The Padma Purana

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

This page describes the deliverance of the five gandharva maidens which is chapter 129 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 one hundred twenty-ninth chapter of the Uttara-Khanda (Concluding Section) 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 129 - The Deliverance of the Five Gandharva Maidens

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Summary: The Deliverance of the Five Gandharva Maidens and Vedanidhi’s Son from Imphood.

Vasiṣṭha said:

1-9. Hear as to how many imps were liberated by him in the forest. Formerly in the Drāviḍa country there was a king named Citra. (He was born) in the Soma family, was a great hero, brave and had mastered the science of weapons and missiles. He, the brave one, was always possessed of streams of elephants, horses and chariots. His treasury was full of gold and many kinds of gems. He was very rich. He, with fondness, always sported in the midst of a thousand women. Being excessively fond of women, passionate, always greedy, quick-tempered, the king did not do (i.e. obey) the pious words uttered by his ministers. He very much censured Viṣṇu, and always hated Viṣṇu’s devotees: (He said:) “Who is that Viṣṇu? Where is he seen? Where does he stay? Who tells about him?” In this way, the king, deluded by destiny did not put up with Viṣṇu. He, being angry, troubled those who worshipped Viṣṇu. Remaining in the condition of the heretics he did not honour brāhmaṇas, the Vedas, Vedic rites or a vow, and did not think of giving a gift. He harassed his subjects by inflicting severe punishment immorally. He was cruel, pitiless, wicked, and averse to auspicious acts. He was fallen from (good) conduct; he hated Viṣṇu; he had fallen from (maintaining sacred) fire and from (religious) acts. The king, as it were, of the form of another Yama, ruled over his subjects.

10-14. Then after a long time the king died. But he did not receive obsequies as enjoined in the Vedic texts. The king, then, being very much troubled by the hosts of (Yama’s) servants, went to Yama’s world along the path full of iron nails, covered with heated sand, heated by the rays of the hot sun, having no shadow of a tree, spread over with burning charcoals, and full of flames of fire, (and was) being struck by very ferocious serpents with iron-faces and being eaten (i.e. gnawed) by wolves with fierce fangs and fierce dogs while hearing the wailing of other men who had committed sins.

15-32. O king, hear about his unbearable condition in that world. The king went in succession from one hell to another. First he went to the (hell called) Tāmisra, fearful and giving great agony. Then (he went to) Andhatāmisra, where there was constant misery. Then he went to the very fierce Mahāraurava, then to Kālasūtra, Mahānaraka. Then the king, insensible due to grief, sank into Sañjīvana, Mahāvīci, Tapana, Sampratāpana, difficult to cross. (Then) the king, with his mind burnt by pain, went to Sampāta, Kākola, Kuḍmala, Pūtimṛttika, Lohaśa, Mṛgīyantra, and Panthāna, and to the river Śālmali. Then he entered a hell, very fierce, difficult to see, and inaccessible. (Then to) Asipatravana, Lohacāraka. In this way the sinful king, having fallen into all these (hells), met with terrible torment full of pangs. Then the king, due to his proclamation of great hatred of Viṣṇu, having experienced the torment inflicted by Yama for twenty-one yugas, crossed the hells, and after (proper) time, he became a great evil spirit. Being hungry, he wanders in all directions in this forest. Even on the Meru mountain he does not come across food or water. The evil spirit oppressed by grief, while wandering, entered Plakṣaprasravaṇa forest (as a result) of the future good fruit. Extremely grieved he resorted to the shade of a bibhītaka tree. He loudly and fiercely cried again and again: “Oh! I am lost. How will this unhappy existence of me who am being carried by hunger and thirst, who have sought to hurt all beings, come to an end? Who will today first give a hand to me who am plunged into this ocean of sins, having a series of billows of miseries?” Devadyuti who was studying, heard this piteous wailing of the goblin of a helpless mind. Having then come there, he saw the imp, of a fierce face, fearful, of tawny eyes and weak, with his hair raised up, of a dark body, and as it were another messenger of Yama, with his tongue lolling, with long (i.e. protruded) lips, with long shanks, and full of veins, having long toes, with his mouth parched up, with his eyes like cavities, and with his skeleton (i.e. body) dry. Then the best sage, full of curiosity, asked him:

Devadyuti said:

33-35. Who are you of a fierce form? Why do you weep fiercely? Due to what are you reduced to this condition? Tell me what can I do for you? Beings who have entered my hermitage never experience grief. All just rejoice as in the abode of Viṣṇu. O good man, quickly tell me the cause of this misery. The wise do not delay when the (desired) object has come (near).

