The Padma Purana

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

This page describes descent of a holy place which is chapter 32 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 thirty-second 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.

Chapter 32 - Descent of a Holy Place

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Bhīṣma said:

1. O you highly intelligent one, tell me, as a result of which deeds the condition of an evil spirit is produced (i.e. as a result of which one turns into an evil spirit after death); and also (tell me) by (doing which) deeds one is freed from here (i.e. this condition of evil spirit).

Pulastya said:

2. O best king, I shall entirely tell you all this, hearing which you will not be deluded.

3. I shall tell you by which (deeds) one is reduced to the condition of a spirit, and by (doing which deeds) one is freed from it; (I shall also tell you how) one reaches a terrible hell which is insuperable even to gods.

4. Men who have been reduced to the state of an evil spirit are emancipated by conversation with the good, and by (listening to) accounts of holy places.

5-6. O Bhīṣma, it is learnt that in olden times there was a brāhmaṇa, named Pṛthu, who had fulfilled his vow, who was well-known everywhere, who was always content, who was devoted to the study of sacred texts in his house, who always engaged in the practice of yoga (deep and abstract meditation) and who was a knower of yoga. He passed his time in muttering prayers and performing sacrifices.

7. He was endowed with forgiveness and kindness and with forbearance, and was a knower of truth. He had put his mind in (i.e. practised) harmlessness, and also he was steady in gentleness (i.e. he was gentle).

8. He was devoted to self-restraint and penance and meditation; he was engaged in (performing) rites (in honour) of the dead ancestors and in rites enjoined by the Vedas.

9. He entertained fear of the other world; he was given to truthful speech; he was devoted to (speaking) sweet words and to honouring guests.

I 0. He was engaged in performing sacrifices and doing acts of charity[1]; he avoided the pairs (of pleasure, pain etc.); he performed his duties; and busied himself in the study of sacred texts.

11. Thus many years passed when the brāhmaṇa, residing in his house, performed acts like these with a desire to conquer (i.e. to go beyond) the worldly existence.

12. He made up his mind to visit holy places: ‘I shall make my body wet with the auspicious water of the sacred places.’

13. At the time of sun-rise, he, having bathed in the Puṣkara (Tīrtha) and become pure, and muttered prayers and having saluted (the deities), resorted to the path (i.e. walked ahead).

14. In a lonely forest, full of thorny trees and void of birds, he saw in front of him five very fearful men.

15. Seeing the deformed, very terrible men of a wicked appearance he, with his heart slightly frightened, remained still.

16. He, of a sweet tongue, then mustered courage and casting off his fear asked them (in sweet words): “Who are you and what makes you deformed?

1 7. Or which deed did you perform by (i.e. as a result of) which you got this deformity? How are you like this? Which way are all of you setting on (i.e. where are you going)?”

The evil spirits said:

18. We are always hungry and thirsty, and are enveloped by great grief. We all have lost our understanding, our intellect and have become confounded.

19. We are unable to recognize a direction or an intermediate direction, nor are we able to recognize the sky, or the earth or heaven.

20. But it would be (i.e. it is) a pleasure that we have told all (this) grief (of ours to you). Now it seems to be the morning that the sun is seen rising.

21. I am Paryuṣita by name. (This) other one is Sūcīmukha. (This is) Śīghraga. (This is) Rohaka and this fifth one is Lekhaka.

The brāhmaṇa said:

22. How is it possible that those, who have turned into evil spirits as a result of their deeds have names? For what reason did you have (these) names?

The evil spirits said:

23. I always eat (i.e. ate) dainty food; and would give stale food to a brāhmaṇa. For this reason my name is Paryuṣita.

24. This one pierced many brāhmaṇas desiring food etc.; for that reason he is regarded as having the name (i.e. he is named as) Sūcīmukha.

25. O best brāhmaṇa, I am (called) Śīghraga for the reason that when solicited by a hungry brāhmaṇa I moved (away) quickly.

26. This one, through fear of (being requested by) a brāhmaṇa (to give him food), always ate delicious food on the top of the house (to avoid the brāhmaṇa) of whom he was afraid. So he is called Rohaka.

27. This one is called Lekhaka, the most sinful amongst us, who always remained silent, scratching on the ground, when solicited (by someone for something).

28. Lekhaka walks with (great) difficulty. Rohaka has his head hung down. Śīgharga has become lame. Sūcīmukha has become (like) a needle.

29. Paryuṣita’s neck is long and he is called pot-bellied. As a result of this sin his scrotum and his lips are protruding.

