by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,142,515 words
This page describes The Greatness of Papavinashana Tirtha which is chapter 19 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 nineteenth chapter of the Venkatacala-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
Śrī Sūta said:
1. Henceforth 1 shall recount the greatness of Veṅkaṭācala to you all. Listen with attention and a pure mind.
2. There are thousands, lakhs and crores of lakes and rivers, oceans of great merit, forests and hermitages.
7. (All these) live day and night within Veṅkaṭācala and on its top, which is destructive of multitudes of great sins and a sanctifier of the worlds.
8-10. Merely by looking at it men can attain intelligence and happiness. The women-folk of Siddhas and Cāraṇas who have taken up residence on its top, always worship Veṅkaṭeśa, the storehouse of mercy. Crores of the sins of Brāhmaṇa-slaugh-ter and crores of the sins of cohabiting with forbidden women perish when the winds from Veṅkaṭācala touch their limbs.
[Time for Climbing Śrī Veṅkaṭācala and the Procedure of Meditating on it]:—
11-13. A devotee should request the mountain Veṅkaṭādri which enhances merit: “O golden mountain of great merits, resorted to by all the Devas, even Brahmā and other Devas attend upon you with great faith. O excellent one among mountains! I am treading upon you (of such good qualities). Forgive me this one sin kindly, though I am evil-minded. Show me Mādhava who has taken up his residence on your top.”
14. After praying thus the man (the devotee) should gently set his foot on Veṅkaṭādri, the most excellent one among mountains. He shall then gently walk over the sacred Veṅkaṭācala.
15-17. With the specific holy observances he should take bath in Svāmipuṣkariṇī Tīrtha on (mountain) Veṅkaṭādri of great merits, which destroys all sins. Thereafter, he should offer rice-balls even if they be of the size of a mustard seed. Or he should offer rice-balls equal to the leaves of Śamī tree unto the Manes. Those who are stationed in heaven will attain salvation and those who are in hells will go to heaven.
[Greatness of the Tīrtha Named Pāpavināśana]:—
18-20. On the top of the extremely sacred and pure Veṅkaṭācala there is a great and sacred Tīrtha named Pāpavināśana. It is well-known in all the worlds. It is the most excellent of all the Tīrthas, O Brāhmaṇas. Merely by remembering it one will no longer have to enter a womb (i.e. one gets salvation). One (i.e. pilgrim) should go to it which is towards the north of Svāmitīrtha, and take his holy bath. By taking the holy bath there men go to Vaikuṇṭha. There is no doubt about it.
The sages requested:
Śrī Sūta said:
22. I shall recount to you all, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the auspicious story of what happened in the penance-grove of Brahmā on the auspicious ridge of Himavān.
23. That penance-grove is sacred. Brahmā’s penance-grove is very auspicious. It is full of trees of various kinds. It is situated on a beautiful side of Himavān.
24. It abounds in hedges and creepers. It is frequented by deer and elephants. It is resonant with the voices (talk, conversation etc.) of Siddhas and Cāraṇas. It is made beautiful due to the whole forest being in full bloom.
25-28. Many ascetics live sparsely in it. It is rendered splendid by sages. It is full of Brāhmaṇas of exalted magnificence, as resplendent as the sun and the fire. There are many anchorites staying there and they are richly endowed with holy rites and regular observances. There are many persons there regularly performing Yāgas with requisite initiation, who practised control over their diet and were self-possessed. It is surrounded by persons conversant with the Vedas and endowed with rich experience by the study of the Vedas. There are persons of all stages of life there, viz. religious students, householders, anchorites and mendicants, all of them strictly adhering to the duties of their stages and performing (all the rites) ordained for their respective castes. It is surrounded by Vālakhilyas and other sages.
The Episode of a Śūdra Named Dṛḍhamati
29-32. Once, O Brāhmaṇas, a certain Śūdra named Dṛḍhamati, a venturesome fellow, joyously came near the Brāhmaṇas in that hermitage.
On coming to the penance-grove he was duly honoured by the ascetics. (After announcing his) name Dṛḍhamati the Śūdra prostrated (before them) with the eight limbs touching (the ground).
On seeing those groups of sages who were on a par with Devas, who had great prowess and were performing different kinds of Yajñas, the Śūdra was much delighted.
He had an inclination to perform an excellent penance. He approached the sage and ascetic, the head of the penance-grove and said:
33. O ascetic, obeisance to you. Save me, O storehouse of sympathy. With your grace I wish to perform a Yāga (sacrifice). Be pleased with me.
