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...
4. Due to defect in the mind of his mother this brahmin had opposite (qualities). He had a merchant friend named Maṇikuṇḍala.
5. The brahmin had friendship with that merchant though that was odd for a poor brahmin and a rich and flourishing Vaiśya. They wished for mutual welfare.
6. Once Gautama said these words to Maṇikuṇḍala the Vaiśya who was a lord of riches. He repeatedly mentioned this in secret.
7. We shall go to the mountains and seas in order to seek wealth. Youthful age should be known as futile if it lacks facilities for pleasure. How can that be without wealth? O, fie upon amen devoid of riches!
8. Kuṇḍala said this to the brahmin: “There is a vast amount of wealth earned by my father but, O excellent brahmin, what shall I do now with the wealth?”
Again the brahmin said this emphatically to Maṇikuṇḍala.
9. Who is praised if he is content with his righteousness, wealth, knowledge and amorous sports? Dear friend, the attainment of the highest degree in these things by the embodied beings should be worthy of praise.
10. Creatures that are blessed live (in the real sense) by their own efforts. Those who are satisfied with the wealth given by others live a miserable existence.
11. If the son does not desire his father’s money, if he does not even mention it in so many words, that son is praised in the world and he is applauded by his parents.
12. The son who earns wealth solely depending on the might of his own arms shall be blessed in the world. He shall not touch his father’s wealth.
13. He who earns wealth himself and gives it to his father and other kinsmen is the real son. Know him alone as the real son. Others are mere worms in their mother’s womb.
14-18. On hearing these words of the covetous brahmin the Vaiśya thought his words to be true. He hurriedly gathered together his wealth and jewels and handed them over to Gautama saying, “With this wealth we shall daily wander over all lands and return home with (more) wealth.”
The Vaiśya said so in all sincerity but that brahmin was an evil-minded cheat. The Vaiśya did not know that the brahmin was evil-minded. The two, viz. the brahmin and the Vaiśya started without the knowledge of their parents and went from place to place. The brahmin wished to take away the money that the Vaiśya had with him.
The Brahmin thought:
19-22. I shall take away that wealth by some means. Oh! there are thousands of beautiful cities in the world. Women are as though the goddesses of love. They bestow what is desired. These charming ladies are in different places. What shall be done by me? After gathering together some wealth with great effort, if it is given to the women they can be enjoyed for ever. That life then is fruitful. I shall always enjoy dance and music. I shall be accompanied by harlots. I shall enjoy everything. But how can that wealth come to my hands from the Vaiśya?
23-25. After thinking thus, Gautama laughingly said to Maṇikuṇḍala thus: “There is no doubt about this that creatures attain prosperity, happiness and everything they desire only through evil. Virtuous persons are seen to be miserable in the world. Therefore, of what avail is virtue which results only in one thing, namely, misery?
26. “No” said the Vaiśya thereupon. “It is in Dharma (virtue, piety) that happiness is based. There is misery, fear, grief, poverty and pain in evil and sin. Where there is virtue there is liberation too. How can (the benefit of) the performance of one’s own duty be lost?”
27-31. Even as they were arguing thus a quarrel ensued between them. They said—“He whose opinion proves superior (i.e. held by the majority of the people) shall get the wealth of the other. Let us ask (the people): who is more powerful, the virtuous or the non-virtuous?” “The worldly things are superior to the Vedas.” “It is in the world that happiness results from virtue.” Arguing thus they asked the people—“Of these two which has the greater power in the world, dharma or adharma? Please say the truth.”
Some of the people said thus—“Pain and misery is experienced by those who follow dharma (virtue). Sinful persons are happy.” Since he was thus defeated in the quarrel (the Vaiśya) handed over his wealth to the brahmin.
32. Maṇimān (the Vaiśya Maṇikuṇḍala) who was the most excellent one among those conversant with Dharma, began to praise Dharma once again. The brahmin said to Maṇimān, “Why? Do you still praise Dharma?”
“That is so” said the Vaiśya.
Thereupon, the brahmin said again.
