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The Essence of Puranas – Skanda Purana -1

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The Essence of Puranas – Skanda (Kartika)  Purana

Om Narayanam Namaskruthya Naramchaiva Narotthamam
Devim Sarasvathichaiva Tato Jagamudeerayet
Yasyajna Jagat Srishta Virinchih Paalako Harih /
Samhartha Kaala Rudrakhyo Namastasmai Pinaakiney
(Our Salutations to you Pinaakini! You have instructed Lord Brahma to create and Lord Hari to administer and you have assumed the task of Destruction as Kaala Rudra.)

Skanda (Kartika) Purana is the largest of all the major Eighteen Puranas, divided into Seven ‘Khandas’ or Branches viz. Maheswara Khanda, Vishnu Khanda, Brahma Khanda, Kasi Khanda, Avanthya Khanda, Nagara Khanda and Prabhasa Khanda. Maheswara Khanda is subdivided into three Upa Khandas as Kedara, Kaumarika and Arunachala. Vishnu Khanda has nine Upa Khandas, viz. Venkatachala Mahatmya, Purushottama Kshetra Mahatmya, Badarikashrama Mahatmya, Kartika Masa Mahatmya, Margasira Masa Mahatmya, Vishakha Mahatmya and Ayodhya Mahatmya. Brahma Khanda has three Upa Khandas viz. Sethu Mahatmya, Dharmaranya and Uttara / Brahmottara. Kasi Khanda has two parts viz. Purvardha and Uttarardha. Avanthya Khanda has three Upa Khandas viz. Avanti Kshetra Mahatmya, Chaturasiti Linga Mahatmya and Reva Upa Khanda. Nagara Khanda has Tirtha Mahatmya. Finally, Prabhasa Khanda has Prabhasa Kshetra Mahatmya and Dwaraka Kshetra Mahatmya. The division of the Skanda (Kartika) Purana into the Seven Khandas is to provide road-map assistance to the readers.
At the successful completion of Yagna organised by Sage Suta at Naimisharanya which was attended by several Munis, Sage Lomesh addressed the congregation about the various incidents related to Maheswara, Vishnu and Brahma as well as the significance of Maha Kshetras like Kasi, Avanthya and Prabhasa and the Preachings so narrated have been immortalised as Skanda (Kartika ) Purana.

Devi Sati’s self-immolation and Daksha Yagna destroyed
Tey Dhanyasthye Mahatmano ye Bhajanti Sada Sivam, Bina Sadaa Sivam yo hi Samsaaram tharthu micchhati, Samoodho Maha Papaha Siva dveshi Na samsayaha, bhakshitamhi garam ena Daksha Yagno vinaashithah, kaalasya dahanam eva krutam Raajyam pramochanam.( Those who perform ‘Bhajan’ to Sada Siva are worthy of commendation; who could possibly describe such Magnificent Bhagavan who devoured poisonous flames to save the Universe, destroyed Daksha Yagna, burnt off ‘Kaala’ and saved King Sweta from impossible hardships)!
Daksha Prajapati’s daughter Devi Sati, married to Maha Deva, felt insulted that neither she nor her husband was invited to a Maha Yagna conducted by her father. She attended the Yagna uninvited, despite Siva’s disagreement. Reluctantly Siva let her go but she was accompanied by Siva Ganas as a security. Not only Daksha ignored Sati’s presence, but he made unwarranted and offensive comments against Siva. He said that her husband was inauspicious as he was always surrounded by ghosts, spirits and mean powers and that was why he did not invite him to the Yagna and denied him of the share of the proceeds of the Sacrifice. Sati Devi felt infuriated at her father’s unholy remarks and jumped into the Sacrificial Fire and was charred to death, even before any one in the audience realised, especially the Sivaganas. As Narada conveyed the sad news, Lord Siva became furious and created Veerabhadhra with the instruction of devastating Daksha Yagna, uprooting the beard of Bhrigu who was the chief preceptor of the Yagna and killing Daksha Prajapati. As there was all round violence, bloodshed and obliteration, Lord Brahma prayed to the fuming Lord Siva by ‘Sashtanga Vandana’ or prostration. Brahma’s prayer stated:
‘Namo Rudraya Shantaaya Brahmaney Paramaatmaney, Twam hi Viswasrujaam strashtadhata twam Prapitaamahah/ Namo Rudraaya Mahathey Neela Kanthaya Vedhasey, Vishvaya Vishva beejaaya jagadaananda hethavey/ Omkaarastvam Vashatkaraya Sarvarambha pravarthakah, Yagnosi Yagna karmosih Yagnanaamcha pravarthakah/ Sarvesham Yagna karthranaam thvameva pratipaalakah, Yagnoshi Yagnakarmosi Yagnaanaam pravarthakah/ Sarvesham Yagnakartraanaam thvameva Pratipaalakah Saranayosi Maha Deva Sarvesham Praanino Prabho Raksha Raksha Maha Deva Putrashokena peeditham’.
( My Greetings to You Lord Rudra, You are the embodiment of Peace, Parabrahma, Paramatma; You are the Creator of Prajapathies who create and thus You are the father of fathers; You are the Preserver of the Universe; You are the Supreme, the Blue Throated, Vedhasey, the Basic Seed, the Cause of Happiness; the Yagna, the Yagna Karma, the Super Organiser of Yagnas, the Omkar, the Vashatkar,  I take refuge in You, kindly save us, be merciful and care for us the progeny of Yours).

 In reply, Lord Siva affirmed that whatever had happened was squarely the evil doing of Daksha himself (Sweeyena karmana Daksho hatho Brahmannasamsayaha). Brahma made a sincere request to forgive Daksha and the ever-merciful Siva planted the goat-head by killing the Sacrificial Goat. The revived Daksha was ashamed and prayed to Siva for forgiveness and Siva replied as follows:
Chaturvidha bhajanthey man Janaah sukruthinah Sadaah,
Aartho jignaasuraarthaarthi Jnaanischadwija Sattamaa /
Thasmanmey Jnaaninah Sarve Priyah Syunarthra samaayasah,
Bina Jnanena mam praapthu yathanthey they hi Balishah /
kevalam karmanaa twam hi samsaararthumichhasi,
Na vedaischa na daanaischan yagnaistapasakwachit/
na shaknuvanthimaam praaptum moodhaah karshavasaanarah,
Tasmatjnaana parobhutva kuru karma samaahithah/
Sukha Duhkha Samaa bhutva Sukhibhava nirantaram/
(Human beings pray to me for four end-uses, viz. to escape from the sorrow of wordly entanglements, to enquire about the purpose of existence, to fulfill desires and to genuinely seek me. Among these the best approach is indeed of a Gyani; others are all ‘Agnyanis’ or ignoramus only. Yagnas and such other Karmas without knowledge are imperfect ways of realising Paramatma; ignorant persons try to reach the Supreme Power Siva by reciting Vedas, perform charities or execute Yagnas and Tapasyas; these too are not the ideal means. The best way is to utilise ‘Gyan’ and perform ‘karma’with undiluted concentration and treat both worldly happiness and sorrows with equanimity).
In other words, rituals are not necessarily the ultimate for seeking Salvation, but dedication and enlightenment are. This was indeed a lesson to Daksha who paid too much stress on rituals with disregard to devotion and mental regulation that landed him in his devastation but for Lord Siva’s clemency and forgiveness.

Significance of Siva Puja- Similarity of Three Murtis
Indeed the multi-sided propitiousness of Siva Puja was described by Sage Lomesh: if one brooms the courtyard of a Siva Temple he is worthy of greeting him all over the world and trace his foot prints to forward him to Siva Loka. He who lights a ‘dhup’ (incense stick) and offer ‘Naivedya’ in a Temple of Maha Deva is blessed for two generations and attains name and fame instantly. Those who put up lights before the Deity of Hari-Hara would illuminate the families of their parents and offer ‘Naivedya’ to the Deity would attain that much of ‘Punya’ or the fruits of good deeds equating one Yagna.
If a reconstruction of a dilapitated temple of Hara or Hari is taken up, the person concerned gets double the benefit and if a temple is constructed afresh, then the number of bricks used would equate the number of years in the Loka of the specified Lord. If a bell is dedicated to a Temple, the donor would become reputed in Three Lokas soon. Frequent ‘darshans’ or visits to Temples would enhance the Punya account.The person whose tongue is always used to recite the ‘Panchakshara Mantra’-Om Namassivaya-is akin to Siva Himself. He who visits Siva Temple regularly in the morning hours burns off the sins of the current birth; the afternoon visit helps dissolve the sins of previous seven births and the night visits to the Siva Temple is devoid of sins totallly. The two words of ‘Si’ and ‘va’ denote propitiousness and sinlessness. If a person recites the name of Siva, thinks of Him, performs Siva Japa incessantly and dedicates himself to Siva in the mouth, hears about Him, thinks of Him, performs service to Him in all possible ways and means, organises ‘Puran Pathan’ or sings hymns, group singings, musicals, bhajans, Vedic Renderings of Namakam /Chamakam and Mahanyasas and encourages innovative and thoughtful means to worship, has direct accesss to Siva Loka.
While describing the worship of Siva Linga, Sage Lomesh emphasised that there was no difference of Bhagavan Siva and Lord Vishnu: Yo Vishnuh sah Sivo Jneyo yah Sivo Vishnureva sah, Peethika Vishnu Rupamsyallinga ruupee Maheswarah / Thasmallinga- archanam sreshtham Sarveyshaamapi vai Dwijah (He who is Vishnu is Siva and Siva be known as Vishnu Himself; the base is Vishnu and the ‘Linga’ is Maheswara and thus worship of Siva Linga is idyllic). Brahma worships the Linga made of ‘Mani’ Stone, Indra worships ‘Ratna’Linga, Chandra of Pearl made Linga, Surya of copper, Kuber of Silver made Linga, Varun of Ruby, Yama of Blue coloured Linga, Vayu of Kesari colour and so on. Inhabitants of Pataala too worship Siva. Gandharvas, Kinnaras, Daityas and Rakshasas were no exception.Bali, Namuchi, Hiranyakasipu, Vrishaparva, and several of Sukracharya followers were great Bhaktas of Maha Deva. Ravanaasura was an illustrious devotee of Maha Siva who bestowed a number of boons in appreciation of the Demon’s severe ‘Tapasya’ such as Gyan, Vigyan, invincibility in battles, and even double the number of heads of Panchamukha Parameswara! Ravan thus became the Lord of Trilokas. As Devas approached Nandi to entreat Maha Deva to get rid of the menace of Ravana, Nandi gave the background as to why he sported the face of a monkey when Ravana waited to meet Maha Deva; Nandi did not like the comments of Ravana about Nandi’s face and gave a curse that a monkey-face placed before a human being in the Avatar of Lord Vishnu would herald the death of Ravana. Nandi also advised Devas to pray for Vishnu (who too was the same as Siva) to annhilate Ravana. Thus Devas prayed to Vishnu and the latter advised the Demi-Gods to place Nandi ahead and quickly become ‘Vanaraas’ or monkeys. He would be born at Ayodhya and His consort Sita would be abducted by Ravana who ignored a human being while asking for boons from Siva. Various Devas assumed ‘Amsas’ or alternate forms like Indra as Vali, Brahma as Jambavaan, Surya as Sugriva, the Eleventh Rudra as Hanuman, Seshanag as Lakshman, Vishnu’s ‘Bhujadanda’ or shoulders as Bharat and Shatrughna, Brahma Vidya ( Vedavati in earlier birth) as Devi Sita etc. Indeed Ravan was an illustrious devotee of Maha Deva but despite that unparalelled devotion to Siva, the Demon’s wish-list and evil actions were totally misdirected to highly immoral purposes and wicked ambitions that had to inevitably lead to destruction; yet, the steadfast devotion to Parama Siva was credited to provide salvation not only to himself but also his family and followers. Ravana could never realise that both Maha Deva and Bhagavan Vishnu were one and the same, as a thick veil of Maya (Illusion) misdirected him totally, vindicating the absolute Truth that Vishnu and Siva were indeed just the same; foolish entities like Ravana followed wrong convictions!

Danavas defeat Devas, churning of Ocean and Emergence of ‘Amrit’
As Deva Guru Brihaspathi’s entry to Court of Indra was ignored as the latter was engrossed in music and dance by Celestial damsels, the Guru cursed Indra to soon lose the splendour of Indraloka. Indra got frightened and approached Brahma who went up to Lord Vishnu in turn. Bhagavan Vishnu confirmed that those who got the Guru insulted were as bad as hurting one’s own parents. Thus justifying the curse, Bhagavan Vishnu advised Indra and Devas to take refuge from King Bali of Patala Loka.
Already having learnt of the curse, Danava Guru Sukracharya asked Bali the King of Danavas of Patala to group his full strength of his army and armoury and attack Indra and Devas. But since Indra and Devas sought refuge to King Bali and as per the Rules of Ideal Aministration, Bali did not wage a battle but plundered the wealth of Indraloka. But all the valuables of Swarga brought to Patala got submerged in the Ocean since King Bali did not perform hundred ‘Aswamedha’ Yagnas as were performed by Indra. A Celestial Voice was heard by Davas and Danavas that the best way of recovering the heavenly wealth as also to materialise several objects including ‘Amrit’ (Ambrosia) would be by way of churning ‘Ksheer Sagar’ or the Ocean of Milk with Mandhara Mountain as the churning rod, requesting Maha Nag Vasuki or the Great String (in whose place Maha Garud, the ‘Vahan’ or the carrier of Maha Vishnu was allowed to bear the brunt of Three Worlds) and approaching Maha Vishnu Himself to take up the Incarnation as ‘Kurma’ or the stabiliser of the weight of the Mountain. The Super Churning of the Ocean commenced with the proud Danavas holding the Thousand Heads of Vasuki emitting poisonous flames perishing innumerable Danavas in the process while Devas were saved as they were placed at the tail of the Great Serpent. As the speed of churning caught momentum when both Danavas and Devas were engrossed in the historic mission, the whole world was engulfed by ‘Halahal’ or skywide poisonous blaze gradually swallowing up the Universe. That was the most critical juncture when Maha Deva swallowed the Halahal and avoided Universal Destruction; He kept the Halahal in His throat and hence assumed the epithet as ‘Nila Kantha’ or the Blue Throated thus ensuring the survival of the Lokas in His belly. As the churning got revived again, Chandra Deva emerged. Danava King Maha Bala roared and re-commenced the operation and in the process of churning appeared Surabhi-Kama Dhenu- the Celestial Cow followed by thousands of multi coloured cows which were requested for by Rishis. Then surfaced Celestial Trees of Four Kinds viz. ‘Kalpa Vriksha’, Parijata, Mango and Santana. The Jewel of ‘Kaustubh’which was like Suryamandal appeared and with mutual consent of Danavas and Devas it was gifted to Lord Vishnu. From the Ocean came up ‘Ucchaisva’ or the best of the Horses; ‘Iravata’, the best of the Elephants; and ‘Madira’-like intoxicants such as ‘Bhang’. Further churning resulted in Devi Maha Lakshmi- also known as ‘Anvikshaki’ (Vedanta Vidya), or Mula Vidya, Vaishnavi, Brahma Vidya, Maya and Yoga Maya- who instantly threw a ‘Varamala’or a neck lace around Bhagavan Vishnu and the whole Universe including Devas, Danavas, Rishis, Siddhas, Apsarsas, Kinnaras and Charanaganas were all immensely happy. Finally Dhanvanthari, the Demi God of Medicine, came to sight holding two pots of Amrit which were instantly snatched by Danavas and ran to Patalaloka and Devas too ran behind. King Bali asked Devas not to interfere with Amrit as he never interfered with several other valauble objects. Devas approached Lord Vishnu and the latter assured that He would personally intervene in the distribution of Amrit and assumed the incarnation of Devi Mohini. King Bali requested Mohini to help distribute and she agreed with a cautionary note the She should abide by Her own discretion, should not challenge the methodology or the Principles of distribution and that She would perform the task only next morning since everybody should consume the Ambrosia with physical and mental purity. Bali, Vrishaparva, Namuchi, Shankha, Budbud, Kalanemi, Vatapi, Kumbha, Nikumbha, Sund, Upasund, Nishumbha, Shumbha and other Danavas were lined up. Mohini said that before the distribution, some of the leading Devas like Indra and other Lokpals did deserve some charity and might be considered as their Guests of Honour. Bali was convinced that the principle of ‘Athithis’ or Guests was agreeable and the entire other lot would be given away to Danavas as per their Status.Then the whole clan of Daityas nodded their heads to the age old Theory viz. ‘Aadhou -hyabhyagathah pujyaa iti vai Vedika Shrutihi’ (Vedika Shruti says that at the very beginning, Guests be respected). Thus gradually fooling Danavas by spreading the net of Maya, Mohini gave away Amrit to all Devas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, and Apsarsas; but one Danava named Rahu sat in the queue of Devas by mischief and out of a feeling that his turn would never come otherwise.As Chandra complained to Vishnu alias Mohini, the latter cut off the head of Rahu who tried to take revenge on Chandra by swallowing him. But Chandra prayed to Maha Deva who rescued by keeping him in the lock of His hairs. Rahu chased Chandrama and Maha Deva kept Rahu’s many heads -which emerged due to the contact of Amrit- around His neck.

