The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Origin of Shankhaditya and Shankhatirtha which is chapter 209 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 two hundred ninth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 209 - Origin of Śaṅkhāditya and Śaṅkhatīrtha

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

[Full title: Origin of Śaṅkhāditya (Śaṅkha-āditya) and Śaṅkhatīrtha (Śaṅkha-tīrtha)]

Ānarta said:

1-3. Now, O tiger among sages, tell me fully the greatness of Śaṅkhatīrtha. I have great faith therein.

Wonderful indeed is the Tīrtha! Wonderful indeed is the Tīrtha called Hāṭakeśvara! It is the only holy place which is the most splendid and full of miracles. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, I am not fully satiated by listening to the excellent greatness of this holy place.

Viśvāmitra said:

4. In this context, I shall narrate unto you the account of an earlier incident, of how the greatness of Śaṅkhatīrtha came to be established over the earth.

5. Formerly, there was another king who ruled over Ānarta in the same manner as you who rule over all the peoples on the earth now.

6. All of a sudden, he became a leper and disabled in limbs. He had no sons. Overpowered by enemies the excellent king became frightened.

7. He was harassed all round by all the kings. Ousted from his kingdom, he came to Raivataka mountain.

8. There too he was disturbed by robbers all round.

9-10. When he was deprived of his treasures and elephants,

horses and chariots, he began to think, ‘What shall I do now? All my wives are being carried off by robbers forcibly.’

11. After thinking thus, O tiger among kings, he went to the holy Lord Nārada to meet him on the Vaiṣṇava day (eleventh lunar day, or the day with Śravaṇa constellation).

12. There he saw the excellent Sage Nārada. He had come there in the course of his pilgrimage with a desire to visit Dāmodara.

13. He lowered his head and bowed down with palms joined in reverence. In his dejected mood, he sat in front of him and spoke these words:

The king said:

14. O excellent sage, I am assailed from all sides by my enemies. Then, having been ousted from the kingdom, I have come to this great mountain.

15-16. In the forest I am harassed by sinful robbers all round. A few horses, elephants etc. that had accompanied me were entirely taken away by them. The treasury, the ladies and much of the cash on hand were also looted by them. Hence, O excellent sage, I am utterly disgusted. Do tell me now:

17. Is this the result of a terrible sin of mine committed in some previous birth, O excellent sage, which has put me in this miserable plight?

18. On hearing his words, the leading sage meditated for a long time. He understood everything through his divine vision and spoke thus to the distressed king:

Nārada said:

19. O great king, nothing despicable had been committed by you in the previous life. Everything has been understood by me through divine vision.

20. Formerly, you were a king of the lunar race in the city named Siddhapannaga. You eliminated all enemies.

21. You performed great Yajñas always with full complement of monetary gifts. Other great gifts were also made and excellent Brāhmaṇas were honoured.

22. As a result of those good acts, you have become a king once again.

Ānarta said:

23. Even in this birth, O holy Lord, I do not remember having committed anything wrong. Then why was I ousted from the kingdom all of a sudden?

24. In this world, O tiger among sages, the life of a person devoid of Lakṣmī (good fortune, affluence) shall become futile. This I have understood now.

25. A man bereft of fortune and glory is as good as dead. A kingdom without a ruler is as good as no kingdom. Religious gift offered to one who is not learned in the Vedas is as good as no gift. A Yajña without monetary gifts is as good as no Yajña.

26. Even kinsmen become estranged from a man devoid of fortune and wealth. On seeing him they think, ‘He will request us for something surely’ and they go elsewhere (to avoid him).

27. This is just like my case now. Even those who were helped and propitiated by me, go far off on seeing me thinking, ‘Oh, this fellow, will request us for something!’.

28. Like birds that leave a dry tree (on which they lived), kinsmen desert a man without money, though he may be excellent and of noble birth.

29. If a poor man approaches the house of rich people even for doing their own task, they certainly rebuke him and do not go ṅeār him.

30. If a rich man, though miserly, actually comes to request for something, people rather think ‘He will give me something.’

