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 105 - The Benefits of listenings to the Purāṇa

Nārada said:

1-2. O lord of Suras, O master of the Suras, you say that the holy Gaṅgā has three presiding deities. She had been brought down by a Brahmin and she is a splendid river sanctifying the Universe. On both of her banks at the beginning, middle and end she is pervaded by Viṣṇu, Īśa (Śiva) and you, O most excellent one among the Suras. Narrate once again succinctly. I have not been fully satisfied.

Brahmā said:

3-4. At the outset she was stationed in a Kamaṇḍalu (water-pot). Then she flowed from the feet of Viṣṇu. Thereafter she was stationed within the mess of the matted hair of Maheśvara. It is bowed to by all. Thanks to the Brahminical power, it was brought to the holy mountain after propitiating Śiva assiduously. Thereafter she proceeded towards the eastern sea.

5. Proceeding thus the divine river joined the sea. She has all the Tīrthas (on her banks) and fulfils all the desires of men. Her power is unique.

6. I do not think that there is any Tīrtha superior to it in all the three worlds. Whatever thing one cherishes in one’s heart can be realized by her own power.

7-8. Till today her greatness has not been adequately described by anyone. Whatever little is mentioned is out of devotion. This is my opinion that there will not be any Tīrtha greater than this river which is virtually Brahman (Supreme Absolute) itself. There cannot be any propriety in comparing her with another Tīrtha.

9. Wherefore has the intellect of everyone not been rendered completely calm even after hearing the eulogy of the Gaṅgā through the nectar-like statements of mine? O sage, this appears to be the most mysterious thing in all the three worlds.

Nārada said:

10-12. You are fully conversant with piety, wealth, love and salvation and hence competent to advise thereon. The Vedas with their secrets, the Purāṇas and the Smṛtis and whatever there is besides—all these are rooted in your utterance. O lord, kindly mention which is the best and foremost among the Tīrthas, Dānas, Yajñas, Tapas’, services to the deities and practising of the Mantras. O lord, whatever you say with devotion should necessarily be so and not otherwise.

13. O Brahman, it behoves you to dispel this doubt of mine.

On hearing from him what had been lurking within his mind Brahmā was surprised and he said:

Brahmā said:

14. Listen, O Nārada. I shall tell you the secret of the excellent Dharma.

The Tīrthas are of four kinds. The Yugas also are as many.

15. The Guṇas are three, the Puruṣas are three and the eternal deities are three. The Vedas in combination with the Smṛtis are enumerated as four.

16. The aims of human life are four; speech is of four kinds. The Guṇas too are four along with Samatva (equilibrium), O Nārada.

17. Dharma (piety, righteousness) is universal everywhere because virtue is eternal. That too is considered to be of various kinds inasmuch as the Sādhya (what is to be attained) and Sādhana (means of attaining) are different.

18. Its basis always is of two kinds—place and time. Dharma with the time as the basis waxes and wanes for ever.

19. In accordance with the Yugas it wanes quarter by quarter, O highly intelligent one. Dharma stands in need of Deśa (Place) in both respects.

20. Dharma based on time is ever firmly established in Deśa. When the Yugas wane Dharma does not wane in the Deśas.

21. If it were to be wanting in both Dharma would have been totally non-existent. Hence Dharma based on Deśa has the full complement of the four quarters.

22. That Dharma abides in the Deśas in the form of Tīrthas. In the Kṛta Yuga Dharma leans on the prop of Deśa and Kāla and settles down.

23. In the Tretā Yuga Dharma is deficient in one Pāda but has the full complement of the four quarters in respect to Deśa. In Dvāpara the deficiency is half in respect to Time but in Deśa it is fully present.

24. In the Kaliyuga Dharma moves about unsteadily on one leg (having only a quarter of itself). But it does not wane for one who comprehends Dharma in this way.

25. The differences in castes are maintained in accordance with the power of the Yugas. Dharma is of diverse nature as it follows Guṇas and those who work according to Guṇas.

26. It is in accordance with the Guṇas that the Tīrthas, Varṇas, Vedas, heaven and salvation take their origin or lose their power.

27. By virtue of such a form and activity Dharma becomes unique. Kāla is said to be Abhivyañjaka (that which makes something manifest) and Deśa is said to be Abhivyaṅgya (that which is manifested).

28. Whenever Kāla assumes Abhivyakti (manifestation) that itself, O Brahman, is its token. Hence there is no doubt in this respect.

29. The form of the Devas and the Vedas shall be in accordance with the Yugas. Those of Karmans (rites), Tīrthas, castes and stages of life too (are in accordance with the Yugas).

