The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Greatness of Mathura which is chapter 17 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 seventeenth chapter of the Margashirsha-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 17 - The Greatness of Mathura

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: This Sthala-purāṇa of Mathurā has a tenuous relation with this Māhātmya—only that the month of Mārgaśīrṣa is favourite with Viṣṇu and Viṣṇu-Kṛṣṇa happened to live in Mathurā region in the early part of his life.[1]

Brahmā said:

1. O Lord of Devas, which is that holy place in which the month of Mārgaśīrṣa is most celebrated? What is the benefit thereof? O Lord, state everything.

Śrī Bhagavān said:

2. There is a great sacred place of mine well-known as Mathurā. It is very beautiful and well-honoured. It is the place of my birth and is very much loved by me.

3. At Mathurā, O Four-faced One, a devotee obtains the merit of a Tīrtha at every step. Wherever the man may take his holy bath, he is liberated from terrible sins.

4. O son, Mathurā is destructive of sins. It dispels the agony suffered in hells by men of wicked souls devoid of all piety and virtue.

5. An ungrateful one, a drink-addict, a thief and a man whose holy vow is interrupted in the middle and broken, is liberated from terrible sins on reaching Mathurā.

6-7. Just as darkness disappears at sunrise, just as mountains run away out of fear of the thunderbolt, just as serpents perish on seeing Garuḍa, just as clouds are scattered on being tossed by wind, just as (worldly) misery is dispelled by the knowledge of reality, just as elephants run away on seeing a lion, so also sins perish at the sight of Mathurā, O son.

8. On seeing Madhupurī a man endowed with faith and devotion becomes purified even if he is a slayer of a Brāhmaṇa. What need one say of other sinners?

9. Sins become desperate and go away from the body of one who is desirous of taking his holy bath in Mathurā and goes there step by step.

10. Even if people go to Mathurā casually or for any business dealings or for service, they rid themselves of sins merely due to their holy bath in Mathurā and go to heaven.

11. Even those who utter the name of this (city) shall undoubtedly attain salvation. There is perpetual Kṛtayuga there; there is Uttarāyaṇa (period of the northern transit of the Sun) there always.

12. He who hears about my temple at Mathurā on being mentioned by another, is liberated from sins.

13. On being seen or touched the particles from the feet of those men who stay there for three nights, O son, sanctify (everything).

14. Just as flames of fire burn clusters of grass, so also the city of Mathurā burns great sins,

15. It is said that the holy bath in all the zones of Mathurā is more efficacious than, and the merit thereof is superior to, the merit earned by bath in all the Tīrthas.

16. Men who remember Mathurā acquire that merit which accrues from a study of the four Vedas.

17. A sin committed elsewhere perishes on approaching a Tīrtha; a sin committed in Tīrthas becomes permanent like adamantine cement.

18. A sin committed at Mathurā perishes at Mathurā itself. By staying there a man obtains (all the aims of life) namely virtue, wealth, love and salvation.

19. Sin that takes ten years elsewhere to be consumed completely, O Four-faced One, takes only ten days in the holy spot of Mathurā.

20. There is nothing in heaven, in nether worlds, in firmament or in the mortal world as dear to me always as Mathurā.

21-23. The holy spot of Mathurā is greater than all other Tīrthas (taken together). It is the place where thirty-three thousand years were spent (by me) in sports in childhood with the cowherds. By remembering Mathurā one attains the same merit as in the whole of the Bhārata sub-continent.

O son, everyday, one attains in Mathurā more merit than that obtained at the river Sannihatī when there is a solar eclipse.

24. In the city of Madhu, O son, one obtains in the Mārgaśīrṣa month that merit which is obtained in Tīrtharāja Prayāga in the course of a full thousand years.

25. In the course of a day in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa, O son, one obtains in Mathurā that merit which is obtained at Vārāṇasī in the course of a full millennium.

