The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Greatness of Svargadvara and Gopratara which is chapter 6 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 sixth chapter of the Ayodhya-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 6 - The Greatness of Svargadvāra and Gopratāra

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Agastya said:

1-2. To the west of that confluence (of Sarayū and Tilodakī) is situated the holy pit called Sītā Kuṇḍa.[1] It is well-known as the bestower of all desired benefits, O Brāhmaṇa. By taking his holy bath there, O Brāhmaṇa, a man is absolved of all sins. That Kuṇḍa is made by Sītā herself. By the boons granted by Rāma it has been rendered highly meritorious.

Śrī Rāma said:

3-7. Listen, O Sītā, I shall tell you, of what nature the glory of your Kuṇḍa shall be. O lady of great felicity, I shall mention it out of pleasure for you. A holy bath, charitable gifts, Japa, Homa and penance—all these performed here in accordance with the injunctions will be infinite in merit, O lady of pure smiles. Particularly, a holy bath on the fourteenth day in the dark half of the month of Mārgaśīrṣa is always destructive of all sins of all those who take the holy bath.

This was the boon granted to Sītā by Rāma who was fond of his subjects.

Ever since then that Kuṇḍa became well-known on the earth as Sītākuṇḍa. It causes great wonder to the people. By taking holy bath in that Kuṇḍa a man shall certainly attain Rāma.

8-9. If one takes the holy bath, makes charitable gifts and particularly performs penance, if he worships Rāma and Sītā with scents, garlands, incense, lights and different kinds of elaborate and luxurious offerings and services, he shall become liberated. There is no doubt about this.

The holy bath must be performed in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa. Thereby one will no longer stay within any womb (i.e. will be liberated). If a man takes the holy bath at any other time, he goes to the world of Viṣṇu.

10. To the west of (the spot of) Lord Viṣṇuhari,[2] O Brāhmaṇa, is the Lord named Cakrahari, the bestower of all desired benefits.

11. The great power of that Cakrahari cannot be described by men, even by the most intelligent and skilful among them, O Brāhmaṇa.

12. To the west thereof is the meritorious shrine of Viṣṇu well-known by the name Harismṛti. It is the bestower of the best fruit in the form of salvation. Merely by the sight of that Lord one is liberated from all sins.

13. By seeing these two all the sins of embodied beings—all the sins which men commit on the earth, perish.

14. Formerly,[3] when an exceedingly terrible battle was fought between Devas and Asuras, the former were vanquished by the latter who were puffed up with pride on account of their attainment of boons.

15-23. As the Devas fled, their leader Hara stopped them all. Keeping the Lotus-seated Lord at the head all of them sought refuge in Viṣṇu who lay in the Ocean of Milk on his couch of Śeṣa. Lakṣmī was seated at his side with her hands (stroking) the Lord’s lotus-like feet.

The great good qualities of the Lord were being praised by excellent sages including Nārada. He was eulogized uninterruptedly by Garuḍa who stood in front of him with palms joined in reverence.

His robes were marked by the waves of the Milk Ocean as though with drops of ichor (?) He shone with a large garland of stars appearing like a garland of pearls.

He wore yellow robes. He was full of smiles and appeared resplendent with the manifestation of his kindly nature. He had large ear-rings in his ears refulgent with pearls.

He appeared to have round him a bright creeper studded with jewels growing in the Śvetadvīpa. He had on (his head) a crown with rings of rubies.

He wore (on his chest) a halo of refulgence along with that of the Kaustubha that dispelled the fear of the Sun-god that there was another Rāhu. It was dark-red in colour. Thereby it appeared as though he contemplated on the production of another Four-faced Lord.

With humility in his mind (Śiva) sought refuge in him and eulogized him. At that time, with all purity (of mind), Śaṃbhu in the company of all the groups of Devas eulogized Viṣṇu, the conqueror of the enemies of Suras.

Īśvara said:

24. O Lord, you take (devotees) across the ocean of worldly existence; obeisance to you, the Lord who give happiness to Suparṇa (Garuḍa). Obeisance to Hari, the moon that dispels the intense darkness of delusion.

25. I resort to the sparkling lustre of the jewel of perfect knowledge, the moonlight associated with the mind, the river that flows in the garden of the mind full of devotion to the Lord.

26. (I resort to) the power of enthusiasm that shines playfully, that pervades through all the three worlds and that is the initial stage of all living beings and animals. It is the Vaiṣṇavī power.

