The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Prayer to the Bull which is chapter 259 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 fifty-ninth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 259 - Prayer to the Bull

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Gālava said:

1-4. When the Liṅga that had the length and girth of a Yojana fell down, the groups of the sages who came there in thousands were distressed with anguish.

In order to find out Maheśvara they surveyed all round but agitated due to fear that he was, he never came within the range of their vision.

The semen had been well retained for many thousands of years and the Brāhmaṇas saw it pervading the entire earth. On seeing the great Liṅga smeared with blood and flooded with waters, the Brāhmaṇas were in a dilemma. The earth was (as though) burning.

5. They established the Liṅga there and created river Narmadā. The water flowed in the form of Narmadā and the Liṅga became mountain Amarakaṇṭaka.

6. It (the water) wards off Naraka (hell) when resorted to. The water is destructive of hellish torture. All the evil Planets and spirits will certainly get destroyed.

7. By bathing there and drinking the water thereof as well as offering libations to Pitṛs (with it), a man obtains all desires (even if they are) very rare on the earth.

8. If men adore the Liṅgas obtained from Narmadā, their body will become Rudramaya (pervaded by Rudra) undoubtedly.

9. The adoration of the Liṅga especially during Cāturmāsya yields great benefits. Rudra-japa, worship of Hara and devotion to Śiva (are essential) during Cāturmāsya.

10-13. So also is the ablution (of Śiva) with Pañcāmṛta. Those who do this will never experience the pain of staying in womb.

If honey is sprinkled on the top of the Liṅga, thousands of their sorrows certainly perish.

One who offers Dīpa (lamp) before Śiva during Cāturmāsya shall redeem crores of members of his family and attain Śivaloka where he can stay as he pleases.

Those who worship a Liṅga taken from the waters of Narmadā with sandal-paste, agallochum, incense and white flowers become Śiva themselves. Even rocks have become Hara. It is still more so in the case of living beings.

14. A devotee should worship duly during Cāturmāsya that great Liṅga originating therefrom and water should be held (above) it. He shall become Śiva himself.

15. The men who keep up self-control and take their holy bath in the Narmadā Tīrtha at Amarkaṇṭaka shall reside in the heaven.

Brahmā said:

16. After saying thus, the Brāhmaṇas assured themselves that the Liṅga had been installed in accordance with the injunctions in the Amarakaṇṭaka Tīrtha in the great river Narmadā.

17. Again they began to brood over and ponder in view of the agitation all over the universe. They sat in the lotus posture and began their Prāṇāyāma (breathing exercise).

18. They meditated in an unruffled manner on Maheśvara stationed in the heart. Then there the Devas beginning with Mahendra arrived at Amarkaṇṭaka.

19. With their shoulders stooping down in humility they eulogized the Brāhmaṇas:

“O great Lords, obeisance to you the twice- born ones, the knowers of Brahman.

20. Obeisance to our preceptors, the Devas of the earth, those who are free from all bonds. You all have transcended the three Guṇas; you are the repositories of good qualities, nay, the very forms of goodness.

21. You sustain the bubbles of vital airs incessantly through the objects evolved by the three Guṇas (Sattva, Rajas, Tamas). Through the mere utterance of you all, even the greatest sinners attain purity as though washed with water. Heaps of the sins of sinners are reduced to ash as though through fire.

22. To you the mere utterance (of words) is like the weapon of steel. You are endowed with it. When you are oppressed by sinners that very power of utterance gives you supermundane strength.

23. You are on a par with the earth on account of forbearance and forgiveness. You have the lustre (burning power) of fire when in fury. You alone are competent to cause the fall of many Śaktis (powers).

24. In the matter of proceeding towards heaven etc. certainly you have the means to go.

25. You urge others to perform good actions. You yourselves are always engaged in the performance of good rites. You are the bestowers of the benefits of good activities. You desire salvation through excellent rites.

