The Padma Purana

by N.A. Deshpande | 1951 | 1,261,945 words | ISBN-10: 8120838297 | ISBN-13: 9788120838291

This page describes the greatness of nanda-praci which is chapter 18 of the English translation of the Padma Purana, one of the largest Mahapuranas, detailling ancient Indian society, traditions, geography, as well as religious pilgrimages (yatra) to sacred places (tirthas). This is the eighteenth chapter of the Srishti-khanda (section on creation) of the Padma Purana, which contains six books total consisting of at least 50,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 18 - The greatness of Nandā-Prācī

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Bhīṣma said:

1-2. Indeed, O brāhmaṇa, I am hearing something very wonderful—the consecration of Gāyatrī performed like that in the (sacrificial) assembly; Sāvitrī’s opposition and curses; Viṣṇu’s glorification of all her places.

3-8. Gāyatrī, of an excellent complexion, also was praised by Rudra. Hearing in detail about the grandsire the very likeness of the soul, my hair has bristled, and my mind has become very tranquil. Having heard it I am very much pleased and have great curiosity (to know what took place later). Revered Nārāyaṇa, having in that way very much praised Brahmā’s wife with devotion, and placed her on the mountain, uttered the words giving satistaction and strength. I heard (about) Śrīmatī, Hrīmatī and (about)the chief goddess—this much only that came out of your mouth (i.e. whatever you said). The revered one may please tell me in order as to what took place afterwards and what was done at that place. There is no doubt that by hearing it my body will be purified.

Pulastya spoke:

9-26. O king, listen to this as to what wondrous thing was done at Puṣkara when the highest lord was performing the sacrifice. When in the Kṛtayuga, in the beginning, the grandsire was performing the sacrifice, Marīci, Aṅgiras and Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Dakṣa Prajāpati saluted him. All men shining and adorned with ornaments and groups of the celestial nymphs danced near Viṣṇu. Then Tumbaru, having blessed him with the (sounds of the) musical instruments, sang along with the Gandharvas. O Kaurava, gods and Gandharvas like Mahāśruti, Citrasena, Ūrṇāyu, Anagha, Gomāyu, Sūryavarcas and Somavarcas, Tṛṇāyu, Nandi, Citrarartha, Śāliśiras as the thirteenth, Parjanya as the fourteenth, Kali as the fifteenth and Tāraka as the sixteenth, so also the Gandharva Hāhā by name, the Hūhū class of Gandharvas, so also very bright Haṃsa, simultaneously sang (the praise of) the lord. Similarly divine nymphs sang his praise. The twelve Ādityas, glowing and bright with lusture, viz. Dhātā, Aryaman, Savitā, Varuṇa and Aṃśa, so also Bhaga, Indra, Vivasvat, Pūṣan, Tvaṣṭṛ and Parjanya, and lords of gods saluted him at this sacrifice of Brahmā. The Rudras, Mṛgavyādha and Śarva, Nirṛti of great fame, Ajaikapād, Ahirbudhnya, and Pinākin the undefeated, Bhava, Viśveśvara and Kapardin, Sthāṇu and revered Bhaga remained there, O king. The (two) Aśvins, the eight Vasus and the very mighty Maruts, so also the Viśvedevas[1], the Sādhyas remained with their hands folded (showing respect) to him. The great serpents like Śeṣa with Vāsuki as the chief, so also Kāśyapa, Kambala and also the very powerful Takṣaka remained with their hands folded (in adoration to) him. The sons of Vinatā, viz. Tārkṣya, Ariṣṭanemi, the very strong Garuḍa, Vāruṇi and Aruṇi, were well settled there; and revered Nārāyaṇa the lord of the worlds, possessed of wealth, himself having come there along with the sages, said to the chief (god i.e. Brahmā): “O lord of universe, you have pervaded all this; you have created it; therefore you are the lord of the world; O you born from the lotus, my salutation to you.

27-39. Specify what ought to be done by me here (i.e. at this sacrifice).” Thus the revered lord, along with the divine sages, said (to Brahmā), after having saluted Brahmā, the lord of gods, of an inscrutable origin; and that lord Brahmā illumining the quarters with his lustre, covered with a curl of hair on the chest, shining with a golden thread (i.e. necklace), resembling a divine sage, possessing majesty, (himself) the cause of the beings, having bright hair on his body, having a mighty chest, and full of all lustre, remained there—he, who was the recourse to the righteous ones and unapproachable to sinners, whom the great-souled ones having attained divine faculties by means of the concentration of mind regard as the best world (to reach), who possesses the eight divine faculties, whom they call the best of gods, having reached whom the eternal one the restrained brāhmaṇas desirous of final salvation and sanctified with meditation become free from (the cycle of) birth and death. (He is) what (people) residing in all the stages of life, controlled and repeatedly serving him and resorting to a vow difficult to perform, describe as penance; who is described as Ananta among the serpents by the contemplative saints; and as having a thousand heads and red eyes by the excellent (serpents) like Śeṣa; who is adored as a sacrifice by brāhmaṇas desiring heaven; who (i.e. he) can (simultaneously) move at many places; he possesses splendour; he alone is the matchless omniscient one. We, desirious of a refuge, betake ourselves to that god, the god of gods, whom one knows to be the knower, tobe giving a portion in the sacrifice, to have the eyes of a bull, fire, the sun and the moon, to have the sky as his body, who is the protector and refuge and who is the cause of the birth of all gods, and who is the creator of the sages and the worlds. We bow down to that best god, who, for doing what is agreeable to the gods and for the stability of the entire universe, made kavya (oblations offered to manes) suitable to the manes, and havya (offerings made to gods) best (suited) for gods, (and made) all things in the world).

40-63. God Brahmā, who was performing the sacrifice with the sacrificial fires,[2] fashioned the creation again as he had done before. Revered, aged, intelligent Brahmā, the grandsire, of an immeasurable nature, being followed by Viṣṇ U, who maintained the worlds, came to the place of sacrifice, full of the rich, the priests and the members and protected by mighty Viṣṇu holding a bow. Kings of the demons, and the groups of friends were (present) there. He quickly meditated upon himself with his self; then properly conceiving the sacrifice, the eternal, revered one chose the priests there (i.e. for the sacrifice). Bhṛgu and other priests, well-versed in the performance of a sacrifice performed (the sacrifice), and the prominent sages listened to the auspicious words uttered by the chief of those who knew many Vedic verses at the sacrifice that was being performed. The sacrificial lore—the Vedic lore—abided there, with the resounding sound of the great sages conversant with the order of the worlds. The etymology of words was discussed in various ways at the sacrifice by the brāhmaṇas who were conversant with the proper performance of a sacrifice, who knew the science dealing with the proper pronunciation of words and laws of euphony,[3] who knew the meanings of words, who were adept in all lores, who had the knowledge of the system dealing with the correct interpretation of the ritual of Veda and the settlement of dubious points in regard to the Vedic texts and conversant with logical aphorisms. At every place, O best king, (people) saw important restrained brāhmaṇas, who had fulfilled their vows, who were engaged in muttering (sacred hymns) and (performing) sacrifices. At the sacrificial place there, Brahmā, the grandsire of the worlds, the preceptor of the gods and demons, possessing splendour, was (being) waited upon by gods and demons. Dakṣa, Vasiṣṭha, Pulaha, Marīci, the best brāhmaṇa, so also Aṅgiras, Bhṛgu, Atri, Gautama, Nārada, Knowledge, Authority, the Sky, Wind, Fire Water, Earth, so also Sound, Touch, Form, Taste and Odour, so also the changes and modifications, and whatever was a great cause, and the four Vedas, viz. Ṛk, Yajus, Sāman and Atharvan along with the (sciences of) sound, phonetics, etymology, ritual, and metrics, and with the sciences of health, archery, investigation, of knowing (the signs of) elephants and horses, and with history—with these supplementary sciences, all the well-adorned Vedas waited upon the grandsire—the great-souled one—along with Oṃkāra. O you belonging to the family of Bharata, Penance, Sacrifices, and the Solemn vow to perform an observance, and Breath—these and others—waited upon the grandsire. Artha (Worldly prosperity), Dharma (Good works), Kāma (Love of sensual enjoyments), Hatred, Joy, Śukra, Bṛhaspati and Saṃvarta (a kind of cloud), so also Budha, Śanaiścara, Rāhu and all (other) planets, and the Maruts, Viśvakarman, the manes, the Sun, the Moon, all these ever waited upon Brahmā; Gāyatrī, the remover of difficulties, speech of seven kinds, all syllables, so also the constellations, glosses, all sciences in an embodied form, were there, O king, so also the Moments, Lavas[4] (i.e. minute divisions of time), Muhūrtas and Day and Night, Fortnights and Months, so also all sacrifices, along with the deities, waited upon the magnanimous Brahmā.

