The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Garland of Skulls and Tattvas which is chapter 9 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 ninth chapter of the Prabhasa-kshetra-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 9 - The Garland of Skulls and Tattvas

The Devī said:

1-3. I bow down to that divine refulgence originating from Śaṅkara. It was visible to me as stationed in the middle of Kālāgni Rudra in the ancient holy spot of Prabhāsa.

I seek refuge in Someśvara, the Lord of Devas, the cause of the destruction of sins. It is this deity who is being worshipped by sages of hoary antiquities with the collections of the Vedic texts and the Yogas mentioned in the Vedas.

O Lord of Devas, O Lord of the worlds, O Lord and cause of the blessings to the devotees! There is a certain doubt in my mind. It behoves you to clarify it.

Īśvara said:

4. O goddess of great renown, what is the doubt that has arisen in your mind. Tell me, O lady of great weal, I shall expound everything.

The Devī said:

5. If you are the great Lord, the creator without beginning and end, the cause of creation and annihilation, how is it that a garland of skulls has been worn (by you)?

6-7. Thereupon, Śaṅkara, the Lord of Devas, laughed and spoke these words: “This garland of mine that shines with many crores of skulls has been made out of skulls of thousands of Nārāyaṇas and ten thousand Brahmās. Therefore, it is devoid of beginning and end.

8. A new Viṣṇu is born in every Kalpa. So also a new Brahmā. In every Kalpa, Viṣṇu and Prajāpati are created by me.

9. In this form, O goddess, I am stationed at the root of Kālāgni Liṅga in Prabhāsa. I am adorned with the garland of skulls.

10. I am quiescent without beginning, middle and end. I hold a rosary. I am seated in the lotus-posture. I am the bestower of boons. I resemble (in complexion) snow, a jasmine flower and the moon.

11. Viṣṇu stands to my left and Pitāmaha to my right. The four Vedas are present in my belly and the eternal Brahman in (my) heart.

12. The fire, the moon and the sun are settled in the eyes.

13. In this manner, O great goddess, I am stationed at Prabhāsa that has been brought into being through Āpya tattva (element called water). Let there be no doubt in you anywhere.”

14. On being told thus, the goddess became glad. With great devotion she eulogized the Lord of the Chiefs of Devas in words choked due to delight.

The Devī said:

15. Be victorious, O Lord, O great Lord, O Īśvara, O creator and sanctifier of all. Obeisance to you, O Lord of Suras, Obeisance to the great īśa.

16. Obeisance to the creator, the beginningless one. Obeisance to one occupying everything, stationed in everything, Obeisance to you, the abode of refulgence, Obeisance to you.

17. Obeisance to you of sixfold nature, Obeisance to you, Dvādaśānta (One present at the extreme point of exhalation in Prāṇāyāma). Obeisance to you, O Haṃsa (seer of lofty principles?); Obeisance to you, O bestower of salvation.

18. While the Lord was being eulogized by the goddess thus, the crescent moon in his crest was moving (expressing satisfaction). Then the delighted Lord spoke these words:

Īśvara said:

19. Well! Well! O highly intelligent lady, I am pleased. May a boon be chosen.

The Devī said:

20. If you are pleased, O Lord of Devas, if I am eligible to receive a boon, once again do expound in detail the greatness of Prabhāsa Kṣetra.

21. O Lord of goblins, Lord Viṣṇu is the leader of the slayers of Daityas, Why then did he leave Dvārakā and resort to Prabhāsa Kṣetra?

22. There are sixty hundred crore sixty thousand Tīrthas which exist in the centre of Dvārakā. Why did Hari disrespect these?

23. Dvārakā is a holy city surrounded by Immortals and resorted to by meritorious persons. This being so, why has he left it and come to Prabhāsa?

24. Hari is the leader of Devas and human beings. He is the source of origin of heaven and earth. Why did he abandon Dvārakā and meet with his death in Prabhāsa?

25. He is the only one who creates motion (mental activities) in the discus in the form of minds of men. He is the excellent one among the wielders of discus. Why did he meet with death at Prabhāsa?

26. How (is it that) Lord Viṣṇu who gives universal protection all over the worlds resorted to Prabhāsakṣetra?

27-29. He is the Lord who at the time of the dissolution (Pralaya) of the universe, takes in water and makes all his body aqueous and makes the world a vast expanse of water through his vision, with his Ātman realized. How did he meet with death at Prabhāsa, O Consort of Pārvatī? In days of yore, this primordial soul assumed the form of a boar and lifted up (from the ocean the sinking) Earth along with mountains and forests. Why did he, the destroyer of sins, cast off his body at Prabhāsa?

30. How did the Lord of the chiefs of Devas, who adopted a leonine form and killed Hiraṇyakaśipu, resort to the holy spot of Prabhāsa?

31-33. In every Yuga, the Vedas call him thousand-footed, thousand-eyed, thousand-headed and highly lustrous. How did that Lord cast off his body in Prabhāsa?

