The Skanda Puranam describes an interesting
occasion when Skanda revealed his Visvarupa to the Devas. While describing the
child sport of Skanda, the Puranam relates how he once rent asunder sportingly the
seven great mountains, Kulachalas; how he damaged the seven great islands,
Dvipas; how he mixed the seven seas; and many other such exploits. On seeing
this upheaval of unusual aggression, the Devas were very much worried. They
reported the matter to Indra.
Indra, who came under the sway of Maya, forgot
who the child that wrought all this in reality was. He went
and beat Skanda, who returned the compliment. A bitter fight ensued. Indra's
arrows fell on the head and feet of Skanda in the form of flowers. Indra used
Vajrayudha, but to no effect. Skanda's return arrows made all the Devas fall
Devarshi Narada saw this calamity, became very upset
and informed Devaguru Brihaspati immediately. Brihaspati rushed to Skanda and
prayed intensely, "Obeisance to Subrahmanya, who is also Siva, engaged in
protection of the world; to one, whose Maya made the Devas lose their
perception and approach you with hatred instead of worship."
Skanda, who was pleased, told Devaguru to ask
for a boon. Brihaspati said: "The Devas were punished by you for the grave
error they committed, overcome by your Maya. Please forgive their ignorant
actions and restore their lost limbs and life and well-being."
|God Indra worships Lord Dandayudhapani Swami at Palani in Dvapara Yuga.
Skanda smiled and granted the prayer. All the
Devas woke up as if from sleep. The compassionate Skanda removed their
ignorance and granted them bhakti towards his lotus feet. He said, "O Devas, do
not consider me a child like ignorant people! Now look at my form, akin to
So saying, Skanda revealed his Visvarupa. But
lo! Even the Devas' eyes, which do not blink nor sleep, were blinded by the
brilliance of Skanda's form. The Devas prayed that they be granted divine
vision to be able to see the radiant cosmic form. Skanda said that their normal
eyes are not capable of looking at his Visvarupa and granted their prayer for
special divine eyes.
The Devas now saw the mighty form. They observed
crores of Brahmandas with their own Brahmas and Vishnus and other inhabitants,
hanging from Skanda's hair-ends and felt that their own stature was nothing in
comparison with Skanda's form. They chanted a prayer brimming with the import
of Vedas and Vedanta.
Yato jatani visvani bhuvanani yadantara |
Yena jatani jivanti yatprayanti visanticha |
Tat Brahmaparamam sakshat Subrahmanyam-upasmahe
Yasyananadalava: prokta: Brahmadinam manishinam
Purnanandabdhim-atulam bhajamahe Umasutam ||
"We worship Subrahmanya, that Supreme Brahman,
from whom all the created worlds are born, by whom the worlds stand protected
and in whom they enter and rest.
We worship the son of Uma, who is the ocean of Perfect Bliss, is without a parallel; a small part of whose Bliss is the happiness
of the Devas like Brahma."
Devas then said that they were afraid of the intense brilliance of the form,
like ordinary eyes would be in the midday sun, and prayed to Skanda to resume
his normal form with six faces and twelve arms, used to grant benevolently all
kinds of wealth always. Skanda then resumed his form, handsome as a crore of
Manmathas. He said that he would grant all the wishes of those who prayed to
him chanting this great stotra and told the Devas to ask for boons. He then
responded to their supplication stating that he would lead the army of the
Devas and annihilate Surapadma and his predatory horde of asuras.
to Demon Surapadma
fought a six-day war with Surapadma and other asuras. On the second day,
Surapadma lost all his weapons, chariot etc. and stood on the ground unarmed.
As Rama told Ravana in a similar condition on the battle-field, Skanda spoke to
"Kripavasan-mayadhuna na saktiratra tatyaje
"Owing to compassion, I have not unleashed my
Sakti (Vel) weapon on you".
felt humiliated and returned to his palace. The war continued. On the sixth day,
Surapadma returned to the battlefield; the battle was unimaginably fierce.
Surapadma, being the emperor of 1008 Brahmandas, shifted to different worlds
and fought pitched battles, assuming different forms including divinities,
natural forces like fire, wind etc. Eventually, seeing the total the devastation
of his mighty army and helped by the advice of his mother Maya, he brought a
mountain called Sudhamandara from across the distant seas. On breathing the air
from that mountain of herbs, all the dead asuras regained life. Surapadma's
close lieutenants including Simhamukha, Bhanukopa and others got up as if from
sleep and resumed fighting. It appeared as if the five days of war had gone to
this moment, when the Devas started fleeing in unabashed fear, Skanda deployed
Pasupatastra and killed the enemy army in a jiffy. Surapadma was now alone on
the battle-field. Again he assumed different forms and resumed fierce fighting.
The divine weapons unleashed by Skanda destroyed all of those forms in no time.
It was at that moment that something totally unexpected happened. Skanda said
to Surapadma, "I have seen your various forms. Now you may see my form!"
then assumed the Visvarupa (universal cosmic form), which Skanda Purana
describes as avangmanasagocharam: 'beyond the ken of speech and thought'.
