The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 750,347 words

This page describes The Greatness of Vrajabhumi which is chapter 1 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 first chapter of the Bhagavata-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 1 - The Greatness of Vrajabhūmi

Obeisance to Śrī Gaṇeśa

Now begins the glorification of Śrīmadbhāgavata.

Vyāsa said:

1. For the perpetual attainment of the bliss of devotion we bow to Kṛṣṇa whose form (accompanied by Śrī Rādhā) is constituted of existence, knowledge and bliss; who incessantly showers infinite happiness and who is the cause of the origin, sustenance and annihilation of the universe.

2. After bowing down to the highly intelligent Sūta who was seated in Naimiṣa forest, sages who were experts in enjoying the nectarine juice of narratives said:

The sages enquired:

3. The king (Yudhiṣṭhira) went away (abdicating his throne) after crowning Vajra (nābha) in the glorious country of Mathurā and his grandson (Parīkṣit) at Hastināpura.[1] What did those two (kings) do?

Sūta replied:

4. After bowing down to Nārāyaṇa, Nara, Narottama[2] the most excellent among men (i.e. Arjuna), Goddess Sarasvatī[2] and Vyāsa, one should uttter (recite) the Purāṇa.

5. When the king (Yudhiṣṭhira) went along the great path (the northern direction), Parīkṣit, the king, went to Mathurā, O Brāhmaṇas, with a desire to see Vajraṇābha.

6. On knowing that his uncle[3] had come, Vajra was overwhelmed with affection. He approached (to receive) and saluted him and took him to his mansion.

7. That hero whose mind was solely devoted to Kṛṣṇa embraced him. He went inside the abode and bowed down to Hari’s wives, Rohiṇī and others.

8. Parīkṣit, the king, was ardently honoured by them. He took rest and after seating himself comfortably said to Vajraṇābha:

Śrī Parīkṣit said:

9. O dear one, our father and grandfathers were redeemed from great mass of miseries by your predecessors. I too was protected.

10-11. I cannot adequately repay (help) you in return, O dear one. Hence I request you to be engaged happily in (enjoying your) kingdom. You need not have any worries about finance (treasury) and defence (army). Nor need you have any anxiety regarding suppression of enemies. None of these worries should bother you at all.[4] Only the mothers (elderly relatives) should be served well.

12. Avoid all anxieties after leaving them to me.

On hearing this, Vajra was exceedingly pleased. He replied to him:

Śrī Vajranābha said:

13. O king, what you say to me is but proper. I have been obliged by your father by imparting to me the science of archery.

14. Hence I have not the least worry at all, as I firmly uphold my Kṣatriyahood (military expertise). But I have a great worry. Give some thought to it.

15. I have been crowned in Mathurā, yet I am staying in a desolate forest.[5] Where have the subjects of this place gone? I like a kingdom inhabited by subjects.

16. On being told thus, Viṣṇurāta (i.e. Parīkṣit) invited Śāṇḍilya, the priest of Nanda, and others in order to dispel the doubt of Vajra.

17. Śāṇḍilya immediately left his cottage and came there. Duly honoured by Vajranābha, he occupied an excellent seat.

18. Parīkṣit made some introductory remarks. Then (the sage) who was exceedingly delighted, said thus consoling both of them:

Śrī Śāṇḍilya said:

19. Listen attentively to me (as I recount) the secret of the land called Vraja. The root ^vraj means ‘to spread’. As the land spread extensively, it is called Vraja.[6]

20. Supreme Brahman is beyond Guṇas. It is pervasive and is called Vraja. It is the greatest splendour and of the nature of perpetual bliss. It is the immutable region of the liberated ones.

21. In that (land) Kṛṣṇa, the son of Nanda, is seen by the people immersed in love, as one whose form is of perpetual bliss. He is one who has realized all his desires. He sports within his Ātman. He is seen by those full of love (devotees like Nārada).

22. His Ātman is Rādhikā. Since he sports with her, he is said to be ‘one sporting and rejoicing in the soul’, by learned men who know mysterious things.