The abode of Pitāmaha (god Brahmā) arose from the Araṇi in the form of Viṣṇu’s navel. That lotus (Paṅkaja—mud-born) was not born (grown) from mud as the whole world formed an expanse of water. How is it that Hari who lifted up in a moment such a lotus, resorted to Prabhāsa?

34. He is the slayer of hostile warriors. He adopts the eternal Yoga and lies down in the northern part of the Milk Ocean, the ocean of nectar. Why did that great Lord abandon his body in Prabhāsa?

35. How did the Lord of chiefs of Devas, who made the Suras Havyādas (those who partake of Havyas or offerings in Yajñas) and the Pitṛs Kavyādas (those who partake of Kavya or oblations etc.) resort to Prabhāsa Kṣetra?

36. How did that Lord who adopts form befitting the Yuga for the purpose of the welfare of the worlds and redeems Dharma, happen to resort to this Kṣetra?

37. How did the Lord who created the three Varṇas, the three worlds, the three Vidyās, the three types of Pāṭhakas (teachers, readers, reciters), the three divisions of time, the three Karmas, the three Devas, and the three Guṇas, resort to the Kṣetra?

38-39. He is the goal of the righteous but is unattainable to sinners. He is the source of the origin of four Varṇas and is the protector of that system (of castes). He is the knower of four lores and abides by four stages of life. Why did such (great god) abandon Dvārakā and meet with death at Prabhāsa?

40-42. He is identical with the quarters, sky, earth, water, wind, fire, the pair of luminaries i.e. the moon and the sun. He is the Lord of the Yugas, his body is like the night in complexion. He is reported to be the greatest refulgence. He is mentioned in the Śruti as the greatest penance. He is spoken as greater than greatest. He is the greatest Ātmavān (possessor of soul). He is the divine Āditya etc., and is the Lord and slayer of Daityas. How did that son of Devakī attain siḍdhi in Prabhāsa?

43-46. He is the annihilator at the conclusion of the Yugas. He is the slayer of the destroyers of the worlds. He is the bridge for the existence of the worlds. He is the purest unto those of pure activities. He is the knower of the scholars of the Vedas. He is the Lord of those who exert influence unto the living beings. He is like Soma. He is like Agni (Fire-god) unto those who follow the path of Agni. He is the mind of Manuṣyas (human beings). He is the tapas of the Tapasvins (Sages). He is Vinaya (discipline) among those that become tacticians. He is the fiery refulgence of the brilliant ones. He is the Vigraha (idols, physical form) of all Vigrahas. He is activity of those who are active. How did he forsake Dvārakā and resort to Prabhāsa Kṣetra?

47. Vāyu is born of Ākāśa (Ether). Hutāśana (fire) has Vāyu as the vital essence. The vital essence of Devas is fire and Madhusūdana is the vital essence of fire. He is also the vital essence of the Lotus-born (Brahmā). Why did he resort to Prabhāsa Kṣetra?

Sūta said:

48. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, on being asked thus by the goddess, Śaṅkara, the benefactor of the worlds, laughingly spoke to Pārvatī:

Īśvara said:

49. Listen, O goddess, I shall explain the extent of Prabhāsa Kṣetra. It is a sin-destroying secret. It is difficult of access even to Devas.

50. O goddess, O beautiful lady, there are many Tīrthas over the earth. There are many Kṣetras. The Tīrthas are crores in number and their power is limited.

51. Prabhāsa is glorified as one of unlimited power. There are all the Tattvas therein such as the Brahma Tattva, Viṣṇu Tattva and Rudra Tattva.

52. There, the association is much more, O Pārvatī. It is rare in the other Tīrthas. O goddess of Devas, the three Tattvas are present in Prabhāsa.

53. Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds, is himself stationed there in the form of a lad along with the twenty-four Tattvas.

54. The Lord of twenty-five Tattvas, the leader of Devatās, the slayer of Daityas is directly stationed there, O auspicious one.

55. O goddess, O highly esteemed one, I reside along with you and also the thirty-six Tattvas in Prabhāsa that is destructive of sins.

56. Understand that Prabhāsa alone is the Kṣetra full of all the Tattvas and all the Tīrthas. It is auspicious. Do not entertain any doubt anywhere.

57. Men and even worms and insects who die there attain the greatest region. There should be no doubt in this respect.

58. Women, barbarians, Śūdras, beasts, birds and animals that die in Prabhāsa go to the world of Śiva.

59-61. Those who are bound by lust and anger, those who are under the influence of covetousness, those who are assailed by the darkness of ignorance, those who are deeply set into the Māyā Tattva, those who are bound by the noose of Kāla, those who are deluded by thirst (covetousness), those who are engaged in unrighteousness, those who remain as sinners, Brāhmaṇa-slayers, ungrateful ones, those who defile the beds of their preceptors—all these great sinners attain the greatest goal.

62. A man who kills his mother and a slayer of his father all of them attain salvation. Still more so in the case of those who are of auspicious rites.

63. It is because he realized this, O great goddess, that Hari, the slayer of Daityas, came to Prabhāsakṣetra and cast off his body.

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