34-40. A Śūdra is of inferior birth. He cannot be initiated for the performance of a Yāga. So it is heard (i.e. mentioned in the Vedas). If you have the inclination, be engaged in rendering service.
Instructions cannot be imparted at any cost to one devoid of (high) caste. In case he is instructed, the teacher-priest incurs a great sin.
No learned man should teach a Śūdra nor shall he preside over his Yāga. He should not teach a Śūdra any (sacred) science such as grammar etc. He should not directly teach a Śūdra poetry, drama, rhetorics, Purāṇa or Itihāsa. If any Brāhmaṇa instructs any Śūdra these subjects at any time, the other Brāhmaṇas must banish that Brāhmaṇa from the village full of Brāhmaṇas. One should abandon a Brāhmaṇa like a Cāṇḍāla if he teaches any Śūdra.
41-44. Therefore, welfare unto you. Render service to Brāhmaṇas with great faith. Rendering service to the Twice-born has been mentioned by Manu and others (as the duty) of a Śūdra. It does not behove you to forsake your natural duty.
On being told thus by the sage the Śūdra thought, ‘What should be done by me now? My faith in the holy rites is very intense. I shall endeavour in such a way as to have perfect knowledge.’
After deciding thus mentally Dṛḍhamati, the Śūdra, went far away from the penance-grove and erected a splendid hut.
45-49. There he made a temple and many holy shrines, flower-garden etc. He got a big lake dug up. All these he set up for the sake of the performance of penance by himself.
He performed the rites of ablution and worshipped deities. He practised all holy observances such as fast etc.
He offered oblations and performed Homas. Regular in habits and mental resolve he sustained himself on a fruit diet. He conquered his sense organs. Everyday he honoured duly guests that approached him by means of bulbous roots, roots, flowers and fruits. Thus a great deal of time passed by.
[Procedure for the Performance of Holy Rites as Revealed (Explained) to Dṛḍhamati by the Brāhmaṇa named Sumati]:—
50. Once a Brāhmaṇa named Sumati, born in the family of Garga, arrived at his hermitage. He (the Brāhmaṇa) was truthful in speech and had his sense-organs under control.
51. (Dṛḍhamati) propitiated the sage with words of welcome, made him delighted through (offer of) fruits and other things and enquired about his health in the course of narration of holy tales.
52-54. The Brāhmaṇa who was honoured by various services thus, such as offering water for washing and the like, accepted the same and felicitated him with blessings. Delighted in his mind, he took leave of him and went back to his own hermitage. Thus day by day the Brāhmaṇa became more and more favourably disposed to the Śūdra. He paid a visit to his hermitage in order to meet the Śūdra-born (sage). This association of the Brāhmaṇa with the Śūdra-born (sage) lasted for a longtime.
55. Being won over by affection, the Brāhmaṇa could not refuse what had been requested by the Śūdra. Once that Śūdra spoke to the Brāhmaṇa whom he had won over by means of affection. He said to him thus, when the Brāhmaṇa came to him:
57. He made the Śūdra perform the holy rites etc. unto the Manes. After the holy rites of Pitṛs (Manes) had been performed, that excellent Brāhmaṇa was sent away by him (with a farewell).
[Miseries Undergone by Sumati due to His Imparting of Instructions in Vedic Rites to a Śūdra]:—
58. The Brāhmaṇa was fed and nourished thus for a long time by the Śūdra-born sage. He was therefore excommunicated by Brāhmaṇas. Later he died.
60. After undergoing the tortures of the hells one by one he became an immobile being. Afterwards he was born as a donkey and thereafter a pig feeding on faeces.
61. He was then born as a dog and he became a crow subsequently. Then he was born as a Cāṇḍāla and thereafter as a Śūdra.
63. He was invested with the sacred thread in the eighth year reckoned from the day of conception. Thus the Brāhmaṇa remained in his father’s house engaged in the regular practice of rules of his caste.
64-65. Once while he was going through a forest, he was haunted by a Brahmarākṣasa (i.e. a Brāhmaṇa turned into a demon). He cried, whirled, faltered in his steps, prattled foolishly and laughed. Frequently he cried out “Alas! Alas!”. He forsook all Vedic rites. On seeing his son in such a plight the father was distressed with agony.
66-67. He affectionately took his son and sought refuge in Agastya who was engaged in a penance in front of Śiva on the banks of Suvarṇamukharī. He devoutly bowed down to the sage. The father of that son reported to him all the actions of the son.
