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Monday, September 15, 2014

Skanda Purana - The Weddings



I. DEIVAYANAI

Lord Shanmukha after His victory over the Asuras released all the Devas, who had been groaning as prisoners under the tyranny of the Asuras. To the great joy of the Devas, Subrahmanya returned to Tiruchendur with His victorious army and stayed there for a while. The Devas, along with Indra now released and at ease, worshipped the Lord there for all His mercy and goodness to them. Then they arranged a grand Puja for the Lord and glorified Him in a befitting manner.

In the early days of His residence in Kailasa with His Father, the Lord had met the daughters of Lord Vishnu, Amrutavalli and Sundaravalli by name. At first sight of the glorious son of Lord
Siva, of whose Bala Lilas they had already heard, they both fell in love with Him. On being acquainted with this, the Lord graciously ordained that they should be born again—one as the daughter of Indra and the other of Nambirajan, a king of the hill tribes in South India.

Accordingly, Amrutavalli had been born as the daughter of Devendra and had grown up to be of marriageable age. Availing himself of the golden opportunity at Tiruchendur, Indra humbly
reminded the Lord of His promise and requested Him to accept the hand of Amritavalli, his daughter now known as Deivayanai, in marriage. Other Devas who were assembled there also supported his petition to the Lord. Lord Shanmukha consented and camped with His party at Tiruparankundram, a place north of Tiruchendur, near Madurai. Arrangements were immediately in full swing for a fitting celebration of the marriage. Invitations were sent out to all Devas to attend the function. Lavish preparations were made for their reception and comfort. Everyone invited had arrived and the ceremony was due to commence. Lord Shanmukha felt sore at the absence of His dear Father and Mother, when at the mere thought of them, Lord Shanmukha saw before Him His father Lord Siva with his consort, and Lord Ganesa. Everybody’s joy at this reunion knew no bounds; and with heavenly pomp and magnificence the marriage of Lord Skanda with Deivayanai took place. After the marriage, all the Devas, with the permission of Lord Skanda and Lord Siva,
retired to their respective worlds and joyously resumed their activities.

II. VALLI
Upendra, one of the Avataras of Lord Vishnu, once went to Vaikuntha to have Darshan of the Adimurti, Lord Vishnu, and Maha Lakshmi. When the three were in the hall, a great sage, Kanva Rishi, came in. To the great disappointment and chagrin of the sage, he was neither welcomed nor paid the usual respects by any one of the three who were there. In a rage he cursed them as follows:

Lord Vishnu was to be born as a dumb sage devoted to Lord Siva for many births; Lakshmi Devi was to be born as a deer roaming in deserted forests; and Upendra was to be born as a hunter of
wild game. To mitigate the severity of the curse, Vishnu did rigorous Tapas on Lord Siva. Siva appeared before him and, knowing the purpose for which his devotee was performing the Tapas, called Kanva Rishi and asked him to reduce the period of his curse from ‘many births’ to one birth.

This was duly done; all the three were to be restored to their original states on the marriage between Skanda and Valli in the fullness of time.

Lord Vishnu thereafter came to the world as Sivamuni, a dumb saint, and was living in a forest. In the same forest, Upendra wandered about as a hunter. And Lakshmi in her life as deer was roaming about in the same forest. As preordained, the sage Sivamuni saw the beautiful deer and, strangely enough, felt passionate and agitated. The deer returned the love which the sage had evinced to her at sight. The sequel was that the deer was delivered of a human child, a girl. Seeing the child so different from herself, the deer abandoned the child to its fate and quitted the forest. Upendra, now in the form of a hunter, happened to arrive at the spot where the child was crying in a cluster of Valli kodi (a sort of creeper). He took up the child and, calling her Valli as she was found in a Valli kodi,
brought her up in a manner befitting his station in life.