30. Thus I have told you everything about our mode of life and its cause. If you have a strong desire, then ask (further questions). When (thus) asked we shall state (further).

The brāhmaṇa said:

31. All the beings that live on the earth, depend upon food. I desire to hear the truth about your food.

The evil spirits said:

32. O brāhmaṇa, listen to (the description) of our food condemned by all beings, hearing which you will again and again censure us.

33. The evil spirits enjoy in those houses where purity is ignored (i.e. which are impure) due to phlegm, urine, feces and the dirt of the bodies of women.

34. The evil spirits enjoy there (i.e. in those places) where the remnants of food are burnt or scattered or thrown out by ladies or which are censured due to fith.

35. The evil spirits enjoy there (i.e. in those houses) where there is no sense of shame in the hearts (of the residents), in which no sacrifices are performed, and which are void of vows.

36. The evil spirits enjoy in those houses where the elders are not respected, and which are dominated by ladies, and (the inmates of) which are overpowered by anger and greed.

37. O dear, I am ashamed of telling you about my food. It is not possible even to tell you still further.

38. O you of a firm vow, I am asking you about (i.e. as to how to bring about) the cessation of this condition of an evil spirit. O you whose wealth is penance, tell me how (a man) does not become an evil spirit.

The brāhmaṇa said:

39. A man does not become an evil spirit if he always performs vows lasting for a day or two days or Kṛcchra Cāndrāyaṇa and other vows.

40. One who, full of compassion for beings, serves (i.e. worships) three, five or one fire everyday does not become an evil spirit.

41. One who looks equally upon honour and dishonour, upon gold and a clod of earth, and upon friend and foe, does not become an evil spirit.

42. One who is always engaged in worshipping deities, guests and preceptors and also in worshipping his dead ancestors, does not become an evil spirit.

43. One who, with faith, offers a śrāddha on the fourth day of a month which falls on a Tuesday in the bright half of a month, does not become an evil spirit.

44. One who has conquered his anger and doubt and is free from desire and attachment, is given to forgiveness and charity, does not become an evil spirit.

45. One, who salutes cows, brāhmaṇas, sacred places, mountains and rivers, and also gods, does not become an evil spirit.

The evil spirits said:

46. O highly intelligent sage, we have heard about various duties. Being distressed we are asking you. Tell us (about that) by (doing) which a man becomes an evil spirit.

The brāhmaṇa said:

47. If a man, especially a brāhmaṇa, dies having eaten Śūdra’s food, (with the food) lying in his belly, he becomes an evil spirit.

48. He, who abandons his mother, father or brothers, or his sister or his son in whom no fault is seen, becomes an evil spirit.

49. A man who performs sacrifices for those for whom no sacrifice should be performed, or who does not perform sacrifices for those for whom they should be performed, or who is engaged in serving the Śūdras, becomes an evil spirit.

50. A man who takes away a deposit (kept with him), or harms his friends, or is always engaged in cooking for a Śūdra, or is a betrayer of trust (i.e. deceives a person who trusts him), becomes an evil spirit.

51. A man who kills a brāhmaṇa or a cow, who is a thief, or who drinks liquor, or who violates his teacher's bed (i.e. his teacher’s wife), who abducts a virgin or misappropriates a land, becomes an evil spirit.

52. He who, having received a gift in common, conceals it (for himself), or he who is attached to atheism, is born as an evil spirit.

53. When the best brāhmaṇa was speaking like this, there was (produced) a sound of kettle-drums in the sky and a shower of thousands of flowers discharged by gods fell on the earth.

54. Due to the talk of the brāhmaṇa and his telling about virtue many aeroplanes of the evil spirits came (there) from all sides.

55. Therefore, O Gaṅgāsuta (i.e. son of Gaṅgā), if you want bliss, then being vigilant, make every effort to convene with the good.

56. In the family of him who recites for a lakh of times this account of the five evil spirits—which is the ornament of all virtue—no one is born as an evil spirit.

57. He, who, endowed with devotion, repeatedly listens to it with great faith, is not born as an evil spirit.

Bhīṣma said:

58. Why is Puṣkara (Tīrtha) said to be (situated) in the sky? How is it that the sages, given to virtue, have it here (i.e. on the earth)?

59. Tell me, who am asking through curiosity, all that as to who secures it and (tell me) howit gives fruit when secured?

Pulastya said:

60. O king, a crore of sages, living in the southern part came to Puṣkara to bathe; but Puṣkara went up to the sky.

61. All the sages, knowing this, absorbed in suspending the breath, remained there for twelve years, meditating upon the highest Brahman.

