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 35 - The Twentyfive Confluences of Various Rivers

Brahmā said:

1. The holy centre known as Somatīrtha is one that increases the pleasure of Manes. Listen attentively to the extremely sacred incident that happened there, O Nārada.

2. Formerly Soma (Moon) full of nectar had been the king of Gandharvas and not of Devas. Then Devas approached me and said:

Devas said:

3. Formerly Soma, the bestower of vital airs on Devas, had been taken away by Gandharvas. Not able to meditate on him, sages and Devas became extremely distressed. Let some strategic means be employed so that Soma can be ours.

Brahmā said:

4. Vāk (Sarasvatī) said to Devas: “The Gandharvas are madly passionate over women. O Devas, it behoves you to bring Soma after giving me to them.”

5. The immortal ones replied to Vāk: “We are not competent to give you away. It is impossible to live without Soma, nor is it possible to live without you”.

6-13. Again Vāk said to Devas: “I shall come here again. A way should be thought out. Let an excellent sacrifice be performed on the southern bank of Gautamī. If Devas are prepared let them come there for sacrifice. Gandharvas are always fond of women. Exchange me for Soma”.

“So be it”, said Devas who firmly agreed to what was said by Sarasvatī. Through the messengers they invited Devas, Yakṣas, Gandharvas and Nāgas severally to the sacred mountain. Thereafter, O sage, the name of that mountain became Devagiri. There came Devas, Gandharvas, Yakṣas, Rākṣasas, Siddhas, sages and the eight species of inferior gods.[1]

While the great sacrifice was being performed by the sages on the banks of Gautamī, the thousand-eyed lord surrounded by Devas, spoke in the presence of Sarasvatī after honouring Gandharvas.

Indra said:

Exchange the nectar-souled Soma of yours for Sarasvatī.

Brahmā said:

14. At the instance of Indra those Gandharvas, passionate over women, gave Soma to Devas and took Sarasvatī.

15-19. Devas possessed Soma and Gandharvas possessed Sarasvatī. While she stayed there she secretly came near Devas everyday saying, “Let it remain a secret”. That is how, O Nārada, Soma was bought. While buying Soma one should speak in a low tone. Thereafter Devas possessed both Soma and Sarasvatī. The Gandharvas had neither Soma nor Sarasvatī.

For the sake of Soma all the following came to Gautamī: cows, Devas, mountains, Yakṣas, Rākṣasas, Siddhas, Sādhyas, sages, Guhyakas, Gandharvas, Maruts, Nāgas, medicinal herbs, Mothers,[2] Guardians of quarters, Rudras, Ādityas, Vasus, Aśvins and other Devas who deserve a share in the sacrifice.

20-21. Twenty-five rivers, O sage, have joined Gaṅgā. The place where the entire ghee offering was given is called the holy centre of Pūrṇā. As mentioned before, the rivers that joined Gautamī have holy centres in their names. Now listen to holy centres with their names O Nārada.

22-27. The holy centres are: Somatīrtha, Gandharva, Devatīrtha, Pūrṇatīrtha, Śāla, Śrīparṇā-Saṅgama, Ilāsaṅgama, the holy confluence of Kusumā, Puṣṭisaṅgama, the auspicious Karṇikā Saṅgama, Vaiṇavī Saṅgama, Kṛśarāsaṅgama, Vasavīsaṅgama, Śivaśaryā, Śikhī, Kusumbhikā, Upārathyā, Śāntijā, Devajā, Aja, Vṛddha, Sura and Bhadra—all these joined Gautamī. These and many other rivers, the holy rivers in the world, went to the Devaparvata mountain for the sake of Soma. Others also came to the sacrificial pavilion. Those holy rivers joined Gaṅgā in due order.

28-31. Some of them were in the form of rivers flowing east; some in the form of rivers flowing west, others in the form of lakes and still others in the form of streams. All these holy centres are severally well known. Taking bath in them, or performing Japa, Homa and Pitṛtarpaṇa (water libation to the manes) fulfils all cherished desires of men. It gives enjoyment and salvation. The people who read about these or remember them become liberated from all sins and go to lord Viṣṇu’s regions. Twenty rivers have been mentioned between Pūrṇā and Pravarā. Then there are five divine rivers, my daughters. All together twenty-five of them have been described thus.

Footnotes and references:


‘Devayonayaḥ’ is demi-gods or inferior gods such as Ādityas, Vasus, Viśvedevas etc.


‘Mātaraḥ’ is divine mothers or female energies of great gods, e.g. Brahmāṇī, Māheśvarī, Vaiṣṇavī, Aindrī etc.

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