The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Queries Made by Devi which is chapter 3 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 third chapter of the Prabhasa-kshetra-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 3 - Queries Made by Devī

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The sages said:

1-3. The regular creation and the counter-creation (or subsidiary creation) have been mentioned by Your Holiness. So also the story of the main dynasties and races (of sages) (Genealogies of kings and sages), the order or sequence of the Purāṇas, the extent of Manvantaras, the magnitude of the cosmic egg and the nature of the circle of the luminaries have been described factually.

Now we wish to hear from you the details of the Tīrthas. O Sūtaja, It behoves you to describe entirely and factually all the auspicious and evil-destroying Tīrthas on the earth.

Sūta said:

4-5. This same question was formerly asked by the Goddess on the excellent peak of Kailāsa that possesses different kinds of gems. It is variegated due to various kinds of minerals. It is full of all types of trees and creepers. It shines with all sorts of flowers. Yakṣas, Vidyādharas and groups of celestial damsels frequent it.

6-9. There were present there the following: Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Skanda, Nandin, the leading Gaṇas, the Moon, the Sun along with the Planets, the Galaxies of Stars, the group of Stars round the Pole-star, Vāyu, Varuṇa, Kubera the bestower of wealth, Īśāna, Agni, Indra, Yama, Nirṛti, the Rivers, all the Oceans, Mountains, Serpents, Brāhmī and other Mothers, sages, ascetics, the Tīrthas in their personified forms, the holy places and shrines as well as Dānavas, Asuras, Daityas, Piśācas, Bhūtas (evil spirits) and Rākṣasas.

10. There was a divine throne there, a hundred Yojanas (a Yojana=12 Kras) in extent. Its refulgence was like that of ten million Suns. It was adorned with jewels and pearls.

11. It was decorated with lotuses and lilies. It was resorted to by Siddhas and Kinnaras. By means of millions of its white umbrellas, it covered up all the regions and quarters.

12. In the center thereof, there was a Sarvatobhadra (temple-like structure with doors on all sides) with ornamental gates. It was surrounded by thousands, ten thousands, hundred thousands and millions of Rudras.

13. It was covered with peaks and ramparts shining with crystal-clear pearls. There were sentries like Nandīśvara, Mahākāla and others.

14. It was adorned with excellent banners producing resonant sounds with tiny tinkling bells. There were awnings and pieces of umbrella-like stretches with pearl strings hanging down.

15. Its beauty was enhanced by means of mirrors having the lustre of hanging bells and chowries. Big pots had been placed at the entrances and were decorated with tender sprouts and jewels.

16. Experts in the science of ornamental decorations had embellished it with shining powders of jewels. There were Svastika-shaped fittings embellished with creeper-like designs above the Liṅga-like fittings.

17. In the assembly hall there were hundreds of thrones and refulgent altars. Groups of Rudras and Rudra-girls were seated there.

18. It was adorned with white lotuses with hundred thousands of petals. Flowers had been scattered all round and the Apsarās had occupied all those places.

19-20. Saffron waters were sprinkled. The place was fumigated with incense sticks. The entire area resounded with the sounds of the notes of flutes, lutes, Gomukhas and Mṛdaṅga drums, mouth organs, the sounds of conchs and Bherī drums, Dundubhi (war drums) etc. The roaring groups of Gaṇas filled the place (as if) with the sounds of rumbling clouds.

21. There was the sound of the prayers of the Gaṇas along with chanting of Sāman. They were handsome to look at and their voice was at its highest pitch. Now and then, gruff sounds came out of them laconically in the midst of their songs.

22. All the quarters were filled with sounds of bellowing of bulls, neighing and trumpeting of horses and elephants and tinkling of girdles and anklets.

23-24. The palatial abode of Śaṅkara was glorious with all rich equipments. It was resonant here and there with the notes and sounds of flutes, lutes and Mṛdaṅgas.

In the eastern wing (of the hall) was the personified form of Ṛgveda with the lustre of sapphire embellished with divine ornaments and smeared with divine unguents. It was refulgent with self-luminosity.

