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 19 - Aśvabhānu-tīrtha

(description of ashvabhanu-tirtha)

Brahmā said:

1-3. The two rivers Aruṇā and Varuṇā are very auspicious. Their confluence with Gaṅgā is also very holy, O excellent sage.

They bestow merit more than the lake Mānasa, the holy centre Prayāga and the river Mandākinī. Listen now to its origin which destroys all sins.

The eldest son of Kaśyapa, Āditya, is well known in the worlds. He is the eye of the three worlds. He has hot and powerful rays. He has seven horses to draw his chariot. He is honoured by the people of the world. Uṣā, the daughter of Tvaṣṭṛ, was well known as the most beautiful woman in the three worlds.

4. Unable to endure the severity of the heat of her husband, the beautiful woman of good waistline thought, “What should be done by me?”

5. The extremely intelligent Manu and Yama were her sons born of Vivasvān (Sun). The holy river Yamunā (too was her daughter). Listen to that incident which caused surprise.

6-8. She created her own shadow strenuously in the form of herself. Uṣā then said to her:

“Be like me. At my bidding, look after my husband and children. Till I come back, be the beloved of my husband. Neither to my children nor to my husband should you reveal this fact”.

“So be it”, said the shadow.

Uṣā went out of her abode.

9. After saying this she went ahead, desirous of peaceful form. After going home Uṣā mentioned everything to her father. Tvaṣṭṛ was surprised. Being fond of his daughter he said to her:

Tvaṣṭṛ said:

10. It is not proper on the part of a married woman to do as she pleases. How do your children and husband do? O gentle lady, I am afraid I may be considered uncultured. Go back to your husband’s abode once again.

Brahmā said:

11. Thus urged by her father she said “No, No” again and again. She went to the Northern Kuru country for performing penance.

12. There she assumed the form of a mare and performed a severe penance. Uṣā steadily meditated upon her husband who was too fierce to be looked at.

13. In the meantime, O dear one, the shadow Chāyā who had assumed the form of Uṣā, cohabited with her husband. Children were born to her.

14-17. (The sons were) Manu Sāvarṇi and Śani. Viṣṭi, a wicked daughter, was also born. Chāyā behaved differently to her own children and the children of Uṣā. Yama therefore became angry. Yama the lord of southern quarter kicked his step-mother Ghāyā who was behaving differently. In her excitement due to the wickedness of her step-son Chāyā cursed Yama, son of the Sun god.

“O sinner, may your foot become putrefied at my bidding.” With his foot putrefied he went to his father crying. He informed Savitṛ of the entire episode.

Yama said:

18-21. O excellent Deva, she is not my mother because I have been cursed by her thus. A (true) mother never gets angry even if children act against her wish. I might have uttered something due to my stupidity. I might have done something mischievous. If she had been my mother she would not have become angry. Hence she is not my mother.

Mother is so called because everything child does, whether good or bad, becomes measured in her. O dear father, she stares at me everyday as though she would burn me. She speaks to me with words as ferocious as black fire. She is not my mother.

Brahmā said:

22-24. On hearing this from his son Sun began to think (and understood). “This is Chāyā and not Uṣā. Desirous of quietening me she is engaged in penance. The daughter of Tvaṣṭṛ is in the northern Kuru in the form of a mare.”

On coming to know that she was there Lord Sun went thither where his wife was staying. He himself assumed the form of a horse.

25-28. On seeing her in the form of a mare, the sun in the form of a horse rushed at her. On seeing the horse excited by passion and on hearing the sound, Uṣā the chaste lady hurriedly fled to the South. She had been meditating on her husband. She was afraid of being attacked by the horse. She did not know who it was. When the husband approached her she fled to the South in great hurry. “Who will be my saviour now, the sages or the Devas?” She thought herself. The sun in the form of a horse pursued his beloved who was running fast. Wherever Uṣā went the sun also went there.

29-31. If anyone comes under the influence of Cupid, what wicked thing does he not do? Facing the southern direction they crossed Bhāgirathī, Narmadā and other rivers, parks, forests and Vindhya mountain. Distressed with fear, the daughter of Tvaṣṭṛ went to Gautamī because she had heard that in Janasthāna there were sages who could protect her. After entering Gautamī, the mare went to the hermitage of sages.

32. The horse too came there. It was the Sun in that form. People who were staying in Janasthāna stopped that horse. Lord Sun, the husband of Uṣā, then cursed them in anger.

The Sun said:

33-36. Since you stopped me you will become banyan trees.

Brahmā said:

By their eye of knowledge the sages saw that he was the husband of Uṣā. Thereupon they eulogized the lord of Devas in great delight.

Even as he was being eulogized by the sages the Sun approached the mare sexually. The face of the horse came into contact with the face of the mare. After realising that it was her husband, the daughter of Tvaṣṭṛ shed the semen from her month. From their semen the Aśvins were born in the river Gaṅgā.

37-40. The following persons came there, viz. groups of Devas, Siddhas, sages, rivers, cows, medicinal herbs, groups of luminaries, holy chariot of the seven-horsed lord (i.e. Sun), Aruṇa the charioteer of the Sun, Yama, Manu, Varuṇa, Śani son of the Sun god, the holy river Yamunā, Tāpī, Mahānadī and father-in-law of the Sun (i.e. Tvaṣṭṛ). O sages, out of wonder, the rivers had assumed their respective forms. They came there to see this wonderful event. On realising his purpose Sun spoke to his father-in-law.

The Sun said:

41. O Tvaṣṭṛ, mount me on to the lathe and chisel off my splendorous parts for pleasing Uṣā who has performed excellent penance. O Prajāpati, you cut off my parts until she finds herself pleased.

Brahmā said:

42. After saying “So be it”, Tvaṣṭṛ began to cut off the splendorous parts of the Sun in the presence of Somanātha. They know it as Prabhāsa.

43-47. The place where Uṣā in the form of a mare came into contact with her husband, the place where Aśvins were born, is called Aśvatīrtha.

It is also called Bhānutīrtha where there is the hermitage with five banyan trees. Tāpī and Yamunā came there to see their father (i.e. the Sun). The confluence of the rivers Aruṇā and Varuṇā with the Gaṅgā is splendid.

There are nine times three thousand (i.e. 27000) holy centres of Devas there severally pertaining to Devas who had come to that holy centre. All these holy centres are good. Ablution performed and charitable gifts distributed there bestow great and everlasting merit.

O Nārada, by remembring, reading and listening to this, man becomes rid of all sins. He becomes virtuous and happy.

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