31. “You are one belonging to my ancestral family and your father to my fathers. He was always affectionate but you are devoid of affection.”

32-33. In this world people of noble birth are seen standing before sinful yet rich people. They say this (as if) with a desire to get money. A person who rules over the earth is reduced to poverty. It results only in great distress of the heart. These two are sharp thorns causing distress to the body, viz. a poor man who aspires to love and a man though devoid of power becoming angry.

34. Men greedy of wealth resort to even the cremation ground at nightfall. They go to far-off lands forever forsaking their own progenitors.

35. If one has wealth in one’s mansion one is sure to be considered as a learned man, although one is really utterly foolish and a man though of ignoble birth as of noble birth. In the contrary case everything becomes the very opposite.

36. O excellent sage, I am disgusted with my life now. So do tell me, why poverty has befallen me.

37. Leprosy also has come to me over and above the torment from the enemies. The other births are (can be) seen by you through your divine vision.

38. And you say that those births have not been defiled even by the least of misdeeds. O excellent sage, I remember the facts of this visible life of mine.

39. (In this life) no evil act has ever been perpetrated by me. Then, O excellent sage, why has this ousting from the kingdom taken place in my case?

40. I am eager and inquisitive in this connection. Give me a decisive answer whether auspicious or inauspicious acts do find their results operative.

Viśvāmitra said:

41. On hearing his words, Nārada meditated for a long time. He was overwhelmed with pity and he spoke respectfully:

42. “Listen, O king, I shall tell you how purity can be regained and how you will get back the realm once again.

43. In your land (Ānarta), there is a holy spot highly meritorious and well-known in all the three worlds by the name Hāṭakeśvara. There is a splendid Tīrtha there famous by the name Śaṅkhatīrtha. It is destructive of all sins.

44-45. A person should be possessed of great faith. He should take his holy bath there at sunrise on the eighth lunar day in the bright half of the month of Mādhava (Vaiśākha) coinciding with a Sunday. He becomes freed from all types of leprosy and (becomes) brilliant on a par with the Sun.

46. Whatever desire he may cherish, he will undoubtedly get it by visiting the auspicious deity Śaṅkheśvara even if that desired thing is rare in ail the worlds.

47. O king, You stayed in this land. Still, haven’t you heard the greatness of that Tīrtha? Wherefor have you come here (at all)?”

Siddhasena (The king) said:

48. What is the origin of the deity Śaṅkheśvara? Do narrate, O excellent sage.

Nārada said:

49. O king, I shall tell you this age-old legend as to how the deity Śaṅkheśvara and Śaṅkha Tīrtha originated.

50. Formerly, there were two Brāhmaṇas named Śaṅkha and Likhita.[1] They were two brothers well-versed in the Vedas and engaged in severe penance.

51. Once, O king, Śaṅkha went to the hermitage of his elder brother Likhita for paying respects.

52. He found the hermitage vacant as Likhita was absent.

53. He saw ripe fruits in that park. O king, he thought, ‘After all this is my brother’s hermitage’ and lovingly took (some) of the ripe fruits.

54. In the meantime, Likhita came back to the hermitage and saw Śaṅkha with the big fruits plucked.

55-56. “O sinner, why is this evil deed despised by good people, committed by you? The despicable act of theft has been committed by you as the fruits have been plucked (by you). As a result of this deed, your power of penance will get dwindled; you have engaged yourself in the act of stealth; you are (thereby) despised by Brāhmaṇas.”

Śaṅkha said:

57. Elder brother born of the same womb is like one’s father, according to a very famous Vedic passage well-known everywhere.

58. Therefore, O great Brāhmaṇa, has the son no right in his father’s wealth? O holy Sir, why do you rebuke me with very harsh words?

Likhita said:

59-60. It is my opinion that there is no harm if the son still remains in the family of his father and makes use of his father’s assets unhesitatingly. But, if the son or brother becomes separate after a division of the property and makes use of the father’s property, he incurs the sin of theft.

