The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Vadavanala Outwitted which is chapter 32 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 thirty-second chapter of the Prabhasa-kshetra-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 32 - Vaḍavānala Outwitted

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Īśvara said:

1-3. When all the Devas had gone away, the sage remained there for a hundred years. Then the Brāhmaṇa set off for performing penance from the northern hermitage towards the divine northern quarter.

He had a servant-woman, the highly esteemed Subhadrā. That beautiful lady who could not carry the weapons said to the sage: “I am not able to lift and carry the weapons with my hand.”

4. Thereupon, the sage drank the intrinsic power of the weapons along with water. After thus making all the divine miraculous weapons well-established within himself, the sage, the storehouse of austerities, went to the northern quarter.

5. He saw Mount Himācala, bestower of happiness on all people like Śiva. He held Gaṅgā, he was white (in complexion of) his body and his form (region) was full of serpents.

6. He also espied a hermitage surrounded by Aśvattha trees by the side of Candrabhāgā. It abounded in sacrificial twigs, flowers and Kuśa grass.

7. The tiger among the sages stayed there along with other sages and was accompanied by Subhadrā like the Moon with Moonlight.

8. Once, the servant-maid Subhadrā who had her monthly course, set off from his abode to have her bath on the fourth day.

9. As she was going ahead, she saw a loin cloth. Thinking that it had been dropped down by chance, she took it up (as fate would have it).

10. The loin cloth was drenched with semen but she wore it secretly and went off to the river to have a bath as she pleased.

11. The good woman found herself moving lazily due to heavy weight. As she looked down she found that a foetus had developed within her belly.

12. She began to lament herself. “When I came here I did not have any foetus within. I am a luckless wretched woman. By whom have I been defiled?”

13. Completely overwhelmed with shame she entered the grove of Aśvattha trees. There she delivered herself of the foetus even without knowing where it had come from.

14. Not aware of any misconduct on her part, she took bath once again. She then began to heap an unbearable curse on the (unknown one) who had caused the conception.

15-16. “If I am a chaste woman loyal to my husband, may that person by whom this defilement was brought about knowingly or unknowingly die today itself.

If I do not love a person other than my husband even mentally, may that paramour face destruction, thanks to this truth of my statement.”

17. Thus the good woman cursed the person who caused the impregnation without knowing him. She began to return to the abode of Dadhīci.

18. After casting off the foetus resembling the Sun there she returned to the beautiful hermitage where the eminent sage was present.

19. In the meantime all the highly powerful Devas, the Guardians of the Quarters came to the hermitage of the sage for the sake of the missiles.

20. Śakra said to the sage: “O sage of good holy rites, return to us quickly those miraculous weapons kept as deposit with you by us.”

21-23. The sage said: “O Vāsava, those weapons still remain in that hermitage where they had been deposited. They were not brought here.

O Vāsava, O destroyer of enemies, I have taken in along with water all their power in battle, their prowess.

That being the case, O sinless one, if the miraculous weapons are to be given to you by me, I shall, O Lord of good holy rites, give my bones in the shape thereof.”

24-29. On being told thus, the Thousand- eyed One (Indra) said to the excellent sage: “In nothing else is that terrific power which is vested in them. For the sake of the protection of the worlds Rudraśiva deposited a thousandth part of his refulgence and gave them to us. We therefore set up ourselves taking up all those weapons for the purpose of protecting the world. Hence our designation Lokapāla (Guardians of the Worlds). Among all these weapons Vajra (thunderbolt) is the most excellent one. It is because we hold it that the kingship of the Devas is vested in us. Still more excellent than the Vajra is that discus which is in the custody of Viṣṇu. The conquest of the groups of Daityas and Dānavas depends thereon. Hence, O excellent sage, O foremost one among those who know their duty, think about the matter on hand and manage it so that we regain those (weapons).”

30-32. When this was said, the sage spoke to Śakra standing before him: “I shall suggest another means for getting them.

Here are all my bones. Do fashion out all your weapons in their own shapes and sizes entirely out of these (bones). These (bones) have been strengthened thereby. They have more strength than they (had formerly). I wish that they will be more effective in your battle.”

33-34. Then Śakra spoke to that storehouse of austerities, Dadhīci: “I cannot cause your death which you (seem to) wish. We have no power to take your bones and yet prevent your death. Hence think about everything and say what is to be done.”

