The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Glorification of Sita Lake which is chapter 11 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 eleventh chapter of the Setu-mahatmya of the Brahma-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 11 - Glorification of Sītā Lake

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

[Full title: Glorification of Sītā Lake—Indra Absolved of the Sin of Brāhmaṇa-Slaughter]

Śrī Sūta said:

1. After taking the holy bath in Pāpanāśa which destroys all sins, one should go to Sītāsaras in order to bathe there with due observances.

2-5. All the meritorious Tīrthas within the Cosmic Egg, including Gaṅgā and other holy places, reside in Sītāsaras for the purification of their respective sins, as the lake Sītāsaras is destructive of great sins. For the purpose of suppressing their own sins, the highly esteemed holy spots, Kāśī, etc. serve (stay in) Sītāsaras day and night.

A lion’s cub had been attracted to that lake by the quality of its music. It stays in the lake destroying the five great sins.

Formerly Indra came to this Tīrtha and took his holy bath here with great faith. Thereby, O Brāhmaṇas, he was freed from the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter.

The sages said:

6. O sage, how did Indra incur the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter? How did he become liberated (from that sin) by taking his holy plunge in Sītāsaras?

Śrī Sūta said:

7-10. Formerly there was a Rākṣasa named Kapālābharaṇa, O Brāhmaṇas. Due to a boon given by Brahmā, he became exempt from death at the hands of all Devas. He had an excellent minister named Śavabhakṣaṇa. He had a hundred Akṣauhiṇīs (of army) consisting of horses, elephants and chariots. His city was well-known as Vaijayanta. While living in this city, the mighty Kapālābharaṇa called his minister Śavabhakṣa, and spoke to him, O Brāhmaṇas:

11-12. “O Śavabhakṣa of great valour, expert in the treatises on Mantras (or Politics), we shall go to the city of Devas and conquer Suras in battle. We shall occupy the abode of Indra along with our armies. We shall sport about in his Nandana park in the company of the groups of Raṃbhā and other celestial ladies.”

13. On hearing these words of Kapālābharaṇa, O Brāhmaṇas, Śavabhakṣa spoke, “We will do so.”

14-18. Then the powerful Kapālābharaṇa installed in his city his heroic son Durmedhas. Desirous of fighting with the Devas, he went to Amarāvatīr surrounded by his army.

With dust particles raised by the elephants, horses, chariots and foot-soldiers, he dried up oceans and rivers. He made the mountains crumble down to powder. With the sound of the Niḥsāṇa drum, O Brāhmaṇas, he made heaven and earth reverberate. With the neighing sounds of the horses, the trumpeting sounds of the elephants, the dreadful sounds of the rims of the chariot-wheels and the leonine roars of the foot-soldiers, he deafened the ears of the elephants of the cardinal points.

Thus he went to the city of Devas with a desire to fight with the immortal beings.

19. On hearing the tumultuous sound of the army, O Brāhmaṇas, Devas headed by Indra set out from the city resolutely inclined to fight.

20. Then a fight ensued between Devas and Rākṣasas, the like of which has never been seen or even heard before.

21. Devas headed by Indra killed many Rākṣasas in the battle. The Rākṣasas too killed the Suras with a strong desire for conquest in the battle.

22. There were duels between the Suras and the Rāksaṣas. The enemy of Bala and Vṛtra (i.e. Indra) fought with Kapālābharaṇa in the battle.

23. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, Śavabhakṣa fought with Yama, Kauśika fought with Varuṇa and Rudhirākṣa with Kubera.

24-28. The four valorous brothers of Kapālābharaṇa, Māṃsapriya, Madyasevī, Krūradṛṣṭi and Bhayāvaha fought with Aśvinī Devas, Fire-god and Wind-god in the course of the battle.

Yama of great vigour wielded his Kāla Daṇḍa with great speed, struck Śavabhakṣa and slew him. Yama killed the thirty Akṣauhiṇīs that belonged to him. With his lance, Varuṇa chopped off the head of Kauśika in the battle. Kubera knocked off the head of Rudhirākṣa with his spear. The younger brothers of Kapālābharaṇa were killed by the Aśvinī Devas and Agni and Vāyu in the battle, O Brāhmaṇas. They went to the abode of Yama (i.e. died).

29. A hundred Akṣauhiṇīs were destroyed within half a Yāma (i.e. one hour and a half) by Devendra in that battle and they went to Yama’s abode.

30-34. On seeing his army destroyed, Kapālābharaṇa took up a bow and very sharp and swift arrows. He then rushed at Indra for fight, and yelled “Stop, stop”. Then he hit the head of Indra with five arrows. Even before they had reached him, Indra cut them by means of his own arrows. Then Kapālābharaṇa took up a spear and hurled it at Devendra. He struck it down with a Śakti. Then Kapālābharaṇa took up an iron club, a hundred Hastas long and made of five thousand Tulā weights of iron. With that he hit the chest of Indra.

35-40. Thereupon Indra swooned and sank down within the chariot. Bṛhaspati repeated the Mṛtasañjīvanī mantra and revived Indra in a miraculous manner.

