The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 750,347 words

This page describes Different Tirthas on Arunacala which is chapter 7 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 seventh chapter of the Arunacala-khanda (Purvardha) of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 7 - Different Tīrthas on Aruṇācala

Pārvatī enquired:

1-2. How did this fiery Liṅga become approachable to all living beings on the earth? How did it become calm?

How did the Tīrthas issue forth from the meritorious Aruṇa mountain? Tell me, how the mountain withdrew all the limbs.

Gautama replied:

3. This mountain is fiery in the Kṛta Yuga; in Tretā it is a mountain of jewels; in Dvāpara it is a mountain of gold; and in Kali it is an emerald mountain.

4. During Kṛta when it stood, completely of a fiery nature, to the extent of many Yojanas together, the great sages performed the external circumambulation till it subsided.

5. The Lord of Aruṇādri became calm slowly. The glorious Aruṇācala when thus requested by Suras for the protection of the worlds, became completely calm.[1]

6. Then Gaurī asked the sage: “How did Aruṇācala become calm? How did Devas request the Lord of Devas?”

7. On hearing her words thus, Gautama praised her unparalleled devotion conducive to knowing the essential thing and spoke:

Gautama said:

8. Formerly, the Suras who were incompetent to approach the fiery mountain, worshipped the Lord and eulogized him through the (prayers) originating from (i.e. included in) sacrifices:

9. “O holy Lord, O Lord of Aruṇācala who are conducive to the welfare of all the worlds, though your form is that of fire, be completely calmed down and shine on the earth.

10. All the Vedas eulogize you, the body of Śiva, thus: ‘This one who is copper-coloured or reddish-brown or tawny-coloured is highly auspicious.’[2]

11. Obeisance to the copper-coloured pink Śiva, the supreme soul,[3] to the Lord whose form can be comprehended through the Vedas, who is accompanied by Umā and whose form is happiness.

12. O Lord, this entire universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings is your form. This form of yours is seen as the receptacle of Devas.

13. You have arranged for the withdrawal of waters of the raining clouds and abundant streams at the close of Yugas.

14-15. The waters have originated from fire—indeed from you, the Supreme Soul. They carry on the creation of the universe on account of the wonderful richness of Guṇas.

O great Lord, become cool, O Śoṇācala the receptacle of mercy. O Lord, be accessible to all living beings.”

16. On being eulogized thus by all the Suras who bowed down, the Lord, fond of his devotees, became cool and accessible.

17-20. Then the rivers began to function, so also the streams with plenty of water. He did not(?) take up much water of the clouds that was poured down.

Although, he had a lustre on a par with hundreds and crores of midday suns and rising world-destructive fires, he became approachable to living beings.

After letting off the waters of the universe and after filling the rivers with waters flowing out (unto them) the Lord shines for ever. There arose the different Tīrthas around (Aruṇācala) due to the prayers of the Guardians of the Quarters, of Suras and of the noble-souled great sages.

Brahmā said:

21. On hearing his words thus, Gaurī became curious to hear about the origin of the Tīrthas. She began (to enquire):

Pārvatī said:

22. Which Tīrthas issued forth from Śoṇādri for the protection of the worlds? O holy Lord, recount to me entirely the origin of the Tīrthas.

23. On hearing her words thus, he began to expound in detail the origin of the Tīrthas[4] as he had formerly heard from Giriśa.

Gautama said:

24. The great Tīrtha named Aindra rose up in the eastern side. By taking his bath there formerly, Śakra dispelled the sin of Brāhmaṇa slaughter.

25. The divine Tīrtha named Brahmatīrtha rose up in the south-eastern corner. By taking his bath here Vahni (the Fire-god) got rid of the sin due to the contact with other people’s wives.[5]

26. A great Tīrtha named Yāmya exists in the southern side. By taking his bath here, Yama rid himself of the fear originating from Brahmā’s missile.

27. The great Tīrtha named Nairṛta shines in the south-west quarter. By taking bath there, the sages attained victory over Bhūtas and Vetālas (goblins and vampires).

28. In the western side shines the Vāruṇa Tīrtha. By taking his bath here formerly Varuṇa got back his Śalyakośa (‘the sheath of the lance’).

29. In the north-western quarter shines the Vāyavīya Tīrtha. By taking his bath there Vāyu attained the exalted status of the vital breath of the universe.

30. In the northern quarter Soma tīrtha is remembered (i.e. said to exist). By taking his bath there formerly Soma freed himself from the ailment of tuberculosis.[6]

31. It is known that Viṣṇu Tīrtha is in the north-eastern quarter. By taking his bath there formerly Viṣṇu became, united with Śrī.

32-33. O goddess, formerly Mārkaṇḍeya prayed to Śaṅkara: “O great Lord, O Sadāśiva, O Lord of Devas, O Lord of the universe, by what means can there be the assembly of many Tīrthas in one place? O Lord Śaṅkara, kindly tell this.”

34. On hearing his words thus, the Lord of Umā, the Lord of Devas, who was delighted in his mind, showed the means to the sage.

Maheśvara said:

35. Always at the time of oblation all the collection of the Tīrthas reach my presence and serve me in a hidden form.

36. O great sage, no other Tīrtha need be sought by you. At the time of the offering of oblation unto me the assembly of the Tīrthas is seen.

37. Hence let the gathering together of all the Tīrthas be seen at the end of the Naivedya (i.e. food offerings) always by the sages endowed with perpetual devotion and by the Suras.

38. Thus O goddess, Śaṅkara, the unmeasurable soul formerly pointed out to Mārkaṇḍeya the procedure for visiting the Tīrthas.

Gautama said:

39. All the meritorious and holy Tīrthas can be seen by men always at the time of oblation in the presence of Śiva.

40. Holy rites, Tīrthas, penance, Vedas, Yajñas, observances etc. and Yogas can be seen by visiting the Lord of Śoṇaśaila.

41. On hearing the statement of the eminent sage, the daughter of the King of Mountains became pleased. She said: “This is extremely wonderful, the group of Tīrthas on the earth recounted by you.

42. O foremost one among those who performed penances, I am blessed and contented by the contact with you now. I have come to the group of the Tīrthas. Obeisance to you. Śiva too has commanded me to perform a special type of penance here.

43. How is Lord Parameśvara, Giriśa, to be worshipped here? Though he had assumed the form of a great sparkling fire, he has (now) become calm. How is he to be worshipped by groups of mortals on the earth?”

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

This consistent traditional belief shows the possible volcanic nature of Aruṇācala in ancient times.

[2]:

Cf. TS 3.5.1.2a, VS 16.6a.

[3]:

Cf. TS 4.5.8.1, VS 16.29.

[4]:

As stated in the last chapter, these Tīrthas are on the way of circumambulation of Aruṇācala.

[5]:

This refers to the Fire-god’s attempt at illicit contacts with the wives of Saptarṣis in the episode of the birth of Skanda.

[6]:

Soma contacted T.B. due to Dakṣa’s curse. Purāṇas attribute its cure to Somanātha at Prabhāsa-paṭṭaṇa (Gujarat); that credit is claimed to Aruṇācala here as both are the forms of Śiva.

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