35-39. On being told thus the sage said: “I shall myself cast off this body of mine for the sake of realizing the cause of the Devas.

Since this (body) is the seat of all miseries, censured by everyone and by no means eternal or steady, it is but proper to abandon it just now.

By casting it off, I will not have the misery of worldly existence, because everyone who is born in the next birth, dies again.

Wife, sister and daughter all these are reborn as a result of one’s own actions. Therefore, having keen attachment for them in the world is censured.

Anyhow this body is going to be cast off certainly. So its voluntary casting off (on my part) should be welcomed by you.”

40. After proclaiming thus in front of Purandara, the great sage Dadhīci hurriedly brought about his own death.

41. Seeing him dead in this manner, the Devas thought how the body could be made free from flesh and blood.

42. Then the Lord of Suras said thus for the sake of the purification of the bones: “The tongues of Gaurīs (? from the context ‘Cows’) are hard and rough. Let them lick this clean.”

43. Thereupon, Nandā stationed in the world (i.e. Goloka) was meditated upon by the Devas. She came there accompanied by her companions.

44. Nandā, Subhadrā, Surabhi, Suśīlā and Sumanā, the five cow-mothers, came there from Goloka.

45. They said to all those Suras: “We shall carry out any job which is assigned to us as our duty. Think well and say.”

The Devas said:

46. Since his body has been abandoned by the sage himself, may the skeleton be got rid of flesh etc.

47. At the bidding of the Devas, they carried out the despicable and terrible duty. Then they went to meet the Grandfather (Brahmā). The excellent Suras too followed.

48. They said to Pitāmaha the whole story of the terrible duty duly carried out by them.

49. On hearing it, Pitāmaha summoned all the Suras. With a desire to purify them, he touched the cows all over their limbs.

50. On being touched by the Devas, they become very pure. Only their mouth was not touched. Hence it is remembered as impure.

51. Their mouth alone is unholy and censured. The remaining part of the body of all of them was made excellent by the Suras.

52. They were told by Sarasvatī: “You are slayers of Brāhmaṇas. Otherwise, why was the mouth not touched by the immortal ones?”

53-54. Thereupon, Goddess Sarasvatī was told by them: “This utterance of yours describing the mouth as such is not proper. It is our heart that has been burned by you through this utterance. Hence, ere long you will be subjected to combustion.”

55. After cursing Sarasvatī, those Surabhis (cows) honoured by the Suras went to Goloka.

56. Summoning Viśvakarman, the architect, the excellent Suras told him: “For the purpose of fighting, prepare weapons for us.”

57. On hearing this statement, he caused the weapons to be fashioned out of the sets of bones of Dadhīci.

58. He made them of the requisite shapes and sizes as demanded by the Devas. He also ensured that they should be invincible in the course of hostilities. While making them, he had that in view.

59. He got ready all these perfect weapons: the Vajra for Indra, the Śakti for Vahni (Fire-god), the Daṇḍa (staff) for Yama, the sword for Nirṛti and the noose for Pracetas (Varuṇa).

60. Viśvakarman made the Dhvaja (flagstaff) for Vayu, the Gadā (mace) for Kubera and the Śūla (trident) for Īśāna (Śiva).

61. The Devas took up these miraculous weapons and on the strength of those missiles, they proceeded to conquer Daityas and Dānavas.

62. In the meantime Subhadrā performed the funeral rites of Dadhīci and accompanied by those sages she went in search of that son.

63. She saw that charming child in the grove of Aśvattha. On seeing him alive, she quickly shed tears and cried.

64-67. The child addressed her as “Mother” and said: “O lady of good renown, do not weep. What you and I reap is the fruit of what was done formerly.

O illustrious lady, give up grief. An act, the manner in which it was done, the place where perpetrated by a person in a former birth must necessarily result in the enjoyment or suffering of the agent.

Do not be ashamed because you were compelled to cast me off, O beautiful lady. What was perpetrated by me earlier should be borne by me alone.

O mother, O lady of good renown, show your maternal affection to me as your son. By abandoning her son, a mother becomes guilty.”

