The Agni Purana

by N. Gangadharan | 1954 | 360,691 words | ISBN-10: 8120803590 | ISBN-13: 9788120803596

This page describes The greatness of Gaya (mahatmya) which is chapter 114 of the English translation of the Agni Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas dealing with all topics concerning ancient Indian culture, tradition and sciences. Containing roughly 15,000 Sanskrit metrical verses, subjects contained in the Agni-Purana include cosmology, philosophy, architecture, iconography, economics, diplomacy, pilgrimage guides, ancient geography, gemology, ayurveda, etc.

Chapter 114 - The greatness of Gayā (māhātmya)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The Fire-god said:

1-2. I shall describe the greatness of Gayā [i.e., gayāmāhātmya]. It is the most excellent among the sacred places. The demon Gaya practised penance. Being tormented by the heat of his penance, the celestials (approached lord) Viṣṇu who was lying in the milky ocean and told him “Kindly protect us from the demon Gaya.” (Lord) Hari (Viṣṇu) said yes. He met the demon and asked, him to request for a boon.

3-4. The demon requested that he would be the holiest of all places. Lord Viṣṇu granted his request. Having seen that the demon (was on the earth) and the earth had become deserted, without Lord Viṣṇu, the celestials, Brahmā and others in the heaven met lord Hari (Viṣṇu) and said, “O (lord) Hari! The earth has become deserted.”

5. On seeing the demon’s presence, lord Hari (Viṣṇu) asked (lord) Brahmā, “You go to the demon along with the celestials and request for his body for the purpose of a sacrifice.”

6. After having heard that, Brahmā went to the demon. Gaya along with the celestials and said to him as follows: “I your guest. I request you (to give me your) pure body for (the sake of being offered in) a sacrifice.”

7. The demon Gaya granted the request. He fell down. (Lord Brahmā)did the sacrifice on the skull. As it was moving, (lord Viṣṇu) asked lord Brahmā to offer the final oblation.

8-9. Even as the final oblation was being offered, the demon moved. Hence lord Brahmā asked Lord Viṣṇu. Lord Viṣṇu then called Dharma (the god of virtue) and said, “O celestials! you all ṣupport this divine stone. The club-wielding-form of mine along with the gods will be present on this slab.”

10-11. Having heard that, lord Dharma supported that excellent divine slab. Marīci, the son of Brahmā married Dharmavratā, the daughter of Dharma and Dharmavatī. She was devoted to doing penance. (They two spent happily) just as (lord) Hari sported with (goddess) Śrī (Lakṣmī) and (lord) Śambhu (Śiva) with (goddess) Gaurī (Pārvatī).

12. (Once) he returned from the forest with kuśa (grass) and flowers and was very tired. After taking food he said to Dharmavratā, “Massage my feet.”

13. The dear wife accordingly was massaging the feet of the sage who was taking rest. In the meanwhile, as the sage fell into a nap, lord Brahmā came there.

14. Dharmavratā began to think, “Shall I worship lord Brahmā? Or shall I continue to massage the feet (of my lord)? Brahmā who is the lord of my lord should be worshipped.”

15-17. After thinking (for some time) she began to worship lord Brahmā with all the honours. Marīci (woke up and) saw her (doing service to Brahmā). As she was not doing as directed he cursed her angrily, “You will become a stone”. Dharmavratā also said to him, “After having stopped massaging your feet, I had worshipped (Brahmā) your lord. As you have cursed me, a faultless person, you will be cursed by (lord) Śaṅkara (Śiva)”. Dharmavratā bore the curse singly and resorted to fire-god.

18. She performed penance for a long period. Then Viṣṇu and other celestials appeared in front of her and asked her to request for a boon.

19-22. Dharmavratā said to the celestials, “O Gods let my curse come to an end. The celestials said, “The curse given by Marīci will not be otherwise. You will become a sacred stone bearing the marks of the foot-prints of lord (Viṣṇu). You will be endowed with the essence of the gods, O Devavratā (Dharmavratā)! You will be representing the forms of all celestials, You will be meritorious for making the demon motionless”. Devavratā said, “If you are pleased with me, may Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Rudra, Gaurī, Lakṣmī and other gods stay in me ever.” The fire-god said, “Having heard the words of Devavratā, the celestials said in affirmative and repaired to the heavens.”

23. That divine stone slab of the demon was supported by (lord) Dharma. The demon began to move with the stone slab on which (the gods) Rudra and others remained.

24. The demon was still moving along with celestials. Then lord Hari (Viṣṇu), who was reclining in the milky ocean, was requested by celestials and he gave his form of wielding a mace.

25. (He said) “You all may go. I shall myself go there with the form known to all celestials.” There lord Gadādhara manifested (in the form of) manifest, unmanifest and both mani fest and unmanifest.

26-30. (Lord) Ādigadādhara was himself present in order to make (the stone slab) steady. There was a demon named Gadā. He was killed by lord Viṣṇu. Viśvakarmā (the celestial architect) made a mace from the bones (of that demon). (Lord) Gadādhara killed Heti and other demons with that first mace duly. Hence, he is known as Ādigadādhara. When lord Ādigadādhara was manifest in the divine stone slab and the demon remained steady, then lord Brahmā offered the final oblation. The demon Gaya asked celestials “Why I was deceived? By the more command of lord Viṣṇu I would have remained steady. Because you have tormented me you should give me a boon”.

The celestials said:

31-32. “Since you have been made steady by us, this will become a holy place of the lords Viṣṇu, Śambhu (Śiva) and Brahmā. (It would become) more renowned than all other sacred places. It would confer the region of Brahmā on the (departed) ancestors”. Having spoken thus, the gods and goddesses remained there. All the sacred places also were present there.

33-35. After having performed the sacrifice, Brahmā gave fees to the priests. The sacred place of Gayā (extends to) five krośas (ten miles). Fifty-five villages were endowed with (the following): Golden hills flowing with rivers, milk and honey, reservoirs of curd, clarified butter, plenty of hills of food, kāmadhenu (the celestial cow), kalpataru (the celestial tree) and abodes made of gold and silver. Let the brahmins here do not seek alms. The lord gave all these things after having spoken very little.

36-37. (The brahmins) at Gayā were cursed by lord Brahmā when they on account of their greed received gifts of money and other things of the righteous sacrifice “You will be deprived of learning. You will be greedy. The rivers will be bereft of milk and other things. The mountains will become mere rocks.”

38-40. The brahmins said to (lord) Brahmā, “Everything has been lost on account of the curse. Kindly be gracious to us for the sake of our livelihood”. He replied to the Brahmins, “You will be dependent on (the pilgrims to) the sacred place as long as the moon and sun (exist). The people who come to Gayā and worship you by offering gifts of food, wealth etc. and ancestral rights shall elevate hundreds of their families to heaven from hell and excellent position after heaven.”

41. Gaya also performed a sacrifice offering plenty of food and profuse fees. The place has been named as Gayā after him. The Pāṇḍavas worshipped lord Viṣṇu.

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