The Ur-Skandapurāṇa (SkP) or the “archaic” Skandapurāṇa ( the Bhaṭṭārāi edition known as the Ambikā-khaṇḍa) is a Śaiva text with affinities to the Pāśupata branch of that tradition. Though it is aware of the mantra-mārga traditions like the Mātṛ-tantra-s and the Yāmala-tantra-s as being part of the Śaiva scriptural corpus, its emphasis on the Pāśupata-vrata makes it clear that the core affiliation of the text was with the Pāśupata-mata that later Śaiva tradition identified as Atimārga. Nevertheless, it shows imprints of a three-way struggle for dominance between the major Hindu sects — Śaiva, Kaumāra and Vaiṣṇava. As the Skandapurāṇa, the existence of a Kaumāra layer is unsurprising. However, in the text, as it has come down to us, the Kaumāra elements are largely subordinated to the “Vīra” (as in strongly sectarian)-Śaiva elements. The subordination of the Vaiṣṇava-mata is primarily directed against the great deeds of Viṣṇu in his Nṛsiṃha and Varāha forms. In this regard, the Ur-SkP has a rather unprecedented ordering of the Daitya dynasty and the corresponding incarnations of Viṣṇu:
Hiraṇyakaśipu Hiraṇyākṣa Andhaka Prahlāda Virocana Bali.
While Vipracitti is mentioned as assisting Hiraṇyākṣa in his battle with Viṣṇu, and being overthrown by the latter, it is not clear if he ever occupies the Daitya throne. The thus ordered Daitya-s are respectively slain by Viṣṇu as Nṛsiṃha; Viṣṇu as Varāha; Rudra; Viṣṇu (and Indra); Indra; Viṣṇu as Vāmana-Trivikrama. The main battle with Prahlāda as the Daitya emperor is situated in the episode of the churning of the World-ocean, during which Viṣṇu manifests as the gigantic turtle Kūrmā and also the bewitching female form Mohinī. As per the Ur-SkP, while Viṣṇu suppresses Prahlāda in an epic battle during this episode, he continues leading the Daitya-s in several further fights till Viṣṇu assisted by Indra destroys him. However, the Padmapurāṇa (13.186) places his slaying by Indra (an incident alluded to in the śruti itself) right in the episode of the churning of the World-ocean followed by the slaying of his son Virochana by Indra during the Tārakāmaya devāsura-yuddha. Correspondingly, in contrast to most other Purāṇa-s, in the Ur-SkP, the vibhava-s of Viṣṇu come in the order: Nṛsiṃha, Varāha, Kūrma/Mohinī, Vāmana/Trivikrama.
As we have seen before, Nṛsiṃha is shown as being subdued by Rudra in his dinosaurian Śarabha form after he has slain Hiraṇyakaśipu. The Ur-SkP has several parallels to the Vāmana-purāṇa, but in the latter, the Śarabha-Nṛsiṃha is given a Smārta resolution rather than a demonstration of Rudra-paratva. Upon being subdued by Śarabha, in the Ur-SkP, Nṛsiṃha is said to have recited the below stotra to Rudra. A votary who recites the stotra is said to attain the state of a gaṇa of Rudra.
The stotra to Śarabha by Nṛsiṃha:
namaḥ śarvāya rudrāya senānye sarvadāya ca ।
namaḥ parama-devāya brahmaṇe paramāya ca ॥54॥
kālāya yamarūpāya kāladaṇḍāya vai namaḥ ।
namaḥ kālānta-kartre ca kālākāla-harāya ca ॥55॥
namaḥ pinākahastāya raudra-bāṇa-dharāya ca ।
caṇḍāya vāmadevāya sarvayogeśvarāya ca ॥56॥
namo vidyādhipataye brahmaṇaḥ pataye namaḥ ।
namo ‘suravaraghnāya kālacakrāya vai namaḥ ॥57॥
saṃvartakāgni-cakrāya pralayāntakarāya ca ।
naranārāyaṇeśāya naranārāyaṇātmane ॥58॥
mamaiva varadātre ca sarvakāmapradāya ca ।
śarabhāya surūpāya vyāghra-carma-suvāsase ॥59॥
nandīśvara-gaṇeśāya gaṇānāṃ pataye namaḥ ।
indriyāṇāmatheśāya manasāṃ pataye namaḥ ॥60॥
namaḥ pradhānapataye surāṇāṃ pataye namaḥ ।
namo ‘stu bhāvapataye tattvānāṃ pataye namaḥ ॥61॥
carācarasya pataye bhūtānāṃ pataye namaḥ ।
trailokyapataye caiva lokānāṃ pataye namaḥ ॥62॥
yogadāya namo mahyaṃ tathaivaiśvaryadāya ca ।
avadhyatva-pradātre ca tathaivājayyadāya ca ॥63॥
bhagavaṃs tvatpratiṣṭho .asmi tvan niṣṭhas tvat parāyaṇaḥ ।
śaraṇaṃ tvāṃ prapanno .ahaṃ prasīda mama sarvadā ॥64॥
We shall discuss below some notable epithets used in this stotra:
1. The first three epithets: Śarva, Rudra and Senāni, betray the influence of the Śatarudrīya; this influence is seen in several later Śaiva stotra-s.