Then Indra mounted the elephant Airāvata and came near Kapālābharaṇa. Then Mahendra, the chastiser of Pāka, furiously dealt a blow with his thunderbolt and smashed to smithereens Kapālābharaṇa along with his chariot, horse, bow, flagstaff, quiver and shield.

When the heroic Kapālābharaṇa was thus killed in battle, the world that had been miserable for a long time, became happy.

As a result of the killing of the Rākṣasa the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter chased Indra, terribly causing reverberations in all the ten quarters.

The sages said:

41. O Sūta, O sage, Kapālābharaṇa, the Rākṣasa, was not a Brāhmaṇa. How did then the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter pursue Indra after he was slain.

Śrī Sūta said:

42-47. O great sages, I shall tell a great and wonderful secret. Listen with great attention and concentration of mind.

Formerly there was a Rākṣasa named Trivakra in the region of Vindhya. His wife possessed all good qualities. She was very beautiful. The lady of beautiful buttocks was Suśīlā by name. She had all the characteristics (of a noble lady).

That beautiful lady of graceful charms, with fascinating dress and charming smiles, once wandered in the sylvan regions near the slopes of Vindhya.

There was a sage named Śuci in that forest. He was engaged in penance and meditation. He was devoted to the study of the Vedas.

That lady of excellent complexion went to his hermitage. On seeing her the sage became afflicted with erotic passion and he lost all his steadiness and composure. Approaching the beautiful lady, the excellent sage spoke thus:

Śuci said:

48-53. O young lady, welcome to you. O lady of bright smiles, whose wife are you? What is the task for which you have come to this extremely dreadful forest? You are excessively tired. Stay within this hut of mine.

On being told thus, that lady of beautiful buttocks replied to the sage: “O sage, I am the wife of a Rākṣasa named Trivakra. I am Suśīlā by name. I have come to this forest with a desire to gather some flowers. I have no son, O sage. My husband eagerly wishes for a son and hence I have been urged by him, ‘Propitiate sage Śuci and get a son from him.’

On being directed by my husband thus, I have approached you. Beget a son of me, O sage. Take pity on me.” On being told thus Sage Śuci spoke to her thus:

Śuci said:

54-58. O Suśīlā, I am highly delighted now on seeing you. Fulfil the ocean of the wishes of mine.

After saying thus the sage sported with her for three days. Then the delighted sage said to Suśīlā of beautiful features: “You will have in your womb a very powerful son named Kapālābharaṇa. He will rule the earth for a long time. Your dear child will perform penance for a thousand years and propitiate God Brahmā. Excepting Indra no other Deva will be able to kill him. Such a son will be born to you. He will have valour equal to that of Indra.”

After saying this to that lady, the sage went to Kāśī, the city of Śiva.

59-60. Suśīlā gave birth to her son Kapālābharaṇa, O eminent sages. It was him that Indra killed in battle with his thunderbolt. Since Indra killed the son born of the seed of Śuci, Indra was seized by the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter.

61. Indra was extremely frightened and he fled all over the worlds. The sin of Brahmahatyā pursued him all over there.

62. O eminent Brāhmaṇas, Indra was chased by the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter and he went to the assembly of Brahmā with his heart afflicted very much.

63-64. Indra intimated to Brahmā everything and pointed out to the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter: “O Lord of the worlds, this dreadful sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter oppresses me much. O lord of the subjects, tell me how to destroy it.” On being told by Indra thus, Brahmā spoke to Indra, the lord of the heaven:

Brahmā said:

65-69. O Indra, go to Sītākuṇḍa on the Gandhamādana mountain. On the banks of Sītākuṇḍa, you should perform Yagas unto Sadāśiva. You should take the holy bath in that splendid lake that dispels all sins. Thereby, O Indra, you shall become purified and liberated from the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter. You shall be rid of all miseries and you shall return to the world of the Devas once again.

Sītākuṇḍa is meritorious and destructive of all sins. It bestows liberation. It is destructive of all great sins. It is the greatest cause of immortality. It suppresses all miseries. It dispels all penury. It bestows wealth and food-grains. It yields the (stay in the) region of Vaikuṇṭha, etc. Hence, O slayer of Vṛtra, perform a Yāga on the lake Sītāsaras.

70-71. On being told thus, the king of Suras went to Gandhamādana, O Brāhmaṇas. He reached Sītāsaras and took his holy bath there. He performed sacrifice on its banks. He was liberated from Brahmahatyā and he went back to his city. That Tīrtha, the Kuṇḍa of Sītā, is very excellent. It has such powers.

72-73. Maithilī, the daughter of Janaka, entered fire in the presence of all the Devas in order to create faith in Rāma. She then came out of it and stood there with a beautiful refulgent body. She then made an excellent Tīrtha for the sake of protecting the world. It is known after her name.

74-76. Sītā took her bath there. Hence it is remembered as Sītā-saras. One who takes his holy bath there shall obtain all desires.

One who takes the holy bath in and ceremoniously sips the water of that lake, should make charitable gifts of diverse kinds, O great Brāhmaṇas, and perform Yajñas with plenty of monetary gifts. He shall go to the world of Parameśvara.

Thus, O eminent sages, the glory of Sītāsaras has been recounted to you. He who listens to it or reads it, shall enjoy worldly pleasures here and enjoy happiness hereafter too.

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