Skanda Purana

Last updated
A page from the Ganga Mahatmya section of Skanda Purana in Sanskrit language and Devanagari script Ganga Mahatmya, Skanda Purana, Sanskrit, Devanagari.jpg
A page from the Ganga Mahatmya section of Skanda Purana in Sanskrit language and Devanagari script
A page from the Skanda Purana manuscript in Sanskrit language and Devanagari script Skanda Purana, Ganesha Katha, Sanskrit, Devanagari.jpg
A page from the Skanda Purana manuscript in Sanskrit language and Devanagari script
A leaf from a palm leaf of Skanda Purana manuscript book, held together by a thin rope Skanda Purana, Sanskrit, miniature Grantha script, Whish manuscript collection, acquired 1829 CE.jpg
A leaf from a palm leaf of Skanda Purana manuscript book, held together by a thin rope

The Skanda Purana (IAST: Skanda Purāṇa) is the largest Mahāpurāṇa , a genre of eighteen Hindu religious texts. [1] The text contains over 81,000 verses, and is of Kaumara literature, [2] titled after Skanda, a son of Shiva and Parvati, who is also known as Kartikeya and Murugan. [3] While the text is named after Skanda, he does not feature either more or less prominently in this text than in other Shiva-related Puranas. [3] The text has been an important historical record and influence on the Hindu traditions related to the war-god Skanda. [3] [4]

Contents

The earliest text titled Skanda Purana likely existed by the 8th century CE, [5] [6] but the Skanda Purana that has survived into the modern era exists in many versions. [7] It is considered as a living text, which has been widely edited, over many centuries, creating numerous variants. The common elements in the variant editions encyclopedically cover cosmogony, mythology, genealogy, dharma, festivals, gemology, temples, geography, discussion of virtues and evil, of theology and of the nature and qualities of Shiva as the Absolute and the source of true knowledge. [8]

The editions of Skandapurana text also provide an encyclopedic travel handbook with meticulous Tirtha Mahatmya (pilgrimage tourist guides), [9] containing geographical locations of pilgrimage centers in India, Nepal and Tibet, with related legends, parables, hymns and stories. [10] [11] [12]

This Mahāpurāṇa, like others, is attributed to the sage Vyasa.

Date of composition

Haraprasad Shastri and Cecil Bendall, in about 1898, discovered an old palm-leaf manuscript of Skanda Purana in a Kathmandu library in Nepal, written in Gupta script. [13] [14] [15] They dated the manuscript to 8th century CE, on paleographic grounds. This suggests that the original text existed before this time. [16] R. Adriaensen, H.Bakker, and H. Isaacson dated the oldest surviving palm-leaf manuscript of Skanda Purana to 810 CE, but Richard Mann adds that earlier versions of the text likely existed in the 8th century CE. [5] [17] [18] Hans Bakker states that the text specifies holy places and details about the 4th and 5th-century Citraratha of Andhra Pradesh, and thus may have an earlier origin. [19] The oldest versions of the Skandapurana texts have been discovered in the Himalayan region of South Asia such as Nepal, and the northeastern states of India such as Assam. [20] The critical editions of the text, for scholarly studies, rely on the Nepalese manuscripts. [20]

Additional texts style themselves as khandas (sections) of Skandapurana, but these came into existence after the 12th century. [20] It is unclear if their root texts did belong to the Skandapurana, and in some cases replaced the corresponding chapters of the original. [20] The version of the earliest known recension was later expanded in two later versions namely the Revakhanda and Ambikakhanda recensions. The only surviving manuscript of the Revakhanda recension is from 1682. The four surviving manuscripts of the Ambikakhhnda recension are of a later period and contains much more alterations. Judit Törzsök says a similar recension to these two recensions seems to have been known to Laskhmidhara, thus it existed before 12th century. [18] Ballala Sena quotes content found only in these two recensions, thus the version known at that time was similar to the ancient version of these two recensions. [21]

There are a number of texts and manuscripts that bear the title Skanda Purana. [5] Some of these texts, except for the title, have little in common with the well-known Skandapurana traced to the 1st millennium CE. [20] The original text has accrued several additions, resulting in several different versions. It is, therefore, very difficult to establish an exact date of composition for the Skanda Purana. [22] [7]

