The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Greatness of Kapalamocaneshvara (Kapalamocana-ishvara) which is chapter 269 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 sixty-ninth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 269 - Greatness of Kapālamocaneśvara (Kapālamocana-īśvara)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sūta said:

1. O Brāhmaṇas, let the greatness of Kapāleśa be listened to now. O highly esteemed ones, it is the fourth deity stationed in that holy spot. As soon as it is listened to, the man is rid of sins.

The sages said:

2-4. O highly esteemed one, of the four Liṅgas mentioned earlier, the origin of three has been heard by us excepting that known as Kapāleśvara. Tell us what fruit can be derived by visiting and adoring it.

Sūta said:

5. Formerly, this deity named Kapāleśvara was installed by Indra for the purpose of riddance from the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter.

6. It was by its power, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, that Suraśreṣṭha (the most excellent one among Suras i.e. Indra) was rid of that sin. This Vedic passage is heard: “The sin (is eradicated) by the gift of Pūruṣa.’

7. Any man who adores that (deity) with great devotion and gifts away the Pāpapuruṣa to a leading Brāhmaṇa for the purpose of purity, is liberated from the terrible sin arising from Brāhmaṇa-slaughter.

8. Bṛhaspati went to Hāṭakeśvarakṣetra and approached Dakṣiṇāmūrti. Looking at that deity Śaṅkara, he spoke thus:

9. “A devotee who goes to the holy spot of Hāṭakeśvara, visits the deity Śaṅkara and offers a form (Puruṣa) made of gold by him, is liberated from all earlier sins. There is no doubt about this.”

The sages said:

10. O Sūtaja, how did the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter befall Surendra (Indra)? Do narrate this fully. We are very eager.

11. How did the Lord named Kapāleśvara get installed here? How did the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter of Divaspati (Indra) get destroyed by its power?

12. O Sūtaja, what is the procedure whereby the Pāpapūruṣa should be gifted? By means of what Mantras and by means of what supplementary articles should it be given?

13. What benefit accrues to men by visiting and worshipping the deity even without offering the Pāpapūruṣa? Do mention what the benefit will be attained solely through the adoration.

Sūta said:

14. I shall describe unto you all this ancient legend, on hearing which, O highly esteemed ones, a man is rid of all sins.

15. The sins may have been committed knowingly or unknowingly in the course of the previous births. Merely by visiting the deity, one is liberated from the sin committed on that day. There is no doubt about this. It is the truth that has been told by me.

16. Formerly, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, Vṛtra, a very powerful son, was born to Tvaṣṭṛ of Vibhāvan, the daughter of Puloman.

17. Even as a boy, he was a pious soul, a favourite of, all the people. He had completely eschewed the characteristic trait of a Dānava. He was eagerly engaged in devotional activities towards Brāhmaṇas.

18. He went to the holy forest of Puṣkarāraṇya and engaged himself in a great austerity. By means of deep meditation, he propitiated the Lotus-born Lord of Devas.

19. Brahmā was pleased with him and came directly within his vision. He said: “I am the bestower of boons. What purpose of yours shall I carry out?”

Vṛtra said:

20-21. O Lord, if you are pleased with me, grant Brāhmaṇa-hood to me. Having attained Brāhmaṇa-hood, I shall achieve the greatest region. Being endowed with Brāhmaṇical power, there shall be nothing unattainable to me. It appears to me that there is nothing unattainable to me. It appears to me that there shall be nothing on a par with a Brāhmaṇa.

22. There is no greater divinity than a Brāhmaṇa. Hence nothing else remains (cherished) within my heart, not even mastery over the three worlds.

Sūta said:

23. On hearing his words, Pitāmaha was pleased within him. Awarding to him the status of Brāhmaṇa, he spoke courteously:

24. “Dear son, you have been converted to Brāhmaṇahood by me. Do whatever you wish to. Always propitiate Brāhmaṇas, the most excellent ones among the knowers of Brahman.

25. With Brāhmaṇas rendered delighted, all the Devas become pleased. Hence excellent Brāhmaṇas should be adored with all efforts.”

Sūta said:

26. On being told thus by him, Vṛtra became a Brāhmaṇa. Endowed then with the Brāhmaṇical glory, he became very earnest in maintaining celibacy.

27. When he was engaged in austerities, Dānavas were killed by Indra. It came well nigh to the extermination of the noble-souled Dānavas.