62. Brahmā, great sages, gods with Indra came there. The (great) sages, concealing themselves, told the very difficult restraints:

63. “O brāhmaṇas, invoke Puṣkara with a prayer. It will come near you by your reciting (i.e. if you recite) the three ṛks (beginning with) Āpohiṣṭha.

64. It will give you fruit by your muttering the expiatory prayer”.[2] At the end of the words (uttered by the sages) all brāhmaṇas did like that (i.e. as they were told).

65-66. The brāhmaṇas, who did like that according to the instruction, obtained religious virtue. The brāhmaṇas living in the south and north censured in the codes of laws and other brāhmaṇas dwelling in mountains do not deserve an invitation to a śrāddha. O king, for this reason, it (i.e. Puṣkara) remained in the sky only.

67. O king, Puṣkara gives purity (to a person) by bathing (in it) on the full moon day of Kārtika. It gives religious merit to all including even Brahmā.

68. O king, (persons of) all castes who come there to obtain religious merit become equal to brāhmaṇas (even) without (the recitation of) a prayer.

69. The day on which the Moon is in the lunar mansion viz. Kṛttikā on the full moon day of Kārtika, should be regarded as important, and is good for (taking) a bath and (giving in) charity.

70. When on this day the Moon is in the lunar mansion called Bharaṇī that (day) also is declared to be very auspicious by the ascetics.

71. That full moon day of Kārtika on which the Moon enters the mansion called Rohiṇi, that day, O king, is said to be Mahākārtikī; it is difficult to be had even by gods.

72. Brahmā himself has declared these three lunar mansions (to be auspicious) when they fall on Sundays or Thursdays or Mondays.

73. He, who takes a bath (on one of these days in Puṣkara), obtains greater religious merit than (by performing) an Aśvamedha sacrifice. Gifts (given on one of these days) and also offering oflibations to the manes (made on one of these days) become inexhaustible.

74. That combination when the Sun is in the Viśākhā and the Moon in the Kṛttikā is called Puṣkara and very difficult to be had at the Puṣaras.

75. Those, who take bath at Puṣkara, which has come down (to the earth) from the sky, which is auspicious and which is sacred to the grandsire (i.e. Brahmā), obtain worlds of prosperity.

76. O great king, I have told you the truth that these people will not long for any other religious merit done or undone.

77. It is said to be (the best) holy place of all holy places here on the earth. O king, no holy place is said to be superior to this.

78. Especially on the full moon day of Kārtika that auspicious Sarasvatī that removes sins has arrived (here) from that Udumbara forest.

79-80a. She has filled up (with her water) the holy place resorted to by sages. Not far from it shines the mountain-peak called Nīlāñjanacaya and dark-blue in colour like a grass-plot.

80b-81. Due to her the peak appears to be the Puṣkara high up in the sky full of lofty multitude of clouds in the rainy season. It was full of the fragrance of Kadamba flowers and decorated with Kuṭaja and Arjuna flowers.

82-83. It remained there as it were to go up to the path of the Sun. The peak shines (i.e. s hone) with beautiful coconuts on all sides. The coconuts were round like the glossy round breasts of ladies full of horripilation. It was adorned all round with the humming swarms of bees.

84-85. It was charming with the notes of cuckoos and full of the notes of peacocks. This auspicious river, having auspicious water, the daughter of Brahmā and very beautiful has risen on that charming peak; and from that cluster of bamboos that very great river has flowed towards the north.

86-87a. Not flowing far away from that place she again flows towards the west. Thereafter that goddess, who was pleased, having given up her concealment, stays manifest due to her compassion for beings.

87b-88a. At Puṣkara Brahma has given her, having five streams (five names viz.) Kanakā, Suprabhā, Nandā[3], Prācī and Sarasvatī.

88b-89. On her bank there are very charming holy places and temples, which have been resorted to by sages and Siddhas from every side. In all these (sacred places etc.) the cause of religious merit is Sarasvatī.

90. Gift of gold, dwelling or land made at these holy places by men who have bathed (i.e. after having bathed) causes great prosperity and generates inexhaustible fruit.

91. The best sages declare that the gift of grains is excellent, and also the gift of oil. That which is given by men at the holy places is said to be superior.

92. A woman or a man, who, being restrained and having fixed her or his mind on the holy places would fast unto death with perseverance, enjoys fruit at Brahmā’s residence as much as he desires.

93. All those—the immobile and the mobile—who die in her vicinity as a result of the exhaustion of their deeds, get the excellent fruit of a sacrifice which is difficult to obtain.

