The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Greatness of Savitri which is chapter 165 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 sixty-fifth chapter of the Prabhasa-kshetra-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 165 - Greatness of Sāvitrī

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Īśvara said:

1. Thereafter, O great goddess, a pilgrim should go to the shrine of Sāvitrī, the mother of the worlds, who suppresses great sins. She is installed on the north-eastern side of Someśa.

2. A man who has controlled himself and restrained his senses shall be able to view her.

3. On coming to know that Brahmā, desirous of performing a sacrifice, has married perforce another woman as co-wife, Sāvitrī got angry with Gāyatrī.

4. Then that goddess (Sāvitrī) abandoned Brahmā born of the lotus and resorted to the holy place of Prabhāsa. She continued to be distressed on account of the anger of her cowife.

5. The fair lady of pleasing appearance stays in that spot even today and performs an elaborate penance unbearable even to Devas.

Śrī Devī said:

6. Why was that Sāvitrī abandoned by Brahmā earlier? How was Gāyatrī obtained (by him)? By whom was she offered?

7. Of what sort was Gāyatrī whom the Lotus-born One obtained (and how was it) that he abandoned his (first) wife and became interested in her?

8. Whose daughter was she, O Lord? For what purpose the marriage was celebrated? This is my curiosity. It behoves you to clarify it.

Īśvara said:

9. Listen, O goddess. I shall explain to you the great story of Sāvitrī as to how she was abandoned by Brahmā and how Gāyatrī was wedded.

10-13. Formerly, this idea occurred to Brahmā, born of the Unmanifest One. ‘Undoubtedly these Vedas were enunciated by me thus, for the sake of the Yajñas. On being propitiated by means of Yajñas, Devas will shower rain on the earth. Thereupon, all herbs and vegetation will crop up on the earth. Therefrom Śukra (semen) will be generated and the process of creation will get initiated through Śukra. Therefore, I shall perform Yajña for the creation of all the worlds. On seeing me ardently interested in Yajñas, Brāhmaṇas who are on the earth shall perform hundreds and thousands of Yajñas.’

14. Thus, O beautiful lady among Suras, he resolved to perform Yajñas. For that purpose he established the holy place named Puṣkara.

15-16. O great goddess, a great sacrificial pandal was raised on behalf of that noble-souled one. All the celestial sages and Devas along with Indra as their leader arrived there for the Yajña of Pitāmaha. Holy and excellent Brāhmaṇas became the Ṛtviks (sacrificial priests).

17. Sāvitrī, the wife of that noble-souled one and the mother of the worlds, was engaged in domestic tasks. As the time for initiation elapsed, she was summoned by the Adhvaryu. Thereupon Sāvitrī spoke these words:

Sāvitrī said:

18. As yet I have not completed the make-up and embellishment in the house. Lakṣmī has not come till now, nor Bhavānī nor Gaṅgā.

19. Neither Svāhā, nor Svadhā, nor Arundhatī, nor Indrāṇī nor the other wives of Devas. How can I go (come) alone?

20-21a. Pulastya, the noble-souled sage, went and told Brahmā: “O Lord, Sāvitrī is engaged in domestic tasks. She has not come. This is your wife. What sort of rite is this? Can it bear any fruit?”

21b-22. God Brahmā, the initiated one, with a head with a tuft of hair behind and clad in the hide of a deer, became angry with his wife and spoke to Indra:

23. “O Śakra, this is my directive. Fetch another wife from somewhere and return quickly so that there will be no transgression of the (specific) time (for this Yajña).”

24-26. At the behest of Parameṣṭhin (i.e. Brahmā) the Slayer of Bala (i. e. Indra) hurried out but could not see any woman fit to be the wife of the Swan-vehicled One (i.e. Brahmā).

The intelligent Thousand-eyed One became afraid of being cursed by Brahmā. A beautiful and youthful cowherd lass was seen by him. She was carrying a full pitcher. Inferring that she was a virgin, he requested her. Taking her with him, Śakra came to the place where the Four-faced Lord of Devas was seated as the initiated one accompanied by Viṣṇu and Rudra.