2. Parama-deva and brahman indicate the identification of Rudra with the supreme deity, keeping with the Pāśupata affiliation of the text.
3. kāla, yamarūpa, kālānta-kartṛ: These epithets associated with Yama and the end of time bring to mind the epithets in the opening mantra-s for liṅgasthāpanā: nidhanapati and nidhanapatāntika.
4. raudra-bāṇa-dhara: evidently a reference to the Pāśupatāstra.
5. Kālacakra: While Viṣṇu was the original time deity, within the Śaiva tradition, Rudra gradually began expanding into that domain. This is one of the early references to Rudra as the Kālacakra – a term that was to be used by the Vajrayāna bauddha-s for their eponymous Bhairava-like deity. On the Hindu side, the original Kālacakra-tantra was a saura text. We have philological and iconographic evidence for a prolonged interaction between the Saura-s and Śaiva-s. Interestingly, the Paśupata shrines at Kāmyakeśvara and Harṣanātha combine Śaiva and Saura elements. Most striking are two shrines near Kāmyakeśvara: Lakulīśa is shown on the lintel of the Saura temple, and Sūrya is shown on the lintel of the Rudrālaya. Thus, we posit that the syncretic or interacting Śaiva-Saura tradition influenced the emergence of the Bauddha deity Kālacakra.
6. Saṃvartakāgni-cakra: The fire of the dissolution of the universe — this is the epithet used for Navātman-bhairava in the Kaula Paścimāṃnāya tradition emerging from the Bhairavasrotas in the mantramārga. Indeed, the foundational sūtra-s of the Paścimāṃnāya are known as the Saṃvartāmaṇḍala-sūtra-s.
7. Nara-nārāyaṇeśa, Nara-nārāyaṇātman: The Nara-nārāyaṇa tradition is very prominent in the Mahābhārata and appears to be a quasi-humanized ectype of the Indra-Viṣṇū dyad of the Veda. This dyad, while important in the early Nārāyaṇīya Pāñcarātra of the Mahābhārata, faded away in the later Vaiṣṇava tradition. However, its presence here shows that this dyad was still important in the contemporaneous stream of the Vaiṣṇava tradition with which the Ur-SkP interacted (A tradition with connections to the Harivaṃśa; see below).
8. Vyāghra-carma-suvāsas: The wearer of the tiger-skin robe — an epithet related to Kṛttivāsas found in the Śatarudrīya.
9. Śarabha: While the whole stotra is to Śarabha there is little description of him in it beyond a single mention of his name.
10. Nandīśvara-gaṇeśa: The lord of the gaṇa Nandīśvara. This gaṇa’s association with Rudra goes back to the single mention in the Pratyaṅgirā-sūkta of the RV Khila (also seen in the AV saṃhitā-s). He subsequently rises to great prominence in the Saiddhāntika tradition. His presence here indicates that this was already presaged in the Pāśupata tradition.
After the Nṛsiṃha cycle, the Ur-SkP moves to the Varāha cycle. At the beginning of that cycle, the gods praise Viṣṇu with the below stotra to urge him to take on the Varāha Nandivardhana form which they constitute with their own bodies. The votary who recites it is said to become free of sins and sorrow.
