The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The war between demon Kusha and Vishnu which is chapter 20 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 twentieth chapter of the Dvaraka-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 20 - The war between demon Kuśa and Viṣṇu

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

[Full title: The war between demon Kuśa and Viṣṇu and the placing of Śivaliṅga over and above the demon]

Prahlāda said:

1-3a. The demon Durmukha happened to hear the sounds of recital of Veda (i.e. Brahmaghoṣa) at that juncture. He got highly enraged and with eyes blood-shot in anger, he told Durvāsā, “We had beaten you up, but had left you free. So why did you the wicked soul come here again to get killed?” After saying so the stupid demon then came to hit him with blows after clenching his fists.

3b-4a. Seeing him running towards him the virtuous sage Durvāsā then told him, “You, the sinner, do not touch me, i.e. a Brāhmaṇa engaged in performance of his daily religious rites.”

4b-5. Seeing the demon excited enough to kill a Brāhmaṇa, Viṣṇu—the Lord of world then took out his sharp-edged discus and cut off the head of the demon to save Durvāsā.

Prahlāda said:

6-7. Seeing Durmukha to be dead, the demons became intolerant. Crying, they called out for one another saying, “all the demons hurry up and come together to go to that place where Durmukha has been killed.” All the demons heard that Durmukha had been killed and Durvāsā had again been saved by Viṣṇu.

8-9. With their eyes blood-shot with anger and with varieties of weapons in their hands they began to curse the Brāhmaṇa Durvāsā as well as Kṛṣṇa using abusive language condemning Kṛṣṇa as one with a tortoise-like back, an illegitimate son of a widow, an angry man and Durvāsā as a polluter of Veda, a person with all inclination to deprive one of yajña, a destroyer of yajña and as one sounding the death-knell of dharma.

10. Armed with varieties of weapons they began to scatter the celebrated sage, Viṣṇu and Saṃkarṣaṇa (an epithet of Balarāma) with clubs, javelins, maces and missiles.

11. Having lost their senses in anger, they were fighting with several weapons. Viṣṇu was surrounded from all sides by the ferocious looking demons.

12. It appeared as if Viṣṇu had been surrounded by the moon, the sun and the cloud besides Balarāma on his side. Then both of them hurriedly fixed the arrow to their respective tidy and strong bows.

13. In the ensuing great battle they killed most of the demons. Fearing death many demons were also driven away.

14. After seeing that the demons were either killed or made to flu away by him (i.e. Viṣṇu) Kūrmapṛṣṭha (an incarnation of Viṣṇu with a back resembling a tortoise), after giving his regards to Golaka made a retreat thinking his mission to be accomplished.

15. Golaka then striked Saṃkarṣaṇa (i.e. Balarāma) with three arrows. Seeing the eternal Balarāma wounded, Golaka then lost his senses with anger.

16. Swiftly rushing towards Durvāsā, he then attacked him on his forehead. Injured by the striking of fist, he fell down on the ground and began to shout.

17. After seeing Saṃkarṣaṇa lying on the ground and Durvāsā tormented with the injury on his forehead, he then said, “O God! do wait, do hold on. I have already killed the two heroes and my enemies by mace in the battle.”

18-19. After seeing the Brāhmaṇa to be lying on the ground and crying, Golaka then made up his mind to kill Kūrmapṛṣṭha (i.e. Viṣṇu). Taking out a sharp-edged arrow made of iron, he then aimed at the chest of the enemy (i.e. Viṣṇu).

20. As soon as the arrow was released from his hands, the same flew away after wounding Viṣṇu. The body of Kūrmapṛṣṭha got dismembered by the force of the weapon. This way humiliated all the forces of the Lord then began to flee in different directions.

21. Seeing the dismantling as well as vanquishing of all the forces including Golaka, the doorkeeper then went and conveyed the same to Kuśa—the king of demons.

22. Hearing about the death of Golaka, the king of the demons (i.e. Kuśa) then commanded all the demons to come together and prepare themselves fittingly for the battle.

