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 91 - The Description of Kuśatarpaṇa-tīrtha and other Holy Centres

(description of Kushatarpana-tirtha)

Brahmā said:

1. The holy centre well known in the worlds as Kuśatarpaṇa and Praṇitasaṅgama yields worldly pleasures and liberation.

2. I shall mention its characteristic features. Listen. It is auspicious and it dispels sins. On the southern side of the Vindhya there is the great mountain Sahya.

3-6. It is from its feet that the rivers Godavarī, Bhīmarathī and others arose. The place where the Ekavīrā arose is Virajā (free from sins). Its greatness cannot be described by anyone. Listen attentively (to what happened) in the holy spot on that mountain, O Nārada. I shall tell the secret of secrets. It is auspicious and directly mentioned by the Vedas. Even sages, Devas, Pitrs and Asuras do not know. I shall recount for your pleasure. It gives all cherished things on being listened to.

That supreme Puruṣa should be known as Unmainfest and Imperishable.

7. The inferior one (Apara) is Kṣara (Perishable). Hence it is accompanied by Prakṛti. The Puruṣa with limbs was born from the Nirākāra (that which has no form or shape).

8-9. The waters were born of him and the Puruṣa was born of waters (?) From both of them a lotus was born and I was born there, O sage.

The elements Earth, Wind, Ether, Waters, and Fire are anterior to me. They were evolved simultaneously, O sage.

10. I saw only these and no other beings whether mobile or immobile. Nor were the Vedas present then. I could not see anything.

11. I could not see even that (lotus) from which I was born. When I remained silent I heard this excellent speech. The Ethereal Voice said:

12-14. O Brahmā, perform the rite of creation of the Universe, of the mobile and immobile beings.

Brahmā said:

Thereupon I spoke to that voice of the Divine Puruṣa there, O Nārada:

“How shall I create this Universe? With what shall I create it?”

The same divine voice said: “It is the mother (of the Universe) that is called Prakṛti and works under the guidance of Viṣṇu.”

The Ethereal Voice said:

15-16. Perform Yajña. Undoubtedly you will have the power therefrom. O Brahmā, the eternal Śruti says, “Verily Yajña is Viṣṇu”. What is it that cannot be achieved by performers of Yajña in this world and the next one?

Brahmā said:

17. Again I spoke to that goddess, “O highly fortunate lady, where should Yajña be performed? By what should it be performed? Tell me.”

Thereupon she said to me.

The Ethereal Voice said:

18-20. The goddess who was Oṃkāra, who was identical with the universe and who was like a mother (unto all, said): “Here in the Karmabhūmi (the land of holy rites) perform the worship of the lord of Yajñas, the Puruṣa of Yajñas.

He alone shall be your means and instrument, O lord of holy rites. Worship him with that. Hari alone is all these viz., Yajña, Svāhā, Svadhā, Mantras, brahmṃs, Havis etc. Hence everything is derived from Viṣṇu.

Brahmā said:

21-22. Again I said to that goddess, “Where is the Land of holy rites, laid out?” At that time, O Nārada, there was neither Bhāgīrathī nor Narmadā. There was no Yamunā, no Tāpī, neither Sarasvatī nor Gautamī. There was neither sea nor river, no lake, no pool free of dirt. That divine power said to me again and again.

The Divine Voice said:

23. To the southern side of Sumeru as well as of Himavān, to the south of Vindhya, to the south of the Sahya is Karmabhūmi (land of holy rites) with the auspicious rise for everyone at all times.

Brahmā said:

24. On hearing those words I left the great mountain Meru. After coming to that place I thought “Where should I stay?” Thereupon the same Unembodied Voice, spoke to me.

The Ethereal Voice said:

25-26. Go this way. Stay this side. Sit here alone. Determine to perform Yajña. That Yajña will be concluded.

After Saṃkalpa has been performed for the sake of Yajña, O Brahmā, O most excellent Deva, perform those things which those Vedas say.

Brahmā said:

27. The Itihāsas, Purāṇas and other verbal texts came out of their own accord to my mouth and they came to my recollection.

28. At the very same moment, the meaning of Vedas was understood by me. Thereupon I remembered the Puruṣa Sūkta (Hymn of Creation) that is world-renowned.

29. I prepared the necessary constituents of the Yajña mentioned therein. I made vessels of Yajñas as mentioned in it.

30. Where I stayed after being purified and having controlled myself and where I got initiated was a land of brahmins. It is glorified after my name.

31-36. The holy place of my Yajña is remembered by the name Brahmagiri. O great sage, the holy place of my Yajña extended for twenty-four Yojanas to the east of Brahmagiri, There in the middle of the Altar I prepared three sacrificial fires viz. Gārhapatya[1], Dakṣiṇa[2] and Āhavanīya.[3]

A Yajña cannot be successfully completed without the wife—so says the Veda. (Hence) O sage, I split my body into two. The former half became my wife for the fulfilment of the Yajña. The latter half was I myself. “Half of oneself is one’s wife”, says the Śruti.

O Nārada, I fashioned the excellent season Vasanta (spring) in the form of ghee offering. Grīṣma (summer) was considered Idhma (sacred twigs). Śarat (autumn) was the Havis offering. I fashioned the season of rains as Barhis (Kuśa grass).

37. The Vedas were the seven Paridhis. Kalā (moments), Kāṣṭhā and Nimeṣa (units of time) are remembered as sacred twig, Vessel and Kuśa.

38-39. O divine sage, Time which is beginningless and endless assumed the form of Yūpa. The three Guṇas beginning with Sattva became the post for tying the sacrificial animal, but there was no sacrificial animal. Thereupon, I spoke to the unembodied speech of Viṣṇu:

40. “Without a sacrificial animal this Yajña cannot be concluded.” Thereupon, that very same eternal unembodied voice spoke to me.