Structure

Stylistically, the Skanda Purana is related to the Mahabharata , and it appears that its composers borrowed from the Mahabharata. The two texts employ similar stock phrases and compounds that are not found in the Ramayana . [5] Some of the mythology mentioned in the present version of the Skanda Purana is undoubtedly post-Gupta period, consistent with that of medieval South India. This indicates that several additions were made to the original text over the centuries. [16] The Kashi Khanda, for example, acquired its present form around the mid-13th century CE. [23] The latest part of the text might have been composed in as late as the 15th century CE. [22]

Contents

Tirtha: Holy Pilgrimage

Tirtha are of three kinds,
Jangam Tirtha is to a place movable,
  of a sadhu, a rishi, a guru,
Sthawar Tirtha is to a place immovable,
  like Benaras, Hardwar, Mount Kailash, holy rivers,
Manas Tirtha is to a place of mind,
  of truth, charity, patience, compassion, soft speech, soul.

Skanda Purana [11] [24]

The whole corpus of texts which are considered as part of the Skanda Purana is grouped in two ways. According to one tradition, these are grouped in six saṁhitās, each of which consists of several khaṇḍas. According to another tradition, these are grouped in seven khaṇḍas, each named after a major pilgrimage region or site. The chapters are Mahatmyas, or travel guides for pilgrimage tourists. [9]

The seven khandas

The Maheśvara Khaṇḍa consists of 3 sections: [25] [26]

The Viṣṇu Khaṇḍa or Vaiṣṇava Khaṇḍa consists of nine sections: [25] [26]

The Brahma Khaṇḍa has three sections (four in some manuscripts): [25] [26]

The Kāśī Khaṇḍa (100 chapters, Varanasi and Vindya Tirtha region [29] ) is divided into two parts: [25] [26]

The Āvantya Khaṇḍa consists of: [25]

The Nāgara Khaṇḍa (279 chapters) consists of Tirtha-māhātmya. [25] [26]

The Prabhāsa Khaṇḍa (491 chapters) consists of four sections: [25] [26]

The six samhitas

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

The manuscripts of the Sanatkumāra Saṁhitā, the Śaṁkarī Saṁhitā, the Sūta Saṁhitā and the Saura Saṁhitā are extant. A manuscript of a commentary on the Sūta Saṁhitā by Madhavācārya is also available. [25] These texts discuss cosmogony, theology, philosophical questions on virtues and vice, questions such as what is evil, the origin of evil, how to deal with and cure evil. [33]

The other texts

The manuscripts of several other texts which claim to be part of the Skanda Purāṇa are found partially or wholly. Some of the notable regional texts amongst these are: Himavat Khaṇḍa which contains Nepalamahatmya (30 chapters, Nepal Tirtha region), Kanakādri Khaṇḍa, Bhīma Khaṇḍa, Śivarahasya Khaṇḍa, Sahyādri Khaṇḍa , Ayodhyā Khaṇḍa, Mathurā Khaṇḍa and Pātāla Khaṇḍa. [25]

Kaverimahatmya presents stories and a pilgrim guide for the Kaveri river (Karnataka) and Coorg Tirtha region. [13] Vivsamitrimahatmya presents mythology and a guide for the Vadodara Tirtha region. [13]

The oldest known 1st-millennium palm-leaf manuscripts of this text mention many major Hindu pilgrimage sites, but do not describe Kailash-Manasarovar. [15] The later versions do, particularly in Manasakhanda. [15]

The narratives

The Skanda Purana, like many Puranas, include the legends of the Daksha's sacrifice, Shiva's sorrow, churning of the ocean (Samudra manthan) and the emergence of Amrita, the story of the demon Tarakasura, the birth of Goddess Parvati, her pursuit of Shiva, and her marriage to Lord Shiva, among others.

