The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Expiatory Rites which is chapter 6 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 sixth chapter of the Arunacala-khanda (Uttarardha) of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Note: This chapter deals with the rites of expiation to atone for sins described in the last chapter. Here the importance of Aruṇācala in purging off sins is emphasized.

Nandikeśvara said:

1. I shall narrate in detail now the means of expiation for all great sins. Have a faithful mind and listen attentively.

2-4. A Brāhmaṇa-slayer should go to Śoṇādri and take his holy bath in Khaḍgatīrtha. He should apply sacred ash and wear Rudrākṣa beads. He should then constantly repeat the five-syllabled Mantra (Namaḥ Śivāya).

He shall regularly observe fasts. With great purity of mind, he should worship Parameśvara. He should feed Brāhmaṇas. For a year he should eat only what he receives by way of alms. He shall keep all the sense-organs under check. He should render pious and devout services to the Lord and perform special worships. He shall be liberated from the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter. He shall become honoured in the world of Brahmā.

5-6. One having committed the sin of imbibing liquor should stay in the holy spot of Aruṇācala for a year. He should perform everything as in the case of the previous sinner. He should then worship Maheśvara. He shall bathe the Lord (i.e. the Liṅga) with milk repeating Śatarudrīya Mantra. Immediately he is liberated from the sin originating from drinking liquor.

7. One who has stolen gold should worship Lord Hara with the leaves of Bilva (‘Aegle marmelos’) in the sacred spot of Śoṇa (i.e. Aruṇācala). Then he shall feed Brāhmaṇas. He shall be liberated from the greatest of sins.

8-10. One who has indulged in sexual intercourse with the preceptor’s wife should go to Aruṇācala on a day marked by the constellation Kṛttikā. He should carry out all rites and observances as before. He should propitiate Śrī Śoṇācala Śaṅkara for three months with a thousand lights. He should then offer a well-adorned virgin to an intelligent Brāhmaṇa. He should repeat everyday the six-syllabled Mantra (Oṃ namaḥ Śivāya).

He shall then be liberated from the sin. He shall stay in the world of Śiva as long as the terrestrial world lasts. There is no doubt about this.

11-12. A person who has abducted another man’s wife should stay in this holy spot for a month with perfect restraint on the sense-organs. He should worship Aruṇaśaṅkara with fresh flowers. He should give to a devotee of Maheśvara money according to his capacity. At that very moment he will be, liberated from that sin.

13. A person who has administered poison should perform holy observances as before in the sacred place of Aruṇācala and offer milk as humble gift to the Lord. He shall be liberated from the sin.

14. A backbiter too should perform all holy observances in the holy spot of Aruṇācala. The man should be devoted to the Vedas. He shall teach prominent Brāhmaṇas. Thereby he shall be free from sins.

15. A person who has committed arson also should, as before, carry out all holy observances and perform holy rites in the holy spot of Aruṇa for three months. He should get a house built and give it to a devotee of Śiva. This shall be conducive to the removal of the sin.

16. A person who has reviled at piety and devotion should stay for a year in the holy spot of Śoṇa doing all (the previous) observances. For the sake of expiating the sins he should perform Satra (‘sacrifice’) etc. in accordance with his capacity.

17. One who has been hostile toward one’s parents should stay in the holy spot of Aruṇa for a month wakefully. He shall offer thousands of cows to Giriśa and also to Brāhmaṇas.

18. At the time of eclipse (?) he shall feed many Brāhmaṇas. Then he shall let loose a dark-coloured bull. Thereby he shall be absolved of the sin.

19. One who has killed a woman or a child should go to the holy places of Śoṇa (i.e. Aruṇācala). At the time of Vyatīpāta (i.e. a particular astronomical period foreboding calamity) he shall offer gingelly seeds to Brāhmaṇas for the sake of dispelling sins.

20. One who has committed sins in secret should stay in the holy place Śoṇa with perfect curb on the sense-organs. He should then make charitable gifts in secret. He shall then be rid of his sins.

21. A liar should stay in the sacred place of Aruṇācala for six months observing religious vows. By reciting the prayers to the Lord of Aruṇācala he shall become sinless.