Vasiṣṭha said:

36. Hearing these words, the evil spirit giving up (i.e. ceasing) weaping, bowing with politeness, spoke in a melancholy voice:

The evil spirit said:

37-46. Your words have removed the torment covering my entire body, as the showering cloud removes (the heat) due to a wild fire on a mountain. O brāhmaṇa, you are seen by me due to the religious merit that I have. Those who have not collected merit, do not meet the good.

Speaking like this, he told him his former account. “I have been reduced to this condition due to great hatred for Viṣṇu. O brāhmaṇa, I entertained the most sinful hatred for that Viṣṇu, remembering whose name a dead person would go to his position. I hated him who protects the beings, who maintains piety in the three worlds, and who is the innermost soul of beings. He who gives here the fruits of acts, who is sung (i. e. praised) in all Vedas, who is worshipped with penance, was hated by me. O brāhmaṇa, that Viṣṇu who is fit to be meditated upon in the Upaniṣads by ascetics who have given up (ordinary) acts, to whom forests are dear, and who move all alone without company, was hated by rne. That Viṣṇu, whom all gods like Brahmā, (all) meditating saints like Sanaka worship for salvation, was hated by me. The ancient supporter of the universe in the beginning, middle and end, who has no beginning, middle or end, was hated by me. All those good acts done by me in my former existence, were burnt by my hatred for Viṣṇu, and were reduced to ash.

47-51. If somehow I see the limit (i.e. the end) of this sin, I shall not worship any other deity except Viṣṇu Having, due to my hatred of Viṣṇu, experienced for a long time the torment (inflicted) by Yama, I have come out of the hell, and have come to (i.e. am born in) the stock of an evil spirit. Now due to which active charms am I brought to your hermitage where due to the sun of your sight the darkness in the form of (my) misery has perished? A man is taken by his own compulsive actto that place where he obtains death, bondage, happiness, wealth or a bride. Now tell me the proper act destroying my imphood. The blessed ones do not move slowly in the act of obliging others.”

Devadyuti said:

52-60. Oh, this Maya steals the memory of gods, demons and men. Due to it a hatred, destroying piety, is produced even among gods. Which fool hates, and in what way, the great lord, the creator, protector and destroyer of the worlds, and the soul of all beings? Which man, averse to devotion for him, due to offering whom all acts are fruitful, would not meet with misery? All the four castes, always worshipping Nārāyaṇa, should practise the acts laid down by holy texts, codes of laws and practices of the good. Otherwise, without resorting to the holy texts men go to hell. Therefore, a man should abandon a deed laid down in religious texts which is opposed to the import of the Vedas. Those, deceiving childish people in this world by means of self-composed religious texts, mar the path to, bliss, thus harming the world. They censure Viṣṇu, the Vedas, austerities, good brāhmaṇas; therefore, due to their following wrong religious texts, they go to hell, as this very king of the Draviḍa country, hating god Viṣṇu, the lord of gods, and the master of the world, went to hell. Therefore, one desiring religious merit, should give up hatred for especially deities and brāhmaṇas, and should abandon an act outside (i.e. not enjoined by) the Vedas.

61-71. Speaking like this, the sage told the goblin (what was) good (for him): “O good one, go to Prayāga. Think of the month of Māgha. There you will undoubtedly be free from (this) imphood. This is (what) the ancient holy text (says): ‘Those bathing there go to heaven.’ A man casts off there (the fruit of) his former bad acts. There is nowhere any greater expiation in the form of penance, in the form of gifts, in the form of rites than a bath at Prayāga. Know that there is no sacrifice or abstract meditation superior (to that). It is a gate to heaven and salvation that is (kept) open on the earth. There is no other axe barring Prayāga having white and black water (of Gaṅgā and Yamunā) on the earth, which cuts off (the fetters of him) who is bound by the fetters of sin. What a great disparity there is between the confluence of Gaṅgā and Yamunā, Viṣṇu, Sun’s lustre and fire, and the poor, despicable, oblation of the grass (i.e. hay) in the form of a heap of sins of men! A man who has bathed at the confluence shines, after his sin is destroyed, like the moon in the autumn, after the mass of impurity is destroyed. I am not able to tell you the importance of Prayāga, by touching a drop of which a brāhmaṇa from Kerala got released.” Hearing these words of the sage, the evil spirit was delighted at heart. Free from grief, he affectionately asked the sage: “O great sage, how was the inhabitant of the Kerala country released? Being kind to me, tell the account to me.