25. Yajurveda who resembled the lustre of pure crystal was present in the northern wing. He had a huge body with large arms and he wore divine earrings.

26. The eternal Sāmaveda was present in the western wing. He was glorious in red robes having the lustre of ruby.

27-28a. Atharvaveda wore a garland. He appeared with the embellishments of Gīta (Music) and ornaments.

He was as dark-complexioned as collyrium. His eyes were reddish-brown and the neck red. The hairs were greenish and the body was huge.

28b-30a. God Brahmā was himself present there along with these: Itihāsas, all the Purāṇas, the six Aṅgas, Upaniṣads, Chandas, Mīmāṃsā, Āraṇyakas, Svāhākāra, Vaṣaṭkāra and the (their) esoteric secrets.

30b-32. Lord Śiva shone there with the eternal glorious refulgence of ten million moons. In a respectful way, he was attended upon by Suras who worship the Mantras in the form of Śaktis endowed with supreme Yogic powers, by means of thousand-petalled lotuses. He was adored by Rudras and Gaṇas. He was respectfully bowed to by Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Indra who served him with moving of fans and waving of chowries.

33. His (Śiva’s) soul is perfectly contented with nectarine (spiritual) knowledge. This excellent Dvija (Twice-born one i.e. Parama Haṃsa) who shines in the lotus-like hearts of Yogins enlightens them with rich Yogic powers and supernatural achievements.

34. There stays the Moon-crested Lord, the destroyer of the darkness of ignorance, embellished with thirty-six Tattvas, giving happiness to all.

35. The goddess with the refulgence of heated gold is seated on his lap. He is adored by the groups of Yoginīs and the Suras and Kṛnnaras who are the aspirant devotees.

36. She is endowed with all excellent characteristic features and embellished with all kinds of ornaments. She is the perpetual bestower of Yogic powers and of the worldly prosperity and salvation.

37-38. Pārvatī is the root of origin of all spiritual felicity with wonder. She looked at the face of the Lord whose eyes were bedimmed with tears of joy displaying the state of enjoyment of bliss. Smilingly Goddess Satī of charming eyes, spoke these sweet words with the palms joined together in veneration:

The Devī said:

39. O Lord of the worlds, you have been sought by me, with the anxiousness for living in the course of hundreds and thousands of crores of lives.

40. O Lord of the worlds, though I have occupied half of your person with a desire to meditate on your countenance, O Lord, I have however not achieved the perfect realization of it.

[Devī’s prayer:]

41. O Lord of Devas, of infinite forms, obeisance to you. Obeisance to you who are the secret of the Vedas, Obeisance to one who is eulogized by the Vedas.

42. Obeisance to you who loves to stay in cremation ground perpetually. Obeisance to the Lord moving about in the sky. Obeisance to the secret of the Jyeṣṭha Sāman. Obeisance to the Lord fond of Śatarudra prayer.

43. Obeisance to the Lord who adopted bull as his emblem, to the Lord who holds the Yajur-veda. Obeisance to the Lord wearing the garland wreathed out of crores of Cosmic Eggs, to the Lord identical with the sky (or the soul of the sky).

44. Obeisance to the Lord with the neck appearing variegated with jewels. Obeisance to the one who has achieved all objectives. Obeisance to the one who is the real form of the Vedas, to the one who likes the spiritual achievement of the twice-born.

45. Obeisance to the one in the form of transformation of man and woman. Obeisance to the one wearing the crescent moon. Obeisance to Agni with Homa, to Āditya and Varuṇa.

46. Obeisance to Pṛthivī and also to the Space, to the Wind, to the Dīkṣita (the initiated one). Obeisance to Saṃyoga (Contact) and to Viyoga (Separation), to Dhātṛ (Creator), Kartṛ (Doer), Apahārin or destroyer.

47. Obeisance to the Lord with the brilliant trident in the hand, to the one who holds the Brahma-Daṇḍa (the staff of Brahmā). Obeisance to the Lord of Lords. Obeisance to the Lord of the great.

48. Obeisance to Kālāgnirudra (Rudra, the Fire of destruction), the inhabitant of the seven worlds. You are the ultimate goal of all the living beings. Obeisance to the Lord of goblins.

