Bhagavad-gita Mahatmya

by N.A. Deshpande | 1951 | 23,843 words | ISBN-10: 8120838297 | ISBN-13: 9788120838291

The English translation of the Bhagavad-gita Mahatmya, taken directly from the Padma Purana: one of the largest of the eighteen major puranas. The Gita-mahatmya praises the Bhagavadgita using a series of illustrative stories showing the spiritual value of latter. It contains eighteen chapters corresponding to the eighteen chapters of the actual Bha...

Chapter 10 - A Swan’s Story

[Note: this page corresponds to chapter 184 of the Book 6 (Uttarakhaṇḍa) of the translation of The Padmapurāṇa]

The goddess said:

1-5a. O you omniscient one, the life of all, the lord of all, the master of speech, O Śiva, I am lucky since you, respectable and visible, have explained this auspicious grandeur of the ninth chapter, the honey, full of many wonderful and sweet accounts. O lord of gods, I, hearing it, was not content. O Śiva, my desire to hear it is not dulled. (On the contrary) it increases. My life is listening to the Gītā, O you ocean of greatness. Even in that (Gītā) the sages declare the tenth chapter to be the principal. Tell me an account relating to that great chapter.

Śiva said:

5b-17. O beautiful one, listen to this ladder to the inaccessible heaven difficult to get. It is, as it were, the limit of grandeurs, highly purifying account. In the city of Kāśī, there was a brāhmaṇa devoted to pious fame. His mind was tranquil, free from mischief, cruelty and violence. With his senses controlled, he was always engaged in bliss. He was known as Dhīradhī, and was devoted to me like Nandin. He had crossed the ocean of the Vedas, and was proficient in the meaning of all holy texts. Once while he, subservient (i.e. given) to meditation, with his mind plunged in (the thought of) the internal soul, having the eyes of (i.e. perceiving) the Supreme Spirit, was going, I, through affection, ran, and gave support to his hand, causing wonder. The absent-minded one, having sipped water, having fixed his eyes full of great joy on the tip of his nose, remained, with his senses as it were sleepy. When he, of long (broad) eyes, slept for a while, without fear, at night, using as a pillow the large threshold of the door, O broad-eyed one, Bhṛṅgiriṭi, saluting my lotus-like feet, asked me: “Due to which rite has he secured your sight? What (kind of) penance has this noble one practised, what oblations has he made, what (hymns) has he muttered, that the god supports his hand at every step? Why is he not able to go out of this city? If, by chance, he crosses the boundary of Kāśī, he does not see even these people that are by his side. I wish to know the cause of this—(I wish to hear) the words of my master. If I deserve to be favoured then tell me what is proper.” Hearing this question of Bhṛṅgiriṭi, I said:

18-26. Once I was in the Punnāga forest which was near Kailāsa, the forest which was full of the hosts of the beautiful divine women making sounds, in which the quarters were joyful with the multitudes of the cooings of the cuckoos, which was full of the notes of (birds) like the eagle and the cātaka, which was bristling with the drops shining on the rotating, wooden machine for raising water, which was full of the bulbs of the plantain trees (growing) on the sides of the drains, which was full of musk-deer, which was stupefied with the sounds of kinnaras, which was at places resorted to by deer with the outer corners of their eyes dull due to rumination, which was full of parrots, where the swans showed their cleverness among them, which was stirred by the thick wind, with joyful sounds, in which the bees were intoxicated by the rum exuding from the Mādhavī flowers, which was full of the fragrance of the clusters of blooming trivalī flowers, in which the bees were slow due to the intoxication caused by the fragrance of blooming bakula flowers, in which the region of the earth was washed with the nectar oozing from the moon. Having sat on a seat I remained there for a while. The wind, by way of the churning sticks in the form of terrific branches breaking due to friction, blew under the pretext of a trembling mountain. Then there was a great sound which resounded at the sides of the valley.

