by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 750,347 words
This page describes Description of the Holy Place Ekamravana (Bhuvaneshvara) which is chapter 12 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 twelfth chapter of the Purushottama-kshetra-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
1. When this was said by the son of Brahmā, king Indradyumna, after listening to the words of the sage, pondered with a delighted mind upon them with deep comprehension, and thought that his efforts had borne fruit:
2. ‘What a great fortune was acquired in the course of many births! The grandfather of all the worlds is actively participating in my enterprise.
3-4a. He has deputed his son, a living-liberated soul, to assist me. The fulfilment of the tasks of persons conforms to the type of assistance they receive—this old teaching is heard in all assemblies.’
4b-6a. Thinking thus the king dispersed those members of the assembly. Then, O Brāhmaṇas, he grasped the hand of the sage and entered the inner apartment. After duly honouring him, the king spent the remaining part of the night along with him, in the same couch, engaged in mutual conversation.
6b-7. When the day dawned clearly, he concluded the daily routine of religious duties, worshipped the Lord of the universe and crossed Mahānadī. The path was shown by the overlord of the land of Oḍhra who went ahead.
8-10. Accompanied by his army he started towards the holy place Ekāmravanaka (modern Bhuvaneśvara).
While he hurriedly crossed the river the king heard from a great distance, the sounds of various drums and musical instruments such as Mṛdaṅga, Muraja, Kāhāla, Carcarī and conch-shell. The sound was produced at the time of the forenoon worship of Koṭiliṅgeśvara. It spread everywhere in the great forest.
11-13. The king thought that it was (from the shrine) of the Lord residing on Nīla mountain. With great pleasure he enquired of Nārada: “Whence is this sound coming, O great sage? Has (the shrine of) the great Lord residing on the summit of Nīla mountain been reached? It is at the time of his worship that this tumultuous sound is heard. Or, O sage, is there any other deity nearby?” On being asked thus by the king the eminent sage replied:
14-17. “O king, highly inaccessible is the holy spot. It is kept concealed by Viṣṇu. That there is the Lord there, is not known to any man.
You are the most excellent one among lucky people. It is due to your good fortune that the Lord was with great difficulty seen by your priest who has controlled all his sense-organs.
O excellent king, you are equipped with armies having six divisions. Hence, O king, I have begun to suspect that you have undertaken an adventure in a big way.
18-20. Why was the Lord of Gaurī (Śiva) frightened? With whom did he seek refuge?
Bhava is the protector of those who are afraid of worldly existence (bhava). He is extremely sacred. Why was he frightened? Who is powerful enough to conquer (him)?
21-23. In this connection, O king, I shall tell you an ancient legend. Lord Nīlalohita was won over by Gaurī previously by means of penance. He was under the vow of celibacy. On being afflicted with the arrows of the god of Love, he gave up that vow. He married Gaurī on the Himālaya mountain and sported with that beautiful lady proud of her youthfulness, O king. In the realm of her father he enjoyed all the pleasures desired by Devas (too).
24-30. Once the chaste lady was coming out of her apartment along with (some) noble ladies. She was then gently and smilingly addressed with these words by her mother:
“O noble lady, for the sake of a brideroom a great penance was performed by you in the dense forest. But, O lady of excellent countenance, an old brideroom of unknown parentage and unknown qualities has been acquired by you.
You never leave his presence in day or at night, though he is of such a nature. What is his special excellence, dear girl? Let it be mentioned. What is the return of your husband’s favour? You get your clothes and ornaments from me. You stay in my house. O gentle lady; you have been staying here for a long time. You are fondled by your father. You enjoy all your pleasures in your father’s house.
We have heard that all the girls in the three worlds go away from their father’s house after marriage. They are adorned by their husband and they stay in their husband’s house.
I am a mind-born daughter of the Manes. I came from the world of the Manes, O highly fortunate lady. I was married to Himādri.
O lady of roving eyes, you have been spoken ṃus only jocularly and not out of anger. This should not be mentioned to the Son-in-law. He is considered equal to Viṣṇu.”
31. On hearing these words uttered by her mother, she was deeply pained by the censure of her husband. Though her lips were throbbing with anger, she did not utter a single word.
32. She approached her husband. Though she did not disclose the (actual) words of her mother, she reported lovingly a few harsh words briefly (spoken about him).
33-34. “O Lord, this is not proper for one to stay in one’s own father-in-law’s house even in the case of the lowliest of men. How can it be otherwise in the case of yours, the sire of the three worlds. Hence I do not like, O Lord, that we should stay here. It is not befitting (to us). Are there no other places proper for you to settle down?”