Huge mountains were in the middle of his feet; seas at toe-nails; stars and
planets in toe-fingers. Nirruti and Varuna were seen in the ankles. In the
calves were sages and the gem Chintamani. In the knees were Vidyas; in thighs,
Indra and his son Jayantha. Yama and Kala were in the waist joint; Asuras in
the waist; the Devas and Nagas in the sides; nectar in the generative organ. In
the navel all worlds were being created. In the chest were sastras; gnana in
yagnopavita. Brahmandas were seen hanging in hair-ends. In the hands were boons
(ready for giving to devotees). Brahma and Vishnu were in the arms. Deva women
were in the fingers. In the neck were seen words; in the mouth, Vedas; in the
teeth, alphabet; in the tongue, Sivagamas; in the lips, seven crores of
Mahamantras. In the nose was seen Vayu; in the eyes, Surya and Chandra; in the
ears, directions. Pranava was in the forehead and Paramatma Siva with full form
was in the head.
assembled Devas were afraid to behold the Visvarupa and praised Skanda, who
calmed them. Surapadma felt upon seeing the Visvarupa that he was indeed
blessed. His thoughts ran thus:
is not a child, as I ignorantly thought; he is none other than Paramesvara. He
has fought a fierce war effortlessly, exterminated my army, took away Indra's
chariot from me and destroyed the various forms of Maya I took. He has shown me
His Visvarupa out of grace; this form is unparalleled, having on its body the
Devas, Asuras, humans and crores of Brahmandas. Pride of wealth and suzerainty
prevented me from listening to the sane words of my brother Simhamukha and son
Bhanukopa. I have had the privilege of seeing His Visvarupa from head to foot.
Still I am not satisfied; desire to keep seeing increases. Due to my tapas I
could see this divine form. I experience bhakti welling in my heart; I feel
like circumambulating and prostrating before Him and praising him. Oh, my right
eye and hand throb; this is auspicious. What is the difficulty for Him in
killing me? It is all sport. Now another thought crossed the mind of Surapadma:
Ignorant people advised me to surrender to him. It is only by imprisoning the
Devas and fighting Skanda that I could see His Visvarupa."
this point Skanda took away Surapadma's divine perception and assumed his
earlier form. Surapadma lost his new-found wisdom, clapped his hands in fury
and told the Devas: "Unable to fight with me, this child took another form
through Maya (illusion). I destroyed that illusory form in a second. There is
none on earth to equal my capability. I will conquer him and devour all the
Devas." Surapadma then assumed fierce forms, followed at the end by a massive
mango tree. Skanda's Sakti (Vel) ayudha rent it into two, which became
peacock and cock. They too launched a terrible attack on Skanda.
"Kripaya tou Guha: sakshat
Mayura-kukkutavetou avalokayadanjasa ||
Tayor-babhuva vignanam tadanim tyaktagarvayo:
"Guha, the very form of Supreme Bliss,
immediately cast a look of compassion on the peacock and cock. And lo! Shorn of
pride, they attained to the Supreme Experience of Bliss."
day this transformation took place is celebrated as Skanda Shashti.*
play of thoughts in Surapadma's mind is interesting. It is illustrative of what
commonly occurs in any human being. He is continuously tossed between divine
and demonic surges of thoughts. Even after seeing directly the Visvarupa of
Skanda, Surapadma did not decisively get over his arrogance and haughtiness, which
repossessed him in no time. He failed to realise how small he is in the entire
Krishna, while describing the 'asuric wealth' in detail in the Gita says: The
ignorant and deluded beings think, "This enemy has been killed; I shall kill
others too. I am the lord and enjoyer; accomplished, strong, surrounded by
pleasures, rich and born in noble family." These persons are ever attached to
lust and pleasures. Krishna warns us to exercise utmost care in countering
desire, anger and greed, which are all rooted in the false sense of 'I' and 'mine'.
Visvarupa has also been manifested by Krishna in Mahabharata including his fearful, all-devouring form in Bhagavad Gita,
by Vishnu in Bhagavatam, and by Devi in Devi Bhagavatam. Visvarupa
is a physical demonstration of the fact that the entire creation is pervaded in
every speck by Bhagavan. Skanda points to this fact by showing his Visvarupa equally
to Indra, king of the Devas and to Surapadma, king of the Asuras. Krishna in the same manner revealed his Visvarupa to Duryodhana as well as Arjuna.
The Upanishads declare that Bhagavan is the
material as well as efficient cause of the entire universe. If asuras and
adharma are also seen in the Visvarupa form, it proves that nothing in this
created universe is outside Bhagavan. Bhagavan creates the universe like a
spider out of his own body and enters it. That is why Krishna declares in the
"Yo mam pasyati sarvatra sarvam cha mayi
Tasyaham na pranasyami sa cha me na pranasyati
"To one who sees me everywhere and everything in
I am never out of his sight, nor is he out of my
It is not necessary for an aspirant to dream of
direct vision of Visvarupa; it is enough if he perceives the glory of Bhagavan
in his Vibhutis, the special impressive manifestations. He should gradually
refine his mind to gain that universal vision, which enables him to realise God
Further, every speck in creation is purna,
complete in itself with the glory of Bhagavan. Vinoba Bhave says eloquently in
his Talks on the Gita, "The sweetness of the ocean of nectar is found in
every drop of it. Not only the sweetness, but the nourishment is the same in
the sea of nectar and in a drop of it. If we drink one drop of it, we gain the
fullness of amrittattva, immortality."
"When the desire for enjoyment goes and the holy
outlook of love is gained, then we shall see God alone in all objects." This
attitude will take the devotee to that ripe state, where he will see the
Visvarupa in his own heart, not outside of him with special divine eyes. He
will then be in advaita bhava, where there is no 'other'. He becomes a jivan
mukta, liberated while in his human body.
* This year (2012) Skanda Shashti falls on November
Contact the author:
P.R. Kannan, M.Tech.
A-9001, Olive Shallots
Plot 17, Sector 16A, Sanpada
Navi Mumbai-400705 INDIA