27. The Slayer of Madhu (i.e. Viṣṇu) gave the virgin in marriage (to Brahmā.)

28. Urged by Śaṅkara himself as well as by the celestial sages, Brahmā married her and performed the rites of initiation in her case as in his own case.

29. Thereupon the Yajña equipped with everything desirable was begun.

30. There Atri was made the Hotṛ, reciter of Ṛgvedic hymns, Pulastya became the Adhvaryu, Marīci the Udgātṛ, and I, the leading Sura, became the Brahmā (presiding priest).

31-33. Those with Sanatkumāra as the chief one, were made the Sadasyas (members of sacrificial assembly). They had put on befitting garments and ornaments. They were adorned with crowns and rings and other ornaments. Behind everyone of these, there were three other Ṛtviks (priests). Thus there were sixteen Ṛtviks altogether. They were asked (by Brahmā): “I should be blessed by you throughout this Yajña. Let my wife Gāyatrī too be blessed in this Yajña.”

34-35. Gāyatri was clad in fine fabrics. She had a covering veil of silken cloth. With a staff made of Uduṃbara, Brahmā came out of the Patnīśālā (wife’s chamber) accompanied by the Ṛtviks well-versed in the Vedas. He was covered with a deer skin. Brahmā thus entered the Yajña-pavilion along with her (i.e. Gāyatri).

Īśvara said:

36. In the meantime, the celestial ladies who had been invited for the Yajña arrived at the place where Sāvitrī was present.

37. The renowned Lakṣmī who was born to Khyāti and Bhṛgu and who was the wife of Viṣṇu and was invited there, arrived in a hurry.

58. There, the highly esteemed goddess was embellished by Yoganidrā and others. There was the fair lady Kānti and Śraddhā, Dyuti and Tuṣṭi too.

39. There was Satī, the daughter of Dakṣa and also Umā, the splendid daughter of Mountain. The goddess who bestows conjugal felicity on women was the most beautiful lady in the three worlds.

40. There were Jayā, Vijayā, Gaurī and Mahādhanā (one having enormous wealth). There was Manojavā, the wife of Wind-god and also Ṛddhi, the beloved of Kubera.

41. Daughters of Devas, Dānavīs and those born of Danu’s [???] had also come. There were the wives of the seven sages [???f] the other saints as well.

42. There were Plavā, Mitrā and the daughters (of other sages). There were the groups of Vidyādharas. There were the Pitṛs and the daughters of Rākṣasas. There were the other Lokamātṛs (Mothers of the world).

43-44. There were the Devīs beginning with Aditi. The daughters of Dakṣa came. Accompanied by them Sāvitrī, the wife of Brahmā, residing in the lotus, desired to proceed ahead.

O lady of excellent countenance, some of them carried Modaka (sweetmeat) and some carried Apūpa (bread, pie).

45. Others carried fruits and proceeded towards Brahmā.

Still others carried Āḍhakī (pulse), Niṣpāva (legume) and Rājamāṣa (beans).

46-51. Others carried various kinds of Dāḍima (pomegranate) and Mātuliṅga (citron). O splendid lady, yet others carried Karīra and Karamardaka. A few carried Kausumbha, Jīraka and Kharjūra; others carried Utatī and coconuts. Others carried mangoes along with grapes for the purpose of embellishment as before. A few carried various kinds of excellent Jambūka, Akṣoḍa, Āmalaka and Jaṃbīra. O lady of excellent countenance, some carried ripe Bilva fruits and Cirbhaṭa. Others carried many vessels of food and beverages of various kinds. Others carried lumps of sugar and Kausuṃbha garments (or in Kausumbha cloth).

Thus, O lady of excellent countenance, many auspicious ones carried these and other things and reached the place along with Sāvitrī.

52. On seeing that Sāvitrī had come Purandara (Indra) became afraid. Brahmā remained looking down wondering what she would say to him.

53. Viṣṇu and Rudra became bashful and shame-faced. So too were the Brāhmaṇas and the members of the assembly. The other Heaven-dwellers became frightened.