The Viṣṇu Janārdana installed at the śaiva temple of Viśveśvara at Raghapura, Odisha.
namaḥ sarva-ripughnāya dānavāntakarāya ca ।
namo ‘jitāya devāya vaikuṇṭhāya mahātmane ॥15॥
namo nirdhūta-rajase namaḥ satyāya caiva ha ।
namaḥ sādhyāya devāya namo dhāmne suvedhase ॥16॥
namo yamāya devāya jayāya ca namo namaḥ ।
namaś cāditi-putrāya nara-nārāyaṇāya ca ॥17॥
namaḥ sumataye caiva namaś caivāstu viṣṇave ।
namo vāmanarūpāya kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyanāya ca ॥18॥
namo rāmāya rāmāya dattātreyāya vai namaḥ ।
namaste narasiṃhāya dhātre caiva namo namaḥ ॥19॥
namaḥ śakuni-hantre ca namo dāmodarāya ca ।
salile tapyamānāya nāgaśayyā-priyāya ca ॥20॥
namaḥ kapilarūpāya mahate puruṣāya ca ।
namo jīmūtarūpāya mahādeva-priyāya ca ॥21॥
namo rudrārdharūpāya tathomārupiṇe namaḥ ।
cakra-mudgara-hastāya maheśvara-gaṇāya ca ॥22॥
śipiviṣṭāya ca sadā namaḥ śrīvatsadhāriṇe ।
dhundhumārāya śūrāya madhukaiṭabhaghātine ॥23॥
caturbhujāya kṛṣṇāya ratna-kaustubha-dhāriṇe ।
trivikrama-viyat-sthāya pīta-vastra-suvāsase ॥24॥
namaḥ pura-vighātāya gadā-khaḍgogradhāriṇe ।
yogine yajamānāya bhṛgupatnī-pramāthine ॥25॥
vṛṣarūpāya satataṃ ādityānāṃ-varāya ca ।
cekitānāya dāntāya śauriṇe vṛṣṇibandhave ॥26॥
purāśvagrīva-nāśāya tathaivāsura-sūdine ।
namaste śārṅgadhanuṣe saubha-sālva-vighātine ॥27॥
namaste padmanābhāya brahmasatpatha-darśine ।
namo jayāya śarvāya rudra-datta-varāya ca ॥28॥
namaḥ sarveśvarāyaiva naṣṭa-dharma-pravartine ।
puruṣāya vareṇyāya namaste śatabāhave ।
tava prasādāt kṛcchrān vai tarāmaḥ puruṣottama ॥29॥
We discuss below some of the notable epithets found in this stotra:
1. Vaikuṇṭha: This distinctive epithet first appears in the Mahābhārata and is repeatedly used in the early Pāñcarātrika section of that text (parvan 12). There it appears as a name of the god both in Viṣṇusahasranāma and the 171-epithet early Pāñcarātrika mantra of Viṣṇu composed by Nārada. It also appears in a similar mantra in a stava composed by Kaśyapa in the Harivaṃśa. In later iconography, the epithet is usually taken to mean Viṣṇu caturātman with anthropomorphic, leonine, porcine and Kapilan heads. Viṣṇu is specifically addressed by this name in the Ur-SkP as he prepares to slay Hiraṇyākṣa with the cakra (see below).
2. Nirdhūta-rajas: One who has freed himself from the dust. The dust here might be seen as the particulate bonds — or the ātman bound to the evolutes of Prakṛti.
3. Sādhya deva: In the Puruṣa-sūkta we are enigmatically informed of an ancient class of deities known of the Sādhya-s alongside the deva-s — nothing more is said of the former. They appear episodically in various brāhmaṇa texts and are generally seen as a class of celestial deities. By making Viṣṇu a sādhya, the stotra expands his domain to include these obscure deities.
4. Yama deva: Interestingly, like Rudra, Viṣṇu too is identified with Yama.
5. Aditi-putra, Ādityānāṃ-vara: Viṣṇu membership in the Āditya class of deities is not just cemented, but he has risen to be the chief of them.
