by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes Description of the Land of Utkala which is chapter 6 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 sixth chapter of the Purushottama-kshetra-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
Note: Utkala is a part of modem Orissa. According to our text (vv 27-28 in this Chapter) the country Utkala was situated between the Southern Sea (The Bay of Bengal) and the river Ṛṣikulyā; on the other side it extended from Mahānadī to the river Suvarṇarekhā. According to BmP 47.7 Utkala and Kaliṅga were separate. In Purāṇic age the names Utkala or Oḍra were mostly used for Puri region. Strangely enough, Utkala and Oḍra are not included in the 72 countries of Kaumārikā Khaṇḍa of the SkP unless we presume Oḍḍiānā [Oḍḍiyāṇa] in the list is Oḍra.—This chapter depicts Utkala as heaven on the earth (Bhūsvarga).
The sages enquired:
2. There is a land named Utkala. It is famous and is very sacred. There are many Tīrthas and holy shrines there.
3. The land is situated on the shore of the Southern Sea. The persons living there are models of good conduct.
4-6, The Brāhmaṇas there are given to good behaviour and the study of the Vedas. They perform Yajñas. Ever since the beginning of the creation there have been Vedas and expounders of Vedas and Śāstras (sacred literature). This land is glorified as the home of eighteen Vidyās (lores). At the behest of Nārāyaṇa Lakṣmī dwells in every house (there). The people are by nature shy and humble. They are free from mental agony and physical ailments. They are devoted to their parents. They are truthful in speech and are followers of Viṣṇu.
7. There is no one here who is not a devotee of Viṣṇu. There is no atheist here. All the people are ever ready to bring about the welfare of others. No one is greedy, knavish or wicked.
8. All the people are long-lived. Women consider their husbands gods. They are well-behaved and righteous and they are well-adorned with bashfulness and charity.
9. They have pride in their beauty and youthfulness. They adorn themselves with all kinds of ornaments. They are great experts in the conduct of life, befitting their nobility, chastity, age and decency.
10. The Kṣatriyas there are devoted to their duties. They are scrupulously engaged in protecting the subjects. They are liberal in charitable gifts. They are well-versed in the use of weapons and learning sacred treatises.
11-13. All of them always perform Yajñas with plenty of monetary gifts. Their sacrificial altars have the sacred posts decorated with gold. In their homes guests are worshipped far beyond their expectations. The Vaiśyas are engaged in such activities as agriculture, trade and breeding cattle. They please and propitiate with devotion and also plenty of wealth Devas, preceptors and Brāhmaṇas. If any suppliant goes to any house, he has no need to go to any other house.
14. They are experts in music, poetry, arts and crafts. They are pleasing in speech. The Śūdras there are virtuous and engaged in holy baths, charitable gifts and other pious activities.
15. They serve Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas and Vaiśyas, physically, mentally, verbally and by means of wealth. Persons of mixed castes too are well-established in their respective duties.
16. The seasons do not have any vagaries; the clouds do not shower untimely. There is no damage to plants and vegetation. There is no desert land. Hunger does not afflict the subjects.
17. There is neither famine nor any epidemic (in the land). There is no split or division in the realm. There is no object not available there, if at all it exists on the earth.
18-26. This land is full of all good qualities and different kinds of trees and creepers, viz. Arjuna, Aśoka, Punnāga (Calophyllum inophyllum), Tāla (Palmyra), Hintāla (Phoenix tree), Śāla (Sal tree), Prācīnāmalaka (Flacourtia cataphracta), Lodhra (Svamplocos racemosa), Bakulas, Nāgakesaras, Coconut Palms, Priyālas, Saralas, Himālayan cedars, Dhavas, Calectu, Marmelos, Jack-fruits, Wood Apples, Caṃpakas, Karṇikāras, Kovidāras, Pāṭalas, Kadambas, Margosa, Niculas, Mangoes, Embylic myrobalans, Oranges, Citrons, Nīpakas, Pomegranates, flowering plants of various varieties such as Mandāra, Pārijāta etc., Holy Fig Trees, Agallochum, Sandal trees, Kharjūras (Date Palms), Āmrātakas, Siddhas, Mucakundas (Pterospermunt acerifolium), Kiṃśukas, Tindukas, Saptaparṇas, Aśvatthas, Bibhītakas and various other trees of very charming nature.
There are Mālatīs, Kundas, Bāṇas, Black Karavīras, Ketakīs, Atimuktas, Kubjas, Cardamom, Lavaṅga (cloves), Kaṃkolas, Dāḍimas, Bījapūrakas etc. There are rows of areca-palms and many hundreds of parks and gardens. The land is surrounded by mountains and rivers. This excellent land, O brilliant Brāhmaṇas, is named Utkala.
27-28. This land is situated between Svarṇarekhā and Mahānadī reaching as far as Ṛṣikulyā that falls into the Southern Sea. In this holy spot there are many excellent shrines and sacred temples. Formerly they have been described to you, O Brāhmaṇas, in the course of the pilgrimage by me. This land of Puruṣottama is said to be now Bhūsvarga (‘Heaven on the Earth’).