The central aim of the Skandapurana text, states Hans Bakker, is to sanctify the geography and landscape of South Asia, and legitimize the regional Shaiva communities across the land, as it existed at the time the edition was produced. [34] The text reflects the political uncertainties, the competition with Vaishnavism, and the cultural developments with the Pashupata Hindus during the periods it was composed. [35]

Manuscripts

The Skanda Purana manuscripts have been found in Nepal, Tamil Nadu (Tamil:ச்கந்த புராணம்) and other parts of India. [5] The Skanda Purana is among of the oldest dated manuscripts discovered in Nepal. A palm-leaf manuscript of the text is preserved at the National Archives of Nepal (NAK 2–229), and its digital version has been archived by Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project (NGMCP B 11–4). It is likely that the manuscript was copied by the scribe on Monday, March 10 811 CE, though there is some uncertainty with this date because the samvat of this manuscript is unclear. [36] Michael Witzel dates this Nepalese manuscript to about 810 CE. [36] [37] This manuscript was discovered as one in a group of seven different texts bound together. The group included fourteen manuscripts mostly Buddhist, six of which are very old Saddharma Pundarika Sutra manuscripts, one of Upalisutra, one Chinese Buddhist text, and one Bhattikavya Buddhist yamaka text. The Skanda Purana found in this manuscripts collection is written in transitional Gupta script, Sanskrit. [36]

The 1910 edition included seven khaṇḍas (parts): Maheśvara, Viṣṇu or Vaiṣṇava, Brahma, Kāśī, Āvantya, Nāgara and Prabhāsa. [25] In 1999–2003, an English translation of this text was published by the Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi in 23 volumes. This translation is also based on a text divided into seven khaṇḍas.

See also

Related Research Articles

Matsya fish form of the Hindu god Vishnu

Matsya is an avatar or incarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu. With literary origins in the Yajurveda, Matsya is often associated with post-Vedic literature such as the Puranas which entail legends describing the rescue of Vaivasvata Manu from a deluge and that of the four Vedas stolen by a demon named Haygriva. Matsya is listed as the first incarnation of the Dashavatara, the ten principal avatars of Vishnu.

Kurma

Kurma, also known as 'KurmaRaja' is an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. Originating in Vedic literature such as the YajurVeda as being synonymous with the Saptarishi called Kasyapa, Kurma is most commonly associated in post-Vedic literature such as the Puranas with the legend of the churning of the Ocean of Milk, referred to as the Samudra manthan. Also synonymous with Akupara, the world-turtle supporting the Earth, Kurma is listed as the second incarnation of the Dashavatara, the ten principal avatars of Vishnu.

Puranas

The word Purana literally means "ancient, old", and it is a vast genre of Indian literature about a wide range of topics, particularly legends and other traditional lore. The Puranas are known for the intricate layers of symbolism depicted within their stories. Composed primarily in Sanskrit, but also in Tamil and other Indian languages, several of these texts are named after major Hindu deities such as Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma and Shakti. The Puranic genre of literature is found in both Hinduism and Jainism.

<i>Garuda Purana</i> medieval era Sanskrit text, one of eighteen major Puranas

The Garuda Purana is one of 18 Mahāpurāṇ of texts in Hinduism. It is a part of Vaishnavism literature corpus, primarily centering around Hindu god Vishnu praises all gods. Composed in Sanskrit, the earliest version of the text may have been composed in the first millennium BCE, but it was likely expanded and changed over a long period of time.

<i>Bhavishya Purana</i> Medieval era Sanskrit text, one of twenty major Puranas

The Bhavishya Purana is one of the eighteen major works in the Purana genre of Hinduism, written in Sanskrit. The title Bhavishya means "future" and implies it is a work that contains prophecies regarding the future, however, the "prophecy" parts of the extant manuscripts are a modern era addition and hence not an integral part of the Bhavishya Purana. Those sections of the surviving manuscripts that are dated to be older, are partly borrowed from other Indian texts such as Brihat Samhita and Shamba Purana. The veracity and authenticity of much of the Bhavishya Purana has been questioned by modern scholars and historians, and the text is considered an example of "constant revisions and living nature" of Puranic genre of Hindu literature.

Vishnu Purana One of the eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of ancient and medieval texts of Hinduism

The Vishnu Purana is one of the eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of ancient and medieval texts of Hinduism. It is an important Pancharatra text in the Vaishnavism literature corpus.

The Vayu Purana is a Sanskrit text and one of the eighteen major Puranas of Hinduism. Vayu Purana is mentioned in the manuscripts of the Mahabharata and other Hindu texts, which has led scholars to propose that the text is among the oldest in the Puranic genre. Vayu and Vayaviya Puranas do share a very large overlap in their structure and contents, possibly because they once were the same, but with continuous revisions over the centuries, the original text became two different texts, and the Vayaviya text came also to be known as the Brahmanda Purana.