[Sumati Goes to Veṅkaṭādri as per Advice of Agastya in Order to Dispel His Misery]:—
68-71. Then the Brāhmaṇa told the great Pot-born Sage (Agastya): “O Brāhmaṇa, this my son has been possessed by a Brahmarākṣasa. He is not at all happy, O Brāhmaṇa. Protect him with your benign glance. I have no other son who could relieve me of my indebtedness to the Pitṛs. O Pot-born Sage, tell me the means whereby his pain and agony will be destroyed. There is no other person in the three worlds habitually engaged in penance like you. Excepting you there is no other person to protect my son. O Sire, take pity on my son. Indeed good people are by nature compassionate.”
Śrī Sūta said:
72. On being told thus by him the Pot-born Sage began to meditate. After meditating for a long time he told the Brāhmaṇa:
73. In his former birth, O highly intelligent one, this son of yours was a Brāhmaṇa named Sumati. That Brāhmaṇa imparted (sacred) knowledge to a Śūdra.
74-75. He instructed him in all the Vedic rites. So he had to undergo the tortures of hells for a period of one thousand crores of Kalpas. At the end of it he was born in various species beginning with immobile things. Now your son is born as a Brāhmaṇa on account of the balance of his (good) Karmas.
76. He has been possessed by a Brahmarākṣasa sent by Yama on account of the cruel sin committed by him in the previous birth.
77. I shall tell you the means of destroying the Brahmarākṣasa. Listen with an attentive mind and great faith.
78. On the banks of Suvarṇamukharī which is resorted to by multitudes of sages, there is the sacred Veṅkaṭācala worthy of being resorted to by Devas.
79. On it there is a great Tīrtha named Pāpavināśana. It is meritorious, famous and destructive of great sins.
80. That Tīrtha is known as the destroyer of evil spirits, ghosts and vampires, goblins and Brahmarākṣasas as well as of great ailments.
81. Take your son and go to that Tīrtha in the middle of the mountain. With great mental purity make your son take his bath in that Tīrtha which is destructive of sins.
82. By means of the holy bath taken on three (consecutive) days that Brahmarākṣasa will perish. There is no other means on the earth to destroy him.
83. Hence go quickly to that mountain named Veṅkaṭa. There make your son bathe in the Tīrtha named Pāpavināśa.
84-85. Do not delay here, O Brāhmaṇa, go there quickly.
On being told thus that Brāhmaṇa bowed down to Agastya and prostrated before him like a log of wood. Permitted by him the Brāhmaṇa went to Veṅkaṭācala along with his son and reached Pāpavināśana.
[All the Miseries of Sumati Dispelled Through Holy Bath Taken in Pāpanāśana]:—
86-89. With the rite of Saṃkalpa (i.e. ceremonial pronouncement of the decision to perform a religious act) he made the son take bath on three days. The eminent Brāhmaṇa, the father himself, took his bath in Pāpavināśana. After returning he drank water at the conclusion of the daily routine of holy rites. Thereupon his son was released by the Brahmarākṣasa.
He became free from ailments. He became normal with handsome form and features. Endowed with all flourishing riches, he enjoyed many kinds of pleasures. At the end of his life he attained salvation by virtue of his holy bath in Pāpavināśana. His father too, on account of his holy bath there, attained salvation after death.
[Misery of Dṛḍhamati who Performed Vedic Rites is Dispelled]:—
90-93. The Śūdra who had been instructed by him underwent the tortures of the hells one by one. Then he was born in many despicable low species. Afterwards he became a vulture on the mountain Veṅkaṭācala. Once he came to the Tīrtha Pāpavināśana in order to drink water. He drank water and sprinkled his own body (with it). At that very time he obtained a divine personality adorned with all ornaments. He got into a celestial aerial chariot and went to heaven.
Śrī Sūta said:
94-95. This Tīrtha, Pāpavināśana, has such power. O Brāhmaṇas, it has got the name Pāpanāśana because it is destructive of sins.
Thus the secret has been told, O eminent sages, of the greatness of Pāpavināśana. It is by means of their holy bath therein that (both) the Brāhmaṇa and the Śūdra of despicable actions became liberated instantaneously.
Footnotes and references:
VV 34-44 describe the inhuman constraints on Śūdras. Even the knowledge of non-Vedic subjects like poetry, drama, rhetorics is denied to them. For more disabilities vide Kane, HD II. i. pp. 154-64.