The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Glory of Ramakunda: Dharmaputra’s Atonement for False Speech which is chapter 18 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 eighteenth chapter of the Setu-mahatmya of the Brahma-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 18 - The Glory of Rāmakuṇḍa: Dharmaputra’s Atonement for False Speech

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Sūta said:

1. After taking the holy bath in Agastyatīrtha, one (pilgrim) should go to the meritorious Rāmakuṇḍa for liberation from sins.

2-6. O Brāhmaṇas, the lake Raghunāthasaras is meritorious and destructive of sins. A Yajña performed on the banks of Raghunāthasaras bestows full benefit even if the monetary gifts be meagre. Similarly study of the Vedas and Japa (of Mantras) shall also bestow merit.

O Brāhmaṇas, even if only a handful is offered to a Brāhmaṇa well-versed in the Vedas on the banks of Raghunāthasaras, it shall have infinite benefit. O eminent sages, I shall recount to you an extremely meritorious story about Rāmatīrtha. It is destructive of all sins.

There was a great Brāhmaṇa named Sutīkṣṇa.[1] He was a sage who had restrained his mind. He was a disciple of Agastya. He always meditated upon the lotus-like feet of Rāma. He performed a very severe penance on the banks of the lake called Rāmacandrasaras.

7-9. He performed Japa of the six-syllabled Mantra with Rāmacandra as its presiding deity. He repeated this excellent Mantra with full concentration five thousand times everyday. He regularly bathed in the waters of Raghunāthasaras. He ate only what he got as alms after begging. He had restricted his diet very much. He had conquered anger and his passions. Thus Sutīkṣṇa continued for a long time, O eminent Brāhmaṇas. He always meditated upon Rāma in his heart. With great devotion, he eulogized Rāmacandra accompanied by Sītā.

Sutīkṣṇa said:

10-14. Obeisance to you, O Lord of Jānakī; salute to you, O Lord fond of Hanumān. Bow to you, O Lord actively engaged in guarding the sacrifice of sage Kauśika (Viśvāmitra). Hail to you, O son of Kausalyā; to the prince dear to Viśvāmitra. Obeisance to the Lord who broke the bow of Hara, O Lord served by the immortal ones. O great king, O slayer of Mārīca. O destroyer of the life of Tāḍakā. O enemy of (demon) Kabandha, O Hari, O son of Daśaratha, obeisance to you. Hail to you, to the conqueror of the son of Jamadagni. Salute to the destroyer of Khara. Obeisance to the lord of Sugrīva. Bow to you, the slayer of Vāli; to the lord who removed the fear and the distress of Vibhīṣaṇa and the destroyer of sins.

15-20a. Obeisance to you, to the destroyer of the misery of Ahalyā, O elder brother of Bharata. Hail to the dispeller of the pride of the Ocean; salute to the builder of Setu thereon.

Obeisance to the Brahman that redeems; to you, O elder brother of Lakṣmaṇa. Hail to you, the destroyer of the Rākṣasas; obeisance to the suppressor of Rāvaṇa; salute to you, the wielder of a bow; to the lord who accords protection to all.

Thus the sage Sutīkṣṇa eulogized Rāma everyday. With his mind fixed on Rāmacandra he always spent his time (joyously). As he repeatedly performed Japa of the six-syllabled Mantra of Rāma, as he eulogized Rāmacandra by means of this prayer, as he took his daily bath in the lake Raghunāthasaras, O sages of righteous conduct, his devotion to Rāmacandra became steady and free from impurities.

20b-26. He had perfect knowledge of non-duality characterised by the one-ness of soul. Without study he had the knowledge of the Vedas; he could understand even that which was not heard. O Brāhmaṇas, he had the ability to enter the body of another person, ability to go through the sky, skill in the arts; without a preceptor he could understand the scriptures not heard before. He could go to all the worlds without any obstacle. He could see those objects which are beyond the ken of the sense-organs. He could converse with Devas. He had the knowledge of the activities of ants and other creatures, O Brāhmaṇas. He could travel to the worlds of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Mahādeva. He had the ability to traverse at his will to all the fourteen worlds. These and all other skilful activities usually attributed to Yogins alone, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, Sutīkṣṇa achieved by resorting to Rāmatīrtha.

That Tīrtha has such a power. It is destructive of great sins.

27-30. It confers great Siddhis. It is meritorious. It prevents premature and accidental deaths. It gives worldly pleasures and salvation to men. It destroys the tortures of hells. It grants constant devotion to Rāma. It causes destruction of worldly existence. The scion of the family of Raghu installed the great Liṅga on its banks and worshipped it with a desire to bless the worlds. By taking holy bath in the extremely meritorious Rāmatīrtha and by visiting that Liṅga, men will achieve even liberation. What to speak about other achievements! Formerly, O Brāhmaṇas, Dharmaputra (Yudhiṣṭhira) took his bath there and visited Śiva. Instantaneously he became liberated from the evils arising from the utterance of falsehood.