64-66. Other important goddeses, all the divine mothers—Hrī, Kīrti and Dyuti, Prabhā, Dhṛti, Kṣamā, Bhūti, Nīti, Vidyā, so also Mati, Śruti, Smṛti and Kṣānti, Śānti, Puṣṭi and Kriyā; so also all celestial nymphs skilled in dancing and singing waited upon Brahmā.

67-81. Vipracitti, Śibi, Śaṅku, Rayaḥśaṅku, Vegavān, Ketumān, Ugra, Sogra, Vyagra, Mahāsura, Parigha, Puṣkara and Sāmba, so also Aśvapati and Prahlāda, Bali, Kumbha, Saṃrāda, Gaganapriya, Anuhrāda, Hari and Hara, Varāha and Kuśoraja, Yonibhakṣa, Vṛṣaparvan, Liṅgabhakṣa and Kuru, Niḥprabha, Saprabha, Śrīmān, so also Nirūdara, Ekacakra, Mahācakra, Dvicakra, Kulasambhava, Śarabha and Śalabha, Vakrapatha, Krāpatha, Kratha, Bṛhadvānti, Mahājihva, Śaṅkukarṇa, Mahādhvani, Dīrghajihva, Arkanayana, Mṛḍakāya, Mṛḍapriya, Vāyu, Gariṣṭha, Namuci, Śambara, Vijvara, Vibhu, Viṣvaksena, Candrahartṛ and Krodhavardhana also, Kālaka, and Kalakānta, Kuṇḍada, who loved fighting and Gariṣṭha, Variṣṭha, Pralamba, Naraka, Pṛthu, Indratāpana, Vātāpī and Ketumān proud of his strength, Asiloman, Suloman and Bāṣkali, Pramada, Mada, Śṛgālavadana and Keśin, so also Śarada and Ekākṣa, Varāhu, Vṛtra and Krodhavimokṣaṇa. These and other powerful demons said to Brahmā who was being waited upon by them: “O revered one, you created us; you gave the three worlds; O best among the prominent gods, you made the gods superior to us; O holy grandsire, what should we do at this sacrifice of yours? Tell us what is beneficial; we are not able to decide what to do. What is the use of these poor gods to you—these gods who are born of Aditi, are always struck down by all and are always defeated? You are the grandsire ofus along with the gods; when your sacrifice will be over, there will be a (quarrel) with gods and there will be hostility about wealth; there is no doubt about this. We shall, with all demons (therefore, only) witness your sacrifice.”

Pulastya said:

82-86. Having heard their proud words, Janārdana (i.e. Viṣṇu) of great fame, along with Indra said these words to Śambhu: “O Rudra, these prominent demons have come here to create obstacles; invited by Brahmā, they will try to create an obstacle here (i.e. in the sacrifice). We have to forgive (i.e. put up with) them till the sacrifice is completed. When this sacrifice will come to an end, gods should fight (with demons). O lord, you have to act in such a way that the earth gets rid of the demons. So also you have, along with me (to do various things) for Indra’s victory. The Maruts are appointed to surround the brāhmaṇas (for their protection).

87-90. We shall perform a sacrifice by seizing whatever wealth the demons have. When the brāhmaṇas and other people that have come here are sad, we who are appointed to serve (at Brahmā’s sacrifice), shall spend it.” Brahmā said to that Viṣṇu who was thus speaking: “These sons of Danu are angry, and are not desired (i.e. liked) by you also; you along wit:h Rudra and other gods have to forgive them. When the Yuga is terminated and the sacrifice is over, you and these brave (sons of) Danu will be dismissed by me; at that time (only) you should have peace with them or fight with them.”

Pulastya spoke:

91-93a. Brahmā, the lord himself, again said to the demons: “In this sacrifice I have no hostility whatsoever against the demons. You have always remained well-disposed (to me) and interested in my undertaking.”

The demons said:

O grandsire, we shall do all this that you command. Gods are our younger brothers. They have no fear (fromus).

Pulastya said:

93b. Hearing these words (uttered) by them, the grandsire was pleased.

94-96. When they waited for a while, a crore of sages, having heard about the sacrifice of Brahmā, came (there). Viṣṇu (offered) worship to them and the Trident-holder (i.e. Śiva) gave them a respectful offering; and having presented them with a cow and a respectful offering, having offered them a residence at Puṣkara, told them to stay (there).

97-99. Then all the sages having matted hair and deer-hide, adorning the best lake as the gods do the Ganges (stayed there). Some were clean-shaved; some had put on red garments; others had long beards; the teeth of some were not compact; some had small eyes; some had very thin or very big (i.e. bulging) bellies; some were squint-eyed; some had long ears; some had deformed ears; the ears of some were cut off.

100-137. Some had put on long cotton garments; some had no garments; some were covered with sinews and skin. The bellies of (some of) those holy sages had bulged out. O King, seeing the sacred place, viz. Puṣkara, shining all around, the sages, with a strong desire (to stay at a holy place) settled there. There were high-souled Vālakhilyas[5]; the others were Aśmakuṭṭas (using stones for pounding); (some) were Dantolūkhalins (using only the teeth as pestle and mortar); others were Samprakṣāla (having full oblation); others subsisted on air (only); some observed many restraints; so also (some) slept on barren field (bare ground). Having seen (the reflections of) their faces in this lake in a moment they became handsome. Thinking ‘What is this?’ and observing one another, (and finding that) their faces had become charming after seeing their reflections in the holy water, the ascetics named the holy place as ‘Mukhadarśana’. At that time they had bathed, were restrained, and had become handsome; endowed with incomparable qualities they were (i.e. could be) likened to gods’ sons. O king, all the forest-dwellers (i.e. the ascetics) shining only with their sacred threads, and properly worshipping the sacred place, lived there. Making offerings into (and thus maintaining) the sacred fires, they performed various rites; with their sins burnt by penance they remained there, and thinking ‘We shall promote this holy place to the highest position’ (those) brāhmaṇas named it ‘Jyeṣṭha Puṣkara’. People who came there were astonished to see the many dwarfs who lived by the holy place. (They) gave gifts and various kinds of utensils to brāhmaṇas; hearing about Sarasvatī and Prācī, the brāhmaṇas desiring to bathe there came there.