28. On being defeated and harassed by Suras, all those Dānavas became miserable and grief-stricken and they abandoned their original abode.

29-30. They approached him (Vṭtra) with his mother at their head. On seeing his mother in such a plight surrounded by the defeated Dānavas, he said: “What is the purpose of your coming to me in such a miserable state?”

The Dānavas said:

31. We have been defeated and harassed by Devas. We are seeking refuge in you. Where else can we go? We have none to offer succour except you.

32-33. On hearing their words Vṛtra said respectfully, “I shall slay the Devas. Go there without delay.

Tell me now, O mother, the purpose of your arrival.”

The mother said:

34. O highly esteemed one, hasten to get yourself tied to (married) a wife for the sake of the increase in the family, if you consider my words sufficiently authoritative.

35. This alone is the greatest Dharma. This alone is the greatest strategic step that the son carries out the suggestions of his mother with great concentration.

36. Just as in the case of women, there is no deity unto them on the earth other than their husbands, so also as long as the mother is alive, there is no other deity for a son.

37. If a woman transgresses her husband and apparently pretends to be righteous, all her actions become fruitless. There is no doubt about this.

38-39. If a son transgresses the instructions of his mother and engages himself in pious rites as he pleases, all those rites become futile as in the case of a Homa performed on ashes, or of cries in wilderness, or of sowing seeds in an arid land.

40. Even an act of piety performed by a son in direct contravention of his mother’s instruction, is like a musical note played before the deaf and graceful dance in front of the blind.

41. All the rites are so. There is no doubt. Therefore, I have come to you, O dear son, at the instance of the kinsmen. I am all the more distressed.

42. Of what avail are repeated importunities in your case, dear son? Listen and carry out my suggestion so that the freedom from, indebtedness to Pitṛs can be accomplished.

43. Dear one, if my words are considered authoritative by you, do so.

On hearing her words Vṛtra thought this mentally:

44. ‘In accordance with the path laid down in the Śrutis and Smṛtis, there is nothing greater than one’s mother.’

He therefore assented promisingly and brought a bride.

45. Tvaṣṭṛ was highly pleased. He gave innumerable gems as well as endless number of precious and base metals.

46. He was coronated in his position (as the king) with ample wealth in the treasury and numerous elephants, horses and vehicles in the army. Endowed with great prowess and further strengthened by means of Brāhmaṇa-hood, (he became the king) of Dānavas.

47-48. On hearing that Vṛtra had been crowned in his own kingdom, the kinsmen of Vṛtra, the Dānavas who had earlier left the city returned from Pātāla, from the mountain fortresses as well as the level ground fortresses. They were extremely angry because of their enmity with the Devas.

49. Encouraged by all the Dānavas, that mighty one set off towards the abode of Mahendra in order to destroy their enemies.

50. On hearing that Vṛtra was on his move towards him with a desire to fight, Śakra became delighted and accompanied by all the Devas he started from heaven to face him squarely.

51. Thereupon, there was a fight between Devas and Dānavas on the extensive highlands of Meru day and night.

52-56. Everyday Devas suffered defeat at the hands of Dānavas. Then Guru (Bṛhaspati) said: “O Śakra, O ruler of Devas, do not fight.

This Vṛtra is very terrible in battle possessing two types of powers, the four Vedas at the forefront and the bow fitted with arrows at the back.

With this, the Daitya is sure to defeat you in the great fight. Hence, O Consort of Śacī, enter into a deceitful alliance (peace) with him.

Thence as he becomes confident, kill the Dānava with your Vajra (thunderbolt). It is the injunction of the scriptures that the enemy could be killed by means of six expedients.

When he is taking food, when he is lying (relaxing), by giving one’s daughter (or a girl), employing a Brāhmaṇa bribed (for the purpose) and by taking a solemn vow—by resorting to deceitful tactics (one should kill one’s enemy), so you follow this.”

Indra said:

57. If it is to be so, do go yourself and win his confidence. At your instance, the Dānava will certainly become trustful.

Sūta said:

58. Having understood the view of Śakra Bṛhaspati set off to the place where Vṛtra, the Daitya, was stationed with his resolve to fight.