Devadyuti said:

72-77. O evil spirit, listen to the meritorious, auspicious tale from me who am telling it. In Kerala lived a brāhmaṇa named Vasu, a master of the Vedas. He was robbed of his wealth by his relatives; he was poor; he was abandoned by his kinsmen. Grieved due to great agony, he left his motherland. He, suffering slightly from a disease, moved from one country to another, and after a long time entered a great forest. While going to another holy place, he, being tired, and emaciated due to hunger, died due to scarcity of provisions on the Vindhya mountain and did not have (proper) funeral and obsequies. Due to that ripening of his acts he became a spirit in the cave of that mountain only and lived in the solitary forest for a long time. He was troubled by cold and heat, was without food and water, was naked, was bare-footed, and sighed and uttered (the words) ‘Oh, Oh!’

78-96a. Wandering here and there that Keralite brāhmaṇa, turned into a spirit, obtained happiness nowhere. Afflicted by grief he wailed and did not find a happy state. He experienced the fruit of his act of having never given a gift. All those who do not make offerings into fire, who do not worship Viṣṇu, who do not resort to knowledge of the self, who turn away from holy places, who do not give gold, garments, tāmbūla, gems, food, fruits, water to the distressed, are without any aim (in life). All those who snatch away the wealth of a brāhmaṇa or another person, or of women, through force or fraud—all such rogues who deceive others, hypocrites, cheats, thieves, who subsist on fire, who are cruel to children, old persons, patients, women, and are without truthfulness, who set fire (to others’ property), who administer poison, who stand as false witnesses, who practise illicit intercourse, who act as priest at vulgar sacrifices, who abandon their fathers, mothers, daughters-in-law, children, wives, who are miserly, greedy, atheists, and censurers of religious practices, who forsake their master, and abandon those who have surrendered to them in a battle, who snatch away cows and land, and who defile others’ gems, who censure others, who are sinful, who reproach deities and preceptors (or elders), who are always engaged in accepting gifts at great holy places, who are engaged in deceiving others, so also those who harm beings, who accept bad gifts, are born again and again in the vile stocks of spirits, demons, imps, birds and beasts and trees. They do not get the slightest happiness in this world or in the next. Therefore, one should give up a prohibited act and perform one that is laid down (in sacred texts). One should resort to sacrifices, (giving) gifts, penance, holy places, hymns, deities, preceptors. Even all the four castes, having realised the effect of their acts in crores of stocks, difficult to cross, should constantly practise piety. The brāhmaṇa, having thus seen his condition as an evil spirit due to his sins, advised him about piety and again spoke to him. That evil spirit of the Keralite, thus living on the mountain, passed a long time, and saw a traveller on the path. He was carrying two bamboo-boxes (containing pitchers) with water, and was singing (the glory of) the chief god Viṣṇu of good fame. Seeing him the evil spirit suddenly obstructed his way. He presented himself (to him), and said: “Do not get frightened. O best pilgrim, I desire to drink water from you. If you do not give me water to drink, my life will certainly depart.” Hearing these words of the evil spirit the traveller spoke through curiosity to him:

The pilgrim said:

96b-99. Who are you overcome with grief, emaciated, melancholy, naked, (remaining) with just your life left, about to die, deformed, increasing (others’) fear, having the form of a fresh smoke, fierce, of fickle eyes. You have not touched the ground with your feet. You are not having (much) flesh (in your) belly and arms.

Hearing these words of him, the evil spirit said (these) words:

The evil spirit said:

100-118. O most pious one, listen, I (shall) tell you the reason why I have become like this. I am a brāhmaṇa who never gave gifts, who am greedy, and whose acts are dirty. I always ate others’ food. I ate all alone, and ate sweets. I did not give alms. I did not make any offering to guests. I did not perform the Vaiśvadeva (i.e. an offering to all gods); I never threw (i.e. kept) an oblation outside. I never quenched with water the thirst of beings that were oppressed with thirst. I, wandering over the earth, never gratified my dead ancestors. I never offered a śrāddha and did not at all worship deities. I never gave (anyone, an umbrella) a protection against rain or heat; nor any (sandals) to protect the feet. I never gave a water-vessel, or a tāmbūla, or a medicine (to anyone). I never offered a residence in my house (to anyone), nor did I show hospitality to anyone. I did not satisfy the blind, the old, the poor, the forlorn, the helpless with drink or food. I never gave a mouthful (of grass) to cows; I never gave relief to a patient. I never offered, or gave into fire (the oblation of) pure sesamum-seeds, O brāhmaṇa. On the earth, there are not givers of sesamum-seeds like me(?). At the time of a portentous calamity I did not give any gold having great fruit. I did not give (any gift) on a Saṃkrānti day and on the days of the solar or lunar eclipse. O brāhmaṇa, I passed the parvan days also void (of any gift). All the important days in Kārtika were always fruitless for me. On the Aṣṭakā[1] days or Maghā[2] days I did not offer anything to the dead ancestors. I did not bathe (at a holy place) in Māgha which gives (good) form, fortune and desired objects. When Jupiter enters Leo, I did not give anything to a brāhmaṇa learned in the Vedas on the bank of Gautamī, in my former existence. Similarly I did not bathe in Kṛṣṇaveṇī, when the Jupiter entered Virgo. I never controlled the cold of brāhmaṇas afflicted by cold, who had bathed after kindling fire with heaps of wood in Pauṣa and Māgha. I did not give cold water (to people) in months like Vaiśākha. I did not plant an aśvattha tree, nor did I rear a fig-tree. I never released beings from a prison. I never protected one who was afflicted through fear of (other) beings and who had sought my shelter. I have not gratified Viṣṇu by fasting for three nights. O brāhmaṇa, vows like Kṛcchra, Atikṛcchra, Pārāka, and so also Cāndrāyaṇa, another vow like Taptakṛcchra, so also Sāntapana vows—all these auspicious vows were observed by gods like Indra. I did not observe them and parch up my body formerly. O best brāhmaṇa, my former existence was fruitless in this way.