54-55. Sons and grandsons, nephews and uncles and brothers, the Devas named Ṛtus and the chiefs of Devas were abashed and disconcerted wondering what Sāvitrī would say. They enquired whether the Vedic passages were to be recited by the daughter of a cowherd.

56-58. When all of them were speaking some words the listeners kept quiet. ‘She was summoned by the Adhvaryu but the lady of fair complexion (Sāvitrī) did not come. Another girl was brought by Śakra and was offered (in marriage) by Viṣṇu himself. It was approved by Rudra and she was offered by the father himself. What will she do now and how will the Yajña come to a conclusion?’ Even as they were worriedly thinking thus, Kamalālayā (Sāvitrī) entered.

59. Along with his wife Brahmā was invited by the Ṛtviks well-versed in the Vedas. Homas were performed in the fires there by the Brāhmaṇas who had mastered the Vedas.

60. In the Patnīśālā (wife’s chamber) the cowherdess was seated meditating on the great Lord. She had a silver horn and girdle. She was clad in silky fabric.

61. She was loyal to her husband considering him to be her vital airs. She was seated there as an important person. She was wide-eyed and compassionate. By her splendour, she could be compared to the Sun.

62. Like the lustre of the Sun, she was illuminating the assembly there. The sacrificial fire blazed and Ṛtviks moved about.

63. Excellent Brāhmaṇas held parts of the beasts (sacrificial animals). Seeking their shares, Devas arrived. It was already late.

64. Nothing should be done after the prescribed time. If it is not performed thus it cannot yield fruit. The whole of this reference (topic) is to be seen in the Vedas by learned men.

65-66. As the Pravargya rite was being performed by the Brāhmaṇas well-versed in the Vedas, when Kṣīradvaya (two drops of milk) was being consigned to the fire by the Adhvaryu uttering the Mantra, when all the Brāhmaṇas had assembled after being summoned severally (one calling the other and the other calling some other successively) and the foodstuffs were being prepared, the fair lady saw all these and became furious. She spoke to Brahmā seated silently in the middle of the assembly:

67-74. “How did this idea occur to you, O Lord? Why [???] is misdeed committed? You have committed a sin in [????ning] me out of lust.

A (girl) who is not even equal to the dust of my foot, has been raised to your head by you!

All these who have assembled in the hall should explain this. It is surprising that those who exert authority do whatever they wish.

Out of your lust for a beautiful form, you have committed a despicable act.

O Lord, you did not feel ashamed in the presence of your sons and grandsons. I think this despicable deed was committed out of lust.

You are the grandfather of Devas and the great-grandfather of the sages. How was it that you were not ashamed to see your own body?

Something ridiculous has been committed in the presence of the people. Here itself you stand despised. If this is to be your idea, do remain so, O Lord. Obeisance to you!

How can I show my face to my companions? How am I to say, another wife has been brought by my husband?”

Brahmā said:

75. I was commanded by the Ṛtviks:“The time of initiation is slipping away. No Homa is possible here without a wife. Fetch (your) wife quickly.”

76. This girl was brought by Śakra. She was offered to me by Viṣṇu and she was accepted by me. Do forgive me for this only misdeed of mine. O lady of excellent holy rites, I will not commit anything offensive any longer.

Īśvara said:

77-79. On being told thus, she became enraged and began to curse Brahmā. “If adequate penance has been performed by me, if the preceptors and the elders have been propitiated by me, Brāhmaṇas will never adore you (Brahmā) in any of the different kinds of holy spots, in any of the Brāhmaṇa assemblies.

Your sole annual worship will be the Kārttikī adoration which all the Brāhmaṇas will perform for you; nothing save this. I curse you with this truthful utterance. I solemnly aver this. You need not be angry on knowing this: Undoubtedly what is killed does kill.”

Sāvitrī said:

80. Oh! O Śakra, a cowherdess was brought to Brahmā by you. Since such a thing as this has been perpetrated by you, you will surely get the fruit thereof.

81. When you will get involved in a battle, O Śakra, you shall be bound by the enemies and brought to a miserable plight.