The best holy place on the Sarasvatī was (crowded) with many hosts of brāhmaṇas. It was adorned with trees growing on the Sarasvatī-tīrtha like jujube trees, iṅguda trees, kāśmarya plants (called gāmbhārī), Indian fig trees, so also the holy fig trees, atimukta creepers, Terminalia Belerica, pauloma trees, palāśa trees, shoots of bamboos and pīlu trees, so also with dry soils and with syandana trees, the wood-apple trees, karavīra trees, bilva trees, embic myrobalan trees, and groups of palm trees. It had mainly the clusters of kadamba trees, and was delightful to all beings. It was chosen (for residence) by those who subsisted on air, water, fruits and leaves, so also by those who used their teeth as the mortars (i.e. those who ground grain to be eaten between their teeth), so also by the chief of those who pounded the grains with, stones, so also by superior sages. It was noisy with the sound of the recitation of the Vedas; and was crowded with hundreds of herds of deer. Similarly it looked extremely beautiful with (the presence of) those who observed non-violence and were very righteous.

At that Puṣkara the river was (flowing) in five streams: Suprabhā, Kāñcanā, Prācī[6], Nanda and Viśālakā. In the sacrificial assembly of the grandsire, in the extensive place of the sacrifice (being performed) on the earth, when brāhmaṇas were well-received with the announcement of the day being auspicious and similarly, with the observance of restraints by the gods, O great king, when they (the gods) were engaged in the sacrifice and when Brahmā, after being initiated was performing the sacrificial session, rich (in the fulfilment) of all desires, objects mentally thought of and conducive to Dharma and Artha stood by the brāhmaṇas, at every place, O best king; and the gods and Gandharvas sang and groups of celestial damsels danced. Divine musical instruments (were) duly sounded. Even gods were greatly amazed at the grandeur of the sacrifice, what to say of human beings! O Bhīṣma, when that sacrifice (of the grandsire) was being performed, and when the grandsire remained at Puṣkara, O best of kings, the sages, being pleased, spoke to Sarasvatī, (one of the streams of which) was named Suprabhā.

All those sages seeing Sarasvatī (flowing) with speed and illumining the grandsire, looked highly upon the sacrifice. Thus this best of the rivers i.e. Sarasvatī, arose for the grandsire and for pleasing the sages, at that place, where the tranquil sages reciting various Vedic texts (resided); and the river Sarasvatī herself having five streams and making religious merit (more) meritorious, was named Suprabhā. The sages coming together, remembered Sarasvatī. She, the blessed one, was thought of by the sages engaged in sacrificial sessions; the great river, pleased with (their) devotion resorted to (i.e. flowed towards) the eastern direction. (This stream of) Sarasvatī flowing to the east was called Prācī.

O great king, listen to this another great wonder on the earth. We have heard that a brāhmaṇa, Maṅkaṇaka (by name) was injured by the tip of a darbha. From that wound on his palm, it is said that the juice of vegetables flew. Seeing that juice of vegetables, he, overcome with joy, danced. Then, when he started dancing, all the mobile and immobile world being deluded by his lustre, (also) danced. Gods like Indra, and sages with penance as their wealth, requested Brahma to do that by which he would not dance. O King, for the sake of the sages, Brahma directed Rudra, “O Śiva, speak (to him) in such a way that he would not dance.” Rudra, having gone (there) saw the sage overpowered with joy (and said): “O best brāhmaṇa, why are you dancing? With you dancing, the entire world is dancing.”

138a. Restrained by him, this best sage, (who was) dancing said:

138b-147. “O god, do you not see the juice of vegetables flowing from my hand? Seeing it, and filled with great joy I am dancing.” The god laughed and said to the sage deluded with passion: “I am not being amazed, O brāhmaṇa, observe me (properly).” O Kaurava, the best sage, thus addressed by the great god then thought: “Who is this one who has stoppedme?” Śiva struck his thumb with his own finger. Then, O king, from the wound, ashes white like snow, oozed out. Seeingit and being ashamed, he fell at his (i.e. Śiva’s) feet, and said: “I do not regard anyone else greater than Rudra. O Trident-holder, you are the recourse to the movable and immovable world. The learned say that you have created all this; and at the time of the deluge everything enters you again. Even gods cannot know you properly; then how can I? All gods, even Brahmā and others are seen in you. You are all (in all) of the gods, you are the doer and you get things done. Due to your favour only all gods become fully fearless here”. The sage, thus praising Mahādeva, saluted him and said: “Revered one, by your favour penance does not wane here”.

148-149. Then god (Śiva), being pleased, again said to the sage: “O brāhmaṇa, by my favour may your penance increase thousandfold. With you I shall always live here by the Prāci, the very auspicious stream of Sarasvatī—especially more so at this holy place.”

150-151. For him, who casts his body at the northern bank of Sarasvatī, nothing would be inaccessible in this and the next world. Again, he who is intent on muttering prayers at the bank of Prācī, does not die. (On the contrary) being floated (i.e. saved) he attains great fruit of the horse-sacrifice.

152-154. That best brāhmaṇa, an ascetic, emaciating his body by means of restraints and fasts, subsisting on water, wind and leaves, sleeping on the sacrificial ground, and also following other restraints individually, with his body purified, reaches the highest place of Brahman.

155-157. Formerly Brahma said that whatever (piece of) gold (even of the size of) a sesamum is offered at that sacred place is equal to the offering of Meru. Those men who make the Śrāddha-offerings at that holy place go to heaven along with twenty-one (members of) their family. It is an auspicious holy place for the manes; they, rescued here with the presentation of one obsequial rice-ball by their son, will go to heaven. Again (i.e. after that) they do not desire (any) food, and go along the path of salvation.

158-161. Hear as to how Sarasvatī obtained this ancient status. In olden times Sarasvatī was (thus) told by gods including Indra: “You should flow in the western direction towards the shore of the salt sea. Taking this Vaḍavāgni, drop him into the sea. When this is done all gods will be fearless; otherwise (i.e. if the fire is not dropped into the sea), this will burn (the gods) with his lustre. Therefore, protect the gods; for a long time they are afraid of him. O you of beautiful buttocks, be a mother to the gods; grant them fearlessness.”

162-165. That goddess thus addressed by that mighty Viṣṇu said: “I am not free; let my father, the supreme being, choose (me to do the job); I am a maiden having a vow; I always obey his order; without the command I would not move even a step; therefore. O (gods), find out some other way.” Knowing her intention, they, having approached the grandsire, said to him: “O grandsire, no one except your daughter, the faultless maiden, can take the Vaḍavāgni (to the oceans).”

166-167. (Brahmā then) having brought Sarasvatī and having placed her in his lap and having smelt at her head, said to her affectionately: “O goddess, the gods have asked me to tell you, the glorious one, to carry and drop this Vaḍavāgni into the salt sea.”

168-172. Having heard those words of her father, the girl, of a helpless mind, wept like a segregated osprey. Her face, turbid with tears of grief, appeared like a white blooming lotus sprinkled with drops of water. Seeing her like that, all gods, led by the grandsire (i.e. with the grandsire being preeminent), were overpowered by grief. Then having propped up her heart tormented with grief, the grandsire said to her: “Do not weep; there is no cause of fear for you. Due to the prowess of gods you will get respect. O daughter, taking the fire (to the sea) drop it into it.”

