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 93 - Sārasvata and other Holy Centres

(description of Sārasvata-tirtha)

Brahmā said:

1. The holy centre named Sārasvata bestows all cherished desires and benefits. It yields worldly pleasures and salvation to men. It destroys all sins.

2. It subdues all ailments. It bestows all (spiritual) achievements. There listen to this narrative in detail, O Nārada.

3. To the east of Puṣpotkaṭa is the mountain well known in all worlds. It is the most excellent mountain named Śubhra on the southern bank of Gautamī.

4. There was a sage excessively disciplined with self-control, well reputed as Śākalya. He performed an excellent penance on the holy mountain Śubhra.

5. All living beings used to bow down to and eulogize that excellent brahmin who performed penance after resorting to the banks of Gautamī.

6. He was devoted to the service of sacred fire and the study of the Vedas on that mountain resorted to by sages, Gandharvas and Devas.

7. On that extremely meritorious mountain there was a Rākṣasa named Paraśu. He was a terrifier of Devas and brahmins. He was a hater of Yajñas and the slayer of brahmins.

8-11. He could assume any form he wished. Assuming different forms he used to wander in the forest. In a trice, he would wander in the form of a brahmin. Sometimes he would assume the form of a tiger. Sometimes he would wander in the form of a Deva and sometimes he would assume the form of an animal. Sometimes he would have the form of a young maiden. Sometimes he would wander in the form of a deer. Sometimes he would wander in the form of a boy. Thus he wandered about committing sin after sin.

Where the scholarly brahmin sage Śākalya stayed, the great sinner Paraśu, the base Rākṣasa, used to come everyday. Although Paraśu attempted to abduct and kill the brahmin of great purity, he could not do it.

12-13. One day, after scrupulously worshipping Devas, that excellent brahmin came (to the dining chamber) desirous of taking food. At that time, O sage, Paraśu too came there assume the form of a brahmin. He was enfeebled, grey-haired and weak. There was a certain girl also with him. He spoke to Śākalya.

Paraśu said:

14-15. O brahmin, know me and this girl desirous of food. We have come at the proper time when guests should be fed. O bestower of honour, you can be contented. They alone are blessed from whose houses, guests come out with all their desires fulfilled. Others are dead though they may be physically alive.

16. After sitting down for taking food, if anyone gives away to the guest what has been prepared for himself it is as though the Earth has been gifted away by him.

Brahmā said:

17. On hearing these words Śākalya made Paraśu sit on a seat taking him to be a brahmin out of ignorance and said. “I shall give”

18. After duly worshipping him Śākalya served the food. Taking the water for ceremonious gulping down in his hand Paraśu spoke these words:

Paraśu said:

19. The deities follow the weary guest from a great distance. If he is satiated they too will be satiated. It will be otherwise if he is dissatisfied.

20. The guest and the slander-monger—these two are the real kinsmen of the whole universe. The slander-monger dispels sins and the guest bestows heaven.

21. If anyone looks at a guest weary on his way with disgust, his virtue, fame and prosperity perish immediately.

22. Hence O excellent brahmin, I, a weary guest, earnestly beg of you. If you grant me what I desire I shall take my food. Not otherwise.

Brahmā said:

23-25. Śākalya said to the Rākṣasa: “It is already given. Take your food”. Then he said, “I am Paraśu the excellent Rākṣasa. I am your enemy. I am not an old brahmin, lean and grey-haired. Many years have passed by since I have been observing you. My limbs are becoming dry like a small drop of water in the summer. Hence, O excellent brahmin, I shall take you away along with your followers and shall eat you up.”

Brahmā said:

26-28. On hearing the words of Paraśu Śākalya said:

Śākalya said:

Those who are born of a noble family, those who have understood all the scriptural texts strictly adhere to what is promised by them, never otherwise. O friend, you do as you please. Still listen to me. Excellent words conducive to welfare should be spoken even to those persons who are attempting to kill one.

29. I am a brahmin of adamantine body. Lord Hari is my all-round protector. Let Viṣṇu protect my feet. Let Lord protect my head.

30. Let Boar protect my arms. Let Dharmarāja protect my back. Let Kṛṣṇa protect my heart. Let Man-Lion protect my fingers.

31. Let lord of speech protect my mouth. Let lord who moves about on a bird protect my eyes. Let lord of wealth. Kubera, protect my cars. Let Bhava protect from all round. Lord Nārāyaṇa himself is the sole refuge in different adversities.

Brahmā said:

32. After saying thus. Śākalya continued—“Take me or devour me happily, O great Rākṣasa, Paraśu, without any hesitation.”

33. At his words the Rākṣasa got ready to devour him. Certainly there is not the least bit of mercy in the heart of sinners.

34. With a mouth terrible due to the curved fangs he went near him (but) immediately after looking at the brahmin Paraśu said.

Paraśu said:

35-39. O excellent brahmin, I see you as one who has conch, discus and iron-club in his hands, one who has a thousand feet and heads, one who has a thousand eyes and hands, as a lord who is the sole abode of all living beings, whose form is that of Vedas. O brahmin, I see you today as one identical with the universe. This is not your previous body. Hence, I propitiate you, O brahmin, you alone be the refuge. Grant me knowledge, O brahmin of great intelligence. Tell me the holy centre for the atonement of my sins. O brahmin, visiting great men is never futile even if it be accidental or due to hatred or out of ignorance or by mistake. The contact of a piece of iron with the jewel is conducive to its turning into gold.

Brahmā said:

40-42. On hearing these words uttered by the Rākṣasa, Śākalya sympathetically said thus—“O lord of Daityas, ere long Sarasvatī will be the bestower of boons unto you. Hence, eulogize Viṣṇu. For the attainment of desired benefit there is no other means than the prayer unto Nārāyaṇa.

There is some other cause too in this world. Listen, O Rākṣasa. That goddess will be pleased with you due to my request.

Brahmā said:

43-45. Saying “So be it”, Paraśu took bath in Gaṅgā, the sanctifier of three worlds. With purity and well controlled mind he stood facing Gaṅgā. There he saw Sarasvatī who had divine form, who had smeared over herself divine scents and unguents, who is the mother of the universe, who stood by the words of Śākalya, who is the dispeller of the sluggishness of the universe, who gave birth to the universe and who is the goddess of the universe. Paraśu who was rid of his sins spoke to her humbly.

Paraśu said:

46. My preceptor Śākalya said thus to me—“Eulogize the consort of Lakṣmī, the bird-bannered lord. Let me have that power by your grace. Kindly do so.”

Brahmā said:

47-48. “Let it be so”, said the divine Sarasvatī to Paraśu. Due to the grace of Sarasvatī, Paraśu eulogized Viṣṇu. Then Viṣṇu was pleased. Viṣṇu, the ocean of mercy, granted boons to the Rākṣasa.

Viṣṇu said:

49-51. O Rākṣasa, whatever is in your mind, everything that you desire will take place.

Brahmā said:

Even though he was a great sinner, the Rākṣasa Paraśu went to heaven by the grace of Śākalya, the grace of Gautamī, the grace of Sarasvatī, the grace of Narasiṃha and the grace of the lord with the Śārṅga bow, whose lotus-like foot constitutes a holy centre to all.

52-55. Thenceforth, that holy centre is well known as “Sārasvata”. By taking holy dip there and by offering charitable gifts one is honoured in the world of Viṣṇu.

On that Śveta Mountain there are many holy centres born of the grace of Sarasvatī, Viṣṇu, Śākalya and Paraśu.

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