68-69. On being told thus by the child she meditated on Lord Janārdana and said with palms joined in reverence: “Let it be firmly disclosed to me. I do not know the truth as to the person from whose semen this child has been born. Hence, O Lord of Devas, tell me your definite opinion.”

70. On being requested thus, Kṛṣṇa Janārdana said to Mother Subhadrā: “This is Dadhīci’s son born of the Kṣetra (field, i.e. wife) of your husband.”

71. On coming to know of his origin, Subhadrā was delighted in her mind. She placed the child on her lap and lamented with words of distress.

72-79a. The child born said: “Speak out the cause of sorrow.” Then he was told: “How were you able to sustain your life without breast milk?

Four types of beings have been created by Brahmā—oviparous, viviparous, sweat-born and those that pierce through the ground and germinate.

Among the viviparous ones, there are the different types such as men, women and eunuch. The four-legged animals are of two types, wild and domesticated.

All the birds, fishes, tortoises and reptiles are oviparous. The sweat-born ones are the following: bugs, lice, flies and mosquitoes.

Those that pierce the ground and grow are the immobile ones such as grass, hedges, creepers etc. Thousands of other beings of similar nature can be included among these befittingly.

The young ones of the egg-born creatures survive by flapping the wings. All the sweat-born ones live by heat and the ground-piercing ones by water.

The Udbhija (ground-piercing ones) live by the collection of the five elements on the earth. The oviparous ones are incapable of living without breast-milk. Then, son, how could you sustain your life without it?”

79b. Thereupon, he spoke to his mother whose eyes were dimmed with tears:

80-82. “The vital airs were retained by me through the juice of Aśvattha fruits imbibed.” Then she had the idea in her mind that his name should be Pippalāda for that reason.[1] This name of the noble-souled one became well-known. All the consecratory rites of Pippalāda as laid down in the Vedas were performed in due order by all the sages who had mastered all the Vedas and were present there. The Vedas along with the six Aṅgas as well as the Upāṅgas were perfectly studied by him from the sages residing in the hermitage.

83. In the course of his stay there he saw the children of the sages playing on the laps of their fathers. So he said to his mother of pure smiles:

84. “O Subhadrā, welfare unto you. Where is my father? Tell me clearly so that I can play on his lap like the other children.”

85. When his mother was thus asked, she fell into a pitiable nervous agitation. Without saying anything by way of reply, she began to weep.

86. On seeing her crying, the son of the sage became furious and said: “Is he someone notoriously despicable and so you do not disclose him to me?”

87. When this was uttered by the son, she said to him: “Your father has been killed by the Devas. Welfare unto you. Do not be angry. It is about Dadhīci that I speak.”

88. Blazing with anger he then said to his mother: “What offence did my father commit in regard to the Suras? Tell me about it.”

Subhadrā said:

89. O (my son) of good holy rites, though the prominent sage offered them other weapons of the same shapes and sizes, he was killed by those deluded ones for the sake of the miraculous weapons.

90-92. On hearing this statement, the sage of fierce austerities (said): “Since my father was killed by the Devas I will create a very powerful Kṛtyā (a female deity of destructive power) and make her fall over their head taking away their lives.

If he does not deserve death I will spare Pitāmaha (Brahmā). I will thrash all the others collectively by means of this Kṛtyā weapon. If the Devas out of fear from me seek refuge in me, I will yet kill them collectively.”

93. Finding the sage furious thus, all the excellent Suras sought refuge in Brahmā out of great fright.

94. On coming to know that the Devas had sought refuge in Brahmā, the compassionate Lord Janārdana himself hastened to that place and said to the Devas:

95. “The means of saving you all has been thought out by me now. Thereby I will get the Kṛtyā that has come, enchanted and deluded.”

96. In the meantime, Pippalāda who continued to remember the reason for avenging his father and so determined to find a means of killing the Suras, entered the Himālaya mountain.

97. It was the unpleasant statement issued from the mouth of his mother, and heard by him which forced him to leave the place and go to Himālaya.

98. He reached the snow-capped mountain which is like a staircase unto Svarga for people. It appeared like the sky that has become a veritable ground, and which resembled the extensive (white) physical form of Śeṣa.

99. There he stood motionless like Sthāṇu (a fixed pillar) and vowed “I will kill those Cāraṇas (heavenly choristers, spies) who caused the death of my father.”