82. You shall be stripped of all your possessions leaving nothing for you. Your son will perish. You will be (confined) in the city of your enemies. After meeting with great discomfiture, you may get released ere long.

83. After cursing Śakra, the fair lady spoke these words to Viṣṇu:

84-86. “At the instance of a Guru (Preceptor) you will be born in the mortal world. Then you will experience the misery arising from separation from your wife. Without your knowledge your wife will be abducted and kept on the other shore of the great ocean. Your senses will be smitten by grief.

You will get maximum suffering along with your brother. You will become associated with beasts for a long time.”

87-89. Similarly the angry lady spoke to Rudra: “O Hara, while you are in Dāruvana, the infuriated sages will curse you (as follows). ‘Oh! O Kāpālika, O insignificant one, you desire to carry off our wives. Hence this accursed Liṅga (penis) of yours, O Rudra, will fall on the ground.’

Bereft of manliness, you shall be afflicted with the curse of the sages. Your wife stationed on the banks of Gaṅgā will console you.”

90-91. “O Agni, formerly you were made by my son a Sarvabhakṣa ‘one eating everything’. One who kills a foetus is unrighteous. Why should I burn one already burnt.

O Jātavedasa (Fire-god), Rudra will flood you with semen. You will be scorched by the flames on holy substances.”

92. Then Sāvitrī cursed all the Brāhmaṇas and the Ṛtviks:

93-95. “You will always be going to holy spots and Tīrthas out of greed, taking Pratigraha (monetary gifts) for your Agnihotra sacrifice; thereby your wives and householdership will become futile.

You will be always pleased and satisfied on the foodstuffs served by others. You will be dissatisfied with your own household. You will perform Yajñas on behalf of those who are not eligible and deserving. You will accept Pratigraha from despicable persons. Your earning of wealth will be futile. Your endeavour will be futile. Hence there is no doubt about it that on death you will become Pretas (spirits, ghosts).”

96. Thus she cursed all: Śakra, Viṣṇu, Rudra, Pāvaka, Brahmā and all the Brāhmaṇas.

97. After cursing she became calmed.

98. Lakṣmī then spoke to her friend (Sāvitrī). Indrāṇī the lady with excellent countenance spoke to her (Sāvitrī). So did the other Devīs. Then she (Sāvitrī) said:

“I will not stay here. I will go to that place where I will not hear this noise.”

99. Then all those young ladies went to their respective abodes. The infuriated Sāvitrī attempted once again to curse them:

100-102. “Since these Deva-damsels have gone away leaving me alone, I am very angry. I shall curse them too.”

“Lakṣmī will never stay permanently in one place. Even if restrained, she will be very fickle and abide in houses of fools.

O Lakṣmī, by my curse I have restricted your residence to these persons: barbarians, mountain-dwellers, despicable ones, lepers, the talkative, the arrogant, the accursed, the wicked and persons of similar features.”

103. After cursing her she cursed Indrāṇī then.

104-106. “O haughty Indrāṇī of evil actions, when Indra, your husband of wicked actions, is held at the instance of Tvaṣṭṛ and when the realm passes over to Nahuṣa, he will requisition you saying ‘I am Indra. Why does this idle damsel not serve me? If I do not get Śacī, I will kill all the Devas.’ At that time you will get lost and suffer in a great forest. You will be miserable by my curse.”

107. Then she cursed all the wives of the Devas.

108. “None of you all will ever get the delight of bearing a child. You will be burning day and night in your misery due to being called a barren woman.”

109. She similarly cursed Gaurī too. Then Sāvitrī the excellent lady of exquisite complexion, stood outside the sacrificial hall of her husband and lamented loudly.

110-111. She was seen lamenting by Viṣṇu and was consoled: “O splendid lady of large eyes, do not cry; do come to the assembly hall.

O splendid Brahmāṇī, participate in the sacrifice. Enter the excellent sacrificial hall and take up the girdle and the pair of silken cloths. Become initiated, O splendid lady; I bow down to your feet.”