The brahmin said:
33. O Vaiśya, all the wealth has been won by me. Why do you prattle shamelessly? Dharma which consists in doing what one pleases has been won by me.
34-36. On hearing those words of the brahmin, the Vaiśya said smilingly.
The Vaiśya said:
Dear friend, I consider those persons who do not possess virtue like the shrivelled ones among the grains or like the small bees among winged ones. Dharma is mentioned first among the four aims of a man’s life. Artha (wealth) and Kāma (love) are mentioned only thereafter. That Dharma is present in me. How can you then say, O excellent brahmin, that you have won?
37-38. The brahmin then said to the Vaiśya again—“Let the wager be the pair of hands.” The Vaiśya agreed to the proposal saying “So be it”. As before they went to the general public and said the same thing. Then the brahmin said that (the bet) was won (by him). He cut off his hands and said “How do you consider Dharma now?” Provoked thus by the brahmin the Vaiśya spoke these words.
The Vaiśya said:
39. I consider Dharma as the supreme thing to the very last breath of my life (even when the vital airs have come to the throat). Dharma alone is the mother, father, friend and kinsman of all embodied beings.
40-41. Thus they argued between themselves. (As a result thereof) the brahmin became wealthy and the Vaiśya became bereft of his arms as well as riches.
42. The Vaiśya began to praise Gaṅgā, the Lord of the Yogas and virtue alone. The brahmin angrily rebuked the Vaiśya and spoke again.
The brahmin said:
43. Your wealth is gone. The hands have been cut off. You are now left with the barest of your vital breaths. If you speak otherwise I will cut off your head with a sword.
44-46. The Vaiśya laughed and said this suddenly to Gautama.
The Vaiśya said:
I think that Dharma (Virtue) is the greatest thing. You can do whatever you please. The sinner who censures brahmins, preceptors, Devas, Vedas, Dharma and Viṣṇu should not be touched. The evil-minded sinner, doer of wicked actions and base conduct, who blasphemes Dharma should be cast off and neglected.
47-49. Then he said angrily—“If you praise Dharma we shall have our respective lives as wager.” When this was said, O sage, by Gautama, the merchant said “So be it”. Again they addressed the general public and the public too said as before.
In front of Yogeśvara on the southern bank of Gautamī the brahmin felled the Vaiśya, plucked out his eye and said:
The brahmin said:
50. You have come to this plight, O Vaiśya, because you have been praising Dharma everyday. Your wealth is gone. Your eyes are gone and your sprout-like hands have been cut off. I am asking you for leave, my friend. I am going. Do not speak thus in another (similar) discussion.
51-54. After he had gone the Vaiśya thought thus, in his mind: “O lord, what a pity! What has happened to me in spite of the fact that my mind is solely devoted to virtuous acts.” That excellent Vaiśya, Kuṇḍala who had become poor and bereft of his hands and eyes attained great sorrow although he was always thinking of Dharma alone. Thinking in diverse ways as mentioned above he sat on the ground dejected and motionless. He had fallen into the ocean of grief.
56. The son of Vibhīṣaṇa was like another Vibhīṣaṇa. He was well known as Vaibhīṣaṇi. He saw the Vaiśya and talked to him.
The lord of Laṅkā lovingly spoke to his son who was the mine of good qualities.
58-63. The glorious Rāma was my honourable preceptor. His friend who was well known as Hanumān is worthy of my respect and reverence. A great mountain was brought by him formerly when an occasion for the same arose. That mountain was a receptacle of all medicinal herbs. When the purpose was served he took the same back to the Hamālayan range. The names of the main medicinal herbs were (i) Viśalyakaraṇī (that which rids one of pain) and (ii) Mṛtasañjīvanī (that which resuscitates the dead).The Highly intelligent (Hanumān) brought it and handed it over to Rāma of unimpaired activities. He informed Rāma what could be achieved by the same. When the purpose was served he took the mountain back to the divine mountain range (Himavān). While he was going rapidly the medicinal herb Viśalyakaraṇī fell on the banks of Gautamī where the lord is Hari, the lord of Yogas. Bring that medicinal herb and remembering Hari place it over the heart of this (Vaiśya). Thereby this (Vaiśya) of liberal minded nature will obtain everything necessary.