119-133. O brāhmaṇa, mark the very cruel and wonderful fruits, very difficult to understand, of my former acts, (which I am having) in this existence. On this mountain there are (pieces of) flesh (of animals) killed by wolves and tigers, so also of fruits abandoned everywhere by parrots. There are good, fragrant and juicy fruits, so also soft, and roots very fit to be eaten. There are honeys of very many kinds. Everywhere there is water of streams and springs. Even though all these things are easily available on the mountain, I do not find any food (as it is) destroyed by destiny. I subsist on air, as do the serpents. O brāhmaṇa, I am alive due to the prowess of the divine stock. (Even) with power, intellect, hymns, valour, brave acts, companions and friends, a man cannot obtain the unobtainable. In this world destiny alone is the cause of acquisition or non-acquisition, pleasure or pain, marriage, death, life, enjoyment, disease or separation. The ugly, those coming from bad families, fools, those of abhorred conduct, the censured ones, those that are without bravery or valour, enjoy kingdom due to (good) fortune. The squint-eyed ones, the lame, the unworthy, the immoral, the vicious, eunuchs, are seen to be enthroned due to (good) fortune. In front of those who have given sesamum-seeds, cows, gold and garments, af air girl (in marriage), who have given (a piece of) land, a bed, seats, tāmbūla, houses, wealth, eatables, food, sandal and agaru (sandal), stand enjoyments in a forest, at the top of a mountain, in a village, or even in a city, with great care. On this mountain also stay more powerful demons, so also very fierce demons, goblins and female goblins. At some time, somehow, somewhere, they, wandering in the forest, get food and drink in every forest.

134-142. Having heard this you should not be afraid of them. They are not capable of even looking at you, a pure devotee of Viṣṇu. Demons, evil spirits and demonesses neither touch nor see him whose body is protected by devotion for Viṣṇu and who depends upon Viṣṇu. Ghosts, goblins, gandharvas, female attendants of Durgā, respectable Planets, Revatīs, Vṛddharevatīs, Mukhamaṇḍīs, so also (other) Planets, Yakṣas, young Planets, cruel, wicked, old Planets, so also Mātṛgrahas, fierce Planets, other Vināyakas also, Kṛtyās, serpents, Kūṣmāṇḍa, so also other wicked beings, do not look at a pure great brāhmaṇa, Viṣṇu’s devotee, O brāhmaṇa. Imps protect a pure and the most religious person, and do not trouble him. The Planets, Stars and deities always protect a pure person. On the tip of your tongue is Viṣṇu’s name. In your heart remains the Veda. You are pure and devoted to giving gifts. You have fear from nowhere. O brāhmaṇa, thus I remain undergoing the fruits of my acts. Thinking and deliberating like this again and again, I do not wail. Similarly I am not pained as long as I remember the words of the crane, which I, when I was wandering, heard on the bank of the Jambālinī.

The brāhmaṇa said:

143. What kind of(i.e. which) words uttered by the crane did you hear? I desire to hear them. O evil spirit, tell them quickly.

