The Brihaddharma Purana (abridged)

by Syama Charan Banerji | 1915 | 50,976 words

The English translation of the Brihaddharma Purana, one of the several minor or Upa Puranas, and represents an epitome of several important (Major) Puranas. In this book one can observe the attempts made to reconcile the three main forms of Hindu worship, viz. the Shaiva Vaishnava and Tantrika (worship of God in the form of Kali, Durga, Ganga, and ...

Chapter 5 - On places of pilgrimage (1): Ganga the lest of all pilgrimages

Javali [Jabali] said:

Vedavyasa, tell us what places of pilgrimage there are in heaven, earth and sky, what rites are to be performed in them and what fruits are reaped by visiting them.”

Vedavyasa said,

“They are more than can be counted, but Vayu[1] has given a list of three crores and a half out of them. I shall give you a description of some of the important ones which were described by the goddess, Parvati, to her faithful companions Jaya and Vijaya.”

Vedavyasa then began as follows:—

Parvati was, one day, seated with her two companions in a sequestered spot on one of the summits of the sacred mountain known as Kailasa,—when her companions finding her in a pleasant mood, said,

“Lady we have been waiting long for a favourable opportunity like the present one, and, now that it has presented itself, we entreat you to take us to the different places of pilgrimage.”

Parvati said that her companions had given expression to her own desire, and forthwith started with them. She went, to that part of the Himalayas, where the sacred river, Ganga, was flowing rapidly; and, after they had bathed in the river, she wended her way home. Her companions were not a little surprised at this, and remarked that their object was to visit all the Tirthas[2] and not one of them only. The kind goddess said that their object had already been achieved, because Ganga was the mother of all the Tirthas; and not only so, but she was the mother of all the gods, all the worlds and all the Dharmas also. After saying this, she explained as follows:—

This mighty goddess Ganga disports herself through the fourteen Bhuvanas,[3] and after purifying them, lends lustre to the three lokas[3] The upper regions, the sky, the mountain summits, the earth, and the nether regions are all presided over by her. All the places on the banks of Ganga are equally sacred and fit to live in. They are the regions of happiness and salvation, and fear and sorrow cannot enter therein.

This goddess, like a mother, saves even the greatest sinners from Yama’s[4] punishment. The man who places faith in her need not perform any other acts of merit, because he reaps their reward without performing them. But he who has no faith in her is forsaken by all the Dharmas.

Jaya and Vijaya said,

“How can we be sure, O Lady, that we have seen all the Tirthas by merely bathing in Ganga? Pray, give us some proof of your assertion.”

Parvati said,

“Invoke the goddess by singing a hymn in her praise, and you will see her with all the Tirthas. By my grace you will be able to compose an excellent hymn.”

Jaya and Vijaya, thereupon, were able to chant an extempore hymn in honour of the sacred river, in which they praised her innumerable divine qualities, and implored her to remove their doubts. The goddess was. highly pleased, and appeared before them in full splendour; and they were struck dumb with joy and surprise. All the other gods, Munis,[5] Siddhas,[6] Gandharvas,[7] Yakshas,[8] Rakshasas,[9] Kinnaras,[10] and Apsaras[11] were assembled there with joy. Brahma, Vishnu and all the other gods and goddesses were worshiping her with folded hands and offering her flowers and sandal paste. Gradually all the Tirthas began to emerge out of the different parts of her body and sing hymns in her praise, representing her as their mother, and identical with Vishnu Siva and Durga. After describing her multifarious divine powers and qualities they again entered into her body, and she and Parvati then emerged in each other and became one body.

Jaya and Vijaya grew restless at the disappearance of their mistress, and so Parvati separated herself from the goddess Ganga, and went home with her companions.

Footnotes and references:


Author of a Purana called after his name, (viz. Vayu Purana).


Places of pilgrimage.


Both Bhuvana and loka mean world, or division of the universe. Roughly speaking there are three divisions, svarga, prithvi and patala, but according to a fuller classification they are fourteen, seven higher regions rising from the earth one above the other, i.e. Bhurloka, Bhuvaloka, Svarloka, Maharloka, Janarloka, Taparloka and Satyaloka or Brahmaloka; and seven lower regions descending from the earth, one below the other, i.e. Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Rasatala, Talatala, Mahatala and Patala.


Pluto, the God of death.




A siddha is a semi-divine being of great purity and holiness, characterized by supernatural faculties called “Siddhi.”


A class of demi-gods regarded as the singers or musicians of the gods, and said to give good and agreeable voice to girls.


A class of demi-gods who are described as attendants of Kubera the god of riches, and employed in guarding his gardens and treasures.




Mythical beings with a human figure and the head of a horse.


A class of female divinities or celestial damsels who reside in the sky and are regarded as the wives of the Gandharvas. They are very fond of bathing, can change their shapes at pleasure, and are endowed with super-human powers. They are usually described as the servants of Indra, who, when alarmed by the rigorous austerities of some mighty sage, sends down one of them to disturb his penance by tempting him, and her mission is generally successful.

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