The text contains over 81, verses, and is part of Shaivite literature, titled after Skanda, a son of Shiva and Parvati, who is also known as Kartikeya and Murugan. While the text is named after Skanda, he does not feature either more or less prominently in this text than in other Shiva-related Puranas. The text has been an important historical record and influence on the Hindu traditions related to war-god Skanda. The earliest text titled Skanda Purana likely existed by the 6th-century CE, but the Skanda Purana that has survived into the modern era exists in many versions.
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The text contains over 81, verses, and is part of Shaivite literature, titled after Skanda, a son of Shiva and Parvati, who is also known as Kartikeya and Murugan. While the text is named after Skanda, he does not feature either more or less prominently in this text than in other Shiva-related Puranas. The text has been an important historical record and influence on the Hindu traditions related to war-god Skanda.
The earliest text titled Skanda Purana likely existed by the 6th-century CE, but the Skanda Purana that has survived into the modern era exists in many versions.
It is considered by scholars, in a historic sense, as among the "shiftiest, living" texts which was widely edited, over many centuries, creating numerous variants. The common elements in the variant editions encyclopedically cover cosmogony, mythology, genealogy, dharma, festivals, gemology, temples, geography, discussion of virtues and evil, of theology and of the nature and qualities of Shiva as the Absolute and the source of true knowledge.
The editions of Skanda Purana text also provide an encyclopedic travel handbook with meticulous Tirtha Mahatmya pilgrimage tourist guides , containing geographical locations of pilgrimage centers in India, Nepal and Tibet, with related legends, parables, hymns and stories.
Haraprasad Shastri and Cecil Bendall, in about , discovered an old palm-leaf manuscript of Skanda Purana in a Kathmandu library in Nepal, written in Gupta script. They dated the manuscript to 7th century CE, on paleographic grounds. This suggests that the original text existed before this time. Adriaensen, H. Bakker, and H. Isaacson dated the oldest surviving palm-leaf manuscript of Skanda Purana to CE, but Richard Mann adds that earlier versions of the text likely existed in the 6th-century CE.
Hans Bakker states that the text specifies holy places and details about the 4th and 5th-century Citraratha of Andhra Pradesh, and thus may have an earlier origin. The oldest versions of the Skanda Purana texts have been discovered in the Himalayan region of South Asia such as Nepal, and the northeastern states of India such as Assam. The critical editions of the text, for scholarly studied, rely on the Nepalese manuscripts. Additional texts style themselves as khandas sections of Skanda Purana, but these came into existed after the 12th-century.
It is unclear if their root texts did belong to the Skanda Purana, and in some cases replaced the corresponding chapters of the original. Some recensions and sections of the Skanda Purana manuscripts, states Judit Torzsok, have been traced to be from the 17th-century or later, but the first chapters in many versions are the same as the older Nepalese editions except for occasional omissions and insertions.
There are a number of texts and manuscripts that bear the title Skanda Purana. Some of these texts, except for the title, have little in common with the well known Skanda Purana traced to the 1st-millennium CE.
The original text has accrued several additions, resulting in several different versions. It is, therefore, very difficult to establish an exact date of composition for the Skanda Purana.
Stylistically, the Skanda Purana is related to the Mahabharata, and it appears that its composers borrowed from the Mahabharata. The two texts employ similar stock phrases and compounds that are not found in the Ramayana.
Some of the mythology mentioned in the present version of the Skanda Purana is undoubtedly post-Gupta period, consistent with the medieval South India. This indicates that several additions were made to the original text over the centuries. The Kashi Khanda, for example, acquired its present form around the midth century CE. The latest part of the text might have been composed in as late as 15th century CE.
The chapters are Mahatmyas, or travel guides for pilgrimage tourists.
The many legends giving the circumstances of his birth are often at variance with one another. They sent Parvati to induce Shiva to marry her. Shiva, however, was lost in meditation and was not attracted to Parvati until he was struck by an arrow from the bow of Kama, the god of love, whom he immediately burned to ashes. Agni received the seed and dropped it into the Ganges , where Skanda was born. Skanda was reared by the Krittikas, six stars that make up the Pleiades and are the wives of the sage-stars who constitute the constellation Ursa Major.