30. A Tīrtha having three presiding deities is adored in all the worlds in the Satyayuga; in the other Yuga (i.e. Tretā) that with two presiding deities; and in the Dvāpara Yuga one with a single presiding deity.

31. It should be known that there is no such thing in Kaliyuga. Now listen to another thing. In the Kṛtayuga a Tīrtha is Daiva (of divine significance). They know that the same in Tretā is Āsura (of Asura significance).

32. It is said to be Ārṣa (of the saintly significance) in Dvāpara and Mānuṣa (of human significance) in Kaliyuga. I shall henceforth mention another reason. Listen, O Nārada.

33-35. What you have asked in respect to Gautamī, I shall explain to you in detail. O great sage, ever since the Gaṅgā came to the matted hair of Hara’s head she had become the great favourite of Śambhu. Umā, the goddess of the three worlds, the mother and benefactress of the universe, well known as the quiescent Śruti, the bestower of enjoyment of pleasures and salvation, knew this mental proclivity of the lord and said so to the elephant-faced one (Gajānana).

Brahmā said:

36. On hearing those words of his mother the elephant-faced one spoke:

Gajavaktra said:

37. What is to be done? Tell me my mother. Undoubtedly I shall do so.

Brahmā said:

38. Umā said this to her son, “Gaṅgā is stationed in the matted hair of Maheśvara and as such has truly become the favourite of Īśa. Just make her come down.

39. Further this is surprising that Īśa occupies that place always, O son. Where Śiva stays, the Suras and the eternal Vedas too stay.

40. The sages too stay there itself, so also all the men and the Manes. Hence make Īśāna, Maheśvara the lord of the Devas, leave the place.

41. When the lord is turned away from Gaṅgā, they too are turned away. Listen to these words of mine. Turn Śaṅkara away from her in every respect.”

Brahmā said:

42. On hearing those words of his mother, Gaṇeśvara said once again:

43-46. “Lord Śiva cannot be turned away from her by me. In case Śiva is not turned away from her the Devas too cannot be turned away, O mother of the Universe. There is another reason too. Formerly Gaṅgā was made to come down by Gautama, the noble-hearted sage, worthy of being worshipped by the entire world and the benefactor of all the three worlds. It was through the means suggested by me and adopted at your instance that the venerable Brahminical splendour propitiated the lord of the Devas, Bhava by means of austerities and prayers. At that time, that Gautama was told thus by the delighted Śaṅkara.”

Śaṅkara said:

47. O highly intelligent one, choose as boons all good and pleasing things that you cherish in your heart. I shall grant you everything that you may desire.

Brahmā said:

48. When Gautama was told thus by Śiva, he said thus, even as I was listening: “O Śaṅkara, to me who beg of you give the meritorious Gaṅgā enmeshed in the matted hair. Of what avail to me is another boon?”

Brahmā said:

49. Śambhu, the benefactor of all the worlds, said to him once again:

Śambhu said:

50. Something that is to your own benefit has not been mentioned. Hence request for something very difficult.

Brahmā said:

51. With palms joined in reverence Gautama said to Bhava with his spirit undepressed:

Gautama said:

52. This itself is the most difficult thing that I have been able to see you. O Śaṅkara, by your grace, that has been achieved by me today.

53. Noble-minded persons become blessed and contented merely by remembering thy feet. What to speak when, Thou, the great Lord, have been seen directly?

Brahmā said:

54-56. When this was spoken by Gautama, Bhava said to the Brahmin with great delight: “Request has been made by you for helping the three worlds. O highly intelligent one, not for yourself. (Now) ask something for your own self”.

On being told thus the Brahmin thought it over and begged Śiva with great humility and devotion with undepressed spirit. He made the request once again for rendering help unto all the worlds. Even as the guardians of the quarters were listening Gautama said thus:

Gautama said:

57. Inasmuch as the divine river extending up to the ocean has been released from Brahmā’s mountain, O bull-bannered one, it is incumbent upon thee to stay thereon everywhere and always.

58. O lord of the worlds, thou alone art the giver of the fruit unto those who desire benefits. O lord of the Devas, other Tīrthas are auspicious only in certain places.

59. They know that place alone to be the yielder of auspiciousness where thy presence is constant. It is the place where Gaṅgā stationed in the crown of thy matted hair has been handed ever. O Śaṅkara, thou being present everywhere there are Tīrthas (everywhere).

