The Gautami Mahatmya

by G. P. Bhatt | 1955 | 127,137 words

This is the English translation of the Gautami-Mahatmya, which forms the fourth part of the Brahma-purana. The Gautamimahatmya narrates the legends and merits of the various holy places (tirthas) situated around the bank of the Godavari river in 105 chapters. It can be seen as distinct work by itself, and was declared as a “highly meritorious puran...

Chapter 1 - Holy Centres (tīrthas)

The sages said:

1. Listening to the description of holy centres in detail, we never feel satiated. We ask you to narrate the great secret once again, the great grandeur of the holy centre, the most excellent of all excellent holy centres.

Brahmā said:

2. Formerly, O excellent brahmins, I was asked this very same question by Nārada. Then I told him that with great effort.

Nārada said:

3. This has been heard by me from you, O lord of the universe, O source of origin of the Universe, viz. that the resorting to the holy centres is better than austerities, sacrifices and charitable gifts.

4. O lord of the Devas, how many varieties of holy centres are there? What are their benefits? Which is more excellent than all the other holy centres for ever?

Brahmā said:

5-7. There are four varieties of holy centres, O most venerable sage, viz. Daiva, Āsura, Ārṣa and Mānuṣa. They are well-known in heaven, on Earth, nether regions—nay, in all the three worlds and resorted to by gods etc. The holy centre Ārṣa is more desirable than the holy centres pertaining to human beings. The holy centre belonging to Asuras bestows more benefit than the holy centres belonging to sages. O son, the holy centre belonging to gods is more desirable than the holy centres belonging to Asuras.

8. The holy centre created by Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Maheśa and others is called Daiva (Divine). They do not know anything greater than this because one is produced from the three.

9. The holy centre of the three worlds is cited as human. There also, the holy centre in the Jambū island is highly excellent with many qualities.

10. Among the holy centres of Jambū[1] island Bhārata Varṣa is the holy centre well known in the Vedas. Among the holy centres of Bhārata Daṇḍaka[2] forest is the most excellent of all holy centres. O son, it is called a holy centre because it is a sphere of holy rites.

11. The holy centres mentioned by me to you are there itself. Listen to their names mentioned by me briefly.

12-13. The different types of holy centres are Daiva, Āsura, Ārṣa and Mānuṣa i.e. divine, demoniac, saintly and human.

Between Himavān and Vindhya there are six rivers of divine origin. Similarly, O brahmin, there are six rivers of divine origin between Vindhya and the Southern Sea. These twelve rivers are glorified as the most important of all.

14. Since Bhārata bestows much merit it is highly honoured. Hence that sub-continent is called the sphere of holy rites by Devas.

15-19. In some places the holy centres of mountains are Divine ones.

That which is surrounded by demons is called Āsura.

In the divine regions great sages perform penances and create holy centres due to the divine power or the power of their penance. They create these centres for their own welfare, prosperity, worship and salvation. They are called Ārṣa (Saintly holy centres).

O Nārada, they call the holy centres created by men as the human holy centres. These centres are created by men for their own benefit and prosperity or for the acquisition of fame.

Thus O excellent sage, there are four different types of holy centres.

No one, even the Yogin, knows the different types, O Nārada, it behoves you to hear about them attentively.

Many persons who profess to be scholars hear and recount. But some meritorious person knows how to speak and hear by virtue of his own good qualities.

Nārada said:

20-22. I wish to hear factually their difference and features, on hearing which one attains perpetual liberation from all sins. O Brahma, in the beginning of the Kṛta age[3] there is no other means except resorting to holy centres which bestows the desired results with least amount of strain. O Creator, there is no other speaker or knower equal to you. You are born in the navel lotus of Viṣṇu. You are born ahead of all.

Brahmā said:

23. These six rivers in the south of the Vindhya are glorified, viz. Godāvarī, Bhīmarathī, Tuṅgabhadrā, Venikā, Tāpī and Payoṣṇī.

24. Bhāgīrathī, Narmadā, Yamunā, Sarasvatī, Viśokā and Vitastā are dependent on the Himālayan ridges.

25-33. These are the holiest rivers. They are cited as the holy centres.

The holy centres surrounded by the following Asuras are the Āsura holy centres: Gaya, Kolāsura, Vṛtra, Tripura, Andhaka, Hayamūrdhan, Lavaṇa, Namuci, Śṛṅgaka, Yama, Pātālaketu, Madhu and Puṣkara. They are auspicious.

O Nārada, the saintly holy centres are those holy centres frequented by the following sages: Prabhāsa, Bhārgava, Agasti, Nara, Nārāyaṇa, Vasiṣṭha, Bharadvāja, Gautama, Kaśyapa, Manu and others.

The human holy centres are those created by the following human beings: Ambarīṣa, Hariścandra, Nahuṣa, Rāma, Kuru, Kanakhala, Bharata, Sagara, Aśvayūpa, Nāciketā and Vṛṣākapi the suppressor of foes. O brahmin, they are holy centres created by them for their own fame, benefit, prosperity etc.

Wherever there are holy centres that have sprung up themselves anywhere in the three worlds they are called Daiva holy centres. They call them Puṇyatīrthas.

The different holy centres have been mentioned by me.

What is not dug up by anyone is called Devakhāta (dug up by gods). O sage, the different holy centres have been briefly recounted by me to you. Merely by knowing them man is released from all sins.

Footnotes and references:


One of the seven continents of the earth having nine divisions or varṣas including Bhārata or India, the remaining six being Plakṣa, Śālmali, Kuśa, Krauñca, Śāka and Puṣkara (Vide Agtni P. 108. 1-3)


A forest tract lying between the Godāvarī and Narmadā riven in the South and a scene of many episodes in the Rāmāyaṇa.


The first of the four ages of the world during which righteousness has a complete sway.

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