<i>Brahma Purana</i>

The Brahma Purana is one of the eighteen major Puranas genre of Hindu texts in Sanskrit language. It is listed as the first Maha-Purana in all the anthologies, and therefore also called Adi Purana. Another title for this text is Saura Purana, because it includes many chapters related to Surya or the Sun god. The Brahma Purana is actually just a compilation of geographical Mahatmya and sections on diverse topics.

<i>Kurma Purana</i>

The Kurma Purana is one of the eighteen Mahapuranas, and a medieval era Vaishnavism text of Hinduism. The text is named after the tortoise avatar of Vishnu.

<i>Agni Purana</i>

The Agni Purana, is a Sanskrit text and one of the eighteen major Puranas of Hinduism. The text is variously classified as a Purana related to Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism, but also considered as a text that covers them all impartially without leaning towards a particular theology.

<i>Linga Purana</i> medieval era Sanskrit text, one of eighteen major Puranas

The Linga Purana is one of the eighteen Mahapuranas, and a Shaivism text of Hinduism. The text's title Linga refers to the iconography for Shiva.

<i>Padma Purana</i> medieval era Sanskrit text, one of eighteen major Puranas

The Padma Purana is one of the eighteen major Puranas, a genre of texts in Hinduism. It is an encyclopedic text, named after the lotus in which creator god Brahma appeared, and includes large sections dedicated to Vishnu, as well as significant sections on Shiva and Shakti.

<i>Varaha Purana</i>

The Varaha Purana is a Sanskrit text from the Puranas genre of literature in Hinduism. It belongs to the Vaishnavism literature corpus praising Narayana (Vishnu), but includes chapters dedicated to praising and centered on Shiva and Shakti.

The Vamana Purana, is a medieval era Sanskrit text and one of the eighteen major Puranas of Hinduism. The text is named after one of the incarnations of Vishnu and probably was a Vaishnava text in its origin. However, the modern surviving manuscripts of Vamana Purana are more strongly centered on Shiva, while containing chapters that revere VIshnu and other Hindu gods and goddesses. It is considered a Shaiva text. Further, the text hardly has the character of a Purana, and is predominantly a collection of Mahatmyas to many Shiva-related places in India with legends and mythology woven in.

The Brahmavaivarta Purana is a voluminous Sanskrit text and a major Purana (Maha-purana) of Hinduism. It centers around Krishna and Radha, is a Vaishnavism text, and is considered one of the modern era Purana.

The Markandeya Purana is a Sanskrit text of Hinduism, and one of the eighteen major Puranas. The text's title Markandeya refers to a sage in Hindu history, who is the central character in two legends, one linked to Shiva and other to Vishnu. The Markandeya text is one of the Puranas that lacks a sectarian presentation of ideas in favor of any particular god, and it is rare to read any deity being invoked or deity prayers in the entire text.

<i>Brahmanda Purana</i>

The Brahmanda Purana is a Sanskrit text and one of the eighteen major Puranas, a genre of Hindu texts. It is listed as the eighteenth Maha-Purana in almost all the anthologies.

<i>Naradiya Purana</i>

The Naradiya Purana or Narada Purana (Sanskrit: नारद पुराण, are two Sanskrit texts, one of which is a major Purana of Hinduism, while the other is a minor Purana. Both are Vaishnavism texts, and have been a cause of confusion in Purana-related scholarship. To prevent confusion, some scholars sometimes refer to the minor Purana as Brihannaradiya Purana.

<i>Shiva Purana</i>

The Shiva Purānam is one of the eighteen major Purāna genre of Sanskrit texts in Hinduism, and part of the Shaivism literature corpus. It primarily centers around the Hindu god Shiva and goddess Parvati, but references and reveres all gods.

<i>Matsya Purana</i>

The Matsya Purana is one of the eighteen major Puranas (Mahapurana), and among the oldest and better preserved in the Puranic genre of Sanskrit literature in Hinduism. The text is a Vaishnavism text named after the half-human and half-fish avatar of Vishnu. However, the text has been called by the 19th-century Sanskrit scholar Horace Hayman Wilson, "although a Shaivism (Shiva-related) work, it is not exclusively so"; the text has also been referred to one that simultaneously praises various Hindu gods and goddesses.