Brahmā said:

60. On hearing those words of Gautama, Śiva said again with delight:

Śiva said:

61-64. A devotee may give away anything anywhere but that should be given with excessive devotion. He may offer libation unto the (departed) ancestors, he may listen to sacred stories, he may recite or remember them, O Gautama. Whatever the man does on the Gadāvarī (Godāvarī?) with due observances of vows bears ample fruit. Merely by remembering Gautamī one acquires that piety and virtue that one obtains by gifting away the entire beautiful earth adorned with Dharma and consisting of mountains, forests and parks and decorated with gems and handed over with all medicinal herbs and the oceans too. O brahmin, the earth near the river Godāvarī is mentioned to be of this sort.

65-67. O excellent brahmin, by performing holy ablution, Dāna etc. devotedly in the great river Gautamī, worthy of the veneration of the entire universe, a man obtains more merit than what is acquired by a wise devotee when he observes all the vows in my presence at the time of the solar of lunar eclipse and gifts away beautiful cows adorned with everything unto Viṣṇu or a king along with their calves at a confluence famous all over the world.

68. Hence the Gaṅgā Godāvarī led by you shall become the destroyer of all sins and the bestower of everything desired.

Gaṇeśvara said:

69. O mother, this has been heard by me directly from Śiva who was speaking to Gautama. For this reason Śambhu is invariably present in the Gaṅgā.

70-72. O mother, who can make that ocean of mercy leave the place? Still, Mother, this can be done. Fettered by the nooses of hindrances (i.e. due to unexpected obstructions,) men may not go to the Godāvarī though it is nearby. They may not bow down to Śiva nor remember the lord and eulogize him. However, Mother, I will do something for your satisfaction, for there is distress in disobeying what you say. Forgive me.

Brahmā said:

73-74. Ever since then, Vighneśa creates some obstacles in regard to men. He who devoutly goes to Gautamī ignoring the obstacles gets his purpose fulfilled. No further duty remains for him.

75. To the base man many obstacles do occur even as he desires to set off from his house. If he goes to the Gaṅgā after setting his foot firmly over it does he not obtain any benefit from it?

76. Who can describe its power (completely) should he be even Sadāśiva himself? Everything has been succinctly narrated by me closely following the tradition and mythology.

77. In the extensive mythological legends there is everything conducive to the attainment of piety, wealth, love and liberation in the entire world consisting of mobile and immobile beings.

78. The Purāṇa has been narrated for the benefit of all the worlds. It consists of many pious rites. If perused carefully it contributes to the good of the worlds. It contains everything mentioned in the Vedas. It consists of all the secret doctrines of the Śrutis. The very name (Purāṇa) indicates that it is the cause of everything excellent.

79. If anyone devoutly listens to or recites one verse or one word out of this or utters ‘Gaṅgā’, ‘Gaṅgā’, he shall obtain the spiritual benefit thereby.

80. The word Gaṅgā uttered or the water of the Gaṅgā imbibed becomes excellent. It is cabable of destroying the stigma of Kali age. It is auspicious. It gives splendour and all Siddhis (super-natural powers). It is worthy of veneration in the world. It grants desired thṃgs.

81. Well done, O Gautama! Welfare unto you. Who else is equal to you? It is you who eagerly brought this Gaṅgā to the Daṇḍaka forest.

82. He who utters ‘Gaṅgā Gaṅgā’ even from hundreds of Yojanas away becomes rid of all sins. He goes to the world of Viṣṇu.

83. In all the three worlds there are thirty-fìve millions of Tīrthas. When Jupiter is in the sign of Leo, all these Tīrthas come to the Gaṅgā for a bath.

84. Holy ablution in the Bhāgīrathī for sixty-thousand years is equal to a single bath in the Godāvarī when Bṛhaspati (Jupiter) is in Siṃha (Leo).

85. O son, this Gautamī grants salvation unto all men who bathe therein anywhere at any time. That is due to Śiva’s bidding.

86. Merely by listening to it one gets that benefit which is obtained by performing thousands of Aśvamedhas (Horse-sacrifices) or hundred of Vājapeya sacrifices.

87. O Nārada, if this Purāṇa narrated by Brahmā is kept in the house by anyone he need not be afraid of the Kali age.

88-90. This excellent Purāṇa should not be narrated to anyone and everyone. This should be recited only to a noble-hearted devotee of Viṣṇu who is calm and has great faith. This accords worldly pleasures and salvation. It destroys sins. Merely by listening to it a man becomes contented and his desires are fulfilled. If one copies this and gives the book to a Brahmin he gets rid of all sins. He never enters a womb thereafter.

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