173. Thus addressed, that girl with her eyes bedewed with tears, having saluted the lotus-born (i.e. Brahmā), said: “I shall go.”

1 74. She was again told by them (i.e. the gods) and also by her father not to entertain fear. Giving up fear, and with her mind pleased, she set out.

175-218. At the time of her departure the world was filled with the auspicious sounds of conchs and drums and of (other auspicious (musical instruments). She, the blessed one, had put on white garments, was decorated with white sandal, and adorned with a radiant necklace resembled white lotuses. Her face was like the full moon, her long eyes resembled lotuses; she filled the white fame of the lord of gods in the ten quarters. With the lustre in her heart she, illuminating the entire world, went out. Gaṅgā following her, was thus addressed by the excellent one: “O my friend, I shall see you again, where are you going?” Gaṅgā, thus addressed, said to her in sweet words: “O auspicious one, when you will go to the eastern direction you will see me. You will be surrounded by gods. I shall have your sight (i.e. I shall see you) after turning to the north; you of a bright smile, give up your grief. O Sarasvatī, I who will turn to the north will be auspicious; (so will you be when) you turn to the east. O you of a good vow, those men who perform there a hundred auspicious sacrifices by means of a bath, offering presents and Śrāddha, and also inexhaustible oblations to the manes, are free from the three debts. They will go along the path of final bliss. There is no doubt about it.” Then Gaṅgā again said to her: “May I see you again; go to your own residence; O sinless one, you should remember me.” In the same way, Yamuna too, and charming Gāyatrī along with Sāvitrī saw their friend off. Then the high-minded Sarasvatī, dismissing the gods and becoming a river appeared in Uttaṅka’s hermitage; after having put down that form under an Indian fig-tree, the revered one descended there in the presence of gods. That tree, of the form of Viṣṇṇ, is always revered by gods. For obtaining (desired) fruit this very glorious tree should always be waited upon by brāhmaṇas. It is extended with many branches and is like another Brahmā.

Various words of the brāhmaṇas and gods with their hearts tinged by emotion, who have entered the hollows (of) and huts (near) the tree are heard. The tree though having no flowers appears to be flowered. The excellent river looked splendid with flowers like jasmine and campaka and with auspicious parrots sticking to (i.e. perching on) the branches, and with fragrant ketaka flowers. By means of the cuckoos she appears to have put on a garland, and due to the foam she appears to have flowers—as Gaṅgā appears with Śiva similarly she appears with the fig tree. Remaining in that water there she said to god Janārdana (i.e. Viṣṇu): “Give that fire, I shall obey the order of the god.” Viṣṇu thus addressed, said to her: “You need have no fear of getting burnt; you yourself should drop this royal fire, this Vaḍavāgni, after having taken it to the western ocean, O auspicious one. If you go in this way you will reach the water of the ocean. Govinda, having placed the fire into a golden pot, put it into the interior (i.e. water) of Sarasvatī.

That (goddess) of beautiful buttocks, that great river, taking it went towards the west, and having disappeared (from there) reached Puṣkara. The pure great river rose on the boundary-mountain and came to the big Puṣkara-forest, which was resorted to by the gods and Siddhas (semi-divine beings), and where the grandsire had performed a sacrificial session, for the success of principal sages. She rose after having inundated all the pools into which Brahmā had made (offerings of) the sacrifice. She, very auspicious, rose like that in the sacred place Puṣkara. Therefore, it is said to be filling up with wind, the life of the world. That great auspicious river, that goddess Sarasvatī that destroyed the sins of mortals too, reaching that auspicious holy place remained there. Those of auspicious deeds who see Sarasvatī remaining at Puṣkara, do not have a very fearful downfall. And again that man, who bathes there with devotion, having reached Brahmā’s world enjoys with Brahmā. He, again, who gives curds pleasing to the mind, he too, reaching Agni’s world, enjoys excellent pleasures. He too, who gives with devotion, an excellent garment to a brāhmaṇa, obtains ten-fold the fruit of the present of a garment. That man of a pure intelligence, who having bathed in the Jyeṣṭha Kuṇḍa, offers oblations to the manes, frees all of them even from hell.

The son of Brahmā said: “What other sacred place would a man desire after having reached the auspicious Sarasvatī at the holy place of Brahmā? Therefore a man who bathes (but) once in the Jyeṣṭha Kuṇḍa, obtains all that fruit that he would obtain after having bathed in all (other) holy places. What is the use of prolixity in this matter? The sacred place is an auspicious course. He who has obtained this triad, has obtained the highest station. He who bathes and makes offerings at the holy place in Kurukṣetra at the proper time and gives money to a brāhmaṇa in the bright half of Kārtika or of Vaiśākha or at the time of lunar or solar eclipse, obtains unending happiness. ‘Of the bathing places, the sacred places described by the best sages, this is the most meritorious’—so said the grandsire. He who having bathed in the Madhyama Kuṇḍa on the full-moon day of Kārtika, gives money (to a brāhmaṇa) obtains the merit (that accrues by the performance) of Aśvamedha. In the same way a man, who takes a bath with devotion in the Kaniṣṭha Kuṇḍa, and gives a beautiful small dwelling to a brāhmaṇa, quickly goes to the world of Agni; and along with twenty-one members of his family enjoys a great fruit there. Therefore a man should, with all efforts, make up his mind to go to and to reach Puṣkara—where having reached Puṣkara forest Prācī Sarasvatī, is called Mati, Smṛti, Śubha Prajñā, Medhā, Buddhi and Dayāparā.

219-221. These six are said to be the synonyms of Sarasvatī. Since the time Sarasvatī became Prācī, those, who remaining on the bank, even see the water there, also obtain the fruit (of the performance) of Aśvamedha; and a man, who getting down there (i.e. into the water) bathes with devotion, would become the follower of Brahman.

222-239. He, too, who there worships his manes with vegetables etc. obtains many pleasures due to their prowess; and men who offer a śrāddha there according to the rules, take their dead ancestors to heaven from the painful hell. The dead forefathers of him who after having bathed there offers them water with sesamum and mixed with darbhas are pleased. Of all the holy places this one is declared to be uncommon; therefore it is known to be the first of all the holy places. It has remained as an abode of sport for righteousness and salvation; again it is connected with Sarasvatī and is superior in merit. It is the giver even of the four goals of human life, viz. Dharma, Artha, Kāma and Mokṣa. Even those men who enter the water here for the destruction of their sins, easily obtain the fruit equivalent to the presentation of a cow. The wise say that it is equal to the offering of gold. The dead ancestors rescued there by the son by presenting libation of water and balls of rice, go to heaven even if they had stayed in hell. Those men who drink the water of Sarasvatī at Puṣkara obtain the inexhaustible worlds adored by Brahmā, the lord of the universe.

At Puṣkara, the Sarasvatī has become a flight of steps (leading) to heaven. She, the great river, residing at various places, is capable of being reached by men of religious merit, sages knowing the essential nature of righteousness. Therefore, that pure goddess is present everywhere—especially at Puṣkara, for she is pure, most pure. The auspicious river Sarasvatī has remained easily accessible in the world; but at Kurukṣetra, Prabhāsa, so also at Puṣkara, she is the best. That holy place is said to be the best of all the holy places on the earth. It is (said) to accomplish the four (goals of human life) viz. Dharma, Artha, Kāma and Mokṣa.