112. On being told thus she said to him “I will not do as you say. I will go there where I will not hear this noise.”

113. After saying this much, she stopped and stood on a higher place on the ground.

114. Viṣṇu stood in front of her with palms joined in reverence. Bowing down with great devotion he eulogized thus:

Viṣṇu said:

115. Obeisance to you, O great goddess, identical with Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, Svaḥ and the three Vedas. O Sāvitrī that enable one to cross the impassable (Saṃsāra). You are remembered as the seven-fold speech.

116. All the sacred texts of eulogy as well as features thereof shall pertain to you. O goddess, obeisance to you.

117. You are white (fair), white in form (complexion). Your countenance is similar to that of the moon. You shine on the bosom of a deer illuminated by the rays of the moon. You are embellished with the pair of ears fitted with divine earrings.

118. You are Siddhi (Achievement). So also you are Ṛddhi (Prosperity), Kīrti (Fame), Śrī (Glory), Santati (Continuation of Progeny), Mati (Intellect), Sandhyā (Twilight), Rātri (Night); you are the Dawn and Kālarātri (Nightmare) is your own self.

119. Just as the land furrowed with a plough is to cultivators, the earth is to living beings, so also you sustain all living beings.

Even as he eulogized thus Sāvitrī of excellent holy rites spoke to Viṣṇu:

120. “Dear Son, I have been perfectly eulogized by you. You will become invincible. In your incarnations always you will endear yourself to your father and mother.

121. He who eulogizes me with this excellent prayer shall always be rid of all defects. He shall attain the greatest region.

122. Do go, dear son, and get the Yajña concluded.

123. In the two future Yajñas at Kurukṣetra and Prayāga, I shall remain by the side of my husband and carry out your suggestion.”

124. On being told thus, Viṣṇu went to the excellent chamber of Brahmā, O lady of excellent complexion. Sāvitrī came to Prabhāsa.

125. When Sāvitrī departed, Gāyatrī spoke these words:

126-133. “May the sages listen to my words which I utter in the presence of my husband. I am delighted and am ready to bestow boons.

If men adore Brahmā with devotion, they will get garments, wealth, grain, wives, happiness and sons. After enjoying happiness without any break, abode, sons and grandsons as well for a long time the devotee will attain salvation.

O Śakra, I proclaim this boon to you. In your fight with the enemies, Brahmā will go to the abode of the enemies and get you released. You will get the greatest happiness due to the death of the enemies along with their sons. You will rule over the three worlds without any thorn.

O Viṣṇu, when you incarnate in the mortal world and your wife will be abducted, you will have great misery along with your brother. You will then kill your enemy and regain your wife. After accepting her in the presence of Suras, you will rule over the flourishing kingdom. After reigning for eleven thousand years, you will go back to heaven. Your fame will be extensive all over the world and you will get the love and affection of the people.”

134. Gāyatrī then spoke this to all those Brāhmaṇas:

135. “Gods will become satisfied by propitiating you all. You are Devas of the earth. All of you will become adorable.

136.137. The Devas will go after worshipping you and distributing many gifts.

Especially in Prabhāsa you will perform the Japa of Gāyatrī, the mother of the Vedas, and will cross everything (difficulties) with a single Prāṇāyāma. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, you will never become defiled by the defects of Pratigraha. (acceptance of a Dāna).

158. If food is given at Puṣkara, all the Devas will be pleased. If one Brāhmaṇa is fed, it is as good as ten millions having been fed.

139. When cash gift (as Dāna) is placed in your hands all men will surmount the sins of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter and all other sins.

140. Due to the Japa and the three Prāṇāyāmas performed, you will become honoured. Every sin on a par with that of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter perishes at that very moment.

141. Gāyatrī repeated ten times destroys the sins committed in the whole birth (life time). If it is repeated a hundred times all the previous, accumulated sins are dissipated and if it is repeated a thousand times the sins of the three Yugas are dispelled.

142. After knowing this and performing the Japa you all will become worthy of adoration. There is no doubt about it. No hesitation need be entertained in this respect.

143. After performing my Japa along with the Śiras (head) (i.e. the final foot) and Oṃkāra of three and half Mātrās, all of you will become worthy of adoration. There is no doubt about it.

