The 'Skand Puran' is the lengthiest among the eighteen Purans written by Maharshi Vedvyas. The mythological discourses, educative discourses, and intriguing mysteries related with the universe have been presented in this great Puran in more detail than other Purans.
Skand Kumar is the eldest son of Lord Shiv and Bhagwati Parwati. Another famous name of him is Kartikeya. Skand means 'execution'. Skand Kumar has been established as the executional power of gods in the Purans and other religious texts. Kumar Kartikeya, in his childhood, had executed the demon named Tarkasur along with his army for the benefit of the universe, therefore he received the name 'Skand'. In the context of Skand Puran, the word Skand means the power of execution. But the knowledge itself described in this Puran has been said to be the power of execution, which destroys ignorance residing in the heart of man, adharma, and injustice.
Though the Skand Puran is a Puran predominantly promoting Shaivmat yet the glory of Vishnu, Brahma, and such gods besides Lord Shiv has been duly established. There is detailed description of the character of Lord Shri Ram in this Puran.
The Number of Vevses and Sections
This Puran comprises eighty-one thousand verses (shlokas). The entire Puran is divided into six sections. These sections (khand) are : Maaheshwar khand, Vaishnav khand, Brahm khand, Kaashi khand, Avantika khand, and Reva khand. Although some people divide the Avantika khand into Tapti khand and Prabhas khand and thus make it a puran of seven khands, yet its six divisions only are acceptable.
(Although Skand Puran is included among the eighteen Purans written by Maharshi Vedvyas, yet there is a sub-puran (up-puran) by this name too. According to the Soot Samhita, this sub -puran has been divided into six parts namely Sanatkumar Samhita, Soot Samhita, Shankar Samhita,
Vaishnav Samhita, Braahm Samhita, and Sam Samhita. The division of the Samhita provides the separate identity to the sub -puran named Skand puran.)
Gist of Skand Puran
1. Maaheshwar Khand
Maaheshwar Khand is divided into three subsections (upkhand) - Kedar, Kumarika, and the glory of Arunachal.
The essence of these subsections is described here with the main text.
Maaheshwar Khand begins with the Shiv-katha. The mythological episodes where furious Daksh prajapati invokes curse on Shivji and Nandi invokes curse on Daksh are
described in it. In the same story, there are episodes of yajna organized by Daksh at Kankhal self-immolation by Bhagwati Sati infuriated by the rejection of Shiv, emergence of Veerbhadra, battle between gods and shiv gana, destruction of the yajna of Daksh, resection of Daksh Prajapati by Lord Shiv, a vast form attained Shivling, removal of one head of Brahmaji by Bhairav at the command of Lord Shiv. In this context the curse to prohibit the flower of Ketaki for his worship by Lord Shiv and boon for the devotees engaged in the decoration of the Shiv, mandap have been described.
After that the episodes described are of the glory of the installation of Ling and the worship of Ling, advent of Ravan, rejection of the guru of gods Brihaspati by Indra, capturing of the governance of paradise by demons, the churning of ocean, drinking of poison by Lord Shiv, emergence of Lakshami, the Mohini avatar of Lord Vishnu, and the rift between Chandra (moon) and Rahu.