61. A father can, of course, take the wealth or property from his son always. He incurs no sin or blame even if the son has become separate after the division of property.

62. In this context a verse has been composed by Manu, the author of the Smṛti. I shall quote those words of ethical code:

63. “One’s wife, servant and son—these three are said to be persons without assets. Whatever they get or inherit is the wealth of the person to whom they belong.”

Śaṅkha said:

64. If it is so, O dear one, I have incurred greater sin. Chastise me quickly, lest there should be loss of penance.

Viśvāmitra said:

65. On coming to know of his decision, the ruthless (elder) brother took up a clean weapon and cut off his (Śaṅkha’s) arms. The Brāhmaṇa whose hands had been cut, suffered much pain.[2]

66. O king, he considered this as a favour indeed of his elder brother.

67. He considered the holy place called Hāṭakeśvara as one that yields cherished desires. Having come there he resorted to a water tank and performed penance.

68. During rainy season he lay under the open sky; during winter he resorted to water reservoirs; in summer he performed the penance in the midst of five fires. He took food only once in the course of six meal times.

69. He bathed (the images of) Bhāskara and Sthāṇu. Before them he recited Śatarudriya, the Rudra verses from Sāmaveda, Bhavarudra verses. Prāṇarudras and Nīlarudras along with Skanda Sūktas.

70. Then at the end of a thousand years, Maheśvara became pleased with him. He appeared before him in the company of the Sun-god and Indra.

Maheśvara said:

71. O my dear Śaṅkha of good holy rites, I am pleased with your penance. Tell me quickly what I shall offer you now.

Śaṅkha said:

72. O Lord, if you are pleased, if a boon has to be granted to me, let both of my arms grow up again and be similar to the former ones.

73. O Lord of the excellent Suras, take great pity on me and reside in this Liṅga permanently.

74. O Lord, let this water reservoir become famous all over the earth after my own name as long as the Moon, the Sun and the stars shine.

75. A person may think of the rarest of things and take his bath here (in this tank). Let him attain that entirely, O Lord.

Śrī Bhagavān said:

76-77. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, I appeared before you this day i.e. the eighth lunar day in the bright half of the month of Mādhava. Hence, O excellent Brāhmaṇa, I shall pass into your Liṅga on this day and remain there for a day undoubtedly.

78-79. He who takes his holy bath in this Tīrtha on a Sunday at sunrise and worships my image installed by you shall be rid of the disease of leprosy. He will go to my world.

80. Even on other occasions, O leading Brāhmaṇa, (if any one bathes therein) he gets rid of sins unwittingly committed. There is no doubt. This is my promise, O excellent Brāhmaṇa.

81. So also your hands that have been cut off shall crop up once again in the same manner as a result of the holy ablution.

82. This is my conviction. O Brāhmaṇa, you will also become convinced now. Take the holy bath again and adore my image.

83. Other persons too with crippled limbs should take their holy bath during this astral combination here. If after bath they adore me they will attain salvation.

84. After saying thus, the Thousand-rayed Lord vanished. Śaṅkha immediately took bath and worshipped Divākara (Sun-god).

85. When he surveyed himself, he saw himself endowed with the hands. He was surprised.

86. Ever since then, O king, he set up his penance grove. The excellent Brāhmaṇa performed penance and attained the greatest goal.

87. Hence, O leading king, at such an astral combination, take your holy bath in accordance with the injunctions and worship Divākara.

88. If any one listens to this narration or reads it before (an image of) Ravi there shall be no leper at ail in his family.

Footnotes and references:


Śaṅkha and Likhita are writers of Smṛtis. Their legend in Mahābhārata, Śānti. 23.20-27 is modified here to glorify Śaṅkha Tīrtha (Mahābhārata, gives the credit of recovery of Śaṅkha’s arms to river Bāhudā. Here Śaṅkha Tīrtha gets the credit).


According to Mahābhārata, śanti 23. 18-36, King Sudyumna inflicted the punishment on Likhita’s complaint.

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