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 55 - Holy centres Yamatīrtha etc.

(description of yama-tirtha)

Brahmā said:

1-2. The holy centre well known as Yamatīrtha is the enhancer of the satisfaction of the Manes. It is sacred. It bestows all desired things seen and unseen. It is resorted to by all holy men. I shall recount its power that destroys all sins.

There was a powerful Pigeon well known as Anuhrāda.

3. His wife was a shc-bird named Heti who could assume any shape she liked. Anuhrāda was the grandson of Mṛtyu and Heti his granddaughter.

4. As time passed on they begot sons and grandsons. His enemy was the powerful king of birds named Ulūka (owl).

5. His sons and grandsons were fiery and powerful. Between these two (sets of) birds there was a long-drawn enmity.

6-8. The hermitage of Pigeon was on the northern bank of Gaṅgā. The king of birds named Ulūka was on its southern bank. He resided there along with his sons and grandsons, O excellent brahmin. Those two strong sets of birds were antagonistic to each other. Surrounded by their strong sons and grandsons those powerful birds fought for a long time. Neither the owls nor the pigeons won or lost.

9. By propitiating Yama and his grandfather Mṛtyu, the Pigeon obtained miraculous Yāmya weapons and became superior to all.

10. Similarly, the owl propitiated Fire and became strong. A terrible fight ensued between them as they became excessively arrogant on account of their boons.

11-12. The owl discharged towards the pigeon a Fiery arrow. The pigeon hurled the noose of Yama at his enemy. He discharged the thick rod as well as the nooses of Mṛtyu. Again a fight ensued between them like the one between Āḍi (a kind of bird) and Baka (crane) formerly.

13-14. On noticing the fire closely approaching her husband in the course of that great battle, the chaste lady Heti, the she-pigeon, became extremely distressed. On seeing her sons being particularly enveloped by the fire, Heti approached the Fire-god and eulogized him through various utterances.

Heti said:

15-17. His mode of granting gifts and his form are not invisible. All the objects are his soul(?) It is through him that Devas partake of Havyas (sacrifical offerings). I bow down to that husband of Svāhā, to that enjoyer of Yajñas.

I seek refuge in that lord who is the mouth of Devas, who is the carrier of Havyas, who is omniscient, who is the performer of Homas on behalf of Devas, who is the messenger of Devas, who is the primordial lord and who has bright light as his asset. Inside the body he dwells in the form of vital airs and outside he is the bestower of cooked food. He is an instrument for the performance of Yajñas. I seek refuge in that Fire-god, the conqueror of wealth.

Agni said:

18. O she-pigeon, this miraculous weapon of mine that has been discharged in the course of the battle is infallible. Where should it be made to rest, O chaste lady. Tell me that.

The she-pigeon said:

19. Let the miraculous weapon rest in me—neither in my sons nor in my husband. O lord of Havyas, be truthful in speech. O Jātavedas, obeisance be to you.

Jātavedas said:

20-21. I am delighted at your words, O chaste lady, as well as at your devotion to your husband. O Heti, I shall bestow happiness on you and on your husband and sons. This miraculous fiery weapon of mine will not scorch you, your husband or your sons. Therefore, O she-pigeon, go happily.

Brahmā said:

22. In the meantime she-owl saw her husband encircled by the nooses of Yama and struck by his rod. Being distressed and frightened she approached Yama.

The she-owl said:

23. People sympathise (with others) because they are frightened by you. Afraid of you they practise celibacy. Afraid of you, they do good actions. Afraid of you, they scrupulously cling to their duties.

24. It is because they are afraid of you that they refrain from destructive acts as they rush to the forest from the village; afraid of you they adopt gentleness; afraid of you they imbibe Soma juice; afraid of you steadfastly they hold on to the practice of distribution of charitable gifts of cooked food and cows; afraid of you they expound the prṃciples of Brahman.

Brahmā said:

25-30. While she said this the lord of the southern quarter said to her:

Yama said:

Welfare unto you. Choose a boon. I shall give you whatever pleases your mind.