6. Vāmanarūpa, Trivikrama-viyat-stha, Nara-Nārāyaṇa, Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana, the two Rāma-s (Rāmacandra Aikṣvākava and Rama Bhārgava or the Saṃkarṣaṇa is unclear), Dattātreya, Narasiṃha, Kapila, Śaurin, Vṛṣṇibandhu, Kṛṣṇa, Saubha-Sālva-vighātin: The late daśāvatara has not yet crystallized, but the tendency in that direction is clear in the list. We have Narasiṃha, Vāmana, two Rāma-s, and Kṛṣṇa who figure in the classic lists. Varāha is specifically avoided because that incarnation is about to occur in the current narrative. Yet, anachronistically, there is a clear acknowledgment of the Sāttvata religion with the identification of Viṣṇu with Kṛṣṇa and various Kārṣṇi/Sāttvata epithets in the above list. These include the famous act of Kṛṣṇa Devakīputra, i.e., the killing of Sālva and the destruction of his airplane the Saubha. Some other incarnations that are widely accepted, but not in the classic list of 10, are also mentioned such as Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana and Dattātreya. This shows that the incarnational model pioneered by the Sāttvata religion had already been expanded to include a wider range of figures.
7. Śakuni-hantṛ: This epithet is peculiar because, at first sight, people take Śakuni to mean the eponymous prince of Gandhāra. However, this is not the case because that Śakuni was not killed by Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa. The Harivaṃśa tells us that:
pūtanā śakunī bālye śiśunā stanapāyinā ।
stanapānepsunā pītā prāṇaiḥ saha durāsadā ॥ HV 65.26
rākṣasī nihatā raudrā śakunī-veṣadhāriṇī ।
pūtanā nāma ghorā sā mahākāyā mahābalā ।
viṣa-digdhaṃ stanaṃ kṣudrā prayacchantī mahātmane ॥ HV 96.31
Here, the mighty and terrible Pūtanā, whom Kṛṣṇa slew when he drank her milk as she tried to breast-feed him in his infancy with her poisoned breast, is described as Śakunī and a rākṣasī. Hence, the epithet Śakuni-hantṛ records this episode. We know from the Kaumāra tradition that Śakunī, Pūtanā and Revatī are the names of pediatric avicephalous Kaumāra goddesses who are invoked for freeing a child from various diseases. Indeed, this identification was known even in the HV in the ancient hymn to the transfunctional goddess, the Āryā-stuti:
śakunī pūtanā ca tvaṃ revatī ca sudāruṇā । HV (“appendix”) 1.8.39
Thus, the Pūtanā-Śakunī episode represents an example of ancient sectarian competition between the Kaumāra-s and the Sāttvata stream of the Vaiṣṇava-s who portray their hero as slaying the demonized Kaumāra avicephalous goddess and thus expanding into the domain of pediatric apotropaism that belongs to the god Skanda.
Avicephalous and therocephalous Kaumāra goddesses from Kuśana age Mathurā
8. Cakra-mudgara-hasta, Śārṅgadhanuṣ, Gadā-khaḍgogradhārin: The principal traditional weapons of Viṣṇu are all mentioned, but the mudgara (war-hammer) is unusual.
9. Madhu-kaiṭabhaghātin, Dhundhumāra, Aśvagrīva-nāśa, Bhṛgupatnī-pramāthin: These epithets concern the ancient Asura/Asurī-s slain by Viṣṇu. Of these Dhundhu, the son of Madhu, is said to have caused landslides or earthquakes and was killed by the Ikśvāku hero Kuvalāśva, the son of Bṛhadaśva, into whom the tejas of Viṣṇu had entered (HV, chapter 9). It is possible that this epithet implies that the said king was seen as an incarnation of Viṣṇu (a parallel to the later Ikṣvāku incarnation as Rāma). In contrast to this more widespread legend, a parallel myth alluded to in the Liṅgapurāna suggests that Viṣṇu himself slew the Asura by acquiring the cakra from Rudra. The killing of Aśvagrīva is alluded to in both the Itihāsa-s and the later Purāṇa-s either connect it with the Pravargya-like tale of the beheading of Viṣṇu by the rebound of his bow or the Matsya incarnation. The ancestress of our clan, Paulomī, the wife of Bhṛgu, is said to have been an Asurī or a partisan of the Dānava-s. She was killed by Viṣṇu for aiding them — this is already known in the Rāmāyaṇa.
10. Rudrārdharūpa: An acknowledgment of the Harihara form. The first surviving icons of this form are known from the Kuṣāṇa age.
