Matsya Avatara


17    ‘Skandopaakhyaana’ (The Chapter on Skanda)
Brahma Manasa Putra Prajapati Dhaksha married Veerini and they were blessed with sixty daughters; of these daughters, ten were married to Dharma, thirteen to Maharshi Kashyapa, twenty seven to Chandra Deva, four to Arishtanemi, two to Bahuka and two to Krushaswa. Kashyapa’s wives were Aditi, Diti, Danu, Vishwa, Arishta, Surasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Taamra, Krodhavasha, Ira, Kadru and Muni. Aditi begot Devendra, Upendra, Surya and all Devatas. Diti gave birth to Hiranyakashipu and innumerable Daityas. Danu gave birth to Danavas; Surabhi the cows and other animals; Vinata the birds like Garuda; Kadru the Nagas and other repitles; and so on. As Devas and Daityas developed mutual hatred and enemity, there had been periodical battles and each time Daityas defeated and occupied Swarga for long spells of time, Devas with the help of Narayana were regaining Swarga again and there had been as a result mass killings of Daityas and Devas had been enjoying the last laugh! Diti was unable to bear this let-down time and again. Kashyapa Muni taught to perform a severe Vrata which she performed meticulously for thousand years and after some time got pregnant. Indra came to know the purpose of Diti’s Vrata viz. to bless her to conceive a boy who could terminate Indra and Devas, Indra ultilised his powers / Siddhis of Anima and Parakaya; entered her womb and cut the foetus with the help of his Vjrayudha seven times making seven slices from each of the seven parts thus making forty nine ‘Marudganas’. After this tragic end, Diti once again prayed to Kashyapa to grant her a son who was indestrcutible even by a Vajra and as result of ten thousand years of Tapasya there was a mighty Daitya called Vajranga was born to Diti. As per Diti’s instruction Vajranga brought Indra imprisoned to his mother. But Brahma and Kashyapa asked Vajranga to release Indra by saying:

Apamaano Vadhah proktah Putra Sambhaavitasyacha,
Asmadvaakyena yo mukto viddhitam mrutamevacha/

(Son! Respectable personalities like Indra ought to feel humbled and humiliated; hence release Indra on my instruction.). Brahma also created Varangi so that Vajranga would wed her. Brahma instructed the couple to perform Tapasya in dfficult situations, some times by raising hands, sometimes sitting with Panchagnis around, sometimes sitting in deep waters and invariably without food and even water. Finally, the couple was blessed with a mighty and unique son, named Tarakasura. Fully understanding the purpose of his birth which his parents had strived for after performing thousands of years of Tapasya as also to fulfill the singular ambition of his grand mother to destroy Indra and Devas, Tarakasura took a vow at a grand conference of Daityas and Danavas-the descendents of Diti and Danu- and proceeded to Paritraya Parvat (the western side of Aravali and Vindhya mountain range and observed strict Tapasya during hundred year time-slots by rotation by way of ‘Niraahaara’ (without food), Panchagni ( in the midst of Five huge Fire bodies) in sizzling summers, ‘Jala madhya’ inside in chilled running water in the worst winter nights, eating only fallen dry leaves, etc. Brahma had no option but to present himself and ask for his boons. He bargained of absolute invincibility and deathlessness but finally agreed that only a seven days long boy could kill him, if at all! Not far from the day when Brahma bestowed the boons, Tarakasura redesigned and reformed his lines of Military Forces and attacked Indraloka. A long-drawn and ferocious Devasura-Daitya ensued when there was considerable blood-shed in either side. Danaveswara Grasan and Yama Dharma Raja, Jambha and Kubera, Durjaya and Varuna, Mahishasura and Chandra, Kalanemi and Surya were the prominent opponents. As it looked that Devas were at the moment of collapse under the leadership of Tarakasura, Lord Vishnu sat on Garuda Deva and alighted on the battle field. All the Asura-leaders surrounded Vishnu and rained Astras against him in one go; Kalanemi shot sixty arrows, Nimi hundred arrows, Mathan fired eighty arrows, Jambhaka seventy, Shumbha ten powereful Astras, and many others as many as they could at just one target , viz. Narayana. Bhagavan Vishnu responded to all these arrows and shot severally and on one-to-one basis. The battle continued on and on; inspired by Vishnu Deva, Indra regrouped Deva Sena by strenghening patches and enlarging the volumes of the Deva Sena by recalling Yakshas, Gandharvas, and Kinnaras who brought their own powerful weapons. Vishnu called up for the assistance of Ekadasha Rudras viz. Kapali, Pingala, Bheema, Virupaksha, Vilohita, Ajesha, Shasana, Shasta, Shambhu, Chanda and Dhruva. The Rudra Swarupas dominated the battle field by annihilating thousands of Daityas. Maha Daitya Gajasura was torn into pieces and his skin was draped over the body of Kapila Rudra the Daityas made ‘hahaakaaras’ when they ran helter-skelter. Indra attacked Daitya Nimi and thumped his chest with his ‘Vajraayudha’. At the humilation of the death of Gajasura by Rudra, Jambhasura challenged Indra and after a fearful skirmish, Lord Indra shot Brahmastra and the Daitya was killed instantly. But fully armed by the boon of invincibility, the end result was that Tarakasura over powered Devas, Vishnu was indeed aware of the boon to Tarakasura and withdrew from the battle and the defeated Indra and Devas were dislodged from Swarga.

