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 24 - Śveta and other Tīrthas

Brahmā said:

1. The holy centre known as Śveta Tīrtha in the three worlds is very auspicious. On being simply remembered it rids people of all sins.

2. Formerly, there was a brahmin Śveta who was the dearest friend of Gautama. He stayed on the bank of Gautamī river and was engaged in the worship of guests.

3-5. He was devoutly attached to Śiva in thought, words and deeds. That excellent brahmin continued to meditate on and worship Śiva till the last days of his life. When his days were over, the messengers of lord Yama came there to take away that excellent brahmin devoted to Śiva, but, O Nārada, they were not able even to enter his abode. When the time passed away Citraka spoke to (the god of) Death.

Citraka said:

6. O Mṛtyu, why does not Śveta come yet? His span of life has come to an end. Nor have the mçssengers of Mṛtyu too come yet. Why? This pazzles me.

Brahmā said:

7. The infuriated Mṛtyu thereupon went himself to the abode of Śveta. Seeing his messengers highly frightened and standing mum, Mṛtyu said, “What is the matter, O messengers?”

The messengers then said to Mṛtyu.

The Messengers said:

8. We are not able even to look at Śveta who is protected by Śiva. What terror can there be to those with whom Śiva is pleased!

Brahmā said:

9-11. Then Mṛtyu with the noose in his hand entered the place where that brahmin was worshipping Śiva. The brahmin was not at all aware of either Yama’s servants or Mṛtyu himself. On seeing Mṛtyu holding the noose and standing near Śveta who was worshipping Śiva with devotion the surprised Nandin said:

Nandin said:

O Mṛtyu, what do you see here?

Mṛtyu spoke to Nandin.

Mṛtyu said:

12-15. I came here to take away Śveta. Hence I am looking for the excellent brahmin.

Nandin said:

Go out, go out.

Brahmā said:

Then Mṛtyu threw up the noose against Śveta. O great sages, Nandin then became angry. Nandin hit Mṛtyu with the baton given by Śiva. Mṛtyu fell on the ground. Then the messengers saw that Mṛtyu was struck down. They intimated the incident to Yama.

16-20. Then Dharma whose vehicle is buffalo and who controls all addressed his attendants and associates, viz. Citragupta, Kāla, Yamadaṇḍa, buffalo, ghosts and vampires, Ādhis, Vyādhis, ailments of eyes, belly and ears, the three types of fever, sins, and hells severally. “Hurry up, hurry up”, said Yama to them and himself proceeded ahead, surrounded by these and others, to the place where Śveta the excellent brahmin was worshipping Śiva. On seeing Yama approaching, Nandin who was wielding his weapons said to Vināyaka, Skanda and Bhūtanātha (Chief of Ghosts) who was whirling a baton (to be ready). Then a fight ensued which terrified the worlds.

21. Kārttikeya pierced the servants of Yama by means of his javelin. He killed Yama, the powerful ruler of the southern quarter.

22-24. The followers of Yama who survived intimated this to Āditya. On hearing about that extremely wonderful event Āditya approached me accompanied by Devas and followed by the guardians of quarters.

Lord Viṣṇu, Indra, Agni, Varuṇa, moon, sun, Aśvins, Maruts and I—all of us went to Yama.

25-26. The powerful lord of the southern quarter was lying dade on the bank of Gaṅgā. Seas, serpents, rivers and living beings came there in order to see Yama the lord of Devas and son of the god Sun. On seeing Yama with all his armies killed Devas became frightened. With palms joined in reverence they said to Śambhu.

Devas said:

27-30. You always possess the quality of being fond of your devotees and that of slaying the wicked. O primordial Maker, obeisance to you. O blue-throated lord, obeisance to you. O lord, fond of Brahmā, obeisance to you. O lord, fond of Devas, obeisance to you.

Yama and his attendants were unable to take away the brahmin Śveta whose span of life has come to an end, (because) he is your devotee. On seeing the great lord they remain contented. O lord, truly you possess the quality of being fond of your devotees.

Even Yama, the annihilator is not able to look at those persons who have sought refuge in you, the merciful lord. After realising this, O lord, they worship you with devotion.

You alone are the lord of worlds; you alone are the leader of worlds; without you none is competent? Excepting you who will be competent to make this arrangement?

Brahmā said:

31. Even as they were eulogizing him lord Śiva appeared in front of them. He asked them pleasantly: “What shall I give you?”

Devas said:

32-34. This is Dharma, the son of Vivasvat and the Controller of all embodied beings. He has been established in the arrangement of Dharma and Adharma. He is the guardian of southern quarter.

He does not deserve death. He is not an offender. He is not a sinner. Without him no work of the creator of Universe can take place.

Hence, O Lord of Devas, revive Yama along with his army and vehicles. O lord, a request can never be fruitless in regard to great men. It is certainly fruitful.

Brahmā said:

35. Then the lord said, “Certainly I shall revive him; undoubtedly I shall make Yama come back to life, if Devas agree to my suggestion now.”

36. Then Devas said: “We shall do as you bid—you in whose control the entire Universe along with Hari, Brahmā and others function.”

37-38. Then the lord said to Devas who gathered there: “Let not my devotee undergo death.”

“No”, said Devas, “In that case, O lord, the people including the mobile and immobile will become immortal. O lord, idential with the universe, then there will not be any difference between mortals and immortals.”

39-42. Śiva said to them again: “You listen to my speech. We are the perpetual masters of our devotees, and the devotees of Viṣṇu who resort to Gautamī. Mṛtyu does not deserve that lordship and mastery. Yama should never discuss them nor talk to them. They should never be attacked by worries and physical ailments, etc. Those who seek refuge in Śiva are liberated at the very moment. They are worthy of being bowed to by Yama along with his followers.” Then Devas said to lord Śiva, “Let it be so”.

43-46. Then the holy lord spoke to Nandin, his vehicle.

Śiva said:

Sprinkle the dead Yama with the waters of Gautamī.

Brahmā said:

Then Yama and his attendants were sprinkled by Nandin. They woke up alive and went to their abode.

Viṣṇu and Devas stayed on the northern bank of Gautamī worshipping Maheśvara, lord of Devas.

47-50. On the northern bank the following numbers of holy centres were established: (a) eighty thousand, (b) fourteen thousand, (c) six thousand and (d) six thousand. Thus there were one hundred and six thousand holy centres on the northern bank. On the southern bank there came to be (a) six thousand, (b) thirty thousand holy centres. Thus there are thirty six thousand holy centres on the southern bank. O Nārada, the recounting of Śvetatīrtha is meritorious. The place where Mṛtyu fell down is called Mṛtyu Tīrtha. By merely remembering it one lives upto a thousand years. The holy dip and the offering of charitable gifts there destroys sins. If it is listened to, read or remembered it removes impurities. It yields worldly pleasures and salvation to the people.

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