27. To the creatures that are about to fall—the creatures that stay at the border as it were of the petals of the lotus tossed about by wind, the sole cause of stability is Harismṛti (‘Remembrance of Hari’).

28. Obeisance to you of the nature of the Sun-god having the cluster of rays of perfect knowledge. Obeisance to the Lord that causes opening of the glorious lotus of heart.

29. Obeisance to that perpetual goal of Yogins, to the Lord of restraints. Obeisance to the great Lord who is beyond the lustre and darkness.

30. Obeisance to Yajña; to the Lord who partakes of Havis; to the Lord of the form of Ṛk, Yajus and Sāman. Obeisance to the Lord who possesses divine good qualities praised by Sarasvatī.

31. Obeisance to the quiescent one; to the storehouse of Dharma. Bow to the Kṣetrajña (Soul) of the nature of nectar. Salute to the Lord who has established the path of Yoga among disciples. Bow to the sole cause of Jīvas (individual souls); obeisance to the terrible maker of Māyā; obeisance to one with a thousand heads.

32. Obeisance to the Ātman engaged in Yogic slumber. Salute to the Lord from whose navel the lotus (the seat) of the Creator of the universe has originated; obeisance to one (who is) the cause in the form of water, and (who is the cause) of the sustenance of the universe.

33. Obeisance to the powerful one who can be inferred only through the effects; obeisance to the Jīva, to the Supreme Ātman; to the protector of all living beings; to the vital air of living beings; obeisance to the universe, to the creator.

34. Obeisance to the Lord in the physical form of the proud lion; to the cause of the annihilation of Daityas; salute to the Lord favourable to heroes; to the Lord of infinitely deep mind; obeisance to the Lord adopting the form of the universe.

35-37. Obeisance to the Lord who cuts off (and dispels) the great darkness of ignorance (which is) the cause of the worldly existence; salute to the Lord of unimaginable refulgence; to the Lord occupying the cave (of the heart); to Rudra. Obeisance to the great reviver.

Obeisance to the quiescent one; to the bestower of salvation wherein the billows (mental disturbances) have quietened down; obeisance to one who is apart and distinct from all other living beings; obeisance to the Ātman identical with everything.

I bow down to Viṣṇu who is dark-complexioned like a blue lotus, who has the graceful charm of the refulgent filament, who wears the Kaustubha jewel and who is elixir unto the eyes.

Agastya said:

38. On being eulogized thus, the Garuḍa-emblemed Lord, the bestower of boons, became delighted in his mind. The compassionate Lord showered his nectarine glances on all the Devas. He spoke these sweet words to the Suras who bowed down their heads with great humility.

Śrī Bhagavān said:

39. 0 Devas, I know everything that you think by means of meditation. I know that your region has been attacked with violent force by the Daityas who are proud (of their ability) to fight.

40. The valour of those deficient in strength has been subdued by the enemies of greater strength and power. Now I shall perform penance for the purpose of getting you more strength.

41. I shall go to the city of Ayodhyā and perform an excellent penance. I shall remain unmanifest there and perform the penance in order to increase your refulgence and to suppress the Daityas.

42. With minds devoid of impurities, you too do perform severe penance after going to Ayodhyā quickly. O Devas, perform the penance for the destruction of the Daityas.

Agastya said:

43. After saying this to the Devas, the Garuḍa-vehicled Lord vanished. He arrived at Ayodhyā immediately and performed the excellent penance.

44. Since he performed the penance after becoming hidden, for the purpose of increasing the refulgence of Suras, the Lord became famous by the name Guptahari.

45. (The Lord) at the place where at the outset the Discus named Sudarśana fell down from the hand of Hari who arrived there is known as Cakrahari.

46-47. Merely by visiting these two one is liberated from all sins.

By the power of Hari Devas became exceedingly refulgent. They defeated all the Daityas in battle and regained their own original positions. They assailed the Asuras and became brilliant with excessive pleasure.

48. Then all of them gaṃered togeṃer immediately. With Bṛhaspati at their head, all the Devas eagerly came to Ayodhyā to visit Hari. They bowed down to Hari whose lotus-like feet were adored with the garlands from their crowns.

49-50. They arrived and listened respectfully to the different good qualities (of the Lord that were praised in songs). They worshipped him with meritorious feelings (of devotion). They bowed down to Hari with hands folded respectfully and meditated on him with full concentration of mind.