Devas regain Swarga, Indra commits/ dissolves ‘Brahmahatya’ and reinstated
As Indra got back his status following the battle of Danavas and Devas, several Danavas were killed where as Devas had the advantage of Amrit. Sukracharya performed severe Tapasya and secured ‘Mrita Sanjeevani’ and sought to revive the lives of Danavas, especially King Bali who committed suicide. Brahma named Vishwarupa as the Priest since Guru Brihaspati was unavailable even before the time of Churning of the Ocean.
Vishwarupa had three heads, one to conduct Yagnas and the other two for non-virtuous tasks like drinking. Originally from among Danavas, he was partial to them by reciting pro-Deva mantras loudly and pro-Danava mantras quietly. Indra observed this trend of partiality and fraud and one day by observing the open cheating of Devas by anti Deva Mantras became furious and killed him. Indeed, killing a Brahmana is among the ‘Pancha Pathakas’-‘
Brahma hatya Surapanam Steyam Gurvinyagamah Ithyesha mapyaghavathami –
dameva cha nishkruthih, Namavyaharanam Vishnorthasatdvishayah mathih’
(Those who commit the unpardonable grave sins such as Killing of a Brahmana, drinking alcohol, thieving, and adultry  have only one recourse to free from the sins viz. to chant the hymns of Bhagavan which alone would enlighten the mind and fill up with Godliness). Indra left his Loka and kept on running out of fright from the grave Sin and performed Tapasya hiding in a pond for three hundred Divya years. Meanwhile, there was chaos in Indraloka as any Kingdom where a Grave Sinner rules, there would be all round misery, death, devastation and famine. Indra had not only killed a Brahmana, but also molested his Guru- like Gautami’s wife. With great remorse and shame, Indra approached Brihaspati who told Indra that any sin commited knowingly would have far more intensity than otherwise for which there could be no ‘prayaschit’ or remedy. Meanwhile Sage Narad suggested Nahush to become a temporary Indra, till Indra returned after long period of penance. Nahush had performed ninety nine Ashvamadh Yagas. But he did not really deserve to be the King as he desired to have Sachi Devi, the wife of former Indra. She did not indeed like the idea of her becoming Nahusha’s wife; she said that every Devata had one specific ‘Vahan’ (Vehicle) but Nahusha had none and after securing one, he could approach her. Nahush selected for himself a ‘Palki’that flies without the consent of its owners, viz. two well read Brahmanas; Nahusha said: ‘Sarpa Sarpa’, which meant Go Go at once’. The Brahmana owners felt that Nahusha was disrespectable to them and purposively misunderstood that Nahush wanted to become Serpents and threw him down the mountains and he was converted as ‘Ajagara’, a huge serpent. A King like Nahusha who is arrogant, desirous of other’s wife and impertinent to virtuous Brahmanas would indeed deserve this kind of treatment!
As there was no King of Swarga, with Indra was at large for fear of ‘Brahmahatya’ sin and the interim King Nahusha was cursed as an ‘Ajagara’down the mountain valleys, there was disorder and confusion. Indrani and Brihaspati accompanied by Senior Devas discovered Indra hiding in Manasarovar, a waterbody, where the Brahmahatya Shakti could not enter. In fact Brahmahatya Devi was alert to catch Indra if he came out of the water body. Brihaspati made an agreement with the Shakti to divide the Great Sin into four parts; one quarter of the Sin be excused in view of the ‘Devakarya’or the Divine Task of liberating Indra since Indraloka was in confusion without a King and what was worse that Vishvakarma’s had launched a powerful Yagna to obliterate Devas and Sages;  the first part of the Sin be borne by Bhu Devi on the understanding that Lord Krishna when born in Dwapara Yuga would purify the entire Earth; the second part of the Sin would be distributed and  absorbed in the Oceans, Rivers, Streams and various water bodies all over the Universe; the third part would be shared by trees, forests and the greenery ; finally the fourth part would get dissolved by the proportionate sins committed by women by not following the feminine duties to fathers, grandfathers and husbands and their families. Thus the totality of the ‘Brahmahatya Paataka’of Indra got dissolved and he got reinstalled as the King of Indraloka.

Vritrasura vs. Indra and Sage Dadhichi’s illustrious sacrifice
Pursuant to the killing of Viswarupa by Indra, his father Viswakarma being keen on revenge performed relentless ‘Tapasya’ to Brahma who granted the boon of begetting a mighty son who could defeat Indra and Devas. A boy of huge body dimensions and invincibility named Vritrasura was born and he grew not only in strength but extraordinary mental and spiritual capability.As Indra was in  panic and distress, he approached Brahma who advised to request Sage Dadhichi to sacrifice his backbone and head which could destroy Vritrasura and no other force.
Keeping in view the Divine Task involved, the Sage made the biggest sacrifice of his life and allowed the ‘Asthidaan’ or the charity of his bones.Indra commissioned Surabhi to create a ‘Vajra’ from the Sage’s backbone and an ‘Astra’- mantrik arrow-from Dadhichi’s head, known as ‘Brahma Sira’. Surabhi materialised various other ‘Astra-Sastras’ for the use of other Devas from the powerful and mantra-purvak bones of the Maha Muni. The wife of Dadhichi called Suvarcha Devi who was away when the sacrifice of bones was executed was horror-struck to learn of it and gave a curse to all Devas to become childless, cried at the unbearable loss of her husband sitting under a pipal tree and gave birth to a radiant son named Pippalad. She blessed the child to become a learned Sage to be near the Pipal tree for long and entered into a ‘Samadhi’ to join her husband. Meanwhile, the battle of Devas and Danavas broke out under the unique leadership of Vritrasura. Demon Nahuchi became such a ruthless and fierce opponent that even the Vajra could hardly hurt a body hair of his! A Celestial Voice was heard by Devas that Nahuchi be lured to fight on the Sea-shore and the foam of the waves was the key to end up the demon. As the great combatant Nahuchi was destroyed, Vritrasuara entered the battle field and  Devas, Dikpalakas, Navagrahas, Gandharvas and the rest took to defensive positions and the battle was on for a while till ‘Pradosha Samay’ or dusk time and the fight was to resume the next day. This helped Devas to perform the Pradosha Vrata to secure victory against the demons.

Pradosha Vrata-Procedure of Worship to Lord Siva and its ‘Udyapan’
Deva Guru Brihaspathi taught the Procedure of Worship to Bhagavan Siva on Kartika month’s Sukla Paksha Pournami or the full moon day; On that day, during the noon time one has to perform Puja formally to a Siva Linga; if the Puja is done to a Linga in a Village, it would be good, but outside village/Township is hundred times better; another hundred times better in a forest; and on a mountain top or a Tapovan, it is thousand times better!
At Pradosh time, the devotee should observe silence, light up thousand or at least thirty two lights with ghee (classified butter), perform ‘Shodasopacharas’ with flowers, fruits, incense sticks, sandal paste, naivedya (food offering) and so on. Later on, the devotee should execute hundred and eight ‘Pradakshinas’ or circumambulations and Namaskars followed by ‘Stuti’ or commendation as follows:
Siva Stuti:
‘Namo Rudraya, Neelaaya, Bhimaya Paramaatmaney,
Kapardiney Sureshaya, Vyomakeshaya vai Namah/
Vrushabhadwajaaya Somaaya Somanathaaya Shambhavey,
Digambaraaya Bhargaaya Umaakaanthaya vai Namah,
Tapomayaya Bhavyaya Sivasreshthaaya Vishnavey,
Vyalapriyaya Vyaalaaya Vyalaanaampathaye Namah /
Mahidharaya Vyaghraya Pashunam pathaye Namah,
Puraanthakaaya Simhaaya Shaardulaaya Makhaaya cha /
Meenaya Meena nathaaya Siddhaya Parameshtiney,
Kaamaanthakaya Buddhaaya Buddheenaam pathaye namah /
Kapothaya Vishishtaaya Sishtaaya Sakalaatmaney,
Vedaaya Veda Jeevaaya Veda Guhyaya vai Namah /
Deerghaya Deergha Rupaya Deerghaarthaya vinaashiney,
Namo Jagatprathishthaaya Vyomarupaaya vai Namah/
Gajaasura Mahaakaalay andhakaasura bhediney,
Neelalohitha Suklaaya Chanda Munda Priyaya cha /
Bhakti Priyaya Devaaya Jnaaney Jnaanavyaya cha,
Maheshaya Namasthubhyam Mahadeva Haraaya cha /
Trinetraya Tri Vedaya Vedaangaaya Namo Namah,
Arthaya cha Artha rupaaya Paramaarthaya vai Namah /
Viswa Bhushaya Viswaya Vishwanaadhaya vai Namah,
Shankaraayacha Kaalaaya Kaalaavayarupiney /
Aruupaaya Viruupaaya Sukshma Sukashmaya vai Namah,
Smashaana vaasiney Bhuyo Namasthey krutthi vaasasey/
Shashaanka Shekharayeshaa yograbhumishayaya cha,
Durgaya Durgapaaraya Durgaavayava sakshiney/
Linga Rupaaya Lingaaya Lingaanaam pathayenamah,
Namah Pralaya Rupaaya Pranavarthaya vai Namah/
Namo Namaha kaarana kaaranaaya Mrityunjayaaya atmabahva swarupiney,
Sri Thriyambikaayaasitikantha Sarva Gauripathey Sakala Mangala hetavey namah/
[My Greetings to Rudra, Nila, Bhima, Paramaatma, Kapardi (Jatajuta dhaari), Sureswara (Super Lord of Devaas), Sky coloured like thick haired Vyomakesha; Greetings to Vrishabhadwaja or Carrier of Flag with Bull Insignia, Soma accompanied with Uma, the Lord providing safety to Chandra, Bhagavan Shambhu, Digambara or the Wearer of clothes of all Dishas or Ten Directions (that is naked), Bharga or the resplendent personality worthy of devotion, and Umakantha. My veneration to the Embodiment of ‘Tapas’, Bhavya or the personification of Auspiciousness, Sivasreshtha, Vishnurupa, Vyalapriya or who has penchant for Snakes, has the Form of Snakes and is the Chief of Snakes; Mahidharaya or wears the brunt of Prithvi, Vyaghraya or Tigerlike, Pashupathi or the Lord of Beings, the annihilator of Demon Tripura, Lionlike and Yagnamaya. Greetings to Siva who is  Fishlike, the Lord of Fishes, Siddha, Parameshthi, the destroyer of Kamadeva or the alternate name of desire, the core of Knowledge and mental maturity, Sarva Sreshtha, Sadhu Purusha or the Essence of Goodness and Sarvaatmaney or the Soul of one and all. My adulation to Veda Swarupa, the Provider of Life toVedas, Vedagruhnaya or the inner tatva of Vedas, Dirghaya, Dirgha Swarupa, Dirghaartha Swarupa and Avinaashaya or Indestructible, the Creator of Universe, the All Pervasive, and the Destroyer of Demons Gajasura and Andhakaura. My exaltation to the Beloved of Bhaktas, Parama Deva, the hub of Gyan and the Source of knowledge, Mahesha, Maha Deva, Hara, Trinetra, Tri Veda, Vedanga, the means of Artha ( wealth), Kama (Desire) and Paramartha (Salvation).My respects to Viswabhusha, Viswarupa, Viswanadha, Shankara, Kaala and Kaala-avayava Rupa. My salutations to Siva who has no Rupa, has Vikruta Rupa, and ‘Sukshmakshma Swarupa’ or the Tiniest Form. My esteem to ‘Smashanavaasi’ or the Dweller of Grave Yards, Vyaghracharma dhaari or the Wearer of Tiger Skin, Chandra -sekhara or who sports Moon on His head and the Supreme God who sleeps on frightening grounds. My worship to Paramatma who is ‘Durgama’or unattainable and a limb to limb visualiser of Devi Durga. My devotion to Lingarupa, the Cause of Linga and the Cause of Causes or the Chief of Causes. My ‘Sashtanga Namaskar’to Maha Pralaya Rudra, the heart of Pranava or Omkara, Mritunjaya or the Triumph of Death, Sri Triambika, Nilakantha or the Blue Throated, Sharva, Gauripathey and ‘Mangala hethavey’ or The Origin and Foundation of Auspiciousness.] Whoever is desirous of performing Pradosha Vrata ought to recite the Siva Stothra; by so saying Guru Briahaspathi asked to perform the Padosha Vrata at once and take on Demon Vritrasura to secure Glorious Victory by the Grace of Maha Siva.Deva Guru also explained the background of Vritrasura who was cursed by Devi Uma Herself in his earlier birth as Chitrarath, a Celestial King. The latter was travelling various Dwipas by air and witnessed Siva with Devi Uma on His lap and joked that Siva too like human beings could not resist the temptation of women. Devi Uma cursed the King at once to give birth and assume the form of a Raakshasa and that was the origin of Demon Vritrasura.
‘Udyapana’ (Conclusion) of the Pradosha Vrata: Guru Brihaspathi explained the Procedure of Udyopana as follows: On a silver Murthi of ‘Vrishabha’ be arranged a Throne over which are to be seated Devi Uma on the lap of Bhagavan Siva; the details of Siva are Three Eyes, Five Heads and Ten Hands presented clearly; Devi Uma / Devi Maheswari’s Murthis be made of Gold. A cloth be wrapped on the back of Vrishaba Deva and the Murthis are arranged in a copper container.The Devotee should keep ‘Jaagaran’ or be awake through out the night with devotion and sincerity. ‘Panchamrit Snaan’ or Bathing with five items viz. milk, curd, ghee, honey and sugar should be done with the following Mantras: Milk-Goksheera dhama Devesha Goksheerena maya kritam, Snapanam Deva Devesha Grihana Parameswara (Devesha! Deva Deveshwara! Parameshwara! Please accept cow’s milk with which I am bathing you); Ghee Snaan-Sapeershaa cha maya Deva Snapanam kriyatedhuna, Grihaana Shraddhaya dattham tava preethyartha meva cha (Now I am bathing you with ghee, kindly accept my offering); Madhu Snaan- Edham Madhu maya dattham tava thruptyartha meva cha, Grihaana Swam hi Devesha mama shanthiprado bhava (For your happiness Devesha! Kindly accept honey and bestow peace to me); Sugar- Sithaya Deva Devesha Snapanam kriyathey maya, Grihaana Shraddhaya datthaam Suprasanno bhava Prabho (I am bathing you with Sugar Prabho! Kindly be gratified and bless me). After Panchamrit Snaan, provide ‘Arghya Pradaan’ or offer sacred water; Paadyam or water for cleaning feet; ‘Aasanam’or Seating; ‘Aachamanam’(water for sipping); Yagnopaveetam ( Sacred Thread with Brahma grandhi suitable for executing Brahma Karmas like Vedic Yagnas), Vastram ( Cloth as a Present with blessings for longevity); Chandanam ( offering Sandal Paste with blessings to provide Sweet aroma like Life to the devotee); Dhupam ( offering Incense material to bless the devotee with Peace); Deepam-Deepam hi Paramam Shambho Ghritaprajjvalitham maya, Dattam grihaana Devesha mama Jnanaprado bhava ( I am offering Light with ghee to improve my Gyana); Aarathi: Deapavalim maya dattham grihaana Parameswara Aaraathirka pradaanena mama Tejahprado bhava (Parameswara! The Deep mala which is being offered be kindly accepted and aarthi given in your honour be blessed with radiance to me.) Thus fruits, lights, Naivedya or Food Offerings and ‘Taambula’ or betel leaves and nuts be offered step by step and observe a festive atmosphere with music, dance, bhajan and various devotional activities which are dear to Bhagavan Siva.
Pursuant to the successful conclusion of the Pradoshi Vrata, Indra joined the battle along with others; Vyomasura fought with Yamaraja, Thikshnakopa clashed with Agni Deva; Dhum and Athikopa struggled with Vayu Deva; Kubera was after Demon Kushmanda and many other stalwarts on either side fought fiercely with deadly weapons. Devas had a field day in smashing thousands of Demons happily utilising the bones of Dadhichi and the Danava soldiers resorted either to self defence or retreating from the battle. Vritrasur advanced into the thick of the encounter making such frightful sounds which reverberated across the Earth; there were continuous shootings of missiles far and wide and except lightnings of powerful arrows there was pitch darkness all around, coupled with panic stricken horror cries of death and destruction.With the blessings of Maha Deva who was pleased with the Vrata not only by Indra but various other Devas too, the mighty Demon Vrirasura fell with the final blow of Dadhichi’s backbone tactfully utilised by Indra and as soon as the battle concluded with victory of Devas, the remaining left over Danavas took to their heels to Patala and Indra was reinstalled as the King of Swarga.