26. You who are engrossed in the Sāvitrī Mantra are the destroyers of sins. There is no doubt about this that you redeem yourselves and also the Yajamāna (the householders for whom you perform religious rites).

27. Sacred fires as well as Brāhmaṇas give success in undertakings. Especially during Cāturmāsya their adoration yields great benefits.

28-30. When infuriated they cause the destruction of all bodies. Neither the thunderbolt of Indra nor the trident of the Pināka-bearing Lord, nor the staff of Yama are as powerful as the curse originating from a Brāhmaṇas. Only a visible (and concrete) object is burned by fire. But a curse destroys both those who are born and who are unborn. Hence, one shall not make a Brāhmaṇa angry. One burnt by the fire of the anger of a Brāhmaṇa can never be liberated from Naraka.

31. There is no doubt about this that even one wounded with weapons is liberated from hell. Indeed the competence of the Devas is only with reference to the splitting of grain of cereals and imbibing of liquor (honey).

32. The entire universe is split through the mere utterance of a Brāhmaṇa. Such holy ones as you are our preceptors, the causes of the universe. O Lords of the universe, may ye all be pleased with us always.

33. Without Īśvara (Śiva), all of us and all the worlds are miserable. Hence let it be known to us where the Lord Parameśvara is.

Gālava said:

34-36. After coming to know that the Trident-bearing Lord of Devas was afraid of the sages and that the Lord is reborn from the womb of Surabhi, the great sages said to the Devas: “Welcome to the chiefs of Devas. That great Lord has been found out. May all the leading Devas proceed to the place where the eternal Lord is present.” After saying this the noble-souled ones accompanied the Devas.

37. They went to Goloka by the celestial path, where the milk-pudding formed boggy quagmire, ghee flowed like rivers and honey constituted whirlpools and rivers flowed together.

38. All the groups of the ancestors held curds and nectar in their hands. There were Marīcipas, Somapas and other groups of Siddhas.

39. There were Ghṛtapas and Sādhyas. It was the place where the eternal Lord was present. The sages went there and saw the son of Surabhi.

40. By means of his refulgence, he is well-known as Nīla. He was running about here and there in the midst of cows.

41-46. The following were the cows present there: Nandā, Sumanasā, Surūpā, Suśīlakā, Kāminī, Nandinī, Medhyā, Hiraṇyadā, Dhanadā, Dharmadā, Narmadā, Sakalapriyā, Vāmanā, Ālaṃbikā, Kṛṣṇā, Dīrghaśṛṅgā, Supicchikā, Tārā, Tareyikā, Śāntā, Durviṣahyā, Manoramā, Sunāsā, Dīrghanāsā, Gaurā, Gauramukhī, Haridravarṇā, Nīlā, Śaṅkhinī, Pañcavarṇakā, Vinatā, Abhinatā, Bhinnavarṇā, Supatrikā, Jayā, Aruṇā, Kuṇḍodhnī (a cow with full udders), Sudatī and Cārucaṃpakā. The sages and the Devas saw the bull Nīla in the centre of these cows. The beautiful bull was roaming about. Their wonder was aroused. The leading sages were overwhelmed with compassion. Indra and others became delighted in their minds. Rendered happy due to its refulgence, they began to eulogize it.

Śūdra said:

47. How did this (bull) of wonderful features come to be named Nīla? Did those delighted Brāhmaṇas eulogize the cause of the universe?

Gālava said:

48-50. That bull which is red in colour and whitish in its face and tail as well as white in hoofs and horns is remembered as Nīlavṛṣabha (Blue Bull). One that has four legs, that is of the form of Dharma and is marked with blue and red marks and that is also tawny in the imprints of the hoofs is remembered as Nīlavṛṣabha. He, the Lord Maheśvara, is also Vṛṣa (virtue, righteousness, Bull).

51. Hara is of the form of Dharma having four feet. He is blue-complexioned and five-faced. Merely through his vision, one shall obtain the benefit of Vājapeya.