The Ethereal Voice said:

41-44. Eulogize that supreme Puruṣa by means of the hymn called Puruṣa Sūkta.

Brahmā said:

Saying “So, be it” I began to eulogize Janārdana, the lord of Devas and my progenitor, devoutly by means of the Puruṣa-sūkta. That goddess then said to me, “O Brahmā, make me your Paśu.” Then I realised the unchanging Puruṣa as my progenitor. I placed him at the side of Kālayūpa and tied him up with Guṇapāśas (the three Guṇas as the halter). The Puruṣa stood in front of me.

45. In the meantime this entire universe cropped up from him, the brahmins from his face and the Kṣatriyas from his arms.

46. Then Indra and Agni were born of his mouth, the wind was born of his vital air, the quarters were born of his ear and the heaven was born of his head.

47. The moon was born of his mind, the sun was born of his eye, the atmosphere was born of his navel and the Vaiśyas were born of his thighs.

48. The Śūdra was born of his feet. So also the Earth was born, sages were born of the pores of hairs and the medicinal herbs were born of his hair.

49. The domestic and wild animals were born all round from his nails, the worms and insects etc. were born of his anus and genitals.

50. Some of the mobile and immobile beings and some of the visible and invisible beings of the world were born of him. Devas were born of me. In the meantime, the Ethereal Voice spoke to me:

The Ethereal Voice said:

51-53. Everything has been concluded. The desired creation has taken place. Now consign all utensils to the fire. Ceremoniously cast off the Yūpa, Praṇītā vessel and Kuśa grasses. Cast off the form of the Ṛtviks and Yajña, that which is intended and that which is to be meditated upon. Sruva (sacrificial ladle), Puruṣa, halters—cast off all these, O Brahmā.

Brahmā said:

54-58. Simultaneous with these words I began to perform sacrifice in the three sacrificial fires viz. Gārhapatya, Dakṣiṇa and Āhavanīya after meditating upon the cause of the Universe, the Puruṣa sanctified by the Mantras.

Thereupon the pure lord of Yajña, the lord of the worlds identical with the Universe, the maker of the cosmos appeared near the sacrificial pits. Viṣṇu assumed white form in the Āhavanīya fire. Viṣṇu was dark in colour in the Dakṣiṇa fire and yellow in the Gārhapatya fire. Viṣṇu was present everywhere at all times. There was nothing without Viṣṇu, the cause of the Universe.

59. Repeating the Mantras I performed the rite of Praṇaya (taking forward) of the Praṇītā vessel. The water from the Praṇītā vessel became the splendid river Praṇītā.

60-61. I ceremoniously discharged Praṇītā after scrubbing it with Kuśa grass. When the scrubbing was performed, drops of water from Praṇītā fell in various places and all those places became holy centres of great merit. O chief among sages, the river became the bestower of benefits of sacrifices when holy bath was taken therein.

62. It is for ever bedecked and embellished by Śārṅga (bow)-bearing lord of Devas. It is the flight of steps for everyone to ascend to Vaikuṇṭha.

63. The spot on the holy ground where the scrubbed Kuśa grasses fell down is called Kuśatarpaṇa. It yields much of merit and benefit.

64-65. All these were propitiated by means of the Kuśa grass. Therefore the place is called Kuśatarpaṇam. Afterwards for another reason the Gautamī joined the Praṇītā, O highly intelligent one. That became the Praṇītāsaṅgama (the confluence of the Praṇītā). The holy centre at the spot where Kuśa grass was used for propitiation is Kuśatarpaṇam.

66. The sacrificial post fashioned by me there itself to the north of Vindhya was ceremoniously cast off. It became the resort of Viṣṇu. It is worthy of worship by the worlds.

67. The glorious one became free from decay. Hence the holy fig free became Akṣaya Vaṭa. In the form of Time it is eternal. On being remembered it yields the merit of sacrifices.

68. The place of my divine Yajña is called Daṇḍaka forest. When the Yajña was concluded Viṣṇu was propitiated by me.

69-70. After bowing down I ceremoniously cast off the lord of the chief of Devas who is called Virāṭ in the Vedas, from whom the various acts of piety were born, from whom I was born and whose creation is this universe.

The splendid holy spot where I performed the divine sacrifice extended to twenty-four Yojanas.

71. There are three sacrificial pits there even today, O Nārada. They are of the form of Yajñeśvara, the discus-bearing Viṣṇu.

72. Thenceforth that holy spot of my sacrifice is well-known. Even the worms and insects there attain liberation after death.

73. The Daṇḍaka forest is called the seed of virtue and the seed of salvation. Especially the place in contact with the Gautamī is extremely meritorious.

74. He who performs the holy bath and distributes charitable gifts etc., at the confluence of the Praṇītā or in the Kuśatarpaṇa shall go to the supreme region.

75. Know that by remembering, reading or listening to this narrative with devotion all cherished desires are fulfilled. It bestows worldly pleasures and salvation.

76. Learned men say that there are eighty-six thousand holy centres on both the banks. The meritoriousness of the places has been already described.

77-78. O sage, the holy centre Kuśatarpaṇa is more excellent than even Vārāṇasī. There is no other holy centre equal to this in the world consisting of mobile and immobile beings.

Merely by being remembered it destroys the sin accruing from brahmin slaughter and other sins. This holy centre, O sage, is said to be the gate unto heaven on the surface of the Earth.

Footnotes and references:


The family fire that the householder receives from his father and passes on to his dependents.


The fire placed at the southern corner of the altar.


Fire prepared from the family fire and placed at the eastern corner of the altar to receive oblations.

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