23. Getting the order of Kuśa, all the demons including Pañcajana, et. al. then headed for the battle seated on chariots and elephants.

24. Kūrmapṛṣṭha stepped out with a collection of army comprising ten thousand soldiers, twenty thousand chariots and ten thousand elephants.

25. Accompanied by a large army and consisting of one lakh horse-riders and the same number of camel-riders, Vaka [Baka?]—the demon moved ahead.

26. Dīrghanakha—the able bodied commander moved ahead followed by his streams of army. Mahāmāya—the son of the minister of Kuśa was also there. The very strong and powerful demons, viz. Vighasa and Praghasa were also there.

27-29. The demons Urdhabāhu [Ūrddhvabāhu?], Bakrasira [Vakraśira?], Kañcuka, Śivoluka, Brahmāghna [Brahmaghna?], Yajnaha [Yajñaha?], Rāhu and Varvaraka [Barbaraka?] were there. The intelligent Sunāmā, the minister named Vasunāmā, the commander Ugradamṣtra and his brother named Mahāhanu were there. Besides them, there were also a good number of other demons equally enraged. With the trumpeting sounds of chariots they all began to move ahead with all eagerness to fight.

30. Taking bath and thereafter putting on white clothes and getting himself adorned with a garland made of white flowers Kuśa went into a deep sense of meditation on Bhuteśa (i.e. Śiva) to worship Śaṃbhu—the husband of Bhavānī.

31. He bathed the idol of Śiva with Pañcāmṛta (i.e. a mixture containing equal proportions of five ingredients, viz. milk, curd, ghee, honey and sugar) and massaged it with scented oil. He decorated the same with diamonds, jewels and a crown on its head bright like the rays of sun.

32. With singing and chanting of auspicious mantras he worshipped Mahādeva and then made the Brāhmaṇas to declare that “Let everything fare well.”

33. Then he put on dress studded with ornaments. His protective guard on the chest was decorated with gems. His copper-coloured crown on the head was illuminating like the bright sun.

34. He was also adorned with an excessively beautiful necklace. Decorated in this manner and as such shining brilliantly equipped with weapons the strong and powerful demon king looked up for his charioteer.

35. Then he asked Sunāmā and his minister Vasu to enquire was about the person and his purpose of killing all the demons.

36-38. Another demon Rūrū [Ruru?] said, “Yesterday, a Brāhmaṇa had come here with all determination to take a bath at this place of confluence of Gomatī with the sea. O king! when we the demons stopped him from doing so, he retreated but came back again accompanied by Viṣṇu and Saṃkarṣaṇa (i.e. Balarāma). O great king! the Lord of the world, a great sympathizer of the Brāhmaṇas, had been on a killing spree of the demons since then. Many demons had been killed by him while some had fled away.”

39. Sunāmā added, “Supported and accompanied by Vāsudeva, the Brāhmaṇa came here for bath. O king! tell us what option could we have except getting into the futility of a war?”

40. Kuśa became furious hearing such words of him. He then said, “Why should not I kill Keśava—the killer of Golaka?”

41. Saying so, the enraged master of the demons then got onto his horse to the loud beating of drums simultaneously.

42. He then saw the thousand-headed, the Lord of the gods and the bearer of discus in hand—Viṣṇu. Besides, he also happened to see the sinless Durvāsā.

43. Learning that Durvāsā happened to be a part and parcel of Lord Śiva, he decided not to kill him. On the other hand, he sent all the demons together to attack Viṣṇu.

44. With elephants similar in size like mountains, with chariots similar in size to clouds and with horses excessively active and swift, those demons encircled Viṣṇu completely from all sides.

45. The war of demons with both Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma appeared almost imminent. The other gods happened to witness both Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma to be completely encircled by the demons.

46. Then picking up his mace and plough, the powerful Balarāma killed the pre-eminent among demons comparable to Kālānala and Yama.

