The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Greatness of the Tirtha at the Confluence of Mahi and Sea which is chapter 3 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the third chapter of the Kaumarika-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 3 - Greatness of the Tīrtha at the Confluence of Mahī and Sea

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sūta said:

1-5. (Nārada said:) Thus I wandered, O excellent one among warriors. I, Nārada, went on visiting the different holy places on the earth. While I wandered over the whole of the earth, I reached the hermitage of Bhṛgu. It is here that the highly meritorious river Revā flows. It is the most excellent river. By remembering it once, one obtains excellent happiness lasting for a period of seven Kalpas. It is auspicious and comprises within it all the Tīrthas. If it is glorified, it sanctifies him (i.e. the glorīfier). More particularly so, if one has a glimpse of it (by paying a visit). If one takes bath in it, O son of Pṛthā, that being is liberated from sins. Just as the Piṅgalā Nāḍī (a tubular vessel of the body) is established in the middle of the body, so also this river is established in the middle of the entire universe. It is glorified as such. There is on Revā, a Tīrtha named Śuklatīrtha[1] which is destructive of sins.

6a. If one takes bath therein even the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter is destroyed.

6b-7. Near it, on the northern bank of Revā, is the hermitage.[2] It was full of many kinds of trees. And it was rendered splendid by creepers and hedges. There were different kinds of flowers and fruits. The region was beautified with plantain trees.

8. There were many beasts of prey. It reverberated with the sounds of birds. It was rich in the splendour of fragrant flowers and resounded with the characteristic cries of peacocks spread everywhere.

9. Bees forsook everything and lay concealed humming in the same way as a devotee forsakes the world and lies at the feet of Hara.

10. Cuckoos caused reverberation all round with their sweet cooing sound, just as Brāhmaṇas pacify sages afraid of the worldly existence through nectar-like narration of stories.

11. With their fruits, flowers, leaves, shades and logs (i.e. pieces of branches), the trees delighted everyone like people who perform holy rites of Hara.

12. Birds fond of their youngs chirped ‘Putra-Putra’ (‘O son, O son’) like Śaiva devotees fond of Śiva ever repeating the words ‘Śiva-Śiva’ etc.

13. Such was the penance-grove and the environment of the hermitage of that sage. It was adorned all round by Brāhmaṇas knowing the three Vedas (or branches of learning).

14. The cardinal points were filled with the loud chanting sounds of Ṛk, Yajus and Sāma Vedas just as the three worlds (were filled with the sounds of his prayers) by a resolute devotee of Rudra.

15. O son of Pṛthā, I reached that place where the excellent sage Bhṛgu, of the greatest and the most virtuous soul, was seated. The refulgence of his penance illuminated the whole place.

16. I was both distressed and delighted. On seeing me arrive at the place, all those Brāhmaṇas with Bhṛgu as their leader, stood up in great reverence.

17. They welcomed me and accompanied by Bhṛgu offered me Arghya etc. and permitted by me those prominent sages took their respective seats.

18-19. After realizing that I had taken (sufficient) rest, Bhṛgu asked me: “Where have you to go, O excellent sage? Why have you come here? Clearly specify the reason and purpose of your arrival.” Thereupon, O son of Pṛthā, anxious that I was, I spoke to Bhṛgu:

20-22a. “Let it be heard. I shall tell the purpose for which I have come here. The entire ocean-girt earth has been roamed over by me. For the sake of gifting land-grants to Brāhmaṇas I am seeking at every step beautiful and pleasing pieces of land, holy and devoid of defects, connected with holy Tīrthas as well. But I do not see anything at all.”

Bhṛgu said:

22b-24. O sinless one, I too had wandered before. The entire ocean-girt earth had been seen then by me. My intention had been (to find a suitable place) for settling Brāhmaṇas.

There is a splendid holy river named Mahī.[3] It consists of all Tīrthas. (It is identical with all Tīrthas.) It is divine and charming, gentle and destructive of all great sins. There is no doubt about it that the earth itself is present there in the form of the river.

25. Whatever holy spots and sacred bathing places there are, both visible and invisible, all of them reside in the waters of that river Mahī, O Nāraḍa.

26. Where that great river of sacred waters joins the ocean, O celestial sage, there has arisen (a holy Tīrtha called) Mahī-Sāgara-Saṅgama (‘the Confluence of Mahī and Sea’).

27-30. There is a Tīrtha there named Staṃbha.[4] It is well-known in the three worlds. The learned men who take bath there become rid of all sins. They never approach Yama. Formerly when I went to take my holy bath there, a wonderful thing was observed by me. That miracle I shall describe in detail, O sage. Listen to that great and wonderful thing. When I went to the meeting place of Mahī and Sāgara (ocean) for bathing, I saw a leading sage seated on its bank (brilliant) like fire. He was very tall and old. Only the skeleton remained (but) he was adorned with the glory of penance.[5]

31. Raising his hands, he was crying repeatedly- On seeing him grieving, I too became distressed.

32. This is a characteristic of good people that on seeing miserable people they too become miserable a hundred times more. So I too cried.

