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 52 - Pūrṇatīrtha and other Holy Centres

(description of purna-tirtha)

Brahmā said:

1. The holy centre well known as Pūrṇatīrtha is on the northern bank of Gaṅgā. Even when a man takes bath there without being aware of it he shall attain auspicious good things.

2. Which living being can (fully) describe the greatness of the holy centre Pūrṇatīrtha where (both) the discus-bearing lord and the Pināka-bearing lord stay.

3-6. Formerly, in the beginning of the Kalpa there was a king, son of Āyus named Dhanvantari. He performed horse-sacrifices as well as other kinds of sacrifices. He made numerous charitable gifts. He enjoyed worldly pleasures in abundance. After realizing the unsteadiness of worldly enjoyment he experienced highest detachment. Dhanvantari thought: “If one performs penance, Homa or Japa on the top of a mountain, or beyond the ocean or on the banks of Gaṅgā or in the temples of Śiva and Viṣṇu or particularly at any holy confluence all his holy rites will have everlasting benefit.”

After coming to realize this Dhanvantari performed a great penance.

7. Dhanvantari who was richly endowed with wisdom and absence of worldly desire and who resorted to the feet of Bhīmeśa (the Awe-inspiring lord) performed an elaborate penance at the place where Gaṅgā joined the ocean.

8. Formerly, a great Asura (named Tamas) had been humbled by this king. He had fled from the battle-field out of fear and concealed himself in the ocean for a thousand years.

9. When after king Dhanvantari had gone to the forest his sons had begun to rule over the kingdom and the (old) king became disinterested (in worldly affairs) Tamas come out from the ocean.

10-11. The powerful Asura Tamas came to the banks of Gaṅgā where king Dhanvantari was continuously engaged in Japa and Homa and was eagerly pursuing the knowledge of Brahman. Thinking “I shall destroy my enemy who is performing a penance” Tamas came out from ocean.

12. “I have been ruined many times by this powerful king. I shall destroy this enemy”. Thinking thuś Tamas came out from the ocean.

13-14. By means of Māyā (power of deception) he had assumed the form of a young maiden of excellent eyebrows and fascinating appearance. Laughing, singing and dancing she came near the king.

On seeing her exquisitely charming in all her limbs for a long time (the king had been attracted by her). She had been quietly devoted to him and faithfully serving him with good behaviour. Then out of sympathy he spoke to her thus.

The king said:

15. O good lady, who are you? Why are you staying in this dense forest? Whose sight makes you appear so delighted? Tell me who am asking you.

Brahmā said:

16-18. On hearing these words the young lady spoke to the king:

The young maiden said:

When you are here who else can be the cause of my delight? I am the royal splendour of Indra, O king. On seeing you fully endowed with love I am extremely delighted. Hence I am moving about in front of you again and again. I am inaccessible to all who are devoid of remarkable merits.

Brahmā said:

19-20. On hearing these words the king immediately abandoned his extremely difficult penance. He meditated upon her. He was rooted in her. She became his sole refuge. Then having destroyed his great penance Tamas vanished.

21-24. In the meantime I approached him in order to grant him boons. On seeing that excellent king fallen from the height of penance as though dead and much excited. I consoled him by means of various arguments (I told him): “Your enemy named Tamas, O king, after having caused your fall from penance is now satisfied and gone away. It does not behove you to bewail. All young women without any difference whatsoever delight as well as harass men. Why then specifically that young woman evolved out of Māyā should not?”

Then the king freed from perplexity and bewilderment said to me with the palms joined in reverence:

The king said:

25. How will I, O Brahmā, achieve my desired object? What shall I do? How can I, O Brahmā, completely realise the fruit of penance?

Brahmā said:

26-28. Then I replied to him: “Eulogize Viṣṇu the lord of Devas with all efforts. Then you will attain (spiritual) success. Indeed, he is the creator of universe. He is the primordial lord worthy of being known through the Vedas. He is the bestower of all desired objects. In the three worlds there is none else to bestow this on men”.

That excellent king went to the Himālaya, the most excellent mountain. With the palms joined in reverence he devoutly eulogized Viṣṇu.

Dhanvantari said:

29-43. Be victorious, O Viṣṇu. Be victorious, O unimaginable one. Be victorious, O conquering one. Be Victorious, Acyuta (Unswerving one). Be victorious, O protector of cows, O Lord of Wealth. Be victorious, O Kṛṣṇa, O lord identical with the universe.