36-41 a. He crossed all the Tīrthas and went beyond the great sacred place Prayāga, and on the northern bank of Gaṅgā that flows into the Eastern Ocean, he built the city named Vārāṇasī for Gaurī’s residence. It is a beautiful city extending to five Krośas (15 Kms).
It is splendid with excellent Mansions. It has hundreds of palatial buildings and numerous gardens and parks. There are many Tīrthas there and it is full of people of different kinds. This splendid city had been built by Viśvakarmā at the behest of Dhūrjaṭi (Śiva). It dispels sins by means of holy and cool waves of Gaṅgā.
There in the middle of that city which was rendered splendid by means of golden ramparts and Mansions, which was perfectly built with gemset columns and which fulfilled all wishes and ambitions, Paśupati sported with her like the Slayer of Madhu (Viṣṇu) with Śrī.
41b-43. That city is never left by Viśvanātha (Śiva). So it is well known by the name Avimuktā. It bestows salvation on men. Formerly, O overlord of men, it was resorted to by persons who were afraid of the worldly existence. Gaurī stayed there along with her husband who adorned her in an excellent manner. O king, she did not remember even her mother and father.
45-48. O king, many kings ruled over that city. Formerly in Dvāpara Yuga, there was a king there (commonly) called Kāśirāja. By means of severe penance he propitiated Lord Śaṃbhu with this aim in his mind: ‘I will excel in war Acyuta (Kṛṣṇa), the conqueror of kings, the chief of whom is Jarāsandha.’
The Pināka-bearing Lord (Śiva) who was propitiated, granted him that boon: “O suppressor of enemies, you will conquer the Slayer of Kaṃsa in battle. For your sake I shall fight seated on my Bull, along with (my attendants) Pramathas.”
49. After securing a boon like this that madly insolent king who (boasted of his) heroism, challenged the Lord (Kṛṣṇa), wielder of the conch and the discus, for a fight.
50. That Lord (Kṛṣṇa) who is the immanent soul (of all), knew the incident of that sort, and sent his Discus for killing Kāśirāja.
51-57. The infuriated Discus that was very fierce in appearance, had the refulgence of a thousand suns. It knew the power of the mind of Viṣṇu. It cut off the head of Kāśirāja and burned to ash his army as well as that city.
On seeing that extremely violent action Paśupati (Śiva) became furious. Surrounded by his Gaṇas and seated on his Bull, the Pināka-bearing Lord rushed at it. Then Śaṃbhu looked at the Sudarśana Discus at the outset and discharged his Pāśupata missile in front of it, like an ominous calamity.
Formerly Śaṃbhu had secured a boon from Viṣṇu who had been pleased by his devotion: “On being remembered by you I shall invigorate your missile. But if you go against me, it will become lustreless (and ineffective).”
When this Pāśupata missile which was (usually) terrible, became futile and when Vārāṇasī was burned, the Bull-bannered Lord became afraid.
Then he eulogized the Primordial Puruṣottama, the cause of all the worlds.
58. O Nārāyaṇa, obeisance to you, the highest abode, O Supreme Soul, O one greater than the greatest, O Lord possessing the properties of existence, knowledge and bliss, O blemishless one!
60. You are neither within nor without. You are without as well as within. You are far off as well as quite near. You are both heavy and light. You aṛe firm. You are minute as well as very massive. Obeisance to you.
62. Obeisance to that Lord, the soul of the universe, whose body is beyond measurement, and each one of whose hair supports a number of Cosmic Eggs.
63. O Lord, in accordance with your own measurement of time you cause the origin and dissolution (birth and death) of Brahmā and also mark out the periods of Manvantara etc. Obeisance to you.
64. I have been created out of Tamoguṇa, O Lord. I am ignorant of your power. Hence forgive my offence. Save me. I have sought refuge in you.
66-68. His face (indicated that he was) delighted. The glorious Lord held the conch, the discus and the iron club. He was seated on Garuḍa as if on a lotus seat. He was adorned with a garland of sylvan flowers. He looked brilliant with necklaces, ear-rings, shoulderlets, crown and other ornaments. Lakṣmī was seated on his left lap. Satyabhāmā was on the right side. His body was as lustrous as a black cloud. Though he was an ocean of mercy, he spoke to the husband of Girijā (who was) frightened, as if he was angry with him.
Śrī Bhagavān said:
69. How has such an evil-mindedness beset you at this time? O Śaṃbhu, for the sake of an insect of a (i.e. an insignificant) king, you have come to fight with me!
70-77. How many examples of my power have not been known to you, O Dhūrjaṭi (Śiva). It is true that your Pāśupata missile cannot be vanquished by Suras and Asuras. The Discus is a form of my anger. It cannot spare even you. Excepting you, who will wander in the world after disregarding me? By performing several austerities formerly you have acquired much strength as a form of mine from my body? Now if you wish to sport about with Gaurī here for a long time, if you wish that this city of Vārāṇasī should stay for a long time (do as follows).