He, who having reached Prācī Sarasvatī, desires (to go to any) other holy place, having abandoned nectar in his hand longs for poison. She is said to be the greatest in Jyeṣṭha (Puṣkara and) mediocre in Prayāga; from there a wise man should go to the less important (i.e. the Kaniṣṭha) to the south. He should take bath in all these three (pools), should also go round (them); to him who gives the water of these with sesamum to his dead ancestors, they being pleased again (i.e. in return) give him unlimited fruit. He, who after having bathed and having become restrained, always sees the grandsire in natural or reverse order, either jointly or separately (gets unlimited fruit).

240-251a. One who desires (to go to) Brahmā’s world should always bathe in Puṣkara. The three projections and the three white streams of Puṣkara are well-known. We do not know its cause. (The three pools are): Kanīyāṃsa (or Kaniṣṭha), Madhyama and the third is the Jyeṣṭha Puṣkara. The white streams are known as Śṛṅgas. A man, who, with his desires for Dharma, Artha, Kāma and Mokṣa unsatiated, casts his body there undoubtedly gets salvation; one, who being devout and restrained, and having bathed there gives an auspicious cow purified with sacred prayers to a brāhmaṇa obtains (i.e. goes to) the worlds giving salvation. What is the use of prolixity in this matter? He, who even at night, after bathing offers money to a suppliant obtains endless happiness. The best sages recommend making offerings of sesamum there. A bath (there) on the fourteenth of the dark half is prescribed. One who being self-subdued offers a round lump of food with an oil cake or jaggery to the manes goes to their world. Having reached Puṣkara forest, Sarasvatī, the very charming one, disappeared and went from there. Then she proceeded towards the west and not far away from that Puṣkara, she reached the Kharjūra-forest, delighting the minds of the sages, full of flowers in all seasons, and resorted to by the Siddhas[7] and the celestial singers. She came to be known as Nandā, the best among rivers. She was possessed of fish, aligators, and large fish and full of pure water.

Sūta said:

251b-253. Then Devavrata (i.e. Bhīṣma) said: “O brāhmaṇa, which is that other excellent river, viz. Sarasvatī named as Nandā? I have curiosity (to know) about it, as to how this best river came about, and for which reason she was produced.” Thus addressed, Pulastya started to tell Bhiṣma the old story as to why she was called Nandā.

Pulastya said:

254. There was a king Prabhañjana, who followed the vow of a Kṣatriya. He, the powerful one, proceeded to kill deer in the forest.

255. Then he saw a female deer staying in that thicket; he struck her, that came in front of him, with a very sharp arrow.

256. Looking in all directions and seeing him with an arrow in his hand she said (to him): “O fool, why have you done this wicked deed?

257. I, bending down, was just giving a suck to my son. I not entertaining fear from any quarter, was quickly struck (by you) through greed for (my) flesh.

258-259. O king, I have formerly heard that one should not kill a deer when it is suckling or concealing a young one (i.e. pregnant) or is mating privately. When I was breastfeeding this my son you struck me who innocent and who had come to this forest, with an arrow like Indra’s bolt.

260. Therefore, O you of wicked mind, you will become a carnivorous animal. Be a tiger in this forest full of thorns.”

261. Hearing the curse thus pronounced on him, the king stood before (her). Being afflicted, and joining his hands in supplication the king said to the female deer:

262. “I did not know that you were giving a suck to your son (i.e. your young one). O good one, I struck you through ignorance; being well-reconciled (please) be gracious.

263. O female deer, tell me when I shall abandon the tiger’s form and shall (again) get the human form? (Tell me) how I can get free from such a curse.”

264-267. Thus addressed by him, the female deer said these auspicious words to him: “O king, at the end of a hundred years, having had conversation with Nandā as a cow, your curse will come to an end.” When these words were uttered by the female deer, the king turned into a tiger having the weapons like nails and fangs and extremely fierce. He, a quadruped remained there, killing and eating beasts, and also the bipeds whose turn of fate was ordained by death. Thus he, condemning himself and eating flesh of beasts, passed a hundred years in that forest.

268-270. “When shall I again become a human being? I shall not (again) do such a vile deed causing a debased birth.[8] Running and hunting through greed for flesh I obtained, along with a calamity, a sight causing fear to human beings, and painful to beasts and human beings.

271-284. Though born in a sinless family of the good, I am made wicked by a sin, and my form is changed. Mark (how) time changes. So I have no good deed (to my credit). Only the condemned violence (stands to my credit). It leads to grief, and no freedom is possible. How will (the words of) the female deer come true?” When a hundred years passed as he was living in the forest, once a herd of cows came there for (eating) grass and (drinking) water. It remained there in cow-pens or enclosures, and remaining in the neighbourhood of the forest it filled it with the sound of rumination. The forest was crowded with excited cowherds and trees. At night it had the sound of the bamboos and was auspicious to the cowherdesses. When he was thus staying in the group of the date-trees, a cow by name Nandā (came there); she was delighted, glad and (well-) fed; she was the chief of the herd of cows; her complexion was (white) like that of a swan; her udders oozing (milk); her skin was thin; her throat was dark-blue; her nose was long; her lovely body was ornamented[9]; her neck was white; her neighing was sweet like (the jingling of) a row of bells. Fearless, she grazed at the front of the entire herd; going to a place covered (with grass), she, the virtuous one, moved freely and ate the grass secretly. On the bank of the river there was another mountain named Rohita, which was having many dens and valleys and caves and which was frequented by many beasts. In its north-east region, in an inaccessible place, which was fearful, full of grass, impassable and rough, which was difficult of access, terrible and causing horripilation, which was scattered over with dear and lions, which was resorted to by many beasts of prey, which was dense with creepers, trees etc., which was resounding with (the cries of) hundreds of female foxes, lived a fearful tiger taking any form and causing fear, with his shoulders besmeared with blood and having weapons in the form of fearful fangs and nails. (There was a cowherd) named Nanda, who was righteous-minded.

285-287a. He was engaged in the good of the cowherdesses. He protected his wealth of cows with long blades of grass with their tips uncut. That cow Nanda, separated from the herd through desire for grass stood before him. The tiger rushed to her and said “Stop, stop. You are decreed to be my prey today; and O cow, you have come (to me) on your own.”

287b-289. Hearing the tiger’s words which were cruel and caused horripilation, that cow, full of love and with a stammering tone, affectionate towards her calf and being scorched by grief for her son (i.e. her calf), weeping piteously, disappointed in seeing her son, remembered her good calf, of a white complexion and resembling the moon in radiance.

290-292. The tiger, seeing that cow piteously and very much grieved, said these fearful words to her: “O cow, why are you weeping? Luckily you have come to me; accidentally you have become my prey. The life of you weeping or laughing is in (my) possession. In the world one enjoys what is ordained; O cow, you have come of your own accord. Your death is ordained for today only; why do you bewail in vain?”

293. The tiger again asked her: “Why did you weep? I have a great curiosity in this matter. So (please) tell me.”

294. Having heard the tiger’s words, Nanda said these words: “O you (tiger) who changes your forms according to will, please forgive me.

295. Salutation to you. Having met you the (beings in the) world have no protection. I am not lamenting for my own life; I have to meet death.

296-301. One that is born is sure to die, and one that is dead is sure to be born. There, O lord of beasts, I am not grieving over an inevitable thing. As even all gods, being helpless, are sure to die, therefore, O tiger, I am not the one to repent for my life. But O good one, I wept through love (for my calf) and (consequent) distress. There is torment in my heart, please listen to it. O king of beasts, I brought forth (a calf) in my youth. My calf—my son, is liked by me and is my first-born. My calf sucks milk and does not yet (even) smell grass. He is tied in the cowherd’s residence, and being hungry is waiting for me. I am bewailing him; how will my son live. Overpowered by my love for my son I desire to give him a suck.