59. On seeing that Bṛhaspati himself had come, Vṛtra who had always been a devotee of Brāhmaṇas, became glad in his heart. Bowing down before him specifically, he spoke these words loudly:

Vṛtra said:

60. Welcome to you, O excellent Brāhmaṇa; what shall I do? Command me. Since Brāhmaṇas have always been dear to me speak out now (anything you may desire).

Bṛhaspati said:

61. O excellent one, since victory in battle is doubtful, as it is controlled by fate, do enter into an agreement (of peace) with Mahendra at my instance.

62. You rule the entire earth. Let Śakra rule heaven. You should abide by this agreement always.

Vṛtra said:

63. O Brāhmaṇa, I shall carry out your suggestion for ever. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, get me in touch with Śakra now.

Sūta said:

64. The liberal-minded Bṛhaspati brought Śakra and brought about a mutual accord with Vṛtra.

65. After having been principal enemies, both of them, the rulers of Daityas and Devas, turned into fast friends and they joyously went to their respective abodes.

66. Of course, Śakra was always seeking an opportunity to employ deception but he did not find any loophole, though he was diligently looking for it.

67. Sometimes with great difficulty, Purandara did get at a vulnerable point but he got scorched by his refulgent prowess.

Indra said:

68. I am unable to look at that Daitya at all, since he is enveloped on all sides by a brilliant refulgence. How can I slay him?

69. Hence suggest some means to me to facilitate slaying him by enabling me to bear the brilliance of that wicked-souled one.

Sūta said:

70. On hearing his words, Bṛhaspati meditated for a long time. Then he said to Śakra who was standing humbly by:

Bṛhaspati said:

71. O Purandara, a Brāhmaṇical splendour envelopes his body. Hence, O Lord of Devas, you cannot look at him.

72. Hence I shall tell a means whereby you will easily kill that excellent Dānava.

73. On the banks of Prācīsarasvatī, there is a Brāhmaṇa sage named Dadhīci. He is a hundred Yojanas tall. He resides in the Puṣkara forest.

74. Performing penance there he continuously eulogizes Pitāmaha. O Hari (Indra), the excellent sage is fed up with (the fact of) clinging to life.

75. This sage of pretty long existence has already become overwhelmed with marks of old age. Go to him quickly and request him for his weighty bones.

76. He will give up his life though very dear to him, and undoubtedly place the bones at your service. With his bones the weapon named Vajra can be fashioned.

77. It shall be your never-failing weapon. You will certainly slay Vṛtra. The refulgence of that Vajra, being evolved out of Brāhmaṇical splendour, will counteract and subdue the refulgence of Vṛtra.

Sūta said:

78. On hearing it, Śakra hastened to the Puṣkara forest in the company of all the groups of Devas. It was there that Prācīsarasvatī flowed.

79. The river had thirty-three crores of Tīrthas within it. The hermitage of Dadhīci was nearby. It was full of miracles. Śakra entered the hermitage.

80. Serpents sported about there along with mongooses there and both were happy in company. So also deer were happy with lions and cats with mice.

81. Crows resided side by side with owls without any mutual hatred due to the power of the penance of the noble-souled Dadhīci.

82. On seeing that Devas had come with Śakra at their head, Dadhīci became highly delighted and came directly before them immediately.

83-84. Then he took the Arghya in his hands and bowed to him repeatedly. He then said to Śakra, the guest: “What task of yours can I carry out? You have come to my house, O Lord of Devas. Tell me quickly.”

Indra said:

85. O great Brāhmaṇa, render hospitality unto me. O excellent sage, I have come to your house. Give me unreservedly your own bones.

86. O great sage, it is for this alone that I have approached you. Something great has to be wrought out of your bones. It will facilitate achieving the purpose of Devas.

Sūta said:

87. On hearing those words of Indra, Dadhīci became happy and satisfied. Then he said to the Thousand-eyed One who was accompanied by all the Devas:

88-90. “Indeed, there is no one on the earth as meritorious as me, because the Lord of Devas has himself come to my house seeking something.

Blessed indeed are my bones, O Lord of Devas, which will do some good unto you. Everything should always be done for the sake of the protection of the Heaven-dwelleres.

Here I am willing to surrender my very life for your sake. Accept my bones as you please, O Purandara, for the realization of your own purpose.”

91. After saying thus, the great sage resorted to meditation immediately. He let off his vital airs through the Brahmarandhra (cerebral aperture) and gave up his body.

