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 16 - Indra-tīrtha or Ahalyā-saṅgama-tīrtha

(description of Indra-tirtha or Ahalya-sangama-tirtha)

Brahmā said:

1. The holy centre named Ahalyā-Saṃgama is one that sanctifies the three worlds. O excellent sage, listen to what happened and how it happened.

2. Out of great curiosity, O lord of sages, many types of beautiful girls possessing good qualities had been formerly created by me.

3-6. Among them I created a girl of exquisitely splendid features. On seeing that most excellent girl of great beauty in every limb, I thought thus, “Who is capable of nurturing this girl? Neither among the Asuras nor Devas is there anyone who has the ability to nurture her”. This was my thought. Then I gave that highly intelligent girl to Gautama for bringing her up—to Gautama who was an intelligent brahmin superior to all in good qualities, who possessed the power of penance, who had all characteristics and who was conversant with the Vedas and Vedāṅgas.[1]

7-9. “Protect and bring up (this girl), O excellent sage, till she attains the age of youth. When she attains youth, bring her back to me”. After saying this I gave that girl of slender waist to Gautama. The excellent sage whose sins had been dispelled by penance took her and nurtured her duly. The excellent sage without any aberration brought Ahalyā near me after bedecking her duly.

10. On seeing her, Indra, Agni, Varuṇa and other Devas told me severally, “O lord of Devas, she should be given to me.”

11-15. In the same manner the sages, Sādhyas, Dānavas, Yakṣas and Rākṣasas also approached me. On seeing all of them gathered together for the sake of that girl Indra became all the more enamoured in particular.

I remembered the greatness, majesty, and courage of Gautama and was surprised. Then this good thought occurred to me, “This lady of splendid face should be given to Gautama alone. She is not suitable for anyone. I shall give her to him alone.” I thought in this way also, “The mind and courage of everyone has been stirred up by this girl.”

Then Devas and sages uttered “Ahalyā”. I too said so. Looking at Devas and sages I said loudly again and again:

16. This lady of beautiful eyebrows will be given to that person who circumambulates the Earth and thereafter approaches me sooner than others and not to anyone else.

17. On hearing the words uttered by me, Devas proceeded ahead in their circumambulation of the Earth.

18. After Devas had gone Gautama, the lord of sages, too made some effort like this for the sake of Ahalyā.

19. In the meantime, O brahmin, the divine cow Kāmadhenu[2] had partially delivered her calf. Gautama saw her thus.

20. Remembering “This is the Earth” be circumambulated her. Then he circumambulated the Liṅga[3] of the lord of Devas.

21-22. After circumambulating both of them Gautama the excellent sage decided thus—“Devas have not completed even one round of the Earth. I have completed two rounds.” After deciding thus, that sage came near me.

23. After bowing down to me Gautama of great intelligence said to me, “O lotus-seated lord, the soul of the universe, obeisance be to you again and again.

24. O Brahmā, the entire Earth has been circumambulated by me. What is proper in this connection? O lord of Devas, you know it better yourself”.

25. By meditation I understood it and said to Gautama: “The lady of beautiful eyebrows will be given to you alone. The circumambulation has been completed.

26-29. O brahminical sage, Dharma (Virtue) is inscrutable even to the Vedas. The divine cow having partially delivered her calf is (identical with) the Earth consisting of seven continents. If that divine cow is circumambulated, the Earth too has been circumambulated. By circumambulating the Liṅga one shall obtain the same benefit. Hence, O sage Gautama of good holy rites, I am pleased with your effort, courage, knowledge and penance. O great sage, this girl, the most excellent one in the world is given to you.” After saying this, O sage, I gave Ahalyā to Gautama.

30-31. After the wedding had been celebrated, Devas came there slowly. They had completed their circumambulation of the Earth. They saw Gautama, Ahalyā and their union that increased their pleasure. On seeing this after their arrival, Devas were surprised.

32. When the rites connected with the wedding were over Devas returned to heaven. The jealous husband of Śacī (wife of Indra) glanced at her (longingly) and went to heaven.

33. Delighted in my mind, I gave the sacred Brahmagiri which is splended and which bestows all cherished desires, to the noble Gautama.

34-35. The excellent sage Gautama indulged in dalliance there along with Ahalyā. Indra heard about this gift of Brahma to Gautama in the heaven itself. In order to see that hermitage, sage Gautama and his uncensured wife, Indra assumed the guise of a brahmin and came there.

36. On seeing the sage’s splendid beautiful wife and wealth Indra felt jealous and an evil thought entered his mind.

37. O dear one, Indra who was full of lust did not realize the risk; he was not aware of the time and place or even the danger of curse from sage Gautama.

38-41. Arrogant due to his overlordship of the kingdom of the Devas, he was meditating upon her alone continuously. He felt his limbs scorched by the pangs of passion. He was always thinking thus, “How shall I make myself content? How shall I enter this hermitage?”