Kartikeya exterminates Tarakasura
Lord Siva was engaged in continuous ‘Tapasya’in recluse and was disinterested in usual activities following the self-immolation of Devi Sati’s life after Daksha’s insults at Daksha Yagna. The Demon Tarakasura did rigorous penance and obtained a boon of invincibility except by a child of Lord Siva as the latter was in meditation and was very unlikely to wed and beget a child. Meanwhile King Himavant was blessed with a daughter Girija as Devi Bhagavati’s incarnation and at her age of eight approached Lord Siva to help Him for His daily pujas and Bhagavan agreed reluctantly.
In course of time as Girija continued to serve Parama Siva in the chores of worship, the Deities, who were frustrated with the dreadful deeds of wickedness of Tarakasura hurting Devas, Sages, and the Righteous Beings, planned that Manmadha the God of Love along with Devi Rati would use his flowery arrows to kindle thoughts of Love in Bhagavan’s mind in favour of Devi Girija as a stepping stone for their wedding to beget a son to Siva and Girija who alone could kill the imperishable Tarakasura.But the plan of Devas got badly misfired, since Bhagawan’s third eye of fury opened and Manmadha got burnt as ashes. The inconsolate Rati Devi appealed to Lord Siva as after all it was at the behest of Devas that Manmadha acted for a ‘Devakarya’ or a Divine Task and the brunt was borne by her husband! Devi Girija assured Rati Devi that she would help to revive Manmadha and also please Bhagavan to ask for her hand in wedding. She commenced such rigorous meditation as would shake up the whole Universe by not taking food for long, not even consuming dried leaves dropped from trees thus earning an epithet of ‘Aparna’ and finally even discarding water. As the Trilokas were ablaze with the heat of her Tapasya, Devas and Sages approached Lord Vishnu who assured that Bhagavan Siva was indeed a ‘Purana Purusha’ or the Most Ancient, approachable to one and all with clean mind; Varenya or Varaneeya (Devotion worthy) and the Paratpar Paramatma. Thus along with Brahma and Devas, Vishnu prayed for the vision of Pinakadhari Maha Deva who was in a Yoga Samadhi with Vasuki Serpent as Yagnopaveet or the Sacred Thread, Kambal and Aswatar Snakes as His earrings, Karkotak and Kulik as wrist ornaments, Shankh and Padma Serpents as shoulder ornaments, tiger skin as loin cloth, Bhagirathi Ganga and Ardha Chandra or half moon on His head inside the jatajut or His twisted hair and Blue Throat, while Nandi Deva too was nearby. As Lord Brahma eulogised Maha Deva, slowly the latter opened His eyes and described the prevailing situation created by Demon Tarakasura, Brahma’s boon that only Bhagavan’s son could kill him, the efforts made by Himaraja and Devi Girija whose Tapasya of extreme nature was bursting into flames across the Universe, the burning of Manmadha and Sati’s agitation and finally the grand request being submitted to Bhagavan to wed Devi Girija which would eventually lead to the birth of an Illustrious Son who would exterminate the hazardous Demon Tarakasura.Bhagavan replied that as far as Kama Deva was concerned, the decision to burn him off was justified as all the Devas and such other Celestial Beings who had been victims of passion and worldly temptations were unstable of mind and action thus far and after Kamadahan or the destruction of Kama, they would all be like Himself and could all now concentrate in Samadhi the pursuance of  Truth and Virtue and seek real bliss of Sat-Chit-Ananda; Bhagavan further said that ‘Kama’ would inevitably lead to ‘Krodha’ or anger, Krodha would lead to ‘Sammoha’or infatuation and rigidity of thinking, Sammoha would further lead to ‘Bhrama’ or Maya / Illusion which would for sure camouflage Reality or Truth or the Everlasting; thus Kama the root cause be better put ablaze.

Meanwhile Parvati was fully engrossed in high meditation. Bhagavan Siva was indeed impressed but desired to test her sincerity and unswerving attachment to Him. He took the form of a Brahmachari and enquired from Devi Girija’s associates around her as to who she was and why was she performing such severe Tapasya? The associates replied to the queries and the Brahmachari had a hearty laugh that the Tapasya of such severity was a sheer waste as the Tapaswini was replete with ignorance since Rudra was an abhorable and wild person with a ‘kapaala’ (skull) in hand, a dweller of Smashaan (Burial Ground), an odd exhibitionist of poisonous serpents all over His Body, a bearer of Tiger skin as Loin Cloth, an unkempt and ugly hair style with water flowing from head, always in the highly inauspicious and disgusting company of Pisachas, Goblins, Pramatha Ganas and a typically crazy creation of God! This beautiful and attractive lady coming of a wonderful family background could indeed wed a Demi-God like Indra, Dharmaraja, Varuna Deva, Kubera, Vayu or Agni, but never ever that horrible species like Rudra! Devi Parvati got infuriated with white anger and asked the Brahmachari to be lifted and thrown out at once to have affronted such Mahatma; the stupid and arrogant person was an unpardonable sinner, a Veda-dushak and a brainless brute! Bhagavan Siva then showed up in His real form to Devi Parvati who felt shy and reminded Rudra that She was a reincarnation of Devi Sati and that She gave birth to Devi Meena with the immediate and noble cause of begetting a Son, who alone could free the Universe from the great peril of Tarakasura. On being asked her by Lord Siva for a boon, Devi Parvati desired that Bhagavan should approach her father Himavanta to allow Him to wed her! To this Siva replied that Parvati had indeed declared her real form of Maya or Illusion and that of Maha Tatva which was a display of the interaction of three Gunas of Satva, Rajas and Tamas and that He would never extend His hand to ‘receive’ as Bhagavan was always a ‘Giver’!!

However, Bhagavan Siva deputed ‘Sapta Rishis’-the illustrious Seven Sages viz. Marichi, Atri, Angeera, Pulasthya, Pulaha, Kratu and Vasishtha- to Himavant’s residence to formally present Devi Parvati and Himavant proposed his daughter to wed Siva after consulting the bride’s mother Mena and  the co-Mountains like Meru, Nishadh, Gandhamadan, Mandarachal and Mainak. The Sapta Rishis who conveyed the most auspicious news to Siva and suggested that Lord Vishnu be immediately called and along with Him Lord Brahma, Indra, Dikpals, Devas, Rishiganas,Yakshas, Gandharvas, Nagas, Siddhas, Vidyadharas, Kinnaras, Apsaras and their spouses and cohorts. Sage Narada among the Sapta Rishis was commissioned to personally invite Vishnu, Brahma, Indra and Devas. Gargacharya was asked to supervise the rituals of the wedding and Viswakarma constructed the ‘Mangala Vedika’ or the Auspicious Platform to perform the Wedding and oversee the decorations. Chandra provided coolness in the atmosphere, Surya the luminosity, Vayu Deva blew fragrant airs and Indra organised dance, music and instrumental extravaganza. The Bridegroom arrived on Nandi, accompanied by Vishnu, Brahma and Devas, Maharshis, Pramathaganas, Rakshasas, Ghosts, Goblins, Pisachas and Spirits. Indeed the unprecedented and the Most Glorious Wedding of Siva-Parvati was the unique talk of the entire Universe. At the Wedding ‘Muhurat’, Himavan declared: ‘I, Himavan of the Gotra and clan of Mountains have the greatest privilege of offering the hand of my daughter Devi Parvati to Parama Siva in the august presence of Brahma and Vishnu. In turn, I wish to know the Gotra and Vamsa of Bhagavan’. As Sage Narada lifted his Veena instrument, Himavan stopped Narada not to play on it as a reply about the Gotra and Vamsa of Bhagavan; Narada told Himavan that the Gotra and Vamsa of Maha Siva was ‘Naad’ or Sound and that was why Narada lifted the Veena as a reply! Bhagavan is ‘Naadamaya’or the Embodiment of Naada and one could realise Siva only through Naada, as He has no Gotra and no Vamsa since He is above these nomenclatures and yet belongs to all Gotras and all Vamsas. He has neither beginning nor end; He is the Most Supreme Energy beyond comprehension! Then Himavan gave the ‘Kanyadaan’ or the offering of his daughter saying: ‘Imam Kanyaam thubhyamaham dadami Parameswara! Bharyartham prathi gruhneeshva’ (Parameswara! I am offering my daughter as your ‘Dharma Patni’; kindly accept). After wedding, Maha Deva and Devi Parvathi moved on to Mountain Gandhamadan to a luxurious and lonely place for their honeymoon. As Bhagavan’s virility was so potent that parts of humanity were getting destroyed and Vishnu asked Agni Deva to take the form of a Hermit and asked Parvati to donate it and extended his hand which was immediately consumed by Agni even before Her eyes. Parvati got angry and cursed Agni to become ‘Sarva Bhakshak’ or he who consumes everything. Agni could not bear the brunt of the virility of Maha Siva and begged Him to show a way to pass it on to someone; Siva advised that the same be planted into virtuous women and Sage Narada annotated that such women of high merit taking bath on an early morning in the instant month of Magha would be attracted to Agni and his hot flames and they would be the best choice for the transfer of the virility in particles. As advised by Narada, Krittikas approached Agni seeking warmth from the cold morning and Agni transferred some drops of virility to the ladies through their skin pores. Kritthikas got pregnant and their angry husbands gave a curse to them to roam on the Sky.They became Stars in a constellation and aborted their pregnancies. The major portion of the virility got left however on top of the Himalayas which was lifted by a crane and pushed into Ganges and the drops which were radiant like fire sparks got meshed up in the river bed plants (Sarkhand) of Ganges, who carried the foetus to a secluded place in the bushes thus emerging a Six Headed Child Kartikeya! As soon as the boy of highly chiselled face and limbs was born with extraodinary splendour, there was such illumination that travelled all over the Three Worlds instantly. Siva Deva and Devi Parvati appeared at once on their Vrishaba carrier and were overwhelmed with parental love and affection. Soon Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and the entire Devaloka assembled and so did Rishis, Yakshas, Gandharvas and all Celestial Beings. Veerabhadra and Pramathaganas as also the whole entourage of Maha Deva were ecstatic with boundless rapture. Devas put their chins up with indescribable relief that it would not be far for the greatest menace of Takakasura to be devastated by the new arrival on the scene!  The whole atmosphere was of liberation, festivity and celebration.

