Skanda Purana

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The Skanda Purana is the largest Mahapurana, a genre of eighteen Hindu religious texts.[1] The text is devoted mainly to the lilas of Kartikeya, a son of Shiva and Parvati, who is also known as Skanda. It also contains a number of legends about Shiva, and the holy places associated with him. This Mahapurana was recited by the sage Vyasa, and is available in distinct parts, sometimes fragmented too.

The contents[edit]

Traditionally, the whole corpus of texts, which are considered as part of the Skanda Purana is grouped in two ways. According to a tradition, these are grouped in six saṁhitās, each of which consists of several khaṇḍas. According to another tradition, these are grouped in seven khaṇḍas. The currently available printed editions of this text are published by the Bangabasi Press, Calcutta, the Shri Venkateshvara Press, Bombay (1910) and the N.K. Press, Lucknow and all these editions include seven khaṇḍas (parts): Maheśvara, Viṣṇu or Vaiṣṇava, Brahma, Kāśī, Āvantya, Nāgara and Prabhāsa.[2] In 1999–2003, an English translation of this text was published by the Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi in 20 volumes. This translation is also based on a text divided into seven khaṇḍas.

The seven khandas[edit]

The Maheśvara Khaṇḍa consists of three sections:[2]

  • the Kedāra Khaṇḍa (35 chapters)
  • the Kaumārikā Khaṇḍa or Kumārikā Khaṇḍa (66 chapters) and
  • the Arunācala Khaṇḍa or Arunācala Māhātmya, further divided into two parts:
    • Pūrvārdha (13 chapters) and
    • Uttarārdha (24 chapters)

The Viṣṇu Khaṇḍa or Vaiṣṇava Khaṇḍa consists of nine sections:[2]

  • Veṅkaṭācalamāhātmya (40 chapters)
  • Puruṣottamakṣetramāhātmya (49 chapters)
  • Badarikāśramamāhātmya (8 chapters)
  • Kārttikamāsamāhātmya (36 chapters)
  • Mārgaśirṣamāsamāhātmya 17 chapters)
  • Bhāgavatamāhātmya (4 chapters)
  • Vaiśākhamāsamāhātmya (25 chapters)
  • Ayodhyāmāhātmya (10 chapters) and
  • Vāsudevamāhātmya (32 chapters)

The Brahma Khaṇḍa has three sections:[2]

  • Setumāhātmya (52 chapters)
  • Dharmāraṇya Khaṇḍa (40 chapters) and
  • Uttara Khaṇḍa or Brahmottara Khaṇḍa (22 chapters)

The Kāśī Khaṇḍa is divided into two parts:[2]

  • Pūrvārdha (50 chapters) and
  • Uttarārdha (50 chapters)

The Āvantya Khaṇḍa consists of:[2]

  • Avantikṣetramāhātmya (71 chapters)
  • Caturaśītiliṅgamāhātmya (84 chapters) and
  • Revā Khaṇḍa (232 chapters)

The Nāgara Khaṇḍa (279 chapters) consists of Tirthamāhātmya.[2]

The Prabhāsa Khaṇḍa (491 chapters) consists of:[2]

  • Prabhāsakṣetramāhātmya (365 chapters)
  • Vastrāpathakṣetramāhātmya (19 chapters)
  • Arvuda Khaṇḍa (63 chapters) and
  • Dvārakāmāhātmya (44 chapters)

The six samhitas[edit]

The second type of division of the Skanda Purana is found in some texts like Hālasyamāhātmya of the Agastya Saṁhitā or the Śaṁkarī Saṁhitā, Sambhava Kāṇḍa of the Śaṁkarī Saṁhitā, Śivamāhātmya Khaṇḍa of the Sūta Saṁhitā and Kālikā Khaṇḍa of the Sanatkumāra Saṁhitā. According to these texts, the Skanda Purana consists of six saṁhitās (sections):

  • the Sanatkumāra Saṁhitā
  • the Sūta Saṁhitā
  • the Śaṁkarī Saṁhitā
  • the Vaiṣṇavī Saṁhitā
  • the Brāhmī Saṁhitā and
  • the Saura Saṁhitā

The manuscripts of the Sanatkumāra Saṁhitā, the Śaṁkarī Saṁhitā, the Sūta Saṁhitā and the Saura Saṁhitā are extant. A manuscript of a commentary on the Sūta Saṁhitā by Madhavācārya is also available.[2]

The other texts[edit]

The manuscripts of several other texts which claim to be part of the Skanda Purana are found partially or wholly. Some of the notable texts amongst these are: Himavat Khaṇḍa which contains Nepālamāhātmya (30 chapters), Kanakādri Khaṇḍa, Bhīma Khaṇḍa, Śivarahasya Khaṇḍa, Sahyādri Khaṇḍa, Ayodhyā Khaṇḍa, Mathurā Khaṇḍa and Pātāla Khaṇḍa.[2]

The popular narratives[edit]

Some of the popular narratives described in the Skanda Purana are:

  • The yajña (sacrifice) of Prajapati Daksha
  • The churning of the ocean and the emergence of Amrita (Ambrosia)
  • The story of the demon Tarakasura
  • The birth of Goddess Parvati and her marriage to Lord Shiva
  • The birth of Kartikeya
  • The killing of the demon Tarakasura by Kartikeya
  • The killing of Pralambasura
  • The queries of Karamdham
  • The killing of the demons Shumbh, Nishimbh and Mahishasura
  • An account of Vishnukund
  • The story of Padmavati
  • A description of various holy places associated with Shiva and Skanda
  • The story of Trishanku and sage Vishvamitra
  • A description of Narakas (Hell)
  • A description of Jyotirlingas – the important holy shrines associated with Lord Shiva.
  • A description of Navadurgas

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ganesh Vasudeo Tagare (1996). Studies in Skanda Purāṇa. Published by Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-1260-3
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Shastri, P. (1995) Introduction to the Puranas, New Delhi: Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, pp.118–20

Further reading[edit]

  • Mani, Vettam. Puranic Encyclopedia. 1st English ed. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975.

External links[edit]