26. By (spending) a day in Mathurā one obtains the same merit as is obtained by a man who gifts a plot of land near Godāvarī, in Dvārakā or in Kurukṣetra or who spends six months at Gayā.

27. Neither Dvārakā, nor Kāśī nor Kāñcī can be a Tīrtha (like Mathurā) where Māyāgadādhara (i.e. Viṣṇu) is the deity. If libations are offered to them by means of Yamunā-water, Pitṛs do not desire the offerings of balls of rice.

28. Those men who view Mathurā as though it is an ordinary city should be known as those contaminated with masses of sins.

29. If Mathurā is not seen by one, but one had the desire to visit it, one is reborn in Mathurā wherever one dies.

30. O Four-faced One, one may even count the dust particles of the earth in course of time. But there is no limit to the number of Tīrthas in Mathurā.

31. Oh, do stay! Oh, do stay in the city of Mathurā! I stay there continuously surrounded by cowherd lasses.

32. O ye who are immersed in the ocean of worldly existence, O my other disciples, listen. If you desire for intense and excellent happiness, stay in my city.

33. Alas! People of the world are exceedingly blind; though they have eyes they do not see. Although the holy place of Mathurā is present, they undergo the ordeal of births and deaths.

34. Despite the fact that by good luck they have obtained the incomparable birth in human womb (species), their life has gone in vain. The city of Mathurā was not seen by them.

35. Alas, the weakness of the intellect! Alas, adverse fate and bad luck! Alas, the powerful influence of delusion! Mathurā is not resorted to.

36. He who is inclined towards anoṃer place after ignoring Mathurā is deluded by my Māyā. He is stupid and he wanders in the vast expanse of worldly existence.

37. If even after reaching Mathurā anyone craves for any other place, how can that evil-minded one acquire perfect knowledge? He displays his ignorance!

38. My city is the goal and refuge unto those who are abandoned by their parents and kinsmen and who have no other go.

39. My city is the goal and refuge unto those who have been overwhelmed by masses of sins, those who have been vanquished by poverty and those who have no other place of resort.

40. It is the most excellent of all spots. It is the greatest secret. Mathurā is the greatest goal unto those who are in search of a worthy goal and refuge.

41. That cannot be obtained through merits; that cannot be acquired through charitable gifts. That cannot be obtained through austerities nor through eulogies. It cannot be secured by means of different kinds of Yogic exercises. It can be obtained only through my grace.

42. At Mathurā, good status can be achieved only by those blessed ones who have steadfast devotion to me, and on whom I have ample favour.

43. One who gives up his life at Mathurā attains that goal which a learned man endowed with Yogic power, who has realized Brahman, attains.

44. There are cities like Kāśī etc. But the most blessed one is Mathurā alone which yields the fourfold salvation (Sālokya etc.) through four ways (viz.) of taking birth there, performing the rite of sacred thread-ceremony, observing many vows, and making charitable gifts.

45. With my favour good goal is easily attained here, the goal which cannot be attained even in the course of hundreds of Manvantaras by means of Yogic exercises.

46. Who will not resort to that holy place where there is no fear from sins, where one need not be afraid of Yama and where the fear of stay in a womb (i.e. rebirth) ceases to exist

47-49. Listen to the merit acquired from Mathurā and the fruit thereof. Those worms, locusts, moths etc. which come to Mathurā and die there become four-armed ones (i.e. having the same form as that of Viṣṇu i.e. Sārūpya type of liberation). Those trees which fall from the banks attain the greatest goal. Dumb, sluggish, blind and deaf people devoid of penance and holy observances and those who die in course of time go to my world.

50. Those who are bitten by serpents, who are killed by animals, those who perish in fire and water and those who die prematurely or accidentally in Mathurā go to my world.

51. Truth! It is the truth, O excellent sage, that I say on my honour. There is nothing else like Mathurā anywhere yielding all that one desires.

52. Which learned man will not resort to Mathurā which bestows on persons who desire the three aims of life (Virtue, Wealth and Love)? It bestows salvation on those who are desirous of salvation and it bestows devotion on one who desires for devotion.

