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Skanda Purana – Mahesvara Kandha – Arunacala Kandha Uttarvardha – 4

Chapter 9

Dispute between Brahmā and Viṣṇu

NOTE: The chapters 9-15 deal with the episode of the manifestation of Śiva as a Column of Effulgence to show the subordinate position of Brahmā and Viṣṇu to him and the final transformation of the Column of Fire into mount Aruṇācala. The story is the same as described in Pūrvārdha, chs. 1 and 2 of this Māhātmya. But here the story is retold in a more interesting and poetic way. The Ketakī Bunch was pressurized by Brahmā to give false evidence that Brahmā saw the top of the Fiery Column and is exposed. Finally Brahmā repents and eulogizes Śiva.

1Nandikeśvara said: Born of delusion, there arose a dispute between Brahmā and Viṣṇu who became exceedingly proud, each thinking ‘I alone am the Lord’.
2With the Rajas element predominating in him and showing (itself) externally like Nīla (i.e. Poison) the creator of the universe, Brahmā, said to Viṣṇu with great arrogance:
3Brahmā said: How can you be superior, O Viṣṇu, to me, the creator? I am the grandfather of all the worlds. Why are you so much deluded?
4O ignorant Keśava, you boast that you are Daityāri (‘Enemy of Daityas’) by killing Madhu and Kaiṭabha born of your own self.
5Even now my hands have not had relief from the pain due to the strain in creating you everyday in diverse ways, because I am the creator.
6A great ocean has been formed out of my perspiration. You sink in it. Had it not been for the holy fig tree, you could not have got any support.
7In the great ocean created by me a certain serpent floats. You are having that as your support. There is a Lotus above you and that is my seat.
8Tell me how there can be any rise of Sattvaguṇa from you who are full of Tamas? Do you know Prakṛti, you who are full of stupor and dullness due to sleepiness?
9O Janārdana, how can the three worlds that are under me be protected by you who sleep in a vast sheet of water due to fear from Daityas.
10The Vedas have issued forth from my four faces (i.e. mouths). Sarasvatī, the Śakti in the form of consciousness, is my wife.
11Indeed this universe consisting of the mobile and immobile beings is created by me. That is being protected by my sons and grandsons beginning with Indra.
12Hence, O Viṣṇu, you are only one among my employees. Tell me how you excel me, for I am the Lord of all the worlds.
13Nandikeśvara said: When Brahmā in wrathful impetuosity began to speak harshly in this way, Nārāyaṇa smiled maliciously and spoke:
14Viṣṇu said: O Brahmā, leave off your impetuous turbulence. Indeed you swagger in vain. Understand that you are born of the Lotus that has come out from my navel.
15Had I not formerly abandoned my Yogic slumber and killed Madhu and Kaiṭabha, you would have been slain by them in the same manner.
16Out of my own will for slaying Daityas, the chief of whom was Somaka(?), I assumed the forms of a fish etc. Which other person was the cause of the creation thereof?
17Persons whose vision is clouded by Rajoguṇa do not see anything (clearly). What could be possibly surveyed or scrutinized by you who are full of Rajoguṇa?
18My Śakti who resides in the Lotus is inseparable from me. The three worlds prosper solely because of her benign side-glance.
19All these elements, this Kāla, everything belongs to me, the Ātman. Is there anything in the three worlds bereft of me?
20-21Ādityas, Vasus, Rudras, the Guardians of the Quarters and Manus—I am all these. Consider that the three worlds Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, Svaḥ and the three Vedas are dependent on me. It is due to my own will that the Śakti of creation itself is able to stay. Hence are you elder to me or even equal to me who am the Lord of the three worlds?
22Nandikeśvara said: As the two with delusion blinding their minds were wrangling mutually, a great deal of time passed by. Events began to occur as in the period of ultimate destruction.
23There was neither the setting nor the rising of the Moon and the Sun. The stars, the constellations and the planets became feeble.
24No winds blew. No fires blazed. Neither the firmament nor the earth nor the quarters shone.
25All the oceans were agitated; the mountains quaked; the medicinal herbs became dried and all the creatures became weary and distressed.
26The regularity in the occurrence of fortnights, months, seasons, years and other units of time was upset. Even the arrangement of night and day became ruined.
27The Guardians of the Quarters beginning with Indra, the great sages beginning with Marīci—all these thought that the end of the Kalpa had started untimely.
28When a great upheaval like this occurred, the Lord of Bhūtas (i.e. Śiva) was prompted by the cries of all living beings. He understood that the universe had become merged in Avidyā (Māyā).
29The soul of the universe, the “Lord inclined to protect the universe, saw with his inner vision the cause of the delusion of those two.
30-33He thought thus: ‘Exceedingly arrogant, these two have forgotten me, their master, the bestower of all prosperity and glory. They think themselves to be the Lords of the universe. Alas, (see) the height of ignorance! These two, Brahmā and Acyuta, know me fully well. Yet they are behaving arrogantly thus. A person whose mind and eyes have become blinded by the darkness of ignorance generally does not see an object presented or shown to him. Though these two have committed offences, though they are submerged in the ocean of ignorance, they should not be neglected by me with a desire for the welfare of all the worlds.’
34Deciding mentally like this, the Lord, the great ocean of mercy, desired to remove the helplessness of those two due to Māyā.
35Wonderful is the compassion of the Moon-crested Lord. It is naturally obtained in all the three worlds. He manifested himself and Brahmā and Viṣṇu were removed from the middle of the ocean of delusion.

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