The Deities commenced preparations of war to kill Tarakasura but a Celestial Voice was heard that victory would be assured only under the Leadership of Kartikeya and hence all the Devas requested Skanda to become the Chief of the Army of Devas. Meanwhile, Devasena, the daughter of Mrityu Devata, became his wife and hence Skanda was known as Deva Senapati. Kartikeya led the army of Devas of the rank of Indra, Agni, Vayu, Kubera and Yama Dharma Raja and was seated on an elephant. Tarakasura arrived with a huge army of mighty warriors who dominated and controlled the opponents intially. Indra’s ‘Vajra’ was overpowered by Tarakasura’s weapon called Shakti and wounded Indra. King Muchukunda who fought for Devas and sought to stop the domination of Daityas but Tarakasura felled him on the ground; Muchukunda wanted to use the ‘Brahmaastra’ but was restrained by Sage Narada as that weapon would no doubt create havoc but would be ineffective to destroy Tarakasura and hence Kartikeya would have to be warmed up gradually.Veerabhadra swung into action and slaughtered thousands of Demons; Tarakasura realised that Veerabhadra was not easy to control and thus used his ‘Maya’ and assumed a thousand arms. Lord Vishnu suggested that the time was ripe to kill the Big Demon before he became more powerful and asked Skanda to charge him. With his mighty weapon Shakti on hand, Kartikeya chased Tarakasura but the latter retaliated with his own ‘Shakti’ and even got Skanda unconscious for a while. After quickly recovering his poise, Kartikeya prayed to his parents and released the Maha Shakti which was fortified with the blessings of Bhagavan and Bhagavati and finally annihilated Tarakasura who incidentally was a Great Siva Bhakta! But Siva Himself was so pleased at the valour of the lad who was more than a match to the Greatest Demon of the times who sent shock waves across the Three Worlds! While Devas and Gandharvas were engaged in unending praises and noise of resounding musical notes, Rishis were engaged in Vedic Hymns to please Kartikeya and there was ecstasy across the Globe. Whoever reads or hears the details of the historic victory of Deva Senapati over the obnoxious Demon would be rid of Sins of even great severity and magnitude.
Skanda’s remorse and ‘Prayaschittha’ (Atonement)
Although satisfied with the termination of Tarakasura, Kartikeya had strong sense of remorse of having committed Brahmana hatya (killing of a Brahmana) in the depth of his conscience, especially because the Rakshasa was an ardent devotee of Lord Siva. Then Vishnu cajoled Kartikeya saying that deducing from Shrutis (Vedas), Smritis (Shastras), Itihasa (History) and Puranas, there was no sin in killing a kindless Brahmana who had no hesitation in harassing and murdering others.
If a cruel demon was distressing and the victims sought refuge, the valiant had a duty to protect Dharma (Justice). As regards the devotion of Siva, Vishnu said that besides being repentant, Kartikeya should perform ‘Siva Aradhana’ as there was nothing else in the Three Lokas more ideal; indeed Parama Siva’s chariot is Prithvi (Earth), Brahma is the Sarathi (driver), Vishnu is the arrow, Mandharachal is Dhanush (Bow) and Chandra and Surya are the wheels. Some exceptional Sages might resort to the Yoga route to worship Siva, but the easier way is to perform Linga Aradhana. It may be recalled that at the time of Creation, Lords Brahma and Vishnu had a controversy about their inter se seniority and Bhagavan Siva took the form of a huge Siva Linga which had neither beginning nor end and directed them to worship the Linga by performing ‘Abhisheka’(bathing) with milk, ghee, honey, curd or pure water and secure boons from Him. Hence Vishnu suggested that Kartikeya should dedicate Siva Lingas made of earth, bricks, or stones and wash off the stigma or sin of Brahma Hatya. Accordingly, Kartikeya called Vishvakarma the Divine Architect and asked that three Visuddha Lingas and their complexes be constructed forthwith. Then in the presence of all the Devas, Brahma, Vishnu and Parama Siva Himself, Skanda established one Linga named ‘Pratigneswar’ on the West. Lord Siva blessed Kartikeya to declare that whosoever worships the Linga on Chaitra and Kartika Sukla Ashtamis after taking bath, observing fast, performing Puja and Jagaran (night-long awaken-ness) would be fearless of Mrityu (death). A second Siva Linga was established at Agnidasha (Agneya) where Tarakasura’s entire Shakti was released to Pancha Bhutas (Five Elements) through his Kapala and is thus known as Kapaleswar Linga. To the North of Kapaleswara Linga, Skanda established ‘Shakti Chhidra’ Tirtha, where the auspicious Patala Ganga River gave its presence, which is the demolisher of even grave sins. Lord Siva assured that worship to this Linga on Chitra Krishna Chaturdasi (preferably falling on Mondays) by observing fast and day long ‘Rudra Parayana’ or the Recital of Rudra Geeta in praise of Parama Siva would secure the Devotee concerned a place in Rudra Loka. Enthused by the three Lingas set up by Kartikeya, Lord Brahma established a Siva Linga nearby a Sarovar or a pure water-body and it is said that Bhagavan Siva Himself would with His own hands receive the offerings by a devotee reciting ‘Sadyojathaadi Pancha Mukha’ or Five Faced Siva Mantras. Like wise anybody establishes a Siva Linga and a Temple Complex would surely reserve a place in Siva Loka. Those who clean up any Siva Temple with a broom would be free from ailments and illness; white-washes a complex or paints it would improve physical strength; decorates the Linga with flowers, Kusha grass, til or sesame seeds, ‘Akshatas’ or rice grains mixed with turmeric powder would stay in Swarga Loka for many ‘Divya’ years; those who perform ‘Abhisheka’ (Bathing) to the Siva Linga with milk, curd, ghee / butter or even pure water  would receive double the benefits; those who apply Kapila Cow’s ‘Panchagavya’ comprising milk, curd, ghee, urine and dung in equal proportions along with Ganges Water, Kusha water or Sandal wood paste liquid with Mantras of ‘Namakam’ and ‘Chamakam’ would attain ‘Parama dhama’ or Moksha. A devotee performing ‘Shodasopacharas’ or Sixteen Services including offering sandal paste, Agar or incense / Dhoop, Dipa ( lighting of cotton vicks soaked in ghee), chaamara ( hand fan), ‘Naivedya’ (offering of food items), Ghanta (Bell), Shankha (Conch shell), ‘Geet’ or Singing in praise of Siva, Vadya (instrumental music), ‘Nritya’ (dance), Ratha Yatra (Chariot drive) and similar services according to one’s own capacities and desires would yield immense benefits. After setting up the Tri Linga Complex called ‘Kumareswara’, Skanda along with Devas and Brahma extolled Bhagawan Siva as follows:
Namah Sivayastu niraamayaya namah Sivayasthu manomayaya ,
Namah Sivayasthu Surarchitaya thubhyam sadaa Bhakta krupaparaaya /
Namo Bhavaayasthu Bhavodbhavaaya Namasthesthu the Dhwastha mano bhavaaya,
Namasthesthu the Goodhamaha Vrataya Namasthesthu Maya gahanashrayaya /
Namasthesthu Sarvaaya Namah Sivaaya Namasthesthu Siddhaaya Puraathanaya,
Namasthesthu Kaalaayanamah Kaalaaya Namasthestu the Kaalakalaathigaya /
Namo Nisargaatmaka Bhutikaaya Namostvameyoksha Mahindrakaaya,
Namah Sharanyaya Namogunaaya Namasthesthu the Bhimagunaanugaaya /
Namasthusthu Naanaa Bhuvanaadhikatreh Namosthu Bhaktaabhimata pradaatre,
Namasthesthu Karmaprasavaya Dhaathre Namah Sadaa the Bhagavansukatreyh /
Anantha Rupaya Sadaiva thubhhyamasajna kopaaya sadaiva thubhyam,
Ameyamaanaaya Namasthesthu thubhyam Virishendrayanaaya Namasthesthu thubham/
Namah Prasiddhaaya Mahoushadhaaya Namasthesthu the Vyadhi –ganaapahaaya,
Charaacharaaya vichaaradaaya Kumaranathaaya Namah Sivaya /
Mahesha Bhuteysha Maheshvarosi Kaamesha Vaageesha Balesha Dhisha,
Krodhesha Mohesha Paraparesha Namasthesthu Mokshesha Grihaashayesha /

(Our Greetings to you Siva, who is devoid of all kinds of sorrows and physical ailments, the epitome of propitiousness; who is worshipped by the entirety of Devas and is ever merciful to Devotees; who is the origin of Creation and the Supreme Architect of the Universe, the demolisher of Kamadeva the Lord of Love; the Administrator of the most confidential ‘Vratas’; the Lord of ‘Maha Gahan’ or the Illusory Sky; the most elusive Yoga Maya; the unknown Sharva at the time of the Great Illusion; the most ancient ‘Siddha Swarupa’ or the well established Body Figure; the Kaala Rupa or the Form of Time; the Wizard Accountant of the Pluses and Minuses of all Beings; the Unknown Entity beyond the scope and reach of Time; the Natural Source of Wealth and Prosperity; the Essence of Abundance and Miracles; the Unique anchor of Hope and the Final Refuge; the Nirguna Brahma or the negation of Gunas / human characteristics; the Supreme Chief of all the Worlds; the Great Bestower of boons to Bhaktas; the Final Judge of ‘Karmaphal’ or the End results of Actions; the Hold and the Holder; the Preserver and the Prop; the Endless Form; the Angriest and the most Logical; the Immeasurable; the ‘Mahoushadhi’ or the Supreme Physician; the destroyer of all kinds of diseases and disorders; the Grand Chief of Movable and Immovable Objects; the Master of the  IIustrious Kumara; Mahesha, Bhutesha, the Fountain Head of desires and joys; the Lord of ‘Vani’ the Goddess of Learning and Clarity of Expressions; the Lord of Strength and Mind; the Controller of Anger and Equanimity; the Epitome of Moha or infatuation; the Chief of  this and all other destinies and the Overlord of Moksha or Salvation.)

As Kartikeya prostrated before Bhagavan with extreme devotion, Parama Siva complimented the former about his valour and intellect and assured that those who worship him by morning and evening would be rid of malady, poverty, cowardice and attain ‘Paramadhaam’. More so, those who adore Kartikeya on Visakha Pournami on a seashore or river bed by observing purity and perform Puja, havan, Recital of Rudra, and charity to learned and well deserved Brahmanas would steer clear of Shathru Peeda (Terror of Enemies), Mrityu Peeda (Fear of untimely death), Visha Roga (Disease due to Poisonous Sources), alarm of thieves, fright of snakes and cruel animals etc; on the other hand, the devotees are blessed with health, wealth, progeny, comfort and contentment

Ashtottara Namavali of Kartikeya and Phala Sruti
Sage Viswamitra recited the following Ashtottara Namavali (108 names) about Skanda Deva on the most significant day of Kartika Pournami of which Kartikaya is fond of:
(1)Brahmavaadi (Profounder of Parama Tatvas)
(2) Brahma (Creator and the Reciter of Vedas)
(3) Brahma Vid (The Exponent and Interpreter of Brahma Gyan)
(4) Brahma Vatsala (The beloved of Lord Brahma)
(5) Brahmanya ( Brahmana Bhakta)
(6) Brahmadeva
(7)Brahmad ( The Donor of Brahma Gyan)
(8) Brahma Sangrah (The absorber of Vedardha or the Para Brahma’s reality)
(9) Sarvotkrushta Parama Teja (The Highest of All of Super Luminosity)
(10) Mangala Mangala (The Most Propitious of the Propitious)
(11) Aprameya Guna ( He who has countless qualities)
(12) Mantra Mantraga (The Quintessence of Mantras)
(13) Savitrimaya (Full of Pranava or Omkara)
(14) Sarvatra Aparajita ( Always unconquerable)
(15) Sarvatmika Mantra (The universally applicable Mantra)
(16)Deva (Replete with Divinity)
(17) Shadakshara Vatam Vara (The best reciter of Om Namassivaya)
(18) Gava Putra (The Illustrious Son of Cow or Ganges)
(19) Surarighna (The Destroyer of the Enemies of Devas)
(20) Sambhava (He who makes the Impossible possible)
(21) Bhava bhaavana (The Creator of the Universe in the form of Brahma)
(22) Pinakini ( The Carrier of Pinakini Dhanush in the form of Shankara)
(23) Shatruha (The Terminator of Opponents)
(24) Swetha ( He assumes the form of a white Mountain or Himalaya)
(25) Guudha (Born in a hidden place or He who has latent Shakti)
(26) Skanda (He who jumps while walking)
(27) Suraagrani (The Chief of Suras)
(28) Dwaadasha (Who has twelve eyes and ears)
(29) Bhu (Bhu mandala Swarupa or the Form of Earth)
(30)Bhuvah ( Antariksha Rupa or Of the form of Sky)
(31) Bhavi (Bhavitva Rupa )
(32) Bhuva Putra (Bhumi Putra as Siva’s manliness was absorbed into Earth)
(33) Namaskruth (Saluted by one and all)
(34) Nagaraja (The King of Serpents)
(35) Sudharmatma (Epitome of Virtue)
(36) Naka Prushtha (He is the Base of Swarga as He is the Saviour of Devas)
(37) Sanatan (He is Eternal)
(38) Hema garbha (Born of Siva’s gold-like semen)
(39) Mahagarbha (Born of several mothers)
(40) Jaya (Victorious)
(41) Vijayeswara (The Deity of Victory)
(42) Karta (The Performer)
(43)Vidhata (The Preserver)
(44) Nithya (Everlasting)
(45) Nithyarimardana (The constant destroyer of enemies)
(46) Mahasena (The Chief of a huge army)
(47) Maha Teja (The most Illuminated)
(48) Virasena (Commander of a Valiant army)
(49) Chamupati (The Leader of Militia)
(50) Surasena (The Principal of an intrepid band of soldiers)
(51)Suradhaksha (The Supreme Head of Devas)
(52) Bhimasena (The Chief of a terrifying military)
(53) Niramaya (Devoid of illness)
(54) Shouri (The most gallant Son of Shankara)
(55) Patu (Smart and Enterprising)
(56) Maha Teja (The highly radiant)
(57) Viryavan (Personification of Might)
(58) Satya Vikram (Courageously Truthful)
(59) Tejogarbha (Agni Putra)
(60) Asuripu (Antagonist of Demons)
(61) Suramurthi (A byword for Devas)
(62) Surojit (More gutsy than Devas)
(63) Krutajna (Grateful to those who stand by Him)
(64) Varada (Bestower of windfalls)
(65) Satya (Satyavadi or He who stands for Truth)
(66) Sharanya (Protector of those who seek refuge)
(67) Sadhu Vatsal (Affectionate and kind to the Good)
(68) Suvratha (Benefactor of those who perform good Vrathas)
(69) Surya Sankash (Luminous like Sun)
(70) Vahnigarbha (Begotten of Agni)
(71) Ranotsuk (Enthusiastic of Battles)
(72) Pippali (Consumer of Pippali)
(73) Seeghraga (Travels at top speed)
(74) Roudri ( Son of Rudra)
(75) Gangeya (Son of Ganges)
(76) Ripudarun (Demolisher of Foes)
 (77) Kartikeya (Son of Krittikas)
(78) Prabhu (Highly accomplished)
(79) Kshanth (Forgiving and Patient)
(80) Neela-damshtra (Blue Thoated)
(81) Mahamana (of large heart disposition)
(82) Nigrah(Possessive of Restraint)
(83) Netha (Leader)
(84) Suranandana (Provider of happiness to Devas)
(85) Pragrah (Controller of Enemies)
(86) Paramananda (Extremely blissful)
(87)Krodhagna (Alleviates the anger of Devotees)
(88) Tar (Producer of heavy sound)
(89)Vucchrit (High stamper of feet)
(90) Kukkuti (Keeper of Cock as chariot flag)
(91) Bahuli (Possessor of many useful implements)
(92) Divya (Has Divine illumination)
(93)Kamad (Fulfilled of desires)
     (94) Bhurivardhan (Has extreme amusement)
     (95) Amogh (Unconquerable and ever successful)
     (96) Amritada (Endower of Amrit)
     (97) Agni (Agni Swarup)
     (98) Shatrughna (Terminator of Opponents)
     (99) Sarvabodhan (Provider of Knowledge to one and all)
     (100) Anagha (Devoid of sins)
     (101) Amar (indestructible)
    (102) Sriman (Highly Prosperous)
    (103) Unnati (High Profiled)
    (104) Agni Sambhava
    (105) Piscacha Raja (King of Piscachas and Siva Ganas)
    (106)Suryabha (Akin to Sun God in radiance)
    (107) Sivatma (Siva Swarupa) and
    (108) Sanatana (Eternal).
Phalasruti: Those who recite the Ashtottara of Kartikeya become fearless, contented, and happy; a pregnant woman reads or hears the Ashtottara would be blessed with a son of virtue and fortune; and if unmarried girls read they are sure to secure ideal husbands.
Significance of ‘Daan’ (Charity)-Its Profile and Fruits
In the ‘Kaumarika Khand’ of the present Skanda Purana, some details of Pandava’s ‘Vanavasa’ (forest life) for twelve years pursuant to the unjust game of chess by Kauravas and Arjun’s ‘Tirtha Yatras’ or visits to Holy Places and Rivers were described. The important Tirthas were Kumaresh Tirtha, Stambhesh Tirtha, Varkareswari Tirtha, Mahakaleswara Tirtha, and Siddheswari Tirtha.
But these Tirthas were infested by crocodiles and used to pull down ‘Tapasvis’ from river beds into water and kill them. Thus nobody dared to enter the Tirthas. Some persons warned Arjuna but he did not heed the advice and was caught by a crocodile which was forcibly drawn out of water and hurt so much that it was almost killed. From the dying crocodile emerged an ‘Apsara’ or a Divine Damsel. Similarly crocodiles from other Tirthas also turned out to be Apsaras and told Arjuna of their experience of a Tapasvi on a river bank attracted them but the Brahmana cursed them to become crocodiles till such time that a mighty warrior entered the waters and dragged the curse-ridden crocodiles forcibly on to the banks of the Rivers. The four Apsaras so redeemed by Arjuna were Sourabhi, Sameyi, Budbuda and Lata and henceforth the Sacred Tirthas were made accessible and active once again.