References

  1. Ganesh Vasudeo Tagare (1996). Studies in Skanda Purāṇa. Published by Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN   81-208-1260-3
  2. Hans Bakker 2014, pp. 4-6.
  3. 1 2 3 Rocher 1986, pp. 114, 229-238.
  4. KK Kurukkal (1961), A Study of the Karttikeya Cult as reflected in the Epics and the Puranas, University of Ceylon Review, Vol. 19, pages 131-138
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Richard D. Mann (2011). The Rise of Mahāsena. BRILL. p. 187. ISBN   9789004218864.
  6. Hans Bakker 2014, pp. 1-3.
  7. 1 2 Doniger 1993, pp. 59-83.
  8. Rocher 1986, pp. 234-238.
  9. 1 2 Ariel Glucklich 2008, p. 146, Quote: The earliest promotional works aimed at tourists from that era were called mahatmyas.
  10. Jean Holm; John Bowker (1998). Sacred Place. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 68. ISBN   978-0-8264-5303-7.
  11. 1 2 Krishan Sharma; Anil Kishore Sinha; Bijon Gopal Banerjee (2009). Anthropological Dimensions of Pilgrimage. Northern Book Centre. pp. 3–5. ISBN   978-81-89091-09-5.
  12. Vijay Nath (2007), Puranic Tirthas: A study of their indigenous origins and the transformation (based mainly on the Skanda Purana), Indian Historical Review, Vol. 34, Issue 1, pages 1-46
  13. 1 2 3 Rocher 1986, p. 237.
  14. D. C. Sircar (1965). Indian Epigraphy. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 63. ISBN   978-81-208-1166-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  15. 1 2 3 Alex McKay (2015). Kailas Histories: Renunciate Traditions and the Construction of Himalayan Sacred Geography. BRILL. pp. 134–143. ISBN   978-9004306189.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  16. 1 2 Fred W. Clothey (1978). The Many Faces of Murukan̲. Walter de Gruyter. p. 224. ISBN   9789027976321.
  17. Rocher 1986, pp. 229-231.
  18. 1 2 Hans Bakker (Editor) (2004). "Three Chapters of Saiva Material Added to the Earliest Known Recension of the Skanda Purana". Origin and Growth of the Purāṇic Text Corpus. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 17–18. ISBN   9788120820494.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  19. Hans Bakker 2014, pp. 3-4 with footnotes.
  20. 1 2 3 4 5 Hans Bakker (2004). "The Structure of the Varanasimahatmya in Skandapurana 26-31". Origin and Growth of the Purāṇic Text Corpus. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 2–3. ISBN   9788120820494.
  21. Yuko Yokochi (2004). "The Relation between the Skandapurana and the Avantyakhanda". Origin and Growth of the Purāṇic Text Corpus. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 79. ISBN   9788120820494.
  22. 1 2 Stephen Jacobs (2015). The Art of Living Foundation. Ashgate. p. 139. ISBN   9781472412683.
  23. Jonathan P. Parry (1994). Death in Banaras. Cambridge University Press. p. 272. ISBN   9780521466257.
  24. Geoffrey Waring Maw (1997). Pilgrims in Hindu Holy Land: Sacred Shrines of the Indian Himalayas. Sessions Book Trust. p. 7. ISBN   978-1-85072-190-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  25. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Shastri, P. (1995) Introduction to the Puranas, New Delhi: Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, pp.118–20
  26. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Rocher 1986, p. 229.
  27. 1 2 3 4 5 Rocher 1986, p. 230.
  28. 1 2 3 4 Rocher 1986, p. 231.
  29. Rocher 1986, pp. 232-233.
  30. 1 2 Rocher 1986, p. 233.
  31. Jurgen Neuss, Oliver Hellwig, Revakhanda of the Vayupurana
  32. 1 2 3 4 Rocher 1986, p. 234.
  33. Rocher 1986, p. 236-237.
  34. Hans Bakker 2014, pp. 10-11.
  35. Hans Bakker 2014, pp. 11-13.
  36. 1 2 3 Kengo Harimoto (2011). "In search of the Oldest Nepalese Manuscript". Rivista degli Studi Orientali. 84: 85–90.;
    A 38-5 Saddharmapuṇḍarīka(sūtra), University of Hamburg, Germany
  37. M Witzel (1986). "On the Archetype of Pantanjali's Mahabhasya". Indo-Iranian Journal. 29: 249–259.

Bibliography