The sages said:

31. O son of Sūta, why was a He uttered by Dharmaputra? (What was that lie) to suppress the evils of which he took his holy bath in the extremely sacred Rāmatīrtha?

Śrī Sūta said:

32. O sages, I shall recount to you how a lie was fraudulently uttered by Dharmaputra and how it perished (by bath) in Rāmatīrtha.

33-35. Formerly, O Brāhmaṇas, the sons of Pāṇḍu including Dharmaputra and the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra headed by Duryodhana, had great enmity mutually on account of the kingdom.[2] O excellent Brāhmaṇas, they gathered together at Kurukṣetra with a vast army. They were great warriors who never retreated from battles. They fought with one another. After fighting for ten days the son of Gaṅgā (i.e. Bhīṣma) fell down on the ground.

36. Then for five days, the preceptor Droṇa of great strength and valour, fought with Dhṛṣṭadyumna.

37. Discharging many missiles and weapons, the exceedingly powerful Droṇācārya harassed the army of Pāṇḍavas.

38. The highly powerful Dhṛṣṭadyumna who was a hero expert in the use of divine weapons harassed the army of Droṇa in diverse ways by means of volleys of arrows.

39-40. At that time, Droṇa showered Dhṭṣṭadyumna by means of many arrows. Then the army of the sons of Kuntī became excessively afflicted by Droṇa’s arrows. In their great fight, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, they fled in all direction. Thereupon, Arjuna, the most excellent one among great fighters in chariots, fought with Droṇa.

41. The sky was completely filled with the Devas who had come to witness the battle between Arjuna and Droṇa who were equally efficient in fighting.

42. There is nothing on the earth, O Brāhmaṇas, with which the fight between Droṇa and Arjuna could be compared. At that time the fight was between a preceptor and his disciple who were equally furious.

43. The fight between Droṇa and Arjuna was comparable (only) to the fight between Droṇa and Arjunad[3]. Droṇa appreciated and honoured mentally the great valour of Arjuna.

44. Thereupon Droṇa avoided Arjuna, his dear disciple of great vigour, and fought with Pāñcāla’s army.

45. There in the battle, Droṇācārya killed two lacs and ten thousands of kings along with their elephants and horses.

46. Dhṛṣṭadyumna became furious and struck Droṇa with arrows. Droṇa seized a sharp-edged spear and hit Dhṛṣṭadyumna.

47. With sharp arrows comparable to the flames of fire, he pierced him in the course of that fight. Struck with the arrows, Dhṛṣṭadyumna began to retreat.

48-53. Then Bhīma approached Dhṛṣṭadyumna who was without a chariot. He placed him in his own chariot and spoke thus to Droṇācārya:

“There are some base Brāhmaṇas. They are not contented with their own duties (specific to their caste) and they have trained themselves in the use of weapons. If those ruthless ones had not fought, many kings would not have been killed in the battle. It has been declared in Smṛtis that non-violence is the greatest virtue of Brāhmaṇas. It is the tribes like hunters who protect (i.e. maintain) their wives and children by means of violence and injuries to others. For the sake of your only son you stood firm in the battlefield and killed many kings. O Brāhmaṇa, that son of yours too is lying killed in the battlefield. Still you are not ashamed, nor are you grief-stricken.”

Hearing from Yudhiṣṭhira that these words of Bhīma were true, he cast off his weapons and fell down in his chariot. Then, O Brāhmaṇas, Droṇācārya who was conversant with Yoga, resorted to fast unto death.

54-56. Having understood that it was a good opportunity (Dhṛṣṭadyumna) who had a sword in his hand, came to the side of Droṇācārya and rushed at him in order to cut off his head. Though he was prevented from it by Arjuna and others, he rushed to cut off his head. Because he (Droṇa) was conversant with Yoga, a fiery flame went up to heaven through the head of Droṇa. It was seen by Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna, Kṛpa, Dharmaputra and others in the battlefield. (He) cut off the head from the body of Droṇa which was thus bereft of life.

57. When Bhāradvāja (i.e. Droṇa) was killed in the battle, Kauravas fled out of fear, O Brāhmaṇas, and Pāṇḍavas, Dhṛṣṭadyumna and others became delighted.

58-59. On seeing the army fleeing, the son of Droṇa asked Suyodhana, “O king, why does the army flee thus? Why has it cast off the weapons?”