Indra and Devas reached Satyaloka to seek Brahma’s help and the latter predicted that soon the King of Himachala would be blessed with a daughter named Parvati who would be married to Parama Shiva and the couple woud beget a child named Skanda; that boy after attaining seven days should kill Tarakasura. Brahma further told Devas that meanwhile they would have to be patient and that he had already chalked out action plans till the objective was achieved. Having assured Devas thus, Brahma called for Devi Vibhavari ( Ratri Devi) and briefed her that Shiva’s earlier wife Sati Devi had immolated herself as she could not control her emotions arising out of her own father’s (Daksha Prajapati) misdeeds of insulting Bhagavan Shiva, that the latter avenged Sati’s self-immolation by destroying Daksha Yagna and Daksha and that Shiva was at the moment not in a mood to remarry but that the Sacred Wedding between him and Devi Parvati was of top urgency since the child of their union could save the entire universe as their son could only kill Tarakasura as per the boons that the Demon secured. The instruction of Brahma to Devi Vibhavari therefore was as follows:
Virahokanthitaa gaadham Hara sangama laalasaa,
Tayoh sutapta tapasoh samyogah swaacchhubaananey/
Garbhastaaney cha tanmaatruhu swena ruupena rajjaya/

( As both the ‘Tapaswinis’ would be tempted to unite with each other, she should enter Devi Parvati’s ‘garbha’ and imprint Shiva Deva’s manly image there). Then the virility so discharged would be carried by Agnideva and the Sarovara’s reefs that would carry the drops would help Krittikas to bring up the boy from the spills-over of Shiva’s virility; Devi Parvati would then retire to bed and would know only later that she gave birth to a boy. In the action plan, the next step as devised by Indra was to stimulate Shankara with feelings of romance and to create favourable situations around; indeed Kamadeva was able to succeed momentarily but when Shiva understood the game plan; Manmatha was burnt into ashes by Shiva’s ‘humkar’ followed by the opening of third eye in a split-second!

Devi Rati was stunned at the sudden turn of events, since she felt that the Act of Madana Kumara was to usher in propitiousness and happiness as the worst menace of three Lokas would be rid of by the end of Tarakasura, pursuant to Shiva- Parvati’s wedding and the hastening of their son’s auspicious birth. Unfortunately, her husband became the victim, for no fault of his, as the entire drama was enacted by Indra Deva, who too could not be blamed since each step in Lord Brahma’s Action Plan was for the great advantage of the Universe as a whole. She stooped down at her husband’s ash-heap and while crying incessantly prayed to Bhagavan Shiva as follows:

Namah Shivaayaastu Niraamayaaya Namah Shivavaayastu Manomayaya/
Namah Shivaayaastu Suraarchitaaya, Tubhyam Sadaa Bhakta Kripaaparaaya/
Namo Bhavaayaastu Bhavodbhavaaya, Namostu tey Dhwasta mano bhavaaya/ Namostutey goodha mahaa vrataaya, Namostu Maaya Gahanaashrayaya/
Namostu Sharvaaya Namah Shivaaya, Namostu Siddhaaya Puraatanaaya/
Namostu Kaalaaya Namah Kalaaya, Namostutey Jnaana vara prasaadaaya/
Namostutey Kaalakalatigaaya, Namo Nisargaamala bhushanaaya/ Namostvameyaandhaka mardakaaya, Namah Sharanyaaya Namo gunaaya/
Namostutey Bheemaganaanugaaya, Namostu Nanaa bhuvanenakartrey/ Sarvaavasaaneyhyavi naasha netrey, Namostu Naanaa Jagatey Vidhhaatrey,
Namostu tey Chitra phala Prayoktrey
/ Namostu Bhaktaabhimata pradaatrey, Namah sadaa teybhava sanga hatrey/
Ananta rupaaya sadaiva tubhyamasya kopaaya namostu tubhyam/
Shashaanka chihnaaya sadaiva tubhya mameya maanaaya namah stutaaya/ Vrishendrayaanaaya Puraantakaaya, Namah prasiddhaaya Mahoushadhaaya/
Namostu Bhaktyaabhimata pradaaya, Namostu Sarvaarti haraaya tubhyam/ Charaachara vichaaravarya maachaaryamutprekshita bhutasargam/ Twaamindu moulim sharanam prapanna Priyaaprameyam mahataam Mahesham/ Prayacchamey kaamayashah samruddhim, Punah Prabho jeevatu Kamadevah/
Priyam binaa twaam Priya jeeviteshu, Twattoparah ko bhuvaneshwahaasti/
Prabhuh Priyaayaah prasavah priyaanaam, Praneetaparyaaya paraparaarthah/ Twameyvameko Bhuvanasyanaatho Dayaalurnmeelita bhakabheetih/
(Parama Shiva! My salutations to you; you are the Spotless; the mental reflection of all the Beings; worshipped by all the Devas always; the epitome of kindness to the devotees; the Supreme Creator of the World; you burnt up Kamadeva, my husband and my deferential apologies to you for the diturbance caused when you were in a confidential Vrata. Kindly accept my devotion since you do protect those and who take refuge as they become victims of the forests of ‘Maya’; You are the Punisher as well as the Provider of Propitiousness; the Kala Swarupa /Appraiser of Time as also of Achievements since you are the Supreme Gyani / with the knowledge of those who transgress limits of time; You are the Form of Nature and the Wearer of Sacred and Untainted Ornaments; You possess spontaneous Might and destroy Evil Forces like Andhakaraasura; the Nirguna devoid of features and the point of ultimate refuge; You are the Creator of several Worlds and the Scripter of many Universes; the bestower of multiple benefits, the patented destroyer at the time of Pralayas as also the saviour of a few Beings at such extreme situations; the Enjoyer of the due ‘Yagnaphala’ which is liberally distributed to devotees; the demolisher of worldly desires; you possess myriad forms but your anger is unbridled; you are the coolness of Moon, the Symbol of self-esteem , the eulogy to all, the carrier of Nandi, the obliterator of Tripuras, the Source of ‘Aushadhis’/ medicines, the donor of desires, the remover of all difficulties, the Ultimate Regulator of ‘Achaaras’/ ‘Vichaaras’-traditions and customs; The ‘Acharya’or the Unique Guide to the Moving and Immobile Object; The Over Seer of the entire Srishti; the Provider of Coolness and radiance to the Moon of his head; the Unparalelled Personification of Pure Love, Maheshwara! do kindly bestow everlasting fame and name to my husband Kama Deva with which he would get back to life; You are the one and only Saviour who could bring blossoms to his ashes; who else in the Universe could be competent to get my husband back to Life!). Pleased by the ‘Stuti’ of Rati Devi, Maha Deva cooled down from his anger and pacified her to assure that she would secure her husband back after some time and would be popularly called ‘Ananga’. Disturbed by the happenings that happened as Kama Deva was burnt by Maha Deva and Devi Rati’s distress, Devi Parvati was rather disllusioned and decided to proceed to perform Tapasya. Her father gave her encouragement and said:

Umeti Chapaley Putri! na kshamam taavakam vapuh,
Sodhum klesha swaruupascya Tapasah Soundarya darshiney/

(My daughter, you are too restless; ‘U’-stands for THIS and MA-stands for: ‘do not do this’; in other words: ‘you do not have to perform ‘Tapasya’; Your slender and tender body is not capable of withstanding Tapasya). As Himavan was pleading to his daughter not to think of Tapasya thus, there was a Celestial Voice (Akasha vaani) addressed to Himavaan which asserted that Parvati should not think in terms of Tapasya;

Umetinaama tey naasyaa Bhuvaneshu Bhavishyati,
Siddhim cha Murtimatyashey Saadha vidhyanti chintitaam/

