by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,142,515 words
This page describes Merit from Gift of Lands which is chapter 20 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 twentieth chapter of the Venkatacala-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
[Greatness of Pāpavināśana Tīrtha]:—
Śrī Sūta said:
1. I shall recount again the greatness of Pāpanāśana. Listen with great concentration and feelings of devotion to the Lord.
2. I shall narrate a legendary story that is destructive of all sins, on hearing which one is absolved of all sins. There is no doubt about it.
6. Of those wives he had two hundred sons. All of them—his sons and others—were afflicted with hunger.
7. On seeing his dear sons tormented with hunger and his beloved wives ingreat distress due to hunger the penniless Bhadramati being greatly agitated in all his sense-organs, cried aloud:
8. “Fie upon a life devoid of fortune!
Fie upon a life bereft of wealth!
Fie upon a life wanting in fame!
Fie upon a life without hospitality!
9. Fie upon a life devoid of moral conduct!
Fie upon a life devoid of knowledge!
Fie upon a life without exertion and industry!
Fie upon a life devoid of happiness!
10. Fie upon a life bereft of kinsmen!
Fie upon a life wanting in renown!
Fie upon the life of a man without any wealth but with many children!
11. Alas! The good qualities such as gentleness, scholarship and nobility of birth—all these do not shine in the case of one sinking in the ocean of poverty.
12. Brāhmaṇa’s sons, grandsons, kinsmen, brothers, disciples—all men forsake the man who is without wealth and glory.”
13-17. The Brāhmaṇa Bhadramati who was intelligent and self-possessed came to this conclusion: “Irrespective of one’s being a Brāhmaṇa or a Cāṇḍāla, it is the fortunate alone who is honoured. In this world a poor man is condemned by all people as though he is a corpse. Alas! A person endowed with riches may be hard-hearted but he is considered to be kind. He may not have any good qualities, but he is considered to be endowed with good qualities. Even if he is afool, he is considered to be a scholar.
A man may be hard-hearted and be devoid of good qualities and virtue but if he is endowed with the quality of possessing wealth and glory, he is undoubtedly worthy of being honoured.
Alas! Poverty is itself misery but therein false hope or expectation causes greater misery. Persons dominated by (false) hope meet with misery (despair) instantaneously.
18. Those who are slaves unto hopes and desires are slaves of the whole world. The whole world becomes the slave of those who have made hope and desire their slave.
19. Even if a person is conversant with all the contents of all the scriptures, he may still appear to be a fool if he is poor. There is no one to liberate those who have been seized by the great crocodile of poverty.
20. Alas! What a misery! Alas! What a despair! Alas! Poverty (itself) is a misery! There too if one has too many sons and wives, it inflicts more misery.”
21. Bhadramati, the master of all the contents of all the scriptures, (ceased to talk) after saying this much. He began to think about some holy rite that would yield plenty of wealth and glory. Bhadramati who was afflicted with deep pain and sorrow remained silent.
[Bhadramati is Encouraged to go to Veṅkaṭādri by Kāminī]:—
22-23. At that time one of his wives, Kāminī, who regarded her husband as a god and was endowed with good qualities spoke to her husband:
24. O holy lord conversant with all holy rites, O master of all the contents of all the scriptures, O my lord, O blessed one, O highly intelligent one, listen to my words.
27. O highly intelligent and blessed one, go to that Tīrtha in Pāpanāśa. Take your holy bath carefully therein accompanied by your wives and sons.
28. The greatness of that Tīrtha has been heard by me from Nārada during my childhood. The sage recounted it in the presence of my father:
29-32. “On the Veṅkaṭa mountain of great merit, which is destructive of all sins and subdues all miseries and which yields all types of riches, a devotee should take bath in Pāpanāśa, the great Tīrtha, with Saṃkalpa (i.e. a solemn pronouncement of the resolve). He should think about a Dharma (holy rite) that yields enormous prosperity and glory. The devotee should decide to make a gift of land, which is the most excellent of all excellent gifts. It takes the donor to heaven (after death). It yields whatever best things one craves for. Gift of land is glorified as the most excellent of all gifts. By making that gift a man obtains whatever is most wished for.”
33. On hearing the words of Nārada my father, a Brāhmaṇa, became delighted in his mind and went to Śeṣādri.
34. After going there (my father) the blessed one made over a gift of land to an excellent Brāhmaṇa well-versed in the Vedas—a gift that bestows all prosperities and glories.
35. Thereupon my father became endowed with all fortimes, O learned one. He attained happiness in this world and after death went to Viṣṇu’s city.
36. You too, O blessed one, go to Veṅkaṭādri, the most excellent mountain. Make the gift with determination—the gift of land that bestows all desired things.
[Kāminī glorifies the Gift of Land]:—
37. Listen with great attention to the greatness of the gift of land. In the whole of the world none can describe it fully, O holy lord.