On the shore of the Southern Sea there is a holy spot well known after my name, viz. Śrīpuruṣottama. It is adorned by Nīla mountain. It extends to ten Yojanas (i.e. 10 x 12=120 Kms.) up to Virajā Maṇḍala (modern Yājpur). The holy spot is gradually holier till the river Citrotpalā. The region beyond that as far as the Southern Sea is more and more excellent (sacred) step by step. Nīla mountain is a bestower of salvation. There (my idol) is made of blue sapphire gems. I am stationed there in four bodies (i.e. Jagannātha, Balabhadra, Subhadrā and Sudarśana). To the north of it is the forest named Ekāmraka. O annihilates of Tripuras, stay there fearlessly along with Pārvatī.
78. There you will be crowned as the king of a crore of Liṅgas at my bidding by the Self-born Lord, the creator of all the worlds.
80. On being told thus by Vāsudeva the Three-eyed Lord bent down his head. With palms joined in reverence he spoke to the Slayer of Madhu:
81. O Lord of Devas, O Lord of the universe, O Lord, O dispeller of the agony of those who bow down (to you), carrying out your behest will be the cause of my welfare, O Lord of the worlds.
82. On account of my stupidity, O Lord, I had been arrogant. There, O Lord, your own blessing is the cause of my fickleness.
83. Since you command me, O Lord of Devas, to proceed to Puruṣottama, I shall carry out your behest reverently and proceed to the auspicious holy place that bestows salvation.
84-85a. Do a favour to me and promise that you alone will protect and sustain my sacred region Puruṣottama. Protect it so that it will never perish hereafter.
87-88. We shall go there and view the destroyer of Puras, the Lord of the Daughter of the Mountain, the Lord who like the sun dispels all the dense internal darkness.
89-91. Since Sattvaguṇa prevails, Puruṣottama is well known as the bestower of salvation. Whatever other salvation-yielding holy spots there are and heard of by you, O great king, they all bestow liberation here itself. This holy spot, O great king, cannot produce faith in those whose minds are defiled by misdeeds and sins. This is the secret of the Discus-bearing Lord.
92-93. On hearing the words of Nārada the king became delighted in his mind. With his eyes beaming and dilated due to surprise, he spoke to the tiger among sages:
“O Brāhmaṇa, the highly sanctifying holy spot has been properly described to me. It is the place where Umāpati (Śiva) is present and Puruṣottama is the protector. Even if the route is circuitous, we shall certainly go there because this is the right means for the accomplishment of our desired objective.”
94. Thereafter, O Brāhmaṇas, the sage and the king along with the army reached the holy spot named Ekāmravana at midday.
96-100. At the entrance, the king duly performed the rite of Ācamana (i.e. ceremonious sipping of water) and as he took pleasure (in it he) gifted numerous excellent horses, elephants, gems, garments, ornaments and wealth to Brāhmaṇas, since he was engaged in Sāttvika form of piety.
After taking the holy bath, he worshipped Tribhuvaneśa (Lord of the three worlds) Liṅga (modern Liṅgarāja at Bhuvaneśvara) and derived matchless pleasure as he saw the identity of the Lord with Viṣṇu. He eulogized and bowed down to the Lord with devotion. He sang songs of devotion and played on the Vīṇā.
With palms joined in reverence he sought to propitiate the Lord with his mind exclusively directed towards him. He stood there meditating on the Bull-bannered Lord.
Then the Three-eyed Lord Parameśvara became pleased, O Brāhmaṇas. With each syllable of every word distinctly expressed the Lord spoke to the king directly:
101-103. O great king Indradyumna, a Vaiṣṇava like you is very rare on the earth. Your desire will be perfectly realized after some time.
After saying this Śaṃbhu vanished in the very presence of the king. Then he said to Nārada: “O highly fortunate one, carry out what has been commanded by the Self-born Lord along with a horse-sacrifice in that holy spot Śrī Puruṣottama which is the body of Viṣṇu.
104. The interior altar (antar-vedī) is highly meritorious. It is like the heart of Viṣṇu. I have been installed in eight forms for the sake of protecting it.
107-108. There in our presence let the excellent king perform a thousand horse-sacrifices. At the end of those (sacrifices), O excellent Brāhmaṇa, show him that wonderful tree devoid of blemishes and having the form of Brahman. Viśvakarmā will carve four statues therefrom.
109-112a. At the time of their installation Brahmā himself will come so that this king shall get rid of his sins by worshipping Hari by means of horse-sacrifices. Let him go on continuously worshipping Hari for a thousand years. At one end thereof he will see (the Lord) who is the support of all the worlds and destroyer of all sins. On those who visit him the Lord-with-wooden-form will bestow salvation. Neither Brahmā nor you nor I shall know his deeds. He will be pleased only by devoutly carrying out his commands.”
