The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, , at sacred-texts.com
13. The Skanda Puráńa
13. Skanda Puráńa. "The Skánda Puráńa is that in which the six-faced deity (Skanda) has related the events of the Tatpurusha Kalpa, enlarged with many tales, and subservient to the duties taught by Maheśwara. It is said to contain eighty-one thousand one hundred stanzas: so it is asserted amongst mankind 70."
It is uniformly agreed that the Skanda Puráńa in a collective form has no existence; and the fragments in the shape of Sanhitás, Khańd́as, and Máhátmyas, which are affirmed in various parts of India to be portions of the Puráńa, present a much more formidable mass of stanzas than even the immense number of which it is said to consist. The most celebrated of these portions in Hindustan is the Káśí Khańd́a, a very minute description of the temples of Śiva in or adjacent to Benares, mixed with directions for worshipping Maheśwara, and a great variety of legends explanatory of its merits, and of the holiness of Káśí: many of them are puerile and uninteresting, but some are of a higher character. The story of Agastya records probably, in a legendary style, the propagation of Hinduism in the south of India: and in the history of Divodása, king of Káśí, we have an embellished tradition of the temporary depression of the worship of Śiva, even in its metropolis, before the ascendancy of the followers of Buddha 71, There is every reason to believe the greater part of the contents of the Káśí Khańd́a anterior to the first attack upon Benares by Mahmud of Ghizni. The Káśí Khańd́a alone contains fifteen thousand stanzas.
Another considerable work ascribed in upper India to the Skanda Puráńa is the Utkala Khańd́a, giving an account of the holiness of Urissa, and the Kshetra of Purushottama or Jagannátha. The same vicinage is the site of temples, once of great magnificence and extent, dedicated to Śiva, as Bhuvaneśwara, which forms an excuse for attaching an account of a Vaishńava Tírtha to an eminently Śaiva Puráńa. There can be little doubt, however, that the Utkala Khańd́a is unwarrantably included amongst the progeny of the parent work. Besides these, there is a Brahmottara Khańd́a, a Revá Khańd́a, a Śiva Rahasya Khańd́a, a Himavat Khańd́a, and others. Of the Sanhitás, the chief are the Súta Sanhitá, Sanatkumára Sanhitá, Saura Sanhitá, and Kapila Sanhitá: there are several other works denominated Sanhitás. The
[paragraph continues] Máhátmyas are more numerous still 72. According to the Súta Sanhitá, as quoted by Col. Vans Kennedy 73, the Skanda Puráńa contains six Sanhitás, five hundred Khańd́as, and five hundred thousand stanzas; more than is even attributed to all the Puráńas. He thinks, judging from internal evidence, that all the Khańd́as and Sanhitás may be admitted to be genuine, though the Máhátmyas have rather a questionable appearance. Now one kind of internal evidence is the quantity; and as no more than eighty-one thousand one hundred stanzas have ever been claimed for it, all in excess above that amount must be questionable. But many of the Khańd́as, the Káśí Khańd́a for instance, are quite as local as the Máhátmyas, being legendary stories relating to the erection and sanctity of certain temples or groups of temples, and to certain Lingas; the interested origin of which renders them very reasonably objects of suspicion. In the present state of our acquaintance with the reputed portions of the Skanda Puráńa, my own views of their authenticity are so opposed to those entertained by Col. Vans Kennedy, that instead of admitting all the Sanhitás and Khańd́as to be genuine, I doubt if any one of them was ever a part of the Skanda Puráńa.
Click to view
xlvi:71 The legend is translated by Col. Vans Kennedy: Ancient and Hindu Mythology, Appendix B.
xlvii:72 p. xlvi In a list of reputed portions of the Skanda Puráńa in the possession of my friend Mr. C. P. Brown, of the Civil service of Madras, the Sanhitás are seven, the Khańd́as twelve, besides parts denominated p. xlvii Gítá, Kalpa, Stotra, &c. In the collection of Col. Mackenzie, amongst the Máhátmyas thirty-six are said to belong to the Skanda P.: vol. I. p. 6i. In the library at the India House are two Sanhitás, the Súta and Sanatkumára, fourteen Khańd́as, and twelve Máhátmyas.
xlvii:73 Ancient and Hindu Mythol., p. 554, note.