49. O holy Lord Rudra, obeisance to you. O holy Lord Śiva, obeisance to you. Obeisance to you, the greater than the greatest. O Lord, O one greater than the greatest, obeisance to you.

50. O Lord, you have been pained by me due to the fickleness of my tongue. O Maheśāna, that should be pardoned. Obeisance to you, O Lord endowed with the divine knowledge.

Īśvara said:

51. O goddess, you are on my lap. Why should your eyes be turbid with tears? What is it that is yet incomplete in regard to you. I shall make it full.

52. Mention the boon. Welfare unto you. By this prayer (I am pleased), O lady of holy vows. I will give you (everything) undoubtedly. O Maheśvarī, share off your sorrow.

53. O goddess, you are one with Kāla and one without Kalā. O goddess of Devas, I do not see anything without you in the whole universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings whether gross or subtle.

54. O Gaurī, I am abiding in your heart. You are stationed in my heart. I am your brother, son, kinsman and husband.

55. You are my sister, wife, daughter, kinswoman and daughter-in-law. I am the performer of Yajña and the Lord of Yajña. You are Śraddhā (faith) and also the Dakṣiṇā.

56. I am Oṃkāra and Vaṣaṭkāra. I am Sāman, Ṛk and Yajus. I am Agni, Hotṛ and Yajamāna.

57. I am Adhvaryu, Udgātṛ and Brahmā. I am the knower of Brahman. O Devī, you are Araṇi (the stick from which sacrificial fire is produced by attrition). You are glorified as Patnī (wife of the performer of a sacrifice).

58. O lady of excellent hips, you are Svāhā and Svadhā. Everything is established in you. I am the desired great Yajña duly performed. You are said to be Pūrvayajña (the earlier Yajña).

59. O fair lady, I am Puruṣa. You are mentioned as Prakṛti. I am Viṣṇu of great vigour and exploits. You are Lakṣmī, the promoter of the welfare of the worlds.

60. I am the highly refulgent Indra. You are the great goddess Prācī (the East). I am stabilized as omniformed through the forms of Prajāpatis.

61. You have become established in the different forms of their spouses. O great goddess, I am Divasa (day) and you are mentioned as Rajanī (night).

62. I am Nimeṣa (Moment) and Muhūrta (period of forty-eight minutes). You are Kalā and Siddhi (achievement). I am the highly refulgent Sun. You are glorified as Sandhyā (Twilight).

63. I am the sower of seed, the most excellent one. O lady of excellent countenance, you are the Kṣetra (field). I am the Plakṣa tree. You are mentioned as Vanaspati.

64. O eternal one, I have assumed the form of Śeṣa, adorned with a jewel on the hood. O Viśālākṣī (goddess of large eyes), you are Revatī with the eyes of inebriated graceful charms.

65. I am salvation, the release from all sorrows. O goddess, you are the greatest goal. O fair lady, I am the Lord of Waters. O goddess, you are the most excellent one of the rivers.

66. O fair lady, I am the submarine fire. You are glorified as the coruscant splendour. I am Prajāpati and the Doer. You are Prajā (subject) and the Prakṛti.

67. I am the Lord of the serpents staying in the nether regions. You are the Nāgī and I am the king of Nāgas adorned with a thousand hoods.

68. I am the excellent Niśākara (the Moon). You are the excellent Rajanīkarī (cause of night). I am Kāma, the bestower of love, O goddess. You are Rati and Smṛti (memory).

69. O fair lady, I am Durvāsas. You are Kṣamā (forgiveness) acting impartially. I am Tapas (penance) performed with delusion and covetousness. You are remembered as the thirst (desire) overwhelmed by dark traits.

70. I am Bull with a big hump. You are the saintly Yogamātā (Mother of Yogic feats). I am the unmanifest Vāyu (Wind). You are the movement that animates the mind.

71. I am the releaser in the case of covetousness. O lady of renown, you are Nirmamā (free from the feelings of mine-ness or possession). I am circumspection in regard to all tasks. You are the lotus-eyed Nīti (Judicious policy).

