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HINDUISM MYTHOLOGY
 
 

Skanda Purana (Kartika Purana)

Skanda Purana

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THE GRANDEUR OF AVANTIPURI

Sanatkumar says-’ Once, Parvati requested Lord Shiva to explain why Avantipuri was considered so holy by the devotees. Lord Shiva told her that it was so because there were numerous holy places situated over there. Lord Shiva had told her-’ There are four holy rivers flowing through the different regions of Avantipuri- Kshipra, Divya-nav, Neelganga and Gandhavati. There are temples belonging to eighty four shiva lingas, eight Bhairavas, eleven Rudras, Twelve Aadityas, six Ganeshas and twenty four goddesses. Not only this there are also temples of Lord Vishnu and Brahma. Avantipuri is spread in the radius of one yojan. There are temples belonging to ten different incarnations of Lord Vishnu- Vasudev, Anant, Balaram, Janardan, Narayan, Hrishikesh, Varah, Dharnidhar, Vaman and Lord Vishnu himself taking rest on Sheshnag. Apart from these there are many other holy places situated at Avantipuri, which enhances its sanctity and holiness.

 

THE DESCENT OF NARMADA

Explaining the reason why Narmada had to descend down to earth, Sutji narrated a tale to the assembled sages-’ Once, sage markandeya was taking rest at the bank of river Narmada where Yudhisthira accompanied by Draupadi arrived there. Yudhishthira curiously asked Markandeya about the reason he had chosen the bank of Narmada as his resting place when there were so many other holy places of greater significance. Sage Markandeya recounted a tale, which said how some sages had requested king Pururva to bring down river Narmada to the earth so that the whole world becomes liberated from its sins. Describing the holiness of Narmada, sages had told Pururava- ‘ The holy Narmada is capable of liberating the whole world from its sin. So, you should find means so that Narmada descends down to earth.’ Later on, Pururva did an austere penance to please Shiva. When Lord Shiva appeared before him, Pururva expressed his wish. Shiva instructed Narmada to descend down to earth but she told him that she needed a base for that to happen. Lord Shiva then instructed Paryank- the son of Vindhyachal mountain to hold Narmada while she descended down to earth. Prayank agreed to do that and this was how Narmada came down on earth. Initially, the whole world was flooded with the waters of Narmada but at the request of the deities she minimized her size. Narmada blessed Pururva and instructed him to perform the rituals of tarpan in the name of his ancestors so that they became liberated from their sins. Pururva complied and thus by performing tarpan liberated all his ancestors.’

Having finished his tale, Markandeya told Yudhishthira that one who takes a holy dip in Narmada attains virtues similar to that of performing Ashwamedh yagya.

NARMADA MARRIES PURUKUTSU

Markandeya says-’ O Yudhishthir! King Purutkutsu was Samudra in his previous birth and had been cursed by Brahma. The descent of Narmada on earth made the deities extremely delighted and they requested Narmada to give them the privilege of experiencing her divine touch. But, Narmada refused to give them that privilege on the pretext that she was still unmarried and it would not be proper for her to do so. All the deities then requested her to become the consort of Purukutsu to which she agreed. This way, Narmada married Purutkusu. After getting married, Purutkutsu requested her to liberate his ancestors so that they could attain to heaven. Narmada readily obliged and this way Purutkutsu contributed in his ancestors’ departure to heaven.

 

 

MANU RECEIVES A BOON FROM NARMADA

Markandeya says-’ Manu ruled over Ayodhya during Swayambhuva manvantar. One day, while he was going to sleep, he heard a peculiar sound, as if numerous small bells were ringing. He was perplexed and could not ascertain the cause of that sound so he asked sage Vashishth about this. Sage Vashishth made a revelation by which Manu was startled. Sage Vashishth told him- There is a holy place called Tripuri situated at the bank of river Narmada. The sound that you heard last night emanated from the small bells attached to number of aircraft kept on the roofs of the residences of such people who are virtuous. O king! Only Narmada is capable of giving salvation to lowly of sinners.’

