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 58 - Holy Centre Tapovanatīrtha etc.

(description of tapovana-tirtha)

Brahmā said:

1-2. The holy centres on the southern bank of Gautamī well known as Tapovana, Nandinī Saṅgama, Siddheśvara and Śārdūla are very holy. Listen to their details by merely listening to which one is rid of all sins.

3. Agni (Fire-god), Hotṛ was formerly the carrier of Havyas unto Devas. He got as his wife the beautiful daughter of Dakṣa named Svāhā.

4. She was childless in the beginning. She performed penance for a son. The Fire-god said to his wife Svāhā, the uncensured lady who performed elaborate penance and delighted the Fire-god.

Agni said:

5-8. Children will be born, O splendid lady; do not perform penance.

Brahmā said:

On hearing the words of her husband she desisted from penance. Excepting the words of husband nothing else fulfils the cherished desires of women anywhere.

Some time passed by. Terror from Tāraka increased. Kārttikeya was as yet unborn, although Maheśvara and Bhavānī had been indulging in amorous dalliance in secret for a long time. Devas became frightened and approached Agni. The heaven dwellers spoke to him thus for realizing the task of Devas.

Devas said:

9. O highly fortunate one, go to lord Śambhu worshipped by the three worlds. Inform Śiva that there is danger from Tāraka.[1]

Agni said:

10. One should not go to that place where a couple remain in secret communion. This is a general rule. What then with regard to the trident bearing lord?

11. There is no deliverance from hell to that person who overhears the conversation of a passionate couple who remain in an isolated place indulging in frank carefree talk.

12. He is the master of all the worlds. He is Mahākāla wielding trident. By whom can he be looked at while he is staying in a secret place along with Bhavānī.

Devas said:

13. This is justifiable when a great danger is overshadowing us. What is the rule to be followed and mentioned elsewhere? (i.e. This is an extraordinary situation) when there is great danger from Tāraka you are the Tāraka (redeemer).

14. The life of good men is meant for others especially (when they are immersed) in the ocean of great danger and terror.

Or you can go in another form (in disguise) and speak the words befitting (the role).

15. After intimating to Śambhu the words of Devas come back quickly. Then, Fire-god, we shall offer you worship (on behalf) of the two worlds.

Brahmā said:

16-18. At the instance of Devas the Fire-god assumed the form of a parrot and went to the place where the lord of the worlds was sporting with Umā. Then the Fire-god went ahead timidly in the form of a parrot. The carrier of the Havyas (Fire-god) could not go through the doorway. Then he went to the window sill and remained there with face turned down and trembling. On seeing him Śambhu in that secret place laughingly said to Umā.

Śambhu said:

19-22. See, O gentle lady, the parrot that is the Fire-god himself who has come here at the instance of Devas.

Brahmā said:

Pārvatī bashfully said to the lord, “O lord, enough”. The lord of Devas called the Fire-god moving about in front of him. in the form of a bird and said, “O Agni, you have been recognised through various ways. Do not speak anything. Open your mouth. Take this in and carry it with you.” After saying this lord Śambhu discharged a great deal of semen into the mouth of Fire-god.

With this semen within him Agni could not at all go.

23-27. Utterly tired, Agni sat down on the bank of Gaṅgā. He then discharged a greater portion of that semen into Kṛttikās wherefrom Kārttika was born.

The remaining portion of the semen of Śambhu that had been within his body, Agni split into two and deposited into his beloved wife Svāhā who was particularly eager to have a child. Formerly, she had been assured by saying “You will have children.” Agni remembered this now and deposited the semen of Śambhu. Excellent twins were born of that semen discharged by Agni. They were Suvarṇa and Suvarṇā, unrivalled in the world in handsome features and beauty. It was pleasing to Agni and it perpetually increased the pleasures of the worlds.

28. Out of love Agni gave Suvarṇā (in marriage) to the intelligent Dharma. He made Saṃkalpā the beloved wife of his son Suvarṇa. Thus Fire-god performed the marriages of his son and daughter.