72. I am food and its enjoyer. You are mentioned as Oṣadhī (medicinal herb). I am Agni and smoke. You are the heat and flame.

73. I am the Saṃvartaka (occurring at the time of ultimate annihilation) cloud. You are the many-sided downpour. I am in the form of the sages. You are glorified as the wives of those sages.

74. O lady of excellent countenance, I am the creator of the worldly existence and you are the creation. I am semen, bone and hairs. You are marrow and strength.

75. O highly blessed lady, I am Parjanya (cloud). O great goddess, you are Vṛṣṭi (downpour of rain). O goddess, I am Saṃvatsara (year). You are glorified as Ṛtu (season).

76. O goddess, I am Kṛtayuga. You are mentioned as Tretā. I am the glorious Dvāpara. O great goddess, you are Kali.

77. O fair lady, I am Ākāśa (Sky). You are mentioned as Pṛthvī (Earth). I am one of unmanifest form. You are mentioned as one of manifest form.

78. O beautiful lady, I am the bestower of boons. You are mentioned as Mantra. I am the seer and the hearer. You are the seen and the act of hearing.

79. I am the speaker and the Ramayitṛ (one who delights). O great goddess, you are what is spoken. I am the listener and the singer. You are the music and song.

80. I am the Ghrātṛ (one who smells) and the scent. You are the act (or organ) of smelling. I am Sparśayitṛ (one who touches) and the creator. You are the Sparśya (that which is to be touched) and the Sṛṣṭa (what is created).

81. There is no doubt, O goddess, that you and I constitute this visible range of living beings. O goddess of Devas, I am your creator. You do create the entire universe.

82. O goddess of Devas, this universe is woven together in every direction (period?) by you and me once, ten times, hundred times, thousand times.

83. O large-eyed lady, you and I are always established as controllers in all the living beings. We are in close contact with all supernatural powers.

84. O goddess of excellent countenance, I divert myself with you in all sports. You are certainly Dhṛti (fortitude, that which holds), you are Lakṣmī (glory) that sustains and holds, my beloved and my Prakṛti.

85. You are Rati (pleasure), Smṛti (memory), Kāmacārī (moving as you like) and one who is always present in my limbs. O goddess, why speak much? You are greater than my own vital airs.

86. O goddess of the Devas, choose your boon, whatever is present in your mind. I am pleased and I shall give the same to you even if it be very difficult to get.

The Devī said:

87. O Lord of the universe, I am blessed. I am one who has performed meritorious deeds. Penance has been performed by me very well inasmuch as I have been looked upon by you with a pleased eye.

88. O Lord, if you are pleased with me, if you wish to grant me a boon, then, O Lord of Devas, tell me now the details of all holy spots.

89. Whatsoever holy spots, conducive to welfare and destructive of sins, are spread all over the earth, O Lord of Devas, it behoves you to narrate them entirely.

Īśvara said:

90. O goddess, listen, I shall expound to you the greatness of the Tīrthas. It is excellent and destructive of all sins of men. It is meritorious and honoured by the celestial sages.

91. O goddess of Suras, visit to a Tīrthas is excellent. So also is ablution performed therein. Excellent sages always praise the listening to (the glory) thereof.

92. The following are the Tīrthas on the earth: Naimiṣa, Puṣkara in the sky, Kedāra, Prayāga, Vipāśā (Bias) and Urmilā (all on the earth),

93. Karṇaveṇā (probably Kṛṣṇāveṇī), Mahādevī, Candrabhāgā (Chinab), Sarasvatī, the confluence of Gaṅgā and the ocean, and the splendid Vārāṇasī.

94. Ardha Tīrtha (Semi-Tīrtha), Gaṅgā Dvāra, the Mahā Tīrtha, is a place of (plenty of) snow and the auspicious Māyāpurī (Hardwar, U. P.).

95. Śatabhadrā is highly blessed and esteemed. Sindhu is a great river. So also is Airāvatī (Rāvī—De), Kapilā (Narmadā, near its source) and the great Nada i.e. Śoṇa.

96. Kauśikī (Kosī) is a vast storehouse of waters. Similarly Godāvarī is splendid. Devakhāta, Gayā and Dvārāvatī (Dwarka, Gujarat) are splendid.