Be victorious, O protector of living beings, O lord. Be victorious. Victory unto the lord lying on the Serpent. Be victorious, O omnipresent one. Be victorious, O Govinda. Obeisance to the Maker of the universe.

Victory to the enjoyer (Devourer) of the universe. O lord, be victorious. Obeisance to the sustainer of the universe. Be victorious, O lord. You are the Sat (existing) and the Asat (non-existing). Be victorious, O Mādhava. (Obeisance) to the virtuous one.

Be victorious, O bestower of love. You are Kāma (Cupid). Be victorious, O Rāma, O ocean of good qualities. Be victorious, O bestower of nourishment. Be victorious, O lord of nourishment. (Obeisance) to the bestower of welfare.

Be victorious, O ruler of living beings. Be victorious, O lord of living beings. (Obeisance) to the prescriber of honour. Be victorious, O bestower of Karman. You are the Karman. Be victorious, O lord clad in yellow garment.

Be victorious, O lord of everything, you are everything, you are everything. Victory to one of auspicious form. Victory to the overlord of living beings. Be victorious. Obeisance to the knower of Vedas.

Be victorious, O bestower of birth. O (lord) stationed in creatures. O supreme soul, obeisance be to you. Be victorious, O bestower of salvation. You are salvation. Be victorious, O Keśava, the bestower of worldly pleasures.

Be victorious, O bestower of worlds, O lord of worlds. Be victorious, O destroyer of sins. Be victorious, O favourite of devotees, be victorious. Obeisance to the holder of discus.

Be victorious, O bestower of honour. You are honour. Be victorious, O (lord) bowed down to by the world. Be victorious, O bestower of virtue. You are virtue. Be victorious, O (lord) who has crossed the ocean of worldly existence.

Be victorious, O bestower of food. You are food. Be victorious, O lord of speech. Obeisance to you. Be victorious, O bestower of power. You are power. Be victorious, O bestower of boons, leading to victory.

Be victorious, O bestower of Yajñas. You are Yajña. Be victorious, O lord with eyes like the petals of a lotus. Be victorious, O bestower of charitable gifts. You are the charitable gift. Be victorious, O slayer of Kaiṭabha.

Be victorious, O bestower of fame. You are fame. Be victorious, O bestower of forms, O (lord) assuming forms. Be victorious, O bestower of happiness, O lord of happy soul. Be victorious, O sanctifier of sanctifiers.

Be victorious, O bestower of peace. You are peace. Be victorious, O lord born of Śaṅkara. Be victorious, O bestower of beverages. You are beverage. Victory to (the lord) having the form of blazing flame.

Be victorious, O Dwarf, O lord of wealth. Be victorious, O smoke-bannered fire. Be victorious, O lord of the form of the donor of the entire universe. Obeisance be to you.

You alone are competent for destroying the difficulties of living beings residing in the three worlds, O Śrīpuṇḍarīkākṣa (Lotus-eyed one), O storehouse of mercy, O Viṣṇu, place your hand on my head.

Brahmā said:

44. Lord (Viṣṇu) the wielder of conch, discus and club, the bestower of plenty and all cherished desires asked him to choose any boon he pleased as he eulogized thus.

45-47. Dhanvantari became delighted in his mind due to the granting of boon by the discus-bearing lord. The king humbly told Govinda, the lord of Devas who was standing in front of him for granting the boons: “The kingdom of Devas is desired by me. Once it is granted by you, O Viṣṇu, I shall attain contentment.” Viṣṇu who was eulogized and worshipped vanished there itself. Accordingly the king gradually attained the suzerainty of Devas.

48-49. As a result of the fruition of various past Karmans the thousand-eyed lord Indra had been ousted from his post three times:

(1) once by Nahuṣa after the killing of Vṛtra,

(2) on the assassination of Sindhusena, and then

(3) when he outraged the modesty of Ahalyā for some reason.

50. By remembering these different incidents the lord of Devas became grief-stricken and anxious. He spoke these words to Vācaspati:

Indra said:

51-52. For what reason, O lord of speech, am I ousted from my kingdom every now and again? Having no glory at all is far better for men than being pulled down from exalted positions again and again. Who knows for certain the mysterious ways of Karman of living beings? None else is competent to know the secret of all living beings.

Brahmā said:

53-54. Bṛhaspati said to Indra: “Go to Brahmā and ask him. He is the knower of past, present and future. He will tell you how this has come about, O highly intelligent one”.