Then King Duryodhana was unable to tell it himself. He urged Kṛpācārya to announce the death of Droṇa in the battle. At that time Kṛpācārya intimated the death of his preceptor to the son of Droṇa.

Kṛpa said:

60-64. O Aśvatthāman, your powerful father despatched to the abode of Yama hundreds of the enemies in the battlefield killing them by means of his Brāhma missile.

On seeing his valour unassailable, O great Brāhmaṇa, Keśava, an expert in (logical) speech, spoke these words to Pāṇḍavas:

Keśava said:

O Pāṇḍavas, there is an expedient to defeat the invincible Droṇa in the battle. If an authoritative and truthful person were to say thus, “O Droṇa, your son Aśvatthāmā has been killed in the battle”, Droṇa may instantaneously cast off his weapons ana desist from fighting. Hence Dharmarāja should make now this false announcement.

65-67. Otherwise Droṇa, an expert in battle, cannot be defeated. If it is not possible to vanquish an enemy by righteous means, one may resort even to non-righteous means and conquer the enemy.

On hearing these words of Keśava, Bhīma, the son of Kuntī, approached your father and uttered these false words. “O Droṇa, Aśvatthāmā has been killed in this battle. He has fallen down now.”

Droṇācārya thought these words to be truthful.

68-73. Not being convinced, he came to Dharmaputra and spoke thus: “O son of Dharma, is my son Aśvatthāmā killed in the battle? You do tell me. You are considered to be truthful in speech.” Dharmaputra was afraid of speaking a lie. (At the same time) he was eager to have victory over the enemy. His mind began to waver ‘What should be done by me now?’ (He thought.) On seeing an elephant named Aśvatthāman, killed by Bhīma, Dharmaputra spoke these deceitful words to Droṇa: “The great Aśvatthāman was killed today in the battle by Bhīma.” On hearing it, your father cast off his weapon and desisted from fighting. Of course thereafter Dharmaputra had said the word “elephant” too.[4] But, O dear one, Droṇa, your powerful father again declared, “I will not again take up in the (same) battle the weapon that had been set aside once.”

74-77. Hence he did not take up the weapon again, because he was afraid of breaking his vow. On seeing Dhṛṣṭadyumna your father thought about his death (to be brought about) by fasting unto Death. He was conversant with Yogic exercises. He stayed within the chariot and entered into ecstatic meditation. He restrained his breath and controlled his speech. Then instantaneously his vital airs came out piercing the crown of his head. After Droṇa had died thus in the battlefield, O dear one, Dhṛṣṭadyumna caught hold of his hair with his hand and cut off his head with his sword. All the sons of Kuntī and other warriors cried out to him, “Do not strike.” Though he was prevented by all of them he struck (your father thus from the sides).

Śrī Sūta said:

78-83. On hearing that his father had been killed, O Brāhmaṇas, the son of Droṇa lamented for a long time. He blazed with great fury and spoke these words: “Ere long I will kill that son of Kuntī who made my father set aside the weapons by telling him a lie. I will kill the other Pāṇḍavas also. I will kill Dhṛṣṭadyumna too who caught hold of the hair (of my father) and by deceitful means cut off his head after he had cast off his weapons. Let the Pāṇḍavas along with Kṛṣṇa see my valour.” Thus, O Brāhmaṇas, the son of Droṇa took a dreadful vow. Then the sun set. All the kings of both the sides entered their respective tents after the death of Droṇa. Thus in eighteen days the battle came to a close.

84-85. After killing Śalya, Karṇa and sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra of whom Duryodhana was prominent (or the eldest), Dharmarāja Yudhiṣṭhira performed as per injunctions the obsequies of the dead of his own and the enemy side, along with (his family preceptor) Dhaumya and other Brāhmaṇas, O Brāhmaṇas.

86-88. All the sons of Pāṇḍu joined together and paid their respects to Dhṛtarāṣṭra. After being permitted by him they all went to Hastināpura accompanied by the people who had survived. They entered their palace.

It is reported that after a few days had passed by, O eminent sages, the citizens along with Dhaumya and other sages, began the preparations for the coronation of the noble-souled Dharmaputra.

89-93. When the rites of coronation of Dharmaputra started, an unembodied speech addressed Dharmaputra.[5]

“O illustrious Dharmaputra who are kind even to the enemies, do not celebrate your coronation. You do not deserve to take up the administration of the kingdom because you told a lie to the preceptor, an excellent Brāhmaṇa, and deceitfully made him cast off his weapons and shamelessly brought about his death, O king. Hence, O Dharmaputra, you have incurred plenty of sins. You shall not be entitled to take up the administration of the kingdom without the requisite expiation. Hence perform the expiatory rites.”

After saying this, that unembodied speech ceased.