III. THE MARRIAGE

Devarshi Narada now reminded Skanda about His meeting with Sundaravalli in Kailasa and informed Him that she had been born as Valli, daughter to Nambirajan, the king of a hill tribe in South India. From the Rishi, Skanda also came to know that Valli was doing Tapas with the sole object of marrying Him. Desirous of bestowing His grace on her without delay, Skanda left for the hills, Valli’s home. Disguised as a hunter, he saw the maid who was driving off the birds that were destroying the corn in the fields. He presented himself before her in the field and enquired of her whether any deer had come that way. The maid replied in the negative and took him to task for violating the proprieties by talking to a stranger maid in the manner in which he had done, when she was unchaperoned. But the hunter replied to her only by a contemptuous and defiant laugh!
Enraged at this rude behaviour of the hunter, Valli cried out to her brothers for help. The unabashed hunter, however, proceeded to ask her to marry him on the spot and added that the main purpose of
his coming to her was only to do so. In response to the cry of Valli, her seven brothers came running to the spot with their retinue where the hunter and Valli were. To the mystification and amazement
of Valli and to the disappointment of the brothers, the mischievous hunter transformed himself into a big tree. Thinking that it was only a childish prank of Valli, they all went back, as they were unable
to find any person in the vicinity except an innocent tree! As soon as their backs were turned, the tree reassumed the shape of the hunter, but he was unceremoniously driven out at the point of a stick
by Valli. After a while Valli saw a tired and tottering old man coming towards her. Taking pity on him and on his helplessness, she offered him some fruits and water. The old man, while partaking of the offerings, made a proposal of marriage to her! This only provoked an amused and contemptuous smile from Valli! But she informed the old man politely that she had taken a vow to marry none but Lord Shanmukha. At this juncture, to the terror of Valli who had a dread of elephants, an elephant came rushing towards where they were standing in the field. Frightened out of her wits, she ran towards the old man and fell into his arms for protection and safety. The old man, however, when he had got Valli’s assurance that she would marry him, mysteriously sent the elephant away. Now that all danger was over, Valli treated the whole matter lightly and refused to keep up her promise: she argued that to frighten a girl and get a promise out of her in that condition was unfair and that morally she was not bound by such a promise at all. No sooner were these words out of her mouth than the dreaded elephant came charging again. Her terror was so acute that she willingly and solemnly promised to marry the old man, if only he would send the awful elephant away out of her sight. At the same moment, to her great astonishment and joy, she saw before her Lord Skanda with the Vel in His hand, exactly where the old man had stood courting her in such a strange fashion. Valli apologised to Him for her silly conduct and begged for His grace. Very much pleased with the intensity of her devotion, the Lord accepted her as His consort.

News of her meeting with a hunter and an old man spread far and wide in the neighboring villages. Taking the hunter to be a vagabond, her father and brothers came up to Valli’s abode, in
order, they said, to knock some sense into that impudent scoundrel. Lord Skanda, who had again taken the form of a hunter, by a flourish of his Vel, burnt them all to ashes. But at the request of
Valli, they were again brought back to life. Realising the fact that he was none but Lord Subrahmanya (the guardian angel of their family), they all prostrated themselves before Him and begged for His mercy.

To the great joy of Nambirajan and the Devas and in the presence of Devarshi Narada, the wedding of Valli was celebrated. With Valli and Deivayanai as His consorts, the Lord retired to the Skanda Hills near Kailasa, where He has His abode.

“Thus, to protect the good and to punish the wicked, the Supreme Lord came down taking the form and name of Skanda. With the peacock as His Vahana, the cock for the emblem on His banner and with Vel in His hand, Lord Skanda took His abode in the Skanda Hills, where He lived with His consorts Valli and Deivayanai.”

Glory to Lord Subrahmanya! Glory to His consorts Valli and Deivayanai! Glory to the Divine Weapon Velayudha! Glory to the peacock, the Vahana of Skanda! Glory to the cock on his banner! Glory to Lord Siva by whose grace everything is done! Glory to all who read and hear this story of Lord Subrahmanya and His Lilas!
May the blessings of Lord Shanmukha be upon you all!