They stood there with palms joined in reverence. On seeing them arrive and bow down, the yellow-robed Janārdana, the immanent soul of the universe, became delighted and said:

Śrī Bhagavān said:

51. O Devas, after a long time you have come within the range of my vision. What wish of yours, O Suras, shall I fulfil now. Tell me quickly; O fearless ones, why do you delay?

The Devas said:

52-57. O Lord, O Lord of the chiefs of Devas, O Lord of the universe, all the tasks have become fulfilled on account of you now. Yet, O Lord, you must be here always for the sake of our protection. You should be present here itself, in the manner of one who has conquered the sense-organs. In the very same way you must bring about destruction of partisans of the enemy.

Śrī Bhagavān said:

Thus I shall bring about the conquest over your enemies. O Suras, I shall enhance your refulgence forever. This story shall attain excellent renown. This Lord shall become well-known all over the worlds by the name Guptahari. My place of concealment will become famous.

A most excellent one among living beings who very devoutly performs worship, Yajña, Japa etc. here, attains the greatest goal.

58-62. A person who has conquered his sense-organs and who makes charitable gifts according to his capacity, attains matchless position in heaven. He will never be grief-stricken.

O Devas, in order to please me, a cow and her calf should be carefully given away in this place in accordance with the injunctions by all living beings desirous of merit. The cow should have gold caps on its horns and silver (covering) on the hoops. A pair of cloth coverings should be given (along with the cow). A milking vessel made of bell metal should be given. The cow should be of red-coloured back and should possess many good features. Jewels must be tied to the tail. The cow should be one still yielding milk. She must be adorned with bells and ornaments and be worshipped with scents, flowers etc. She must be gay by nature. No progeny of her should have been dead. The cow should be given to a Brāhmaṇa well conversant with the Vedas, endowed with all good qualities, and of a soul free from impurities. He should be a learned devotee of Viṣṇu and be very kind-hearted.

63-69. The cow should be given to a Brāhmaṇa of the above description. The donor gets happiness everywhere. She should not be given to a mere Brāhmaṇa by caste (devoid of these qualities). He may cause the downfall of the donor.

In order to propitiate me, she shall be given here with a conscience free from impurities.

Those who take holy bath for the sake of purity in this place, those who are engaged in devotional activities for me, will find salvation within their reach (as if on their palm). They will have heavenly goal forever.

For the sake of propitiating me, excellent charitable gift should be made at the pedestal of Cakrahari. Japa, Homa etc. should be scrupulously performed by men. All of you, O excellent ones, celebrate the festival too in accordance with the injunctions.

Very near this spot of Guptahari, there is the splendid confluence. It is three Yojanas (3x12=36 Kins.) from Gopratāra to the west. It is there that Sarayū joins the waters of the river Ghargharā (mod. Ghāgrā or Gogrā).

After taking a holy bath here in accordance with the injunctions the Lord should be visited enthusiastically, the Lord named Guptahari, the bestower of all desired objects.

Agastya said:

70-74. After saying this, the yellow-robed Acyuta, the Lord vanished. The Devas celebrated the festival in accordance with the injunctions with great care. Fascinated by the excellent qualities of Hari they permanently settled at Ayodhyā.

Ever since then, O eminent Brāhmaṇa, that holy spot became well-known all over the earth. There shall be a special annual festival on the Kārttikī (full-moon day in the month of Kārttika) for Lord Guptahari after a regular holy bath at the confluence.

After taking bath at this Tīrtha, i.e. Gopratāra, which is on (the confluence of Sarayū and Ghargharā, the Lord should be worshipped. He is the bestower of all desired benefits.

The annual festival of Cakrahari should be scrupulously performed by men on the eleventh day in the bright half of the month of Mārgaśīrṣa. He who celebrates this festival rejoices in the world of Viṣṇu.

Śrī Sūta said:

75. When the Pot-born Sage stopped after telling this, Vyāsa, Kṛṣṇadvaipāyana, said again with surprise.

Vyāsa said:[4]

76-77. O Brāhmaṇa, O ascetic, you have narrated this exceedingly wonderful story whereby my mind has become full of surprise. Tell me in detail the greatness of this.

