- MAHESHWAR KHAND
DAKSHA’S ANIMOSITY TOWARDS LORD SHIVA
Skanda Purana begins with the eulogy of Lord Shiva–
Yasyagya Jagat Srishta Viranchih Palko Harih;
Sanharta Kalrudrakhyo Namastasmai Pinakine.
(Meaning)— Salutations to Lord Shankar who has entrusted the job of creation to Lord Brahma–Who has instructed Lord Vishnu to nurture the world and who himself acts as the supreme annihilator. During ancient times, once, Sage Shaunak had performed a grand ‘yagya’ at his hermitage in Naimisharanya forest. Many sages had thronged Naimisharanya to attend it. One of them was Sage Lomesh. After the yagya was over, all the assembled Sages requested Sage Lomesh to narrate the divine tales of Lord Shiva.
Sage Lomesh said–Daksha-Prajapati had got his daughter, Sati married to Lord Shiva. Once, he had performed a grand yagya in which he had invited everybody except his own son-in-law. When Sati learnt about the yagya, she sought Lord Shiva’s permission to attend that yagya. Lord Shiva tried to convince her that it was not proper to attend a ceremony in which one had not been invited. But Sati did not pay any heed and was bent upon attending that yagya. Ultimately, Lord Shiva had no option but to give his conscent. But he did not forget to send his ‘Rudraganas’ with her for her protection.
SATI JUMPS INTO THE SACRIFICIAL FIRE
When Sati reached her father’s place, she saw a grand yagya being performed. A large number of people had been invited–the deities, the sages and the hermits.
Sati became sad because Daksha had invited everybody except her husband. She knew quite well that it was a deliberate decision on part of her father, not to invite Lord Shiva. But, she got infuriated when she found that Daksha had not even kept Shiva’s share in the yagya while the ‘shares’ of other deities had been kept.
When Daksha saw Sati, he was enraged—How dare you come here? Your husband is an embodiment of inauspiciousness. He is the Lord of the spirits, ghosts and all types of mean powers. This was the reason why I did not invite him.’
The insult heaped on her husband in front of everybody devastated Sati. She felt so humiliated that she decided to give up her life. Before any one could understand, she jumped into the sacrificial fire and was charred to death. All the deities present there were stunned by this sudden development. All the ‘Rudraganas’ mourned Sati’s death with deep sorrow. Meanwhile, Lord Shiva got the sad news from Narada. He got mad with anger and uprooted some hair from his scalp. He then dashed the hair against a mountain. There was a thundering sound and Veerbhadra manifested within a split second. Lord Shiva ordered him to punish Daksha for his evil deed, which caused the death of Sati. Veerbhadra proceeded with a huge army of spirits, ghosts and marudganas to punish Daksha. When he reached the oblation site, Daksha and all the other deities became scarred. But, Sage Bhrigu came at the deities’ rescue and told them not to worry. He then chanted few mantras, which helped the deities to win the first round of the battle.
The defeat of his army enraged Veerbhadra to such an extent that he created havoc in the ranks of deities’ army. He showered volleys of arrow on them, which forced the deities to make a hasty retreat from there. Veerbhadra dashed Sage Bhrigu against the ground and uprooted his beard. He then severed the head of Daksha and threw it in flames of sacrificial fire. Lord Brahma took the refuge of Lord Shiva and requested him to stop Veerbhadra from causing further death and destruction. Lord Shiva told Brahma–‘Nobody else but Daksha himself was responsible for his death. But, Lord Brahma requested Lord Shiva to make Daksha alive once again. Lord Shiva then went to Daksha’s place and fixed a goat’s head on the trunk of Daksha’s body. This way Daksha became alive once again albeit with a goats body. He was very ashamed of his behaviour and requested Lord Shiva to forgive him. Lord Shiva blessed him and said–
“Salvation can not be attained merely by performing the rituals. If you are desirous of salvation then engage yourself in virtuous deeds with.”
VIRTUES OF WORSHIPPING LORD SHIVA
Sage Lomesh told the assembled sages— One who brooms the courtyard of Shiva temple attains to Shiva loka. Those who make offerings of incense to Lord Shiva not only liberate himself from the bondage of this world but also both his ‘Kulas’. One who gets constructed a Shiva temple or renovates it, attains incomparable virtue. One who chants the holy mantra ‘Om Namah Shivay’ daily and begins his day by visiting Shiva temple in the morning becomes absolved of all his sins.
CHURNING OF THE OCEAN
Sage Lomesh narrated the tale, which described how Indra lost heaven after he showed disrespect to Brihaspati–
Once, Indra was enjoying the songs sung by Gandharvas when sage Vashishtha arrived. But, Indra was so engrossed in music, that he forgot to welcome his distinguished guest. Sage Vashishtha was enraged by his behaviour and went away fuming with anger. When the demon King Bali–the lord of Patal loka, learnt about this incident he attacked Indraloka with a large army. A fierce battle took place in which all the deities were defeated. Bali and his army brought all the wealth to Patal-loka. But the demons were not destined to be the owner of this plundered wealth for too long as the whole wealth got submerged into the ocean. Bali was surprised and asked Shukracharya about the reason. Sage Shukracharya revealed to Bali that he could not enjoy the splendours of deities’ wealth because he had not performed 100 Ashwamedha yagyas.
The deities, after being defeated went to seek Lord Vishnu’s help. Lord Brahma was also present with them. After giving a deep thought to the whole issue, Lord Vishnu advised them to patch up with the demons so that all the wealth could be retrieved from the ocean bed. The deities went to Patal-loka and convinced the demons to participate in the churning of the ocean. When the process of churning of the ocean began, Mandarachal mountain was used as a churner and the serpent -Vasuki as the rope. Both the parties immersed the Mandarachal mountain into the ocean but it sank down, as there was no base upon which it could be placed. So, Lord Vishnu took the form of a tortoise and held the mountain on his back.