64. Show me that medicinal herb quickly, dear father. Do not delay. There is nothing else in the three worlds more conducive to welfare than the eradication of other people’s anguish.
65. Vibhīṣaṇa said “So be it” and showed that medicinal herb to his son. Out of love for the Vaiśya, his son (i.e. Vaibhīṣaṇi) repeated the Vedic Mantra “Iṣe tvā” etc. and cut off the branch of the tree. Good men are (always) engaged in the welfare of others.
66. The tree on the mountain where it (i.e. the medicinal herb) fell has become powerful. Take a branch of it and place it on the heart of this (Vaiśya). Immediately after the contact with the same he shall obtain his (former normal) features.
67-68. On hearing these words of his father the liberal-minded Vaibhīṣaṇi did so. He placed the piece of wood precisely on the heart. The Vaiśya (regained his original form) with hands and eyes. No one can (adequately) understand the efficacy of jewels, Mantras and the medicinal herbs.
69-74. The Vaiśya took the twig of the tree with him. He took his bath in the Gautamī Gaṅgā and bowed down to Hari, the lord of Yogas. Again he took the twig and wandered over (many lands). There was the city of a king well-known as Mahāpura. The extremely powerful king there was well known as Mahārāja. He had no son. His only daughter was a blind girl. The king considered his daughter his son. He took a vow like this—“He who revives the eyesight of this (princess) shall be given my daughter (in marriage) whether he be a Deva or Dānava, a brahmin or a Kṣatriya, a Vaiśya or a Śūdra and whether he has any merit or not.” The king proclaimed that she would be given along with the kingdom. The Vaiśya heard this announcement day and night. He said:
The Vaiśya said:
75-77. Undoubtedly I shall revive the eyesight of the princess.
The (officers) immediately took the Vaiśya to the presence of the great king. Merely due to the contact of that twig the princess regained her eyesight. The wonder-struck king said—“Who are you Sir?” The Vaiśya intimated everything to the king in the manner it had taken place.
The Vaiśya said:
78. I possess this sort of power due to the favour of the brahmins, virtue, austerity and different kinds of sacrifices performed by me with plenty of monetary gifts. It is by virtue of charitable gifts and the divine medicinal herbs that I have this power.
79-80. On hearing these words of the Vaiśya the king was surprised much.
The king said:
Oh this (gentleman) is highly glorious and exalted. Most probably he is a Deva. Otherwise how can he have such a power as this. No one else has this sort of power. Hence I shall give my daughter to this (Vaiśya) along with the kingdom.
81-83. After mentally deciding thus he gave him his daughter and the kingdom.
(One day) (this Vaiśya who had become king) went on an outing but he was highly distressed. (He thought) “The kingdom without my friend (is no good). There is no happiness without my friend”. The Vaiśya began to think of that selfsame brahmin. This alone is the characteristic sign of embodied beings of noble birth that their minds always melt with pity even in regard to those of inimical views.
84-85. The great king went to the forest, Maṇikuṇḍala had become king. While he was reigning he saw the brahmin Gautama once. All his riches and assets had been taken away by sinful gamblers. Taking the brahmin with him the Vaiśya conversant with virtue, honoured him duly.
86. He intimated to him the efficacy of pious activities entirely. He made him bathe in Gaṅgā for the removal of his sins.
87-89. Surrounded by his kinsmen that brahmin and the Vaiśya accompanied by his kinsmen, the chief of whom was Vṛddhakauśika, performed Yajñas near the lord of Yogas. They worshipped Devas and went to heaven.
Thenceforth, they know that holy centre as “Mṛtasañjīvana”, “Cakṣustīrtha” and “Yogeśa”. It bestows merit even on being remembered. It causes delight and pleasure unto the mind. It destroys all miseries.