The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes The Greatness of the “Matsya” Festival (matsyotsava) which is chapter 14 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 fourteenth chapter of the Margashirsha-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 14 - The Greatness of the “Matsya” Festival (matsyotsava)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: This chapter is a part of ‘Dvādaśī Kalpa’ in which it is laid down that a fish of gold should be worshipped with due formalities (vv 23-38) and is to be given to one’s preceptor (v 33). The ‘fish’ comes in this Kalpa as probably fish was the first incarnation of Viṣṇu.

Śrī Bhagavān said:

1. Then in the morning on Dvādaśī day, in the bright half of the month of Mārgaśīrṣa, the Matsya festival (viz., matsyotsava) is to be celebrated by the wise, with due offerings and services in accordance with the injunctions.

2-7. On the tenth day in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa, with due self-control, the devotee should perform worship of the Lord. The, intelligent devotee then should perform the sacred rites in the holy fire in accordance with the injunctions.

Clad in clean clothes, he should, with a delighted mind, cook the consecrated Havya rice and walk five steps. Then he should wash his feet. He should then take a twig eight Aṅgulas long from a Kṣīravṛkṣa (a tree that exudes milky juice) and brush his teeth. Thereafter, he should perform the Ācamana rite carefully.

He then surveys the entire sky and meditates on me, the Lord holding the iron club. He meditates on me as one who is clad in yellow robes, who wears a crown, who has the conch, the discus and the iron-club in his hands, whose lotus-like face is delighted and who is characterised with all distinctive features.

After meditating thus the man takes water in his hand, meditates on the Lord as one present in the middle of the Sun and offers the Arghya with the water in his hand. At that time, O Four-faced One, he should utter these words:

8. “O Puṇḍarīkākṣa (Lotus-eyed One), I shall remain without food on the Ekādaśī day and take food on the next day. Be my refuge, O Acyuta.”

9. After saying this, he should, on the night (of the same day) repeat the words “(obeisance) to Nārāyaṇa” himself in accordance with the injunctions, in the presence of my idol.

10-11. Then in the morning he should go to a river that joins the sea or any other one, or a lake, or remain in the house itself and take the pure clay therefrom. The man should salute the Lord after taking the clay with the following Mantra and he shall become pure:

12-16. (The Mantra for taking the clay) “O Goddess (Earth), it is by you that all the living beings are always sustained and nourished. By that truth, O auspicious one, remove my sin.

All the Tīrthas within the Cosmic Egg have been touched with their hands by Devas. Therefore, I handle this clay touched (by them) and taken from you.

O Varuṇa, all the Rasas (liquids, juices) are perpetually present in you. Therefore, flow on this clay and sanctify it. Do not delay.”

After propitiating the clay and water thus, he should apply the same on himself three times by means of the entire lump of clay. It is then washed off in the water. The man shall always take his bath only in this water. Away from the crocodiles and tortoises, he should take his bath, perform the necessary rites, and go to my abode then.

17-22. There, O great Yogin, he should propitiate Lord Nārāyaṇa, Hari. “Obeisance to Keśava”—(he should worship) the feet. “Obeisance to Dāmodara”—the waist. “Obeisance to Nrsiṃha”—the pair of knees. “Obeisance to one having Śrivatsa”—the chest. “Obeisance to one having Kaustubha in the navel”—the neck. “Obeisance to Śrīpati”—the bosom. “Obeisance to the conqueror of the three worlds”—the arm. “Obeisance to the soul of everyone”—the head. “Obeisance to the holder of the discus”—the face. “Obeisance to Śrīkara”—(he should worship) the conchshell. “Obeisance to Gaṃbhīra”—the iron club. “Obeisance to Śāntamūrti”—the lotus.

After worshipping Lord Nārāyaṇa, Lord of Devas, thus, the wise devotee should place four pots in front of the Lord. They should be filled with water and smeared with white unguents and sandal-paste. Flower-garlands should be put upon them. The tender leaves of a mango tree must be kept upon them. They should be wrapped in white cloth. Copper vessels with gold pieces in them and filled with gingelly seeds should be placed upon them.

23-24. The four pots are glorified as the four oceans. In the middle of those pots the devotee should keep a pedestal with a cloth in the centre. Upon it a vessel made of gold, silver, copper or wood shall be placed. If a vessel of the kind mentioned before is not available, a cup of the leaf of Palāśa (Butea frondoza) is recommended.

25-28. The vessel should be filled with water. A replica of Lord Janārdana in the form of a fish should be made in gold and put in that vessel. It should be fitted with all the ancillaries of the Lord of Devas. It should be adorned with Vedas and Smṛtis. There should be many kinds of foodstuffs, fruits and flowers enhancing the splendour thereof. The Lord should be duly worshipped with scents, incense and cloths: “Just as, O Lord in the form of fish, all the Vedas that had been taken to the nether worlds were lifted up by you, so also, O Keśava, redeem me up from the ocean of the worldly existence.” After uttering this he should perform the rite of Jāgaraṇa in front of it.

29-32. (The festival shall be celebrated) in conformity with one’s affluence.

When the day has dawned clear, the four pots should be given to four Brāhmaṇas.

The vessel kept in the East shall be given to a Bahvṛca (one who is conversant with Ṛgveda); that in the South shall be given to a Chāndogya (Sāmavedin); the devotee should give the excellent vessel kept in the West to a person well-versed in Yajurveda. He should give the vessel in the North to anyone he pleases. This is the prescribed procedure.

While giving the vessels away, he should utter thus: “May Ṛgveda be pleased in the East. May Sāmaveda be pleased in the South. May Yajurveḍa be pleased in the West and may Atharvaveda be pleased in the North.”

33. The golden replica of fish should be given to the preceptor after honouring him duly and in the proper order, with scents, incense etc. and cloths.

34. The Ācārya should conduct everything including the secret (method of worship) by me?s [means?] of (the requisite) Mantras. After giving the gifts duly, the donor shall have a crore times the benefit.

35. A base man who, even after getting the preceptor, acts in contravention due to delusion, is cooked (i.e. tortured) in hell in a crore of births.

36. He who offers injunction is called Guru by the wise. After giving everything in accordance with the injunction on the Dvādaśī day, he should worship me.

37-39a. He should feed the Brāhmaṇas and present them with monetary gifts according to his capacity. There must be plenty of well-cooked, well-dressed food. Afterwards the man himself should take food along with Brāhmaṇas. He should have full restraint upon his speech and sense-organs. O most excellent one among truthful persons, listen to the benefit and merit of that man who celebrates the Matsya festival in accordance with this procedure.

39b-41. If one has one million mouths and the longevity equal to that of Brahmā, O performer of great holy rites, one can describe (adequately) the benefit of this pious activity.

He who devoutly expounds or listens to this excellent Dvādaśīkalpa shall be liberated from all sins.

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