27-38. Then from the cave of the sky a bird descended. He was like the autumnal cloud, and was as it were the mass of collyrium. He was as it were the mass of darkness, or a mountain with its wings cut off. Having rested on the earth, the bird saluted me. Having brought a fresh flower, he put it at my feet. Then the bird uttered (my) praise with distinct words: “Victory to you, O god, O Brahman, O joy, O ocean of nectar, O lord of the world, O billow of the continuous contact with good feelings, O you having infinite bodies, O you who are free from the three kinds of dirt due to your thought full of the feeling of uniqueness, O you who have conquered your senses, O you who are dependent, O you, whose body can be secured (only) by means of concentration, O you free from adjuncts, O you who are free, O formless one, O pure one, O limitless one, O you free from egotism, O you having no obstruction, O you qualityless one, O you protector of those who have submitted themselves to you, O you with skilful lotus-like feet, O you of a terrible garland, O you great tiger, O you who burnt Cupid with flames, O you who pierced the lord of demons with an axe, O you great lord, O you who wiped the sindūra on the forehead of the wife of Tripura, O you who applied excellent saffron to the lotus-like breasts of Kātyāyanī, salutation to (you), who are away from proofs, to (you) of the form of great intellect, to (you) the lord of life, to (you) of the form of the three worlds. I salute your lotus-like feet which are touched by the excellent meditating saints and which are wonderful in going to the other end of the unlimited ocean of the worldly existence. Even the lord of speech (i.e. Bṛhaspati) is not able to praise you. Even (Śeṣa), the lord of serpents, does not have the skill in describing you, O great god; then what to say of me, a bird, with a small intelligence?”

39-54a. Having heard this praise made by the bird, I said to him: “O bird, who are you, wherefrom do you come? Your body is like that of a swan, and your colour is like that of a crow. Tell me for what purpose you have come here.” The bird, the best among speakers, thus asked by me, with his neck slightly bent in respect spoke with a soft voice: “O lord of gods, O Dhūrjaṭī, know me to be Brahmā’s swan. (Know) due to which this blackness has recently come up, O lord. O you omniscient one, listen to what is said (in reply to) what is asked by you. When I came to the earth from the Mānasa lake, I landed into a danger. Near the Saurāṣṭra city, I, having taken mouthfuls of lotus-stalks, white like the young crescent moon, from a lake where the lotuses were blooming, resorted to my strength and quickly went into the sky. Then from the sky I suddenly fell on the ground. Then with my mind covered with swoon, with my senses fully weakened, with my body trembling, I, being touched by cool breezes, regained consciousness. I did not ascertain the cause of my fall. ‘Oh, what has this come? How had I a fall today due to which I have this blackness on my body, white like perfect camphor?’ Thus when I, full of wonder, thought (to myself), I heard, from the lotus, words like these: ‘O swan, get up; I shall tell you the cause of your fall and blackness.’ Then I got up and came to the middle of the lake. I saw a charming lotus-plant, having five lotuses. I commenced asking (it) the cause of (my) blackness and fall. Then I saw, in the sky, six myriad men who were dark like clouds, who had covered themselves with gold-coloured garments, who had four arms (each), the weapons (of each) of whom were a mace, a conch, a disc and a lotus, who were variegated with crowns, necklaces, armlets and ear-rings. Having saluted and gone round, keeping it to my right, the lotus-plant, I asked her everything beginning with my fall”.

The lotus plant said:

54b-63a. O swan, you moved in the sky passing over me. Due to that sin you have fallen on the ground. O best bird, due to that only blackness is seen on your body. Sixty thousand bees, smelling the fragrance, produced by the middle lotus that was talking on seeing you falling with its mind full of compassion, went to heaven. Those whom you saw having a lustre like that of a blue lotus, were the sons of a sage in the seventh existence that has passed. On the bank of this very lake, they practised a very severe penance. Sometime, a beautiful lady, having breasts like clusters of campaka-ftowers, with the outer corners of her eyes unsteady and charming due to wavy hair, with the brightness of her smile being kissed by the moonlight released from the pearl of her nose, having put the lute between her breasts, sang in the forest. Hearing the sound of her who was singing, the brāhmaṇas, like deer, went to her, and saw her simultaneously. They said to one another: “I saw her (first), she is mine.” Then a pugilistic encounter took place among the brothers. With their chests pounded with one anothers’ fists, they died.