Agastya said:

78. Listen, O eminent Brāhmaṇa, to the glory of the confluence. It is highly surprising. It has been heard by me from Lord Skanda. I shall recount it to you correctly.

79. I have learnt from Skanda that there are thousands and hundreds of crores of Tīrthas at the confluence of Sarayū and Ghargharā.

80. There is perpetual presence of the deities, Suras, Siddhas and Yogins as well as Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva.

81-85. O Brāhmaṇa, listen with single-minded attention. I shall tell you the benefit that one attains by taking the holy bath with mental purity in the waters of that confluence, by offering libations to Piṭrs and Devas, by making charitable gifts in accordance with one’s capacity and by performing Homas with the Vaiṣṇava Mantras.

He will have the same benefit as one gets through a thousand horse-sacrifices and a hundred Vājapeyas or the same merit as one gets by making gifts of gold everyday or by performing holy rites in the great holy place of Kurukṣetra when the Sun is swallowed by Rāhu (i.e. at the time of a solar eclipse).

The holy bath taken on the new-moon day, full-moon day, on both the twelfth days, on the day of Ayana and during Vyatīpāta, yields the benefit of attaining the world of Viṣṇu.

86. If a person stands on a single foot for a thousand Yugas (and performs penance) and if a person duly takes his holy bath in the confluence on the full-moon day in the month of Pauṣa, the benefit of both is equal.

87. If a man hangs (himself) upside down for ten thousand Yugas (for performing penance), (he gets the same benefit as) those who purify their souls by means of the pure waters at the confluence.

88. The benefit derived by those who take their holy bath in the confluence cannot be attained by men even by means of hundreds of sacrifices.

89. Particularly the holy bath taken in the month of Pauṣa yields much benefit.

90. Whoever takes the special holy bath in the month of Pauṣa with great faith—whether he is a Brāhmaṇa, a Kṣatriya, a Vaiśya, a Śūdra or a man of mixed caste, he goes to the abode of Brahmā with no possibility of returning to the earth.

91. O Brāhmaṇa, listen to the benefit of that person who faithfully and duly offers an excellent lamp fed with ghee in the month of Pauṣa.

92. The sin acquired by him in the course of different births, whether small or big, shall perish entirely like salt dropped in water.

93. One who offers light (lamps) attains excellent happiness and benefit, long life, health, prosperity, progeny etc. (and is endowed with merits).

94-95. One who undertakes Vratas here with great purity on the thirteenth day in the bright half of the month of Pauṣa, a wise man who performs Jāgara (i.e. keeps awake at night) shall go to the abode of Han. A Brāhmaṇa who, while keeping awake at night, has subdued his sense-organs and has undertaken pious observances should perform Homa after offering light.

96. A devotee of Viṣṇu should keep awake performing the worship of Viṣṇu, listening to the story of Hari, presenting vocal and instrumental music and dances causing pleasure to Viṣṇu or (listening to or narrating) meritorious stories and anecdotes of Viṣṇu.

97. When the day dawns with bright light, he should duly take bath with great reverence and worship Viṣṇu and Brāhmaṇas. Gold etc. should be given in accordance with his capacity (to Brāhmaṇas).

98. The learned devotee equipped with faith, who gives gold, cooked rice and clothes at the confluence duly attains the greatest goal (i.e. Mokṣa).

99. The rite of Jāgara should be performed every year by persons engaged in meritorious rites.

100-101. Hari should be worshipped. Brāhmaṇas should be well-propitiated by men in accordance with their capacity. Thereby Viṣṇu will be delighted much. All the sins will be dispelled and rendered ineffective like serpents becoming bereft of poison at the sight of Garuḍa. One who takes bath there goes to heaven. One who takes bath here shall become happy.

102. All the living beings in the three worlds, on being propitiated, attain the greatest delight by means of the waters of the confluence.

103. To all living beings tormented by miseries and seeking relief, there is no other goal on a par with the confluence.

104. One who takes the holy bath in the confluence redeems himself, seven generations succeeding and seven preceding him.

105. Those who do not come here and take bath in the confluence of Sarayū and Ghargharā are similar to those who are born blind and those who are lame.

106. Among Tīrthas the confluence is (the highest) like Brāhmaṇas among the different castes. In contact with the confluence of Sarayū and Ghargharā, a man is always like one who is a resident of Vaikuṇṭha.