Thereafter, Arjuna visited the Ashram of Sage Narada and secured blessings, especially since Arjun made the ‘Panchaapsara Tirthas’ accessible once again. In this context, Narada described to Arjun about ‘daan’ (charity), its two ‘hethus’ (varieties), six ‘Adhishtaans’ (Reasons), six ‘Anks’ (Parties), two ‘Parinaams’ (end results or fruits), three bhedas (classifications) and three ‘Vinas Saadhanas’ (negative results). The two ‘hethus’as normally perceived are about the size of the charity-small or big- as also of the quality. But such ‘hethus’ are not as important as the ‘shraddha’ or dedication and devotion are. Bhagavan Siva would be pleased only by the sincerity and pure heart that is attached to the charity rather than any other aspect. Again, ‘Dhana Daan’ or the charity of money is more popular than ‘Vastu Daan’ or charity of material, ‘Vastra Daan’or charity of clothes etc. since charity of money would buy back Vastu or Vastra. Then the six ‘Adhishtaans’ or reasons of Daan are: ‘Dharma Daan’ without strings attached ie.Daan given to the Virtuous or Dharmatmas; ‘Artha Daan’ keeping in view some purpose or utility; ‘Kaama Daan’ like favours for women, wine or such other benefits in view; ‘Lajja Daan is due to compulsions of Public or Society; ‘Harsha Daan’ is made on receiving good news and out of happiness; and ‘Bhaya daan’ out of compulsion, fear or avoidance of  risks. The six ‘Anks’ or donor/receiver parties are as follows: The Positive Donors are ‘Daatas’ by nature; the ‘Dharmatmas’ or the Virtuous; those desirous of donating willingly and happily; the ‘Vyasana rahit’ or devoid of bad habits; ‘Pavitra’ or Symbols of Purity and ‘Anindaneeya’ or the blemishless.The Negative Donors are ill mannered, indolent, evil minded, persons of bad habits, persons who swear to support the Evil and persons who are sleepy! Among the Good Receivers of Charity are those of good ‘Kula’ or caste, who has ‘Vidya’ or good Education, good ‘Aachaar’ or family bearing / tradition, earners of rightful way of life or of Satvik Life, of kind heart, ‘Jitendriya’ or of Controlled Emotions and finally of excellent parenthood. The second category of receivers of donations is of pleasant visage, of sincerity and thankfulness but not of demanding nature, cantankerous or mean. The donors of charity must have the perspective of what kind of material is required or useful to the receiver or otherwise the purpose of charity would be defeated.The two ‘Parinams’or end results/fruits are either gain of ‘Punya’for the ‘Paralok’ or after death or for use in ‘Ihalok’ or the current life to the receiver. The latter ‘Dannas’ or for the use of Ihalok are of four types viz. Dhruva, Trika, Kamya and Naimittika. Dhruva is for public use like digging wells, construction of Temples, gardens, Choultries, schools etc.Trikha is for daily utility like ‘Nithya Daan’, say Vidya Daan.  Kamya Daan is to fulfill one’s own desires like victory, wealth, might etc. Naimittika Daan is like Samkranti Daan, Grahana (Eclipse) Daan, Daan at auspicious occasions like weddings, Vraths etc. or Kriyapeksha Daan like Shraadh, Vratas etc.; Gunapeksha Daan like Vidyabhyas and so on. Three ‘Bhedas’or types of Daan are classified; the best types are charity of houses, temples, buildings, Bhumi (farms / fields), cows, Wells, gold and ornaments and the best of course is to give away one’s own life itself as ‘Daan’. The Secondary Variety of charity relates to Anna (Food grains), Vastra (Clothing), ‘Vahan’ etc. The tertiary kind of Daan is to donate footwear, umbrellas, utensils, curd, honey, ‘Asan’ or seating, deepa or Light, wood, stones etc. Now, there are three kinds of ‘Daan Naashak’ reasons viz. ‘Paschattaap’ or regret of having given the Daan; ‘Apaatra Daan’ or charity to the wrong and unserved person or ‘Ashraddha Daan’is to a person on account of laziness. Paschattapaya Daan indicates as to why the Daan is given at all; Ashraddha Daan is Rakshasa Daan and Apaatra Daan is as bad as not giving it away. The worst Daan is ‘Paisacha Daan’ or the charity duly given is returned under duress or due to the bad behaviour of the receiver or the donor. Incidentally, Apaatra Daan should be avoided to an undeserving Brahmana who is bereft of ‘Vidya’, sells his/her conscience if his Bhumi is accepted; if he accepts a cow to kill it or sell it; if he accepts gold to encash it, a horse that might destroy the receiver’s eyes; Vastra to harm his wife; ghee his manliness; til seeds that might harm his children and so on.
Narada seeks replies to a questionnaire and bestows Brahma’s Charity to Kalaap Village
Sage Narad told Arjun that in the context of ‘Daan Pradaan’ or bestowing charity of a large piece of land to a well deserved Brahmana Community; he travelled the World over to identify a Place where satisfactory replies are received to a Questionnaire of Twelve Queries framed by him.
The questions were: 1) who knows ‘Matrikas’ well; how many ‘Matrikas’ are there and how many ‘Aksharas’ or Letters? 2) What are the Twentyfive Materials in the domestic or personal context? 3) Who knows the art of converting several women into one? 4) Who is the unique person that knows the ‘Vaakya Rachana’ or the Writer of Sentences connected with Strange Fiction? 5) Who is the learned Brahmana living in an Ocean with full awareness that a ferocious crocodile is always around? 6) Who is the best Brahmana possessing the knowledge of eight-fold Braahmanatva? 7) Which are the foremost days falling at the beginning of each Yuga? 8) Which are the first days of each ‘Manvantara’? 9) Which was the first day that Surya Deva rode in his chariot? 10) Who could explain that human beings are put to tremendous anxiety like a black serpent has? 11) Who is the most intelligent and practical human being in the whole world and why? 12) Who is aware of the two distinct routes available to human beings?

Sage Narada could not get convincing replies to the above questionnaire among the several places visited and Expets interviewed as the questions were supposed to be tough! Then suddenly it occurred to the Sage that he could perhaps try out the Kalap Village that boasted of exceptionally renowned Veda Pundits. On reaching there and having posed the questions, the Elders of the Village commented that the questions were indeed very elementary and could as well be replied by one of an unintelligent and dull boys of the village! He asked a boy said to be of an inferior intelligence named Suthanu who gave the replies as follows:

In his preface before answering the questions, Suthanu said that various Gurus normally tended to teach the Scriptures and Mantras, generations after generations, only by memorizing but without necessarily providing the meaning, let alone the implications and intricacies of the stanzas. Indeed a Brahmana who merely memorized the Mantras without realizing the meaning was a mere two legged animal! For example, ‘Aakar’ is known as Brahma, ‘Ukar’ is Vishnu and ‘Makar’ is Siva; the Triguna form of AUM with ‘Anuswarup Artha Matra’ on top of AUM ( in Sanskrit) is Maheswara Himself! How many are aware of the significance of Omkara Mantra?

Coming back to the first question as to how many types of ‘Matrikas’ are there and of how many ‘Ahshas’ or Letters are in the Matrikas, the reply is that there are twenty letters in a Matrika. Besides there are fourteen ‘Swaras’, thirty three ‘Vyanjanas’, ‘Anuswaras’, ‘Visarga’, ‘Jihva muleeya’ or tongue-ended voice and ‘Upadhaneeyas’.Matrikas are called the essence of Language. The fourteen ‘Swaras’ from ‘A  Kar’ to  ‘Auom kar’ represent ‘Manu Swarupas’ viz. Swayambhu, Swarochish, Auttam, Raivat, Tamas, Chakshu, Vaivasvath (the Present Manu), Savarni, Brahma Savarni, Rudra Savarni, Daksha Savarni, Dharma Savarni, Roucha and Bhautya. The current Manu Vaivasvat is Rukara Swarup and his colour is Black. From letters ‘Bha’ to ‘Sha’ are eight ‘Vasus’ viz. Dhuva, Ghora, Sowmya, Apah, Nala, Nila, Pratyasha and Prabhasa. The Letters from ‘Ka’ to ‘Ha’ represent thirty three Devatas. Actually letters from ‘Ka’ to ‘Tha’ represent Twelve Adityas viz. Dhata, Mitra, Aryama, Shakra, Varuna, Amshu, Bhaga, Vivisvan, Pusha, Savita, Tvashta and Vishnu. From ‘Da’ to ‘Ba’are Eleven Rudras viz. Kapali, Pingala, Bhima, Virupaksha, Vilohita, Ajaka, Shasana, Shasta, Shambhu, Chanda and Bhava. Letters ‘Sa’ and ‘Ha’ are represented by the two Ashvini Kumars, thus accounting for all the thirty three Devatas. The Letters ‘Anuswar’, ‘Visarg’, ‘Jihva Muleeya’ and ‘Upadhaneeyas’ stand for ‘Jarayuja’, ‘Andaja’, ‘Swedaja’ and ‘Udbhija’.

About the Second question regarding twenty five ‘Vastus’ or materials for domestic/personal utility, the reply is: These are ‘Pancha Bhutas’ viz. Prithivi( Earth), Apas ( Water), Tejas (Radiance), Vayu (Wind) and Akash (Sky); Five ‘Karmendriyas’(Mouth, hands, feet, anus and genital); Five Jnanendriyas ( Ears, Eyes, Tongue, Nose and Skin) and the corresponding reactions viz. Shabda (Sound), Rupa (Vision), Rasa (Taste), Ghrana (Smell) and Sparsha (Feeling) and ‘Pancha Vishayas’ viz. Man ( Mind), Buddhi (Thinking), Antaratma (Conscience), Ahankar (Ego), Prakriti (Nature / Maya) and Purusha (Almighty). In other words, the Twenty Five Tatvas of Domestic / Physical nature as above are blessed by Almighty to realize the Self as reflected from Paramatma.

The Third question concerns about the various forms of a woman who is essentially a single entity. The reply is about a person’s ‘Buddhi’ or mental condition which is comparable to that of a woman whose forms and moods are several (Frailty thy name is a woman!). It is the single Buddhi which takes myriad kinds of feelings, reactions and impulses.

The Fourth question relates to a person who exists in a ‘Sansar’ (World) and describes it as an attraction like the beautiful phrasing of an Essay, not realizing that the charm of the write-up is a trap or the ‘Sansar Bandhan’; hence the lure of life is but a powerful bondage!

The Fifth query is about the joy of living in an ocean, being fully aware of the dangerous crocodile nearby.Human beings get enticed to swim in an ocean, despite the risk of life and it is that ‘Lobha’ or attraction which generates ‘Moha’ (obsession) or ‘Maya’, ‘Abhiman’ or deep sense of Belonging, insensitivity to the risk involved, avarice to possess more and more, ignorance and sheer stupidity. All these are ramifications of ‘Vyamoha’ (possessive nature) like desire to secure other’s wealth, woman, and comfort, all at once being dishonest, undeserved and corrupt. The sense of Lobha leads to ego, deceit, anger and jealousy. The lurking crocodile is surely attractive but hazardous.

The Sixth inquiry concerns the Eight-fold  ‘Brahmanatva’ classified as Matra, Brahmana, Srotriya, Anuchan, Bhruna, Rishi Kalpa, Rishi and Muni.  A normal Brahmana by birth and caste is invariably the one who nodoubt has the advantage of ‘Upanayana’ Samskara and Gayatri ‘Upasesha’called Sacred Thread Ceremony but with or without performing Vedic Karmas or duties; this kind of an ordinary Brahmana is name sake only. He who follows ‘Vedic Achara’ or performs Veda Practices being soft natured, fond of loneliness, truthful and pious is a Brahmana in a better sense than a ‘Matra’ type. The better category of Brahmanas are ‘Srotriyas’ who are Ritual, Virtuous, proficient of atleast one Veda sakha (Branch) along with six vedangas, pure hearted and Dharmajnanas. The higher class of Brahmanas called ‘Anuchans’ are well read, Guru Type of senior Vidwans who preach and teach and practise ideal ‘Brahmanatva’. The further higher category is called Brahmanas with worldly wisdom to be able to interpret Principles to practical situations, authorities on Vedas, ‘Samyamis’who have restraint and poise, Tatva Gyan and Senior Guides on Rituals etc. ‘Rishi Kalpas’ are Ashrama Dwellers, Naishthies, and limited Eaters. The Rishis are Dhyana Nishtha Parayanas (Meditation-Centric) and Jitendriyas or victorious of various worldly temptations. Munis are beyond the barriers of Brahmanas and the known norms and controls applicable to them, since they belong to Super Human Beings worthy of worship and possess yogic powers and Siddhhis.