63b-82. Having enjoyed various fearful hells, they became cranes on the earth. Then they killed wild beasts and were burnt by wild fire. Then being born as cāṇḍālas they killed travellers on the way. Having drunk poisonous water in the forest, they went to Yama’s abode. One by one they got the stock of an ass, a camel. a monkey, and a cat. Then they be came bees, and are (now) in the lake. Today having smelt my fragrance they have gone to the position of Viṣṇu. O best bird, listen, I shall tell you (that) by which there is grandeur in me. In the third birth that has passed (from this birth), I was a daughter of a brāhmaṇa named Sarojavadana. I was devoted only to fidelity, and was engaged in serving the elders. Once, while I was teaching a sārikā, there was a delay. My husband, who got angry, cursed me: “O sinful one, be a sārikā.” After death I got sārikāhood (i.e. was born as a sārikā), (but) due to the propitiousness of my fidelity, a girl in the sages’ house nourished me. It is well-known that the tenth chapter (of the Gītā) is power(-ful). The brāhmaṇa recited it in the morning; I listened to it removing sin. O bird, after (some) time, I cast the body of the sārikā, and became, due to the greatness of the tenth chapter, a celestial nymph in heaven. I was known as Padmavatī; and was the dear friend of Lakṣmī. Once when I was going in an aeroplane through the sky, I saw this charming lake containing spotless lotuses. After descending, when I started sporting in its water, Durvāsas came (there) and saw me without clothes. Then I myself took up this form of a lotus plant. I have five lotuses, two lotuses with my two feet (turned into them), two lotuses with my hands (turned into them) and the fifth lotus with my face (turned into that). The lord of sages looked at me with eyes blazing with anger. “O sinful one, with this form only stay for a hundred years.” Giving a curse like this, he vanished in a moment. Due to the greatness of the tenth chapter my (power of) speech has not vanished. By just going over me, you fell on the ground. O best bird, today, when you remain (by me) my curse will cease. Listen to the best chapter recited by me; by just hearning [hearing?] which you will be free from the curse today only.

Saying like this, she recited the tenth chapter in a soft voice. Having heard it, and having taken the lotus given by her, I offered it, the best lotus of the lotus plant, to you.

Speaking like this, he cast his body. It was wonderful.

Bhṛṅgiriṭi said.

83-99. Who was he in his former birth? How did he be come Brahmā’s swan? With what intention did he cast his body i n front of you?

Hearing these words of Bhṛṅgiriṭi, I said to him: “He was born in the former birth in a brāhmaṇa’s house. He was well known as Sutapas, was a celibate and had his senses controlled. Living in his preceptor’s house, he studied the Vedas everyday. He devoutly and properly served his preceptor. (Once) he while asleep touched, with his foot, his preceptor who was asleep. Due to that sin he obtained the state of a lower animal even in heaven. Then the brāhmaṇa was born among the swans of the Lotus-born (Brahmā). In this existence, when I was watching, the tenth chapter of the Gītā was narrated before him. Having heard it, the bird obtained excellent knowledge. Due to the grandeur of the tenth chapter he was born in a brāhmaṇa family. Due to practice from birth, from the lotus-like face of him even when a child the tenth chapter of the Gītā always flashes. As a result of its meaning he always sees the god holding a conch, a disc, living in all beings. He on whomsoever and whenever, he casts his affectionate glance, is released even though he is a drunkard or killer of a brāhmaṇa. Knowing that I, of the form of the Supreme Soul, brought the brāhmaṇa to this city which is naturally a holy place giving salvation. Salvation is (just) on the palm of people living here. Therefore, due to his seeing (them) no other special effect is produced. I do not allow his knowledge very difficult to get, whicḥ he formerly obtained due to the greatness of the tenth chapter, to go out of him. So also this sage obtained salvation while living. Therefore, I give him my hand when he moves and walks along the road. O Bḥṛṅgiriṭi, such is the great importance of the tenth chapter.

Thus I have told the same account destroying sins as was told before (i.e. to) Bḥṛṅgiriṭi. A man or a woman, whosoever (he or she may be) would obtain the fruit of all the stages of an life by merely listening to it.

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