302-315. Having given him a suck and having licked him on his head, having handed him over to my frienḍs and instructed them about proper and improper (things for him), I shall again come back; then you will eat me as you like.” Hearing Nandā’s words, the lord of beasts spoke again: “What have you to do with your son (now)? Why do you not think about your death? All beings, on seeing me, are frightened and die, but you, full of pity, are saying ‘O son, O son.’ Sons, penance, gifts, mother, father, preceptor—none of these can save a person oppressed by death. How will you come back after having gone and seen that cow-house full of the cowherdesses, charmingly resounding with (the sound of) bulls, adorned with young calves, ornament of the divine world, and undoubtedly resembling the heaven, always j oyful,divine,worshipped by all gods, which is (most) pure of the pure and (most) auspicious of the auspicious, which is the (most) sacred place of all the sacred places, which is the most blessed of all blessed things, (which is) endowed with all qualities, and is a great abode of the lord, which is known as the matchless heaven on earth among all the sacred places, where poverty is driven away by the sound of churning made by the cowherdesses, and (by the sound) of the young calf, and also by the lowing of the cows, where the calves desiring (to meet) their mothers low piteously, which is protected by the brave cowherds, exerting in fighting with arms, where there is the sound of excellent music and dance, which resounds with clapping (done) with joy, and with the calves moving here and there, which shines like a lake with moving lotuses, which is a pleasing abode of Lakṣmī and which is crowded with delighted and nourished people and which resembles the world of cows? O good one, let my five elements (i.e. the five elements in me) drink your blood. I shall not make them sad merely by speaking (to you).”

Nandā said:

316-324. O lord of beasts I am like this, a cow who has brought forth her first calf; (please) listen to my words: Seeing my friends, my young calf, the cowherds (who) protected me, and taking my leave of the cowherdesses and especially of my mother, I shall surely come back; if you trust me, leave me. If I do not come back, I shall be tainted by that sin that accrues due to the murder of a brāhmaṇa and of the mother and father. If I do not again come back I shall be tainted by that sin which the hunters or barbarians or those that administer poison, commit. If I do not return again, I shall be tainted by that sin of those who cause trouble to the cows and beat their wife (wives). If I shall not come back again I shall be tainted by the sin of him who, having given (i.e. promised to give) his daughter to one, desires to offer her to another man. If I do not return again I shall be tainted with the sin of him who drives unfit bulls over a rugged (surface) or who creates interruption when a story is being narrated. If I do not come back again I shall be tainted by the sin of him, whose friend, having come to his house, goes back disappointed. (I shall be tainted) by such terrible sins (if I do not come back; therefore) I shall come back again.

325-333. Having comprehended the agreement the tiger again spoke (these) words.

The tiger said:

O young cow, by means of your oaths an understanding (now) has been produced (i.e. reached) between us. Perhaps having gone (back) you may think, ‘This fool has been duped by me’. In this matter (of oaths) also, some say that there is no sin in (taking and then breaking) a promise by oath (given to) ladies, in case of marriages and freeing cows, and when there is a danger to one’s life; but you should not believe (in such words). In this world certain heretics or fools who regard themselves to be wise, will confuse your mind in a moment as if put on a wheel. Mean persons, with their minds covered with ignorance and not well-versed in the scriptures delude people with accounts based on false logic. The very clever ones show what is false to be true, as those who know surprising acts show low and high parts on an even surface. Generally a successful person does not respect his benefactor; a calf seeing the loss of milk abandons his mother. I do not see anyone in this world who returns a (good) turn; the design of everyone who is successful becomes changed. Formerly the sages, gods, demons and men mutually made promises by oath; we do not honour them.

334-335. King Vaivasvata (i.e. Yama) cuts off half the merit of him who swears by truth in the presence of gods, fire or (his) preceptor. Let you not think that this one is deceived by your oaths. Do all that you indicated now.

Nanda said:

336-338. It is so, O great king, who is able to deceive you? He who will deceive others will have deceived himself.

The tiger said:

O young cow, affectionate towards your son (i.e. your calf), look (here). Go to your son. Giving him a suck and having licked him on the head, having seen your mother, brother, your friends and relatives, keep (ing) truth in the fore (i.e. honour truth and) come back quickly.

339-344. That truth-speaking cow affectionate towards her calf, having thus taken an oath and being permitted by the lord of beasts went to (the cow-house). Her face was bedewed with tears; she was helpless; she was weeping and extremely distressed; she was lowing and had fallen into the ocean of grief; she was repeatedly weeping, being unable to protect herself like an elephant whose leg was seized (by an alligator) in a lake. She reached the cowpen situated on the green river. Seeing her weeping calf she ran to him, approaching (i.e. she approached) that young one with his eyes full of tears. The calf, reaching his mother and (being) apprehensive asked her: “I am not finding (you) in your (usual) spirits, or fortitude, today; your eyes appear dejected, you appear to be very much frightened.”

Nanda said:

345-348a. O son, drink (the milk from) my breasts today. If you ask the cause (of my dejection), I unable to tell it (to you). Satisfy yourself as much as you like. O son, this is the last (time you have the) sight of your mother. It will be difficult to have it hereafter. Today I am alone (here with you). Having sucked my udders today, whose udders will you suck in the morning? O son, abandoning you I have to go, since I have come here with a binding by oath. I have to give up my life to a tiger who is emaciated with hunger.

Hearing the words of Nandā the calf said (these) words:

The calf said:

348b-350. I shall go there where you desire to go. There is no doubt that my death with you (i.e. when you die) is praiseworthy, (for) being (left all) alone and being unhappy, I have to die. O mother, if the tiger eats me up with (you), then I shall certainly have the same path as those who are devoted to their mothers have.

351-355. Therefore I shall certainly accompany you. There can be no doubt about it; or O mother, you remain (here); let me have the bindings by oaths. What is the use of the life of me who is separated from (my) mother? In the forest, who will be the protector ofme who has never had a protector? For children, living on (their mothers’) milk there is no relative like a mother. There is no protector like a mother; there is no asylum like a mother; there is no love (i.e. there is none who loves) as a mother (does); there is no face like (that of) a mother; there is no god like a mother—in this or the next world. Such is the great law made by the creator. Those sons who remain in it (i.e. follow it) reach the highest place.

Nandā spoke:

356-370. O son, only my death is ordained; (therefore) you will not come (with me); the death of some other being does not take place by the death of someone else. Carry out, O son, this excellent, last message of your mother; then have a desire to hear (i.e. listen to what I say). My dear child, do not be careless whenever you move on a watery place or on ground. Due to negligence al beings perish. There is no doubt about this. Do not, through greed, graze (i.e. eat) the grass that exists at a difficult place; for everyone perishes through greed in this or the next world. Deluded by greed, O son, beings enter an ocean or a forest. Even a learned man would undertake a very wicked deed through greed. Men may perish through (these)three—greed, negligence, trust. Therefore one should not be greedy, one should not be careless and one should not trust (others). O son, one should always protect oneself with great care from all beasts of prey and from danger from barbarians or thieves. O son, the perverted minds of animals of foul birth though staying together cannot be known. You should not trust animals armed with claws, and rivers, horned animals, persons carrying weapons, so also ladies and servants. You should not trust an untrustworthy person; nor should you very much trust a trustworthy person. Fear caused by trust cuts off even the roots. One should not even trust one’s strongest body with the mind frightened. Through the negligence of a sleeping or intoxicated (person) they may carry him to a very secret place. One should carefully inhale the smell of every place (where one goes, for) cows perceive through smell and the kings perceive with the eyes of the spies. One should not stay all alone in a fearful forest; and one should think of righteousness only. You should not be dejected; for one is sure to die. As a traveller stays (i.e. rests) by resorting to a shadow and having rested proceeds—in the same way beings come together (and are separated). The entire world is perpetuated because of a son (only); then how do you all alone bewail in this matter? Just give up your grief and follow my words (i.e. advice).