The Seventh query was about the first days of each Yuga. Kartika Sukla Navami was the first day of Satya Yuga, Visakha Sukla Tritiya was of Tretha Yuga, Marga Krishna Amavasya was of Dwapara Yuga and Bhadra Krishna Trayodasi was the opening day of Kali Yuga. Charities and ‘homas’ performed on the Yugadi Days are stated to be hundred days superior compared to normal days.

The Eighth question was about the opening days of each of the Fourteen Manvantaras. These are Asvayuja Sukla Navami, Kartika Dwadasi, Chaitra and Bhadra Tritiya, Phalguna Amavasya, Paushya Ekadasi, Ashadha Dasami, Magha Saptami,  Shravana Krishna Ashtami, Ashadha Pournami, Kartika Pouranami, Phalguna/Chaitra/Jeyshtha Pournamis are all worthy of charities and homams.

That Lord Surya mounted his chariot for the first time was on Magha Sukla Panchami, known as the ‘Ratha Saptami’ was the reply to the Ninth question and austerities and charitities are stated to be highly fruitful bestowing Lord Surya’s blessings to destroy poverty and improve happiness of the devotees.

The Tenth question was about the anxiety of life of any human being; the reply was that who ever has to beg for food each and every day was indeed the most unfortunate one in the world; such a person not only had constant worry through out his/her life but is destined to go to hell after death too.

The Eleventh query was about the Super expert in this frightful world. The reply given by Suthanu stated that the best Daksha of Dakshas was he who realized as to what would happen after death and tried to equip him to perform pious acts so as to minimize the impact of current life and possibly of the previous lives. If a person devotes at least eight months and one day before death or in other words of the last leg of life and possibly as many days of life as possible, would be considered as an Expert.

Finally, the Twelfth question seeks reply about the two alternative routes of attaining Salvation viz. the normal ‘Karma Marg’/ the Dharmic route of enjoying life as also of attaining the high bliss of Moksha after death and alrernatively adopting the ‘Vihanga Marg’ ( The Sky route) or straight-away adopt the ‘Naishkarma’ Marg or the ‘Jnaana Marg. If one were not to opt for either route, the concerned human being is as good as a ‘Pakhandi’ or ignorant fool!
Having received the replies to all the Twelve Questions, Sage Narada was thrilled that Lord Brahma (his father) ought to be complemented as the latter’s ‘Srishti’ (Creation) was indeed amazing, since a boy was able to reply the queries. Pursuant to Brahma’s behest, the process of selection was completed and a substantial charity was declared as a Gift to the ‘Kalaap Gramvaasis’ or the Villagers of Kalaap a Huge Area viz. Mahi Sagara Sangama Maha Tirtha. This Tirtha was situated from Kalap Gram by about hundred yojanas by Akash Marg (The Sky Route) and by the Grace of Kartikeya all the residents of Kalaap Gram could be shifted by a long jump. This most Sacred Tirtha was such that there were no proverbial thieves viz. Kama (desire), Krodha (anger), Lobha (avarice) etc. who could rob the immense wealth of Gyan in the Holy Region. Kalaap Gram itself was some hundred yojanas on the mountains of Kedarnath Tirtha. As a result of the Great Charity of Lord Brahma by Sage Narada, some Thirty Thousand Brahmanas of immense quality who were versatile in ‘Adhyayan’ of Vedas and Scriptures and ‘Anushthaan’ (Ritualistic Meditation) got transferred to Mahi Sagara.

Narada seeks replies to a questionnaire and bestows Brahma’s Charity to Kalaap Village
An illustrious King of yore named Indradyumna was highly virtuous and propagated Dharma (high merit) all over his Kingdom to such an extent as to make announcements of the next Ekadasi Vrata to be performed with sincerity! The King was an extraordinary example of charity to all the needy subjects, especially Brahmanas.
Lord Brahma did the unique honour of inviting him in human body form by an aeroplane to Brahma Loka to let him enjoy the just pleasures there and return back. The King met the memorable  Sage Markandeya, Nadijangh Baka ( in the form of a Crane), Prakarakarma Uluk (in the form of an Owl), Chirayu Gadhi Raj ( in the form of a Donkey) and Manthar Kacchuva  (in the form of Tortoise)-all of exceptional learning of Scriptures! He also met Sage Lomesh of the famed Kalaap Village near Kedareswara mentioned above. He prostrated before all the Experts of Scriptures and got the benefit of their discussions on Parama Tatvas of high learning. Sage Lomesh revealed that the King was in his past life a ‘Sudra’, who entered a waterbody and performed several pujas with Lotuses to Parama Siva very sincerely and died eventually. In the next earlier birth, he was a Brahmana with the knowledge of his earlier life and even from childhood had strange behaviour but as a penchant for Siva Puja and used to talk of ‘Avidya’ (ignorance), Maya (illusion) and Siva ‘Aradhana’. Eventually the boy secured Siva Darshan (Vision) and gave him the boon of longevity till such time that all his body hairs dropped away. Such was the background of the King that Lord Siva Himself taught him ‘Bahir Yoga’ and ‘Antar Yoga’. He performed innumerable Yagnas and a series of debates on Dharmik Topics in the august company of the ‘Sadhu Sabhas’ or ‘Satsangs’ of Vedic Luminaries like Markandeya, Lomesh, Baka, Uluk, Gadhiraj and Kacchuva. The Collective Aradhanas of these and such other Mahatmas ( The Great Souls) generated waves of blissful Ambrosia full of ‘Bhakta Shadrasas’( or Six Bhavas) viz. Dasya Rathi, Sakya Rathi, Vatsalya Rathi, Shantha Rathi, Kranta Rathi, and Adbhuta Rati! They also performed sacred ‘snaans’ (baths) in the River Mahanadi, (next in importance of Mahi Sagara Sangam), and its various other Tirthas like Kasi, Kurukshetra, Ganga, Narmada, Sarasvati, Tapa, Payoshmi, Nirvindhya, Gaya, Godavari, Aruna, Varuna and such other twenty thousand six hundred rivers on Prithvi! The conclusion of the Satsang Group states: Human life is full of Avidya (Ignorance), Asmitha (Anger), Raag (Desire), Dvesha (Hatred) and Abhinivesh (Death). Since such factors in mind are abounding with sins, it is highly unlikely that one could meditate Sada Siva; it is highly unlikely that one could take birth in the Karma Bhumi of Bharata Desa; it is highly unlikely to have Ganga Snan; it is unlikely to practise charity to virtuous Brahmanas; it is unlikely that one could make oblations to Agni Deva; and it is also unlikely to worship Siva regularly.

( Papohat Buddhinaam Siva Varthapi durlabham, Durlabham Bharatey  Janma durlabham Siva pujanam / Durlabham Jahnavi snanam Sivey Bhakti sudurlabham, Durlabham Braahmaney daanam durlabham Vahni pujanam / Alpa punaischa dushpraapyam Purushotthama pujanam / ) Thus Tirtha Snaan, Japa, Tapasya, and such Acts of would alone redeem human life and Siva Aradhana should be the only objective of purposeful life.Why does a foolish person run after mirages having kept in hand a full vessel of Ambrosia!

The famed ‘Shata Rudreeyam’
1)Brahma dedicated a golden Linga to Bhagavan Siva named Jagat Pradhana and prays at His feet
2) Sri Krishna set up a black coloured Linga called Urjit and prays to Siva’s head
3) Sanaka and other Manasa Putras of Lord Brahma pray to Siva Hridaya (Heart) Linga as Jagadrati
4) Sapta Rishis pray to ‘Dharbhaankura maya’ (Dharbha made) Linga called Viswa Yoni
5) Devarshi Narada conceived Siva Linga as an all pervasive ‘Aakash’ (Sky) and prayed to Jagatvija
6) Devaraj Indra prays to a Diamond Linga called Vishvatma
7) Surya Deva prays to a copper Linga called Vishwasruga
8) Chandra performs Puja to a Pearl Linga known as Jagatpathi
9) Agni Deva prays to an Indra Nila Mani Linga named Viswesvara
10) Brihaspathi prays to a Pushparajamani with the name Visva Yoni
11) Sukracharya pays penance to a Padmaragamani Linga called Viswakarma
12) A golden Linga is worshipped by Kubera called Iswara
13) Viswa Deva Ganas perform puja to a Silver Linga called Jagatgati
14) Yama Dharma raja pays his obeisance to a peethal (brass) Linga named Shambhu
15) ‘Ashtavasus’ execute ‘Aradhana’ to a Glass made Linga called Shambhu
16) Maruganas do puja to a Triloha Linga(three kinds of metals) called Umesh / Bhupesh 17) Raakshasas pay penance to an iron Linga and named Siva as Bhuta Bhavya Bhavodbhava
18) Guhyaka Ganas perform puja to a mirror-made Siva Linga named Yoga
19) Muni Jaigeeshva does Upasana to Brahmarandhra maya Linga named Jaigeeswara Yogeeswar
20) King Nimi considers the Ugal Netra or the Two Eyes as Parameswara Linga called Sharva
21) Dhanvanthari worships Gomaya Linga (cow dung) in the name of Sarva Lokewswareswara
22) Gandharvas perform Puja to wood based Siva Linga named Sarva Sreshtha
23) Lord Rama did intense ‘Japa’ to ‘Vidyunmani’ Linga in the name of Jyeshtha
24) Banasura paid homage to Marakathamani Linga named Varishtha
25) Varuna Deva offers reverence to a Sphatikamani Linga named Parameswara
26) Lokatrayankara is the name given to a Linga made of Munga (Black Pearl)by Nagagana
27) Devi Saraswathi pays reverence to Suddha mukta maya Linga named Lokatrayashrita 28) Sani Deva performs ‘Japa’ on Saturday Amavasya midnight at Maha Sagara Sangama the Bhavari ( Honey Bee) Swarupa Linga named Jagannadha
29) Ravana implored to a Linga made of Chameli flower and named it Sudurjaya
30) Siddhaganas paid respects to Manasa Linga called Kama Mrityu Jaraatiga
31) Raja Bali worshipped Yashamaya (Famed) Linga named Jnanatma
32) Marichi and other Maharshis pray to Pushpamaya (flowerful) Linga with the name Jnana gamya
33) Devathas who performed noble deeds  made approbation to Shubhamaya Linga (Propitiousness) named Jnaanajneya
34) Maharshi Phenaj (foam) who drank Phena did Upasana to Phena Linga called Sarvavid 35) Sage Kapila performed Japa to Balukamaya Ling named Varada.
36) Saarasvat, the son of Devi Sarasvathi did Upasana to Vanimaya Linga named Vaageeswara.
37) Sivaganas made a Linga of Bhagavan Siva and provided penance to Rudra.
38) Devathas made a Jambu River golden Linga to pray to Sitikantha.
39) Budha prays to Shankhamaya (conchshell) Linga by the name of Kanishtha.
40) The Two Ashvini Kumars pray to Muktikmaya Parthiva Linga named Suvedha.
41) Ganesha made a Siva Linga made of Wheat Flour worships it by the name of Kapardi 42) Mangala Graha ( The Planet of Mars) made a Buttermade Linga called Karaala  to pray.
43) Garuda prays to an Odanamaya Linga named Haryaksha.
44) Kamadeva Manmadha prays to a jaggery made Linga called Rathida .
45) Sachi Devi, the Consort of King Indra paid reverence to a Salt-made Linga Buddhakesha.
46) Visvakarma prayed to a Prasaadamaya (or of the shape of a Mahal / Building) Linga called Yamya.
47) Vibhishana made a dustfulof Linga called Suhrutam to pray.
48) Raja Sagar who brought Ganga from Siva’s Head made a ‘Vamsamkura’ Linga called Sangat.
49) Rahu made a Hing (asafoetida) made Linga named Gamya to worship.
50) Devi Lakshmi made a Lehya Linga named Harinetra and worshipped it.
51) Yogi Purush prays to Sarvabhuthatha Linga called Sthaanu.
52) Human beings prepare a wide variety of Lingas and worship them by the name of Purusha.
53) Nakshatras (Stars) pray to Tejomaya (full of Radiance) Linga called Bhaga / Bhaskara. 54) Kinnaras make a Dhaatumaya Linga by the name of Sudeepth for Japas.
55) Brahma Raakshasa Ganas pray to Asthimaya (Bones) Linga named Deva Deva.
56) Charanas worship dantamaya (full of Teeth) Linga called Ramhas.
57) Sadhya ganas pray to Saptaloka maya Linga titled Bahurupa.
58) Ritus worship Doorvaankura maya Linga named Sarva.
59) Celestial Damsel Urvasi prays to Sindhura Linga named Priya Vasan.
60) Apsaras perform Archana to Kumkuma Linga called Abhushana.
61) Guru Deva performs puja to Brahmachari Linga named Ushnivi.
62) Yoginis offer their obsequiousness to Alakthak Linga by name Suvabhruk.
63) Siddha Yoginis worship Srikhanda Linga named Sahasraaksha.
64) Dakinis perform puja to Lingas made of Mamsa or Meat and call Siva by the name of Sumidhsha.
65) Manna Ganaas worship Annamaya Linga called Girisha.
66) Agasthya Muni worships Vreehimaya Linga to Siva named Sushanth.
67) Muni Devala made Yavamaya Linga and called Siva with the name of Pathi.
68) Valmiki Muni made a Linga of Valmikas and prayed to Chira Vasa.
69) Pratardan prays to Baana Linga named Hiranyabhuj.
70) Daityagana made Rayi made Siva Linga and prayed to Ugra.
71) Daanavas worship a Nishpaavaj Linga known as Dikpathi.
72) Baadal (Clouds) pray to Neeramaya (waterful) Lingas called Parjanya.
73) Yaksharaj made Maashamaya Linga and performed puja to Bhutapathi.
74) Pitruganas made Tilamaya (Sesame seeds) Linga and worshipped Siva as Vrishapathi. 75) Gouthama Muni worships Godhulimaya Linga named Gopathi.
76) Vanaprastha ganas display veneration to a phalamaya (full of fruits) Linga named Vrikshavrita
77) Karthikeya is highly devoted to Siva in the form of a stone Linga called Senanya
78) Ashtavatar Nag worshipped Dhanya linga called Madhyama.
79) Yagna Kartha prayed to Purusha Linga named Sthruva hasta.
80) Yama worships ‘Kalaaya samaya’ Linga called Dhanvi.
81) Parasurama prays to Yavaankura Linga named Bhargava.
82) Pururava prays to Ghritamaya (Gheeful) Linga by name Bahurupa.
83) Mandhata paid admiration to a Sugary Linga by name Bahuyug.
84) The clan of Cows utilises a Dugdhamaya Linga (full of Milk) for paying their respects and sincere devotion to Nethra sahasrak.
85) Pathivrata Sthrees (Women devoted to their husbands) worship to Bhatrumaya Linga called Viswapati.
86) Nara and Narayana worship Siva in the form of Mounji Linga named Sahasra Sirsha. 87) Pruthu worships Thaaksharya Linga known as Sahasra Charan.
88) Birds pay their homage to Vyoma Linga in the name of Sarvatmaka.
89) Prithivi prays to Gandhamaya Linga named as Dvithanu.
90) The entire Animal Kingdom prays to Bhasmamaya Linga known by the name of Maheswara.
91) Rishiganas perform Upasana to Jnanamaya Linga called Chirasthan.
92) Brahmanas do penance to Brahma Linga in the name of Siva as Jyeshtha.
93) Sesha Nag worships to ‘Gorochanamaya’ Linga named Pashupathi.
94) Vasuki Nag prays to Visha (poison) Linga with the name of Shankara.
95) Takshaka Nag prays to Kaalakutamaya Linga called Bahurup.
96) Karkotaka Nag pays esteem to Halahalamaya Linga named Pingaksha.
97) Shringi prays to Vishamaya Linga by the name of Dhurjati.
98) Puthras (Sons) perform in the name of Pitrumaya Linga (Fathers) called Vishwarupa. 99) Siva Devi worships Parama maya Linga named Vyambak.
100) Matsya and such other Jeevas pray to Shastramaya Linga named Vrishakapi.
Phalasruti : Whoever recites Siva Sata Rudreeyam in the morning, the sins committed by the mind, tongue and action get vanished; diseases and fatigue get dissolved; fear and apprehension evaporate; and worries and anxiety disappear. Those who utter the hundred names of Parama Siva and make Salutations to Him as many times would instantly secure mental peace and contentment.

