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 60 - Āpastambatīrtha and other Holy Centres

(description of Apastamba-tirtha)

Brahmā said:

1. The holy centre well known as Āpastamba is famous in the three worlds. A mere remembrance of it is capable of destroying all sins completely.

2. There was a highly intelligent sage of great fame named Āpastamba. His wife named Akṣasūtrā was devoted to the pious activities of her husband.

3. His son named Karki was extremely intelligent and was a knower of truth. The excellent sage Agastya came to his hermitage,

4. After worshipping Agastya the wise great sage followed by his disciples began to ask.

Āpastamba said:

5-6. O excellent sage, among the three Devas who is the one deserving worship? From whom can we have worldly pleasures and salvation? Who is the bestower of food? Who is the infinite one, O brahmin? Who is the deity of Devas? Which lord is worshipped by means of Yajñas? Who is being sung about in the Vedas? O great sage Agastya, speak out to dispel this doubt of mine.

Agastya said:

7. In the matters of virtue, wealth, love and liberation scriptures are said to be the authority. And among scriptures Vedas are considered to be the greatest authority.

8. The Puruṣa sung about by the Vedas is greater than the greatest. That which is destructible is Apara (not great)—The Amṛta (non-destructible) is called Para (great).

9. That which is Amūrta (unembodied) is Para and the Mūrta (embodied) is Apara which is of three kinds according to the distribution of attributes—Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.

10. The very same entity is called in three forms as Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva. The greatest entity, the sole one, is the object to be known by the three Devas.

11. The spreading of the single one into many is due to difference in attributes and activities. The three forms arise for the good of the worlds.

12. Only he who knows the highest truth (or principle) is the learned one and not the other. He who speaks of difference (in the three forms) is called Liṅgabhedin (the splitter of Liṅga).

13. There is no atonement for that person who speaks of (real) difference between them. There is difference in the physical forms of the three Devas.

14. The Vedas are our authority in respect of the separate physical forms. The one that is formless is superior to them.

Āpastamba said:

15. By this (statement) I have not come to any fixed conclusion. In this respect too, let the secret doctrine be elaborated upon and explained quickly. That secret doctrine should be free from doubts and alternatives and it should be (important enough so as) deserving all riches.

Brahmā said:

16-18. On hearing this the holy sage Agastya spoke these words.

Agastya said:

Athough there is no difference amongst these Devas, still the achievement of everything is possible only through Śiva of the nature of happiness. Śiva is that excellent brilliance which is the cause of the universe. O sage, propitiate that lord alone with the utmost devotion. The annihilator of all sins is in the Daṇḍaka forest on Gautamī.

Brahmā said:

19-20. On hearing these words of the sage, he attained great pleasure. He asked: Which one yields worldly pleasures? Which one yields salvation? Is it the (one with form) or the one without form?

Which is the form for creation? Which is the form for protection? Who is the donor? Who kills everything? What is it where all these things come to an end?

Agastya said:

21. The form Brahmā has the characteristics of the creator, the form Viṣṇu is the protecting one, the form Rudra is destructive.

Brahmā said:

22. Āpastamba went to Gaṅgā and took his bath there. With self-control and holy observances he eulogized lord Śaṅkara, O Nārada, by means of this prayer.

Āpastamba said:

23-31. (Prayer)

I seek refuge in that Somanātha who is present in all living beings and who is fire in wooden pieces, fragrance in flowers, the future tree in seeds and gold in stones.

I seek refuge in that Somanātha who sportingly created this universe, who is the maker and dispenser of the destiny of the three worlds, who has the cosmic form and who is beyond both Sat and Asat (the existing and non-existing).

I seek refuge in that Someśvara by remembering whom an embodied being is not affected by the great curse of poverty, sickness etc. and those who resort to him obtain everything desired.

I seek refuge in that Someśvara by whom, after taking into consideration the Trayīdharma (the righteous activities laid down in the three Vedas), Brahmā and others had been assigned duties, by whom the body has been divided into two.

I seek refuge in that Somanātha to whom the obeisance sanctified by Mantras proceeds, to whom the Havis offered in the fire and the worship performed also go. It is the Havis handed over by him that Devas partake.

I seek refuge in that Someśvara than whom there is no greater or more excellent one, than whom there is nothing subtler and who is greater than the greatest.

I seek refuge in that Someśvara at whose behest the whole of this universe follows as if in a single action, the universe which is variegated and diversified, which is great and whose form is unimaginable.

I seek refuge in that Someśvara in whom there is superhuman power, the overlordship of everything, the states of being the maker and the donor, greatness, love, fame, happiness and the primordial virtue.

I seek refuge in that Someśvara who is perpetual refuge for all, who is worthy of being worshipped by all, who always loves a person who seeks refuge, who is always auspicious and who is the form of everything.

Brahmā said:

32-34. Then the delighted lord said to the sage, O Nārada, “(Seek anything) for your own sake or for others.”

Āpastamba said to Śiva:

“Those who take their bath and visit lord Īśvara, the lord of the worlds should obtain their cherished desires”.

“Let it be so”, said Śiva to the sage. Thenceforward that holy centre is cited as Āpastambatīrtha. It is capable of dispelling the darkness of Avidyā that is beginningless.

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