371-372. She, having smelt the son (the calf) on his head and having licked it, and overcome with great grief, with her eyes full of tears, (and) repeatedly heaving hot sighs like a female serpent, appeared to see the world as a void without her son.

373. As if sunk into dense mud she ramained there disheartened.

The cow bewailing again said these words to her son:

374-376. There is no (object of) love like a son; there is no happiness like (i.e. except that obtained from) a son; there is no (object of) affection like a son; there is no resort like a son; For a sonless person the world is a void, there is unhappiness in the house of a sonless person. The (best) world is obtained through a son; a sonless person goes to hell. People say these words: Indeed sandal is cool; (but) the embrace of a son’s body is much cooler than sandal.

377. Thus narrating a son’s merits, and seeing him again and again, she hurriedly took her leave of her mother, friends and cowherdesses.

(She said:)

378-386. A tiger approached me who was grazing before the herd; he freed me by binding me with the oath that I would go (back) there. With the promise (i.e. promising him) that I would again go there, I have come (here) to see my son, my mother, my friends and my cowpen. O mother, (please) forgive all that I did through ill behaviour. This child (i.e. this calf) is your grandson (i.e. your daughter’s son); what else should I say in this matter? O Vipulā, Campakā, O mother, O Bhadrā, Surabhi[10] Māninī, Vasudhārā, Priyānandā, Mahānandā, Ghaṭasravā, O you magnanimous ones, please forgive me whatever I did knowingly or unknowingly and whatever else I did. All of you are endowed with all virtues; all of you are the mothers of the world; all you are always the givers of all things; (please) protect my child. Protect my son who is helpless, alarmed and miserable. O sisters, look after my son who is tormented with grief of (separation from) his mother. O magnanimous ones, forgive me; since you will look after my helpless, poor son like your own sons, I, resorting to truth (i.e. to keep my promise), am going (to the tiger). My friends should never very much worry (about me). When (just) this first son is born to me, my death has stood before me (i.e. is imminent).

387. Hearing the words of Nandā, her mother and friends who were (already) grieved, were very much dejected, and being amazed uttered (these words):

388-393. “Oh! it is a great wonder that the words of the tiger have made you undertake a terrible act; you are truth-speaking. Having deceived the very fearful one by oaths and true words (i.e. promises), carefully avoid him; you should in no case go (to him). O Nandā, you should not go at all; (in going to him) you are failing in your duty, since you are going (there) through greed leaving your young calf (here). In this case there runs a verse related formerly by sages knowing the Vedas: There is no sin (in getting oneself bound) by oaths when there is a danger to one’s life; if by telling a lie the life of a being can be saved (then) (telling) a lie is (telling) the truth; truth may become falsehood (in such a case); there is no sin in taking oaths when ladies are concerned in (settling) marriages, for releasing cows (from danger) and when brāhmaṇas are in a calamity.”

Nandā said:

394-396. I would certainly tell a lie to protect the life of others; I do not dare tell a lie for myself—(I shall) never tell it to save my own life. One adheres (i.e. remains all) alone in the womb, in death and in nourishment; one (all) alone enjoys pleasure or pain; therefore, I am telling the truth. The worlds are established in (i.e. rest on) truth; righteousness is established in truth; the ocean does not transgress its boundary due to being truthful in speech.

397-404. Having presented the earth to Viṣṇu, Bali resorted to the lower world; Bali was (thus) bound (by Viṣṇu) with a trick; (yet) he did not give up truth-speaking. When Vindhya, the lord of mountains with a hundred peaks, was growing, he was fixed (there only by Agastya) by means of truthful words. Heaven, salvation and hell are fixed in truthful speech. He who causes his speech to swerve from truth has lost everything. What sin has the thief, the imposter, not committed who considers himself otherwise than what he is? If I offend against my soul, I shall go to hell (like the imposter). King Vaivasvata cuts off half the merit of him (of such a person). Having bathed in the unfathomable pure water—in the holy place of truth and in the pool of forgiveness, one being free (from the bonds of Karma) goes to the highest place. If a thousand horse-sacrifices and truth are counterpoised, truth excels a thousand horse-sacrifices. Truth is well-known to have a great fruit; it is great, and free from sufferings; it is near the good; it is the family-wealth of the virtuous; it is the fruit of all the stages of (human) life. Since he who having well secured it, goes to heaven, how can he be abandoned by people in the society? (Therefore) do speak the truth everyday.

Friends spoke:

405-420. O Nandā, such as you are, you who are giving up your life difficult to part with, are fit to be saluted by all sages, gods and demons. O auspicious one, what should we say (to you) who are the foremost in (practising) righteousness? There is not a single thing in the three worlds that cannot be had by this sacrifice (of yours); and we think that due to this sacrifice you will not be separated from your son. Nowhere calamities befall a lady of a virtuous mind.

Having seen the cowherdesses, having gone round the cow-pen, and having taken her leave of the gods and trees, that Nandā again proceeded (to the tiger). Having again and again prostrated herself before the earth, Varuṇa, Agni, Vāyu and the Moon, (so also) the ten quarter-deities, trees, constellations along with the planets she requested all of them: “May the Siddhas and the sylvan deities who have resorted to the forest, protect my son grazing in the forest. May all the trees like campaka, aśoka, punnāga, sarala, arjuna and kiṃśuka listen to the message of mine who is overcome with fear. (Please) protect as your own son, with love, my young lonely calf grazing in the dangerous forest, and an orphan—abandoned by his parents—and with his mind afflicted, wandering along this ground, weeping and very unhappy. You should protect with pity, in this great forest, my weeping son, overpowered with great grief and afflicted with hunger and thirst, desolate and lonely and feeling the world to be void.”

Having thus given a message, Nandā, overcome with love for her son, scorched by the fire of grief, and torn asunder on seeing the son, separated like a Cakravākī, (or) like a creeper fallen from the (supporting) tree, like a blind person deprived of sight, staggering at every step she went to that place where the fearful flesh-eater (i.e. tiger) with his mouth wide open, having sharp fangs was (waiting for her). Just then her son, the calf, with his tail lifted, speedily came before his mother and stood before that lord of beasts. Seeing the son that had come there and death i.e. the tiger that stood before, the cow uttered these words:

421-423. “O lord of beasts, I, who remain in the vow of truth, have arrived. Now satisfy yourself at your sweet will by (eating) my flesh. Gratify your (inner) elements, drink my blood; and when I die eat up this child (i.e. calf) of mine.”