Both of these highly intelligent ones came near me and bowed to me. With their palms joined in reverence they spoke to me thus:

Indra and Bṛhaspati said:

55. What it that fault, O lord, whereby the noble-minded husband of Śacī is being ousted from his kingdom? It behoves you to dispel this doubt, O lord.

Brahmā said:

56. O brahmin, then I meditated for a long time and spoke to Bṛhaspati: “It is on account of the fault of Khaṇḍa-Dharma (violation of one’s duties) that he has fallen off from his kingdom.

57-60. Violation of one’s duty is caused variously by:

(1) the defects in place, time etc.; (2) misplacing of faith or wrong utterance of Mantras; (3) non-giving of monetary gifts due to someone; (4) gifting away bad articles; (5) slighting gods and brahmins. Such violation of duties by embodied beings inevitably causes excessive mental distress and loss of status. In regard to the men of disturbed minds even if a righteous action is performed it has harmful effects. It will not be capable of bringing about the fulfilment of tasks and peace of mind. When the performance of duty is imperfect will not the result be harmful?”

61-63. O sinless one, the earlier incident too was described to them by me, viz., that there was the son of Āyus named Dhanvantari, who was glorious and liberal-minded; how obstacle was created by (the Demon) Tamas and how it was dispelled by Viṣṇu. The incidents of the previous birth and other similar things were also described by me.

On hearing this both of them were surprised. They said to me again:

Indra and Bṛhspati said:

64-67. By what means can that fault be counteracted, O excellent, one among Devas?

Brahmā said:

After meditating once again I spoke to them: “Let the thing that dispels defects and brings about spiritual achievements, that which redeems persons from miserable existence be listened to. It is the refuge of persons of distressed minds. It brings eternal bliss unto the living ones too.

Go to Gautamī, the divine river and eulogize Lord Viṣṇu and Lord Śaṅkara. In the three worlds there is no other means of purification than those two (lords) and that (river).”

O excellent sage, both of them went to Gautamī at that very time. They took their bath, visited Lord Viṣṇu and Lord Śaṅkara and eulogized them joyously.

Indra said:

68-73. Obeisance to Matsya (Fish), to Kūrma (Tortoise). Obeisance, obeisance to Lord Varāha (Boar). Obeisance, obeisance to Lord Narasiṃha (Man-lion), to Vāmana (Dwarf).

Obeisance be to (the lord) in the form of a horse. O Trivikrama, obeisance be to you. Obeisance be to the lord in the form of Buddha, in the form of Rāma and Kalki.

Obeisance to you, O lord. Obeisance to Ananta (Infinite one). Obeisance to Acyuta, obeisance to Jāmadagnya (Paraśurāma). Obeisance to you in the form of Varuṇa and Indra. Obeisance to you in the form of Yama.

Obeisance to the lord, to the supreme lord in the form of three worlds. You are omniscient, holding Sarasvatī in the mouth. Obeisance be to you.

You are Lakṣmīvān (Prosperous), therefore, O sinless one, you hold Lakṣmī in your chest. You are multi-armed, multithighed, multi-footed, multi-eared, multi-eyed and multiheaded. You are happy and after attaining you many have become happy.

O Hari, impurity, wretchedness and absence of glory trouble men, only as long as they do not seek refuge in you, the ocean of mercy.

Bṛhaspati said:

74-82. O Īśa, those desirous of liberation speak of you thus: You are the subtle supreme light in the form of the infinite. You are the Oṃkāra itself which is beyond Prakṛti. You are in the form of knowledge and bliss. You are all.

Even those who have no desire, O Lord, propitiate you by means of five great sacrifices.[1] Those persons who have achieved their desires enter your divine world which is beyond the ocean of worldly existence and which is your cosmic body.

They view all living beings with equality. In the six waves (i.e. the activities of six sense-organs including mind?) they maintain calmness. By means of knowledge they forsake the fruits of action and by means of meditation they enter you, O Śambhu. Neither the pious duties pertaining to the castes nor the Vedas and scriptures, neither the path of meditation nor the practice of abstract contemplation (are suited to me). It is through devotion that I bow down to Lord Soma, Rudra, Śiva, Śaṅkara of quiescent mind.

Even a fool, O Śambhu, shall attain your body of the nature of liberation through devotion to your feet.