The evil spirit said:

144-153. I shall tell you the words of the crane. O best pilgrim, listen to them. In the interior of this forest there is a river Dhūsarā by name, rising from a mountain. She is always violent due to fisḥ, and full of intoxicated elephants, rich with the beauty of great arjuna trees, and charming with glossy jambū fruits. Roaming in the dense forest, I reached her bank. When I remained there with a desire to eat fruits, a crane, along with a female crane, flew from another forest and came there to resort to the sand-bank with many birds. Having drunk water and sported just there with his mate, and putting the top of his head (i.e. his beak) into the cavity in his left wing, he slept. In the meanwhile was seen a monkey, getting down from the tree. His face was red. His eyes were very red. He was proud, and had strong rows of nails. He had (profuse) hair on his body, had a long tail, was quick in his movements. He speedily came there where the crane had slept. Coming (to the crane), he, with both his hands cruelly seized tightly the leg of the crane even as many birds were watching. All the birds, flew and flew and went elsewhere. The female crane remained (there) frightened and crying. The crane, with his sleep disturbed, with his eyes trembling due to fear, raised his neck quickly and saw (the monkey).

154-160. Seeing the wicked and very fierce monkey, desiring to kill him, the bird spoke to him in a sweet voice: “O monkey, why do you trouble me without any fault (of mine)? In the world, even the kings punish guilty persons. Good persons (i.e. beings) like you do not trouble harmless good birds averse to other (means of) subsistence, eating the moss in water, living in a forest, always bent upon sporting with their own mates, and avoiding others’ mates. O best monkey, (beings) like you do not trouble birds free from censuring others and from wickedness, and the best servants. O monkey, quickly leave me who am fully innocent. I remember your (former) existence. But you do not know mine.” Having heard these words of (i.e. uttered by) him, the quick monkey left him and remaining away quickly said to him:

The monkey said:

161. Tell me how you know my former existence. You are a bird having no knowledge, and I am an animal moving in the forest.

The crane said:

162-172. I know your (former) existence (due to my) clearly remembering your condition in your former life. In the former life you were Parvateśvara, the king of the Vindhya region. I was the most respected priest in your family. Therefore, O best monkey, I know (the former life of) you. While protecting this land, you, without discrimination, and collecting much wealth, harassed all (your) subjects. O monkey, you were first burnt by the flames of fire due to the torment inflicted on the subjects, and then were thrown into the very fierce Kumbhīpāka. Being repeatedly burnt and being born, you, uttering fierce words, and weeping again and again, and experiencing, with your hellish body, a terrible agony due to the fire in the Kumbhīpāka passed thirty years. After you again crossed (i.e. went out of) the hell, you have obtained this existence of the monkey due to the remaining sin, due to which you now desire to kill me. Formerly through your valour you took away bananas from the grove of a brāhmaṇa without being permitted by him. Note that the ripening of that act is giving its fruit. Therefore, due to it you are still a monkey, and are now living in the forest. The undergoing (of the fruit) of a good or bad act done previously plays among (i.e. is effective on) beings. Even gods cannot pass over it. Thus I know your (former) life properly and with its cause. Not being deluded by my knowledge, I too obtained this crane’s body.

The evil spirit said:

173. O brāhmaṇa, hearing this account the monkey too said to the crane: “You know (everything) properly, (then) how were you born as a bird?”

The crane said:

174-187. I shall tell you about that act due to which I met with misery and due to which I went to (i.e. was born in) the stock of a bird. Please listen to all that. To give it to many brāhmaṇas on Carmadā at the time of a solar eclipse you had laid aside (stock of) grains measuring a hundred khāris. Through my arrogance of (being your) priest and through greed, I, deceiving the brāhmaṇas, gave them a little and all (the remaining) I look (for myself). Due to the sin springing from taking the wealth (to be given) in common to the brāhmaṇas, I fell into the Kālasūtra hell, full of mire of blood, which was quite full of moving insects, having a bad odour, foamy with pus; with my face down and licking the pus, I was plunged into it up to my navel. Similarly from above my body was being constantly eaten up by great vultures and crows, and was being cut off by insects. In that mire of blood I became breathless; and even a short time there was as much as a kalpa for me. For three myriad years I experienced the agony. O monkey, I am not able to describe that misery (I had) in the hell. Priesthood is very fearful and naturally causes sin. In it the living of a brāhmaṇa is like that of a god. Acceptance of gifts from a king is fearful. Due to it brāhmaṇas were burnt. The priest would snatch away even their wealth. Due to that he becomes a hellish (being). The wise declare that the sin which a king first physically commits, is fixed on the priest. Luckily somehow I crossed the ocean of hell. Due to luck I first reached the stock of a bird. I got this condition (i.e. existence) of a crane, as, formerly, after taking a brass-metal pot from my sister, I gave it to a gambler. And this was a very fearful brāhmaṇī, who stole brass-metal. Due to that she has become my lawful wife, the female crane.