(Himaraja! what you uttered was that your daughter was really ‘Chanchala’or highly unsteady and wavering; in the entire Universe her name shall be everlasting and would always be bestowing boons to the fulfillment of her ‘Bhaktas’).
Indra Deva who was anxious to take further steps in expediting Shiva-Parvati’s wedding, called up the illustrious Sapta Rishis to ascertaining the mind of Devi Parvati by visiting her personally and once convinced to visit Parama Shiva too to find out his inclination too. The Chief Negotiators were thus engaged in the delicate task which however had to be given a soft and swift push; they reached Parvati first and presented to her a negative picture of Shiva stating that he was perhaps not an appropriate candidate befitting her beauty and grace and that she might as well seek of another ‘greater’and more presentable and qualified husband; they argued that he was a semi-clad, uncouth, funnily dressed, resident of ‘Smashaanas’/ grave yards, kapala dhari / wearer of skulls, bhikshukh / mendicant, with frightening eyes, apparently looking mentally unsound! Devi Parvati was rather annoyed and even surprised at the opinions expressed by the Sapta Rishis of their popular standing and affirmed:

Naaham Bhadraah kileycchaami Rutey Sharvaat Pinaakinah,
Sthitamcha taaratamyena Praaninaam paramam twidam/
Dheebalai –shvaryakaaryaadi pramaanam mahataam mahat,
Yasmaatra kinchitaparam sarvey yasmaat pravartatey/
Yasvaishwaryamanaadyantam tamahamsharanam gataa,
Eshamey Vyaavasaayascha deerghoti vipareetakah/

(Bhadra Purusha Saptarshis! I am not at all ready to wed any unsteady and petty-minded entities, excepting Pinakadhari Shankara Maha Deva; despite what might be described about the greatness of other suitors, I am most emphatically anchoring my hopes on him, as he is the most certainly outstanding Maha Purusha, whose might, mind and magnificence are unparalelled. This unflinching resolution of mine might look odd to you; you may either concede or quit!). As the Saptarshis heard Devi Parvati, they were overjoyed; they said they were only testing her resolve before approaching Maha Deva to sound his mind. May this determination of yours be fulfilled soon! After all, how could the radiance of Surya be without Surya! How could the sparkle of a diamond be without the diamond! How could the meaning of ‘Aksharas’ (letters / alphabet) be detached from their ‘meaning/ implication’! Similarly how Devi Parvati could be disconnected from Maha Deva! So saying, the Saptarshis proceeded to Himalaya Mountain peak to meet Parama Shiva to sound him on the subject of the most auspicious wedding of Shiva-Parvati. They met the Veeraka the Dwarapalaka and sensitised him about the purpose of their visit and in course of time, Bhagavan met the Saptarshis. The latter being an Omniscient he said:

Jaaney loka vidhhanasya Kanyaa satkaarya mutthamam,
Jaataa praaleya shailasya samketaka nirupanaah/

(I am aware that for the welfare of the whole world, the role of this damsel is quite significant; she is the daughter of Himavaan and you are desirous of proposing her for this task).

Satya mutktah kanthitaah sarvey Deva kaaryaarthamudyataah,
Teshaam twaranti chetaamsi kinthu kaaryam vivakshitam/
(This is indeed true that there has been considerable enthusiasm and haste, yet there would be some slow down in completing the task).

Lokayaatraanugantavya viseshana vichakshanaihi,
Sevantey they yato Dharma tat pramaanaayaat parey sthitaa/