107. A man who has subdued his sense-organs will attain heaven by taking a holy bath, by making charitable gifts according to his (financial) capacity, and by a Homa performed duly (as per injunction) here (at the confluence).

108. Whether the devotee is a man or a woman, he or she should duly take the holy bath. Undoubtedly the benefit shall be residence in the heavenly world.

109. Just as fire burns everything, whether dry or wet, so also the holy plunge in that confluence reduces all sorts of sins to ash.

110. If all the Tīrthas and the benefits of all kinds of sacred pursuits are placed in one (pan) and (ṃe benefits from) the confluence of Sarayū and Ghargharā (on the other), the latter will be found to be heavier.

111. By taking the holy plunge in the confluence men will derive such benefit as is proclaimed in the Śrutis as the benefit of taking the holy bath in all the Tīrthas.

112. O sinless one, there is another Tīrtha named Gopratāra near the confluence itself. It is destructive of great sins.

113. There has never been nor will there ever be a Tīrtha on a par with Gopratāra. By taking the holy plunge therein and by making charitable gifts no man shall ever be grief-stricken.

114-115. Just as Maṇikarṇikā at Vārāṇasī, O learned one, or the shrine of Mahākāla at Ujjayinī, O Brāhmaṇa, or Cakravāpī at Naimiṣa are proclaimed as the holiest of Tīrthas, so also, O Brāhmaṇa, the Tīrtha named Gopratāra is a great Tīrtha at Ayodhyā.

116. It was here, O learned one, that at the bidding of Rāma, all the people of the city Sāketa (Ayodhyā) drowned themselves in the great waters and attained the matchless bliss of heaven.

Vyāsa enquired:

117. How did the citizens of Sāketa attain heaven? How did Rāma go to heaven, O learned one? O sage of good holy rites, narrate this.

Agastya replied:

118. Listen, O sage, with attention to this detailed narrative as to how Rāma and the citizens went to heaven.[5]

119. Formerly Rāma completed the task of Devas with great care. Then Rāma of heroic intelligence decided to go to heaven along with two of his brothers (i.e. Bharata and Śatrughna).

120. Through spies the monkeys who could assume any form they wished, heard about it. Many kinds of monkeys, the Ṛkṣas, Gopucchas and Rakṣas came jumping.

121. These monkeys were the children of Devas, Gandharvas and sages. Coming to know about (the imminent) passing away of Rāma, all those monkeys arrived there.

122-123.They approached Rāma. All the leaders of the herds of monkeys said: “O sinless king, we have all come here to follow you. O Rāma, the great ruler of men, if you go without us, it will be as though we are struck dead with a huge stick, O king.”

124. On hearing the words of those bears, monkeys and demons, Rāghava instantaneously spoke these words to Vibhīṣaṇa:

125-126. “As long as there are subjects alive (i.e. to the end of the world), O Vibhīṣaṇa, rule the great kingdom. You will protect Laṅkā. Rule your kingdom. Do not make my words otherwise. (Do not disobey me.) Protect your subjects righteously. It does not behove you to tell me anything subsequently (against my behest).”

127-130a. After saying this, the descendant of Kakutstha said to Hanumān: “O son of Wind-god, live long. Do not belie (your) vow. As long as the people recount my story, O great monkey, you do sustain your life keeping up your vow. Mainda and Dvivida had both of them partaken of nectar. As long as the worlds hold on, they too will live. May these monkeys protect our sons and grandsons here.”

130bc. After saying this Rāghava, the descendant of Kakutstha, spoke thus to all (ṃe other) monkeys: “You do come along with me.”

131. When the night dawned, Rāma of broad chest, great arms and eyes like the petals of a lotus, spoke to his priest:

132. “Let all the (sacred fires of) Agnihotra sacrifices go ahead shining brilliantly. Let the Vājapeyas and the Atirātras go ahead of me.”

133. Then the brilliant Vasiṣṭha inwardly decided everything and duly arranged for all the rites of the Great Departure (Mahāprasthāna).

134. Then the king clad in silken robes, who had adopted the vow of celibacy, taking Darbha grass in his hands, prepared him self for the Great Departure.

135-136. The king uttered no auspicious or inauspicious words. Like the moon coming out of the ocean he came out of the city. Śrī with a lotus was on the left side of the king, while the largeeyed Hari accompanied him on the right side. Vyavasāya (Enterprise) went ahead.