38. There had never been a greater gift than the gift of land before (i.e. in the past) nor will it be in future. There is no doubt about this that a donor of land attains the greatest salvation.
39. By giving as a gift even a smallest piece of land to a person well-versed in the Vedas, who maintains the sacred fire, one attains the world of Brahmā, from which there is no return to this world.
40. A bestower of land is said to be a bestower of everything. The person who makes a gift of land shall attain liberation. Making a gift of land on Vṛṣādri is destructive of all sins.
41. A person may have committed great sins, he may have committed all sins, but by gifting away a piece of land measuring ten hastas or cubits (a cubit = 18 inches) he becomes liberated from all sins.
42. He who donates land to a deserving person shall obtain the benefit of all gifts. In the whole of the universe consisting of the three worlds there is no one else on a par with a donor of land.
43. If anyone makes the gift of a splendid land to a Brāhmaṇa without means of livelihood, even Śeṣa will never be competent to recount his meritorious benefit.
44. He who gives even the smallest piece of land to a Brāhmaṇa of good conduct (but) without any means of sustenance is Viṣṇu himself. There is no doubt about it.
45. He by whom a meadow or a land full of sugarcane or wheat or areca-palms etc. is given as a gift is Viṣṇu. There is no doubt about it.
46. By making a gift of land, even if it be very small, to a poor Brāhmaṇa burdened with a family but devoid of a means of livelihood, one attains Sāyujya with Viṣṇu.
47. If a forest land is given to a Brāhmaṇa devoted to worship of gods, one gets the benefit of taking holy bath in Gaṅgā for three days.
49. He gets that great benefit which a man obtains by performing hundreds of horse-sacrifices on the banks of Gaṅgā in accordance with the injunctions.
50. If a person gives a land yielding a Bhāra of food-grains (i.e. about 100 quintals) to a poor Brāhmaṇa, I shall speak of the merit of that person, O my lord, O holy lord.
51. He shall obtain that benefit which one derived after performing thousands of horse-sacrifices and hundreds of Vājapeyas on the banks of Gaṅgā.
52-55. A gift of land is a great gift. It is glorified as surpassing all gifts. It subdues all sins. It yields the benefit of salvation. Even a person who hears about this (land gift) with great faith shall attain the benefit of gifting away a land.
On hearing these words of his wife with citations from a legendary story the gentle Bhadramati, devoted to all holy rites, became delighted. He mentally meditated upon the Lord residing on Śeṣācala. He already began to proceed to the excellent Krīḍācala mentally. (At the outset) he went to the city named Suśāli accompanied by his wives.
[Sughoṣa Attains Heaven Through the Gift of a Land to Bhadramati]:—
56-61. The Brāhmaṇa went to an eminent Brāhmaṇa named Sughoṣa endowed with all prosperities and glories, and begged for a land-strip measuring five hands (i.e. cubits in length).
On seeing that Brāhmaṇa having a large family Sughoṣa who strictly adhered to (the path of) righteousness, became pleased in his mind. He honoured him and spoke thus:
“O Bhadramati, I am blessed. My life is fruitful. My family has become sinless since you have become one acceptable to me.
After saying thus Sughoṣa of great intellect and devoted to virtue honoured him duly and gave him the land five hands in length, reciting the Mantra: “The earth belongs to Viṣṇu and is (hence) sacred. It is protected by Viṣṇu. May Janārdana be pleased with me for making a gift of land.”
O great Brāhmaṇas, Sughoṣa worshipped that prominent Brāhmaṇa, regarding him as Viṣṇu himself, and gave him that much land.
62-63. O Brāhmaṇas, that intelligent Brāhmaṇa (Sughoṣa) donated the requested (piece of) land to Bhadramati who was a devotee of Hari and was well-versed in the Vedas and had a large family.
Accompanied by a crore members of his family, Sughoṣa attained Viṣṇu’s abode, after going where no one experiences grief. It was on account of the gifting of the land that he went there.
[Bhadramati Goes to Veṅkaṭādri on the Banks of Pāpanāśana for Gifting Lands]:—
64-65. Accompanied by his sons and wives, Bhadramati went to the great mountain Veṅkaṭa that is bowed down to by Suras and Asuras, that is resorted to and served by Gandharvas, Yakṣas, presiding deities of mountains and others—Veṅkaṭācala who is the son of Meru, that is divine, that has come from Vaikuṇṭha and is called Krīḍāśaila, the excellent mountain (near Svāmipuṣkariṇī).
66-67. In the pure, sacred and splendid water of Svāmisaras he took his bath along with his wives, sons and others preceded by the rite of Saṃkalpa. He bowed down to the white Boar, the uplifter of Earth, on its western bank in accordance with the injunctions and went to the abode of Śrīnivāsa.