(The Vidwans would do well in properly following the formalties and the established traditions of ‘Dharma’, since this action plan would constitute a regular standard to the posterity). The implication of what Maha Deva stated was fully understood by Sapta Rishis and they left to the Palace of Himavanta instantly. They conveyed to Himavanta and his wife Mena the exciting news of Maha Deva’s implicit consent to offer himself as the bridegroom to Devi Parvati. Mena said that normally the parents of the bride would propose an alliance but the bridegroom proposed instead! Anyhow, she asked that they might as well approach Parvati directly. The Rishis replied that the ground was already prepared and Parvati was in fact performing Tapasya only to accomplish Shiva’s hand. In any case, they would approach her as a formality and in response, Parvati terminated her Tapasya and came back home. Parvati felt so anxious that the previous night before the wedding preparations commenced was like ten thousand long nights. Next morning at the ‘Brahma Muhurta, the propitious acts were initiated; the ‘Shadritus’or the Six Seasons arrived; Vayu Deva and Varuna Deva took up the cleaning operations of the huge mountain range to receive the Wedding Guests; Devi Lakshmi set various arrangements including the golden and silver vessels required; Chitamani and many other jewels were spread all over; Kalpa Vriksha and Kamadhenu were pressed into service; all kinds of ‘Aoushadhis’, ‘Rasaayans’, and ‘Dhatus’turned up to be of use in the food preparations.
There at the ‘Gandhamaadana’ Mountain range, assemblies of Maha Munis, Nagas, Yakshas, Gandharvas and Kinnaras started hotting up. Brahma intiated the make-up of Parama Shiva and for a start, combed the ‘Jatajutas’/ the coarse hair and set the position of ‘Chandra Khanda’ right; Devi Chamunda decorated a big ‘kapaala’on one side of Shiva’s broad head and said that once a son was born from the wedding, the latter should fill up the skull with the blood of Tarakasura and gift that Kapala to her to enjoy the drink! Vishnu arrived with a golden ‘Kirita (‘head gear) studded with ‘Nava Ratnas’ and well-ornamented with live snakes which added to the luster of the ‘Sarpa Manis’on the heads of the snakes; Indra arrived in haste with the ‘Gaja Charma’/ Elephant Skin and draped it on the body of Shiva; Lord Vayu took over the charge of Nandeswara and took great pains to swathe a gold-laced white silk bejewelled with nine gems decorated on the back to make a cushioned seat on which Maha Deva could be seated comfortably; ‘Loka Sakshis’( Ready Universal Evidences) Surya, Chandra and Agni Devas lit up the ‘Three Netras’/Three Eyes with renewed radiance and radiation and garnished them with dark clouds as eye-tex; Preta Raja Yama Deva embellished Shiva’s broad forehead with ‘Chita bhasma’ in three straight lines and ornamented his fore arms and wrists with strings of human bones; Kubera gifted invaluable jewellery made of nine gems studded in pure gold worn along with a heap of live and hissing snakes, while Varuna brought special ‘Kundalas’/Ear rings with coiled Vasuki and Taksha serpents.
As the bride groom got ready and sat comfortably on Nandeswara, the procession commenced with firm and dignifiedly slow steps and Bhu Devi was in shivers with each step of Nandeswara carrying the Supreme Lord of Trilokas, and behind him were Vishnu, Brahma, Indra, Dikpalakas, the Nava Grahas, Devas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Pramatha Ganas and so on each with their wives, unless they had already reported to duty at the bride’s Palaces. Veerak, the Dwarapalaka of Maha Deva, in the lead was addressing hoarse the surging crowds ahead of the ‘Ratha’ to make way and let it pass; after all, when Maha Deva was himself moving ahead, could any one in the hysteric mass of humanity resist the temptation of catching a glimspe of Bhagavan! Behind the Dignitaries following the procession were the celebrations of singing Gandharvas, dancing Apsaras, and the tuneful Kinnaras, further followed by Maharshis, Sages and Brahmanas reciting Vedas and Sacred Hymns. The whole Universe was charged with myriad emotions as the groom’s party arrived at the bride’s palace.
At the ‘Kalyana Mandapa’, the Parvarta Raja Himavan was in a state of dazed ecstacy since Parama Shiva himself was his son-in-law.

Pranateynaachalendrena Pujitotha Chaturmukhah,
Chakaara vidhinaa Sarvam Vidhimantra purah saram/

(Parvata Raja performed puja with respects to Brahma and with the full course of formal Mantras, the wedding was celebrated in tradition and dignity);

Sharveyna Paanigrahana maagneena saakshikamakshatam,
Daataa Mahibhrutaam Natho hotaa Devaschaturmukhah/
Varah Pashupati Saakshaat Kanyaa Vishaaranistathaa

(Then Parama Shiva wedded Parvati with Agni Saakshi or in the presence of Agni, when Daata / donor was Himavaan, Brahma as Hota (the Head Priest), Shiva as the bride groom and bride as Aranibhuta Devi Parvati.). Devas were extremely happy that the best was yet to happen; Indra gifted a golden umbrella, Gandharvas sang tuneful songs, Apsaras danced to their best, Kinnaras organised instrumental extravaganza and the whole world cebebrated, but of course Daityas and Danavas who had ruled for thousand years were highly dejected quite understandably. After a few days the new couple of Shiva and Devi Parvati took permission of Parvata Raja Himavaan and moved back to Mandarachala.