92. Bereft of the soul, his body fell down on the ground instantly, O excellent Brāhmaṇas.

93. In the meantime, Śatakratu (Indra) collected together his bones and then respectfully addressed Viśvakarman:

94. “With these bones you fashion out quickly the weapon Vajra wherewith I can immediately slay Vṛtra, the most excellent one among Dānavas.”

95. On hearing his words, Viśvakarman hurriedly made the weapon named Vajra, terrible in its very form.

96. It had six Aśris (sharp edges) and hundred knots with the middle slender and depressed. It was terrible. He gave it to the intelligent Thousand-eyed One.

97. Seizing the weapon that had the lustre of twelve suns (Indra stood ready for his mission) on coming to know through spies that Vṛtra was performing the Sandhyā rites and was in deep meditation.

98. The king of the three worlds stood behind him and in his eagerness to kill him, he hurled the Vajra at him.

99. Struck down with the Vajra, the Dānava was reduced to ashes, but Śakra did not know that he had been killed. In his great fright, he fled away from the spot.

100. He fled to a far-off place devoid of human beings. He hid himself in a rugged cluster of bushes and hedges. Śakra imagined that the entire universe was filled with Vṛtra.

101. In the meantime Devas, Siddhas, Cāraṇas and Gandharvas who hid been searching for Śatakratu (Indra) all round, came there.

102. With very great difficulty they espied Śakra lying amidst the hedges in a deep forest. He was found extremely terror-stricken.

The Devas said:

103. Why are you afraid, O Thousand-eyed One? This Vṛtra has been killed by you along with his entire family. We have ourselves seen him.

104. Come out from this place, O Purandara. We shall go homewards. Now that the thorn (Vṛtra) has been dislodged, you can rule the domain of the three worlds.

105. On hearing their words, Śatakratu came out from the middle of the bushes. On coming to know that Vṛtra, the excellent Dānava, had been killed he experienced a thrill with hairs standing on end.

106. Even as all the Devas were looking at Śatakratu, his body lost all its lustre and began to stink with a bad odour.

107-110. On noticing this, Brahmā, the preceptor of the worlds, said to all those Devas: “This Śakra has now been infected (and defiled) by the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter, Since Vṛtra who was Brāhmaṇa has been killed by him through deception, he should be shunned from afar. Otherwise you will also incur the sin.

The contact with a Brāhmaṇa-slayer as well as a dialogue with him causes sin in men. Hence he should be abandoned and kept at a distance. Let alone the personal touch or dialogue in particular, they say that even his mere sight causes all sins in men.”

Sūta said:

111-113. On hearing the words of Brahmā and seeing his own body bereft of all brilliance and vitiated by badly stinking odour, Śakra spoke to the Lord of the worlds with shoulders stooping down in wretched despair: “O Lord, I am a mere servant unto you. I have been assigned the office of Indra by you. Hence grant me the favour of destroying the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter. O almighty one, do suggest a means of expiation whereby purity can be gained.”

Śrī Brahmā said:

114. O Slayer of Bala, You have to take your bath in the sixty-eight Tīrthas. Give away a gold replica of yourself called Pāpapūruṣa.

115. Reciting the Mantras as mentioned before the gold replica is to be given to a noble-souled Brāhmaṇa after taking your bath in the sacred water, all the while saying, “I am a Brāhmaṇa-slayer.”

116. As soon as you have had your bath (the Kapāla-skull of Vṛtra) shall fall down from your hand. A bright refulgence will cover your body and the bad odour shall vanish.

117. O Śakra, that Kapāla is to be installed by you in that Tīrtha. Thereafter, it should be worshipped by you under the name Maheśvara.

118. The adoration shall be done with the recitation of the Five Mantras of the five faces.[1] Thereafter, the golden replica of your own body should be given to a leading Brāhmaṇa. Then you will regain your purity.

119. On hearing the words of Brahmā of unknown birth, Śakra took up the skull of Vṛtra and set off on his pilgrimage.

120. After visiting the sixty-eight Tīrthas, the Lord of Suras came to Hāṭakeśvara Kṣetra in due course.

121. When he came out of Viśvāmitra Hrada after the holy ablution, the skull of the slain soul (Vṛtra) dropped down automatically by itself.

122. Then he adored it with recitation of the holy Mantras pertaining to the faces (i.e. sadyojātam prapadyāmi etc.) that destroy all sins, and that are very meritorious as mentioned by Brahmā earlier.