137. Different kinds of weapons beginning with the bow, the bowstring etc. followed Kākutstha (Rāma). All of them had human forms.

138. In the form of a Brāhmaṇa, the Veda went behind Rāma on the left side and Sāvitrī on the right side. Oṃkāra and Vaṣaṭkāra too followed Rāma.

139. The noble-souled sages and all the Mountains followed Rāma who had reached Svargadvāra.

140. All the women of the inner apartment followed the descendant of Kakutstha, including old ladies, children, slaves, attendants and sentries.

141. Accompanied by the women of their inner apartment, Bharata with Śatrughna also proceeded along with him. Following Rāma who went ahead the entire race of Raghu proceeded ahead.

142. Thereafter the noble-souled Brāhmaṇas with the Agnihotra sacrifices all round and accompanied by their wives and sons followed Kākutstha.

143. The ministers with their servants, sons and kinsmen, all of them with their followers, went after Rāghava.

144. Then all the members of the administration, of graceful manners and good qualities and surrounded by delighted and well-nourished people followed Rāma as he proceeded ahead.

145-146. All the subjects along with their sons and kinsmen became the followers of Rāghava. After seeing him devoid of sins, they were clad in white clothes after their bath. All of them were of controlled minds. They followed Rāghava making tumultuous sounds expressive of joy.

147. No one was distressed or dejected, frightened or miserable. All of them were very delighted and gay and very much wonderstruck.

148-150. The bears, monkeys and the Rākṣasas, the people of the city and those residing in outlying rural districts were eager to witness the Nirvāṇa (‘Passing-away’) of the king. They saw him going by the aerial path. After their arrival, they followed him with great devotion. Those living beings in the city that had already vanished from sight, followed Rāghava who arrived at Svargadvāra.

151. All those living beings, whether mobile or immobile, that Saw Kākutstha, became inclined to go to heaven.

152. There was no living being, even the subtlest one in Ayodhyā, which did not follow Rāghava who had reached Svargadvāra.

153. After going half a Yojana, Rāma proceeded ahead facing the West. He saw the river Sarayū of meritorious waters.

154. At that auspicious hour, Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds, came there to Kākutstha who had approached Svargadvāra. He (Brahmā) was accompanied by all the Devas and noble-souled sages.

155-158. All round him there were hundreds and crores of divine aerial chariots that brightened the firmament. There was an excellent fiery brilliance due to the self-luminous great persons of meritorious activities.

Auspicious, sweet-smelling and pleasant breezes blew. There was a splendid shower of flowers along with a gust of wind of great velocity. At that time Sun-god also came along with Gandharvas and Apsarās. Rāma touched the waters of Sarayū with his feet. Thereafter Brahmā began to eulogize along with the Devas.

159-163. “Indeed you are the lord of the worlds. No one knows you. But I am, O wide-eyed lord, one who has been accepted by you before. You are the great Being unimaginable and everlasting. O lord of great vigour, enter that body of yours which you have wished to adopt for the purpose of sustaining the worlds.”

At the instance of the grandfather of the worlds, the lord, along with his younger brothers, entered the exceedingly divine fiery world of Viṣṇu.

Thereafter the Devas worshipped the excellent one among the Devas, adopting the form of Viṣṇu.

Sādhyas, the groups of Maruts along with Indra with Agni as their leader, the celestial groups of sages, Ganḍharvas, celestial damsels, Suparṇas, Nāgas, Yakṣas, Daityas, Dānavas and Rākṣasas—all of them realized their desires completely. Devas were highly delighted. All of them stationed in heaven exclaimed, “Excellent! Excellent!”

164-170a. Then Viṣṇu of great refulgence spoke to Brahmā[6]: “O lord of good holy rites, it behoves you to give a (separate) world to these crowds of people. All these men have come here because of their affection for me. They are devotees full of sincere love. They have abandoned themselves completely.”

On hearing this utterance of Viṣṇu, the lord of all the worlds (Brahmā) spoke: “These men will occupy the world named Santānika. He who meditates on Rāma alone devoutly and abandons his life in this Tīrtha of Svargadvāra, shall attain the great world of Santāna which is beyond the world of Brahmā.

The monkeys will attain the source of their origin. The Rākṣasas will reoccupy the Rākṣasa form. All of them who were born of the bodies of Suras and Asuras will regain the same i.e. the bodies from which they originated. Sugrīva, the son of Sun-god, will attain the solar disc. The sages, the Nāgas and the Yakṣas will go back to their origin.”