Skanda’s ‘Vijaya Sthambh’ (Tower of Victory) and ‘Siddha Saptaka’
Since Kumareswar Complex was set up already, Skanda Deva agreed to the request of Devas to put up a Victory Tower named ‘Viswanandak’ and before it a Siva Linga. Skanda put in His ‘Shakti’ and created ‘Patala Ganga’ in a Well atop the Victory Tower, where on Magha Krishna Paksha Chaturdasi, human beings would take bath in that Well, offer ‘Pitru Tarpans’ and worship to Vijaya Sthambheswar with Flowers and Sandal Paste; these acts would be as significant as Gaya Shraddh and Vajapeya Yagna Phal respectively.
In fact, the Tarpan and Worship could as well be repeated every Pournima and Amavasya in the Mahi Sagar Sangam for similar results. When this Victory Tower and Procedure were announced, Indra, Brahma and Vishnu were highly enthusiastic and appreciative. Meanwhile, a Demon named Pralambasura, who ran away from the army of Tarakasura, hid himself in Patalaloka and tormented the Devotees of the Siva Lingas set up by Skanda as a Prayaschittha of Brahmahathya Sin; this information was given by Kumud, the son of Sesha Nag, the Deva Serpent to Skanda who utilised the Shakti named arrow, tore apart a line through Prithvi and smashed the Demon Pralamba and his associates.  As a follow up, Brahma and others set up a ‘Siddheswar Linga’and Devatas themselves dug up a Sarovar and Skanda named it as ‘Siddha Kupa’( which incidentally was the route through which Pralamba and company were killed in Patalaloka); they all prayed to Shakti Siddhamba to be present and bless devotees, especially on Ashtamis and Chaturdasis. Again, in the Siddheswara Tirtha, Devas requested Lord Ganesh too to stay at the Siddha Kshetra in the form of Sidhha Vinayaka. In fact, Devas and Brahma set up Seven Siddha Entities viz. Siddheswar, Siddh Vat (Vriksha), Siddhambika, Siddhi Vinayak, Siddha Kshetraadhipathi, Siddheswar Tirtha and Siddha Kupa.

Mahakaal blesses Kumari, Kalabhiti and Karandhama
King Rishyashring had seven sons and a daughter Kumari. The background of the daughter was interesting indeed. Once at the banks of Mahi Sagar Tirtha and the Vijaya Sthambha, a stray goat was thirsty, got entangled among flower creepers, its neck was snapped on the ground, its body fell into water and was dead. By the blessings of the Sacred Tirtha, the head of the Goat was fixed to the daughter of the King of Simhala named Shatha Shringa.
As the girl grew, she saw her face in a mirror to find the head of the dead Goat and soon after that she obtained the knowledge of past birth; she took permission of her parents and proceeded to Mahi Sagar and by the power of the Tirtha, got rid of her goat-head and turned out to be a very charming girl. She refused to marry despite many offers but performed severe Tapasya to Maheswara. She secured a boon from the latter that she would like to live at the Tirtha always later. She set up a Linga named Varkaresh at the same place where the goat felt thirsy. Bhagavan Siva was pleased and said that anybody who felt thirsty and died and the body’s bones were dropped into the Mahisagara Sangam then that person would stay in Swaraga for long time and return to Earth as a King. Also, whoever would take bath in the Sangam and worship Varkareshwar, the person’s desire would be surely fulfilled. If Pitru Tarpanas were performed on a Kartika Krishna Chaturdasi after Puja to Varkarkareswar, the person concerned would be blessed. After returning to her father at Simhala, he divided his Kingdom in favour of his children including Kumari. After his death, she got to her share’s Kumarikhand but soon continued to stay and perform charities at Sthambha Tirtha from her income. She reconstructed the Temple originally built by Kartikeya and dedicated the newly made Golden Temple to Siva who was immensely pleased and declared that the earlier Kumareswar Tirtha be also called Kumariswar Tirtha. As her age advanced and was to die soon, Parama Siva desired that she should not end her life as an unmarried woman and hence wanted to marry Him in the form of Mahakaal and took her to Rudra Loka, where Parvati Devi endeared her and named her as Chitralekha, since Kumari was an expert in Chitralekhan or painting.
While this was the position, there was a pure Brahmana in Kasipura well known for chanting Manti Rudra Mantra always and was thus called Manti. After constant recitation of the Mantra, the Brahmana was blessed with the Vision of Rudra and gave the boon of begetting a very pious son from his wife. But at the time of delivery, the child refused to come out of the womb as he argued that despite knowing the importance of human birth, he was afraid of the bad qualities of human life which tended to attract innumerable sins entering into the cycle of sins and redemption. Manti prayed to Maha Deva again and blessed Manti to get the child out, naming the child as Kaalabhiti, since he was afraid of Kala Marg. Kaalabhiti grew as an illustrious youth with the knowledge of Pasupathi Mantra, Sadyojatadi Pancha Mantras and an excellent background of Vedas and Scriptures.He visited Mahi Sagar Sangama and soon after taking bath in the Tirtha, he felt considerable transformation and executed Tapasya by standing on one leg’s toe underneath the Bilvapatra Tree near the Sangam. A few months later a Stranger approached Kalabhiti and asked him to have some water as he did enough Tapasya. Kaalabhiti enquired of the latter’s background but the Stranger replied that He was not aware of His parentage or caste or religion. Kaalabhiti said that his Guru asked him not to entertain a stranger without parentage and caste. The Stranger made fun of him as there was no logic in ascertaining the details, as after all, all the human beings were born of some parents by same Paramatma, lived on the same Earth, breathed the same air, lived under the same sky, ate similar food and drank same water, the same type of blood ran into the veins etc. Kaalabhiti argued that no doubt same Siva was in all the human beings, but some were Bhaktas and some were ‘Nastiks’; nobody ate ash and dust but only edible items and so on. That was why certain regulations were set up in human life. In the past, Lord Brahma created the Universe out of ‘Panchabhutas’; four differences viz. ‘Dhvani’/ Naad Swarup (Sound), ‘Varnas’ (Omkaraful of Aksharas or Letters), ‘Padas’or words like ‘Sivam’ and Vakyas or Sentences which were of three types viz. ‘Prabhusattam’ which gave orders like do this or do that; ‘Suhruthsattam’ like ‘Itihasas’and ‘Puranas’ providing guidance and direction; and ‘Kanthasattam’ on the lines of a beloved indicating  do’s and don’ts. That was how feelings of friendship, affection and respect are promoted, thus proving that there would have to be a regulated and controlled Society. Varnashram was an extension of the Rules of a Society since the Four Classes had established rules for Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vyasyas and Sudras. Could one ignore the Directives of Vedas, Shastras and Puranas as waste? How Saptarshis could in the olden days become Brahmanas and Kshatriyas; were they fools? It is not being said that Siva is not in every being but just as Pure Gold gets converted into various qualities of the metal, human beings too are of various types, some are virtuous and some are vicious, some are of nobility and some are not and so on. The Stranger then scratched with his right foot thumb a small water line which became a big waterbody but even then Kalabhiti was not impressed as there might be some Bhuta or Pisacha trying to create a sense of awe.The Stranger said: Suppose the water of this Sarovar belonged to me, the vessel belonged to me and the rope too, then why should you not accept my water, since I am the donor of water and the owner of the Waterbody? Kalabhiti still said that he would never ever accept the water from a Stranger without knowing who he was and the details of his parentage! Smilingly the Stranger disappeared and under the Bilva Tree there appeared a Siva Linga as Devas rained Parijata flowers and then Kalabhiti realised that the Stranger was none other than Mahakaala Himself! Kalabhiti made a sincere Stuti (eulogy) to the Mahakaal Linga saying: Hey Sin terminator Kaal, Kaal margik Kaal, Kaal who has Kaal (Black) coloured ‘Kantha’ or Throat, Kaal who has Kaalarupa (Dark coloured Swarupa), Bhagavan Mahakala, I bow to the Unreserved Embodiment of Vidyas; You are known as the ‘Tatpurusha’, Maheswara of the Creation in totality; My ‘Sashtanga’ (prostrated) Namaskar.’ Parameswara gave Darshan to Kalabhiti from the Swayambhu Linga being worshipped by him and told: ‘I was testing your ‘Dharmaparaayana’or the grit of your proven virtue and am satisfied; Kaal could never impose any restriction on you due to your steadfast belief in Scriptures and the proven path of Dharma. Do follow this route always and this Sarovar created for you would confer contentment to whosoever took bath in it and worship me!’Kaalabhiti requested Mahaakal that the Linga being worshipped be popularised all over as Mahaakal Linga and that he be blessed to be always near Him. Bhagavan agreed to both the requests and blessed Kaalabhiti to become an additional Dwar Pal in addition to Nandi! As Kaalabhiti had conquered ‘Kaal’ (death), he became Mahakaal himself in the form of a Sage!
The illustrious Siva Bhakta King Karandhama visited Mahi Sagara Sangam to worship Mahakaal. He took bath in the pious waters of the Sangam, performed Special Pujas to Maha Deva and made elaborate eulogies. Sage Mahakaal (erstwhile Kaalabhiti) sat near the King and made affectionate enquiries to him. The King took this great opportunity and sought clarifications on certain doubts tormenting his mind for long still unanswered: Human beings perform ‘ Tarpans’ with water to the deceased ‘Pithras’and this water goes back to water; similarly ‘Pinda Daans’ are offered and how could one surmise that the offerings actually reach the ‘Pithras’? Mahaakal replied that not all Pithras were bound by their Karma as seven categories of Pitras like deities, Asuras, Yakshas were disembodied and were beyond the rules of Karma; They could hear from distance, accept Pujas from a distance, and acknowledge commendations from a distance; in fact they could reach anywhere and possess the knowledge of the Past, Present and Future.Their physical features possess ‘Tatvas’ including Five Tanmatras of Sound, Colour, Taste, Touch and and Smell as also Manas, Buddhi, Ahamkar and Prakriti totalling Nine Tatvas; outside the physique beyond these Tatvas dwells Bhagavan Purushottam; thus both Devatas and Pitras get contented by Rasa-Gandhas or Rasa-Tatvas.They experience ‘Shabda Tatva’ or ‘Sparsha Tatva’ and also get satisfied with the ‘Anna Saara and Jala Saara Tatvas’ or the essence food and water mitigating their hunger and thirst, irrespective of the place, rupa and condition. It was to such categories of Pitras that the Tarpans and Pinda Daans were meant and they could bless the persons performing the offerings.The second question was as to why the offerings  being made through Agni to various Devas needed to be made name wise, instead of uttering ‘Idam Bhutadibhaya’; is it necessary to specify for eg. ‘Indra Devaya edam namah’etc.The reply was simple as Superior Devas would never ever accept offerings unless through the medium of Mantras name by name. The next query was as to why Daan or Charity was to be offered along with Kusha grass, Akshatas (Rice grains mixed with Turmeric powder), water and Til (Sesame Seed) would need to be taken into hands, depending on the nature of offering. Mahakaal replied that in the past ‘daan phal’ was being short-circuited or intercepted by Asuras even before the Fruits of Charity reached the receiver; hence Brahma devised a formula that charities meant for Pitharas be offered along with tilas and water by observing ‘Pracheenaaveethi’ or changing the direction of the Sacred Thread from left to right shoulder and to Devas along with Akshatas, water and Kusa grass. A futher question of Karandhama to Mahakaal was regarding the Four Yugas and their main features. Mahakaal described that ‘Dhyana’ (meditation) was the major feature of Kritha Yuga; Yagnas or Sacrifices constituted the dominant attribute of Tretayuga; Satya or Truth was the predominant characteristic of Dwapar Yuga, while Daan was the redeeming trait of the Kali Yuga. In Krita Yuga, there was all-round happiness, contentment, perfect Varnasrama practice and devotion to Parama Siva; in Treta Yuga and Dwapara Yugas, there were gradual slippages of Dharma, rise of vices and lack of consistency in the behaviour pattern of human beings.In Kali Yuga, there has been rapid display of ‘Tamo guna’and viciousness, ferocity, violence, sadism, corruption, dishonesty and duplicity. Alongside these, there have been famines, floods, failure of crops, disease, lawlessness, debauchery, decadence of social values and a state of no return paving way to ‘Pralay’ (the Great Dissolution).
Yet another query made by Karandhama to Kaalaakal was about the Supremacy of Trimurtis, Viz. Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara. Mahaakaal replied that in the past there were intense deliberations by Maharshis at Naimisharanya and deputed Munis to Lord Brahma whether He was the most significant among the ‘Trimurthis’; Brahma replied: Ananthaya namasthasmai yasyantho Nopalabhyathe, Maheshaya cha dwavethou mahi stham Sumukhou Sada (I greet that Bhagavaan Anantha, whose terminating point is elusive; yet, My reverences are with both Vishnu and Shankara). The Munis reached Ksheera Sagar and asked the same question and Vishnu replied: Brahmanam Sarva Bhutheshu Paramam Brahmarupinam, Sadasivam cha Vandey thou Bhavetaam Mangalaya mey/ (I greet that Bhagavan who is present all over called Brahma and Sada Siva, as both are propitious to me).Then the delegation of Sages visited Kailasa and put this question to Devi Uma so that Parama Siva would get the reply indirectly and Bhagavan Shankara told Devi Parvati: Ekadashyam Pranrutyami Jaagare Vishnu Sahasraani, Sadaa Tapasyancharami preetharthamHari Vedhasou / (Devi, I observe Eakadasi by ‘Jaagaran’ (keeping awake in the night) and also perform ‘Nritya’ (dance) in Vishnu Mandir (Temple) to seek the love and blessings of both Brahma and Vishnu). As the Munis returned to Naimisharanya rather confused and decided to worship the ‘Trimurthi Swarupa’ and declared that whosoever made inter se comparisons of the Three Devas or grade them, would indeed go to Naraka, as such comparisons are unmerited, futile and evil minded).
Karandhama sought reply from Mahaakaal about the Types and Description of Sins. Adharmas or Acts of Sin are mainly of three categories: ‘Sthuula’ (in Gross Form), ‘Sukshma’ (Small in content) and ‘Athyantha Sukshma’ (Minute). These sins are performed by Mind (Manas), Tongue (Vani) or Karma (Action). The Manasik type is four-fold: Thinking of other’s women, wealth, material loss and difficulties. ‘Vachik Paap karma’ (Sinful Utterances) like lies, unpalatable sayings, blaming others and using provocative language. The physically performed Sins are consuming the non consumable and resorting to violence, vicious deeds and swindling other’s belongings; also, harbouring hatred to Maha Deva, visiting Temples but not greeting Gods and Goddesses nor praising the Deities; criticising them, being playful to them, behaving unpardonably to Siva Bhaktas and keeping hatred to them. The Pancha Maha Patakas or the Major Five Sins are Brahma hatya, consuming intoxicants, thieving, adultry and keeping company to those who perform these major sins. Those who do harm to Brahmanas or the Virtuous out of hatred, jealousy, anger, temptation or fear are sinners called ‘Brahmaghatis’. Those who pick up quarrels with Good persons on flimsy pretexts and obtain vicarious pleasure are as good as ‘Brahmahatyaras’. Abandoning one’s parents, providing wrong witnesses; exposing villages, houses, forests and Cow-sheds on fire are considered as sins of high order. Taking away everything from the poor, kidnapping women, children and animals; robbing men, women, animals, ‘Bhumi’, gold and precious metals, medicines, items of luxury, textiles, and any other material , raping, etc. are clear examples of sins. In the context of committing sins of major, medium, small, tiny, ignorable or the least acts of acceptance, the best evidence is one’s own conscience. Besides being repentant, helpful qualities of a sinner include the courage to own a sin, the capacity to refrain from repeating it and discouraging others not to do it.