Manu was highly impressed and decided to go to Tripuri along with his whole clan. All of them took holy dips in the Narmada and became liberated from all their sins. Manu performed a grand yagya at the bank of Narmada to which all the sages and hermits were invited. Narmada became pleased by his devotion and expressed her willingness to fulfill any wish that Manu desired.
Manu requested her help in bringing down Ganga and other holy rivers to earth. Narmada blessed him and said- In the first half of tretayuga, one of your descendants named Bhagirath would accomplish this great feat of bringing down holy Ganga to earth. In the second half of the same era other holy rivers like Kalindi, Saraswati, Sarayu, and Mahabhaga would also manifest themselves.

 

JAMDAGNI RECEIVES KAAMDHENU

Markandeya told Yudhishthir-’ Sage Jamdagni was a great devotee of Shiva and he lived in Narmadapur. He spent his day chanting mantras in the praise of Lord Shiva. Once, he performed an austere penance, which lasted for a month. Ultimately, Shiva manifested himself from the Siddheshwar Linga and appeared before him. Lord Shiva asked Jamdagni to ask for any thing he wished for. Jamdagni expressed his desire to have Kaamdhenu so that he could perform his rituals and other religious obligations without any problem. Lord Shiva blessed Jamdagni and disappeared. The next moment, Jamdagni found Kaamdhenu standing in front of his hermitage.

Now, Jamdagni got everything that he wished for. This way, he was a happy and contented life until one fateful day when he was killed by a greedy king named Kartaveerya, who subsequently took Kaamdhenu along with him. While the greedy king was still on his way, Kaamdhenu cursed him that very soon not only he but the whole caste of Kshatriya would be liquidated by Parshuram- Jamdagni’s son, as punishment for having committed such a ghastly sin of killing an innocent sage. After cursing Kartaveerya, Kaamdhenu went to her original abode-the heaven. Later on, when Parshuram learnt of his father’s slaying, he liquidated Kartaveerya and the whole caste of Kshatriya as had been prophesized by Kaamdhenu.

 

DESCRIPTION OF HELL

Yudhishthira requested Markandeya to describe what a sinner had to go through in Yamaloka and also that what kind of a person should be considered as the most ghastly sinner.

Markandeya replied- ‘ Donating food to needy people is an extremely virtuous deed and there is no virtuous deed greater than this. A person who donates cereals can be aptly called ‘Annadata’- one who provides food. One who has never donated cereals in his lifetime is definite to go to hell and has to tread an arduous path leading to it that is ridden with prickly thorns, pointed nails and other sharp objects. The entire path leading to hell is extremely dark and covered with large pits. The path is also covered with unbearably hot sand spilled all over the place. The sinner is forcibly taken by the Yamdoots despite their reluctance. The sinners repent for the sins they have committed but it is of no use to them, as they will have to reap the fruits of their evil deeds. They have to undergo all sorts of painful experience- they are forced to pass through fire and pits full of filth.

Those sinners who have atoned for their sins are not treated so harshly by the Yamdoots. After they appear before Yamraj, Chitragupta reminds them of all the sins they had committed. Thereafter, Yamraj orders his attendants to purify the sinners by putting them into the ocean of the Hell. There are Twenty-eight types of hells- Atighora, Raudra, Ghortama, Dukhjanani, Ghorrupa, Tarantara, Bhayanaka, Kaalratri, Ghatotkata, Chanda, Mahachanda, Chndakolahala, Prachanda, Varagnika, Jaghanya, Avaraloma, Bhishni, Nayika, Karala, Vikarala, Vajravinshti, Asta, Panchkona, Sudirgha, Parivartula, Saptabhauma, Ashtabhauma and Deerghamaya. Each of the latter hell is more horrific than the former.Sinners have to undergo unbearable pain and sufferings in the hell. They are tied up by very hot iron chains and hanged down from trees. Yamdoots attach hot and heavy iron balls to their feet and thrash them with hot iron rods. They are then put into wells of filth. The tongue of a liar is rooted out with brute force and a person, who shows disrespect to his elders and teachers, his mouth is filled with hot sands and boiling oil. Similarly immoral women, who do not fulfill their obligation towards their husbands, are thrown into a horrific hell named Lohakumbh. O Yudhishthir! A man’s life is too short and uncertain. One is not sure when his final call would come. So, one should try to lead a virtuous life to the best of his ability.’



 
 


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