The tiger said:

424-437a. O auspicious cow, welcome to you. You have told the truth. Nothing inauspicious ever takes place in the case of those who speak the truth. O cow, what you said before has come true by your coming back. That has made me wonder. ‘How would she go when she has come?’ (So I thought); (but) I sent you to test your truthfulness. Otherwise how would you have gone alive (when I had) taken your flesh? It has made me wonder that my search after (your honesty) has come true. Therefore by this truthful behaviour of yours, you are now freed by me; you are my sister and this your son is the nephew of me of the most sinful act and to whom advice has been given, O auspicious one. Worlds are established in (i.e. depend upon} truth; righteousness is established in (i.e. depends upon) truth. Due to truth a cow pours a stream of milk dear to oblations (i.e. useful in sacrifice). That cowherd who lives on your milk is most blessed. O auspicious one, those parts of land, and those creepers with grass (by which you move) are blessed. Those who drink your milk are lucky and blessed; they alone have done a good deed; they alone have obtained the quintessence of life.

Being convinced, the lord of beasts was greatly amazed. “Indeed gods have shown this warning to us. Seeing that truth is liked by the cows I have no desire to live. So (now) I shall do that act by which I shall be free from sin. I have eaten up hundreds and thousands of beings. What will be my condition on seeing such truth followed by the cow? I am a sinner, doer of wicked deeds, malicious and killer of animals; which worlds shall I go to by doing a very horrible deed? I shall go to holy places and have expiation for (i.e. shall atone for) my sin. (Or) having gone up a mountain I shall fall from it, or I shall enter fire. O cow, tell me in brief what penance I should practise for purifying (myself) from the sin. There is no time for prolixity.”

The cow spoke:

437b-444. In Kṛtayuga penance is praised; in Tretā (yuga) they recommend knowledge; in Dvāpara (yuga) sacrifice is praised; in Kali (yuga) they praise charity alone. Of all (kinds of) charity the best is to give fearlessness to all beings; there is no greater charity than this. He who causes fearlessness in all beings—movable and immovable, being free from all fear obtains the highest Brahman. There is no charity like harmlessness; there is no penance like harmlessness. O tiger, as all other feet (i.e. foot-prints) are absorbed in the foot (-print) of an elephant, similarly all virtues are absorbed in harmlessness. (A person practising harmlessness rests in) that shadow of the tree in the form of deep meditation which removes the three kinds of miseries;[11] its flowers are righteousness and knowledge and its fruits are heaven and salvation. The shadow of the tree in the form of deep meditation is laid down for one who is tormented by the three kinds of miseries. He is not again troubled by miseries and gets excellent bliss. Thus I have told you in brief the highest religious merit. You certainly have known all this; but are just asking me.

The tiger said:

445-449a. Formerly I was cursed by a female deer; and remained in the form of a tiger (i.e. was transformed into a tiger). Then due to my killing animals I forgot all the rest. Due to your contact and advice I have recollected (all that). As a result of this truth (fulness) of yours, you will obtain the highest position. I shall then ask you a question lurking in my mind. A full hundred years have passed since (the time) I have been thinking about it, O auspicious one. O you, adorning the heaven, due to your good luck you established on the path of the good have made the accumulation of virtue. O you of a good vow, tell me what your name is; (since) I am ignorant of (i.e. I do not know) it.

Nandā said:

449b-455. My master named me Nandā. (You should have said): ‘Now I shall eat you’. Then why do you tarry?

Having heard her name to be Nandā, Prabhañjana, freed from the curse, again became (i.e. turned into) the king, endowed with strength and handsomeness. In the meanwhile, Dharma knowing her to be of a truthful speech, came there to see the milch-cow and said to her: “Pleased with your vow of truthfulness, I, Dharma, have come here. O Nandā, God bless you; ask for the most selected boon.”

Thus addressed, that goddess Nandā, asked for a boon from him. “Due to your prowess let me, along with my son, go to the best place. Let this holy place be the best one giving religious merit to the sages. By your granting me the boon let this river be named after me as Nandā-Sarasvatī. This is what I solicit.”

Pulastya said:

456-473. That moment only the respectable (cow) went to the auspicious place of the truthful ones. Prabhañjana too got that kingdom which he had formerly earned.

She was called by the name Nandā-Sarasvatī, on account of that (path) along which Nandā went to heaven. Sarasvatī again, inundating the earth went (i e. flowed) from that forest called ‘Kharjūra’, to the south. A man, who even while approaching (that place) utters her name, gets happiness while alive and after death moves in the sky. Those men of pious deeds who cast their bodies there, the happy persons,become Vidyādhara kings. For people on account of their bathing in and drinking the water of Sarasvatī, she becomes the flight of steps to heaven. Those, who, being well composed take a bath there on the eighth day (of a month), being immortal and very attractive, having reached heaven, enjoy (there). There Sarasvatī always gives good fortune (i.e. absence of widowhood) to ladies; and if one stays by her (i.e. observes a fast there) on the third day (of a month) she becomes the repository of good luck. One even is absolved of a heap of sins even by having a sight of her at that place. Those men again, who touch her should be known as the chief of the sages. A man becomes handsome by offering silver. This big, auspicious river, of auspicious water and the daughter of Brahmā and named Nandā flowed towards the south. Having gone (i.e. flowed) not far from there she has again turned to the other side, and having manifested herself forcibly has stayed there. All the holy places and abodes (i.e. temples) that are (situated) on her holy banks are resorted to on all sides by sages and Siddhas. The gift of gold, or of a dwelling or of land made at the holy place of Nandā by people who have bathed there, creates inexhaustible fruit. The best sages also recommend the gift of grains or of wealth. Whatever is offered by men at the holy places is said to be an excellent cause of religious merit. A man or a woman, who undertakes fast unto death, carefully, at the holy places gets absorbed in his deity[12] and enjoys the fruit (of the fast) at his will in Brahmā’s house. Those movable and immovable ones that die near that holy river, as a result of the destruction of (the bonds of) their deeds, would at once obtain the fruit of a sacrifice, which is difficult to obtain. Then she gives the fruit of virtue to men whose hearts are afflicted by such sorrows as birth etc. Men should with all their heart resort, with perseverance, to the great river Sarasvatī, the giver of religious merit.

Footnotes and references:


Viśvedevas: Name of a particular group of deities ten in number and supposed to be the sons of Viśvā; their names are—Vasu, Satya, Kratu, Dakṣa, Kāla, Kāma, Dhṛti, Kuru, Purūravas and Mādrava.


Tretāgni: The sacrificial fires taken together.


Śikṣā: The science dealing with the proper pronunciation of words and laws of euphony.


Lava: The sixth part of a twinkling. Muhūrta: a period of 48 minutes.


Vālakhilyas: A class of divine personages of the size of a thumb and produced from the Creator's body, and said to precede the sun's chariot. Their number is said to be sixty thousand.


Prācī: The stream of Sarasvatī flowing to the east was called Prācī.


Siddhas: Semi-divine beings supposed to be of great purity and holiness, and said to be particularly characterized by eight supernatural powers called Siddhis, viz. Aṇimā, Laghimā, Prāpti, Prākāmya, Mahiṃā, Īśitva, Vaśsitva and Kāmāvasāyitā.


Viyonikaraṇa: Causing an ignominious or debased birth.


Vibhakta: Ornamented.


Surabhi: The divine, desire-yielding cow.


Tāpatraya: The three kinds of miseries which human beings have to suffer in this world: (1) Ādhyātmika—caused by the mind; (2) Ādhidaivika—caused by fate and (3) Ādhibhautika—caused by animals.


Sāyujya: Identification with or absorption, especially in a deity.

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