The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Description of the Hermitage of Bharadvaja which is chapter 30 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 thirtieth chapter of the Venkatacala-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 30 - Description of the Hermitage of Bharadvāja

[Description of Suvarṇamukharī[1]]:—

Sūta said:

1. That great river heightened the pleasure of the son of Pṛthā (Arjuna) who had come there after visiting all the Tīrthas.

2. In the bowers on the banks of that river Siddhas and their women rejoice happily, being served and attended upon by winds cool on account of water-spray.

3. With its lofty waves coming into contact with the clouds, it appeared as though the river had flung up its arms to embrace the (heavenly) Gaṅgā flowing through the sky.

4. The penance groves on its banks were marked by the columns of smoke rising up from Āhutis (offering of ghee into the Sacred Fire) and the bark garments hanging from the branches of the trees.

5. The divine Liṅgas of the Trident-bearing Lord installed all round by prominent sages and excellent Suras were seen on the banks of that river.

6. Having taken rest in their abodes among the sands on the banks of that river, swans, the most excellent ones among birds, forget the Mānasa lake, their (original) home.

7. That river increases the productivity of grain-bearing plants and is capable of protecting people by its waters flowing through canals, thereby dispelling the anguish due to drought.

8-10. This river, the beloved of the Ocean, shone like a woman of an extraordinarily wonderful form. The Cakravāka (ruddy goose) birds were her protruding breasts. They were adorned with Patravallīs (lines or figures on the body drawn by means of fragrant colourful substances). She shone with the sandy banks as her buttocks and the eddy as her navel. The full-blown lotus was her face. The moving fish were her pair of eyes. She shone with the foams as her garments. She was charming with the gait of swans. The chirping sound of the aquatic birds was her voice and talk. She caused much delight to the eyes.

11-12. On the western bank of the river that flows in between, Dhanañjaya (Arjuna) saw a lofty mountain named Kālahastī. Many lofty peaks of this mountain scraped the region of the sky. The bottom rock of this mountain is firmly fixed beneath all the seven Pātālas.

[Arjuna’s Opportunity of Visiting and Worshipping Kālahastīśvara and Other Deities Stationed on the Banks of the Suvarṇamukharī]:—

13. After taking his bath in that great river Arjuna visited the deity named Kālahastīśa,[2] worshipped by all the Suras on that mountain.

14. With his mind infused with devotion, he worshipped Mahādeva accompanied by the daughter of the Lord of Mountains. Thereby he derived full contentment.

15. With a desire to see special features that had never existed before (in other places), Arjuna wandered over that great mountain, the sole abode of mysteries.

16. He saw Siddhas who accompanied by their womenfolk lived on the peaks and ridges of the mountain and sang the anecdotes of the Lord of Devas.

17. He looked at the Gandharvas with great respect as they were seated in the bowers of flowers accompanied by the Apsaras-maidens and excited and inebriated on account of the (imbibed) liquor extracted from the flowers.

18. In secluded spots he saw divine Yogins who were deeply engrossed in meditating on Śiva and full of respect and delight.

19. All around he saw quiet and peaceful hermitages and penance-groves. The son of Pāṇḍu saw the courtyard at the entrance (to the various abodes) resplendent with the Nīvāra grains offered as oblations.

20. He saw the sages abstaining from food, or taking in only air, or eating leaves, or consuming sunlight. All of them were calm with all their sense-organs perfectly controlled.

21-22. Lotus-ponds that rendered the quarters fragrant with the sweet smell of the full-blown flowers, gave delight to his eyes.

He saw Kirātas (Hunters) accompanied by their womenfolk, searching for deer, engrossed in thoughts of hunting and walking about with well-strung bows.

[Arjuna Goes to Bharadvāja’s Hermitage Situated on the Banks of Suvarṇamukharī]:—

23-28a. Walking through the charming southern portion of the mountain, the descendant of Kuru saw the holy hermitage of Bharadvāja. It was rendered splendid by trees[3] laden with fruits and flowers, such as plantains, coconut palms, mango trees, black pepper, Caṃpaka, Sandal trees, Takkola, Aśoka, Hintāla, Tāla, Ketakī, Dāḍima (Pomegranates), Jaṃbū (Rose apple), Kadaṃba, Kaṭaka, Khadira, Arjuna, Pāṭala (Trumpet flower tree), Nāga, Punnāga, Sarala, Devadāru (Cedar), Karañjaka, Lavaṅga (Clove tree), Luṅga (a kind of citron), Lavalī, Priyaṅgu, Tilaka, Vibhīta, Śrīphala (Bilva), holy fig tree, Madhūka, Plakṣa, Kesara, Pūga, Jambīra (a kind of citron), Nāraṅga (Orange), Niṃba (Margosa), Āmalaka (Embylic myrobalan) and Kauśika (coconut?) trees.