29-34. Due to the fault of the mutual intermixture of the semen both the children of Agni (became lax in sexual behaviour). The son Suvarṇa who could assume many forms, assumed the forms of the excellent Devas and indulged in sexual intercourse with the wives of Indra, Vāyu, Kubera, Varuṇa and the leading sages. If any lady was fond of any particular person he assumed the form of that person and indulged in amorous dalliance with that lady. In some places the son of Agni who had splendid form assumed the forms of husbands of chaste ladies and sported about with them fully satisfying (Cupid). On account of his action Suvarṇa became contented.

Although she was the wife of Dharma, the daughter of Svāhā named Suvarṇā became an adulteress. If any person had a beautiful wife pleasing to his mind, Suvarṇā assumed that form and sported about with those husbands whether human beings, Asuras, Devas or sages. She indulged in sexual sports with these and others endowed with beauty, munificence, stability and majesty and having the brilliance of her father (Agni). If any wife of any Deva gained his approbation, she used to assume the form of that lady and sport with him. By means of diverse ways and activities she used to attract his mind and achieve the fulfilment of her love.

35, On seeing these (amorous) activities of Suvarṇa and Suvarṇā, the son of Agni as well as the daughter of Agni, Devas and Asuras became angry and they cursed the son and daughter of Agni at that time.

Devas and Asuras said:

36-37. Since this act involving transgression (of moral laws) has been committed, since this sinful deed marked by deceitful behaviour has been done, O Havyavāha (the carrier of Havyas), your son shall become one of infidels and one going everywhere.

Similarly, Suvarṇā too shall not be steadfast to any single person. She shall not be satisfied with any one person. She will resort to many ignoble embodied beings of different species. This shall be the defect of your daughter.

Brahmā said:

38. On hearing these words of imprecation Agni approached me with great fright and spoke, “Tell me the mode of expiation for the children”.

39-41, Then I said: “O Agni, go to Gautamī, After eulogizing Śaṅkara, O large-armed one, intimate to the lord of universe (everythṃg).

O Agni, such a child as this has been born to you due to the semen of Maheśvara deposited in your body. Hence intimate to the lord these imprecations of Devas. For the protection of his own progeny Śambhu will do something conducive to their welfare.

42. Eulogize the lord and the goddess. Śiva will be pleased with your devotion. Then you will get the fulfilment of cherished desires in regard to your children.

43. Then at my instance, Agni went to Gaṅgā and eulogized Maheśvara by means of laudatory statements equal to the Vedas in importance.

Agni said:

44-47. He is the creator of the universe. He has the cosmic form. He is unsullied. He is the primordial maker and the self-born. I bow down to that lord of the universe.

I bow down to that three-eyed lord who becomes fire and annihilates; who is the creator in the form of water and who protects in the form of the Sun.

(Obeisance) to the lord who is the cause of satisfaction to Devas in the form of the (sponsor of sacrifice) and to the living beings by making neat arrangement in the form of Vāyu (wind); who protects in the form of Śiva; who is conducive to perpetual happiness (in the form of) Viṣṇu, and who accords space to the living beings in the form of firmament.

Brahmā said:

48. Then the delighted lord Śiva, the unchanging and the endless, asked Agni, worshipped by Devas to choose any boon he liked.

49. Humbly he said to Śiva, “Your semen is stationed in me. Due to that the handsome son Suvarṇa well known throughout the worlds was born.

50-51. Similarly, the daughter Suvarṇā was also born from it, O lord of the universe. On account of the defect of mutual interchange of semen, O Śiva, both the children have become defective due to the transgression of moral laws. Devas have cursed them. O lord, quell it.”

On hearing these words of Agni Śiva said the following that is conducive to the outcome of auspiciousness.

Śiva said:

52-56. Due to my semen Suvarṇa of great exploit was born of you. Complete magnificence and all accomplishments will be bestowed upon this Suvarṇa by me. O Agni, listen to my words. He will become the sanctifier of the three worlds. He alone is the nectar in the world. He alone is the beloved of Devas. He alone is the enjoyment of worldly pleasures and salvation. He alone is Dakṣiṇā (monetary gift) in the sacrifice. He alone is the beautiful feature of everything. He is the preceptor of the preceptors. One should know that the excellent semen from me is the most excellent thing. Especially that which is deposited in you. What worry can there be in regard to that? Without it everything is deficient. Due to it riches are perfect.

