The Mahabharata Home
Janamejaya said, "Thou hast described the merits of the Sarasvati, O best of Brahmanas! It behoveth thee, O regenerate one, to describe to me the investiture of Kumara (by the gods). Great is the curiosity I feel. Tell me everything, therefore, about the time when and the place where and the manner in which the adorable and puissant lord Skanda was invested (with the command of the celestial forces). Tell me also, O foremost of speakers, who they were that invested him and who performed the actual rites, and how the celestial generalissimo made a great carnage of the Daityas!"
Vaishampayana said, "This curiosity that thou feelest is worthy of thy birth in Kuru's race. The words that I shall speak, will, O Janamejaya, be conducive to thy pleasure. I shall narrate to thee the story of the investiture of Kumara and the prowess of that high-souled one, since, O ruler of men thou wishest to hear it! In days of yore the vital seed of Maheshvara coming out, fell into a blazing fire. The consumer of everything, the adorable Agni, could not burn that indestructible seed. On the other hand, the bearer of sacrificial libations, in consequence of that seed, became possessed of great energy and splendour. He could not bear within himself that, seed of mighty energy. At the command of Brahman, the lord Agni, approaching (the river) Ganga, threw into her that divine seed possessed of the effulgence of the Sun. Ganga also, unable to hold it, cast it on the beautiful breast of Himavat that is worshipped by the celestials. Thereupon Agni's son began to grow there, overwhelming all the worlds by his energy. Meanwhile (the six) Krittikas beheld that child of fiery splendour. Seeing that puissant lord, that high-souled son of Agni, lying on a clump of heath, all the six Krittikas, who were desirous of a son, cried aloud, saying, "This child is mine, this child is mine!" Understanding the state of mind of those six mothers, the adorable lord Skanda sucked the breasts of all having assumed six mouths. Beholding that puissance of the child, the Krittikas, those goddesses of beautiful forms, became filled with wonder. And since the adorable child had been cast by the river Ganga upon the summit of Himavat, that mountain looked beautiful, having, O delighter of the Kurus, been transformed into gold! With that growing child the whole Earth became beautiful, and it was for this reason that mountains (from that time) came to be producers of gold. Possessed of great energy, the child came to be called by the name of Kartikeya. At first he had been called by the name of Gangeya. He became possessed of high ascetic powers. Endued with self-restraint and asceticism and great energy, the child grew up, O monarch, into a person of highly agreeable features like Soma himself. Possessed of great beauty, the child lay on that excellent and golden clump of heath, adored and praised by Gandharvas and ascetics. Celestial girls, by thousands, conversant with celestial music and dance, and of very beautiful features, praised him and danced before him. The foremost of all rivers, Ganga, waited upon that god. The Earth also, assuming great beauty, held the child (on her lap). The celestial priest Brihaspati performed the usual rites after birth, in respect of that child. The Vedas assuming a four-fold form, approached the child with joined hands. The Science of arms, with its four divisions, and all the weapons as also all kinds of arrows, came to him. One day, the child, of great energy, saw that god of gods, the lord of Uma, seated with the daughter of Himavat, amid a swarm of ghostly creatures. Those ghostly creatures, of emaciated bodies, were of wonderful features. They were ugly and of ugly features, and wore awkward ornaments and marks. Their faces were like those of tigers and lions and bears and cats and makaras. Others were of faces like those of scorpions; others of faces like those of elephants and camels and owls. And some had faces like those of vultures and jackals. And some there were that had faces like those of cranes and pigeons and Kurus. And many amongst them had bodies like those of dogs and porcupines and iguanas and goats and sheep and cows. And some resembled mountains and some oceans, and some stood with uplifted discs and maces for their weapons. And some looked like masses of antimony and some like white mountains. The seven Matris also were present there, O monarch, and the Sadhyas, the Viswedevas, the Maruts, the Vasus, the Rudras, the Adityas, the Siddhas, the Danavas, the birds, the self-born and adorable Brahman with his sons, and Vishnu, and Shakra, all went thither for beholding that child of unfading glory. And many of the foremost of celestials and Gandharvas, headed by Narada and many celestial Rishis and Siddhas headed by Brihaspati, and the fathers of the universe, those foremost ones, they that are regarded as gods of the gods, and the Yamas and the Dharmas, all went there. Endued with great strength, the child possessed of great ascetic power, proceeded to the presence of that Lord of the gods, (Mahadeva), armed with trident and Pinaka. Seeing the child coming, the thought entered the mind of Siva, as it did that of Himavat's daughter and that of Ganga and of Agni, as to whom amongst the four the child would first approach for honouring him or her. Each of them thought, 'He will come to me!' Understanding that this was the expectation cherished by each of those four, he had recourse to his Yoga powers and assumed at the same time four different forms. Indeed the adorable and puissant lord assumed those four forms in an instant. The three forms that stood behind were Sakha and Visakha and Naigameya. The adorable and puissant one, having divided his self into four forms, (proceeded towards the four that sat expecting him). The form called Skanda of wonderful appearance proceeded to the spot where Rudra was sitting. Visakha went to the spot where the divine daughter of Himavat was. The adorable Sakha, which is Kartikeya's Vayu form proceeded towards Agni. Naigameya, that child of fiery splendour, proceeded to the presence of Ganga. All those forms, of similar appearance, were endued with great effulgence. The four forms proceeded calmly to the four gods and goddesses (already mentioned). All this seemed exceedingly wonderful. The gods, the Danavas, and the Rakshasas, made a loud noise at sight of that exceedingly wonderful incident making the very hair to stand on end. Then Rudra and the goddess Uma and Agni, and Ganga, all bowed unto the Grandsire, that Lord of the Universe. Having duly bowed unto him, O bull among kings, they said these words, O monarch, from desire of doing good unto Kartikeya. 'It behoveth thee, O Lord of the gods, to grant to this youth, for the sake of our happiness, some kind of sovereignty that may be suitable to him and that he may desire. At this, the adorable Grandsire of all the worlds, possessed of great intelligence, began to think within his mind as to what he should bestow upon that youth. He had formerly given away unto the formless ones (gods) all kinds of wealth over which the high-souled celestials, the Gandharvas, the Rakshasas, ghosts, Yakshas, birds, and snakes have dominion. Brahma, therefore, regarded that youth to be fully entitled to that dominion (which had been bestowed upon the gods). Having reflected for a moment, the Grandsire, ever mindful of the welfare of the gods, bestowed upon him the status of a generalissimo among all creatures, O Bharata! And the Grandsire further ordered all those gods that were regarded as the chief of the celestials and other formless beings to wait upon him. Then the gods headed by Brahman, taking that youth with them, together came to Himavat. The spot they selected was the bank of the sacred and divine Sarasvati, that foremost of rivers, taking her rise from Himavat, that Sarasvati which, at Samanta-panchaka, is celebrated over the three worlds. There, on the sacred bank, possessing every merit, of the Sarasvati, the gods and the Gandharvas took their seats with hearts well-pleased in consequence of the gratification of all their desires."
Next: Section 45