28b. It was surrounded by the creepers of Vāsantī, Kunda, Jāti etc. (varieties of Jasmine).

29-33a. Various lakes and tanks brought glory and magnificence to it. Being attracted by uncommon and unprecedented fragrance, bees hovered all round.

Birds like ruddy geese, cranes, storks, swans, Kāraṇḍava ducks etc. resorted to them. The lakes were marked with various flowers, such as red lotuses, blue lotuses, lilies etc. The lakes and ponds were full of water, sweet like nectar. The hermitage was a unique place of curious things.

It was full of animals of various kinds like lions, elephants, tigers, bears, deer, antelopes etc. All of them were friendly and helpful to one another. The gardens and parks therein far surpassed Nandana, Caitraratha and other divine parks. It was the cause of supreme bliss (to everyone). It was charming beyond the power of thinking of minds and the power of expression through words.

33b-44. Parrots of sweet voice revealed to their young ones the excellent meanings of the divine Śivāgamas.

The sky above the hermitage was rendered dark by means of the thick columns of smoke arising from the sacred fires when the offerings of ghee were poured therein. Seeing the same, peacocks had the erroneous notion of untimely clouds (spreading over the sky).

When the lions got tired after their continuous sport in the forests, the elephants approached them there of their own accord and showered water on them through their trunks to give their bodies some relief from the strain.[4]

Seeing that penance-grove, the son of Pāṇḍu got struck with wonder. He praised the power of the ascetics.

Preventing all his followers from straying here and there, he entered the hermitage along with his friends and excellent Brāhmaṇas.

[Arjuna Pays His Respects to Bharadvāja]:—

In front of him the son of Kuntī saw Sage Bharadvāja shining with the refulgence of blazing fire. He was surrounded by many excellent sages. He had smeared the whole of his body with ash. A deerskin constituted his upper garment. He was as resplendent as Kailāsa encircled by a fresh cloud. He was brilliant with his matted hair of golden splendour hanging down like the autumnal cloud with permanent streaks of lightning. He appeared as though the meanings of Śrutis, Smṛtis and Purāṇas had come collectively and adopted his form. He was (as it were) the receptacle of great auspiciousness, of divine knowledge and wisdom. He was permanently attended upon by (virtues like) fortitude, forbearance, kindness, contentment and peace, as though by loving wives. He had unimpaired Brahmanical splendour. The son of Pṛthā (Arjuna) approached him slowly and prostrated before his lotus-like feet with (his) eight limbs touching the ground.

[Bharadvāja Extends His Hospitality to Arjuna]:—

45. The eminent sage raised up the son of Pṛthā who had come (there and fallen at his feet) and blessed him with his mind extremely delighted.

46. After duly honouring him as a beloved guest with Arghya and other materials, he offered him a seat. As he sat thereon, he enquired about his welfare.

47. After getting due honour and hospitality from the sage, the middle one among the Pāṇḍava brothers entertained the eminent sage through pleasing words.

48. Then Bharadvāja remembered the Celestial Cow yielding everything one desired. She distributed various kinds of foodstuffs lavishly.

49-52. The son of Pṛthā took food along with his followers. After paying respects to the sage, he spent the remaining portion of the day discoursing on interesting stories.

Then he performed the rites connected with the evening prayer and performed Homa in the Sacred Fire.

Then he went to his abode in the hut accompaṃed by Brāhmaṇas and ministers. There he sat after being blessed by the eminent sage. He rejoiced when the cool breeze blew from the river and delighted him. Then he thought of hearing about the power of the river by asking the sage thus: “By whom was she brought here? From which mountain does she rise? How did she get superior power?”

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

A beautiful description of the river, esp. note the comparison of the river with a woman (vv 8-10). It speaks highly of the poetic gifts of the author.

[2]:

This is in North Arcot District, one mile from Renugunta Railway Station. The deity is regarded as the Vāyu (Wind) form of god Śiva. It is reported that the lamp over the head of the Liṅga oscillates while other lamps in the temple are steady (De 84).

[3]:

Standard description of the forest.

[4]:

This shows how, due to the Sāttvika influence of the hermitage, natural animosity of forest animals was forgotten.

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