188-201. O monkey, I have thus told you the entire fruit of (my acts). Now listen to the past, the present and the future. I shall be (born as) a swan; and you will also be (born as) a swan. This my wife, the female crane, will be (born as) a female swan. We shall live happily in the Kāmarūpa country. After that we shall go to a female devotee, (who will be) good (to us) in future. Then we shall obtain existence as humans, difficult to get, where virtue and its opposite are secured by beings. Śiva, having thus deluded all beings with his Mayā, rejoices by giving pleasures and pains not only to us but to all beings. This is the way created variously in the world, which is full of virtue and vice and the nature of its fruit is pleasure and pain. It is always or repeatedly followed by all beings, gods, demons, human beings, tigers, worms, insects and aquatic animals. Without thinking about detached meditating saints who have mastered the Upaniṣads, no one has crossed this path having thorns of misery. Maheśvara, considering the place and time gives in this world the fruit of virtuous or vicious deed of the size of an atom or a big one. Very intelligent persons, knowing the Māyā of the lord, knowing what is to be done according to the sacred laws, do not grieve, nor are they tormented, nor are they troubled. O monkey, the effect of the former deeds cannot be changed with means or intelligence even by gods. Formerly you were born as a king, then were born as a hellish being. Now being born as a monkey, you will get an existence like that (i.e. according to your former deeds). Thinking like this, O monkey, being free from grief, and enjoying in this forest, wait for your death. I, too, bound by the Māyā of the Lord, and mustering courage, will pass my existence as a crane in forest after forest.

The monkey said:

202-203. I honoured you before. Even now I praise you. You remember (our) former existence. (Now) I know everything about our former life. O crane, live with the female crane. May you always have well-being. I whose illusion has gone due to your words, will (now) always move.

The evil spirit said:

204-216. O brāhmaṇa, when, on the bank of the river I heard this charming, wonderful, highly purifying dialogue between the bird (i.e. the crane) and the monkey, I too was enlightened, and due to that my grief disappeared. Seeing the very wonderful greatness of the water of Gaṅgā, I, O best brāhmaṇa, now ask you for the water of Gaṅgā. I desire to be emancipated from this state of the evil spirit. I am oppressed with severe thirst. O brāhmaṇa, on this mountain only I saw a great wonder of the water of Gaṅgā. (Therefore,) I desire to drink that water. A brāhmaṇa, born on Pāriyātra, acted as priest at the village-sacrifices. Due to acting as a priest at the sacrifices of those who were incompetent to offer sacrifices, he was born as a brahmarākṣasa on Vindhya. Due to his desire for my company, he stayed there for eight years. O best brāhmaṇa, his good son collected his bones (after burning his corpse). Bringing them to the pure holy place of Kanakhala, he cast them into Gaṅgā. That moment only he became free from the very fierce demonhood. Thus, I actually saw the wonderful greatness of a bath in Gaṅgā. Therefore, I asked (you) for this water of Gaṅgā. Since, formerly I procured many possessions at the holy place, and did not counteract (the effect of) them in the form of muttering (of hymns) etc., therefore, I, of the form of an evil spirit am not getting water and food easily. On this Vindhya mountain a thousand years have thus passed. Giving up great shame (i.e. being very shameless), I have told you everything. O most religious one, now quickly gratify my life being in the throat (i.e. about to depart), by giving me water. In this world life even in the condition of an evil spirit is difficult to be obtained by beings. By all means men should always protect their body. Even those suffering from leprosy etc. do not desire to abandon their bodies.

Devadyuti said:

217-227. Hearing these words of (i.e. uttered by) him, the pilgrim was much amazed, and feeling compassion for the evil spirit, thought: ‘In the world the fruit of sin or religious merit is actually seen as birth as a god, a demon, a man, a lower animal, an insect or a worm—thus birth in many stocks and being troubled by many diseases. So also death of children or old persons, blindness and hunch-backedness. So also affluence, poverty, wisdom, folly. These affects take place. How can they be otherwise? Those who in their place of work give to worthy recipients money earned through just ways, and (thus) accomplish their own well-being, are blessed. Land, gems, gold, cows, grains, a house, elephants, chariots, horses, garments, villages, ready food, fruits, water, so also one’s daughter, a divine medicine, food, umbrella, sandals, an excellent seat, a bed, a tāmbūla, flowers, a fan, excellent seat—all this should be given by those desiring to win the three worlds. What is given is received in heaven; what is given is alone enjoyed. Umbrellas, chowries, vehicles, excellent horses, excellent elephants, mansions, excellent beds, cows, buffaloes, and excellent women, food, ornaments, pearls, sons, maid-servants, a noble family, (long) life, (good) health, affluence, skill in arts and lores—all this is obtained by men on the earth as the fruit of giving (gifts) only. Therefore give carefully. That which is not given does not stand by one.’