68. There the highly intelligent devotee of Viṣṇu had the vision of Veṅkaṭeśvara served by Brahmā and other Devas. He along with his sons and others visited the Lord.
69-71. After devoutly bowing down so Śrīnivāsa, the Lord of Devas, the storehouse of mercy, he went to Pāpanāśana accompanied by his wives, sons and others.
He took his bath in accordance with the injunctions. He performed all the requisite holy rites. The highly intelligent one made the splendid salvation-yielding gift of land to a certain Brāhmaṇa well-versed in the Vedas and a devotee of Viṣṇu as well, considering him to be Viṣṇu himself.
[Bhadramati Realises the Lord by the Power of Land Gift]:—
72-74. At that time the Lord manifested himself holding the conch, the discus and the iron club, seated on Garuḍa and adorned with garlands of sylvan flowers. The Lord appeared before him on the banks of Pāpanāśana by the power of land gift. Then the gentle Bhadramati began to eulogize (the Lord):
75. “Obeisance, obeisance to you, the cause of everything. Repeated bows to you, the protector of everything. Obeisance, obeisance to you, the leader of the immortal ones. Obeisance, obeisance to the suppressor of Daityas.
76. Obeisance, obeisance to the Lord who is fond of devotees. Repeated obeisance to the Lord dispelling sins. Obeisance, obeisance to the destroyer of vicious people. Hail to that Lord of the universe!
77. Obeisance, obeisance to the Lord who incarnated as Dwarf for the sake of a cause. Obeisance to Nārāyaṇa of unmeasured valour. Bow to the Lord holding the Śārṅga bow, the discus, the sword and the iron club. Hail to that Puruṣottama!
78. Obeisance to the Lord residing in the ocean; obeisance to the immutable Lord of Lakṣmī; bow to the Lord of unmeasured splendour excelling the sun etc. Obeisance, obeisance to the Lord of meritorious arrival and departure.
79. Obeisance, obeisance to the Lord with the sun and the moon as his eyes. Hail to you, the bestower of the fruitof Yajñas; obeisance to the Lord shining with Yajñāṅgas (i.e. the requisites of a sacrifice). Bow to you, the lover of good people.
80. Obeisance, obeisance to the cause of causes. Obeisance to the Lord devoid of (or beyond the objects of senses such as) sound etc. Obeisance to you, the bestower of happiness desired. Obeisance, obeisance to the Lord who is fascinating unto the devotee.
81. Obeisance, obeisance to you, the wonderful cause. Bow to you, the supporter of Mandara (i.e. the Divine Tortoise). Obeisance to you called Yajñavarāha (‘Boar in the form of sacrifice’). Obeisance to the tearer of Hiraṇyakaśipu.
82. Obeisance to you who assumed the form of a Dwarf (Vāmana). Bow to you, the destroyer of the dynasties of Kṣatriyas (Paraśurāma). Obeisance to you, the suppressor of Rāvaṇa (Rāma). Hail to you, the elder brother of the daughter of Nanda (i.e. Śrīkṛṣṇa)!
83. Bow to you, the lover of Kamalā (Lakṣmī). Obeisance to you, the bestower of happiness. Hail to you, the destroyer of the agony of those who resort to you! Obeisance, obeisance, again and again.”
84. On being eulogized by that Brāhmaṇa Lord Śrīnivāsa, the storehouse of mercy, fond of devotees, spoke these words out of affection:
85-86. “O dear one, welfare unto you. I am delighted, O Brāhmaṇa, by this great eulogy. You will be endowed with all worldly pleasures in the company of sons, grandsons etc. After obtaining (enjoying) happiness in this world, attain salvation after death.”
After saying this Lord Viṣṇu vanished there itself.
87. Thus, O Brāhmaṇas, the greatness of Pāpanāśana has been recounted to you all. The greatness of land gift on its banks is also described.
Footnotes and references:
VV 11-20 are a part of floating traditional subhāṣitas censuring poverty (vide Subhāṣita-Ratna-Bhāṇḍāgāra on poverty).
The importance of land grants is described in Mbh and Purāṇas (vide Kane, HD II.ii.862ff. and also verses quoted in Appendix pp. 1271-77), Kane, however, has noted the restrictions on such gifts.
Droṇikā also means a valley between two mountains, but a land yielding so much corn or food-grains is preferred in this context.
Here the reading: Hiraṇyākṣa-vidārakāya, is defective. If accepted it becomes an adjective of Varāha. But the author intends to give us the series of Viṣṇu’s incarnations and the incarnation next to Varāha is Nṛsiṃha (Man-lion). If the readiṇg is emended as ‘Hiraṇyākhya-vidārakāya’, it means Nṛsiṃha, the incarnation after Varāha and preceding Vāmana.