97. Prabhāsa is a great Tīrtha that is destructive of all sins.

98. If a person visits these and similar other Tīrthas that abound on the surface of the earth, O goddess of Devas, he is never reborn.

99. There are three and a half crores of Tīrthas on the earth. They are holy and destructive of all sins.

100. O great goddess, they should be visited for the purpose of augmenting one’s own piety. O goddess of Suras, if it is difficult to go to all these auspicious (Tīrthas), they can all be resorted to mentally by (devotees) with concentration and purity of mind.

The Devī said:

101. O holy Lord, all the living beings are overwhelmed by all sorts of harassments and tortures. Their span of life is short and they are fettered down. They are faced with delusions regarding holy shrines.

102. If this is the case even in Tretā as well as Dvāpara.then it is still more so in the terrible age of Kali. Hence for the sake of their welfare, do glorify that (one) Tīrtha which accords, when visited, the benefit of all the Tīrthas.

103. On being told thus by Pārvatī, Lord Parameśvara laughed joyously and spoke these sweet words:

Īśvara said:

104. You alone are the moving vital airs of the entire universe. You are the source of origin of the universe even as the Araṇi (attrition stick) is that of the fire. O goddess, I cannot bear to be separated from you even for a Muhūrta (short while).

105. O Pārvatī, there is no difference between Śiva and Śakti[1]. O splendid great goddess, there is nothing that you do not know.

106. I am nowhere without you, O goddess and you without me. Our relation is like that of the Moon and moonlight or of fire and warmth.

107. O beloved one, there is no difference between you and me. O goddess of Suras, I shall state everything factually as it is (exists).

108. This is the secret of secrets and it should be guarded carefully. It should not be imparted to an atheist nor to one engrossed in sinful activities.

109. It should be imparted to one endowed with devotion, one’s own disciple or son. O my beloved, the essence of all essences has already been narrated by me.

110. The well-known Tīrthopaniṣads as well as the Liṅgopaniṣads and the Yogopaniṣads have been narrated to you before.

Pārvatī said:

111. Those who desire the greatest region do not attain it despite all pain and strain. Men of atheistic predilections are seen roaming through Yonis (births after births in different wombs).

112. They resort to Tīrthas and observe Vratas but they do not have faith and belief. O Śaṅkara, the entire universe has already been deluded through false knowledge.

113. What do you gain, O most excellent one among Suras, by creating this universal delusion?

114. O Lord of Devas, if I be your beloved, do mention to me the essence of the essential thing, that which is pleasing to your own vital airs.

115. On being requested thus by the goddess Śrīkaṇṭha, the leader of Suras, laughed loudly and spoke these words of profound import:

Īśvara said:

116. Listen attentively now to what I have been asked in regard to its fruitlessness. I shall mention everything as it is factually.

117. O beautiful lady among Suras, earlier three and a half crores of Tīrthas in the Cosmic Egg consisting of mobile and immobile beings, have been described to you.

118. The well-guarded Prabhāsa Tīrtha is among them, O lady of excellent holy vows.

119. O great goddess, the excellent holy spot of Prabhāsa has been thus extolled, but those who are deluded by sins and those who are devoid of religious purificators, rites and cultural refinement in Kali Age (do not benefit) even if they visit this Kṣetra.

120. They are of Rājasa and Tāmasa traits. Their minds have been assailed by sins.These men are engrossed in (acquiring) wealth and womenfolk of others. They also indulge in injuring others.

121. They undergo great excitement and worry. They become distressed everywhere. They are deluded but they think very high of themselves. They are fascinated with improper and false knowledge. They are base men who do not hesitate to perform rites in the Tīrthas even when they are contrary to the injunctions regarding the Varṇas and the Āśramas.

122. They undertake pilgrimage with hypocrisy and deceit. O lady of excellent complexion, they do not get any benefit even if they die in a holy Tīrtha.

123. It is for this purpose, O goddess of excellent hips, that these diverse Tīrthas and Liṅgas have been concealed and guarded by me. O goddess of Devas, they do not bestow Siddhis in Kali Age on those who perform sinful activities.