228-239. This verse was sung by the most religious traveller. Hearing thus, the evil spirit, with his mind afflicted, spoke again: “O traveller, I think you are almost like one coversant with Dharma. There is no doubt about it. Give me jīvana (life/water) as the cloud (gives) water to a cātaka. Do not much delay in giving me the gift of my life.” Then the traveller replied in words pregnant with justice. “O evil spirit, listen. My parents stay at Bhṛgukṣetra. For them I have brought the water from (Prayāga) the lord of holy places. (But now) in the middle (i.e. on my way) you have asked for that white and black water (i.e. from Prayāga). I do not know whether any doubt on my part for a religious act is proper now. For the strength or weakness (of this act) I shall do (i.e. follow) the great order from the Vedas and the religious texts. (I will) not (do anything) through pride only. The sages and deities have looked upon the protection of the life of beings as superior to all the sacrifices like the horse-sacrifice. Thus giving you that excellent water and protecting you, the evil spirit, I shall again bring the purifying water and take it (to my parents). This appears to me to be a powerful act giving me religious merit. The wise have said that all else except obliging others is inferior. Men, obliging others, have gladly offered even their (own) life. By giving water there would be an obligation. Then what is not gained by me? This verse, formerly sung by Dadhīci is heard (i.e. well-known) on the earth: ‘Benevolence even with (i.e. at the cost of one’s) life or wealth, which is full of all piety and is its essence, is approved by all those who are conversant with Dharma. The religious merit due to obliging others is equivalent to hundreds of sacrifices’.”

240-249. Speaking like this, that excellent, most religious brāhmaṇa gave to the evil spirit, the water (from the confluence of) Gaṅgā and Yamunā for the protection of his life. The evil spirit drank the water and sprinkled his head with it. That moment only he abandoned his body of evil spirit, and became one with a divine body. Seeing that great wonder, the Keralite said: “Oh, due to the drops of the water from Veṇī (i.e. Trivenī), I am freed from the condition of an evil spirit. I think even Brahmā cannot describe the merit of the water. Otherwise, why does Śiva have the water of Gaṅgā on his head? He who would drink the water of Gaṅgā as much as the size of a sesamum (i.e. even a small drop), whose power is inconceivable, would be a god or a siddha. He would not enter the womb (i.e. would not be born again). There is no accomplishment like Gaṅgā, no knowledge like Gaṅgā, no salvation like Gaṅgā, since Gaṅgā is superior to all. Therefore, O religious one, final beatitude is in the hand of him who, with all efforts and great devotion, always resorts to Gaṅgā. O traveller, live long, do not desist from piety. By giving me a drop of the water of Gaṅgā, you have instantly emancipated me.” Saying so, that evil spirit from Kerala, after having congratulated that excellent brother, the traveller, with blessings, proceeded to hevaen. That traveller also again brought the water, and bringing to his mind the wonder (caused by) the water from the holy place, went the same way (as he had come).

Vasiṣṭha said:

250-258. Thus hearing the greatness of Prayāga and saluting the sage, the evil spirit at once and quickly went to Prayāga in Māgha. O best brāhmaṇa, that evil spirit too, having bathed at Prayāga in the month of Māgha, and with his sins destroyed, gave up that body of the evil spirit. Then that Draviḍa king, being one with a divine body, devoutly praising god Viṣṇu, and free from blemishes, being praised by gandharvas, being honoured by divine ladies, went in an excellent aeroplane, to the city of Indra. O brāhmaṇa, I have thus told you, the former, wonderful historical account which instantly destroys sins. You have thus heard (the account) giving knowledge, giving salvation, and destroying misery. I have thus told you the wonderful old account; O best brāhmaṇa, you have heard the old account destroying misery. Now, with me these girls, this your son, and you—all desiring felicity, should come to Prayāga. There we shall have the Māgha bath difficult to be had even by gods. There they will instantly give up their goblinhood caused by sin.

Śiva said:

259-286. Having thus gladly drunk the sweet juice of the story from the lotus-like mouth of Vasiṣṭha, all were much delighted, and they crossed the ocean of hell. Being delighted they proceeded with him in the sky. O Dilīpa, hear all (about) that holy place Sitāsita (i.e. Prayāga). They who were irresistible, having secured their desired object, quickly came there, and that time they were happy in their heart. Then Lomaśa kindly said in the courtyard of the sky: “Let all see this lord of holy places on the earth. All beings are freed at this Prayāga, (even) without knowledge. The Creator, desiring to create, performed a sacrifice here only. (Then) he obtained the power to create and then created (the universe). Viṣṇu, desiring a wife, bathed here atPrayāga. Therefore, he obtained Lakṣmī as his wife at the time of churning (out) the nectar here (only). Having lived here for six months, and having bathed at Veṇī at will, the Trident-holder killed with three arrows Tripura. These three ponds are blazing with perpetual fires. This fire is satisfied, and is nourished with even water. Here the thirty-three gods, being contented, were much delighted. Śiva, Nīlakaṇtha, Kapālabhṛt (literally, holder of a skull), the chap served constantly by gods, came here (to offer) a handful (of water). This is that Viṣṇu, of the form of abstract meditation, in whose fit mouth, the son of Mṛkaṇḍa, having entered when the world was full of flames, stayed. This is that Śiva’s Bhāgīrathī which removes all misery, For perfection she is served by siddhas, and gives enjoyment and salvation. She who always gives bliss, is excellent on the path to heaven. This is that river Bhāgīrathī, the goddess, that is the cause of (i.e. that leads one to) heaven. This is that river Yamunā herself, by merely bathing in whose water, beings obtain the same world as that of the Sun. O sage, the confluence of these two auspicious rivers gives happiness. Those who have bathed here, being sanctified by knowledge, are not roasted in hell. All beings, (even) without (having) knowledge, are liberated at this Prayāga. O brāhmaṇa, listen to another old historical account which destroys all sins and diseases of the listeners. Formerly a gandharva, cursed by Ṛcīka, became a crow. He at once got rid of the curse when he bathed here, that is at Prayāga only. Due to Indra’s curse the celestial nymph Urvaśī dropped from heaven. She, desiring (to go to) heaven, bathed (here) and soon obtained heaven. O sage, Nahuṣa’s son Yayāti obtained a propitious son after he, longing for a son, bathed at Prayāga having the holy white and black water (of Gaṅgā and Yamunā). O best brāhmaṇa, formerly Indra, longing for wealth bathed well here. Through deceit he snatched all the treasures of Kubera. Kaśyapa intent on propitiating Śiva, practised penance here. At this holy place Bharadvāja obtained perfection in abstract meditation. O brāhmaṇa, formerly at this holy place, Sanaka and others, masters of abstract meditation and of tranquil minds, obtained the fruit—the object of their abstract meditation. Those who have bathed here at the confluence of Gaṅgā and Yamunā in (the month of) Māgha, have become of the form of Stars and have pervaded the entire world. Those desiring (some objects) obtain their desired objects, and those desiring salvation obtain salvation. Those desiring perfection obtain it at Prayāga, O best brāhmaṇa. Now these maidens and your son long for salvation. On my word let all of them bathe here at Prayāga. Due to the efficacy of the water of the Veṇī (i.e. the confluence of Gaṅgā, Yamunā and Sarasvatī), may they obtain the entire wealth, the great fruit of the curse received by them[3].” Hearing these super-sensible[4], true and unsurpassable words of the sage all they, with eager minds, were ready to bathe. Having reached Prayāga, difficult to get, they, in a moment, gave up their goblinhood.

287-289a. Freed from the agony of the curse, they obtained their respective bodies. Vedanidhi, seeing his son and those girls of divine forms, and with his mind pleased, affectionately praised Lomaśa. “Due to your favour only, this great ocean of sin has been crossed. O best sage, now speak what is proper for (these) children.”

Lomaśa said:

289b-298. This young boy has studied the Vedas and has completed his vow. Let him accept the lotus-like hand of these, full of love (for him).

Then by Lomaśa’s words and those of his father, that pious celibate had the auspicious rite performed by the sages with auspicious articles and hymns. According to the religious rule he accepted the hand of all the five girls. All the girls were then delighted and had their desires satisfied. The boy also was pleased. That sage Lomaśa, having granted them permission, and being saluted by them, went to his hermitage, the Meru mountain, resorted to by gods. Then, O king, Vedanidhi, taking with him his five daughters-in-law and his son, and being delighted, went to Kubera’s city. O best king, due to the religious merit arising from the bath in Māgha at the lord of holy places, Prayāga, and due to the words of the excellent sage, the five gandharva girls got free from all sins, and due to having got the desired object had their desires fulfilled. He who everyday listens to this great historical account, which is purifying, which has become an object of veneration, which is the cause of the destruction of sins, becomes complete with all desired objects, and being rare and endowed with religious merit goes to the world of gods. He who, having heard this historical account, would honour the reader with cows, gold, garments,—since the reader is like Brahmā—(obtains religious merit). Since the reader is honoured, Viṣṇu is worshipped; therefore, a man who would desire his worldly existence to be fruitful, should everyday honour him.

Footnotes and references:


Aṣṭakā—A group of three days (7th, 8th and 9th) beginning from the seventh day after the full moon.


Maghā—Name of the tenth lunar mansion containing five stars.


prāptaśāpamahāphalāṃ [?]


atindrīya [?]

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