23. His desired ones are the cows, the cowherds and the cowherd-esses. They are always present near him for sport. Therefore, he is Āptakāma (‘one who has realized his desires’).

24. This is his secret. He is said to be beyond Prakṛti. As he sports with Prakṛti, his sport (with Prakṛti) is experienced by others.

25. His sport consists of creation, sustenance and annihilation by means of Rajas, Sattva and Tamas Guṇas. This sport is of two kinds: the real and the ordinary or customary.

26. The real sport is worthy of being known by Himself alone (with the experience of bliss along with his devotees—Commentary). The customary one is that which is understood by the individual souls. The second one cannot take place without the first and the second one does not reach as far as the first anywhere.

27-30. His Vyāvahārikī Līlā (ordinary sport) is within the range of our experience where the worlds, Bhūmi etc. exist. The region of Mathurā is on this earth and it is here that the land of Vraja too exists. It is there that the truth is well concealed. At times it is revealed to those who are full of love (for him). It is wholly revealed to them.

Some time at the end of Dvāpara, those who are knowers of the secret sports (of the Lord) gather together as now. At that time Hari shall incarnate along with his (folk) in order to assimilate his desired ones into himself and his (folk). Then the Devas and others too incarnate all round (him).

31-34. After fulfilling the desires of everyone, Hari vanished. Therefore, three types of people remained here undoubtedly. They are Nityas (permanent folk). Tallipsus (those who desire to obtain him) and Devādyas (Devas and others). Devādyas were formerly taken to Dvārakā by Kṛṣṇa. Again through the means of the Muśala (Pestle used in the fratricidal fight among the Yādavas) they were assimilated into himself.

Tallipsus who are always in the form of love and bliss were converted into Nityas belonging to himself and merged within them. All the Nityas being undeserved to be seen by ordinary unworthy people attained invisibility.

35. Ordinary people (lit. people in the ordinary sport of the Lord) who came to see the people authorized (to participate in the secret sports of the Lord) did (could) not see ṃem. Hence they departed rendering Vraja desolate all round.

36. Hence, O Vajranābha, you need not worry at all. At my behest colonize many villages here. You will achieve Siddhi (success in the undertaking).

37. In accordance with the sports of Kṛṣṇa, you should name the villages you establish. Thereby you shall serve this great earth.

38. You must establish your realm in Govardhana, Dīrghapura, Mathurā, Mahāvana (Great Forest), Nandigrāma and Bṛhatsānu.

39-42. As you resort to the river, mountains, water-troughs, holy pits and groves, the subjects in your land shall be very affluent and you will be delighted.

This earth of Brahman consisting of existence, knowledge and bliss should be served by you carefully. With my blessings let Kṛṣṇa’s regions be prosperous here. By serving this, O Vajra, Uddhava will meet you. Thereupon you and the mothers shall know the secret (doctrine) from him.

After saying this Śāṇḍilya went away remembering Kṛṣṇa. Viṣṇurāta and Vajra attained great delight.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Vide Mbh, Mahāprasthāna Ch. 1.

[2]:

Narottama=Kṛṣṇa; Sarasvatī = Rādhā (Commentary)

[3]:

Vajra was the great-grandson (Aniruddha’s son) of Kṛṣṇa while Parīkṣit was Subhadrā’s (=Kṛṣṇa’s) grandson.

[4]:

At the time of Mahāprasthāna Yuḍhiṣṭhira instructed Subhadrā to protect Vajra who was then quite a junior king (Mbh, Mahāprasthāna 1.8-9). Hence this solicitude on behalf of Parīkṣit.

[5]:

Both Varāha (Ch. 153 and 161.6-10) and Nāradīya (Uttarārdha 79.10-18) record that there were twelve forests near Mathurā. But Mbh is not clear about the desolateness of the region.

[6]:

The etymology of Vraja is understandable. But the esoteric explanation in vv 20 ff is for the consumption of staunch believers.

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