47. Getting themselves either vanquished or killed by the powerful Balarāma, the demons fled hither and thither.

48-49. With their eyes blood-shot with anger the best and the pre-eminent demons like Baka, Yajñakopa, Brahmaghna, Vedadūṣaka, Mahāmakhaghna, Jambha, Rāhu and Vakraśira as well as other demons then began to strike at Janārdana to tear him apart into pieces.

50. Then getting enraged both Janārdana and Saṃkarṣaṇa began to strike the strong demons with their respective discus and plough.

51. The head of Baka got severed from his body by the discus of Kṛṣṇa while the demon known as destroyer of yajñas got shattered completely by the mace of Balarāma.

52. Rāhu got killed by the discus while others by the mace. Witnessing their killing and thinking that they had been defeated completely, the remaining demons began to flee in all directions.

53-54. After seeing his troops getting killed and running hither and thither, Kuśa, the demon king got enraged and with his eyes blood-shot with anger told the charioteer, “Let us go there”. Then after going near him (i.e. Kṛṣṇa) he declared his own name by which he had earned his fame and then addressing him as Gadādhara (i.e. the bearer of the mace) asked him to give him a hearing as to why was he killing his demons?

55. Śrī Vāsudeva said, “These wicked souls are acting as hurdles to this meritorious spot of confluence of Gomatī with the sea which bestows liberation. Due to sin on their part from this angle, they have been killed by me.”

56. Kuśa said, “Don’t you know my presence here? So how can you leave this place remaining alive? If you get into a continuous fight with me, that will be your end and you will definitely not remain alive.”

57. After having said so, he then after assembling twenty weapons together, struck at Keśava. Assembling another eight weapons together, he struck the eternal Balarāma. After doing so he looked at the celebrated sage Durvāsā. But then realizing him to be a part and parcel of the God (Śiva) he asked him to leave the place without any delay.

58. But at the same time Śārṅga (i.e. an epithet of Viṣṇu) the best and foremost among the bearers of bow and arrow made all parts of the body of the demon Kuśa separate by striking his best of arrows. Then striking four arrows, he killed the four horses pulling the chariot of Kuśa.

59. By application of his half-moon shaped weapon, he separated the head of the charioteer. Before this he made his arrow defunct by his arrow and cut down the banner on the flag-staff of the chariot by another.

60-62a. With himself wounded and unseated from the chariot and his charioteer killed, Kuśa bacame [became?] disheartened. But then lifting up his heavy sword in hand he said, “If I kill you, my name will be considered for weighing in the scale of fame. Otherwise, if killed by a hero like you, I shall attain the ultimate passage. So Hari! please hold on and remain in the place you are in. I have forever taken refuge in the Lord Śiva.”

62b. (However) Seeing him running in the height of anger with sword in hand, Viṣṇu then sportively cut his head from the body by his sharp-edged Sudarśana discus.

63. Seeing the severed head of Kuśa lying on the ground, the demon Khañjanaka then carried it back in the chariot.

64. With the retreat of the demon Kuśa, Viṣṇu and Saṃkarṣaṇa then became relieved and with all happiness withdrew from the battle and returned along with Durvāsā.

65. (However) to compensate, they put the demon Kuśa in the temple of Śiva and tried to appease him by bathing and worshipping him with perfume, lighting incense sticks and by singing accompanied by beating of drums.

66. The demon suddenly, got back life by the grace of Śaṃkara and then getting up began to utter Śiva, Śiva.

67. After seeing the demon getting back life again, the demons considering that as something auspicious, with good feelings began to say, “Let you have long life.”

68. They further said, “What shall you reap by getting into the futility of war, if the Brāhmaṇa (i.e. Durvāsā) takes a bath there again and then proceeds on the direction of his own will?”

69. After hearing these words of them Kuśa said, “Hurry up and send the two who happen to protect the Brāhmaṇa.”

70-72. The virtuous sages! so ordered by the king (i.e. Kuśa), Sumanā (i.e. his minister) then proceeded ahead and after paying his respects to Viṣṇu and the bifearer of plough (i.e. Balarāma) told them, “Janārdana! Kuśa has sent me to you. His excellency wants to know as to what harm has he done that you have been killing the demons? You are free to leave after making Durvāsā to have a bath here. You must be aware that blessed by Mahādeva, Kuśa has already obtained immortality.”