33. Non-violence, truthfulness and non-stealing—these are rare in spite of Mānuṣya (i.e. state of being a man). Then I approached him and asked:

34. “Why do you cry, O sage? What is the cause of your grief? Even if it be a great secret, tell me it as my desire to know it is intense.”

35. Thereupon, the sage told me, “O Bhṛgu, I am unfortunate. Hence I cry. Do not ask me. What person will speak about his misfortune?”

36. I was struck with wonder and I said to him once again:

“Rare indeed is the birth in the land of Bharata; there too,

Manuṣyatā (i.e. birth in human species) is still more so.

37-38. Even if (such) birth as man (is acquired) it is rare to be born as a Brāhmaṇa. There too the state of being a sage is rare. In sage-hood the acquirement of power of penance is still more rare. After having obtained all these five, why do you cry, O sage? In this connection my wonder is great.” Even as I was asking thus, a sage named Subhadra came there.

39-40. He had understood the greatness of this Tīrtha. So he had left Meru and built his hermitage here. The sage used to worship Staṃbheśvara always. Like me, he too asked the sage the cause of the lamentation.

41. Then that sage performed the rite of Ācamana (i.e. ceremonial sipping of water) and said: “O sages, let the cause (of my grief) be heard. I am a sage named Devaśarmā. I have restrained my tongue (speech) and mind.

42. I have my own abode wherein I used to stay in the spot where Gaṅgā meets the ocean. I used to perform the Tarpaṇa rite during the New-Moon days for the Manes.

43. At the end of the Śrāddha, they used to manifest directly to me and offer benedictions- Once the delighted Pitṛs said to me:

44. ‘O Devaśarmā, we are always coming here near you. But never do you come to our abode. Why so, O dear son?’

45-47. I was desirous of seeing that abode, but I was unable to convey this to them. Then after saying ‘Let it be’ I went along with the Manes to the sacred mansion of the Manes which was on a level with Bhaumaloka (i.e. the world of Mars). I stayed in various places and saw in front of me some praiseworthy people very difficult to be seen on account of the halo of brilliant splendour. So I asked my own Manes: ‘Who are these coining? They are much contented and duly worshipped. They are extremely joyous. You are not like these.’”

The Pitṛs (Manes) said:

48. Welfare unto thee. They are the meritorious Pitṛs of the great sage Subhadra. They have been propitiated (with the Tarpaṇa rite, with gingelly seeds and water) by that sage, at the place where Mahī meets the ocean.

49. It is the place where the holy river Mahī which comprises all the Tīrthas merges with the ocean. There during Darśa (‘New-Moon day’) Subhadra performs the Tarpaṇa rite of those persons, dear son.

50. On hearing their words, I became much ashamed. I was struck with wonder. After bowing down to these Manes, I returned to my own abode.

51. I thought thus: ‘I will go there surely where the river Mahī joins the ocean, which is well-known as Mahīsāgarasaṅgama.

52. 1 will make my hermitage there and perform the rite of Tarpaṇa to my Pitṛs on every New-Moon day in the same manner as this Subhadraka of praiseworthy name.

53. Of what avail is that sinner, the destroyer of his own family, if in spite of his being alive, his Pitṛs desire for other things?’

54-55. After thinking thus, I joyously said to Ruci, my wife, “O Ruci, accompanied by you I will go to Mahīsāgarasaṅgama and will stay there alone. Be disposed to come quickly. You are chaste, pure, and of noble birth. You are famous too. Hence, O splendid lady, it behoves you to do according to what has been thought of by me.”

Ruci said:

56-59a. O Sinner, I have been (well nigh) killed by you, O pillar in a cremation ground! I would rather that he was not born; he, the wicked fellow, by whom I have been given to you (in marriage). Enough of you. Even with the diet of bulbous roots and fruits (your stomach) is not filled. You wish to take me there where only salt water is always obtained. You alone go there. Let your ancestors be delighted. O old man, you may go or stay like a crow for a long time.

59b-60. When she said thus, I closed my ears. I directed (ordered) my disciple Vipula to look after my house and came here alone, I take my holy bath here and perform the Tarpaṇa rite to the Pitṛs with great reverence.

61. I am now worried much like a sinner in hell. If I continue to stay here, I will be only Ardhadehadhara (‘having only half of the body’).

62-63. A man without his wife is known as Ardhadeha (‘half-bodied’). Just as without the Ātman (i.e. one’s self) nothing can take place in the body, so also one without wife is not eligible for (performing) holy rites. A man who is very fondly attached to the bodies and wives is a brute.