11. Jīmūtarūpa: Of the form of a cloud — this is an unusual name. It likely indicates the expansion of Viṣṇu into the domain of Parjanya via a specific myth found earlier in the Ur-SkP (chapter 31). There the personified Vedic ritual, Yajña, was designated by Brahman to do good to the world. He soon found himself possessing insufficient power to do that. Hence, he performed tapas and pleased Rudra. Rudra granted him the boon of becoming a cloud (Jīmūta) and delivering life-giving waters to the world. Before Rudra acquired his bull, Yajña as the cloud also became his vehicle – it is stated by becoming the abode of lightning (which as per the Veda is a manifestation of Rudra – 11 lightnings of the Yajurveda; also the name Aśani) he carried Rudra on his back. Given the Vedic incantation: yajño vai viṣṇuḥ ।, the cloud is identified with Viṣṇu.
12. Vṛṣarūpa — In the Harivaṃśa, Vāsudeva slays a son of Bali named Kakudmin Vṛṣarūpa. However, here given that it is the name of Viṣṇu, it might imply an identification with Rudra’s bull, who was his next vehicle after Yajña as the cloud.
13. Umārūpin: This is an unusual identification that was to have a long life in the later tradition all the way to the late Śrikula system of Gopālasundarī and parallels the coupling of Mohinī and Rudra or the Harihara iconography.
14. Mahādeva-priya, Maheśvara-gaṇa, Rudra-datta-vara: In the Ur-SkP, Viṣṇu is not outright antagonistically demoted vis-a-vis Rudra. He is instead cast as a mighty god who is, however, second to Rudra. This is made clear by calling him dear to Mahādeva (or even equating him with Umā: the above epithet), while at the same time subordinating him as a gaṇa of the god and one receiving boons from Rudra.
15. Salile Tapyamāna: This is again a rather peculiar epithet because it applied to Rudra in the Ur-SkP and goes back to the Mahābhārata where it occurs in the stotra uttered by Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna to Rudra in order to obtain the Pāsupata missile. Thus, its application to Viṣṇu here might indicate his identification with Rudra. This idea of a deity heating the waters as part of the evolutionary process is an idea going back to the Veda. In the context of Rudra, it related to his liṅga form – i.e., Sthāṇu. That said, there are other clear links between Viṣṇu and the primordial waters – he is termed Nārāyaṇa – typically interpreted as the abode of the waters. Moreover, the same stotra also refers to him as Nāgaśayyā-priya – i.e., fond of this serpentine bed. Tradition unequivocally places this bed in the midst of the ocean. His Hayagrīva form is also mentioned in the Mahābhārata as dwelling in the waters consuming oblations (related to the ancient motif of the submarine equine fire). Thus, this epithet could specifically apply to that form.
In the Varāha cycle of this purāṇa, this sectarian tension plays out in the battle between the Daitya and Viṣṇu and the events that follow it. A brief synopsis of it is provided below:
-The gods formed the boar body for Viṣṇu with their own bodies. Thus, he advanced against the Daitya-s by diving into the ocean — an account is given of his encounter with various marine life, like different kinds of whales, sharks, fishes and molluscs. Visiting the various nether realms, he advanced to Rasātala where the Asura-s lived.
-There, a submarine Daitya guard Nala sighted Varāha and in fear rushed to inform his lord. But Varāha followed him and thus discovered the Asura stronghold.
-Prahlāda informed Hiraṇyākṣa that he had a bad dream that someone in a man-boar form might kill him.
-Hiraṇyākṣa says that he too had a dream in which Rudra asked him to surrender to Indra, give up his dominion, and come to dwell near him. The Daitya-s suggested that Hiraṇyākṣa not go to battle. Instead, they suggested that they would head out to the battle with Andhaka as their head. Vipracitti suggested that he would go himself to destroy the gods.
-Nala came in and informed the Asura-s that he had sighted a terrifying boar coming to attack them.
-Prahlāda urged Hiraṇyākṣa to take some action as he realized that the boar was none other than Viṣṇu who has come to destroy them with the aid of his māyā.
-Hiraṇyākṣa responded that he wished to avenge his brother’s death by killing Viṣṇu and offering his boar-head as a bali for Rudra.
-He sent forth his Asura troops to attack Varāha. At first, Varāha ignored them saying that he was just searching for his wife and the one who had kidnapped her. The Asura-s launched a massive attack on him, and he retaliated by demolishing them.
-Hearing of their defeat Hiraṇyākṣa asked the great Asura generals Prahlāda, Andhaka, Vipracitti, Dhundhu, Vyaṃsa and others to get ready to confront Varāha.