100-103a. Standing angrily in that courtyard of the temple of Śiva (he vowed), I will kill all those who are proud of their immortality through the miraculous weapon of the Kṛtyā.

Standing here and thinking of her within my heart I will win over the Kṛtyā. Either I will bring the Kṛtyā under control or I will go to the abode of Yama. I will desist from food intake day and night, I will remain fearless and free of Dvandvas (mutually opposing pairs such as pleasure-pain). With my left hand I will massage and churn the left thigh and create the great Kṛtyā.”

103b-106. Thus he remained motionless. When a year passed off, a Vaḍavā (a mare) issued forth from his body through the thigh. She was distressed due to heavy weight. She was followed by Vāḍava (submarine fire). After issuing forth from the (left) thigh, she (Vadavā) gave birth to a very powerful foetus from her womb. After discharging the blazing foetus emitting flames all round in front of the sage, the Vaḍavā went away. Even the sage did not know her (where she wents). Thus it was that the Vaḍavānala (submarine fire) in the form of a man (lit. Fire from mare) issued forth from her womb.

107-110. It looked like the end of the Kalpa unto the living beings. By means of its refulgence it resembled the Kālāgni (Fire at the end of a Kalpa). On seeing it in front resembling a mass of lightning streaks, he became surprised very much. “What is this?” he thought. Thereupon, sage Pippalāda was addressed by the Vāḍava fire present in front: “I have been evolved by you through your power (of penance). Now your task, whatever has been thought of, should be carried out by me. Even if it were impossible to achieve, I shall achieve it. Dear father, I have been evolved by you in the course of a year through the churning of your thigh. Hence, I am devoid of thighs. Yet I will carry out your wish.”

111. On hearing his words, the infuriated sage said: “All the Devas have been offered to you by me. Eat them yourself.”

112. The Suras were convinced that he had become very terrible because of his furious obsession due to the killing of his father. All of them gathered together immediately along with their womenfolk and resorted to the Purāṇa Puruṣa (the Ancient Being, Viṣṇu).

113. Viṣṇu consoled those Suras. Delighted within himself he approached (the Kṛtyā), the fire of fury. On seeing it resembling a mass of suns, Viṣṇu spoke these excellent words:

114-120. “O Lord of Suras, I have been sent to your very presence by the Devas who are afraid. Listen from me to the words wholesome unto the Cāraṇas (Devas) as well as unto you.

Your inconceivable and inordinate strength destructive of even self-possessed wise ones has become known certainly. This being the case, do as the Suras say. Everyday eat one of them.

There are thirty crores of leading powerful Suras. How will you eat them at the same time?

Hence, do eat them one-by-one. Then it is not impossible to eat them even if you are alone. (Read aśakyā for śakyā)

Further Hutabhuk (Fire-god) contracted the disease of jaundice. Overeating is not proper. So accept my suggestion.

Moreover if they are all eaten simultaneously, everyday hunger will prompt you to worry for the means of the next meal.

Thus, your vow can be successfully carried out. The statement of the sage will not be false even if you do like this. Further, your desire too will be fulfilled.”

121. So said Janārdana. The Vāḍava said: “I will do so.” The Vāḍava agreed to the suggestion that he should eat the Devas one by one.

122-123. Then the Suras bowed down to Viṣṇu, the Lord of Suras, of unmeasured prowess. “What is befitting and splendid has been accomplished by you. Further, you alone are competent to avert this danger. No one else can be the saviour of the Heaven-dwellers.”

124. Thereupon, Mādhava who wears yellow garments and holds the conch, the discus and the club told the Suras: “I will remove the cause of your fear.”

125. On hearing this, all the Devas became happy and their eyes beamed with delight.

126. Looking at the Devas Vāḍava said: “What should be done by me to you? May that be mentioned.”

127. In the meantime the dignified and illustrious Lord of great prowess having the cosmic body enchanted that Jvalana (fire) by means of his (greater) intellect and said, “Eat up the AP (waters) created at the outset.”

128. He who listens with concentration to this act of Viṣṇu shall be rid of the excessive fear of spies and attain salvation and perfect knowledge.

Footnotes and references:


Similar birth of Pippalāda from Yājñavalkya’s semen from his sister is told elsewhere.

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