by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The Greatness of Vishala which is chapter 5 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 fifth chapter of the Badarikashrama-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
1. Why does the Lord stay there faithfully? What is the merit and the fruit of seeing, touching etc. (the rock)?
2. O father, kindly recount to me the merit of consuming the Naivedya and the fruit of performing the great worship as well as that of the circumambulation?
4. In Tretāyuga he could be resorted to by groups of sages by means of continuous practice of Yoga, because the Lord was devoted to it. When Dvāparayuga arrived, the Lord was difficult of access because he was devoted to knowledge (alone).
5-6. The Lord became one to be very rarely seen by sages and Devas. Not being able to gain access to the Lord, groups of sages and Devas went to the region of the Self-born Lord, agitated in their minds with surprise. After going there and joyously bowing down to the lord of the worlds, the sages and the ascetics as well as the Devas spoke with Bṛhaspati as their leader.
7. Obeisance to you, O Grandfather, O Lord of Suras; you are the support of all the worlds. You are the destroyer of the distress of those who seek refuge (in you). You are the bestower of sustenance. You are full of mercy. You are our redeemer and father. Our troubles are to be submitted to you.
8. Why have you all come with your minds agitated with surprise in the company of the sages? Tell me the purpose of your visit.
9-10. Ever since the advent of Dvāpara, the large-hearted Lord is not to be seen at Viśālā. What is the reason thereof? Tell us if Viśālā has been abandoned by him and if so the place where he has gone of his own accord. Or is it because of any offence on our part? Tell us how he can become gracious (unto us).
11. I do not know this. Indeed this has been heard now from you. What is the reason, O Suras, that the Lord has gone beyond the path of your vision (i.e. has become invisible to you)? Come. Let us go to the shore of the Ocean of Milk.
12. On being told thus, the heaven-dwellers, the sages and the ascetics, went to the shore of the Ocean of Milk with Brahmā at their head.
14. Obeisance to you, O presiding deity of all Puruṣas, O Lord lying in the cave (of the heart) of all living beings, O Vāsudeva, O supporter of everything, O cause of the universe, O lord identical with the universe.
15. You alone are the cause, the lord as well as the support of all living beings. O Lord, the sole handsome one, with the help of your Māyā power you move about.
16. One becomes many. The immutable one becomes an actor (in assuming many forms). Though he is all-pervading, out of his merciful nature he becomes (a very small) bee occupying the lotus-like hearts of his devotees and gives them different kinds of happiness. I salute that Lord of the worlds.
17. The Lord is fire unto the forest of miseries. He takes the essence of all the people. He is the Lord of Devas and heaven. He is the immanent soul of the mobile and immobile beings. He is the infinite Lord. Let the Lord glance at us with his benign eyes.
18. If a man is engaged in drinking the nectar of the name of the Lord even once, he will consider salvation insignificant like a blade of grass. I worship that Had.
20. Those who drink the water that is in contact with the feet of Hari, will never drink again and again the milk from (lying on the) lap of a mother. Even if men were to drink casually the nectar of his name, they will when dead become immortal. No one will go down (to hell). They will be free from doubts and fears.
21. On being eulogized thus, Hari rose up from the Ocean and spoke to Brahmā without being seen by the others. Only Brahmā knew it and no one else.
22-23 Brahmā understood it and bowed down to the Lord. He told the heaven-dwellers everything. “O Suras, listen respectfully. The Lord has vanished because he found the people vicious in their intellect.” On hearing these words of his, all the Devas went to heaven.
25. Merely by seeing that Lord, even great sins disappear instantaneously like deer on seeing a lion.
28. After the advent of Kali, if salvation is desired, (only) Badarī should be visited after abandoning all the Tīrthas.
29. Even without perfect knowledge, without yogic practice and exertions of wandering from Tīrtha to Tīrtha, a creature attains salvation even in a single birth.
30. If Hari is worshipped by a man in the course of thousands of births, he should go to visit Badarī where the creature will not have any cause of grief.
31. By repeating (the name) “Badarī, Badarī” even casually, an excellent man shall illuminate the world oppressed by darkness.
32. Just as by seeing light one is not afflicted by darkness, so also by visiting Badarī no man need be afraid of death.
33. I salute the Lord of Badarī, beholding whom as the path to salvation, the unredeemed sins lament.
34. For every step taken in the circumambulation of Hari in Badarī, one receives as much merit as when the whole earth inclusive of mountains and forests is circumambulated ten times.
35. For every step taken in Badarī in the circumambulation of Hari, one receives as much merit as that of a horse-sacrifice or a hundred Vājapeya sacrifices.
36. For every step taken in Badarī in the circumambulation of Hari, one receives as much merit as that of the Caturmāsa holy rite or from that of giving away in charity the whole of the Cosmic Egg (Brahmāṇḍa).
37. For every step taken in the circumambulation of Hari in Badarī, one earns the same merit as that of Atikṛcchra and Mahākṛcchra rites mentioned in the Vedas.
38. The Naivedya of Viṣṇu at Badarī even if it be a lump of boiled rice, O Six-faced One, if consumed, dispels sin and purifies one like the fire of paddy husk that purifies gold.
39. The cooked food that the Lord eats along with Nārada and other sages should be eaten unhesitatingly by all for the purification of their nature.
40. Even the Devas really wish for it in every respect. Under some pretext, they go to Badarikā in order to consume the Naivedya of Viṣṇu, because they are eager to have it.
41. After partaking of food, they go to the abode of Viṣṇu. The devotees, the chief among whom is Prahlāda, enter the region of Hari.
42. Whatever sin is knowingly committed whether during infancy, youth or old age, it disappears on eating the Naivedya of Viṣṇu at Badarī.
43. By eating the Naivedya of Viṣṇu at Badarī, even that sin is dispelled, for which capital punishment is prescribed as the atonement.
44. In other Tīrthas one obtains salvation with great strain. (But in Badarī) a man obtains Sālokya by eating the Naivedya of Viṣṇu.
45. That man becomes Acyuta himself who has the form of Hari in his heart, the name of Hari in his mouth, the water with which Hari’s feet have been washed on his head along with the Nirmālya and the Naivedya of Hari in his belly.
46. The sin of the murder of a Brāhmaṇa, drinking of liquor, stealing, carnally approaching the wife of one’s preceptor—ail these sins are destroyed by eating the Naivedya of Viṣṇu at Badarī.
47. A holy place like Badarī, wealth like Naivedya, a Tīrtha like that of Nārada has never been before nor will there ever be.
48. Badarī should be visited even with great exertion; the Naivedya there should be eaten; the Lord should be seen there at Vahnitīrtha; and the holy dip there is very rare.
49. The water with which the Lord’s feet have been washed at Viśālā shall be far ahead of (i.e. holier than) all the Tīrthas on the earth as well as all the religious observances.
50. Of what avail are charitable gifts, penances and exertions for pilgrimages on the part of that person who gets at least a drop of the water with which Viṣṇu’s feet have been washed at Badarī!
51. Atonements prattle (i.e. boast of their efficacy), O Six-faced One, only until the time of getting the water with which are washed the feet of Viṣṇu at Badarī.
52. If persons desire to proceed on the path of salvation easily without much trouble, the Naivedya of Viṣṇu should be (acquired and) eaten by them with great effort.
53. Those men who accept monetary gifts (after going to Badarī) are sinners. They always remain in the vortex of worldly existence. They will never have the merit of undertaking the pilgrimage there.
54. By despising the Naivedya people become afflicted by Tamas and are themselves censured. There is no doubt about this that one acquires purity of nature by eating the Naivedya.
55. Those who bring the Naivedya themselves and feed Brāhmaṇas with it, become contented like persons who have achieved their objectives. Of what importance is the merit of the charitable act called Tulāpuruṣa-dāna?
56. By taking a mouthful (of Naivedya) at Badarī one gets that merit which is obtained by making great charitable gifts after going to Kurukṣetra during a solar eclipse.
57. After reaching the holy place of Badarī, one should strive (to obtain) at least a mouthful (of Naivedya). This is a great means to propitiate Hari there in Badarī. By serving food to ascetics even an offender will be a beloved of Viṣṇu.
58. There is no other lord like Viṣṇu. There is no town equal to Viśālā; there is no deserving (i.e. eligible for receiving charity) person on a par with a mendicant; there is no Tīrtha like Ṛṣitīrtha.
59. Even Brahmā cannot recount the merits of those sacred men who perform Cāturmāsya (at Badarī).
60-61. The acquisition of merits by mendicants here is particularly glorified. Merely by seeing Badarī mendicants acquire ten times the merit usually obtained by listening to the Vedanta. During Cāturmāsya they derive particularly the benefit of salvation.
62. Those who renounce (i.e. become Sannyāsins), O dear son, in the holy place of Badarī, are liberated without strain. Those foolish persons and those who are insentient, those hyprocrites who wear ochre robes—all these can have salvation within their reach.
63. Whether they are persons of knowledge or not, whether they are renouncers or men of holy observances, Badarī should be visisted by all those who are desirous of obtaining benefits.
64. By listening to this meritorious chapter even casually a man shall be rid of all sins and honoured in the world of Visnu.
Footnotes and references:
This recluse is the Advaita Vedānta teacher Śaṅkarācārya (6th century c.e. and not 8th as is generally supposed). He is credited to have re-installed the present idol of Badrīnāth and built the temple of Badrīnāth.
Tulāpuruṣadāna: A Mahādāna. The donor is to be weighed against gold (or silver) and the precious metal is to be distributed amongst Brāhmaṇas. (HD II.ii, 871-72)