123. In the meantime the stinking odour vanished from his body, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. A great refulgence appeared instead.

124. Then on coming to know that the Lord of all the Suras has been relieved of the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter, Brahmā came there along with the Devas.

Śrī Brahmā said:

125. O most excellent one among Suras, Your blemish caused by the Brāhmaṇa-slaughter has vanished. Make the gift of gold for the purpose of purifying the vestige of the sin.

126. Let the skull of Vṛtra adored by you along with the recitation of the five Mantras of Lord Śiva’s five faces be installed here itself.

127. Then you shall devoutly make the gift of your own body made of gold in accordance with the injunctions along with the recitation of the relevant Mantras. Your sin, the entire sin that may have been committed by you, shall be dispelled on making the gift to a Brāhmaṇa:

128. On being told thus in the presence of the Suras by Brahmā, Śakra said, “So it shall be” immediately and made the gift of the Pāpapiṇḍa (Pāpa-pūruṣa).

129. It was made of gold and given to a noble Brāhmaṇa hailing from Gartātīrtha. He was a Brāhmaṇa who maintained the sacred fires and was called Vāta.

130-131. In the meantime, that Brāhmaṇa was despised by Nāgaras saying, “Fie upon you! O sinner, the Vedas that were mastered by you earlier are worthless and futile. Since the Dāna of the Pāpapiṇḍa has been accepted by you, you will never have any association with us hereafter.”

132. Thereupon, that Brāhmaṇa, hailing from the family of Upamanyu, well-known by the name Vātaka (Vāta) turned pale in his face and said:

133-136. “O Śakra, it was the Pāpapiṇḍa of yourself that has been gifted by you. Out of consideration for you I have accepted the Pratigraha. O most excellent one of the Suras, I did not take it on account of greed. But, even as you have been witnessing, I have been rebuked by all these Brāhmaṇas, the residents of Nagara. So I will not take this Pratigraha from you.

I will hand this back to you. If you do not accept it I shall invoke a terrible Brāhmaṇical curse on you to contact the terrible disease of Kṣaya (Wastage—Tuberculosis).”

Indra said:

137. If a Brāhmaṇa who has mastered the Vedas and the Aṅgas (of Vedas) accepts a Pratigraha, he is never smeared with sin like a lotus-leaf that is never contaminated by water.

138. Hence, listen to my words. You incur no sin. Since you have been censured by these Brāhmaṇas hailing from Nagara (I shall lay down these injunctions).

139-141. You will be the chief in all the rites of these. The sons and grandsons of these (Nāgaras) shall undoubtedly be guided by the behests of these i.e. your sons and grandsons.

But, O Brāhmaṇa, even the least of a rite of theirs without your permission shall be futile like the Homa performed on ashes. This Tīrtha will become well-known by the name Kapālamocana.

142. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, those men who remember this skull installed by me and perform Śrāddha shall become liberated. If they remember this particularly in the Śrāddha Pakṣa, they will attain the greatest goal.

143-144. The Brāhmaṇas born of your family shall marry a girl from the family of the Brāhmaṇas other than those of this locality. Yet with my favour, they shall be entitled to preside over all the rites in Nagara.

After saying thus the Thousand-eyed One vanished.

145. With the money received as Pratigraha, Vāta (the Nāgara Brāhmaṇa) erected a palace unto the Trident-bearing Lord of Devās [Devas?].

146-147. Then Śakra told those Brāhmaṇas hailing from Nagara: “If anyone takes his holy bath in Kapālamocana and worships the Lord, his sin arising from Brāhmaṇa- slaughter definitely vanishes. One that incurred great sins (Mahāpātaka) shall become sinless.”

148. He promised “So it shall be” to the Brāhmaṇas hailing from Nagara. He built his hermitage there itself and adored Śaṅkara.

149. Ever since then, the Nāgaras who lived there performed whatever rite they had to perform at his instance.

150. It was for this reason that the second Madhyaga came to be established.

151-152. Thus the narrative that is destructive of sins has been entirely recounted to you. It pertains to the deity Kapāleśvara and those men who listen to it or recite it become sinless. Their sin will be destroyed like the sin of the chief of Devas, the noble-souled Indra. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, their sin will be destroyed like the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter of Indra.

Footnotes and references:


Viz. sadyojātam prapadyāmi etc. (Tait. Āraṇyaka 17.1).

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