Though he stayed there in the guise of a brahmin he did not succeed in getting an opportunity to go inside.

Once the highly intelligent sage Gautama performed his morning rituals and went out of the hermitage along with his disciples. The excellent sage went out to visit the penance grove on the Gautamī river, the brahmins and different kinds of cultivated grains. Indra saw him going out saying (to himself) “This is the opportunity”. He did what was pleasing to his mind.

42. Indra who was desirous of attaining pleasures assumed the form of Gautama. Looking at Ahalyā who was beautiful in every respect he spoke to her.

Indra said:

43. “I am attracted by your good qualities. Remembering your beauty I have begun to falter in my steps.” Saying this and grasping her hand he went inside the hermitage.

44. Ahalyā did not know that he was a paramour. She believed him to be Gautama and indulged in sexual dalliance with him as she pleased. Meanwhile Gautama came there along with his disciples.

45. Everyday it was the custom of Ahalyā to welcome him as he returned speaking pleasing words to him and satisfying him by her graceful qualities.

46. On this occasion he was unable to see her. The highly intelligent sage Gautama considered it a highly surprising mystery. O Nārada, the people looked at the excellent sage standing at the door.

47. The watchman and the domestic servants at the hall of Agnihotra sacrifice were awestruck and surprised. They spoke to the excellent sage Gautama.

The Watchman said:

48. “What a mystery is this, O holy sage, you are seen both inside and outside. You entered the house accompanied by your beloved. You are outside also. Oh the power of your penance is wonderful! You can assume different forms at your will.”

49-50. On hearing it, the sage was surprised. “Who has entered inside? Who is standing there? O dear Ahalyā, why don’t you reply?” On hearing these words of the sage Ahalyā spoke to the paramour.

Ahalyā said:

51-53. “Who are you? In the guise of the sage you have committed a sin”. Saying this she hurriedly got up from her bed in great fear. Indra the sinner became a cat due to the fear of the sage.

On seeing his beloved Ahalyā outraged and defiled the sage said furiously, “What is this rash act? Why has it been committed?”

Although her husband said this, she did not say anything in reply because she was too much ashamed.

54. The sage saw a cat distressed by fear and moving about surreptitiously. He said to him, “Who are you? If you utter a lie I will reduce you to ashes.”

55-58. With palms joined together in reverence, Indra said thus.

Indra said:

“O ascetic, I am the husband of Śacī, the breaker of towns, one who has been eulogized much. This sin has been committed by me. O sinless one, I have spoken the truth. O sage, I have committed an excessively despicable act. What is it that those whose hearts are pierced by the arrows of cupid do not do? O brahmin, O storehouse of compassion, forgive me, a great sinner. Good men are never harsh towards a person even if he has committed a guilt.”

On hearing his words the brahmin said to Indra in great anger.

Gautama said:

59. “Sin has been committed by you due to your passion for the vagina. Hence become a person with a thousand vaginas in your body”.

He said to Ahalyā also in anger, “Be a dry river”.

60-63. (Defective text). Narrating her wrong action she tried to pacify him.

“If women were to love other men even mentally they will be eternally doomed. They should treat all persons as their brothers. Be pleased, O holy sage, and listen to my words. He approached me assuming your form. These persons are my witnesses.”

“It is so”, said the watchmen, “Ahalyā speaks the truth”.

The sage knew the truth by means of meditation too. Becoming calm he said to the chaste lady:

Gautama said:

64. “O fair lady, when you come into contact with the Gautamī, the chief of rivers, you will become a river and thereafter will regain your own form that is pleasing to me”.

65-66. On hearing these words of the sage the chaste lady did so. Ahalyā the beloved wife of Gautama came into contact with the divine river. Thereafter she attained that form which had been created by me formerly.

Then, with his palms joined in reverence the king of Devas said to Gautama.

Indra said:

67-68. “O mighty among the sages, save me. Save me. A sinner (no doubt) but I have come to your house as a guest.”

On seeing him fallen at his feet Gautama said mercifully: “I have been pacified by Devas, wishing to free you from my curse.” Gautama the most excellent sage said:

Gautama said:

69-71. “By taking bath in the sacred holy centre Ahalyā Saṅgama, O husband of Śacī, you will be rid of your sins instantly and will become one with a thousand eyes”.

I have witnessed both these surprising events, O Nārada, viz., the resurgence of Ahalyā and the transformation of Indra into a person with a thousand eyes.

Thenceforward that pure holy centre became well known as Ahalyā-Saṅgama and Indra-Tīrtha. It bestows all cherished desires on men.

Footnotes and references:


Disciplines auxiliary to the study of the Vedas.


The wish-fulfilling cow born at the churning of the ocean by the gods and antigods.


The phallic symbol of Lord Śiva worshipped in the form of a atone column.

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