73-75. Śrī Viṣṇu said, “You—ṃe sinners, always engaged in evil deeds are posing as obstacles on the road to this centre of pilgrimage which is a giver of liberation. Hence, you all demons will have to be killed without any doubt. Bring back the sacred kuśa grass, the sesame and the unbroken whole grains which Durvāsā carried along to use in the very activity of performance of worship and which, all of you threw into the water. All of you, leave this meritorious place of pilgrimage along with your carriers, your family members and with all the members of Kuśa lineage as per your awareness and enter into the region under the surface of earth.”

76. With his eyes reddened with anger after hearing such words Sumanā said, “Keep fighting. This won’t be possible.”

77. Sumanā then conveyed all that Viṣṇu told him to Kuśa. Kuśa got angry and became fully flared up after hearing him.

78. He got onto his chariot fast and then proceeded ahead to encourage the fighters. He remembered Pināki (an epithet of Śiva) identifiable by the bull on the flag-staff of his carrier, in his mind.

79. Subsequently, the horripillating [horripilating?] war of Keśava with Kuśa and other demons followed.

80. Yajñaghna hit at the head of Saṃkarṣaṇa with a heavy mace. But he fell on the ground getting hit in turn by Saṃkarṣaṇa on his head.

81. God Hari killed Kañcuka by his discus. Ullukaśva [Ulmuka?—ulmukaścātha] and Brahmaghna also got killed by him.

82. Besides them, many other demons got killed by Keśava. Kuśa got into the top of highest anger after witnessing his demon folks lying dead on the ground.

83. The ferocious Kuśa then attacked Keśava with the ultimate best weapon at his disposal. But the God enjoined with anger cut off the head of Kuśa.

84. Keśava saw his cut-off head falling down on the ground. With his sword, he then cut off his hands and feet into pieces.

85. Seeing Kuśa turned into pieces as a result of injuries inflicted upon him by Keśava, the demons then began to gather pieces of his body and thereafter taking them along went to Śiva’s temple.

86. The demon got back life instantaneously by the gracious favour of the bearer of trident (i.e. Śiva) and then getting up immediately he uttered, “Where is Viṣṇu?”

87-89a. Lifting up his mace and with anger he began to make advances to fight with Janārdana (i.e. Viṣṇu). Then seeing the already dead one to regain life and manifestedly speaking, Viṣṇu asked Durvāsā, “How is it that he (i.e. the demon) is not dying. As it is, I had separated the head from his body and had made his body into pieces. How is he getting back, life again? What could be the reason behind it? Please tell me.”

89b. After the God’s saying like this the virtuous sage then began to think and meditate.

90-91. Then becoming aware of the sole reason behind the same he told Madhusūdana that getting pleased with him Mahādeva had made Ruśa immortal. Hence, despite turning him into pieces, life-force was not being taken away from him. Then getting himself fully surprised, the God began to deliberate as to how could he kill him.

92. The God kept on telling himself that he had to devise a way by which the demon could not gain back life again as per the blessing of Śaṃkara. When the God was contemplating like this, the demon got up with a shield and sword in hands saying, “Wait, wait and remain where you were”.

93. Seeing Kuśa, happening to be a part and parcel of Siva, advancing once again with a mace in his hands, the God killed him by his mace.

94-95. With the attack of God, the head of Kuśa got separated from the body and he fell down on the ground. But Hari then swiftly took up the body of Kuśa lying on the ground. Putting it into a ditch, he then covered it completely with earth. Janārdana then placed the worshippable Śivaliṅga there (upon the covered ditch).

96. Subsequently as the son of Danu (i.e. Kuśa) regained consciousness, he saw the Śiva Liṅga placed above his head and began to think about it anxiously in an intense manner.

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