by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes In Praise of Kataha Tirtha which is chapter 28 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 twenty-eighth chapter of the Venkatacala-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
Note: The Kaṭāha Tīrtha is attached to Śrī Veṅkaṭeśvara’s sanctum on its northern side in the Vimāna-pradakṣiṇā (circumambulation passage around the temple). It contains the Abhiṣeka Tīrtha of Veṅkaṭeśa collected after the holy bath.
[The Greatness of Kaṭāha Tīrtha]:—
The sages said:
1-2. O Sūta conversant with the truth of all subjects and objects, O master of the Vedas and Vedāṅgas, it is heard that there is an extremely sanctifying Tīrtha named Kaṭāha on Śrī Veṅkaṭācala. Its greatness is proclaimed in all the three worlds. Recount this kindly to us, O disciple of Vyāsa.
3-5. Formerly the glorious son of Brahmā, the holy sage Nārada, the most excellent Brāhmaṇa, came to the Naimiṣa forest. On seeing that son of Brahmā all these sages duly worshipped him with splendid Arghya, Pādya etc. They offered him a seat with great devotion. They bowed to him with their necks lowered due to modesty. All those sages requested him thus:
6-8. “O glorious Nārada, excepting you there is no other instructor of Dharma to us. There is none among the great sages. On the mountain Veṅkaṭa of great merit, served by all the Devas, the divine mountain that has come from Vaikuṇṭha and is attended upon by Siddhas and Gandharvas, there is a holy spot called Kaṭāhatīrtha. Describe the greatness of Kaṭāhatīrtha to us, the forest-dwellers.”
Śrī Nārada replied:
9-11. Listen ye all sages of great prowess headed by Śaunaka! Who knows the greatness of Kaṭāhatīrtha (adequately) in all the three worlds? Only Mahādeva understands the greatness of that Tīrtha. All those sacred Tīrthas within the Cosmic Egg, Gaṅgā and all the other Tīrthas, resort to the Kaṭāha Tīrtha, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, in order to dispel their own sins.
12-13a. A foolish person may think thus: ‘All people touch this water—Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas, Śūdras and people of other castes too.’ Thinking thus he may not drink it. Indeed that foolish one will become a Cāṇḍāla and he will fall in Kuṃbhīpāka hell.
13b-15a. Whether he be a religious student, a householder, a forest-dweller or an eminent ascetic, by serving that Tīrtha he attains the highest state. In Śrutis, Smṛtis and Purāṇas there are many passages praising that Tīrtha which destroys the five major sins.
15b-17. It is exceedingly wonderful, O Brāhmaṇas; it is the only sanctifying thing in all the worlds. By serving and resorting to that Tīrtha ten thousand sins of Brahmin-slaughter, ten thousand sins of liquor-drinking, ten thousand sins of carnally approaching the preceptor’s wife, ten thousand sins of the theft of gold and crores of the sins of associating with the great sinners, immediately become dissolved.
18. By resorting to this Tīrtha all those different kinds of sins which have no means of expiation, perish.
19-20a. This Tīrtha of great merit has issued from the feet of the Lord. If a person suffering from leprosy and other diseases drinks the water of this everyday, he shall get rid of that disease and go to the world of Viṣṇu.
[Those Who have no Faith in the Greatness of Kaṭāhatīrtha Will Fall into Great Hells]:—
20b-21. In the course of his (revelation) of secret experiences Lord Śaṅkara formerly spoke to Pārvatī about the greatness of that Tīrtha. No one should entertain any doubt about what has been said before.
22-24. It should never be uttered that it is mere laudatory statement. Those who say that this is mere eulogy are atheists in the core of their heart. The servants (of Yama) will place red-hot axe at the tips of their tongues. Hence the Tīrtha called Kaṭāha-tīrtha should be scrupulously served and resorted to. It suppresses all miseries and bestows the benefit of salvation. By drinking (its waters) devoutly a man shall realize all his desires.
25-27. O Sūta, the most excellent one among those conversant with the Purāṇas, after saying thus (to us) the glorious Nārada of exalted magnificence went to Kāśī that sanctifies all the three worlds. That holy lord spoke everything briefly in the Naimiṣa forest. Now we wish to know the greatness of Kaṭāha in great detail. Kindly tell it to us, O Sūta.
[The Procedure of Drinking the Waters of Kaṭāha Tīrtha]:—
Śrī Sūta said:
28. O ye all ascetics living in the Naimiṣa forest, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, listen to the greatness of Kaṭāha Tīrtha.
29. O Brāhmaṇas, Kaṭāha Tīrtha is well-known in all the worlds. It causes all prosperity. It is pure and destructive of all sins.
30. It annihilates (the effects of) evil dreams. It is destructive of great sins. It suppresses great obstacles and brings about great peace (of mind) to men.