124-125. O goddess of great renown, I shall now mention for the benefit of those good men among Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas and Śūdras who have conquered the sense-organs, anger and covetousness, who are devoid of hypocrisy and jealousy and who are sanctified by devotion to me and who resort to the Tīrtha and perform holy rites.

126. The holy spot well-known as Prabhāsa is honoured by all the three worlds. Those who are deluded by my Māyā do not know that holy spot (its real nature).

127. If I, the great Being, have been adored with single-minded devotion in the course of many births, those people know that great Prabhāsa Kṣetra that is destructive of sins.

128. There is no doubt, O goddess, that the holy place of Prabhāsa has been fully comprehended by those who are sanctified through devotion to me and who resort to holy vows and rites pertaining to me.

129. Those who observe Yamas and Niyamas, those who are devoid of egotism (are to be benefitted). For the sake of those people, I shall clarify the question to which answer is very difficult to get. This ancient truth has been already revealed to Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Indra and the Devas by me.

130-131. Now I shall tell you, O lady of excellent countenance. Pay heed to it. O beautiful lady among Suras, among all the Tīrthas all over the earth the excellent Prabhāsa kṣetra is the dearest one to me. In that holy spot, I was worshipped by Soma (Moon). After granting him all the boons, I stayed here always in seclusion.

132. Therefore, the holy place that was kept secret, O goddess, has been revealed to you. There from me engrossed in Yoga, the divine Liṅga emerged.

133. It has divine refulgence. It is adorned by a fiery ring (around it). It is quiescent and has been there as mere focus point of concentration. It is very difficult to be perceived by men.

134. For the purpose of creation of the universe the three Śaktis viz. Icchā (Volition), Jñāna (Knowledge) and Kriyā (Activity) have originated from that Liṅga.

135. This universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings gets dissolved in that Liṅga. Further the whole thing appears originating from it.[2]

136. It has originated secretly. No one knows that great thing. By practice throughout the different births, it becomes known to men on the earth.

137. The holy place is called Prābhāsika. There is no doubt about this that I am the Kṣetrajña (the Soul, Knower thereof). In this holy spot I am named Someśa, O lady of excellent countenance.

138. Those who are born in this holy place are born from the parts of mine. This Liṅga was known to them even in the earlier Kalpa as Bhairava (Liṅga).

1S9. O goddess, this Liṅga is rarely accessible even in the other Yugas. In the sinful, terrible Kali Yuga, it is all the moreso.

140. O Pārvatī, I shall give another example in that connection.

141. In the excessively terrible Kali Yuga, men are prone to indulge in arguments and disputation. Those great sinners abiding by heresy will all say thus:

142-143. “All these things have been done falsely. It is glorified by fools. Where is the holy spot? What is its power? Where are the deities? Everything is false and glorified by deluded ones.”

144. Thus the foolish ones will say. Others will laugh. The non-believers, the people destined to fall into hell, get their minds overwhelmed by sins. At the advent of Kali Age, they will never gain Siddhi.

145. Those who habitually censure Śiva and die in the Tīrtha, appear as persons born in all the lower strata of beings.

146. It is on account of this, O goddess, that there are persons in great misery. Due to the great evil power of the Yuga, they are seen as persons devoid of truthfulness and purity.

147. This is the reason why holy spots are kept guarded and concealed. Thus everything has been mentioned to you, as to how Siddhi has become very difficult to achieve.

148. O goddess of Suras, Tīrthas are glorified in every age. Among them, O goddess, Prabhāsa Kṣetra alone is very dear to me.

149. Thus, O fair lady, the sin-destroying secret has been divulged—the very seed in the form of the holy spot. O great goddess, what else do you wish to ask?

150. Those who listen to the great power of holy spots, the narration that destroys great sins, will attain, by my power, the heavenly region, the abode of meritorious persons.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

śakti-śaktimator abhedaḥ’ is the fundamental tenet of Śaivism.

[2]:

This is the definition of Liṅga. The word is derived from ‘√’ to dissolve and ‘√gam’ to go out, create.

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