144. I am abiding in eight syllables. This universe is pervaded by me. I am the mother of all the Vedas. I am embellished by all the Vedas.

145. By means of the Japa of mine, all excellent Brāhmaṇas meet with perfect achievement. Due to my Jāpya all of you will attain domination over all.

146. A Brāhmaṇa may possess only the essence of Gāyatrī. Possessed of perfect control and restraint: he is superior to a master of four Vedas even if he be devoid of self-control indulging in eating anything and everything and selling everything indiscriminately.

147. Here in this assembly, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, Sāvitrī has cursed you all. Hence this boon has been granted to you all by me. If a devotee makes any gift here or performs the Homa rite, it shall be of everlasting benefit.

148. The Brāhmaṇas engaged in Agnihotra and performance of Homa thrice a day will go to heaven along with twenty-one generations of the family.”

149. In this manner, Gāyatrī granted boons to Śakra, Viṣṇu, Rudra, Pāvaka, Brahmā and the Brāhmaṇas. After granting the boons, she remained by the side of Brahmā.

150. The fact that Lakṣmī as well as all the youthful ladies were severally cursed, was mentioned by Hari (Viṣṇu).

151. Then Gāyatrī, the beloved of Brahmā, granted a boon to Lakṣmī.

152. “O my splendid lady, O my daughter, due to your stay, men will be able to delight all. No one will despise them. There is no doubt about this.

153. O lady of excellent countenance, all those who are glanced at by you (favourably) shall be meritorious. Their caste, family, habit and virtue shall be of highest order.

154. Men who are abandoned by you shall be miserable. They will never shine in an assembly. They will not be favourably considered by kings.

155. Excellent Brāhmaṇas will shower blessings on them. Great-grandsons, brother, father and preceptor will give them gentleman-like treatment.

156-157. ‘You are my kinsman. I cannot live without you. When you are seen my eyes become delighted and splendid. The mind is highly pleased. It is the truth. I speak the truth to you.’ These and similar words good men will speak to that person glanced at by you. They will delight persons.

158-160. O Indrāṇī, after coming to Svarga, Nahuṣa will solicit. Unable to see you, the sinner will get struck by the curse of Agastya. He will be immediately turned into a serpent and will request the sage thus. ‘O sage, I am doomed due to my arrogance. Be my refuge.’ At these words of the king, the sage will become merciful and speak these words.

161. ‘O scion of the family of Kuru, a king will be born in your family. On seeing your serpentine body he will put some questions to you and redeem you.’

162. Accordingly he (Nahuṣa) will abandon the state of python and will go back to heaven. When a horse-sacrifice is performed, you will once again go to heaven along with your husband. O lady of excellent eyes, you will attain everything through this boon of mine.”

163. Thereafter, all the wives of Devas were addressed by the delighted one (i.e. Gāyatrī): “You may be devoid of children but will never be miserable.”

164. After granting boons thus, Gāyatrī honoured by the world vanished even as all those were watching.

165. Then Sāvitrī, the divine lady, came to the holy spot of Prabhāsa on the peak of Kṛtasmara to the east of Śrīsomeśvara.

166. In the second splendid Dvāpara in the Cāksuṣa Manvantara, a Yajña was begun there by Brahmā, the creator of the worlds.

167. The noble-souled Devas and the excellent seven sages attended that Yajña. Those who had been earlier cursed in the Svāyaṃbhuva Manvantara became esteemed then.

168. Ever since then, they resorted to the holy spot of Prabhāsa.

169. Sāvitrī is the mother of the worlds. She blesses the worlds. If anyone devoutly adores her in accordance with the injunctions of the worship of Brahmā, he will certainly have a son.

170-172. A man who takes his holy bath in Pāṇḍukūpa and views the five Liṅgas installed by Pāṇḍavas will attain the benefit of a Yajña.

One who recites Brahmasūktas in the vicinity of the Sāvitrī Sthala on the Full-Moon day of the month of Jyeṣṭha, shall be rid of all sins. Thus the famous story of Sāvitrī has been narrated to you. It is destructive of sins. One who devoutly listens to this shall attain the greatest region.

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