What is the correspondence between the khaṇḍas and saṁhitās of the Skanda Purana?
As the question says there are two “versions” of the Skanda Purana
1) one divided on the basis of 7 khaṇḍas
2) the other on the basis of 6 samhitas.
The preface to Sankshipta Skanda Purana (based on 7 khaṇḍas) sold by Gitapress Gorakpur mentions both these versions. It says as under (paraphrased by me and translated from Hindi):
The Skanda Purana is the largest of the Puranas, divided into 7 khaṇḍas and comprising 81,100 verses. There is some difference in the names of the 7 khaṇḍas (according to prevalent opinions). In some there are more stories whereas in some there are lesser. According to one opinion, the names of the 7 khaṇḍas are - Māhéśwara, Vaiṣṇava, Brāhma, Kāśī, Avanti, Nāgara and Prabhāsa. These are also composed of many khaṇḍas. There is a Skanda Purana divided on the basis of Saṁhitās. With reference to this, in the Hālāsyamahātmyam of the Śaṁkara Saṁhitā it is written that the Skanda Purana is divided into 6 saṁhitās and 50 khaṇḍas. The names of these saṁhitās are Sanatkumāra Saṁhitā, Sūta Saṁhitā, Śaṁkara Saṁhitā, Vaiṣṇava Saṁhitā, Brahma Saṁhitā and Saura Saṁhitā. The number of verses in each of these Saṁhitās are 36,000; 6,000; 30,000; 5,000; 3,000 and 1,000 respectively. In this way, even in this version of the Skanda Purana the number of verses is 81,000. Only the first three saṁhitās only the first 3 are available, though it is said that in Nepal all 6 are available. There are commentaries by scholars on the Sūta Saṁhitā. Some call the Saṁhitā version of the Skanda Purana as an Upapurana and some consider it as a limb of the main Purana. Whatever be the case, the Saṁhitās are very important.
Thus the number of verses in both the khaṇḍa version as well as the Saṁhitā version (supposedly) are 81,000 each. The contents of both are also different.
As regards the khanda version
There is no scholarly/ publisher consensus on the contents as there are many texts, which claim to be a part of the Purāṇa, thereby exceeding the verse count. For example the Kaveri Mahatmya, Sahyadri Khanda, etc. Some like Venkateswara Press exceed 93,000 verses whereas others like Gita Press have it close to 81,000. The khanda version was published during the colonial era in 1910, after which all publications followed the same. It seems to be another colonial mishap (another of which I discuss here
As regards the Samhita version
The view of it being an Upapurāṇa is not be tenable as the list of Puranas and Upapurāṇas mentioned in the first chapter of the Sūta Samhita of the Skanda Purāṇa (and other puranas too) mention the Skanda (that is being elucidated) as among the 18 major Puranas only and each chapter ends with the words : Thus ends the first chapter of the Sambhava kāṇḍa of the Śivarahasya khaṇḍa of the Skanda Mahā Purāṇa called the dialogue between the sages and Sūta.
Here the Sanskrit is tougher and older. More than anything else, traditionally this Samhita version has been accepted and commented on by scholars. Besides Kashyapa, we can see the names of some who refer to the samhita version, from the Suta Samhita Mimamsa:
- Shankaracharya - who is said to have read the Suta Samhita 18 times before composing his Brahma sutra bhashya.
- The Tamil Kanda Purāṇam by Kaciappa Shivacharya is based on this version (where Lord Skanda himself helped him to write it)
- Vidyaranya (brother of Sayanaharya) who wrote a commentary.
- Appaya Shivacharya
Thus there is no correspondence between the two versions and it goes without saying that this Samhita version seems to be the original one. (However see below)
Which chapters of each khaṇḍa belong to which saṁhitā?
One should note that the Samhita version is divided into many khandas which is further sub-divided into kāndas. The Sivamahātmya Khanda of the Suta Samhita Chapter 1.19 gives the total khanda count in all 6 samhitas as 50.
Since there is no identified correspondence between the two, it is very difficult to say which khanda (of the khanda version) belongs to which samhita. There is no fully published version of the Samhita version yet and hence difficult to arrive at a definitive conclusion.
Nonetheless, Puranas are historical (stories of deities) and geographic (leelas of deities associated with places). And thus, in my opinion most texts (supra) that claim to be a part of the Skanda Purāṇa would somehow be part of the original, including all the khandas of the khanda version like the Kashi Khanda, Avantya Khanda, etc. But of course in a slightly smaller form, without colonial era Interpolations. (Reading the khanda mahatmyas like Kashi along with the published samhita version makes a good Purāṇa indeed.)
Is there any English translation of the Skanda Purana divided on the basis of samhitas rather than khandas?
Regarding an English translation, I don’t know if it’s available. There is an only Sanskrit version of the Sūta Saṁhitā, along with the Sanskrit commentary - Tātparyadīpikā of Vidyaranya (brother of Sayanacharya). The following are the links:-
Suta Samhita Volume 1
Suta Samhita Volume 2
The description of Lord Shiva as Dakshinamurthi is contained Suta Samhita 3.4 in the 4th chapter named Mocakakathanam of the Mukti khaṇḍa. The entire chapter is dedicated as such to Dakshinamurthi, however the word Dakshinamurthi appears in verse 45 and 48.
Also found a Sūta Samhita in Tamil
Please note, the number 81000 is supported by Matsya Purāṇa 53.41-42, Narada Purāṇa Purvabhaga 4th pāda, chapter 104.3, Srimad Bhagavatam 12.13.4-9. However as per the Suta Samhita 1.19-24 and Shankara Samhita 2.45, the number of verses in Skanda Purāṇa is 1,00,000, increasing the Sanatkumara Samhita’s verse count to 55,000)