The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'Thou hast, O grandsire, discoursed to me, in detail on the merits that attach to the gift of gold agreeably with the ordinances laid down in the scriptures as indicated in the auditions of the Veda. Thou hast also narrated what the origin is of gold. Do thou tell me now how Taraka met with destruction. Thou hast said, O king, that Asura had become unslayable by the gods. Do thou tell me in detail how his destruction was brought about. O perpetuator of Kuru's race, I desire to hear this from thee. I mean the details of Taraka's slaughter. Great is my curiosity to hear the narrative.'
"Bhishma said, 'The gods and the Rishis, O monarch, reduced to great distress (by Taraka's prowess and the conduct of Ganga in casting off Agni's seed), urged the six Krittikas to rear that child. Amongst the celestial ladies there were none, save these, that could, by their energy, bear the seed of Agni in their wombs. The god of fire became exceedingly gratified with those goddesses for their readiness to sustain the conception caused by the cast off seed of Agni which was endued with his own high energy. When the energy of Agni, O king, was divided into six portions and placed within the channels (leading to the womb), the six Krittikas began to nourish the portion that each held in her womb. As the high-souled Kumara, however, began to grow within their wombs, their bodies being afflicted by his energy, they failed to obtain peace anywhere (in heaven or on earth). Filled with energy as their bodies were, the time at last came for delivery. All of them, it so happened, O prince of men, delivered at the same time. Though held in six different wombs, yet all the portions, as they came out, united into one. The goddess Earth held the child, taking it up from a heap of gold. Verily, the child, endued with excellent form, blazed with splendour even like the god of Fire. Of beautiful features, he began to grow in a delightful forest of reeds. The six Krittikas beheld that child of theirs looking like the morning sun in splendour. Filled with affection for him,--indeed, loving him very much,--they began to rear him with the sustenance of their breasts. In consequence of his having been born of the Krittikas and reared by them, he came to be known throughout the three worlds as Kartikeya. Having sprung from the seed which had fallen off from Rudra he was named Skanda, and because of his birth in the solitude of a forest of reeds he came to be called by the name of Guha (the secret-born). The gods numbering three and thirty, the points of the compass (in their embodied forms) together with the deities presiding over them, and Rudra and Dhatri and Vishnu and Yama and Pushan and Aryaman and Bhaga, and Angas and Mitra and the Sadhyas and Vasava and the Vasus and the Aswins and the Waters and the Wind and the Firmament and Chandramas and all the Constellations and the Planets and Surya, and all the Ricks and Samans and Yajuses in their embodied forms, came there to behold that wonderful child who was the son of the deity of
blazing flames. The Rishis uttered hymns of praise and the Gandharvas sang in honour of that child called Kumara of six heads, twice six eyes, and exceedingly devoted to the Brahmanas. His shoulders were broad, and he had a dozen arms, and the splendour of his person resembled that of fire and Aditya. As he lay stretched on a clump of heath, the gods with the Rishis, beholding him, became filled with great delight and regarded the great Asura as already slain. The deities then began to bring him diverse kinds of toys and articles that could amuse him. As he played like a child, diverse kinds of toys and birds were given unto him. Garuda of excellent feathers gave unto him a child of his, viz., a peacock endued with plumes of variegated hue. The Rakshasas gave unto him a boar and a buffalo. Aruna himself gave him a cock of fiery splendour. Chandramas gave him a sheep, and Aditya gave him some dazzling rays of his. The mother of all kine, viz., Surabhi, gave him kine by hundreds and thousands. Agni gave him a goat possessed of many good qualities. Ila gave him an abundant quantity of flowers and fruit. Sudhanwan gave him a riding chariot and a car of Kuvara. Varuna gave him many auspicious and excellent, products of the Ocean, with some elephants. The chief of the celestials gave him lions and tigers and pards and diverse kinds of feathery denizens of the air, and many terrible beasts of prey and many umbrellas also of diverse kinds. Rakshasas and Asuras, in large bands, began to walk in the train of that puissant child. Beholding the son of Agni grow up, Taraka sought, by various means, to effect his destruction, but he failed to do anything unto that puissant deity. The god in time invested Agni's son born in the solitude (of a forest of reeds) with the command of their forces. And they also informed him of the oppressions committed upon them by the Asura Taraka. The generalissimo of the celestial forces grew up and became possessed of great energy and puissance. In time Guha slew Taraka, with his irresistible dart. Verily, Kumara slew the Asura as easily as if in sport. Having accomplished the destruction of Taraka he re-established the chief of the deities in his sovereignty of the three worlds. Endued with mighty prowess, the celestial generalissimo blazed with beauty and splendour. The puissant Skanda became the protector of the deities and did what was agreeable to Sankara. The illustrious son of Pavaka was endued with a golden form. Verily, Kumara is always the leader of the celestial forces. Gold is the puissant energy of the god of fire and was born with Kartikeya (from the same seed). Hence is Gold highly auspicious and, as a valuable, is excellent and endued with inexhaustible merit. Even thus, O son of Kuru's race, did Vasishtha recite this discourse unto Rama of Bhrigu's race in days of old. Do thou, therefore, O king of men, try to make gifts of Gold. By making gifts of Gold, Rama became cleansed of all his sins, and finally attained to a high place in heaven that is unattainable by other men.'"
Next: Section LXXXVII