-Varāha made an anti-clockwise circuit of the Asura stronghold and stormed it via the southern gate. He destroyed the śataghni missiles fired from the gate and also the Kālacakra missiles that were hurled at him. The Asura-s made a great sally at him. He feigned a retreat and drew them out of their fortifications. However, the Asura-s realized his plan and attacked him from the rear. The deva-s in his body were able to detect this attack and oriented him towards the Asura-s attacking him from behind.
-Varāha challenged them to one-on-one duels. Andhaka agreed that it was the right thing to do. However, Prahlāda informed them that the vile Varāha was none other than the wicked Viṣṇu using his māyā because he was afraid to fight them with his own form. Then Prahlāda showered astra-s on him and asked the other Asura-s to join him in a combined attack.
-Varāha then smashed Prahlāda’s chariot and hammered him with his own standard on his head. The daitya retaliated with his mace, but it had no effect on Varāha.
-He then attacked fought Andhaka and Vipracitti in a great battle. In the end, he carried both like Garutmat carrying the elephant and the tortoise and hurled them down like bolts of lightning.
-He then destroyed and slew the divisions of the remaining Asura-s.
-Vipracitti returned to the battle having rearmed himself, but after a strong fight Varāha whirled him around and sent him crashing into the fortress of Hiraṇyākṣa.
-Hiraṇyākṣa alarmed by the noise went to check things out and found his general unconscious. After reviving him, the Daitya emperor asked him who could possibly defeat him. Vipracitti then told him that it was the invincible Varāha and perhaps it was similar to Nṛsiṃha who had earlier crushed them. He suggested that the Asura-s should abandon their stronghold and flee.
-Disregarding Vipracitti, Hiraṇyākṣa set out for battle himself. He is said to have been of the complexion of a heap of collyrium but with a blond beard and four fangs.
-His advance is described using two astronomical allegories: He is said to be like a great comet and Vipracitti who accompanies him is like a reflection of that comet. He is also described as being like the Sun, with Prahlāda, Andhaka and others surrounding him like the planets — an interesting heliocentric simile.
-Varāha scattered the other Daitya-s and Dānava-s and rushed at Hiraṇyākṣa, who, however, paralyzed him by piercing his joints with his arrows. The deva-s removed those arrows with magical incantations, and Varāha resumed the attack. This time he came close to striking the Asura’s car, but the Daitya’s charioteer steered it away, and Hiraṇyākṣa bound Varāha with the Nāgāstra.
-Then the Asura-s massed around him and tried to chop him up with their weapons. However, Garuḍa came to his aid and released him from the Nāgāstra. Thus revived, he smashed the Daitya-s and resumed his attack on Hiraṇyākṣa.
-The Daitya then pierced him in the heart with an astra causing him to faint. On regaining consciousness, he called on the deva-s to reinforce him, and they filled him with their tapas. Thus, he shone like seven suns, resembling Rudra preparing to destroy the worlds.
-Varāha then displayed several māyāvin tactics and overcoming the nāgāstra-s of the Asura king destroyed his chariot. He continued fighting on foot and struck Varāha with the Mohanāstra, which stunned the boar. The deva-s in his body countered it, and Varāha returned to the battle.
-Varāha uprooted a tree (axial mytheme) and struck the Asura lord on his head. The latter fell unconscious, and his bow with five arrows slipped from his hand. The other daitya-s and dānava-s wailed thinking he was dead and fell upon the boar with their weapons. Varāha simply swallowed all those weapons.
-As Varāha was engaged with the daitya-s, Hiraṇyākṣa recovered, and uttering the mantra rudrāya vai namaḥ ।, he hurled a mighty spear at his enemy. Varāha was struck in the heart by that and fell down as if dead.
-The sun then lost its luster, and the planets were on collision course. Brahman at that point invoked Rudra. Varāha rose up again, and the tejas of Rudra entered him. Pulling out the spear stuck in him, blazing like a thousand fires, he pierced Hiraṇyākṣa like Skanda striking Krauñca. However, the Asura was unfazed by that blow.
-The Daitya returned the blow with his sword, but Varāha felt no pain and struck the sword away with the back of his palm.
-Then the two engaged in a prolonged wrestling bout at the end of which an incorporeal voice told Varāha that he can kill the Daitya only with Rudra’s cakra.