31-36. Merely by being remembered it nullifies all the sins of men. One should drink its enchanting waters after repeating the eight-syllabled Mantra. Or he should mutter the names of Keśava etc. and sip water after each name. Or he should drink the water that bestows auspiciousness after muttering three names (Keśava, Nārāyaṇa, Mādhava) (together). Or he shall repeat the eight-syllabled Mantra of Veṅkaṭeśa and drink (the water of) Kaṭāha Tīrtha. That yields worldly pleasures as well as salvation.
If any Brāhmaṇa wishes to drink at the excellent Tīrtha without a Mantra, he should always say “Destroy quickly all the great sins of mine committed in all the previous births” and drink the water. It is the sole means leading to salvation.
The following three are very rare in all the three worlds: bath in Svāmipuṣkariṇī, vision of Lord of Śrī in the form of Varāha and drinking of (the water of) Kaṭāha Tīrtha.
Of what avail is much talk? It is destructive of all sins like that of slaying a Brāhmaṇa etc.
[The Episode of a Brāhmaṇa Named Keśava]:—
37-38. Formerly, out of delusion, a Brāhmaṇa named Keśava viciously killed Bahuśruta and incurred the sin of Brahmin-slaughter. He drank the excellent water of this great Tīrtha. The great sinner named Keśava was liberated from the sin of Brahmin-slaughter.
The Sages asked:
39. Whose son was this (Brāhmaṇa) named Keśava? How did he incur the terrible and exceedingly formidable sin of Brahmin-slaughter? It behoves you to tell it to us.
Śrī Sūta narrated:
41-43. In that beautiful place Vedapura all the Brāhmaṇas were masters of the Vedas. They were devoted to the Science of Words (i.e. Grammar). All of them were promotors of the Science of Astrology. They were conversant with Nyāya and Mīmāṃsā systems of Philosophy. All of them were expounders of Vedānta. They were devoted to the treatises on Ethics and Law Codes. They were always engaged in making gifts of food. All the great residents of the Agrahāra were blessed with sons. (There was a Brāhmaṇa) well-known as Padmanābha in that Agrahāra (named) Vedāḍhya.
[Keśava, a Brāhmaṇa Hankering after Harlots, Incurs the Sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter]:—
44-48a. He had a son named Keśava who had been banished from all holy rites. He abandoned his mother, father and his wife also who was a chaste woman. He was attached to harlots and he always visited brothels. The Brāhmaṇa enjoyed the company of a prostitute for two days and handed over to her the two gold coins due to her. Then he went away happily. When he had no money he was discarded by the woman of ill fame. Since he was desirous of sexual union with her, he began to steal much money frequently. He handed over the same to her and sported with her for a long time. He took food in her house. He drank wine with her from the same goblet.
48b-50. Once that Brāhmaṇa assumed the guise of a Kirāta (hunter) and went to the house of a certain Brāhmaṇa along with other Kirātas in order to rob him of his wealth. Keśava, the unworthy Brāhmaṇa, took a sword in his hand. He rashly attacked the Brāhmaṇa who was the master of the house and killed him with his sword. He brought much wealth from there and entered the prostitute’s house.
51-52. The awful and hideous Brahmahatyā followed him as he went along. She was terrible in her blue robes and very red hair. She roared with boisterous laughter shaking heaven and earth. Being pursued by her the Brāhmaṇa wandered all over the earth.
53. While wandering all over the earth the vicious, unworthy Brāhmaṇa went to his village with excessive fright, O Śaunaka and other (sages) of great prowess.
54. He was terrified on being chased by her and went to his own house. Brahmahatyā who pursued him went into the house along with him.
55. Saying, “Save me, save me” Keśava sought refuge in his father. The father said. “Do not be afraid” and attempted to save him.
56-58. As Padmanābha endeavoured to protect his son, the cruel demoness Brahmahatyā spoke to the father:
O excellent Brāhmaṇa Padmanābha, do not accept him (and give him shelter). He is addicted to drinking liquor. He is a thief and Brāhmaṇa-slayer. He is a great sinner. He is treacherous to his mother and father. He is vicious in his mind. He has deserted his wife and is over-fond of harlots. Leave off this wicked one.
59-60. O Brāhmaṇa, if you shield in vain your son who is a great sinner, I will swallow your wife, this man’s wife, you, your son and the entire family. Hence leave off this wicked one. If you abandon your son now, I will release you all.
61. O highly intelligent one, it does not behove you to get the whole family destroyed for the sake of one (member).
On being told by her thus Padmanābha spoke to her thus:
62. Affection for my son torments me. How can I forsake my son?
On hearing it Brahmahatyā spoke to the Brāhmaṇa:
63-64. This son of yours has become fallen. He is excommunicated from the pale of castes and stages of life. Do not love this son. His very sight is despicable.
After saying this Brahmahatyā struck his son named Keśava with her hand even as Padmabābha [Padmanābha?] was watching.
65. Calling his father frequently he lamented, “O father! O father!” The father, mother and wife of that wicked one, all lamented.