52. If the Nīla (bull) is adored by the offer of juicy, luscious morsels (of fodder), it is as though the entire universe is adored; the whole world shall become satiated.

53. In its body the glorious, omnipresent Janārdana is present and he worships it always by means of the eternal Vedic Mantras.

The sages said:

54. You are the Lord of all protectors. You are eternal. You remove obstacles. You bestow wisdom and knowledge. You grant salvation. You are piety (Dharma) personified.

55. You alone are the bestower of wealth and fortune. You dispel all ailments. You are actively engaged in creating Welfare. You are the bestower of gold.

56. O extremely mighty son of Surabhi, you are the abode of all refulgences. Kailāsa together with Pārvatī was held up at the tip of your horns by you.

57. You are worthy of being eulogized by the Vedas. You are identical with the Vedas. You are the soul of the Vedas. You are the foremost among those who are conversant with the Vedas. You can be known only through the Vedas. The Vedas are your vehicle (means to know you). The Vedas constitute your form. You are the receptacle of good qualities.

58-61a. You are distinct from and beyond the three Guṇas. Who can comprehend your inherent nature? O Lord, you are the almighty Vṛṣa.

He who sins against you should be known as Vṛṣala (Śūdra). He is cooked in Raurava and other Narakas. That man is to be hit (touched) with foot. He experiences the tortures in Narakas etc. along with groups of sinners, with his feet fettered with chains.

If ruthless men, torture further a person emaciated due to hunger and overwhelmed with thirst and also weighed down by great odds and heavy burdens, their intellect (mental condition) cannot be steady.

61b-62. With the Pitṛs in view, men should celebrate your wedding—you in the form of Nīla-along with four others, in accordance with injunctions pertaining to marital rites. None in their family wilt ever fall into Naraka.

63. You are the goal of all the worlds. You are the father Parameśvara. Without you, the entire universe perishes instantly.

64. Speech is of four types or stages viz. Parā, Paśyantī, Madhyamā and Vaikharī. Learned men know you as the Lord of all types of speech.

65. They know you alone as the Vṛṣabhā with four horns, four feet, two heads and seven hands.[1] You are identical with Dharma, bound threefold.

66. People know you as the perpetual Brahman identical with Dharma. You give contentment to all living beings. You pervade the universe by means of your strength and prowess.

67. People conversant with the Purāṇas know you. You cannot be cut off. You cannot be pierced through. You cannot be comprehended. You have great fame. You need not be grieved over. You are incapable of being burnt.

68. All this (visible world) has you as the support. This universe has you as the base. Devas have you as the base. Amṛta (nectar) has also you as the base.

69-70. In the form of the individual soul you pervade the three worlds and stand permanently.

Thus Nīla was eulogized by the Somapāyin Brāhmaṇas.

With a delighted face, he accepted their obeisance. The Brāhmaṇas who had sinned against Śiva said again.

71-73. They granted a boon to Maheśa in the form of Nīla (in accordance with piety (Dharma)). If on the death of a man, a Vṛṣa is not let loose on the eleventh day he will be eternally a Preta (ghost) despite hundreds of Śrāddhas being performed.

On seeing the great Vṛṣa, Nīla, restless once again with a slight vestige of anger still clinging tire Brāhmaṇas branded him. They made the mark of the discus on the left and that of the trident on the right side.

74. They let him loose in the midst of the cows duly protected by Devas.

Thereupon, all the groups of Devas and great sages went to their respective abodes. The sages became free from jealousy.

75. Thus Śiva who became distressed by the love for the wives of the leading sages incurred their curse, but due to their devotion attained Śilāmayatva (the state of being a stone) in the waters of Revā.

Footnotes and references:


This is the traditional description of the Fire-god. Agni and Rudra are identified in the Vedas. Hence the description of Agni is applied to Rudra or Vṛṣabha here.

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