170b-176. When the lord of Devas said thus, the waters of Gopratāra reached Sarayū. All the places were filled with water completely. All of them plunged into the waters joyously and cast off their lives.

Men abandoned their human bodies and got into aerial chariots. The beings of lower strata of animals entered Sarayū, abandoned their bodies and assumed divine bodies. So also, in the case of other beings, both mobile and immobile. After attaining excellent bodies, they came to the world of Devas.

When that had been achieved, the monkeys, the bears and the Rākṣasas cast off their bodies and entered (the celestial world).

Remembering the Lord, the sire of the worlds, they entered heaven. The delighted, highly wise Rāma went there along with the Devas. Hence that Tīrtha named Gopratāra became famous.[7] The greatest salvation is had only at Gopratāra and not in other Tīrthas.

177-178. (In the other Tīrthas) O Brāhmaṇa, if Yoga is achieved through hundreds of births, salvation may or may not be achieved in the course of one birth. But there is no doubt at all in the case of Gopratāra. A person well equipped with devotion to Hari attains Yoga and salvation in the course of a single birth.

179. A learned man, whoever he may be, who take his holy bath in Gopratāra, certainly enters the greatest abode that is difficult of access even to Yogins.

180. Particularly on the Kārttikī day, persons who have conquered the sense-organs should definitely take their holy bath. O Brāhmaṇa-sage, all the Devas including Indra come to Ayodhyā for bathing especially in Gopratāra, in the month of Kārttika.

181. A Tīrtha on a par with Gopratāra has never been there before nor will there ever be. Even Prayāgarāja (the king of all Tīrthas) comes here in the month of Kārttika for the purpose of the holy bath.

182. (Defective Text[8]) (On taking its holy bath here) Prayāga becomes sinless after abandoning (i.e. absolving himself of) all sins. His body becomes white (clean) and the garment too is white (spotless). In the matter of purification, he will realize his desire, O excellent sage.

183. Whatever Tīrthas there are, whether in heaven or on the earth, O sage of good holy rites, all of them stay in Gopratāra in the month of Kārttika.

184-185. Japa, Homa, holy bath and charitable gift according to one’s capacity in the Gopratāra Tīrtha yield infinite bliss. With faith and holy vow and observances all the Tīrthas go over to Gopratāra in Kārttika with the wish ‘Let us go to Gopratāra in order to dispose of our sins.’

186. The holy bath undertaken in Gopratāra is destructive of all sins. By taking the holy bath in Gopratāra and by visiting Lord Guptahari, one is rid of all sins. There is no doubt about this.

187. After taking the holy bath the worship of Brāhmaṇas with Viṣṇu in view (i.e. regarding them as Viṣṇu) should be particularly performed by persons endowed with faith as well as by those of controlled holy rites.

188. A milch cow should be given to a Brāhmaṇa well-versed in Vedic knowledge. The cow should be adorned according to one’s capacity. The Brāhmaṇa should be very pure. He must observe holy rites regularly. She (i.e. the cow) shall be given by one who has controlled himself for the purpose of propitiating Viṣṇu.

189. Many kinds of cooked rice, gold, and clothes of various kinds should be given by persons endowed with great devotion for attaining Hari.

190. By offering lights here one will obtain that benefit (merit) which is obtained in Kurukṣetra by giving Tulādāna at the time of a solar eclipse and on (the bank of) Narmadā at the time of a lunar eclipse.

191. If the light offered by one burns brightly with ghee or gingelly oil, O tiger among sages, of what avail is horse-sacrifice unto him?

192. If light is offered by one in front of Keśava, in the month of Kārttika, it is as good as having performed all Kratus and having taken the holy plunge in all the Tīrthas.

193. The different kinds of Tīrthas that yield worldly pleasures and salvation, are not worth even a sixteenth part of Gopratāra Tīrtha.

194. One who gives a small bit of gold to a Brāhmaṇa well-versed in the Vedas attains the auspicious goal. He blazes brilliantly like fire.

195. By giving cooked rice in accordance with injunctions at the Tīrtha called Gopratāra which is well-known in the three worlds, one (i.e. the donor) is not reborn.