94-99. At that utterance, King Dharmaputra became extremely frightened. He thought: ‘I have been deluded. I have been ruthlessly foolhardy. I have been harsh and treacherous. I have been deluded by greed. I have committed such a sin on account of my desire for a worthless kingdom. What shall I do for purification from this sin? What is my wayout? What charitable gift shall I make? Where shall I go?’

While King Dharmaputra was grief-stricken thus, Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsa came to him. He saluted Vyāsa and received him duly with palms joined in reverence. With the mind full of devotion, O Brāhmaṇas, he honoured him with Arghya, etc. Extremely dejected in spirit, Dharmaputra recounted to Vyāsa everything that had been declared by the unembodied speech. After hearing the whole of the speech of Dharmaputra, the sage meditated for a long time and began to speak thus:

Vyāsa said:

100. O king, do not be afraid. I shall tell you the proper means for suppressing this sin. Let it be listened to and acted upon by you.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

101. Tell me, what is that, O son of Parāśara, O great Yogin, O storehouse of mercy. What is that whereby my sin can perish in no time? Tell it to me.

Vyāsa said:

102-107. In the southern ocean, on Rāmasetu, on the Gandhamādana mountain, O great king, there is a meritorious lake well-known as Rāmatīrtha. It has been proved to be destructive of great sins. Merely by viewing it crores of great sins perish immediately like darkness at sunrise.

When one sees Rāmatīrtha created by Rāma himself, one is absolved of Brahmahatyā (sin of Brāhmaṇa’s slaughter). There is no doubt about it.

After going to Rāmatīrtha which bestows salvation, O great king, take your holy bath; you will get purified of the sin and you will become entitled to protect the kingdom (as a king).

Make charitable gifts on its banks, of cows, plots of lands, gingelly seeds and clothes. O Yudhiṣṭhira, make gifts of gold and silver; certainly before long, all your sins will be purified.

Śrī Sūta said:

108-110. On being told thus by Vyāsa, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, Dharmaputra installed Sahadeva on the kingdom and immediately started for Rāmasetu, accompanied by his brothers and Dhaumya. He did not use any vehicle for the journey. Within a few days he reached Rāmasetu.

111-114a. The son of Pāṇḍu reached Rāmatīrtha along with Dhaumya. He duly performed the Saṃkalpa rite in the manner laid down by the priest. He took his holy bath in the Tīrtha called Rāmasaras, which is meritorious and destructive of sins. Having become pure after the bath, he offered the Kṣetra Piṇḍa. Yudhiṣṭhira made all the gifts as suggested by Vyāsa. Dharmaputra observed fast for a full month and took his holy baths. O Brāhmaṇas, without any covetousness for money, he made charitable gifts everyday.

114b-120a. When a month elapsed, one day, the unembodied voice said once again to Dharmaputra on a certain day:

“O king, O Yudhiṣṭhira, all your sins have perished. The sin that you committed formerly by speaking deceitful words causing the death of the preceptor has perished, O scorcher of enemies. Go back to your city, O king, and protect the earth. Get yourself crowned. There is no doubt about it that you are now entitled to the kingdom.”

After saying thus the unembodied voice ceased. Dharmaputra became delighted and bowed down to that direction from where the unembodied speech had come. With his mind fully delighted, he went to Hastināpura along with his younger brothers.

120b-123. Having been coronated in the kingdom he ruled the earth. Thus Dharmaputra became rid of sins, O Brāhmaṇas, by resorting to Rāmatīrtha and taking his holy bath therein. He became purified in his soul. He became entitled to rule the kingdom.

Thus the wonderful glory of Rāmatīrtha has been recounted to you all. It is destructive of all sins. It bestows devotion, worldly pleasures and salvation. It is by taking his holy bath there that Dharmaputra became absolved of the sin of uttering a lie.

O excellent Brāhmaṇas, those who read this chapter, the men who listen to this become rid of sins. They will go to Kailāsa which cannot be attained by anyone else. After going there, they do not have to undergo rebirth.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

According to VR this sage was a kind host of Rāma during his sojourn in Daṇḍakāraṇya (VR III.7). He guided Rāma to the hermitage of Agastya (VR 111.11). This Purāṇa represents him to be a devotee of Rāma staying near Rāmakuṇḍa an Gandhamādana.

[2]:

VV 35-83 give a summary of the Bharata War up to Droṇa’s death.

[3]:

An example of a figure of speech Ananvaya.

[4]:

This refers to an equivocation on the part of Yudhiṣṭhira: “Aśvatthāmā, a man or an elephant, is killed” (Mbh, Droṇa 190.55).

[5]:

This onwards is the continuation of SkP glorifying Rāmatīrtha.

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