Years passed by and Shiva and Parvati continued to enjoy their marital bliss. Out of fun, Bhagavan Shiva teased Parvati once as follows:

Shareerey mama tatwaangi sitey bhaasya sitadyutih,
Bhujaangee vaasita shuddhaa samslishtaa chandaney tarow/
Chandraatapena sampruktaa ruchirambaraa tathaa,
Rajaneevaasitey pakshey drushti dosham dadaasimey/

(Devi Parvati! As your physical colour is rather dark and mine is fair, it looks that a dark serpent is circling a chandana tree! Also, there is a similie -comparison- of a shining Moon against the background of dark cloud on the sky!). Understandably, Parvati was not amused, and in fact, badly hurt, when Shankara made these remarks even as a joke. Instantly, she left out home and proceeded to perform ‘Tapasya’ to Brahma for a number of years to change her body colour. Any amount of pleading and supplication by Shiva did not change her mind.
Meanwhile, the son of Andhakasura and the brother of Bakasura called ‘Aadi’ performed strict ‘Tapas’ to Brahma Deva and asked for the boon of ‘Amaratwa’ or immunity from death. As Brahma could not grant this advantage, Aadi amended the request that he should be able to convert his Body Form as per his wish; Brahma agreed provided that the Daitya could do so only twice. As Veerak was guarding the Entry Point of Shankara and as it was not possible to enter ‘Shiva dwar’, Aadi converted his Form as a snake and entered Shankara’s abode through an under ground hole and slithered in; thereafter Aadi assumed the Form of Devi Parvati, approached Maha Deva and pretended that she had given up Tapasya as the severity of meditation just to change of body colour from ‘Krishna Varna’ to ‘Gaura Varna’ was not worth the strict regimen. Parama Shiva was happy initially that she changed her mind and returned back to him. But on second thoughts and knowing that Parvati would not take a flippant decision to return without achieving her objective, he suspected the fake Parvati and killed the ‘Mayavi’ Daitya. The original Parvati Devi’s Tapasya pleased Brahma Deva and blessed her to change her body colour as she pleased either as of Gaura ( white)Varna or of Shyama Varna; Parvati returned home to Maha Deva but the unwitting Veeraka, the ‘Dwarapalaka’ refused her entry to her own house! As any amount of convincing did not help Veeraka, Devi Gauri was tired out to reason him and finally gave a ‘Shaap’ that he would be born as a human and after the duration of the curse would return to her again. Parama Shiva was so excited as Gauri entered his interior bed room that a delegation of Devas headed by Indra was turned out saying that he was busy. Indra detailed Agni Deva to take the form of a parrot and peep in through a window as to what was happening inside their bed-chamber. Exactly at that time, the parrot peeped in when Shiva-Parvati were actually in Ekanta; Shiva noticed the parrot and recognised Agni. He scolded Agni and said now that he created ‘Vighna’ (obstacle) between him and Parvati and hence he might as well rectify the situation by drinking up his virility. The highly explosive drops shining like molten gold punctured Agni’s belly and got spread over the Maha Sarovar nearby. Several lotus flowers which got sprouted all over in the deep waters emitted strong and fragrant scents and the intoxication affected ‘Krittikas’who happened to bathe in the Sarovar; the Krittikas desired to take the lotus leaves home but Devi Parvati jocularly remarked to the Krittikas that she could take the drops of water on the lotus leaves as well. In turn Krittikas joked that they would take the water home, provided the child born of the water consumed by them should have equal right to the motherhood of the boy so born! As the deal was struck between Kritthikas and Parvati, the Krittika damsels gave the lotus leaves as also the water drops to Parvati. Subsequently, Devi Parvati drank up the water around the lotuses and from her right and left ‘kukshis’ gave birth to two male children later united into one and the child who had the extraordinary radiance of Surya Deva; each of the Six Krittikas shaped up one head each of the child; thus the boy was named ‘Kumara’ by Parvati; ‘Kartikeya’, ‘Shanmukha’, ‘Shadvaktra’ by the Krittikas and as ‘Vishakha’ or the different ‘Shakhas’/ branches of the lotus leaves that carried the golden drops. On Chaitra Shukla Shashthi, the child was declared as the ‘Deva Senapati’/ the Commander-in- Chief of Devas.Vishnu gifted varieties of ‘Ayudhas’/ Arms and ‘Astras’or Mantrik Arrows. Kubera presented him a lakh-strong of yaksha army. Vayu Deva gave him a ‘Mayura Vahana’/ Peacock Carrier, while Twashta Prajapati gifted a toy in the form of a Cock which could change its form as the boy wished. All the Devas presented souvenirs, prostrated before Skanda and extolled him:

Namah Kumaaraaya Mahaa Prabhaaya Skandaayacha Skandita daanavaaya,
Navaarka Vidyutdyutaye Namostutey, Namostutey Shanmukha Kaamarupa/
Pinadwi nanaabharanaaya Bhartrey Namo raney Daarudaaranaaya,
Namostu teyrka pratima prabhhaya, Namostu Guhyaaya Guhyaaya tubhyam/
Namostu Thrailokya bhaayaapahaaya, Namostutey Baala kripaa paraaya,
Namo Vishaalaamala lochanaaya, Namo Vishaakhaaya Maha Vrataaya/
Namo Namastestu Manoharaaya, Namo namastestu Ranotkataaya,
Namo Mayurojjwala vaahanaaya, Namostu Keyura dharaayatubhyam/
Namo Dhrutodagna pataakiney Namo Namah Prabaavapranataaya testu,
Namo Namastey Varaveerya shaalininey, Kripaaparo no bhava Bhavyamurtey/
Kripaaparaa Yagnapatim cha stutwaa, Viromirowam twamaraadhi paadyaah,
Yevam tadaa Shadwadanam tu sendraa mudaa santhushta Guhastatastaan/

(Our Greetings to You, Kamarupa Shanmukha! You are Kumara, the radiant son of Maha Shiva and the destroyer of Danavas; your physical form is the glow of rising son and of the heat of Agni; you are appropriately adorned, the Army Chief of Devas; the dreadful on the battle front; Guhya Rupa, the abolisher of fear in Trilokas in the Form of a Child; gifted with broad and clear eyes; Vishaakhaa! Our reverences to you as the practitioner of Maha Vratas; you are a terror in battle fields although of pleasant visage otherwise; you have a peacock as your carrier and wear a Keyura / wrist bangles; the high flier of flags; the bestower of boons to devotees; the high profile symbol of courage and strength; you possess a Magnificent Form.This was how Indra and Devas extolled Skanda.)
Even as Kumara was replying to assure Devas that very soon the desire of retrieving their lost glories would be fulfilled, an emissary of Tarakasura arrived and conveyed their Chief’s message to Indra with a warning not to repeat his past mistakes of challenging a giant Daitya of the stature of that great Tarakaura who shook up the Universe and converted Devas as his servants; he also remarked that instead of playing balls and toys, the baby boy Skanda should gradually get acclimatised to battle fields and face mighty Asuras much later in life! As Tarakasura was in a jocular mood, Skanda Deva said: ‘Taraka! Never under-esimate the ‘Shakti’ of a kid; can you not realise that a baby serpent could perform permanent damage to you and that a boy who has ‘Alpaakshara Gyan’in releasing ‘Astras’ could reach you directly to Naraka! Even while Skanda was conversing like this, Taraka threw a ‘Mudgara’ (hammer) and an agile Kumara destroyed it with his ‘Vajraayudha; Taraka threw a ‘Bhindapaal’ which was destroyed by Kumara’s own hands. Skanda materialised a Gada / Mace and despatched it against Kalanemi Daitya who became furious and rained a stream of Arrows. These arrows had little impact on Skanda. Instead, Kalanemi and his associates were thrashed by Kumara and they had to sprint from the battle lines. Takakasura then appeared center-stage and was furious in releasing a powerful arrow which hurt Kumara Swami’s ‘MayuraVahana’;The infuriated Skanda and threw the most potent‘Shakti Bana’ which was indeed the decisive point that sealed Tarakasura’s fate and the greatest menace in the Trilokas who dominated the scene for thousands of years was finally destroyed, even as Devas sounded ‘dundhubhis’ (large drums) and showered rose petals which filled up the Earth, Sky and the Nether lokas with the fragrance of Parijata flowers from Swarga. Gandharvas and Kinnaras sang melliflous praises of Kumara and his proud parents, Apsaras were ecstatic and Sapta Rishis recited Mangala Mantras.Those who read or hear about the glories of Skanda would neither have sins nor diseases but lead a contented life ahead!

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