The excellent benefit acquired in jñānas, yajñas, penances, meditations and homas of great benefit, is this that one has a perpetual devotion to Someśvara.

O lord, in whom the whole universe dwells, devotion to you constitutes a series of steps to heaven and salvation that is always liked by all living beings and which is the fruit of everything seen and heard.

Wise persons do not mention the series of steps for the acquisition of the fruit in the form of attainment to your feet.

Hence, O merciful one, let me have devotion to you, I do not have the means of serving your form. In conformity with your greatness, O Īśa, have mercy on us, the sinners.

I bow down to Someśvara, the lord who is eulogized by Śrutis and Purāṇas thus: “You are both, the gross as well as the subtle. You are without beginning. You are the eternal one. You are the father and the mother. You are the existing and the non-existing.”

Brahmā said:

83-88. Then the delighted Hari and Hara the lord of Devas said:

Hari and Hara said:

Let whatever you desire be chosen, any boon that may be extremely inaccessible.

Brahmā said:

Indra said to the lord of Devas: “My kingdom is every now and again lost and regained. Let that sin be subdued so that I can be stable in my kingdom and everything belonging to me become steady. If the lords of Devas are well pleased everything will be steady for ever.”

Saying “So be it” they approved of the words of Indra and they were extremely delighted. On seeing them (i.e. Indra and Bṛhaspati) a smile spread over their faces. Their forms were devoid of deficiencies. They stood without any support. They were free from aberrations. They were worthy of being sought refuge in by the worlds. Both of them were the bestowers of worldly pleasures and salvation.

Hari and Hara said:

89-92. This great holy centre has three presiding deities. The river Gautamī is the bestower of whatever is desired. Repeating the Mantra given below take a holy plunge in it with great respect. For the welfare of Mahendra, let Bṛhaspati perform purificatory ablution. Let him remember us both for the achievement of stability of riches. Here is a Mantra:

“Whatever good and meritorious deeds have been performed in this as well as in the previous birth let them attain perfection and completness, O Godāvarī, obeisance be to you.”

If anyone repeats the above Mantra and takes a holy dip in Gautamī his holy rite shall attain perfection due to the blessings and favour of us both. He shall be freed from the faults committed in the previous births. He shall become meritorious.

Brahmā said:

93-94. Surendra and Dhiṣaṇa (Bṛhaspati) said “So be it” and did accordingly with great delight. The preceptor of the heaven-dwellers performed the great ablution of Indra.

The holy river that arose therefrom was called Maṅgalā. Its confluence with Gaṅgā is holy. It is the bestower of auspiciousness.

95-100. Viṣṇu identical with the universe was eulogized by Indra and he became visible. From the lord of the universe Indra obtained an idol as extensive as the three worlds. It is well-known by his name as “Govinda”. A cow as extensive as the three worlds was obtained by that wielder of thunderbolt. It was given by Viṣṇu. Therefore, Indra became Govinda (one who got a cow). The kingdom of the three worlds was obtained by Indra from Hari (Viṣṇu), O sage. Therefore it became stable due to Maheśvara, lord of Devas.

The place where Bṛhaspati, the preceptor of gods, eulogized Maheśvara for the stability of kingdom of the noble-souled Devendra, became the holy centre well known as Govinda. The lord there is Siddheśvara and the Liṅga is worshipped by Devas. The confluence of the Maṅgalā is the holy centre Pūrṇatīrtha.

101-105. Beyond that is the holy centre well known as Indratīrtha as well as the centre well known as Bārhaspatya where the lord is Siddheśvara, Viṣṇu and Govinda.

A holy bath, distribution of charitable gifts and any other activity conducive to merit performed in these holy centres must be understood to bear everlasting benefit. They are very dear to the Manes.

He who listens to the greatness of that holy centre, he who reads and he who remembers it everyday regains lost kingdoms.

There are altogether thirty-seven thousand holy centres on both the banks, O the noblest among sages. They bestow all spiritual achievements.

There is no other holy centre yielding great benefit like the Pūrṇatīrtha. If any man does not resort to it his birth etc. are fruitless.

Footnotes and references:

1.

According to Manu (3. 69-71), the five great sacrifices to be performed daily by every householder are: Brahmayajña or study/recitation of Vedic texts; Devayajña or sacrifice to the gods; Pitṛyajña or oblation made to the manes; Manuṣyayajña or honoring of guests; and Bhūtayajña or offering of food etc. to animats, birds etc.

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