64. Only the fruit is to be reaped from these two. There is nothing essential or substantial in them. A half-bodied man is considered not worthy of being touched by good people.

65-68. Uttama,[6] the son of Uttānapāda, was made Aspṛśya (‘not worthy of being touched’) by Suras.

If I go there, there is no Mahīsāgara there. How can I even go? My feet do not move at all. In this dilemma of ignorance, my wounded mind is extremely distressed. Hence I have lost much of my sense. I feel extremely sorry. I lament and cry.

On hearing his words full of emotion, Subhadra and I said, “Good! Good!” We prostrated in front of Mahīsāgara-Saṅgama.

69-70. Both of us thought of the remedy on behalf of the sage. After attaining human birth which is as transient as a water-bubble, one should work for others. He alone is a genuine Puruṣa (man). Others are Purīṣakas (‘faeces’). Thereupon Subhadra thought well and said to the excellent sage:

71-72. “O sage, do not be distressed and dejected. O Devaśarmā, be steady. I shall dispel your grief like the sun dispelling darkness. I shall go to my hermitage. You will not be laughed at (by anyone) here. Listen to the cause thereof. I shall perform the Tarpaṇa to your Pitṛs on your behalf.”

Devaśarmā said:

73. May your life be a hundred years, since you speak thus. On my behalf and for my sake you wish to perform a great task which is (well nigh) impossible.

74-76. In the place of delight, sorrow affects me again. Listen, good people do not take an auspicious statement in vain, O sage. How can I make you do this great rite in vain? Say, I shall say something whereby I can have expiation.

You are adjured by my vital airs. Do as I suggest. I shall always perform Śrāddha on the Darśa day, with your Pitṛs in view. I shall perform it in the meeting place of Gaṅgā and the ocean. Here, you perform the same rite for my Pitṛs.

77. I shall give you a fourth part of the penance accumulated by me in the course of this birth. Do it in this manner alone.

Subhadra said:

78. If you are satisfied in this way, let it be so, O great sage. Everything should be done by a person who knows in a manner whereby good people are delighted.

Bhṛgu said:

79-80. Devaśarmā became delighted thereby. He offered a fourth of his merit repeating the offer thrice (in words). He went away to his place. Subhadra remained there.

O Nārada, Mahī-Sāgarasaṅgama is of this nature. On remembering it I experience a great thrill even now.

Nārada said:

81-82. I heard this, O Phālguna, like a dead man obtaining nectar. I said with words choked due to delight to Bhṛgu: “Excellent! Excellent! You and we shall go to the extremely splendid banks of Mahī. We shall look over the entire place, the excellent region.”

83. On hearing my words, Bhṛgu went along with me. The whole of the excessively meritorious bank of Mahī was seen.

84. On seeing it I became excessively delighted with hair standing up all over the body. I spoke to the tiger (i.e. eminent) among sages with words choked with delight:

85-86. “O Bhṛgu, thanks to your grace, I shall make this abode very excellent. O Brāhmaṇa, may you be pleased to go to your abode. I shall think about what should be done.”

After bidding adieu to Bhṛgu thus, I sat on the bank of that river which had ripples and waves producing a tumultuous sound with great enthusiasm. Just as a yogin meditates on the Ātman,

I thought about my (subsequent) duties.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Śuklatīrtha is described in details in SkP, Revākhaṇḍa, Chs. 155.47-119 and 156 but there is no mention of Bhṛgu’s hermitage there, though Bhṛgukaccha (mod. Broach) is regarded as a hermitage of Bhṛgu (De 34). The author perhaps refers to the same here.

[2]:

VV 7-15: A beautiful description of Bhṛgu’s hermitage. Purāṇas seem to have same sets of descriptions of jungles, hermitages, some phenomena in nature etc They, however, do not appear mechanical due to variety of ideas, similes etc.

[3]:

This is the most important river in this Khaṇḍa. It rises in the Purāṇic Pāriyātra mountain (in Malwa) and joins the gulf of Cambay (Khambhat or Khambayat).

[4]:

Mod. name Khambhat is derived from Stambha Tīrtha.

[5]:

VV 30-80 describe the story of a Brahmin Devaśarmā who imparted one fourth of his penance to Brahmin Subhadra for performing Śrāddha on behalf of Devaśarmā at the confluence of Mahī and the Sea. This confluence is shown to be more efficacious and holier than that of Gaṅgā and the Sea.

[6]:

To illustrate how a half-bodied, i.e. wifeless man is of an untouchable status, he gives the instance of Uttama, the step-brother of Dhruva, the son of King Uttānapāda. He was regarded as untouchable by gods as he was killed in an unmarried state by a Yakṣa.

BhP IV.8.9 and IV.10.3 support the fact of his so dying during a hunting expedition but not his treatment as an untouchable by gods.

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