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 46 - Vaḍavā and other Holy Centres

(description of Vadava)

Brahmā said:

1-2. It is the fire Vaḍavā (lit.‘mare’; Vaḍavānala—submarine fire) that is known as Mahānala. The lord is called Mahānala and the river is called Vaḍavā.

Dear Sir, I shall describe that holy centre which dispels death, old age and other defects.

Formerly, the sages performed a sacrifice in the Naimiṣa forest.

3-4. The sages of great austerities made Mṛtyu (Death) as slaughterer.[1] When sacrifice went on with Mṛtyu as the slaughterer, no one died among the mobile and immobile beings. Excepting the sacrificial animals, O excellent sage, mortal beings attained immortality.

5. Therefore, heaven became void and the mortal world was overcrowded because they were neglected by Mṛtyu. Then Devas said to the Rākṣasas.

6. “All of you go to sacrifice. Destroy that great sacrifice of sages.”

On hearing these words of Devas the Rākṣasas said to Devas:

7. “We shall destroy that sacrifice. But what is our benefit therefrom? No one engages himself in any activity anywhere on any occasion without a proper reason.”

Brahmā said:

8. Devas said to Asuras: “You too will get the benefit of sacrifice (?), Hence you go to the excellent sacrifice of sages”.

9. On hearing it they hurried to the place where the sacrifice was on in order to destroy it, especially at the instance of Devas.

10. On coming to know of it, the sages said to Mṛtyu: “What shall we do? At the instance of Devas the Rākṣasas have come here as the destroyers of sacrifice.”

11-12. The residents of Naimiṣa forest discussed the matter with Mṛtyu. Accordingly, they abandoned their hermitage, O Nārada. They took with them only the sacred fire leaving the utensils behind for the successful conclusion of the sacrifice. They hastened to Gautamī Tīrtha along with the slaughterer.

13. After taking their holy plunge there they eulogized Maheśāna for their protection. With their palms joined in reverence they eulogized the lord of Devas.

The sages said:

14-17. We seek refuge in that Someśvara who sportingly created this universe; who is the creator and dispenser of the destiny of the three worlds; who has the cosmic form and who is beyond both the existing and the non-existing.

Mṛtyu said:

I seek refuge in that Śaṅkara, the lord of Devas, who creates, protects and destroys everything merely by his will.

I shall seek refuge in Śaṅkara who has great strength and huge body; who has big serpents as his ornaments and who is the lord assuming a huge form.

Brahmā said:

Then the lord said: “What is it that you wish?”

Mṛtyu said:

18. O lord of Devas, a terrible danger has befallen us from the Rākṣasas. Protect our sacrifice. Protect us so that our sacrifice be concluded.

Brahmā said:

19. The lord did so. The three-eyed bull-bannered lord did so. With Mṛtyu as the slaughterer the sacrifice was concluded.

20. The immortal ones slowly came there for their respective shares in Havi offering. The furious sages said to them along with Mṛtyu.

The sages said:

21. Since Rākṣasas had been sent by you for destroying our sacrifice, let the sinful Rākṣasas be your enemies.

Brahmā said:

22-23. Thenceforth the Rākṣasas became the enemies of Devas. Devas and sages crowned Vaḍavā, the Kṛtyā,[2] saying, “You be the wife of Mṛtyu.” The holy water that flowed at the time of coronation became the river Vaḍavā.

24-25. The Liṅga installed by Mṛtyu is known as Mahānala. Thereafter, they know this holy centre as Vaḍavā Saṅgama.

That holy centre where the lord is Mahānala yields worldly pleasures and salvation. There are altogether a thousand holy centres on the banks on either side. They give all desired things. By remembering them sins can be washed away.

Footnotes and references:


Śamitṛ is one who officiates in a sacrifice as a slaughterer of the sacrificial victim.


A demoness or evil spirit created by black magic or born of sacrifice for destructive purposes.

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