The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Greatness of Kapaleshvara (Kapala-ishvara) which is chapter 103 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 one hundred third chapter of the Prabhasa-kshetra-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 103 - Greatness of Kapāleśvara (Kapāla-īśvara)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Īśvara said:

1-3. Thereafter, O beautiful lady, a pilgrim should go to the excellent Kapāleśvara shrine situated to the north thereof. It is worshipped by Suras and Gandharvas.

Formerly when the Yajña of the intelligent Dakṣarāja was going on, while Homa was being performed in the holy fire, when all the Brāhmaṇas were seated there, Śaṅkara came there in the form of a Jālma (wretched rogue). O goddess, he was clad in old tattered rags. He was covered with dust and dirt. He appeared grey in colour due to the dust particles.

4. On seeing him in the form of a ruffian holding a skull, those Brāhmaṇas became angry and all of them rebuked him with shouts of “Fie upon you!”

5. They called him many times, “O you sinner! O sinner!” and told him, “O base one, go away. The sacrificial altar is no place for you, as you are holding a human bone.”

6. Then, O goddess of Suras, the Lord laughed loudly and hurled the skull on the sacrificial altar. He vanished somewhere and could not be found out by those learned ones.

7. When he vanished thus, they threw the skull out of the pavilion. But, O lady of excellent countenance, another skull of the same form cropped up there.

8. As and when one skull was thrown out another one sprang up from the ground. Thus there were hundreds of thousands, millions and trillions of skulls.

9. The skulls were cast out and they sprang up again. They were struck with wonder. Getting frustrated thus, the sages commented on his activities:

10. “Who else other than Mahādeva whose head is washed by the waters of Gaṅgā is capable to do something like this, particularly in this Yajña?”

11. They eulogized the Bull-emblemed Lord. They performed Homas in the sacred fire uttering the Śatarudriya Mantras.

12. Thereupon Lord Maheśvara became manifest unto them. Then they eulogized the Trident-bearing Lord by means of various hymns of the Vedas and the diverse Mantras mentioned in the Purāṇas.

The Sages said:

[Sages’ prayer (13-16):]

13. Om. Obeisance to the primordial Prakṛti, Obeisance to the unvanquished and the noble-souled one. Obeisance, obeisance to the unconcealed, desireless Lord.

14. Obeisance to the original seed, to the promoter of saintly activities. Obeisance to the one without a parallel, to the only one. Obeisance, obeisance to the unmanifest one.

15. Obeisance to the Lord having serpents of different kinds and variegated colours for his armlets, to the Lord of all, to the one without the Rajas element. Obeisance to the excellent one. Obeisance to the soul of the universe, to the cause of the ultimate causes. Obeisance to the Lord with eyes resembling lotus in full bloom.

16. I seek refuge in that primordial Lord, on seeing whom one is redeemed from the jaws of death, the Lord whom they call the invisible Brahman (Absolute), the omnipresent one, the immutable, the unmanifest, the beginningless and the unchanging one.

17. On being eulogized then in this manner by all those sages devoid of sins, the great Lord became pleased. Becoming manifest to them the Lord spoke to those sages: “Choose your boons.”

The Brāhmaṇas said:

18-19. O Lord, if you are pleased with us, do be staying in this holy spot with the name Kapāleśvara, because, O Lord, innumerable skulls (Kapālas) cropped up here though they were removed. O Lord of Suras, undoubtedly this holy spot deserves it.

20. O Lord of Devas, the Liṅga by itself shall stay for another Manvantara. You do stay here in this holy spot by the name Kapāleśvara.

21. In the case of those who worship you with incense, garlands and unguents, let them attain the highest region inaccessible to even Devas.

22. After saying “So be it” Lord Maheśvara stationed himself there. O beautiful lady, the Yajña of the Lord of the night was resumed again.

23. On seeing the shrine, O my beloved, a man shall attain the fruit of a horse-sacrifice. He shall be rid of all sins incurred in the course of all the births.

24. This incident happened in the Svāyaṃbhuva Manvantara. But in the Vaivasvata Manvantara, another event occurred ending with the destruction of Dakṣa’s Yajña.

25. Formerly the great Lord Hara was called Kapālī by Dakṣa. Therefore, Kapālī caused the destruction of that Yajña. In this Manvantara, he stationed himself as Kapāleśvara by name.

26. Further, in the Sūrya Sāvarṇika Manvantara, O beautiful woman, the name of this Lord shall be Tattveśvara.

27. Thus the greatness of the deity, Rudra, has been succinctly spoken. It causes destruction of the sins of all creatures. It causes the bonds of the Paśu (individual soul) to be snapped.

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