112b-113. Nārada bowed down to Mahādeva, the sire of the universe. With palms joined in reverence he said: “(I shall carry out) what has been commanded by you, O Lord. Brahmā too has directed me to carry it out in this manner. Brahmā and you, O Lord, are not different from the Supreme Sout.
114-115. The fortune of this king (is really great). The blessings of you three cannot be even mentally conceived. This Lord, the sanctifier of all living beings, is one whose greatness cannot be even thought of. By his association even the vicious ones can cross the ocean of worldly existence.
116. By how much devotion the Lord is pleased, is beyond the reach of the intellect. By repeating the Vedic passages and other activities people continue to strive for it for a long time. But even an insignificant person attains salvation effortlessly.
117-120. The cowherdesses who maintained themselves by (selling) milk and milk products, who spent their days either within the house or wandering about in the forests and who sustained themselves through the forest produces, attained liberation through the enjoyment of love sports.
Śiśupāla who always hated and fought with him attained salvation (even) in the middle of the assembly hall. The hunter pierced the heart (of Kṛṣṇa?) and attained the goal very difficult to be attained.
Formerly a hunch-backed maiden dragged him to her house by his clothes and enjoyed herself with him whereas the celestial damsels who meditate upon him do not get him at all.
121-128. By means of his Māyā the Lord may deceive you as well as Brahmā. Many persons beginning with Gautama still remain in the bondage of physical bodies, suffering from much misery while performing austerities. They cling to their vow of celibacy and they stay till the end of the Kalpa. His acts cannot be comprehended or expressed by saying ‘It is like this, it is like that’.
It is not possible to delineate the conduct of this highly intelligent one even by much effort or in the course of a long time.
Many means have been recommended in the scriptural texts for the sake of liberation in the case of learned men. Many of them do worship (by sacrifice). But the most excellent means of all is the residence in (the holy place) Puruṣottama which is certainly conducive to attain Sāyujya with the Lord like an excellent companion. That means of attaining this Lord capable of wielding Māyā is invariably connected (with the residence there). The place where Hari placed himself and where he fixed his residence shall become universally known due to the association with Indradyumna. Hence allow me, O Lord of Devas. I shall take this king along with his army to the land at the foot of the mountain and establish him there. I shall then initiate him in the act of the great sacrifice (i.e. horse-sacrifice). Thereafter, O Bull-emblemed Lord, I shall come near your lotus-like feet.”
129. Saying “So be it”, the Lord vanished. The sage drove in the chariot of the king to the excellent holy spot.
130-133. The second day the king reached Kapoteśa. Its length and breadth are the same. It is full of ponds of water and trees. In the eastern boundary was Bilveśa who was stationed on the seashore. His minister indicated that the place was suitable for encamping the army. The excellent king encamped the army in their befitting places. He bowed down to Bilveśvara and Kapoteśa and worshipped them. Accompanied by Nārada the intelligent king got into the chariot. Mentally and verbally, thinking and glorifying Viṣṇu, the resident of Nīla mountain, O Brāhmaṇa, he went to the presence of Hari.
Footnotes and references:
Gandhavahā is the Gandhavatī (modern Gangua) at present flowing in Bhuvaneśvara, It is considered as a sacred river.
Koṭiliṅgeśvara is a famous temple at Bhuvaneśvara.
A Vaiṣṇavite twist to show the inferiority of Śiva to Viṣṇu. The fight between Śiva and Viṣṇu for one King of Kāśi (Kāśirāja) and the subsequent defeat of Śiva and his praise of Viṣṇu and Śiva’s departure from Vārāṇasī to Ekāmra Vana (vv 50-79)—all this is invented to show Viṣṇu’s superiority.
Skandapurāṇa euphemistically gives the credit of building Vārāṇasī to Śiva. As a matter of fact, he usurped this capital city of Divodāsa through Nikuṃbha (vide BdP 22.214.171.124-58).
The author regards Viṣṇu and Kṛṣna as identical and brings in Satyabhāmā as Viṣṇu’s consort along with Lakṣmī.
This explains the epithet of Koṭiliṅgeśvara.
Ekāmra Purāṇa and other sources state that Tribhuvaneśvara (Liṅgarāja) was worshipped as Hari-hara (a synthesis of Vaiṣṇavism and Śaivism).
Puruṣottama Kṣetra is regarded as conch-like in shape.
Kapoteśa temple is now situated at Candanapura at the bifurcation of the rivers Bhārgavī and Mittlānī (on Kāṭhapola Nadī).
The temple of Bilveśa is on the eastern side of Puri.