-Invoking Rudra and calling the cakra that was born of the “waters” (an oblique reference to the Jalaṃdhara episode, where Rudra killed the Asura using a cakra that he drew from water: the whirlpool mytheme), Varāha assumed a gigantic form pervading the triple-world.
-Hiraṇyākṣa fought him with various astra-s and displays of māyā, but Varāha destroyed all of them with the cakra and finally cut off the Daitya’s giant head.
-Varāha then searched for Pṛthivī by destroying the parks and tanks of the Asura-s and uprooting mountains. Going south he uprooted Śaṅkha mountain and found her bound there, and guarded by dānava-s. He hurled the Śaṅkha mountain and slew the dānava-s and drove away the Nāga-s. He then seized the jewels of the Asura-s.
Pṛthivī clinging to Varāha’s tusk from Gupta age Udayagiri.
-He carried Pṛthivī clinging to his tusk even as Brahman had carried the former earth Vasudhā when he had assumed a boar form (It is notable that the Śaiva-s revived the memory of this old Vedic narrative of Prajāpati’s boar form probably to obliquely indicate that Viṣṇu’s Varāha form was only second to that of Brahman).
-He then handed over the triple-world to Indra and reaffirmed their eternal friendship.
-Varāha indicated that he wished to enjoy the pleasures of his boar form in fullness. Thousands of Apsaras-es become sows to consort with him even as the brāhmaṇa-s lauded him with their hymns.
-Mating with his wife in the form of the sow Citralekhā he birthed a lupine son known as Vṛka (Temples of Varāha as the father of the lupine Vṛka – Kokamukhasvāmin – seem to have been there in Nepal and from there transmitted to Bengal).
-Vṛka roved around the world with his pack eating various animals. Finally, he arrived at the forest of Skanda at Gaurīkūṭa with medicinal plants, minerals and gems. At that time Skanda was away visiting the Mandara mountain and had deputed his avicephalous or therocephalous gaṇa Kokavaktra (himself with a lupine head or with a cuckoo or waterfowl head) to guard his forest.
-Vṛka ravaged Kumāra’s forest. At first Kokavaktra tried to be good to him and told him that he was happy with his power. Kokavaktra asked Vṛka to stop and told him that he would repair the damage and put in a word with Skanda to make him a gaṇa.
-Vṛka refused and attacked the Skandapārṣada. After a fight, Kokavaktra knocked down Vṛka and bound him with pāśa-s (A rare reflex of the Germanic Fenris wolf motif in the Hindu world).
-When Skanda returned he sentenced Vṛka to be subject to Narakatrāsa-s by his gaṇa-s.
-Nārada informed Varāha about what had happened and told him that due to his childish arrogance, Skanda does not bow before the great god and has bound his lupine son.
-Infuriated, Varāha proceeded to fight Skanda. Skanda and his gaṇa-s neutralize the cakra and other weapons of Varāha. Finally, Guha pierced Varāha’s heart with his saṃvartikā spear. Viṣṇu at that point abandoned his Varāha body and resumed his usual form.
Skanda wearing the tusks of Varāha on his necklace, Gupta age.
-Viṣṇu then praised Rudra who conferred a boon to him. Viṣṇu asked him to teach him the Pāśupata-vrata. Rudra mounted his bull and went to Sumeru to teach Viṣṇu the said vrata.
Here we see a three-way competition between Śaiva-s, Vaiṣṇava-s and Kaumāra-s. The normally accommodating relationships between the Kaumāra-s and Vaiṣṇava-s (barring some conflicts as the Pūtanā case alluded to above), seem to have broken down probably under Śaiva influence. The incident of the defeat of Varāha by Kumāra is seen in both the South Indian Skandapurāṇa and the Ur-SkP, suggesting it was there in an ancestral SkP. It has some Gupta-Puṣyabhūti age iconographic representation in the form of Skanda wearing the tusks of the boar in his necklace. However, in this text, the Śaiva-s trump both of them with the final flourish of Viṣṇu ultimately asking Rudra to teach him the Pāśupata-vrata. We believe that the Varāha episode in the Ur-SkP is a genuine early version of this famous mytheme, but it was strategically tweaked at certain points by the Śaiva-s to downgrade Viṣṇu and exalt Rudra.