Procedure of Siva Puja
Asked about the Procedure of Siva Puja, Mahaakaal explained to Karandhama that after taking bath early morning and wearing white ‘dhoty’and ‘uttareeya’ robes, Tripundra vibhudhi (three lined ash) on the forehead, chest and shoulders and with sincerity and resolve to perform the worship, a devotee should keep a clean vessel with pure water and fill up atleast four smaller vessels with milk, curd, ghee and honey and settle down along with other Puja material like flowers, fruits, Kumkum / Sindur, turmeric powder, coconuts, ‘Akshatas’(rice grains mixed with turmeric powder), Bilwa leaves, Sandal paste, Agar for Dhup, camphor for Deepa etc. kept on Siva Linga’s left.
The worship commences with Mantras addressing the very first Deity Ganesha with ‘Om Gam Ganesaya namah’ followed by two others, with Om Kshey Kshetra Palaaya namah, and Om Gum Gurubhyo namah and dedicates the Puja material to ‘Akash’ (Sky). Later on, he worships in the following order directed towards to four directions viz. Kula Devatha, Nandi, Mahaakaal, and Dhatha- Vidhata with the mantras: Om Kum Kula Devathaya namah, Om nam Nandiney namah, Om Mahaakaalaya namah and Om Dhaam Dhaatrey Vidhaatrey namah. Thereafter the devotee should sit to the left of Siva Linga facing ‘uttarabhimukha’ and perform Dhyan or  imagine a lotus of Surya mandal, its central portion as Chandra mandal, the central portion of the Chandra mandal as Agni mandal and the further central portion as Bhagavan Siva surrounded by His ‘Vama’, ‘Jyeshtha’ and other Shaktis; Siva having Five Faces, ten hands, each face possessing three eyes and each head decorated with Chandra, His left lap seated by Devi Uma and Siddhaganas reciting Hymns of His Glories. After Dhyan, service to Maha Deva commences with ‘Padya’ (washing His feet with water) and ‘Arghya’comprising nine inputs viz. Jal (water), Akshath, Kusha grass roots, Chandan, Pushpa, mustard, milk, curd and honey, each material to be given to Bhagavan, smear the mix on His Mastak (Top) and after Abhishek (Snaan / bathing), show Dhup (Agar smoke) by reciting the ‘Shodasha -akshara’ Moola Mantra viz. Om Hum Vishva Murthaye Sivaaya namah. The Snaan with the mix of the above nine materials should be done again and again and later apply Chandan paste to appease the Linga as also perform puja with flowers and bilwa leaves on and around the ‘Adhaara Peetha’ or the base structure of the Linga on the Agneya side by reciting: Om Dharmaya namah; on the Nairutya side by reciting Om Jnanayaa namah; on the Vayavya side by reciting Om Vairagyaya namah; on the Eshaanya side by reciting Om Ishvarvyaya namah; on the Eastern side by reciting Om Adharmaya namah; on Southern side by reciting Om Ajnaanaya namah; on the Western side by reciting Om Avairaagyaaya namah; andon the Northern side by reciting Om Anaiswaryaya namah. Thus worshipping Vairagya and  ‘Anant’ features be worshipped on the Lotus-ear ends as follows:
Om Anantaya namah;
Om Padmaaya namah;
Om Arka mandalaaya namah;
Om Soma mandalaya namah;
Om Vahni mandalaya namah;
Om Vaama Jyeshthaadi Panchamantra Shaktiyobhye namah;
Om Parama Prakrutyai Devyai namah.
Then follows the Puja of Eshaana, Tat Purusha, Aghora, Vama Deva and Sadyojaatha-the Pancha Mukhas or Five Faces of Maha Deva; Rudra, Sadhya,Vasu, Aditya and Vishva Deva and other Deva Swarupas; Andaja, Svedaja, Udbhuja and Jaraayuja ‘Sthavara-Jangama Murthi Parameswara and Vishva murthi Siva by the folowing Mantra:
Om EshaanaTatpurushaaghora Vaama deva Sayojaatha Panchavaktraaya Rudra Saadhya Vasuvaaditya Vishvadevaadi Deva Rupaandaja Svyedajodbhuja Jvaraayujarupasthavara Jangamamurthaye Parameswaraya Om Hum Vishva murthaye Sivaayanamah/ 
The worship would continue to ‘Trisula’ and other arms of Siva by reciting: Trisula Dhanuh Khadga Kapaala Kuthaarebhyo namah/ followed by Chandiswara Puja be performed by reciting the Mantra : Om Chandiswaraya namah. After this ‘Vidhi Purvak’ (according the Procedure) puja, Maha Deva should receive ‘Arghya’comprising ‘Jal, Akshat, flowers etc.followed by Dhan, Dhupa, Deepa, and Naivedya as well as Ghanta (Bells) and ‘Vaadyadhwani’or sound of various musical instruments alongwith ‘Arathi’, Nritya, Sangeetha and Vadya, Stotras, Hymn Singing ( Mantra Pushpam), Physical circling while standing and ‘Saashtanga Namaskars’ (prostrated greetings). Then the ‘Aparadha’ mantras are recited to seek forgiving of lapses in the Puja to say:
Mantra heenam, Kriya heena, Bhakti heenam Maheswara,
Yatpujitham maya Deva paripurnam thadasthutey,
Anaya Dhyanaavaahanadi Shodasopaachaara Pujaya Bhagavan Sarvaatmakah –
Supreetah Suprasanno varado bhavathu:
by so saying leave water and Akshathas in a plate and say again: Devatha Prasaadam Sirasa Grihnaami, Ethat Phalam Parameswaraarpana masthu, so saying take Pushpas and Akshatas on the Devotee’s head.Having explained the Sacred Procedure of Siva Puja to Karandhama, Mahakaal left for Siva Loka and those who would read this and more so perform the Puja as prescribed would attain Siva dhaam / Kailasa.

Narada sets up the Idols of Vasudeva and Bhattaditya (Surya Deva)
Sage Narada felt that at the Sacred Place of Mahi Sagar Tirtha, the Presence of Purushottama and Bhattaditya should be established too to add further significance. He worshipped Vishnu for hundred years and as He was pleased with His appearance finally. Narada requested Bhagavan to establish Himself in the Tirtha as Vasudeva.
Since then a beautiful Idol came to be woshipped by devotees on Kartika Shukla Ekadasi by observing fasting, Japa of the Mantra of Om Namo Narayanaya, perform Jaagaran with singing of hymns, group dances and bhajans in praise of Vasudeva and on the next morning execute worship again and offer charities. The Virtuous Brahmana Aitreya excelled in his constant Japa of Dwadashakshara Mantra ‘Om Namo Bhagavatey Vasudevaya’ right from his childhood and never heeded his parents or relatives and neighbours, who had all thought that he was dumb. His mother was terribly upset, as her husband Manduki Muni married again and Aitreya’s brothers were not abnormal. One day, the mother threatened to kill herself as her son was always spending time in the temple; Aitraya smiled and explained to her at length about the futility of normal life with the routine matters like marriage, family, earning livelihood, begetting children, getting old, diseases and death. He also told her that he had the knowledge of his earlier birth as a Sudra and he approached a kind and Dharmatma Brahmana who taught him the Dwadasakshara Mantra and the awareness of Bhagavan Vishnu; that was why he looked to be a stupid and dumb person. In the course of the discussion, Vasudava appeared in full glory with four hands along with ornaments and arms like Shankham (Conchshell), Chakram (Wheel), Gada (Mace) etc.before Atreya who was dumbfounded and confounded and having gradually recovered his senses made endless eulogies and asked for ‘Moksha’. Vasudeva replied that as he worshipped Him relenlessly, sincerely and selflessly at this Vasudeva Mandir of Mahi Sagara Kshetra, it would be called ‘Aghanaashan’ and asked him to continue the daily worship as in the past till his end and reach Vaikuntha after his normal death. His mother was proud of her son and his father joined the Aswamedha Yagna after the Darshan of Vasudeva. Aitreya explained to his parents:
Namasthasmai Bhagavatey Vishnuvetkunthamedhasey,
Yanmayaamohitadhayo bhramanah Karma saagare/
(I salute Bhagavan Vishnu, as our minds are illusioned with ‘Maya Moha’ (obsession) and are aimless in this vast Ocean of Samsara).’
Sage Narada also performed the ‘Pratishtha’ (Consecration) of Bhattaditya (Sun God) who is ‘Prathyaksha saakshi’ or ready-evidence on the Skies who is all pervasive and omniscient. He is the holder of the Universe.Those who do not recognise His magnitude and prominence are blind and who do not worship Him or highly unintelligent; one could see Him, feel Him and recognise Him on a daily basis but not pray to Him and wirship Him may be truly termed as ‘Atmadrohis’ or self-deceitful. Narada performed severe Tapasya for hundred years and requested Him to retain one of His ‘Amsas’ (Features) in the Bhattadithya Idol and bless those who worship Him especially on Sundays and recite the following one hunred eight names to Surya Deva:
Sarvada and

Narada sets up the Idols of Vasudeva and Bhattaditya (Surya Deva)
Lord Brahma convened a Conference of various Tirthas which were well known by Devotees from all over Bharat. Skanda Deva was also present and so did Dharma Deva. Brahma said that it might not be fair for Him to unilaterally decide on the Supremacy of a particular Tirtha and hence the invitees could air their special features considering the Sacredness, Boons secured by the Devotees from the respective Gods, and the general popularity and the turnover of the devotees at their respective Tirthas.
The Mahi Sagara Tirtha Representative said that his Tirtha was unparalelled; in the past King Indradyumna did such Tapasya that Prithvi who was the ‘Sarva Tirthamayi’ (the bearer of all the Tirthas) herself acknowledged the Supremacy of Mahi Sagara and none else could make a claim over the Maha Tirtha! Dharma Deva, the elder son of Brahma Deva reacted sharply against what Mahi Sagara said and condemned the highly self-opinionated views; he said that virtuous persons never made statements like that since that tantamounted to boasting, ego and a blatant display of ‘Ahamkar’which was against the established norms of morality, especially referring to the merits of others. So saying, Dharma Deva gave a curse that the Tirtha be destroyed! On witnessing the proceedings at the Conference, there were ‘Hahakars’ or Great Commotions. Skanda Deva objected to Dharma’s ‘Shaapa’ (Curse) and defended the fact that there was indeed no other Tirtha in the Universe that was comparable to Mahi Sagara. In turn, Dharma Deva became ready to resign, which meant that the entire World would become irreligous, full of Adharma and lawless! Narad intervened at this juncture that on the one hand, Dharma Deva’s role was oustanding in upholding virtues while Skanda Deva was actually the Son of Bhagavan Ishvar and the Commander-in- Chief of Deva Sena. Any friction between these two illustrious personsalities might jeopardise Universal balance and as such the compromise formula suggested was that Mahi Sagara Tirtha be declared as a Gupta (Secret) Kshetra and as an Unknown Destination; but any devotee observing fast and worship on Amavasya falling on Saturdays in the name of the Mahi Tirtha would be reaping worth ten times more of Prabhasa Tirtha, Seven times of Pushkar Tirtha Yatras, and eight times of Prayag. This was also acceptable to Brahma, Dharma and Skanda and all the Sacred Deities represented at Mahi Sagara including Paramatma Vishnu, Maha Deva and Maha Devis.


Om Tat Sat


(My humble salutations to  the lotus feet of Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamy ji and also my humble greatulness to  Brahmasree Sreeman V D N Rao ji  for the collection)


"poet in me - Manu" said...

Dear Sir Plz let me know where this mahisagar sangam tirth is loacted actually?

"poet in me - Manu" said...

i want to go there on this saturay as there is shani amavsya on 8th June plz guide me abt location of guota kshetra mahisagar sangam tirtha

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