by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The Arrival of Shankha, Agastya and Others at Shri Venkatacala which is chapter 37 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 thirty-seventh chapter of the Venkatacala-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
[The Story of the King Named Śaṅkha]:—
1. Listen, O son of Pṛthā, I shall relate a wonderful story as to how the Lord revealed himself on this mountain.
3. His son was the king named Śaṅkha. He was storehouse of good qualities. He was an expert in all the scriptural texts. He ruled over the earth.
4. He had steadfast devotion to Viṣṇu, the Lord of the universe with large eyes resembling lotuses. He had eschewed the support of everything else.
10. The king used to listen to the sacred stories of Viṣṇu that redeem people from the ocean of worldly existence and that were expounded by persons well-versed in the Purāṇas.
11-13. He adored Brāhmaṇas for the sake of pleasing Hari. Though the king was tirelessly engaged in all these things wholeheartedly, he did not perceive Puruṣottama who possesses eternal prosperity and is self-determined. Unable to attain the vision of Viṣṇu identical with Yajña, he was overwhelmed with grief in his heart and immersed in great anxiety.
14. In the course of thousands of my previous births much sin has been committed by me and so the vision of Hṛṣīkeśa has not been obtained by me.
15-17. Indeed the vision of Viṣṇu, the slayer of Madhu, is the entire fruit of austerities performed in the course of many previous births. How will the Lord come within the range of my eyes? When will the bliss of hearing his words be obtained? Fie upon me who have committed sins, who am deprived of the fruit of holy rites, who am far removed from the grace of Nārāyaṇa and have become the victim of the sufferings of worldly existence!
18. When the king who was thus agitated in his mind became disinterested in life, Keśava of invisible form said thus within the hearing of everyone:
Śrī Bhagavān said:
19. Do not be grief-stricken, O king. Listen. I shall tell you what is conducive to your welfare. You have sought in me sole refuge. You are a good man. How will I forsake you?
21. Go to that excellent mountain and perform penance devoutly. When a thousand years pass off thus, I shall become visible to you.
22-23. Like you Agastya also endeavoured for the sake of acquiring my vision quickly. He asked the Four-faced Lord (Brahmā): “Where is Viṣṇu seen?” The Lotus-born Lord told, “It is possible for persons of controlled mind to get Hari on the Vṛṣabha mountain. Go there.”
24. The Pot-born Sage being directed thus by the Lotus-born Lord will come to my residence, the Añjana mountain, in order to perform penance.
25. You too should fix your residence on that meritorious mountain. You be engaged in penance and propitiate me. You shall obtain my vision.
[King Śaṅkha Goes to Śrī Veṅkaṭācala at the Suggestion of the Lord]:—
26. On being commanded thus by the Lord, the enemy of Dānavas, matchless Śaṅkha attained matchless pleasure in his mind thinking, ‘I am blessed’.
27. Entrusting to his son Vajra the work of protecting the subjects, he went to the Mountain Nārāyaṇa seeking the vision of Govinda.
28. On its lofty peak he saw the auspicious Svāmipuṣkariṇī full of divine waters comparable to nectar.
29-30. It was frequented by multitudes of Siddhas, Gandharvas, Devas and sages. It assuages the scorching heat of worldly existence and is the resort of all the Tīrthas. It was rendered noisy by water crows, storks, cranes, swans and Kāraṇḍava ducks. It was very charming with lilies, blue lotuses, red lotuses and white lotuses.
31 -33a. On seeing that divine (river) abounding in lotuses he put up a hut on its banks. He was delighted by his holy ablutions, drinking of water etc. His mind was free from doubts and hesitation. He surrendered (the benefits of) all the holy rites to Janārdana, the Lord of the universe. He was permanently engaged in Japa and meditation. He performed a very severe penance.
[Agastya Comes to Veṅkaṭācala for the Sake of the Vision of the Lord]:—
33b -37a. At that very same time, at the behest of Parameṣṭhin, Sage Agastya too came there surrounded by hundreds of sages. Beginning with the western extremity, he endeavoured to circumambulate (the mountain). He wandered over the mountain for a long time seeing the meritorious holy spots. In different places he saw Brahmā, Guha, Śakra, Īśa, Viṣvaksena and others who were desirous of seeing Hari. He saw the following also: leading Yogins beginning with Sanaka, sages the chief of whom was Nārada, Siddhas, Gandharvas, Daityas, Yakṣas, Rākṣasas and serpents.
37b-40. By means of humble and loving conversations he was honoured by those different persons. He wandered over all those different wonderful places looking at them (with pleasure). He took bath in the different Tīrthas beginning with Skandadhārā. In the different places he worshipped Govinda, the Lord of the worlds. Thus the excellent sage wandered (for a long time). Even when a thousand years elapsed the sage could not see the Lotuseyed Lord. He became anxious and grief-stricken.
42-43. “Our life has become fruitful, O excellent sage, since you have been seen by us like another Nārāyaṇa. We were desirous of seeing Acyuta, O sage. What we had been told then by Brahmā, the Lord of the worlds, is being communicated to you.
44. ‘There is in the southern region a mountain named Veṅkaṭa. This abode is liked by Hari more than Śveta Dvīpa.
45. On that mountain Govinda, the sire of the universe, will reveal his own form to Agastya as well as to Śaṅkha, the king.
46-49. At that time all the Devas, sages, Yakṣas, Rākṣasas and we too will have the vision of the Lord of Devas. That will take place ere long. Hence eschew all your sins and evils and go in search of Agastya on that Nārāyaṇa mountain.’
On being commanded thus by Brahmā we came to this place. It is our good fortune that we could see you of exalted magnificence and plenty of refulgence. Accompanied by you, we shall go to the banks of Svāmipuṣkariṇī and see Śaṅkha also, the excellent follower of the Lord.”
[Agastya and Others see the Various Beautiful Spots on Śrī Veṅkaṭācala]:—
50. On being requested thus by Gīṣpati (Jupiter) and other important persons the Pot-born Sage (Agastya) cast off his mass of grief and quickly went along with them.
51. He saw great tall trees heavily laden with flowers and fruits and so bending down (under their weight). They had spread their great shade over all the quarters with multitudes of their branches.
52. In the middle of the various paths he saw various animals such as lions, elephants, tigers, boars, buffaloes etc.
53. The ridges holding clouds were seen by them. They were as splendid as gold, silver, copper etc. (They shone like them.)
54. Hundreds of streams were seen by them. They appeared to offer oblations unto the heaven-dwellers by means of the water-sprays raised by them. With their forceful currents they had dislodged many rocks.
55-57. Gentle wind that blew over the slopes and valleys of the mountain, wafted the fragrance of lotuses and increased their delight. The chirping and the cooing sounds of parrots and cuckoos were heard. They saw Siddhas seated on broad and large rocky slabs in different places singing songs of the greatness and good qualities of Kṛṣṇa.
58-61. All of them, the leading sages, the chief of whom was Agastya, went round and saw the divine Svāmipuṣkariṇī with water free from impurities. They saw the king Śaṅkha who had put up his residence on its banks. He had consigned all his activities, physical, verbal and mental, to Hari and stood by. On seeing the eminent sages of praiseworthy, holy rites suddenly, he offered them due adoration and reverence along with obeisances and eulogies. They honoured one another enthusiastically and took their seats. Engaged in glorifying Govinda. they attained great contentment.