[The Means of Liberation from Brahmahatyā as Advised by Bharadvāja to Padmanābha]:—
66. At that time Bharadvāja, the great sage of exalted magnificence, the great Yogin, chanced to come there, O Śaunaka and sages of great prowess.
67. On seeing Bharadvāja the great sage Padmanābha bowed down to him and eulogized him. He sought refuge in him for the sake of his son:
68-74. “O Bharadvāja of exalted magnificence, you are a part of Viṣṇu himself. Persons without merits will never see you. My son has become murderer of a Brāhmaṇa, liquor-addict and a thief. The terrifying Brahmahatyā has come to strike my son. Advise me the means whereby my son shall become liberated from great sins and this terrible Brahmahatyā shall be destroyed quickly. Take pity on my son. O sage, I have only one son. I have no other son. If this son dies, my family will become extinct. Then there may not be anyone to offer rice-balls to the Pitṛs. Therefore, O sage, be kind to us.”
On being appealed thus Bharadvāja who was a part of Nārāyaṇa himself, meditated for a long time and spoke these words to Padmanābha:
75-76. O Padmanābha, very formidable sins have been perpetrated by your son. Even by means of ten thousand atonements his sins will not be quelled. Still I shall recommend some expiation for absolution of the sins of your son. O Brāhmaṇa Padmanābha, listen.
77-78. O Brāhmaṇa, two hundred Yojanas (2400 kms) to the south of Gaṅgā, five Yojanas to the west of the Eastern Sea, on the northern basin of Suvarṇamukharī and only one Krośa from it, there is the mountain well-known as Veṅkaṭādri.
79-80. It is bowed to by all the worlds. It is the son of Meru. It is of great merit. It is saluted to by all the Devas. It has been brought from Vaikuṇṭha by the fast moving (vehicle) Garuḍa. It is the great mountain of sport of Viṣṇu. Now it is there on the auspicious banks of Svarṇamukhī. It is adored by groups of Devas and groups of sages.
81-83. On that prominent mountain Veṅkaṭa Nārāyaṇa himself dwells along with Goddess Lakṣmī, Goddess Bhū (the Earth) and Goddess Nīlā. Veṅkaṭeśa is the direct bestower of salvation. To the north of the temple of Veṅkaṭanātha, O great Brāhmaṇa, there is the holy spot Kaṭāhatīrtha that bestows auspiciousness. It destroys the sins like that of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter. It yields all desired objects.
84-85. O eminent Brāhmaṇa, along with your son drink the charming holy water (of that Tīrtha).
On hearing the words of Bharadvāja, which are on a par with the words of Vedas, he bowed down his head to him and went to the Veṅkaṭa mountain.
[By Drinking the Holy Water from Kaṭāhatīrtha as per Advice of Bharadvāja Keśava is Liberated from the Sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter]:—
86. After going to the mountain Veṅkaṭa the eminent Brāhmaṇa took his holy bath with due holy observances in the waters of Svāmipuṣkariṇī along with his soṇ.
87-88. He bowed down to Lord Varāha and went to the shrine of Śrīnivāsa. He circumambulated and bowed down to Vimāna (palatial Temple). Along with Keśava, his son of great wickedness, Padmanābha drank (the water of) Kaṭāhatīrtha that is destructive of the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter.
89-91. Thereat Brahmahatyā was dissolved immediately. Thereafter the leading Brāhmaṇa Padmanābha went to Veṅkaṭeśa, the storehouse of mercy, along with his son and visited the Lord. Then Veṅkaṭeśa, the storehouse of kindness, appeared before them on being delighted by their drinking (the water of) Kaṭāhatīrtha. He spoke these words:
[The Lord Addresses Padmanābha who was Accompanied by His Son Liberated from Brahmahatyā]:—
Śrī Bhagavān said:
92-95. O Padmanābha of great wisdom, O master of Vedas and Vedāṅgas, at the instance of Bharadvāja you came to the Veṅkaṭa mountain. After drinking (the water from) Kaṭāhatīrtha you have undoubtedly become blessed with your object achieved. Your son named Keśava has been released from Brahmahatyā. Hence Kaṭāhatīrtha should be resorted to with great effort. O Brāhmaṇa of great fortune, after drinking the excellent water in that Tīrtha even sinners become blessed and contented. It is true. It is (really) true. There is no doubt. Gome to my world and be happy, O highly intelligent one.
96. After saying this Veṅkaṭeśa vanished from there.
Śrī Sūta said:
97-98. Hence, O ye all ascetics, Śaunaka and others of great prowess, the greatness of Kaṭāhatīrtha along with the legendary story has been recounted well in the manner it had been heard by me.
Footnotes and references:
The mantra is: Oṃ namo Veṅkaṭeśāya.
The motif of redemption from the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter by the water of a sacred place is previously used in the case of Sumati who, as per advice of Durvāsas, is absolved by the waters of Svāmipuṣkariṇī (vide Supra Ch. 12.5-46) and the same is used here about Keśava who through Bharadvāja’s advice imbibes the water of Kaṭāha Tīrtha.