94. Therefore, men with all their heart should, with great effort, resort to the great river Sarasvatī that gives a charming fruit, gives the reward of religious merit to those whose minds are afflicted with the grief of birth etc.

95. Those who always drink that sacred water there, are not men but gods dwelling here on the earth.

96. That fruit which the brāhmaṇas get by (performing) sacrifices, (making) gifts, is obtained even by śūdras born according to their innate nature by taking a bath here.

97. Even great sinners, by the sight of Puṣkara, being free from sins, go to heaven after they cast their body.

98. By observing a fast at Puṣkara a man quickly and with little effort obtains that fruit which is the fruit of a fire-sacrifice.

99. He, who, in the month of Māgha, offers, with devotion and according to his capacity, sesamum to a virtuous brāhmaṇa, would live in the house of Viṣṇu.

100. That man also, who observes a fast there, bathes and eats the five products of a cow, would obtain (i.e. go to) heaven after death.

101. Even the thieves who live in its vicinity go to heaven due to its power. There is no doubt about it.

102-103. Also men following the occupation of śūdras, who, by fasting for three nights, give money to brāhmaṇas, being endowed with the power due to pious utterances, and being immortal and having four arms, get into a vehicle having a lotus-seat and obtain union with Brahman and are not reborn.

104. Gaṅgodbheda is the place where Gaṅgā came to see and appease Sarasvatī, the best river, rising from the sky.

105-106a. He, who, having gone there, has drunk a cavityful pure water (of Gaṅgā) resorted to by gods and Siddhas and also the pure water of Sarasvatī, worshipped by groups of Vidyādharas, attains to that highest (Brahman).

106b-107a. Looking in the east, Sarasvatī said: “O friend Gaṅgā, you have left me alone. Where are you going? I am friendless.”

1 07b-108a. Gaṅgā, finding her to be weeping and distressed with grief, came there from the eastern region to see her of afflicted mind.

108b-111a. Seeing the highly virtuous one and having embraced the distressed one, and having wiped her eyes Gaṅgā said these words at that time: “O you glorious one, do not weep. O friend, you have done, for the gods, a difficult task, which none else can do. For this reason, O you highly virtuous one, gods have come to see you. Worship them with words and with mental and physical acts.”

111b-112a. Sarasvatī, Brahma’s daughter, having duly worshipped the best gods, got united with (i.e. mixed with) her friend.

112b-114a. The confluence of the two between the Jyeṣṭha and the Madhyama Puṣkara is well-known in the world. Brahmā’s daughter (i.e. Sarasvatī then flowed) towards the west and Gaṅgā towards the north. Then all the gods who had come to Puṣkara, realising the difficult task (she had done) praised her:

114b-115. “You are intellect; you are thought; you are Lakṣmī (i.e. prosperity): you are knowledge; you are faith; you are highest devotion; you are intellect; you are retentive faculty; you are love; you are forbearance; you are success; you are libation offered to dead ancestors; you are oblation offered to gods; you are pure thought.

116. You are twilight, night, lustre, prosperity, retentive faculty, and faith. You are sacrificial lore, great knowledge, secret knowledge and bright.

117. You are said to be metaphysics, agriculture, and judicature. O you of auspicious water, salutation to you who go to the ocean.

118a. Salutation to you who liberate (persons) from sins; salutation to you, O goddess dear to the world”.

118b-119. Thus the divine goddess was praised by (the gods) intent upon securing their own interest. Thus that goddess Sarasvatī, full of all holy places, remained there with all gods, facing the east.

120. She is to be known as Prācī—these are the words of Brahmā. There is a place named Śuddhavaṭa, said to (be sac,. red) to the grandsire (i.e. Brahmā).

121. Even those, who are great sinners, becoming pure merely by seeing it, obtain the pleasures of the happy persons, in the vicinity of Brahma.

122. Those who observe there a fast unto death, being immortal and having no fear from anywhere, go to heaven in Brahmā’s vehicle.

123. Those who have even given very little to the knowers of Brahman—to those whose thoughts are fixed on the supreme spirit—have given a hundred existences (are not to be born for at least a hundred existences).

124. Those men who perform there the purificatory rite called Khaṇḍasphuṭita[4], reach the world of Brahmā and are always happy there.

125. The fruit of the worship offered, or prayers muttered or sacrifice performed here, which is obtained by men whose minds are engrossed in devotion to Brahman, is infinite.

126. A person offering a lamp there, gets intellectual vision and becomes one with the supreme soul. A person, by offering incense (there) obtains the place resorted to by Brahma.

127. Or what is the use of talking much? Whatever is offered at the confluence (of Gaṅgā and Sarasvatī) is said to give infinite fruit to a person alive or dead.

128-129a. An unending fruit accrues by taking a bath or muttering prayers or performing a sacrifice there. Having come to that place Rāma offered a piṇḍa and a śrāddha to Daśaratha as directed by that (sage) Mārkaṇḍeya.

129b-130a. There is a well with four corners. All men who offer there go to heaven (borne) in a car to which swans are yoked.

130b-131. Brahma, the best among those well-versed in (performing) sacrifices, performed at that well a sacrifice in honour of manes in which excellent gifts were given. Vasus should be known as the manes and Rudras as the grandsires.

132. Similarly Ādityas are mentioned as their great grandsires. (All these) of the three categories were called and addressed by Brahma:

133a. “Always remaining here you should accept the offering of piṇḍas etc.”

133b-134. Since what is done for (i.e. offered to) manes for their maintenance would give unending fruit, the manes and the grandsires also are pleased with them. By the libation they are satisfied and by the offering of piṇḍas they obtain (i.e. go to) heaven.

135. Therefore leaving everything (else) (a man) should offer piṇḍas at Prācīna. A son by offering (piṇḍas) should please all his manes.

136. It is preferred and valued by Pracīneśvara, is called the Āditīrtha (i.e. the best sacred place) and brings about salvation even by (merely) being seen.

137. A person merely by touching the water there becomes free from the bondage of birth (and death); by bathing in it he ever becomes the follower of Brahman.

138. A man who having bathed at Āditīrtha, gives even little food, would generally obtain (i.e. go to) heaven.

139. A man, who, after having bathed there, would offer money with a dish consisting of sesamum and rice and with gold, being happy, enjoys in heaven.

140. Prācī Sarasvatī resides there; what else do men seek? The fruit of a bath in her (water) leads to satisfaction, and is of the nature of (the fruit of) penance, sacrifice etc.

141. Those men who drink the auspicious (water of) goddess Prācī Sarasvatī are not men. They should be known as gods. So said sage Mārkaṇḍeya.

142. After having reached river Sarasvatī, there is no (strict) rule about bath. (A person can have it) after having eaten food or without having eaten food, or by day or at night.

143. That sacred place, viz. Prācīna is said to be best of all. It is said to destroy the sins of beings, and to be give religious virtue.

144. Again, those devout persons, who having bathed there, worship Janārdana according to their capacity, go to heaven.

145. Viṣṇu is the best among gods. So that place where he resorted to Sarasvatī is a great holy place—so said the son of Brahmā.

146. Therefore (i.e. because Viṣṇu resorted to that place), Sarasvatī, looking upon it as a great and very glorious sacred place, remained there waiting for Mandākinī (i.e. Gaṅgā).

147-148a. The son of Brahmā said, that sacred place is the best of all sacred places; gods praised Sarasvatī that remained there, where they obtained religious merit equal to (that obtained by resorting to) Gaṅgā.

148b-149. Knowing her to be of a melancholy face and of a distressed mind, Brahmā created her beautiful friend of spotless eyes.

l50-15la. Viṣṇu also created Lakṣmī of eyes like lotuses. Śiva (called) Nīlakaṇṭha, Vṛṣadhvaja, Vajrapāṇi, who was the lord of lords, created Sarasvatī’s friend, viz. Vajriṇī, having the lustre of an excellent doe.

151b-153a. That great river, that divine beauty, being seen by her friends and being very much delighted started to proceed by the command of gods. Then that Sarasvatī, regarded as the best of all those (friends), turning towards the east, was eager to proceed.

153b-154. Even those beasts who drink the water of Prācī Sarasvatī go to heaven as the best brāhmaṇas (go to heaven) by (performing) sacrifices. Prācī Sarasvatī at this place should be looked upon as the desire-yielding gem.

155-156. Like it this great river has become the fulfiller of desires. Having seen (i.e. flowed towards) the southern direction she has gone to the west. She said to Gaṅgā: “Go to the eastern region; forget me not; O goddess, go as you had come.”

Footnotes and references:


Iṣṭāpūrta: Performing sacrifices and digging wells and doing other acts of charity.


Aghamarṣaṇa—a prayer repeated by brāhmaṇas: Ṛgveda X.190.


The reason why she is called Nanda is given in Chapter 18 above.


Khaṇḍasphuṭitasaṃskāra—repairing of dilapidations.

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