196. A man who takes his holy bath there and who propitiates Brāhmaṇas attains the benefit of Sautrāmaṇi Yajña.

197. If a person observes holy rites with restraints and spends a month taking only a single meal everyday, all the sins committed by him in the course of the whole life, perish instantaneously.

198. People who immolate themselves in fire in accordance with the injunctions at Gopratāra, O ascetic, undoubtedly enter the region of Viṣṇu.

199. If people observe fast (unto death) here decisively, urged by devotion to Viṣṇu, they will never return to the earth even in hundreds and crores of Kalpas.

200. If a person worships Govīnda in Gopratāra, it is said that he has acquired the merit of (gifting away) ten gold pieces.

201. The incense offered to Govinda yields the merit of Agnihotra. The merit of giving scents and perfumes is said to be equal to that of gifting plots of land.

202-203. O learned one, this holy spot is exceedingly miraculous. It is highly glorified. Particularly in the month of Kārttika, if a person takes bis holy bath here or in Svargadvāra with pure holy rites, he obtains the merit of donating ten gold pieces. The donor of gold who gives away with faith shall be a resident of heaven.

204. One should perform the rite of Jāgaraṇa during the night on the fourteenth day in the bright half of the month of Jyeṣṭha during holy Parvan days in this excellent Tīrtha which yields the benefit of donating ten gold pieces.

205. He should observe fast and be pure after the holy bath. He should be devoted to the worship of Viṣṇu. He should carefully offer light that gives different kinds of merit.

206. The merits in heaven, in the terrestrial world, and in the nether worlds roar only as long as light is not offered in the water in front of Keśava in the month of Kārttika.

207. On the full-moon day, the devotee should take bath early in the morning with mind devoid of impurities. He should duly worship Hari and perform Śrāddha with great reverence.

208. He should offer cooked rice according to his capacity and propitiate Brāhmaṇas. He should honour a Brāhmaṇa couple by means of ornaments, garments etc.

209. He shall then visit Lord Guptahari and worship him in particular. Thereafter, he should bow down to him as well as the Tīrtha with the mind fixed on the deity with purity.

210. Then he shall take holy bath duly in Svargadvāra at midday. He shall be rid of all sins and shall be honoured in the world of Viṣṇu.

211. Thus, the devotee should take the holy bath in accordance with the highly important injunctions in Gopratāra with great care. Thereby his form of meritorious deeds shall be well-known. By worshipping Acyuta he shall eliminate all the sins. Due to his reverence he shall have pure refulgence and attain Sāyujya with Viṣṇu.

Footnotes and references:


VV 1 -9 describe the importance of Sītā Kuṇḍa. It is to the west of the confluence of Sarayū and Tilodakī. Its annual festival is celebrated on the 14th day in the dark half of Mārgaśīrṣa.


The deities in this Māhātmya always have the suffix Han. VV 10-11 mention Cakra-Hari as situated to the west of Viṣṇu-Hari.


VV 14-56 explain why the deity came to be called Gupta-Hari. As usual the scenario of the defeat of Devas, Viṣṇu’s prayer etc. is given here. As Viṣṇu secretly performed a penance at Ayodhyā for Devas, the deity became known a “Gupta-Hari” (v 44) and the place where Viṣṇu’s discus Sudarśana rested was called Cakra-Hari (v 45). The annual festival is celebrated on the 11th day of the bright half of Mārgaśīrṣa.


VV 76-116 describe the glory of Gopratāraka Tīrtha which is located on the confluence of Sarayū and Ghargharā or modem Ghāgrā (v 72). Its special month of bath is Pauṣa. The special historical (?) importance is that at the behest of Rāma, all the citizens of Ayodhyā drowned themselves in waters here and went to heaven (v 116).


VV 118-161 describe how Rāma, after instructing his closest associates like Hanumān and Vibhīṣaṇa, entered Sarayū finally. This Tīrtha naturally came to be known as Svargadvāra (‘Gateway to Heaven’).


VV 164-175 describe the creation of a special heaven called Santānika for the people, monkeys etc. who followed Rāma in the Sarayū waters.


VV 176 ff describe the glory of Gopratāra Tīrtha. The procedure of performing the Yātrā of Svargadvāra is also described. Near the temple of Guptāra Mahādeva, a place is pointed out where Rāma ended his life (De 71).


Prayāge’ in this verse may be amended as Prayāgo. In Devanāgarī script “ge” (ge) and “go” (go) being so similar, printers must have just missed the difference.

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