57. Men without Suvarṇa are dead though (physically) alive. A rich man though devoid of good qualities is worthy of being honoured, but not so a poor man though endowed with good qualities.

58. Therefore, there is nothing greater than Suvarṇa. So also this Suvarṇā though restless and fickle shall be excellent.

59-61. Everything deficient, if glanced at by her will become perfect. Śhe is to be attained in the three worlds by means of penance, Japas and Homas. O Agni, her power and excellence is recounted a little. She will stay everywhere. She will wander about after coming there. Suvarṇā, Kamalā, shall be holy. From now onwards the merit of your children who loiter as they please shall be one like which has neither been nor will ever be.

Brahmā said:

62. After saying thus Śiva assumed the form of a Liṅga and remained there manifest with a desire for the welfare of the worlds.

63-65. After acquiring boons Agni became delighted along with his children, the son and the daughter. Suvarṇā, the daughter of Agni, remained joyous along with her husband Dharma. His son also remained jolly along with Saṃkalpā.

In the meantime O sage, Śārdūla, the lord of Dānavas, attacked and defeated Dharma and fraudulently abducted Suvarṇā, the daughter of Agni, the abode of fortune, conjugal felicity and graceful charms.

66-67. Suvarṇā well known throughout the world was taken to the nether worlds by him. Agni the carrier of Havyas and Dharma the son-in-law of Agni eulogized again and again Viṣṇu, the lord of the worlds, and intimated to him the matter on hand. They intimated to the powerful lord the matter on hand.

68-69. Lord Visṇu cut off the head of Śārdūla with his discus. The divine lady Suvarṇā, the most beautiful women in the world, was brought by the lord. She was the daughter of Maheśvara as well as the beloved (daughter) of Agni too. Viṣṇu showed her to Maheśvara, O Nārada. Maheśvara became pleased and embraced her again and again.

70-74. The place where the discus that shone brilliantly and cut off Śārdūla’s head was washed is well known as Sankara Tīrtha as well as Vaiṣṇava Tīrtha and Siddha Tīrtha.

In the place where Agni and the eternal Dharma attained great delight, in the place, O excellent sage, where tears of delight fell down a river named Ānandā and Nandinī arose. Its confluence with the Gaṅgā is sacred. Śiva is present there. In the very same confluence, Suvarṇā is manifestly present even today.

75-77. She is also well known as Dākṣāyaṇī, Śivā, Āgneyī, Ambikā, Kātyāyanī, Īśvarī and Jagadādhārā (support of the universe). She is the perpetual bestower of the cherished desire of the devotees. She adorns both banks. The place where Agni performed penance is the holy centre Tapovana. There are these and other holy centres on both sides. O sage! A holy dip and the distribution of charitable gifts in them is auspicious and it bestows all cherished desires.

78. There are fourteen thousand holy centres on the northern bank and sixteen thousand holy centres on the southern bank.

79. In different places, the holy centres have special marks of recognition. They have separate names as well. It has been briefly mentioned by me.

80. Whoever listens to this, reads or remembers this, will be perfect in all desirable respects.

81. If a man knows this and performs holy dip etc. there, he remains rich always and particularly righteous.

82-84. The holy centre to the west of Abjaka is known as Śārdūla. It is superior to all holy centres such as Vārāṇasī.

He who takes his holy bath there, salutes Pitṛs and Devas and performs libations, becomes rid of all sins. He is honoured in the world of Viṣṇu.

Between Tapovana and Śārdūla there are many holy centres. The greatness of each and every one cannot be described by anybody.

Footnotes and references:


A powerful demon who by the performance of severe penance had secured a boon from Śiva and had later became a great terror to gods; killed by Skanda who as a result of a divine planning was born to Śiva and Pārvatī.

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