53. The city of Madhu of all these characteristics and good features should be resorted to in the month of Mārgaśīrṣaka. If that is not available, Puṣkara is to be resorted to in accordance with the injunctions.

54. The oldest Kuṇḍa (well) is that of Brahmā, the middle Kuṇḍa is that of Viṣṇu and the youngest one is that having Rudra for its deity. O intelligent one, know this.

55. In all these, O son, one should perform all these rites—holy ablution, charitable gift and Śrāddha in accordance with the injunctions. A splendid worship shall be performed. It is conducive to my delight.

56. The full-moon day, O son, in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa is a great favourite of mine. Whatever meritorious rite is performed on that day shall be pleasing to me.

57. On the full-moon day, O son, one shall perform all these rites of charitable gifts, viz. gift of cows, gift of food, gift of gold and gift of land.

58. On the full-moon day in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa one should make gift of a house. Whatever is done shall be perfect, yielding everlasting merit.

59. Feeding of Brāhmaṇas should be done in accordance with one’s affluence. Festival on the completion of a religious observation should be celebrated on the full-moon day itself.

60. O son, Tīrtharāja etc. are not as pleasing to me in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa as Mathurā. If it is not available, Puṣkara (is to be resorted to).

61. At Puṣkara and Mathurā the full-moon day is to be celebrated by intelligent devotees. Wherever it is celebrated it shall be celebrated in accordance with the injunctions.

62. He who does not take holy bath, make charitable gifts and perform worship on the full-moon day is cooked (tortured) in Raurava and other hells for sixty thousand years.

63. Hence by all means, the full-moon day should be honoured by intelligent people. That in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa bestows infinite merit.

64. Listen to the fruit of the merit of that man who devoutly performs all the rites as mentioned by me in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa, of which I am fond.

65. He shall attain that merit which is obtained in ten thousand Tīrthas or by means of crores of holy rites or all the Yajñas.

66. A man without a son obtains a son; a poor man obtains wealth; one who seeks learning shall get learning and one who seeks beauty shall become beautiful.

67. A Brāhmaṇa shall get all Brahminical splendour; a Kṣatriya shall be victorious; a Vaiśya shall acquire lordship over wealth; and a Śūdra shall become purified of all his sins.

68. A man shall attain in the Mārgaśīrṣa month whatever is very difficult to get or inaccessible in the three worlds, O bestower of honour. There is no doubt about it.

69. Although men who are attracted by these desires, O son, are satisfied in the end, O Four-faced One, they do not deserve(?) those desires, O mighty-armed one.

70-71. Very rare indeed is good devotion, the splendid devotion that wins me over. That is attained in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa which is famous (if the glory of the month is heard). This month is conducive to my great pleasure; O Four-faced One, everything is obtained from this through my grace.

:: End of Margaśīrṣa-Māhātmya ::

Footnotes and references:


In spite of this far-fetched relation, the city of Mathurā had, however, a glorious past since 6th cent. BCE. It is mentioned in the Pāli canon (Aṅguttara-nikāya 1.167, Majjhima Nikāya 11.84), indirectly in Pāṇini (Varaṇādi gaṇa IV.2.28), Megasthenes, in connection with Heracles (Kṛṣṇa). VāP 11.185 records the establishment of Mathurā at Madhuvana by Śatrughna. Hiuen Tsang (7th cent, ce) notes that Brahmanism and Buddhism were equally prominent here. Apart from its historical importance, Varāha Purāṇa devotes about 1000 verses (Chs. 152-178). Bṛhan-Nāradīya (Chs. 79-80), BhP X and Viṣṇu Purāṇa V,VI write a great deal about Mathurā and Kṛṣṇa’s association with it. This chapter does not include Tīrthas at Mathurā as has been done in the Badarikā or Ayodhyā-Māhātmya. It is in a way an Appendix to this Māsa-Māhātmya.

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