with your favour. May all calamities end in his case and may his splendour increase.

Śrī Bhagavan said:

37-38. If a person takes his holy bath in your Tīrtha on the fourteenth lunar day in the bright half of the month of Mārgaśīrṣa and lovingly visits my Liṅga thereafter, all troubles arising from ghosts, spirits, vampires etc. and all ailments like fever will finish.

39. After saying this the Lord of Devas vanished. Thereafter Mahiṣa went to his own abode.

40. After going there, he seated himself in the middle of the assembly and full of rage and vehemence of intolerance, summoned all the Dānavas and spoke to them:

41-42. “All the Dānavas such as my father, paternal uncle and other ancestors were killed by Devas with Vāsudeva as their leader. Hence, I will exterminate all those Devas in a great battle. Then I will seize the kingdom of all the three worlds.”

43-44. Then those Dānavas said: “This is proper. This is excellent. The kingdom ruled by Śakra in heaven is our own realm. Therefore we shall go there now itself and immediately kill Indra in battlefield. We shall then stay happily in heaven enjoying divine pleasures.”

45. After taking the general counsel thus, all the Dānavas went to the peak of Meru along with their servants, armies and vehicles.

46. On seeing the army of the Dānavas equipped with weapons and missiles descending upon them all of a sudden at the very threshold of their city for the purpose of fighting, Śakra and the other Devas too came out.

47. All these came out: Ādityas, Vasus, Rudras, the expert physicians Nāsatyas, Viśvedevas, Sādhyas, Siddhas and Vidyādharas.

48. Thereupon, a battle ensued between the Devas and Dānavas who reviled one another and dared death bravely.

49. Thus the battle dragged on for three years in heaven. Vast rivers of blood overflowed.

50. One day, he saw Śakra seated on Airāvata. A white umbrella was held above his head and he was surrounded by the Devas with divine missiles and weapons in their hands.

51. Thereupon, the infuriated Lord of the Dānavas, Mahiṣa, rushed against him with great speed.

52. With his sharp horns, he hit the elephant Airāvata in his chest. The elephant made a terribly tumultous trumpeting sound.

53. Then he reverted his face and began to flee. He ran speedly towards the city of Amarāvatī.

54. The elephant driver pierced his forehead by hitting it with the goad. Though he was checked thus, he never stopped at all.

55. On seeing very haughty Mahiṣa and the Daityas roaring gruffly and striking their arms and chest as wrestlers do with their hands, the Thousand-eyed One spoke:

56-57. “Of course, this elephant of mine is going away from the battlefield helplessly. But, O Daitya, do not think that the Lord of heaven has fled away. Hence wait for a while. Let me get into my excellent chariot. I shall hit you with my sharp arrows and destroy your arrogance.”

58. In the meantime, Mātali, the charioteer of Śakra, came there with the chariot fitted with ten thousand horses with the speed of the wind.

59. Struck with the whip by Mātali, those horses ran speedily as though they were flying up into the sky.

60. Then Pākaśāsana (Indra) lifted up his bow and covered the Dānava with the arrows having serpentine shapes.

61. Thereupon, he became all the more infuriated and rushed with great speed to the place where the Lord of heaven was present.

62. He then furiously hit and pierced the excellent horses with his horns and tore them violently again and again.

63. The excellent horses with their chests wounded and bodies drenched and smeared with blood, followed the path of Airāvata.

64. The excellent Suras observed the chariot of Śakra turning away. They were all frightened and they too fled following its path.

65. On seeing all the Suras shattered in the battle, all those Dānavas roared like rumbling clouds and showered volleys of missiles.

66. In the meantime, night overtook them enveloping everything in darkness. Nothing became visible to the eyes of anyone.

67. All the Dānavas then retired from fighting. They resorted to the beautiful peak of Meru and decided to camp there.

68. Crowned with success in the battle, they became highly delighted. They recapitulated the incidents of the battle and began extolling how it took place.

69. The Devas lost all their enthusiasm on being utterly hit and wounded. They held discussion together in secret with Bṛhaspati as their leader:

70-71. “Now our army has been turned away (defeated) by the Dānavas. It has been annihilated and rendered demoralised and incapable of fighting further. No vestige of enthusiasm for fighting remains in it now. Hence we shall abandon the city of Amarāvatī and enter the abode of Brahmā where there is no fear from the Dānavas.”

72. All the Devas including Vāsava decided thus, evacuated the city of Śakra and went to Brahmaloka.

73. The Dānavas got up in the morning and seeing the city of Śakra vacant entered it gladly.

74. They installed the Daitya Mahiṣa in the post of Śakra. With great delight they bowed down to him and celebrated a great festival.

75. They partook of all the shares in the Yajñas that belonged to the heaven-dwellers. They occupied all the spots endearing to the Devas.

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