22. One who has wantonly damaged wells etc. should go to the holy spot of Śoṇa with great devotion. He should cause lakes to be dug there. Certainly he shall (thus) become sinless.

23. One who has illegally taken possession of (agricultural) land should dedicate a very fruitful field unto the Lord. A person who has spoiled a park should offer an excellent park unto the Lord.

24. A person who has taken away houses illegally should build a new temple of the god. He shall become free from the sin and attain Sāyujya with Śiva.

25. A person with malicious intention towards others should stay in the holy spot of Śoṇa. He should please devotees of Maheśvara with money. Thereby he shall undoubtedly attain the great worlds (i.e. heaven).

26-29a. A person who has eaten the meat of cow and other animals should stay in the holy spot of Śoṇa for three fortnights and perform holy observances and rites. He should propitiate Aruṇeśāna with charming good gifts. He should loudly call out three times, “O Lord of Śoṇācala”. He shall be sinless thereby.

A person desirous of salvation shall stay in the holy place Aruṇa and worship Aruṇeśvara. He should repeat the Mantra of Aruṇeśvara with great respect.

If anyone wishes for[1] anything he should circumambulate Aruṇācala on foot. He shall obtain auspiciousness immediately.

29b-31. When one sneezes, falters and slips, sees a bad dream or is highly delighted or if a great danger is imminent, the learned man should utter the name of “Aruṇaśaṅkara”.

If a person has fallen away from the discipline of castes and stages of life, or one has actively engaged in hostile acts against Śiva, he should stay in the holy place of Aruṇa for three days. He shall be liberated from the sins. This is the terrestrial Śivaloka. This is the embodied form of the Chief of the Vedas.

32-37. This Aruṇa mountain is the southern Kailāsa. In the other Siddhakṣetras (i.e. holy spots for spiritual achievement) men achieve Siddhi only through penances, but in this holy spot it is obtained merely by remembrance. Let the comparison be thought over.

All the holy rites of men performed at Śoṇakṣetra are superior to the rites performed at Prayāga and Kāśī on Gaṅgā or at Puṣkāra or at Setu. A learned man shall perform Agniṣṭoma, Vājapeya, Vairāja, Sarvatomukha, Rājasūya and. Aśvamedha at Aruṇācala.

If a man observes a fast for a single day at Aruṇakṣetra, it is as good as performing a hundred Cāndrāyaṇas or ten thousand Sāntapanas.

The sixteen great Dānas (i.e. charitable gifts) [see notes below] performed at Aruṇakṣetra yield twice the benefit mentioned in Kalpas (i.e. literature on rituals).

38. On hearing directly from Naṇḍikeśvara (the foregoing advices) regarding the (measures of) prevention from falling into hell, he (i.e.Mārkaṇḍeya) rejoiced and thanked him. He further requested him to give the details regarding days, seasons, years, deserving persons and the order and other things.

Notes on the sixteen Mahādānas:

The sixteen Mahādānas (Great Charitable Gifts) are as follows:

  1. Tulā-puruṣa (Weighing a person against gold or silver which is then distributed among Brahmins),
  2. Hiraṇya-garbha,
  3. Brahmāṇḍa,
  4. Kalpavṛkṣa,
  5. Go-sahasra,
  6. Kāmadhenu (or Hiraṇya-Kāmadhenu),
  7. Hiraṇyāśva,
  8. Aśvaratha,
  9. Hastiratha,
  10. Pañca-lāṅgala,
  11. Dharādāna,
  12. Viśvacakra,
  13. Kalpalatā,
  14. Saptasāgara,
  15. Ratnadhenu,
  16. Māhābhūta-ghaṭa (vide MtP, Chs. 274-289).

The list is a bit different in LP II.28ff. The term ‘Mahādānāni’ occurs in Mbh, Āśramavāsī 5.15 and also in Hāthigumphā inscription of Kharavela (2nd cent. B.C.). These show the antiquity of this tradition.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

abhihita can be interpreted as meaning ‘spoken’ and the verse then means ‘whatever has been spoken regarding a person’ etc.

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