Brahmā said:

On hearing these words of Yama, that chaste lady said to him:

The she-owl said:

My husband is encircled by your nooses and struck by your rod. Hence, O excellent one among Devas, save my sons and husband.


Becoming sympathetic on hearing her words Yama said again and again:

Yama said:

O lady of splendid face, tell me a befitting place for the nooses and the rod.

Brahmā said:

31. She spoke to lord Yama: “O lord of the universe, let the nooses hurled by you enter me. Let the rod penetrate me.” Thereupon lord Yama sympathetically spoke to her again.

Yama said:

32-33. Let your husband and sons, let all of them come out alive and free from ailments.

Brahmā said:

Yama stopped the nooses and the Fire-god stopped the fiery missile. The two gods made the pigeons and owls happy. They said to the birds: “Let the desired boon be chosen”.

The birds said:

34-40. Under the pretext of our hostility we have been able to have a view of both of you which is usually very difficult to achieve. We birds are sinful ones. O excellent ones among Devas, of what avail is a boon? If you two lovingly decide that a boon has to be given, we do not, for our own sake, request for the same. One who begs for one’s own sake should indeed be pitied, O great Devas. Fruitful is the life of that person who always acts for the welfare of others. Fire, water, sun, earth and different kinds of food grains—all these exist for the sake of others. Good people too exist similarly for the sake of others. Brahmā and others are linked with death, and when this is realized, O lord of Devas, eagerness for the realization of one’s own interest becomes fruitless. What has been fixed by Brahmā at the time of a man’s birth can never be otherwise. Therefore creatures strain themselves in vain. Hence, we two shall beg for something auspicious for the welfare of the worlds, what is conducive to the good of all. Both of you may be pleased to agree to it.

Brahmā said:

41. For the acquisition of virtue and fame and with a desire for the welfare of the worlds, the two birds spoke to the lords well known in the world.

The birds said:

42-43. O lords of the worlds, let the two hermitages of us both be in the holy centres on either side of Gaṅgā. This is our foremost boon.

Whether the holy dip, charitable gifts, Japa, Homa and worship of the Manes are performed by a meritorious person or a person of evil actions, even if these are performed in a haphazard manner—let everything be meritorious and everlasting; this is our second boon.

The Devas said:

44-45. Let this be so. We are delighted to say another thing also.

Yama said:

There shall be no untimely death for seven generations in the families of those persons who recite Yama’s prayer on the northern bank of Gautamī.

46. The man who conquers his soul and recites everyday the prayer of Mṛtyu shall be the recipient of all riches.

47-49. He will never be tormented by eighty-eight thousand varieties of ailments. In this holy centre, O excellent birds, a pregnant chaste lady shall take holy dip for seven days within three months and a near-barren lady within six months. That lady shall give birth to a heroic son. That son will live for a hundred years. He shall be rich, intelligent and heroic. His sons and grandsons will flourish. By offering balls of rice and distributing charitable gifts the manes will attain liberation. By taking holy dip a man shall be free from sins committed by thought, speech and deeds.

Brahmā said:

50-53. Immediately after the statement of Yama the Fire-god said to the birds:

Agni said:

I shall bestow good health, prosperity and beautiful form on those persons who observe sacred rites and recite my prayer on the southern bank.

If this prayer is recited by anyone at any place and if this prayer is written down and kept in the house there can be no fear from fire.

If a pure person takes his holy dip and performs charity in the holy centre of Agnitīrtha, he will undoubtedly derive the benefit of Agniṣṭoma sacrifice.

Brahmā said:

54-56. Thenceforth learned men know that holy centre variously as Yāmyatīrtha, Āgneyatīrtha, Kapotatīrtha, Ulūkatīrtha and Hetyulūka Tīrtha.

There are three thousand three hundred and ninety holy centres there. Everyone is conducive to the attainment of salvation.

Those man who take their holy dip in them and practice charity become purified even after their death. They will be endowed with riches and sons. They will become splendid and attain heaven.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: