The Padma Purana

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

This page describes the greatness of mathura which is chapter 73 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 seventy-third chapter of the Patala-Khanda (Section On The Nether World) of the Padma Purana, which contains six books total consisting of at least 50,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The lord said:

1-6. I have told you in (due) order, the wonder about which you asked me. Who is not stupefied there, where Brahmā and others are stupefied? Yet I shall tell you what the great sage (Vyāsa) said to Ambarīṣa, a devotee of Viṣṇu, connected with Śiva. The king, having come to the Badaryāśrama, saluted and praised, with a desire to know the Vaiṣṇava way of life, Veda-vyāsa who was seated there, who had restrained his senses, who was noble, omniscient, and best among men: “Please protect me from this mundane existence. I am detached from the sensual pleasures; I salute them, I salute everything. How would I always obtain mental recourse to that highest Brahman, a position free from dejection, having a form of auspiciousness, intelligence and joy, the highest sky, the absence of ether, which is healthy, and seeing which the sages cross the ocean of worldly existence?”

Vyāsa said:

7-14a. You have asked me a great secret. I have not told it (even) to Śuka, my son, what you have asked me. But I shall tell it to you who are dear to Viṣṇu. Listen, this great universe was of his form, was situated in him; it was unmanifest, free from pain; it was full of the lord. Formerly, I, subsisting on fruits, roots, palāśa-leaves, water and air, practised penance for many thousand years. Then Viṣṇu said to me who was engaged in meditation on him: “O you very intelligent one, what do you want to do, or what do you want to know? I am pleased; ask for a boon from (me) who am the best among the givers of boons. I tell you the truth that the mundane existence lasts till I am seen.” Then, with my body full of horripilation, I said to Kṛṣṇa: “O Madhusūdana, I desire to see you with my physical eyes, whom the principal Vedas described as the truth, the highest Brahman, the light of the world, the lord of the world, the wonderful visible lord.”

The lord said:

14b-19. I was formerly asked by Brahmā and was requested by him. I shall tell you also what I had told him. Some describe me as Prakṛti (i.e. the primordial matter); some call me Puruṣa, the lord. Some call me Dharma (i.e. Piety); some call me wealth; some call me Mokṣa (i.e. salvation) where there is no fear from anywhere. Some call me void. Some call me devotion. Some call me Sadāśiva. Others described me as the only eternal one remaining on the top of the Vedas, of a good disposition, without a change, and of the form of goodness, intellect and joy. See, today I shall show you my form concealed by the Vedas.

Then I saw, O king, a boy who was like a dark cloud, who was surrounded by cowherdesses, who was laughing along with the cowherds, who was seated at the root of a Kadamba tree, who had put on yellow garments, and was wonderful.

20-23a. (I also saw) a grove named Vṛndāvana, which was adorned with fresh foliage, which was resounding with the notes of cuckoos, which was charming due to (the presence of) Cupid. I (also) saw the river Kālindi, which had the colour of the petals of blue lotuses. I also saw the Govardhana (mountain) which was held up by the hands of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, for destroying the pride of the great Indra and which gave pleasure to the cowherds. I saw the cowherd (i.e. Kṛṣṇa) who was happy in the company of women and who was playing upon the flute. On seeing him, the ornament of all ornaments, I was extremely delighted.

23b-29a. Then the lord, moving in the Vṛndāvana grove, himself said to me: “There is no greater form of mine than the one which is divine, eternal, partless, actionless, calm, and of the form of auspiciousness, intellect and joy, complete, having eyes like the petals of a fully blossomed lotus, which you saw (now). The Vedas describe this only as the cause of causes, which is true, eternal, of the form of great joy, a mass of intellect, eternal and auspicious. Know my Mathurā to be eternal, so also Vṛndāvana; so also (know to be eternal) Yamunā, the cowherdesses and the cowherds. This incarnation of mine is eternal. Do not have any doubt about it. Rādhā is always dear to me. I am omniscient, greater than the great. I have all my desires (fulfilled), I am the lord of all, I am all joy and greater than the great. In me appears all this universe, spread out by (my) Māyā (illusion).”

29b-31a. Then I spoke to the lord, the cause of the cause of the world: “Who are the cowherdesses? What are the cowherds? What kind of tree is this said to be? Who is the grove? What are the cuckoos etc.? What is the river? And what is the mountain? Who is this noble (one that has become the) flute, the only place of joy to all people?”

31b-36a. The lord, happy and with his lotus-like face pleased, said to me: “The cowherdesses should be known to be the Vedas. The young daughters of cowherds should be known to be the ṛcs (hymns). They are divine damsels, O king. They are endowed with penance and desire salvation. All the cowherds are sages, the forms of joy in Vaikuṇṭha. This Kadamba is the desire-yielding tree, the receptacle of the highest joy. The grove is called Ānanda, which destroys great sins. The cuckoos and others are siddhas, sādhyas and gandharvas. There is no doubt about it Some are his joyful heart, Yamunā is the body. This mountain is the servant of Viṣṇu and has no beginning. Listen, who is the flute. O brāhmaṇa, you know it (to be) like that.

36b-54. There was a brāhmaṇa, of a tranquil mind, engaged in penance and truthfulness. His name was Devavrata, and he was proficient in ceremonial acts and sacrificial rites as enjoined in the Vedas. Being in the midst of Viṣṇu’s devotees, he was engaged in (various) rites. O king, once he heard that the lord of sacrifice was (present in the house). The brāhmaṇa, determined (to see) me went to his house. That devotee of mine in his house worshipped (me) with a Tulasī-leaf and water and offered me something (like) a fruit and a root. The intelligent one affectionately gave him the water for bath and fruits. Smiling without faith, he too accepted it from the brāhmaṇa. Due to that sin he had the extremely fierce condition of a bamboo; and as a result of that religious merit he became dear to me. Due to that (merit), O king, he shines as the chief. At the end of the age, he, being one with Viṣṇu, will obtain (the state of) Brahman. Oh, men with wicked hearts do not know my ancient city, which is great, which is praised by lords of gods and serpents and sages, which is charming and old. Though there are cities like Kāśī, Mathurā alone is virtuous among them; birth, thread-ceremony, death or cremation in that gives salvation to men. When men become purified by penance etc., have pure hearts, and have constant meditation as their wealth, then only they see my city, not otherwise, even after hundreds of kalpas, O best brāhmaṇas. The residents of Mathurā are blessed, and are respected even by the residents of heaven. Their greatness is immeasurable, and all of them have four hands. The residents of Mathurā do not see any defect due to thousands of births and deaths in those in whom (other) men see a fault. Those who are even poor, but who remember Mathurā, are (really) blessed. There the god, the lord of beings, giving salvation even to the sinners (lives). That great lord of beings, who is always most dear to me, never leaves the city due to affection for me. That man of bad conduct who would not salute the lord of beings or would not worship him, would not see this my self-shining city, called a great deity. How would that sinful man who would not worship my great devotee, viz. Śiva, obtain devotion to me? Those mean men who do not salute the lord of beings, do not remember him or praise him, have their minds mostly deluded by my Māyā (illusion). Even the boy Dhruva, engaged in worshipping me, obtained a pure place, obtained with difficulty by the grandsires. A man, being lame, or blind, would come to my city Mathura, difficult to be reached by gods and would cast his life there.

55-56. O glorious Vedavyāsa, do not have any doubt at all about the secret of the best of the Vedas, which I have divulged to you. He, the pure one, who would recite or listen to with devotion this chapter narrated by the lord, will have eternal salvation.”

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